Congressional Constipation

It seems that the current case of collective Congressional constipation is at a critical stage. There is so much intense straining going on that whenever it breaks through, one would be wise to not be nearby. There are not enough Charmin bears in the country available to clean up the mess that will come with the laxative induced eruption that is sure to come. The swamp itself will not be able to contain it.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving 2017

As I sit here in my little tin shack on this eve before Thanksgiving, I’m struck by a couple of things. The first is that judging from the television, this holiday has become an afterthought. It seems to me that if this were a Monopoly game, we have just drawn a card that says, “Go directly from Halloween to Christmas, do not pass Thanksgiving.

The other thought that comes to mind is that I’ve lost some good friends this year.

Now, I always think of Joanie during the holiday season, and I do today as well. She is the constant.


The first loss this year was the death of my best friend, Wayne Tanous. It was a shock to me, and I still think of him every day. Wayne and I had a special relationship. He had been my go to guy when Joanie was going through her ordeal, and he was the one I could talk to about what was going on, and he would understand.


We had similar backgrounds, and it was like we knew each other so well, we knew what the other would be thinking.

His loss still weighs on me, especially during the holidays. Wayne had lost his wife Karen two years before Joanie died, and so we understood what each one was going through.

This year, I lost another long time friend, Don Klocke. We had been friends going back to the 50s. I was part of his wedding, and he was part of my first wedding in 1967. He also made a surprise appearance at my second wedding when Joanie and I got married in 1989. The memories I have of the time spent with Don and his wife Mary Kaye, who had died the year before are ones I treasure.

The other loss I felt this year was Doug Peacock. When he died, he had been living in Rhode Island. Doug was an Army buddy of mine. We had spend two years together in Germany in the early 60s and had seen each other on a couple of occasions over the years. During the past couple of years we had the habit of calling one another a couple of times a month and just talking about was going on in our lives. It was something I looked forward to, and I think he did as well.


Another old friend, more recent than the others was Wayne Clark. Clark, as we called him was a retired pipe salesman. By pipe I mean the kind of pipes used for drainage and those types of things. Dean Meyer, a rancher and former State Senator from Killdeer and Dickinson referred to Clark by the nickname he had earned while dealing with County Commissions. He said they called him “Big Pipe.”

Elbow Room 3_edited-1

The immutable fact is that as we age we all have more years like this, as we lose old friends.

However, I chose to not lament their passing, but to be thankful they were a part of my life at all, and in a lot of ways still are.

So, I’m thankful this Thanksgiving for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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Thanksgiving 2017

The Tuna Fish Thanksgiving

Some of you may have seen this before. It is from a post on The Chocolates of My Mind from a couple of years ago. I revisit here as we approach another Thanksgiving holiday. These memories are part of the warp and woof of the fabric of my life. I am fond of remembering them.

As this old guy sits here on the prairie and the Thanksgiving holiday nears, a melancholy wave rolls over me. From my humble Rollohome I sit here with my Siamese friend, Brandy and reflect on Thanksgivings past.

This holiday brings back images from other times. Some are images of the type of picture one might expect. There are the images of being home with family, a table groaning under the weight of the food associated with this most American of holidays, and sisters and brother all near and football on TV and after the feast, and a fair bit of wine and for some, naps.

Over the years, my Thanksgivings have been warm and times that I’ve enjoyed with family, going back to my days as a youngster, which basically ended in 1959 when I joined the Army, and would begin missing Thanksgiving at homes, at least at my parent’s home.

The first Thanksgiving I missed in Carrington was in 1959. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was on KP duty at the mess hall at Fort Devens, MA. It was a Saturday, and as the end of the day was approaching, I noticed a chance to change the character of the upcoming holiday. One of our number was married and lived off post. So, as I was in the process of cleaning up and looking about the mess hall, I noticed a large number of chickens, and a supply of other food that could all go into the making of a Thanksgiving dinner.

Having seen that, I hatched a plan to steal a number of said chickens, along with a sheet pan of brownies, needed for desert, and some other food stuffs to help make our feast off post at our friends small apartment. I found a place outside of the mess hall where I could stash the food we were going to use for our own holiday meal.

I began to systematically wrap chickens and put all of our ill gotten goods out the back door of the mess hall, and when we were finished for the night, and under the cover of darkness, we loaded it into the car of our friend.

The following Thanksgiving Day, along with the appropriate amount of wine and spirits we all enjoyed a meal made even more delicious by our having pulled off the food theft that would become known, at least to us, as the “Great Thanksgiving Day Heist.”

Even at 19 years of age, we were showing signs of being able to improvise, something that, in the military, is valued, or so we thought. It was, as I reflect, a great Thanksgiving.

Now, fast forward to 1976. The years between 1959 and 1976 had been years of many Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends. In the meantime, I had been married, we had a son in 1974, and enjoyed many of those days with our own family.

Unfortunately, in 1976, those days would become memories, as I had become separated from my wife, Mary Ann, in October of that year. It was something that I had precipitated, and it changed the nature of the holiday for several years to come.

That year, on Thanksgiving Day, my brother Jerry, who was working on the ABM site near Nekoma, drove to Grand Forks, and we had Thanksgiving dinner at The Village Inn Pancake House on the west side of Grand Forks that afternoon.

As I recall, I had bacon, eggs, hash browns and later that day went to Whitey’s in East Grand Forks.

The following year, I was living in a small apartment at the back of a house, and when Thanksgiving rolled around again, I was wondering what I should do to mark the holiday this year. As I sat there alone in my small apartment, looking at the little black and white TV, like five inch screen little, I had to decide what I was going to eat for Thanksgiving.

Football was on the TV, and I had my fill of coffee, and that’s when it struck me. I would have a Tuna salad sandwich.
It was no ordinary Tuna salad sandwich. After I got done going through the cupboard, I had made what was the most memorable Tuna salad sandwich I had ever had.

After the sandwich, the game and a short nap, I went to Whitey’s, and I thought it was a fine Thanksgiving, all things considered.

The moral: No matter where you are, what your situation is, or how much you miss what you once had, you can always make yourself a killer Tuna salad sandwich and watch a football game, and be thankful you can do that.

To all who read this, my wish to you is to have a Thanksgiving to remember.

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“Where The Popsicles Are” 10/22/17

Thank you all so very much.

As you may have heard by now, Joanie’s story has found a place.


It has been a long time coming, considering I have lived with this project since not long after she died.

The process of getting from there to here could best be illustrated by the following photos. They should give you an idea of what went into this story. This is where the process began.

Version 2


The files, the proof books, the personal notes, the observations, and editing all went into the final product that is finally for sale on There will also be an eBook version of the story available in a couple of days, also on Amazon.

There was a time when I didn’t know if I would ever get to this spot, and had it not been for the generous support of so many of you I might never have been able to publish this book. I can’t thank you enough, and I will be forever grateful for that support.

As I’ve told many of you, I don’t know how this book will be received, all I do know for sure is that I did my best to tell a story about a remarkable woman and her struggle with a deadly disease. Whether I have succeeded or not I will leave to the judgement of others.

My job now is to help her story find a wider audience, an audience that I think is out there.

Again, my sincere thanks to all of you who believed in Joanie, and trusted me to tell her story.

Take care, and be well.


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Labor Day 2017

I wrote this  on a Labor Day weekend, a few years ago and today, on the eve of this weekend that signals the end of summer, I sit here and reflect on what those weekends meant to me.

Melancholy has a way of creeping into my brain on the eve of this weekend. On this night, chances are Joanie and I would have been on the road headed for Minneapolis and St. Paul with a stop in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s.

I read this again, and really couldn’t think of much I would change about it, so I post it again as a reflection on happier times.

Both Joanie and my youngest sister, Joni, are gone now, and I think that adds to the bittersweet remembrance that comes to me every year about this time.

A Reflection.

It was our weekend for years.

On a Thursday or Friday, we’d point the car toward I-94, bring along some cassette tapes, pick up some coffee and not look back
It was Labor Day weekend and it was ours.

Joanie wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair. I’d never been to see it, so that was the plan. I thought it would be a one time deal when it started in the early 80’s, but it went on well into the 90’s.

The trip became something special to us. We both loved Minneapolis/St. Paul, and how the pace of the life slowed down there on a holiday weekend.

We’d stop on our way down at Mabel Murphy’s in Fergus Falls, and often follow that with stopping in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s place. Joni was my younger sister.

After a night there, it was on to the Cities, and for years after that first trip, we would leave Joni with this, “We’ll meet you by the bear at noon.” The bear was this huge carved statue, located in an open area, not far from the main entrance to the grounds, and we would be there on Sunday.

Our Saturday’s in the Cities were spent just roaming around with no agenda. We’d look for new restaurants or bars to drop into. We’d find places like St. Anthony’s on Main where there might be live music on a plaza, and we’d park there until searching out somewhere else. In the evening, we treat ourselves to a good dinner, or find a place like Guadalaharry’s to settle in for some margaritas, food and fun with the staff.

Our Saturday nights always ended with a Bailey’s at the hotel bar.

Sunday morning, it would be bagels and coffee, and the Tribune at Byerly’s in Edina, and then it would be time to head to Shakopee and the Renaissance Fair, and the first thing we did when we got there was to get some flowers for her hair.

We would meet my sister Joni by the bear, and at least one time she brought her daughter Audrey with her. She would get flowers for her hair as well, and then we’d be off to wander the expanse of the grounds.

We came to love those Sunday’s at the Renaissance, for they were a riot of color, sound, humor, characters, music, food and drink. We loved the characters like Rat Catcher, Grave Digger, Puke and Snot, The Pickle Man. We got to know places like Folkstone Well, Bad Manor. Tree Top Round, Upson Downs and all of the various stages around the grounds.

The food was good, as was the music, and Joanie would spend a lot of time wandering through the various shops. We also collected a very large collection of ceramic wine goblets over the years, and I still have them. Each one has the year we got them painted on them.

We stayed each Sunday we were there until they closed, and one of the highlights we looked forward to at the close of the day was the dance. There in a large open area, they would bring out some big kettle drums, and members of the cast and crew of the fair would begin pounding out a rhythm, and soon, in the late, warm afternoon light, an unseemly sight began to take place. Cast members, vendors, customers of the fair were gathered in a circle and soon people were dancing with an abandon that was infectious. I even managed to get Joanie to join in a couple of times. It was always a feel good way to end our day at the Renaissance.

So on the eve of this Labor Day weekend, I sit here sipping some wine from one of those many Renaissance goblets, and I think back on those weekends that were ours.


I think back on how much fun it was to go to the Fair, to get some flowers for their hair.

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