Northfield, Minnesota

From 1998 until 2017 my wife Ann and I lived in the Faribault, Minnesota area, the last six years of which were spent in an old farm house on a lake surrounded by corn fields. In November 2016, Ann got sick and in December we found out she had Endometrial Metastatic Cancer. She died in July, 2017 after a heroic battle. To me she is an example of a very strong and brave woman. Born and raised on a farm near Kilkenny, Minnesota, she had red hair, blue eyes, and she was Irish and German. There were times when she felt hopeless fighting cancer, but for the most part she was brave throughout. She didn’t let it get in the way of family and friends. I think about her every day.

In May of 2017 we bought my mom’s house in Northfield, Minnesota. Only about 18 miles from our lake house, Northfield is a different world. This is the house I grew up in. Built in 1940, my folks bought the house on the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, in 1956, just two weeks before I was born. It has been added on to and remodeled several times over the years, most of the work being done by my dad. We bought the house in May, Ann went into the hospital in June and never came home. We only had a month to enjoy the house together before she became to0 sick to be home.

The months since Ann died have been kind of foggy but I think I’m finally starting to come out of it. In December I applied for a position on the Northfield Human Rights Commission. The mayor appointed me to the commission but after one meeting I realized that it was too much, too soon. So with the mayors blessing I turned down the appointment and am now concentrating on living one day at a time. It seems to be working. I spend quite a bit of time alone and it’s said that when you’re grieving that’s not a good thing. But for me, it’s alright. I get along with myself just fine. As a kid I was just as happy playing by myself as I was with friends. I spend time with my children and grand children. It’s good for us all to be together, to do things as a family. So that’s the back story. You are now caught up with me.

In 1956 the population of Northfield was about 8000. Today its over 20,000 so there has been steady growth over the years. The town is only about 30 or so miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. There are two world class colleges in Northfield. St. Olaf and Carleton. Each September Northfield celebrates the Defeat of Jesse James days. On September 7th, 1876, Jesse James and his gang were prevented from robbing the bank in Northfield, effectively ending their career as outlaws. It’s a huge celebration that attracts thousand to the town. (I hope this isn’t sounding like a tourism site!) Even though the population is over 20,000, Northfield is still a rural community. The entire city is surrounded by farms and fields. The downtown area has been maintained with 1800’s building fronts whenever possible. There are lots of unique shops and every Saturday there is a Riverwalk arts fair and farmers market downtown. Northfield is a community where people get out and do things. I love it here.

So now I’m spending time learning the bass guitar. I’ve been a drummer all my life and for the last twenty years have concentrated on hand percussion. But I’ve recently bought an electronic drum kit so I’m getting my chops back with that. For those of you who’ve read my blog over the years, I still have my insane dog, Sophie. Sophie is half Malamute, half Husky. And as I said, she’s insane. She’s six years old and still as frisky as a puppy. One hundred and ten pounds of frisky! We take a walk everyday along the beautiful pathways of Riverside park in Northfield. There is a lot of noise compared to living on a lake in the country but we’re getting used to it. The thing I miss most about living in the country is the quiet and the stars in the sky. It is such a mystical experience to stand outside at night with the Milky Way shining brightly in the sky and not hear a single sound. Just thinking about that gives me shivers. I want to give a big thanks to my long time readers. Thanks for sticking with me, And maybe I’ll gain some new readers along the way. More to come!

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Spring In Minnesota

Well it seems that Spring has finally arrived. We’ve had temperatures reach over 60 degrees F every day this week. Everything is greening up and budding. My tulips are blooming, the catnip is up and my rhubarb is growing nicely. I had to mow the lawn last weekend and it looks like I’ll have to do it again soon. In the summer, it grows so fast I sometimes have to mow it twice a week which is a pain because it takes me two and a half hours to do it. I have a three and a half acre piece of land that sits between farm fields and a lake. I love it in the country and don’t ever want to move back to town, but the maintenance on a big yard is time consuming and hard on my back. I guess sometimes we just have to suffer for what we want.
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Tulips and Dandylions

As soon as the rhubarb is ripe I’m going to pick it all, cut it up in small slices and freeze it. I’ve decided that this is the year I’m going to make wine. I’ve thought about it for years now but I always seem to find an excuse not to do it. I may even pick all the catnip and dandelions and make wine out of them. You can make wine out of virtually any fruit or vegetable or weed. I’ve made a new friend on line whose name is Ari, and she makes wine. Check out the WordPress site, “Wine by Ari.” If you type that in a search bar you can make it all one word. She’s making wine and blogging about it and it’s very inspiring to see others doing it. So I’m going for it this year. with the coming warmer temps, it should be ideal wine making weather.
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The Rhubarb patch
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The house and part of my yard (Taken from the top of Shit Mountain–the septic hump.)

Our oldest granddaughter turned 13 in March but today she’s having a pool party at the community center in town to celebrate. We have taken her with us on our annual vacation every year except one, when she had strep. We keep a cabin rented on a lake about five hours North of us and go there every June. The weather is usually beautiful, and the fishing is great. I taught her how to fish when she was three years old and she has loved it since. Last year she learned how to clean sunfish and loved that too. This year I may teach her how to throw a fly line and maybe next winter when we’re bored I’ll teach her how to tie flies. She such an inquisitive child and really wants to know how to do everything. She told me once, “Grandpa, I have dolls, and sometimes I play with them, but mostly I rather be outside fishing or hunting!” She doesn’t fool me though. She likes pretty dresses and is learning to use make up. When it comes time for boys in her life it’s going to be hard for her to find one that can keep up. That’s okay with me.

So that’s the news from North country. Not much to tell, really. I hope this finds whoever reads it well and happy See you soon!.