30 November 2010

These ornaments are at least 7 years old

They look nice but this is Christmas #7 that i've gazed at them over lunch. They must have been made by the child of the building owner, who can't bear to get rid of them. They're nice the first time, and I certainly prefer lunch with them than without them.

If I were running for Christmas Czar of Minneapolis, "CHANGE" would be my slogan...., or maybe "GLITTER".

28 November 2010

Straight River Rest Stop in Minnesota

How does one of the most beautiful states have one of the country's ugliest rest stops? Got to be pure regional blindness. As one of the caretakers of the place said, when he saw me taking a picture of this rare Minnesota eyesore....." you should come back in the summer, lots of folks come here for picnics".

Arkansas to Minnesota, a perfect drive

Spent the day driving across the middle of America with my two favorite daughters... In brief it went as follows, along I-40West to I-540 North to US 71 North to I-35 North. Perfect weather for a drive, not a drop of rain or snow. Passed my neighbor from across the street on I-35 just south of Des Moines, still scratching my head over the odds of that. Being a history and trivia buff I have thrown in an interesting fact about each city.
417am left North Little Rock, AR (hometown of MLB pitcher AJ Burnett)
5am   Morrilton, AR,  (county seat of Conway County, yawn)
6am   Ozark, AR, (Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie spent a month here working at Sonic)
7am   Fayetteville, AR (Home of the University of Arkansas)
8am   Goodman, MO ( a small town in McDonald County. Nothing of note has happened here)
9am   Sheldon, MO (Depopulated by Union forces during the Civil War.)
10am Harrisonville, MO (Named for a congressman Harrison)
11am Kearney, MO (birthplace of Jesse James)
12pm Eagleville, MO (slogan "A small town with a big tomorrow")
1pm   New Virginia, IA (per 2000 census, one hispanic person lives here)
2pm   Ames, IA (home of Iowa State and 9th best place in America to live )
3pm   Dows, IA (home of the "Dows Corn Days", the first weekend in August)
4pm,  Geneva, MN (named after Geneva, NY)
5pm   Northfield, MN (home of Malt-O-Meal and site of a James gang bank robbery)
530pm Home

25 November 2010

At twilight

I am spending thanksgiving morning with a friend who is 99 years old, and a few days away from 100. We watched the Macy's parade and now The Godfather.

What goes on in the mind at that age? Here are a few of his comments this morning. Some of these are things said to me, other are prayers uttered as the mind slips back and forth between places and times.

"The birds have gone south, why can't I?
O Father, my heavenly father, I love you, thank you.
I'm 107, born in 1910
I didn't expect to be this old, I'd give anything if my son was here.
I can still hear some, but see very little.
My wife, I'd give anything if she was here. She's my second wife, she'll be my last one.
How I miss walking through the trees, rather have trees than flowers.
O god, our father.
My brother and I never did get along, don't know why. He was always a momma's boy.
God only knows where my son is.
O father, take me home. To Harrison. It's not far.
I wish the birds would come back, but I don't think they will, I don't blame them.
My wife, my beautiful flower, why did you take her away from me?"

He sleeps a lot, comments on what he sees outside his window, and prays. His prayers are an
ongoing conversation with God. Expressing regrets over past mistakes or failings. He is a good Godly man. I hope that when my mind begins to fail as his is, I will have the Lord and my
family continually on my mind, as he has on this 99th year and 335th day of his life.

22 November 2010

Fort Garry Hotel at Christmas

This is where I was earlier today. One of my favourite hotels of all, the beautiful Fort Garry in Winnipeg. They do Christmas quite well here in Manitoba. Father Christmas is on the move.

the end of the known world

This is the last gate on the B concourse, Minneapolis airport. It is the farthest outpost of modern air transport in the Cities. You cannot walk any farther from security to any other gate. Last Sunday night it was here that I waited for a flight to Winnipeg.

18 November 2010

The speed of invention

Life is changing fast. So fast that we often don't notice and just adapt. I am on a plane to Boston and posting this entry via two products that did not exist a year ago, the iPad and airborne wireless service. In the past five minutes I have sent a note to my son and another to a friend who is job hunting. I'll post this in a few minutes and it will be broadcast to anyone in the world who cares to read it. I wonder if there was ever a time when things changed so rapidly.

Of course there has. We always view our time on this planet as somehow unique when in reality it is not. Harnessing fire, domesticating animals, the written word, and most recently the wiring of the world electrically all changed the lives of our ancestors immediately and permanently. They adapted quickly or they were left behind.

I wonder what's next? What is the big thing that is just around the corner? The one that will cause my grandkids to laugh at things like ipads and cloud computing. What is it that will make us look so primitive to our descendants? It won't be our faith, that we know. Everything else though seems on the table.

14 November 2010

The Christmas Tree is up

This is the earliest we've decorated our tree. Usually we do it the weekend before Thanksgiving but next weekend is so busy we decided to go ahead a week early. The outside lights are turned on, which also seems early, but two of my neighbors beat me to it last weekend. It also helped that we got a foot of snow yesterday, which made all of this seem right on schedule. Some neighbor kids used our yard as the stage to build a couple of snowmen, which was a nice addition as well.

Trimming the tree is always fun, hanging the ornaments the kids made when they were little, and the ones weve picked up at various vacations. We miss not having Rob here, but we had plenty of fun commenting on his elementary Christmas art.

There is something peaceful about a home with a Christmas tree. All the problems of the world seem to melt away when you gaze on the tree and think about the perfect gift of goodness and righteousness that this season represents.

Merry Christmas

12 November 2010

This is why we put Christmas lights up in early November

Tomorrow's forecast

Put another log on the fire and give me another cup of hot chocolate. Winter is here!.

.....Mid-morning Saturday photo of our back yard.

09 November 2010


On 32 highway, between the cities of Bolivar and Buffalo, Missouri is the village of Halfway. An aptly named, beautiful piece of America. 

It is Tuesday mid-afternoon in mid november, middle of the week. It is mid autumn, mid sixties farenheit, mid 1930's in political time. I am midway through a reading of Exodus and midway through my first reading of Tom Sawyer. I am not midway through the Koran, though I am perhaps midway to midway. I am midway through a rather contentious business dispute. However, this is offset by knowing that the Christmas decorations are about midway to their full glory.

Not a week for closure, but for simply putting one foot ahead of the other.

When in southern Missouri, stop in Halfway. On some days it is the very best place to be.

07 November 2010

Christmas lights

Here's the November pic of the house. Leaves gone from the trees and an unseasonably warm Sunday has us out putting up the Christmas lights, wreaths and the Moravian star.

There seems to be a national shortage of the red mini-lights as it took trips to Walmart, Target, Home Depot and another Target before I finally found them. Another neighbor across the street was putting up lights today, while one around the corner fell off his ladder and an ambulance was called.