Friday, March 26, 2010

pick yourself up...

i am angry...
i am tired of all of the ups and downs of messing with my mind. change the rules, keep me guessing ...

plan A is fucked up so go to plan B... oh, so that is fucked up as well, on to plan C. no plan C yet well just keep going... you will think of something.

i am just tired... why do they have to make it so hard?
when is it enough? when will i have peace of mind? is that too much to ask?
yes, you say as you just take another piece of me...

so what is left? i feel like all the little pieces are being taken away...
i keep trying but it does no good, take one step forward and get knocked back on my ass... get up you say... and then you knock me down again...

what am i to do? quit whining you say...
pick your self up... as you set yourself to knock me down again...
that's life you say, just pick yourself up...

there is a light at the end of the tunnel they tell me...what tunnel?
it's hard to even look up from where i am lying...darkness rules, leaching into every part of me...
anger wells up unabated, it fills me spilling over...

when the door is closed sometimes a window will open...
there is no window in this room that i am locked in. there isn't even a light under the door...
it's black and empty and closed, slammed shut in my face...
thats life you say, just pick yourself up...

Originally published on Newsvine June 23, 2008.

This particular piece was written during a time of great stress for me. It is reflective of where I was and how far I have come in two years. It was written one night when I couldn't sleep. I didn't even bother to edit it at the time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nostalgia, the danger of looking back…

I find myself awake yet again at 5am. But, at least this time I have had a few hours of sleep; not enough sleep, but adequate for now. I actually woke about an hour ago and could not fall back asleep because of the thoughts churning about in my head, thinking back…

I have found myself doing that a lot recently. Snippets of conversations on Twitter, a blog post that would remind me of something I had written in the past, the death of a friend last month; each occurrence took me back to another me.

I have found myself wondering what has happened to people that I have left behind. The friend who died was a former coworker. Our friendship existed mainly at work. It was casual, not real deep. But, you sometimes spend more time with your coworkers than you do your family. When she moved to a different department on a different shift, the friendship disappeared. We would occasionally see each other when she was coming to work as I was leaving. Just enough time for a quick hello and we were on our way. I was shocked to learn that she was gone, permanently gone. I learned of it in an email from my former manager. She was younger than me.

As of late, I have also been in search of my writing voice. Somewhere along the way I lost the words. I could no longer find voice to what I was feeling. I read the blogs of others and would be reminded of something I had written in the past. This would take me back into the archives of my Newsvine column. But in reading those old posts, it only served to bring back emotional pain. The driving force and inspiration of many of those articles was the pain I was going through at the time. To go back was to in a sense, relive that pain. To read the comments brought back the words of comfort of many online friends who lifted me up and helped me deal with whatever problem I was going through. But at the same time, those words from friends in the past left me wondering, where were they now?

I was pretty much forced to leave Newsvine as events and time constraints in real life did not allow me the opportunity to spend time there anymore. In my absence many of those friends left as well. People would come and go on the site continually. As people would leave, new friends would arrive and you would easily forget those who had departed. The last articles that I posted on Newsvine have not done well at all. I have become one of those who have been forgotten. I do still have a few loyal friends who show up when I post. And I do so appreciate them, but I also miss the companionship of the many who are now gone.

I am not sure anymore what the future holds for me, but who is? I have always tried to look forward and that attitude really saved me at times. Don’t dwell on the pain just keep moving. But, maybe it didn’t save me after all. I never really dealt with the emotional issues and the losses I experienced. Not necessarily because I didn’t want to deal with them, but because I just didn’t have the time. Events in my life kept pushing me forward. There was no time for reflection, until now.

But as I see it, at this moment, maybe I don’t need to reconcile the past as much as I need to learn to live with me as I am now. That might be in fact the true struggle.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Gift to My Father

This was originally published June 17, 2007 at I am re-publishing it here at the request of a friend.

Today is not just Father's day for me. It is also the anniversary of my father's death. On June 17Th 2005, I lost my father to cancer. The cancer had not been caught early enough and there was nothing that could be done to save his life. The only treatment the doctors offered was to possibly extend his life a little longer. But it was feared that in his weakened condition even the treatment might kill him. My father chose to have no further treatment. He saved us, his children, from a terrible decision. He said simply, that he had a good long life and he accepted the fact that his life was ending.

He was eventually moved to a hospice unit in a nursing home in his home town, but while he was still at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis I went to visit him. I think it was the first time I had been there with him by myself. It was uncomfortable and I didn't know what to say. I think I said something stupid like "how are you?" I don't remember exactly. However, I do remember his response. He told me he was lonely. Then I really didn't know what to say. I had never talked with my Dad much. I had always been more comfortable talking with my mother. His words stayed with me as I left the hospital that day.

The doctors had estimated that he had probably six months to live. But, we were all surprised at how quickly his health began to fail. He had only been in the nursing home a couple of weeks when I got the dreaded call that I needed to come. They had been unable to wake him that morning. Even the hospice nurses were surprised. It was a two hour drive for me. I had picked up my oldest brother Paul and we got down there in record time. But, before we got there my brother Arno had been able to wake him. All of his children were able to make it there in time to say goodbye.

The next day he had slipped further and this time we couldn't wake him. Family and friends moved in and out of his room. I can remember crying on the shoulder of my best friend from high school. She was working at the nursing home and I hadn't seen her in probably twenty years. But, she showed up just in time when I needed her.

At some point during that long afternoon I made a decision. I am not sure how, but I knew that this would be his last day. I decided to stay with him. I remembered that day in the hospital a couple weeks before. I did not want him to die alone. People tried to tell me that he could linger for a while and that I really didn't need to stay, but I knew, and I was staying.

My sister-in -law Jane decided to stay with me. I mainly just sat by his bed and talked to him. The words I couldn't find a couple weeks before were there. I know he heard me. At one point I was telling him that we kids all learned to swear from him. He never swore in front of us. But, when he was milking his cows he would sometimes let loose a string of choice profanity. My siblings and I would be sitting at the back door listening. Jane, who had been sitting on the other side of the bed, started to laugh. She told me that when I said we were all listening, he kicked. I laughed as well and quickly reassured him that God wouldn't hold it against him.

As the night progressed Dad seemed really restless and I thought he might be in pain. I got the nurse to increase his medication. She told me he probably wasn't in pain with all of the medication he had received. She said that the reason he might be restless was because, "dying was hard work!"

I continued to talk to him, but I was running out of things to say. So I tried think of a time in his life when he would have been relaxed. My Dad was a farmer and I remembered on the first farm that we lived on, there was a field with mile long rows. As it was early June, I tried to think what he would have been doing if he were still farming. I came up with "cultivating the corn." I asked him to picture himself on his tractor on a sunny, June afternoon driving down those long rows. He was out of the house away from his seven, noisy children, it was peaceful. He was just driving his tractor. After that, every time he started to get restless, I talked to him about being out in that field. I might have just imagined it, but it seemed to help.

About 10 pm he suddenly fell into a deep sleep. His breathing was normal again and he seemed almost relaxed. I stopped talking and Jane and I moved to a small table at the foot of his bed. We started to play cards as my Dad started to gently snore. Just before midnight I began to doubt that it would happen that night. Then he made a funny sounding noise and then nothing.

I came back around to his side and grabbed his hand. It seemed almost like I could feel him leaving. I also sensed the very strong presence of several departed family members, most strongly were my grandfather and my aunt who was also my godmother. There was almost a joyous, welcoming feeling. To this day I cannot adequately describe it.

We got the nurse on duty and it was confirmed. My father was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. As I drove away from the nursing home that night I knew I should be grieving, but I wasn't. I was happy for him. He was no longer in pain and he was with his family. I had shared it with him. He was not alone.

Two days later on a Sunday, I was trying to write his eulogy. It suddenly occurred to me that it was Father's Day. That night at the nursing home was my final and possibly the best gift I could have given him. I gave him my time.

Happy Father's Day, I miss you!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Duckies on Ice

Springbrook Nature Center March 14, 2010:

I left my apartment today with the intention of having breakfast at Keys Café (my absolute, favorite place to eat) and then take a walk at the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley. I was hoping to see some birds today and maybe a few ducks. I was in luck, but the first water fowl spotted was not at the nature center. There were two mallards right by my front door walking around on the lawn. Definitely a good sign! Would have gotten a picture, but I was unprepared and they flew off before I could get my camera out.

Breakfast at Key's was delicious as always. Key’s is like “Cheers” to me. I had stopped going for a couple of years when I moved from Fridley. After my accident last Fall I had physical therapy at a clinic nearby. There were times I didn’t feel I was up to the drive home immediately afterwards. Since it was so close, I began stopping by Key’s. It was like I had never left. Now I am coming on the Sundays again for breakfast. The food is so homemade good and plentiful, that it is almost necessary to walk it off afterwards. And that is what brought me back the Springbrook Nature Center.

It was still a little overcast at Springbrook when I got there, but the fog had mostly burned off. There was an earthy, damp, organic smell. It was a beautiful fragrance, fresh and clean. A lot of the snow was gone from last week, except on the trails. I have no clue as to why that would seem to melt last. It was icy in spots and muddy in others. It was very necessary to watch where I was walking. I didn’t mind too much though, as occasionally I would find evidence that I shared the trails with the inhabitants of the Center. It didn’t take me long to spot my first birds. They were hopping about on part of the trail that was melted ahead of me. But, they were much too fast for me to get a picture and flew up into the trees. However, I was able to get a shot of one of them there. I used my zoom to get a closer shot through the branches. And not much farther up the trail I found a lone mallard swimming in part of the marsh that had melted. But, I could hear what I thought were geese farther up the trail.

I was taking the long trail around the center this week. I had avoided it last week because I was concerned about the conditions and took interior trails. Parts of it were still slippery this week, but manageable. The trail becomes a bridge and winds directly through the northern section of the marsh. It is my favorite part of the nature center as it is so beautiful. During the summer months you can peer down and see fish, turles and occasionally a beaver. There is generally all types of water fowl present as well.

But it is too early yet, just some noisy geese today. I could hear them, but hadn’t seen them yet. The marsh in this area still appears to be frozen solid. But then I looked up ahead and there they were. Two geese walking right next to the bridge. They looked very out of place standing on the ice. But, as I got closer I could see small patches of open water next to the vegetation with more geese swimming. If the weather stays this warm it won’t be long before all of the ice is off and the dozen or so geese will become entire flocks with other species of water fowl as well. Soon!

I didn’t make it around the entire trail as had been the plan. My body started to protest and I decided I should take interior trails back to my vehicle. A long winter has made me a little soft. I will need to work to get myself back in shape to do the entire trail again.

Hope you all enjoy the pictures. Maybe by next week the snow will be gone completely and I can find a little green other than the moss on the trees.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I need to write again

I need to write again. It has been quite awhile now that I have really written from the heart. But, I was mentally exhausted. I just needed some time, some quiet and to slow down.

When I think back now over the past five years it is no wonder that I am exhausted. It started with the death of my father. I won’t go into great detail here. I have written of it elsewhere. He died of cancer. When he was diagnosed, it was already too late to save him. He chose not to have treatment which would only prolong his life, not save it. I am not sure exactly, the whole time was a blur, but I think it was only about six weeks from diagnosis to his death. He surprised everyone, especially the hospice nurses. On what was to be his final night, I insisted I was staying. No one seemed to think it was necessary, but I did. He died just before midnight and I felt him leave. That single event affected me profoundly.

For the next few years my concern shifted to my mother and her declining health. She finally reached a point where she could no longer live alone, but she could not accept that. She was 91 years old and could barely walk. It was painful watching such a formidable woman decline. Once free with her opinions on anything, she now sat silent in her wheelchair. I could not help her. I could not talk to her honestly about her situation. The truth would throw her into a depression. I could see it in her eyes that she found death preferable to the loss of her independence. She actually confirmed that recently to my sister. I watched her fade away. My mother was alive, but I found myself grieving for the woman that she was and I could not accept the woman she was becoming.

It took a year but, she eventually accepted that she could not move home again. Plans were made to pack up and sell her home. Another extremely painful experience; packing up a lifetime of treasures. What do you discard? Well that is another story in itself and I won’t go into it here. I have written of it elsewhere. But in the process I also found acceptance.

Throughout all of that I also found out that the my department was closing and I was losing my job. Initially we had been told it would happen over two years. They were off by a year. I scrambled and went back to school, working fulltime and taking classes. I had been out of school for 33 years and I didn’t know if I could still do it. I found that I could, but it was so much harder than it was when I was younger. My last day at work was New Years Eve 2008. I started 2009 unemployed. That brought another whole set of emotions I was not prepared for.

I know there is a point here somewhere, really there is. Through all of this I felt that I couldn’t slow down. I was juggling so many things at once and felt if I let up for just a second it would all come crashing down. I was getting so tired, but I couldn’t let up. At times I was also working a second job. Through all of this, the only thing that kept me from going crazy was my writing and a group of online friends. I started a caregivers group on and found many who had problems similar to mine. We seemed to take turns holding each other up. I wrote of all of the stressful events of my life. It was my way of purging all of the emotions that I had been keeping bottled up inside of me. Sometimes the only way I could sleep was to get up and write out all of the thoughts curning in my head.

I published them to Newsvine and found many others in similar circumstances that were helped by what I had written. There was a lot of healing on those threads, especially for me. But the fast pace was taking its toll, emotionally and physically. I wanted to stop but couldn’t. Eventually I found that could no longer write. I had nothing left to give. I pretty much left Newsvine.

And then I was physically stopped as well. On the last day of August, 2009 I was in an accident that totaled my vehicle. At the height of rush hour on one of the busiest freeways in Minneapolis, I was rear ended and pushed into another lane where I hit a 3rd car. We both crossed another lane and ended up on the side of the road without hitting anyone else. Somehow, we all walked away.

That woke me up and made me realize that I had to slow down. I wasn’t living my life, I was racing through it. But I still had to deal with insurance, finding a different vehicle in between physical therapy for whiplash and oh yes, I was still in school. I somehow made it to the end of the semester. I was not returning to school the following semester because somewhere in there I also lost my funding. So I also had to quickly find a full time job. And I did.

But what I really wanted to do was just stop. I wanted to do nothing. I didn’t want to leave my bed. I didn’t want to even talk anymore. I withdrew. Writing had always helped in the past, but I just couldn’t do it. In five years I had come full circle. It was similar to when my father died. At that time I was also emotionally exhausted and didn’t write at all for a year and a half.

What saved me then were my online friends on Newsvine. Their support and encouragement carried me and allowed me to release all of the pain I was holding inside. And when shit started to happen again, they held me up as I continued to write my way through it. It is all there buried in my archives.

Today, I am now moving forward again and slowly finding my way back, to writing and to life. This time I have once again been inspired by many online friends to write again. Only this time they are on Twitter. I have often wondered how and why I have become friends with certain people. It seems so random. But then suddenly it all comes clear in a short tweet, a song shared or a blog post that you stumble upon. Sometimes it brings enlightenment, other times it brings tears.

Most are probably not even aware of the impact that they have had on me. But, that is the way of writing. Sometimes you never get to know when something you wrote was the very thing someone needed to read. We all come together online for reasons unknown. But, our lives have become digitally intertwined throughout the various social media. And though far apart, we are indeed all in this together. And I guess in all this rambling mess, that is my point.

To all of my friends, new and old, I may never meet you, but you are real and exist in my heart.

Thank you for your continuing support!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fiction: The Cycle of Life

Ruth paused from washing her dishes to look out her kitchen window. Her robin was back. She smiled as she watched him gobble up the grape jelly. She loved watching her birds. It made doing the dishes a less dreary chore. She had put out the grape jelly to attract orioles, but the robins seem to like it also.

"Missy come here quick!" Her little granddaughter had just come into the kitchen for breakfast.

Missy rubbed her sleepy eyes and walked slowly over to her grandma. She was not about being quick in the morning. Ruth picked her up, so she could look out the window.

"Oh. Grandma! What a pretty bird!" she exclaimed.

"See, I told you birds liked to eat jelly, just like you!" Ruth was happy to finally get a smile from her granddaughter.

"It would have been nice, though if you had saved some of that jelly for us!" Grandpa Wally had just come in from his chores. He paused at the sink to give both his girls a morning kiss.

"Grandpa, Your face is all scratchy. You need to shave your whiskers!"

Ruth laughed, "You tell him girl! He won't listen to me!"

Wally put his hands on his hips. " Don't y'all start to gang up on me now!"

Ruth smiled. "Just sit down old man, your breakfast is ready!"

Ruth had scrambled eggs and sausage cooked and had been keeping it warm on the stove. She brought the frying pan over to the table and set it down on the trivet.

"You're staring to slow down Grandpa Wally! Missy and I were about to eat this fine breakfast without you!"

Wally feigned a mock protest then added. "I had to stop and check on Chocolate. I thought for sure that old goat would have her babies when I came out this this morning, but nothing yet."

"Were going to have baby goats!" Missy was excited!

"Maybe today baby girl, maybe today." said Wally with a broad smile. "Baby goats are called kids, just like you."

Ruth was smiling too. That was the most Missy had said at one time since the funeral.

"Grandma," Missy looked serious again, "Can Mama see the goats up in heaven?"

Ruth bit her lip before answering and looked across the table at her husband.

"Of course she can baby girl. She can see everything that we do." Ruth replied gently.

"Is God mad at us? Is that why he took Mama away?"

Ruth fought back the emotion building inside her and simply replied. "No baby, God isn't mad. He just wanted your Mama up in heaven with him."

"But, it's not fair!" she protested. "I need her here!" Missy started to cry again. Ruth picked her up and just held her.

Wally abruptly got up and left the table. Ruth could see a tear in his eye as he left the room. He had not been talking much lately either.

"Is grandpa OK?"

"He'll be OK Missy. He just misses your mama too."

Ruth knew that Wally had blamed himself for Sara's death. Ruth had been against it, but Wally had encouraged her to join the guard after high school. It was a good way to pay for her education he said. Wally had joined the guard after high school also. But, it was after Vietnam was over and the most he had to do were occasional deployments to look for a missing person and once to help after a tornado had struck a nearby town. Other than that, he just did his one weekend a month and his drill during the summer. He had retired from the guard about a year before Sara had joined.

Sara had met a boy during basic training and she had married and divorced him within a year. The only good thing to come from the relationship had been Missy. When the war started they were worried that she would be deployed. Sara hadn't wanted to go but, she simply said. "This is what I trained for. I have to go. It is my obligation."

Ruth gave Missy a quick hug and set her back down in her chair.

"Try to eat your eggs Missy before they get cold." Missy just pushed the eggs around on her plate, she had only eaten a few bites.

"Missy come quick! I want to show you something!" Wally had come back into the kitchen. Missy ran to her grandpa. He scooped her up and they went out the back door. Ruth followed right behind wondering what was up.

Wally had taken Missy to the goat pasture directly behind the house. Chocolate was having her babies and they watched as two baby kids were born. Missy was transfixed as she watched the miracle of birth. It was over in minutes and as they watched Chocolate clean off her babies, Wally began to speak.

" I know you are sad about your Mama, baby girl. You don't understand why God would take her away from us. Well, you aren't alone in that, cause I don't understand it either. But, God has a plan and it is not for us to know, we just have to live it. We are all part of God's plan, even Chocolate and her babies there. It is called the "cycle of life." When we are born into this world, none of us knows how long or short we have. That is why we have to live each day and be the best person that we can be. We need to treat everyone kindly, because we never know what God's plan is for us or for them."

Missy put her head on her grandpa's shoulder. They stood silently for a few minutes watching Chocolate and her babies as the mama goat nudged them both to their feet. Each kid eventually stood on wobbly legs and found their way back to their mama's milk.

"Look, they're having breakfast Grandma!" said Missy excitedly.

"They sure are Missy. Maybe we should go in and finish ours." said Ruth with a smile.

"Grandma, Can we go in to see Mama today? I want to water her flowers."

"That's a good idea Missy! And maybe we can get some more grape jelly at the store for Grandpa too!"

Wally laughed as they walked back to the house. "This time don't feed it all to the birds!"

This story was originally part of an informal writing competition called the "Last Fiction Writer Standing". A picture would be posted and a short story of not less than 500 words needed to be written and posted online within 3 days. I posted the photo for this round. It was to be my last story for the competition, but it was also my favorite.

First published on June 22, 2007:

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Duck Soup for Breakfast

Several years ago I wrote a number of short stories as part of an informal writing competition called "the last fiction writer standing." We were given a picture as inspiration and from that wrote a short story of at least 500 words. I plan to re-publish some of them here. Today's story was originally published on my column at on June 6,2007

Duck Soup for Breakfast

Old Ben woke to the sounds of traffic on the bridge above. He peeked out slowly from behind the newspaper that was covering his head to observe the sun rise golden across the river. Rush hour was just starting. It would get much noisier very soon. Everyone would be up. Not even the soundest sleeper could could get any rest with the incessant cacophony of the vehicles overhead. He rolled out from his sleeping bag to start the morning coffee and to scrounge up some breakfast.

Ben did not actually consider himself homeless. He had built a fine shelter made up of wood and aluminum that he had gotten from a nearby construction site. They were just scraps. No one cared that he took them. He just loaded up the cart that he had attached behind his bike. Ben went scrap picking most every day. He looked for metal that he could sell to the scrap dealers over on Washington Avenue. He usually made enough to buy a little food for himself and the others. Sometimes he found other items that were useful, those he brought home. He had actually built a wood burning stove from things he found here and there.

Ben was proud of the fact that he didn't have to pan-handle to get by as many of the other homeless did. They usually had pretty good meals from the little money that Ben made and the out of date products scavenged from dumpsters behind grocery stores. That was Eddie's job. But, lately the scrap pickings had been lean and there was not much to sell. Eddie had been chased away from their favorite grocery store by some teenagers. He was a little scared to go back because they had threatened to beat him up if they saw him again. Eddie had wanted to take Big Willy with him, but Ben said no.

Willy didn't like being around being around other people. He was a really big kid with the mind of a child. Somehow, he wasn't quite right in the head. Ben found him after he had run away from his father's house. From the little bit that Willy had told them, they figured he was better off with them. His father had treated him real bad. Willy had scars from being beaten. He told Ben that his father called him a "retard." It might have been true. But, he still shouldn't have called him that.

Ben always kept Willy at the camp so his father couldn't find him and so nobody would steal their stuff. Not that Willy would have stopped anyone. Ben just told him to look mean and tell anyone who came to "Git!" It worked well, they never lost anything. Willy was by nature very gentle, but he could look mean if he wanted to or felt threatened.

While Ben was making coffee, Eddie began to stir. Eddie stretched long and hard trying to work out the ache in his bones from sleeping on the ground. He could not remember the last time he slept in an actual bed. The closest he had come lately was an old mattress he had found dumpster diving over at the "U." It was easy picking at the college when all the kids were going home for the summer. The dumpsters were overloaded with fine stuff! The buildings owners didn't mind because it would cost them to haul it all away. Ben had chided him for taking the mattress because there was more valuable stuff to be had. But Eddie had insisted and he carried it back as best he could, sometimes dragging it. Within a week it had gotten wet and by the end of the month rodents had made a home inside. They just ended up using it for firewood.

Ben had met Eddie outside a homeless shelter downtown. It was wintertime and very cold. Someone had mugged Eddie and had taken his good coat. Eddie hated the homeless shelters. Someone was always picking on him because he was small. Ben bought him back to the bridge. They had been together since then, almost two years.

Eddie was hungry. " Damn Ben, I want something real to eat today!" Ben half smiled at the comment. Eddie was always ornery in the morning and always had the same complaint. "You had just better find something today then. Breakfast is not gonna just walk on up to ya!" Ben liked teasing Eddie in the morning until he got past his orneriness.

"You may be wrong about that today Benny boy. Look what's walking down to the river!" Ben looked to where Eddie was pointing and spotted a couple of ducks with babies coming down the hill towards the river. "Duck soup!" said Eddie with glee.

"Eddie, now don't you go messing with them ducks."

Eddie was not listening and had already started creeping towards the river. He wanted to cut them off before they got to the water. They stopped as he got close and began to hiss. The babies were chirping wildly as the older ducks continued to hiss. Eddie got to about five feet away when one of the ducks charged, then flew at his face. He was surprised and backtracked quickly, but tripped and fell backwards over a rock. He looked up to find Willy staring down at him holding a big stick.

"Don't hurt the duckies!"

"It's OK Bud, no one is gonna hurt the duckies." Ben had gotten there quickly. " Just put down the stick," he said gently. "You don't want to hurt Eddie!"

Willy lowered his arm and dropped the stick. He glared at Eddie. "Don't hurt the duckies." Willy turned and walked back to the shelter.

The ducks were long gone by then, swimming down the river to safety.

Ben reached down and offered a hand to Willy, helping him up. " You alright Eddie? That was a nasty fall! I thought that daddy duck was going to take your eyes out."

"I did too man. That was one nasty duck!"

"What were you thinking man?" Ben teased, "You can't have duck soup for breakfast!"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Springbrook Nature Center March 7, 2010

I really hate the piles of dirty snow that are now all that is left of the past winter’s storms. It is all so pretty when it first falls. The pristine beauty of clean, fresh snow covers everything. But after a couple of days the sand and gravel that are spread for traction turns the snow by the roadside into a dirty grey. It gets even worse as the temperature warms and the snow melts. The leftover, half melted mounds of snow look even dirtier as only the crusty, grey ice remains.

But, I knew of one place that that the snow would still be white and beautiful, Springbrook Nature Center. It is 127 acres of woods in their natural state located within the northern suburb of Fridley, MN. I used to walk there often when I lived in that area, but got out of the habit when I moved. Lately I have felt the need to return.

I would like to share with you some of the pictures that I took today. As you can see by the picture at the top, I did manage to find a little color in a moss covered stump. I also came across three women who were part of an effort to capture and band birds in the park. One of them directed me to a stump that had been literally ripped to shreds by woodpeckers.

In the coming weeks I will try to document the seasonal changes so that you all can enjoy it with me.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Signs of the Times

Woke up this afternoon and found once again that I had no food in the house. Well, that is not exactly true. I had no food in the house that didn’t require an effort to fix. I like to cook, but after only four hours sleep, I really didn’t feel like it today.

So I pulled myself together and I ended up at a neighborhood restaurant. After I was seated and had ordered, I had a chance to look around. My eyes were drawn across the street. I hadn’t noticed when I drove by, but there were two people carrying signs in front of the Walgreens. My first thought was, why would anyone be protesting in front of Walgreens? But, then they turned and I could read the signs: Girl Scout cookies for sale. They were not protesters, only two young girls.

With all of the crap going on these days, I guess I should not be surprised that my mind immediately jumped to dissent and protest. But a large part of me wishes that were not the case.