Select Page

Pee When You Can

I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. And I’m guessing if you are as well then you’re also a fan of the new Netflix Reacher movie with mountainous Alan Ritchson playing Reacher as opposed to the diminutive Tommy Cruise of previous Reacher movies.

In the books, Reacher is fond of saying, “Sleep when you can, because you never know when you’re going to sleep again.” Apparently an old army rule.

At 64 I’ve adopted a similar mantra.

“When you see a bathroom use it. You’re gonna need one (again) in the next half hour and you might not be near one.


07.09.22 – Billboards

07.09.22 – Billboards

The drive from Rochester to Brainerd is peppered with billboards. And as with all billboards, you’d probably agree, some stand out more than others.

Like . . .

Colt Ford in Concert

Do you need any other information to know he’s a country singer?

But my question is, did he even consider Remington RAM? Or Savage Sierra? Why not Ruger Renault?

To be fair and not knowing if I’d ever heard any of his music, I listened to part of Hood, and kinda liked it. And while it seems contrived – okay, very contrived – Colt Ford is a great name for a country musician.

Me? I would have gone with Sig Silverado!!!

And then there’s . . .

Guaranteed Offer

I don’t want to sell my house, and I’m tired of Kris Lindahl offering to buy it.

If you’re not from “these parts,” you may not understand. This guy is a Realtor and has more than 600 of these billboards dotting the Minnesota landscape. Six hundred!!!

A recent article states he’s trying to trademark this arms-spread pose. Perhaps to assert, “I’m Kris Lindahl, and my ego is this big.”

That said, he sells a shit-ton more houses than I ever did. So there’s that.

So what about you? What are your favorite – or most annoying billboards?

Let me know in the comments.

07.10.22 – Home Again

07.10.22 – Home Again

Vacation is almost over. Back to the grind tomorrow.

We’ve only been gone a week, but it’s interesting how you can miss the day-to-day comforts of home. You’ve probably read articles about people who were away from home for months or years – and the things they missed. 

“All I could think about for the last six months was a McDonalds Quarter Pounder!” (Really? Not Mama’s spaghetti? Or getting laid or getting drunk? The only thing you thought about was a quarter-pounder?)

Or . . .

“I just want to take a bath – in private – with hot water and soap.” (So . . . how were things in prison, and when did you get out?)

Me, since we left the house last week, I’ve been pining for my electric nose hair trimmer and my back scratcher.

All week long, I had a wild hair up my nose, and I could not find that sonuvabitch. Without my electric trimmer, I’m forced to use my trusty tiny Swiss Army pocket knife. But the little scissors are extremely pointed and let me tell ya, you do want to slip on a wet bathroom floor and shove that sucker up a nostril.

Then I’ve had this annoying spot on my back (TMI?) that itches like crazy – and it’s just out of reach. My brother made me this back-scratcher – two tines of a bamboo leaf rake – and it works great. But all week long, I was forced to use a plastic silverware knife, and I just couldn’t get the right angle.

So what do you miss when you’re away from home?

Let me know in the comments.

The Easter Rolex

The Easter Rolex

The Easter Rolex

It occurs to me, as I struggle to write the opening of this story, how ignorant I can be. I’ve come to this realization – that may have been apparent to others all along – while thinking about how often I exist in my own little world. Assuming everyone’s life is similar to mine, that they think what I think, and believe what I believe.

This story, as example, is about Easter, the Easter Bunny, and Easter Baskets. Come to find out, after perusing the internet, Easter is celebrated in a variety of different ways. And as hard as it may be to believe, not everyone in the world acknowledges the existence of a rabbit that brings children candy and colored eggs. Shocking right?! In fact, not everyone in the world acknowledges Easter, period.

For the sake of brevity – which is not my strong point – let’s establish a baseline and assume you’re one of the logical populace who marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by lying to their children. We tell them a story about a rabbit who’ll come to our house and leave them a basket full of candy and eggs. If they ask why? Because we’re all so happy Jesus died for our sins. Makes sense right?

When I was a kid, Sue, Cathy, Michael, and I each received a single Easter Basket. It was a multi-colored wicker affair lined with cellophane Easter grass. Cellophane Easter grass that – for months – would turn up in the strangest places; like your socks and your cereal bowl. You’d pull a handful of change from your pocket and Easter grass would come with it. You’d take a shower and the drain would be clogged with hair – and easter grass. (And you were like – where in the hell was that?)

In your Easter basket, mixed in with the grass, on top of the grass and under the grass were, of course, colored hard-boiled eggs. But also jelly beans, candy-coated chocolate-filled eggs, chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs, chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs, and – because I was Raised by Smokers – candy cigarettes.

If you were bad, you also got some of those disgusting yellow peeps. And, as if they weren’t disgusting enough on their own, the Easter grass would stick to the peep which would then stick to your fingers when you tried to peel it away from the sugar-coated marshmallow. Like a long green transparent booger – but sweet not salty.

When our son was born, somehow the one Easter basket tradition became two and then three and then more. Because of course, both Grandmas would have to drop off a basket on their way to Easter Sunday Church. We moved from our hometown when Ben was three so my wife picked up the Grandma-slack by upping the number of baskets she provided.

Now we have granddaughters and I think at last count they each get something like 15 Easter Baskets. And Easter baskets are no longer just about candy and colored eggs. No, no, now we have flip flops and beach balls and sand toys – I guess for the Spring Break Beach vacation they may – potentially – take. And then underwear, and sunglasses, and books, and Silly Putty, and plastic gee-gaws by the dozen that fill the dollar bins at Target as soon as the Christmas decorations come down.

Does Grandpa get an Easter basket? Yeah right. Grandpa gets shit. Grandpa gets the purple jelly beans and the Hot Tamale flavored peeps no one else will touch. Grandpa gets the leftovers.

But there was a time – back when my Mother-in-law still loved me* – that I received a very special Easter surprise.

In this particular year, we were gathering for Easter at Auntie Barb and Uncle Jack’s house; Barb is my Mother in-law’s sister. Barb and Jack lived in Wabasha, Minnesota on Lake Robinson, a backwater lake on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.

My cousins were there – technically my cousin in-laws – since these were my wife’s relatives. Chris and Nick and I were all into hunting and fishing and used Lake Robinson as our jumping-off point for hunting and fishing expeditions.

My in-laws – Mommie Dearest and Mr. Fix-it – along with Barb and Jack, had just recently returned from Mexico where they’d traveled for a late winter getaway.

This was before granddaughters as Ben was only about three or four years old. So as usual there were several Easter Baskets for Ben and one each for my wife and me. (I’ve always been my Auntie Barb’s favorite.)

Tucked into the cellophane grass of my basket, carefully wrapped in what appeared to be a sandwich bag that had once held Cheetos, was a beautiful . . . . . (drumroll) . . . . . gold . . . . . (wait for it) . . . . . . Rolex watch.

It was, at first blush, incredibly awesome. It had the traditional gold clasp bracelet, the Rolex crown logo with the words “Rolex – Oyster Perpetual” proudly embossed just below the triangle 12. The outer rim of the bezel was inset with a complete circle of individual sparkling diamonds. But it was, oddly, unimpressively lightweight. As though it were not, in fact, made from the traditional Oystersteel. But instead, perhaps . . . just oyster shells? With feigned breathlessness, I clasped it to my wrist.

“Wow,” was all I could say with a straight face. In those days, at that age, I may have been a wee-bit vain. I liked fancy things. I spent money I didn’t have on expensive pens and sunglasses and jewelry. While I was fairly certain this wasn’t the real deal, I didn’t want to make light of my gift and offend the giver. Then again, chances were equally good they were laughing into their sleeves thinking, “See, even you can’t tell the difference between the real thing and a knock-off.”

My father-in-law, Mr. Fix-it, is – some may say – tighter than a nun. Others may call it being shrewd or thrifty or prudent. Less benevolent critics might say, Scrooge-like, or tightwad, or skinflint. But I, the ever-loyal son-in-law, am more apt to say, “He’s just always on the lookout for a good deal.”

So strong is his desire to save, so relentless his penchant for pinching pennies that on occasion, he may be blind to reality. Myself, I’ve never been to Mexico, but I hear tell you can get you some good deals thereabouts. Did my father-in-law, in his quest for the holy sale, believe he had found the ultimate discount?

Sometimes you just have to go along to get along. So I took the high road and thanked them profusely for the amazing Easter gift.

Throughout Easter dinner I would, every so often, quote the time of day for anyone who cared. Dinner done and dessert waiting until later, Chris and I hopped in his fishing boat and headed across the lake to see what was biting.

It was a beautiful sunny spring afternoon and though spinnerbaits were the lure of the day it wasn’t long before the jig was up. Casting my lure towards some lily pads I cranked the handle on my spinning reel and heard an unfamiliar soft “tink.”

I looked at my Easter Rolex and gee-golly-whiz, the crystal had popped right off and landed in the bottom of the boat. Examining my gift closer, I twisted the crown, and the entire face – now free of the friction from the crystal – rotated within the body of the watch. It was becoming ever-more likely someone had been duped.

Back at the cabin, the truth was told and we all had a good laugh about the dependability of a twenty-dollar Rolex. I had to admit though, while I was fairly certain from the get-go it was fake, I still thought it was pretty cool.

And you’d think that was it wouldn’t you? But the story isn’t over, ain’t nobody singin’ just yet.

Mommie Dearest, Mr. Fix-It, and Barb and Jack all went to Mexico again the following winter, and come springtime, old Mr. Easter Bunny – you guessed it – brought me Rolex 2.0.

I wore it proudly for several months – being careful not to make any sudden movements with my left hand. Fall rolled around and it was time for duck hunting season.

Chris and I and the rest of the hunting gang were down at the shore getting boats and equipment ready for the following morning. I was standing on shore and Chris was out at the end of the long dock – a distance of better than thirty feet.

He found a walnut lying on the dock and – because we’re worldly mature men, we occasionally throw shit at one another – casually fired it in my direction. Like an inadvertently well-aimed – very large – shotgun pellet, the walnut smacked Easter Rolex 2.0 square in the face. The watch exploded in a karat-less golden cloud of springs and gears and two little tiny hands and settled quietly into the backwaters of the Mississippi.

The moral of this story? I guess I’ll stick to my trusty Timex, those Rolexes just don’t last.


(* My Mother-in-law still loves me. I’m just keeping her on her toes.)

Recent Blog Posts

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

My older brother Michael hasn’t beat the living crap out of me for more than 50 years now. Lucky for him. In this day and age, they’d lock him up for that sort of thing. Fifty years ago he got by with a stern talking-to from Dad. Needless to say, I was (almost) always innocent.

Okay fine, did I once crash his Honda 350 motorcycle – that I wasn’t licensed or allowed to drive? Yeah, but he was living out of town at the time and asked me to winterize and store it away for him. He told me to be sure I drained the gas out of it before I put it in the barn and covered it up. I just thought it would be easier to run the gas out of it than drain it out.

Did I drive his home-built Heathkit mini-bike into a ditch in a field and bend the front forks? Maybe. But in that case, he did say I could ride it. How was I to know about the ditch? I was riding through the middle of a cornfield and all of a sudden it was just there.

While honestly, though those are the only things I can think of that might have set him off, our arguing was pretty . . . . consistent. I can remember any number of family vacations where Dad, driven to the brink by our bickering, would shout from behind the wheel, “If you two don’t stop arguing we’re going to put you on a bus and send you home and Mom and I will finish the vacation ourselves.”

Seriously Dad? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for threatening kids. But you have to be able to follow through. Are you really going to put two kids, ten and thirteen, on a bus by themselves and send them home to a vacant house? Then again, we did quiet down for five minutes so we must have felt it wasn’t a completely empty threat.

We lived, with our much older sisters Sue and Cathy, and our parents, in a three-bedroom brick rambler just south of LaCrosse, Wisconsin in what’s known as the Town of Shelby.

Our house was one of four, all clustered together on the edge of Mormon Coulee Road, a two-lane Highway that ran east to Coon Valley, Viroqua, and the great beyond.

Across the road from our front door stood a 100-foot tall bare sandstone bluff; the southern beginning of wooded rattlesnake-infested bluff lands that ran north to the end of LaCrosse County. To the west were the wide-ranging swamps and backwaters of the Mississippi River and to the east were the valleys and streams of Mormon Coulee. As a kid, I fished, hunted, and hiked, all of it.

Less than a quarter-mile south out our back door was a neighborhood we referred to as The Addition. Five short crisscrossed streets developed with 50 or 60 small homes. I grew up with the luxury of a huge yard with endless explorable acreage in all directions – and a neighborhood full of kids within shouting distance. If you shouted really loud.

Four kids and a set of parents in a three-bedroom house meant Michael and I shared a bedroom. And sharing a bedroom with my older brother meant I was always an easy target whenever he felt like walloping someone. A feeling which overcame him – if I’d had a choice – more frequently than I would have liked.

In the late 60s, when I was in fifth grade, there was this thing everyone did – getting someone to flinch. You pretended you were going to punch somebody in the face and if they flinched you drew an X on their shoulder and you got to punch them on the X ten times. Now that I think about it, maybe that never really was a thing. Maybe my brother just made it up so he could punch me whenever he wanted to.

I should take a moment here to explain that I am a little brother by trade. And if you’ve ever had a little brother or sister, then you know how we can be. We are the down-trodden, the put-upon, the meek that will someday, supposedly, inherit something. Therefore our purpose in life is to take advantage of every opportunity to get back at those – the older brothers and sisters – who would grind us under their oppressive heels.

Did my older brother ever really – literally – beat the living crap out of me? Never.

Well . . . almost never.

As I was saying, I was in the fifth grade, which meant Michael was in eighth grade. We’re in our bedroom and I’m sitting on my bed – completely minding my own business. Apparently, Michael didn’t see it that way. He stepped over to my bed, rears his arm back, and warns, “David, someday I’m gonna beat . . .” and tried to flinch me. Unfortunately, he misjudged his reach just a smidge. Instead of coming up short, he landed a full-speed balled-up fist at the furthest extension of his arm – square in the middle of my forehead.

I sat in stunned silence for all of two seconds before starting in with the screaming and crying. Within minutes I had a yam-sized lump on my forehead and by that evening two bar-fight – sympathy generating – black eyes.

And I thought, “Wow – who gets two black eyes at one time? The fifth-grade women are gonna love me.”

Maybe the fifth-grade women would have loved me more if my Mom had let me wear jeans and a t-shirt like Ronnie Riek and all the other cool fifth-grade boys. Instead, I boarded the bus the next morning, the same bespeckled pudgy fifth-grader carrying a cello and wearing plaid dress pants with a puffy-sleeved shirt. I still looked like a nerd – just a nerd who’d had the shit beat out of him.

My Dad took me to Gunderson Clinic just to make sure I didn’t have (more) brain damage and the Emergency Room staff gave him the third degree about potential child abuse. But this was 1969, he probably just told them, “No I don’t hit my kid! I have his brother do it for me!” And then he and the doctors and nurses laughed and laughed.

In school the next day my fifth-grade teacher asked, “What happened to you?”

What was I going to say?

“My brother hit me.”

“Your brother hit you?!?” as if that was something that didn’t happen in the real world.

Could I have explained the entire story to her as I just did for you? Sure. But she was busy and I didn’t want to bother her with the trivial details. As I said, I’m a little brother by trade.

Time passed and we both got older, just not necessarily wiser. We didn’t make trouble as much as we made mischief. As the first children, our sisters got the actual trial-by-fire parenting. I think our parents figured that since Sue and Cathy made it out of the house alive by the time Michael and I were in Junior High and High School, things in the parenting department became pretty lax.

Back then the drinking age was 18 and since Michael and I both looked older than we were, going to the store to buy beer wasn’t a problem. Plus this was Wisconsin in the 1970s, the drinking age was more of a suggestion than a law. Actually, in Wisconsin, I’d say that’s still the case.

Whenever Mom and Dad would leave on vacation the first thing we’d do was move all of the food off the top shelf of the fridge and fill it side to side front to back with those beautiful little seven-ounce bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon. In today’s world of craft-beer Pabst is probably considered rotgut by many, but back then it was our go-to. Let me tell ya, there’s nothing quite like the sight of an entire refrigerator packed to the gills with seven-ounce bottles of Pabst.

Mom and Dad were away for the weekend and we’d filled the fridge with beer. Micahel and I and his friend Jim were sitting around the kitchen table drinking Pabst, playing Black-Jack, smoking cigarettes, and eating cheese and crackers.

Mom had this little wood cutting board that was shaped like a pig. At the back end where the pig’s tail would have been was a hole to store a paring knife. The paring knife had been lost long before and we were using a chrome Chinese meat cleaver to cut up the cheese. The cleaver had a razor-thin blade and was sharp enough to shave the hair off your arm. Which we had of course proven – by shaving the hair off our arms.

We were halfway through the top shelf of seven ouncers and getting sillier and slower by the minute. Michael was dealing and winning so for fun I dropped his package of Camels on the carpeted kitchen floor, grabbed the cleaver, and whack! Like Marie Antoinette’s head on a guillotine, it sliced those Camels clean in half.

A few minutes later it was my turn to deal and Michael decided it was time for payback. He dropped my Tareytons on the floor and grabbed the cleaver. As I said, our – in particular my – reflexes were somewhat stymied by alcohol. In a made-for-TeeVee slow-motion blur, he brought down the cleaver while I reached to save my pack of cigarettes. Whack! This time the cleaver didn’t quite make it through the cigarettes, what with the tip of my middle finger being in the way.

Fortunately for both of us, the cleaver didn’t cleave my finger completely. But 45+ years later, as I type this, I can still see the scar on my finger.

The kitchen sink was nearby so we ran my finger under cold water for three and a half hours. By then the flow of blood had been reduced to that of a gently undulating stream instead of a swollen raging river, so we wrapped it with gauze. Rolls and rolls and rolls of gauze and medical tape. And more gauze. And more medical tape – just to be safe. This is, apparently, why paramedics aren’t allowed to drink on the job.

Mom and Dad were home early the next morning. We hadn’t cleaned up the kitchen as well as we thought and when I and my finger – showed up at the breakfast table before Michael – in unison Mom and Dad asked, “What happened to you?”

What was I going to say?

Recent Blog Posts

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Pin It on Pinterest