Where The Popsicles Are-164

Bob Kallberg:

Joanie Wigen

Joanie Wigen

I couldn’t let this date pass by without saying something, and not being sure what I should say, I just looked at what I had said before, and thought that was good enough. So, here it is again.

Originally posted on The Chocolates of My Mind:

May 10th.

Birthdays count years.
They are the markers we use
To measure the time of our lives.

From the first to the last,
They tell the world a person was,
And how long they were.

It’s Joanie’s birthday today.
That day that marks her time
From the first to the last.

No calendar reminds me,
No notes remind me.
I just know.

Birthdays tell the world a person was,
But they don’t tell why a person mattered.
That’s a job for the people they touched.

Tonight, on your birthday,
I will be alone, but not totally.
I will have a Martini and remember, why you mattered.

Our feline friends will get treats,
They won’t know why, or wonder,
But I will tell them, “We’re having a birthday party.”

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What Those Legislators Really Mean.

The end of another legislative session is near, and the debates are getting hotter and heavier. If you have been up on “The Hill” at all this session you might have wondered how to make sense of what is being said on the floor of the House and Senate.

The oratory, speechifying and pontificating that goes on during a legislative debate can be bewildering to even veteran observers, and so you can understand how the first time visitor to the House or Senate chambers can be bemused and confused.

With that in mind, and in the interest of making plain some of the phrases uttered by the people we elect to send to the Capitol to either protect our rights, or restrict them, what follows is a glossary of terms which might be helpful in understanding the debate on your next visit to the Legislature.

You will often hear members say, “This is a simple bill.” This means that the bill is not simple, hardly anyone has read it, and those who have aren’t sure what is in it, and you will have to trust the presenter on this one.

“I don’t want to belabor the point,” is a statement which precedes a point that is about to be belabored.

“There is no fiscal note on this bill.” This means we don’t know how much this sucker is going to cost, or who is going to pay for it, but we should pass it anyway and let the Senate kill it.

“My remarks will be brief.” When you hear this phrase, go to the coffee shop, the bathroom,  take a nap or write a letter to an old friend knowing that when you come back the speaker will be still talking.

“I wasn’t going to get up on this bill,” usually means, “I wasn’t going to get up on this bill until I heard the idiotic statements from the previous speakers, and it’s obvious they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

“I’ve had a lot of mail on this one.” This means the speaker had two letters urging a no vote and one urging a yes vote, so the speaker is going to go with the majority.

“This tax is unfair.” This means the speaker might end up having to pay this tax, and we all know that the only fair tax is the one the other guy has to pay.

“This is a housekeeping bill.” This statement means, “A vote for this bill will have a lot to do with keeping us all in the House.” This also applies when heard Senate debates.

You will also hear a lot of submitting during legislative debates. “I submit,” is a term often heard being used by lawyers on TV shows in arguments before juries, and has been adopted by many legislators. They think it makes them sound like they know what the hell they’re talking about.

Then there’s the phrase, “It is incumbent upon us,” usually uttered by an incumbent, and is followed by some statement urging a course of action the incumbency dictates.

Now then, some legislators can be really creative, so don’t be surprised if on your next trip to the legislature you hear one of them using many of these phrases in a single speech on the House or Senate floor, such as, “Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I will not belabor the point, but I submit that it is incumbent upon us to act responsibly and  vote for this simple housekeeping bill, especially if we are remain incumbents, which I further submit it is incumbent upon us to remain.”

Now you know what they really mean.

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Where The Popsicles Are-155

Bob Kallberg:

On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, on a hospital bed, in the living room in our house at 1205 N. Mandan St., at about 9:25 P.M., as I held her hand, my wife, my lover and best friend, Joanie Wigen breathed her last, while Bailey and Brandy stood silently by, not knowing what was happening, but knowing that their friend was in trouble.

Every year, at this time, the melancholy associated with that night invades, and won’t let go until I do something, say something or write something. As I read the epilogue again, I thought I need say nothing more, but I will add just a few words.

On this anniversary, I decided to repost the epilogue to the Where The Popsicles Are, to help me escape the melancholy.

This was first posted in February 15, 2014 when I finally finished the first draft of Joanie’s story. It kind of sums up why I wrote what I wrote, and what it meant to me and where I hope it goes in the future.

Where it goes in the future, is still a work in progress as I try to figure out how to marshall the resources necessary to get in some form that will be worthy of consideration for publication. I will keep you posted.

Originally posted on The Chocolates of My Mind:


“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Joanie & MuffinJoanie and Muffin

Well, there you have it. “Where The Popsicles Are” has come to an end. I tried to heed the King’s advice to the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,‘ but I remain surprised that it took me this long, or that the story ended up being this long.

The first post of this narrative was on Valentine’s Day of February, 2013, so it has taken me a full year, and upwards of 150-thousand words to get to this point. As a journalist who wrote for TV and radio news, and newspapers, I have never written this much on any given subject in my life.

I suppose I could blame Joanie, for it was her suggestion a couple of years before she died that I write some columns on…

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Miracle on Ice-1980

Remembering Where I Was, When.

It is one of those, “Do you remember where you were, when?” moments.

This bunch of college hockey players, all kids, coached by legend Herb Brooks were not supposed to beat the Russian pros, who had won the last four Olympic Gold Medals, but that Friday night, 35 years ago, in Lake Placid, New York, something wonderful happened.

I was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I had moved there in November of 1979 from Grand Forks where I’d been living since I left Fargo after a separation and divorce. I went to St. Cloud, where I had my sister Joni was living, and would use their house to crash in until I found work. I was unemployed, pretty well broke, and was really not knowing what my future would look like. I did find work, selling cars at St. Cloud Dodge, during the day, and tending bar, part time at the Sunwood Inn, at the motel’s lounge which served it’s large dining room as well.

I wasn’t working that Friday night in February 1980, but went to the lounge at the Sunwood to watch the hockey game with friends I worked with. St. Cloud is a good hockey town, and having spent years in Grand Forks, both in college and working there, I was a confirmed hockey fan.

When I saw that this weekend they were celebrating in Lake Placid the 35th anniversary of what came to be called “The Miracle on Ice,” I was taken back immediately to that night so many years ago.

The lounge was a small place, not a sports bar by any stretch, with but one or two TV sets in the place.

That night as the game wore on, and during the third period, the drinks started coming faster, we knew we were watching something special, and the noise level rose to approximate that in a regular sports bar.

As word spread throughout the dining room and motel about how close the game was, the lounge began to fill up, and when the American lads, who weren’t even supposed to be there, brought the Russians down, the place erupted. There were cheers, high fives, hugs and smiles and more celebratory toasts to the “kids” who beat the mighty Russians to advance to the Gold Medal game.

The game against Finland for the Gold was almost anti-climactic. The USA won the Gold, and a permanent place in Winter Olympics and sports history.

That night remains a crystal clear memory for me, and I think I remember “where I was when” because of the intense pride and joy felt by everyone in that small lounge that night.

As we sat there that night in the afterglow of that moment, we were all a little closer, and though I have no idea where Becky, Mike, Karla or others may even be today, I think of them and remember that night when we all were so proud of our American boys.

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Where The Popsicles Are Redux

The Lincoln Underground and The Popsicle Story

The winter issue of The Lincoln Underground,a literary magazine in Lincoln, Nebraska is out now. It features cover art I had submitted to the editors, as well as two written pieces, one a poem, and the other a short non-fiction piece.

Cabernet Blues

Cabernet Blues

Some of you may have seen the two items before. They were written to be included as part of what has come to be called, “The Popsicle story.” In the true spirit of self promotion, here they are again.

Cape Cod 2001

There were the lobsters, the mussels and the shrimp.

There were our friends,

And there was you.

It was the shoulder season on Cape Cod.

The time when locals take back their towns.

Labor Day was past, we were the present.

The Sagamore bridge led us to Sandwich,

Where the sea air wrapped us in cool embrace

With promises of lobsters, mussels and shrimp.

Your life had changed by now.

You traveled with clouds of uncertainty.

Our friends at the Cape loved you all the more.

We spent a day on the water, on Al’s boat.

Under the Sagamore bridge, on the canal out into the bay,

We reveled in the September sun and sea.

We drove through history another day to Provincetown.

Past timeless buildings on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway,

Pausing in Wellfleet for scallops and wine, and talking as old friends do.

You soaked it all in those September days.

I could see it in your eyes. I could see it in the color of your cheeks.

In the dark of the Forestdale woods that night, they shined their shine.

It was the shoulder season on Cape Cod.

There were the lobsters, and the mussels and the shrimp.

There were our friends,

And there was you.

A Purse Full of Memories.

I ran across your purse today, while rummaging through old boxes.

It was heavy. Still filled with touchstones that filled your life.

I felt the warm leather of the bag and the years since you’ve been gone seemed to melt away.

I gave you that dark brown, leather Coach bag, the one with the flap over the opening, on one long ago Christmas, because it fit you. Elegant, understated, classic.

You wore it well from your shoulder, even when you crammed more into it than it was built for, but it still looked good.

I opened it, and there were your glasses, your overstuffed check book, notes scribbled on scraps of paper containing names and numbers of people who once mattered to you enough to scribble their names and numbers on scraps of paper. For what reasons, I do not know.

I found the talismans, the crystal, the cross and the worry stone, you carried with you during those most difficult times of your life, and the hope you carried with you in that dark brown, leather Coach bag. There was also a card that went with one called, “The Cross in My Pocket.” I never knew if you read it, but I knew if you had, you believed in what it said.

There was a note, handwritten on a yellow piece of paper torn from a small legal tablet, that was a thank you note you were composing to someone who was very close to you and who had been generous and supportive during those dark times. I don’t know who it was intended for, but it could have been any number of people. The words were yours, and they seemed to come to life off the page.

There was a tin of mints from someone’s wedding in 2007, a wedding you were not able to attend. The decal on the cover read “Jim and Kirsten, April 21, 2007.

There was a pocket pack of Kleenex, like the ones you used to shred when the going was tough.

When I see that purse, I think of that snowy day in Minneapolis. We were there in early December for a doctor’s appointment of some kind, and we had an extra day all to ourselves.

You wanted to go down Nicollet mall so you could stop at Dayton’s, or Macy’s, or whatever it was called then, and go to Crate and Barrel for some Christmas tree decorations. Then we walked over to Hennepin Avenue, and found a restaurant we hadn’t been to before.

The lunch rush was gone, and we were pretty much alone there. We stayed as long as we wanted, drank some wine, had some flatbread with Asiago cheese and talked as if we had nothing better to do that day, and we didn’t. When we saw it begin to fill up again, we knew we had been there long enough. We left and began the walk up Hennepin to find our way back to the car parked across from The Loon Cafe on 1st Avenue.

It had begun to snow lightly. It wasn’t that cold, but the huge snowflakes made it feel as if we were part of some giant, ethereal snow globe.

You were wearing that black wool coat with your red scarf, and that dark brown, leather Coach bag hung loosely from your shoulder, looking every bit the city girl that day, out with her friend. I carried the bags from Dayton’s or Macy’s or whatever it was called, and the bag from Crate and Barrel, in one hand, the other held yours.

The snow continued to fall, but we didn’t hurry. We weren’t cold at all. I think we were both entranced by the scene that winter day in the city, as if we were playing the parts in some romantic movie, of two carefree lovers out walking on a snowy afternoon during the holidays who were in love, and didn’t care who knew it.

I don’t know if you ever thought of that day the same way I did, nor do I know if you thought of that dark brown, leather Coach bag the same way I did, but I like to think you did.

Both of them looked good on you.

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