Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Pointing to the name of a friend etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC

Memorial Day has so many meanings and events that take place throughout the country. At cemeterys, people gather and programs are held. Parades honoring soldiers. The furniture store in town is having a sale. All in honor of the Veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. One day, set aside. The soldiers die every day. Their relatives and friends grieve every day. Their children are parentless every day. They stand and fight every day. It is a shame that they are honored for just one day.

In the Native American community, things are a little different. Veterans are held in high esteem at all times. At each Pow Wow, a gathering of people in an extreme sense of community where drums beat, singers sing and dancers show their steps around the circle, Veterans are honored, not only at each Pow Wow, but each day of every Pow Wow. The flags are paraded into the circle and flown there. Each day starts with a flag ceremony. Veterans, both dead and alive are honored. The people prepare a feast and share this in the name of the Veterans.

Raising the flag of a deceased Veteran at the Grand Portage Pow Wow. It is said that when flags are honored in this way, the Veteran is waving his last goodbye and saying Thank You to the people

Each year, at such a Pow Wow event, I attend and try to fly the flag of a Veteran I have known that has passed. The event is the Grand Portage Rendezvous Pow Wow which takes place on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation located in the farthest reaches of Northern Minnesota, right at the Canadian border along the shores of the Great Lake Superior.

This August, I will go there with other Veterans, friends of mine, and they will help man the flag poles. We'll raise and honor two flags this year. One for my Father, Frank Spado, and one for Mrs. Spadoman's Father, Edwin Mueller. Both of our Fathers were in the service during World War II. My dad in the US Army and Barb's dad in the Marine Corps. They didn't die in battle, but they served just the same. They are Veterans.

A couple of years ago, I took the flag of a friend of mine that did die on the field of battle. His name is Frazier T. Dixon. He was in my unit, the 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 25th Infantry Division. We were called the Triple Deuce. Frazier died in battle on the night of December 6th, 1969.

I made a video of the flag raising ceremony for my friend. It is long and YouTube won't allow me to print it here. But I'll watch it today. This is how I'll remember and memorialize our Veterans this year here at Round Circle for Memorial Day. But be sure, there isn't a day that passes in the life of a Warrior that Veterans aren't remembered and battles aren't relived in our minds. They are with us forever and become part of who we are.

High school photo of my friend, Frazier T. Dixon of Clarks Hill, SC. Frazier gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life in The Republic of Vietnam, December 6, 1969

You see, once you are chosen to be a Warrior, you are a Warrior forever. Being a Warrior isn't just going off to do the bidding of society. It is staying sober, not beating your spouse, serving your community, serving the Elders and the Children, being honest and living a life where integrity means everything. Above all, a Warrior stands and is honored by the people when the people need to honor them. It's not about the Warrior, it is about service to the people.

"You've never lived until you've almost died. For those who fight for it, life has a special meaning the protected will never know."

Author Unknown

Honor your Veterans every day. For whether or not you agree with any war, whether or not you support our government and their policies, whether ot not you pray to God or not, it is a fact that Warriors fight for your freedom and are willing to die for you, even when you hate them and blame them for the wars we fight in the name of our country. They do the bidding for society, for without the approval of society, there would be no war. They have given something of themselves.

In death, they gave the ultimate, in life, they have given their souls when they have had to kill another in societies name. Those that survive carry this with them for eternity.

Peace to All

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Weeks Plans

In the 90's, hot and humid today. Thought I'd post some snow so we don't forget what it looks like.

It’s Monday. I’ve had some discussions with my 10 year old Grandson. He says the week starts on Sunday. He may be correct, but my feeling is that they call Saturday and Sunday the weekend, then Monday starts a new one. At least that’s the way I think it, and live it. So today starts another chapter in the great adventure called life.

I’ve been sick and I will go to the doctor first thing Monday morning, or at least as soon as the clinic at the VA hospital opens, that should be around 7:30 a.m. After that, I need to get things packed up for a trip to Red Cliff Indian Reservation on the South shore of the Great Lake Superior. I’m leaving early Tuesday morning and would like to be all packed and ready to depart by 6:15 a.m.

I’ll be setting up my camp space there. Tent, shade canopy with screened walls. Cooking gear with stove and lawn chairs. The event is simply to help out while a vision quest ceremony is going to be conducted. I am not going to do the vision quest myself, but my feeling is that since I will be up there as a helper and supporter, there will not be any way that I won’t be thinking about having a vision and what my friend, as a participant, will be going through.

They will spend time alone, four days, and they will fast. As a helper, I don’t have to fast, but I’ll be there alone. There are other helpers there that I’m sure I’ll have some contact with, but generally, it will be a quiet place. I plan on eating light and doing a semi-fast and try to experience some of what my friend will be going through. I was asked to be there, in the camp, as a helper and supporter. They will need help tending the fire which will be lit and kept aflame until Saturday at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Thursday brings a full moon. It will be a joy to sit at the fire overnight while the moon dances overhead. If it’s cloudy, I’ll see a brightened sky, if it’s clear, I’ll see the tips of the ripples of the beautiful powerful lake glisten in the moonlight. I’ll return late in the evening on Saturday back to my home and dismantle all the camping gear, just to get ready to pack it all up again as I leave for another trip on Friday June 4th.

I’ll tell you about that trip in a separate post. It involves motorcycles and a long journey. A journey I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. I sure hope this sick feeling goes away. But there have been other happenings here at Spadoville.

On Tuesday last, my sister drove up and spent a couple of days visiting. The purpose of her visit was to be here when my cousin, who I haven’t really seen or talked to in about 37 years, was going to be passing through my neck of the woods. When attending the funeral services for my Mother, my cousin showed up. We reconnected immediately and talked about how we’ve been spending our lives.

She tells me that a couple of times each summer, her and her husband drive up to Minnesota from their home in Central Illinois to go fishing. They rent a cabin and spend a week or two there. Of course they pass right by where I have been living for the most of the past 36 years. (We moved Up North from the Chicago area in August of 1974).

On this trip, they will call and plan on staying in a motel close by River Falls. They did so, and we got together and had dinner out, then came back to my house and looked at old photographs and some really old home movies that were put on a DVD. We had a copy of that DVD and we watched, together. We laughed and cried. We told stories back and forth. What one would forget, the other remembered. We filled in blank spots for each other with names and places and dates and events.

How cute we were. How cute we are! How fat, how skinny, how short or long our hair and how outrageous our hairstyles, (and beards and mustaches). Many shots of Grandma and Grandpa. The good old days when movie cameras were a novelty and people stood as if in a portrait and waved instead of standing still. The rabbit ears flashed over the heads of unsuspecting cousins. The laughter and the gestures of, “Go away, I don’t want you to point that thing at me.”

A wonderful evening spent with relatives. A rekindled relationship that was interrupted by raising a family and living life. We made a promise to get together again soon, and invited other cousins to be there as well. This will take place at the end of June when we have the mini cousins reunion at my sister’s place when I return from my motorcycle adventure.

I’m posting just a few pictures from that time long ago. These photos, and many more like them, were dug up when my sister started going through our Mother’s stuff. Boxes and boxes of memorabilia. These shots are of my Paternal Grandmother, my Mom and Dad when Dad served in the Army in 1943 and my Dad’s Mom and Dad with their children which are my Dad and his brothers.

Grandma with yours truly at our home in Melrose Park around 1952

My Mom and Dad, 1943. Dad in his Army uniform.

Grandma, (seated), and Grandpa, (standing on right) with Uncle Tom, (standing), Uncle Joe, (at left) and my Dad, Frank, (on right). Absent is my Aunt Angie who wasn't born yet. This makes up my Dad's family.

So that’s it. Just wanted to share that with you all. If the doctor has anything significant to tell me, I’ll let you know. I’m sure I’ll be there all day since I don’t have a scheduled appointment. It’ll be sign in and wait for triage, then, depending on the severity of the ailment, being sent to a clinic to see a doctor. I hate to tax the system, but my symptoms have been lingering on for a week and frankly, I’m a bit worried.

UPDATE: Just returned from the doctor. I felt much better this morning, but went to the doctor anyway. He concluded that I have had a virus and that it is in its last stages and all should be fine. That’s good news, and I do feel better, so, I’ll proceed as planned and leave early in the morning tomorrow.

In the meantime. Take care and be well. I’ll return over the Memorial Day weekend and pay homage to our Brothers and Sisters who serve and the families that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the loss of a loved one.

Peace to All

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday, May 23, 2010

Many times when I travel, I bring back a piece of where I've been. This could be a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of somewhere I've been or other such souvenir. When I search out the small town diner, and I'm successful at finding just the right place to eat, I want to remember that place, where it's at, and the food there. If they sell a coffee cup, I'd buy a couple and bring home the vessels as gifts for my daughters'.

Joe's Diner in Redondo Beach, CA is such a place. I found the place to be a great spot for breakfast and return there often on visits to the beach cities in Southern California. Their coffee mug, pictured here, is the subject of today's Shadow Shot Sunday. By the way, Shadow Shot Sunday is the creation by Tracy, of the Hey Harriet blog. Check out many fine Shadow Shots at her place and find the guidelines for participation.

Lately, I've been having a few problems drinking coffee in the morning. These days, I find myself starting off the day with a cup of tea. Aside from the obvious blasphemous indications of using a coffee mug as a teacup, I grab whatever porcelin offering is next in line when the kettle starts to boil. This particular day it was the Joe's Diner mug. I opened the tea bag, placed it in the mug and proceeded to pour in the water. I set the mug down on the counter to steep. The sun had just started playing around with shadows in the kitchen, so I grabbed the camera and took a few shots. Today's offering is the result.

I haven't been to Joe's since last July, and I don't have plans to return to Southern California this year, so a trip to Joe's for breakfast will have to wait for the future. At least I can grab the mug and drink in a few memories from one of my sojourns there. Oh, the food. Yes, it's greasy spoon to say the least. And I like to think of the waitresses as Hash House Queens. High fat laden food is not good for you, I know, but then again, I don't eat there, or at any other diner serving the same fare, often enough to clog my arteries. I'm at worse risk from the cross country drive.

Peace to all

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'll Be Back to Normal Soon

It's been a busy one around here folks. I haven't had time to blink! Out of town guests, appointments, commitments to friends and service to group members, remodeling, getting ready for two trips where one starts right when the other ends, takin'
care of the Grandkids going and coming from school and all while having a sore throat, ear ache, runny nose, headache and laryngitis!

Bear with me as I get organized. I do have a couple of stories to write and some interesting things to show and tell you all about before I take off next Tuesday morning for a six day camping trip. I want to show pictures and tell you about the pottery I bought from my potter friend up in Washburn, WI, (near Ashland where we used to live). I also am excited about catching up big time with family members that I haven't talked to in almost 40 years!

Hope everyone is doing good. I appreciate all the comments and views to my blog postings since last weekend. I'll get around to some visits to your place soon. I promise. In the meantime, take care and be well.

Peace to All

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ruby Tuesday 05/18/2010

The other day, I was talking about the blogs and what I’ve been up to lately. Grand daughter number six was nearby, coloring on scrap paper that we keep in a pile for those occasions. There always seems to be markers, colored pencils and crayons in a wicker basket and piles of card stock or plain white paper around. It is common, at the kitchen table here at Spadoville, that the kids place the basket on the table and grab handfuls of paper and just start making pictures.

When I mentioned Ruby Tuesday, and explained the simple format of a picture with the color red in it, Gracie must have heard me. She started drawing a picture, and she used red marker. I grabbed the camera and took a photo of her Ruby Red creation. That is my submission this week. Plain and simplistic, straight and to the point. Talk about it being red and there it is, in red.

What or who is it in this beautifully drawn masterpiece? I don’t know. Gracie doesn’t either. At least that’s what she tells me. Maybe it had a name or subject when it was first created, but now, just use your imagination. I like to call it, “Papa in Red Checked Shirt”.

Mary T/The Teach started this meme. You can go to her blog “Work of the Poet” to find out more about Ruby Tuesday, or HERE to find out how to participate. You can also find links there to other bloggers who post fabulous Ruby Red photos on Tuesdays.

Peace to All

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday, May 16, 2010

This weeks Shadow Shot is simply these creases on the mountainside. To me, this could be a T-shirt tossed at the foot of the washing machine and the folds naturally falling where they may. I'm not sure of the name of this particular place, but it is found a few miles North of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico off a local gravel road.

If you'd like to view more Shadow Shots, go seeHey Harriet blog. Tracy started this fine meme. HERE are the guidelines for participation.

Peace to All

Friday, May 14, 2010

Only the Good Friday, May 14, 2010

It's a little hard for me to be really upbeat and positive today. This uncapped oil fountain in the Gulf of Mexico has me sobbing for the Sacred Earth Mother. And the renewed interest in immigration laws and all the hatred that seems to be coming out of everywhere also has me a bit on edge. But I'll do my best. In fact, I do know where I can go and get a more positive outlook on things.

I know a couple of bloggers that always put a positive spin on things. Neither of them try to find the silver lining or act as if nothing bad is going on. They just put forth positive thoughts, "Good" thoughts, and let the reader decide whether or not to use them to make getting through the day drudgery or ecstasy, (or maybe someplace in between).

The first blog I want to mention is Beth's Blog. On my side bar I label it as Beth's Liberal Readers Digest. She posts interesting recipes, news stories, jokes, tips on just about everything that might help save money and pieces that can steer the reader towards saving the environment.

Interspersed on her pages are sayings, quotes and uplifting phrases, some written by famous people, some from a more obscure source, but all "Good", positive and carrying the ability to raise your spirits and self esteem. I'm listing her blog as "Good" for any day of the week, and I'm mentioning it to tell you about something "Good" for this Only the Good Friday post.

By the way, my friend Shelly at This Eclectic Life Blog is the originator for Only the Good Friday. Take a peek at her blog and look around. Her's is "Good" every day as well, and her idea to only post "Good" things on Friday is a "Good" one in its own rite. If you go there today, it will look like Shelly is taking a break from organizing this Good on Friday meme. But I feel it is such a "Good" thing to do, at least one day of the week, that I'll continue to post "Good" things on Fridays when I have the time. Things are getting busy as the warmer weather approaches. I can understand setting a few things aside during Summertime.

Another place I go for pure positive thoughts and tips on positive thinking, (both "Good" by the way), is Mel's Dream. Mel has these Fairies that remind us of the thoughts that run through our heads and helps us to keep ourselves of a healthy mind. The Fairy Thought of the Day, The Quote of the Week, Things That Make Me Happy and The Fairy Reading are all giving us wisdom when we read them. People who stop by and comment and constantly thank the Fairies for the reminders. I know it has saved me from Stinkin' Thinkin' about my own situation a time or two.

Mel does write about her own life here and there. She teaches us how to let it out and gather it back in and get through the things that life throws at us on a daily basis. And Beth gives us a choice on whether or not we want to read the news and feel crappy about it, or turn your outlook into a positive view. It's all "Good".

Pay a visit to these two blogs. Go there for a few days in a row and you'll see what I mean. They are diligent and change the posts pretty much daily. I believe them to be a positive force in my life and the lives of the readers who take the time to read the positive thoughts and teachings and put them to play in their own lives, and that is very "Good" to have something positive to draw from.

Excuse me, I have to go listen to the Fairies. They might have something "Good" to say.

Peace to All

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spadoville circa 1984

Beautiful waterfall. Niobrara State Park, Valentine, NE

It’s 2009. My youngest daughter, Jayne, has purchased a home of her own. She is very proud of herself and I am very proud of her as well. She has worked hard to achieve her goal, saved her money and overcame great odds from economic hard times. She did this by herself with no outside financial support.

The house she bought is light and airy. She wanted that in a home and looked for it. She couldn’t describe it except to say she wanted a lot of natural light. She divulged, when she had found her perfect home, that she has always loved the house she grew up in and she was looking for her new house to make her feel like she did when she was a kid.

We built the home she grew up in. I had no idea she loved it so much. I had no idea that the light airy feel we created was what she was trying to find. When we went to go see her new place, she asked me to tell her all about how we came to build the house we had built in the early 1980’s, the house she grew up in, the house she loved. This is the story, and I won’t hold back anything.

We were living in St. Paul, MN in 1979. I was driving truck for a local cartage company named LaSalle Cartage. During this time, Barb had a paper route delivering the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Maggie was six, Alyssa was three and Jayne was just two years old. We were living on Laurel Avenue in St. Paul, but looking to get out into the country and fulfill our dream of owning land and building a house, raising our kids along with a garden and generally trying to live off the land as much as possible ala the Mother Earth News influence. Mother Earth News, the magazine, was a teaching guide for people who wanted to learn about being self sufficient and more environmentally responsible.

Around March of 1980, we sold the Laurel place and bought a little under 20 acres on the Snake River near Pine City, MN. Pine City is located in East Central Minnesota. We never thought we'd ever own a piece of beautiful land on the waterfront, but we pulled it off. The place had a small older 10’ X 50’ mobile home with an addition, a small garage and a couple of small out buildings. It also had a water and septic hook up for another mobile home about 150 yards from the mobile home structure that was there when we bought it. This was where we were going to live for the rest of our lives and build an empire.

On Laurel, I bought a yellow AMC Gremlin from the cousin of a friend of mine. I also had a 1962 Rambler that I got running with Randy Benson’s help, only to have the transmission go out on its maiden voyage. It was a nice wagon and it literally floated on its unibody construction during a torrential rainstorm during a particularly heavy summer rainy season. Water a couple of feet deep at the bottom of Ramsey Hill couldn’t stop us as we glided right through it, afloat, until our tires hit pavement on the other side of the pool.

I know we also bought a brand new F-150 super cab pick-up. It was green and we got a matching topper for it right from the get go. It was a 300 CI straight six with a 5-speed overdrive tranny. I put radial tires on it and ran synthetic oil which was very high tech in those days. I was trying to squeeze as many MPG as I could back then. The price of gas was starting to climb higher and higher. I also still had a Honda 500-4 motorcycle.

Owning the home on Laurel Avenue was okay, but we had this idea, this thought, this dream in our heads.

Winter sunset on the Snake River, the view from our place

All the time we lived there, and even before, right from the first thoughts of leaving Chicago and moving North, we talked about getting a place in the country and having some animals. We wanted to grow our own food and utilize conservative methods for power and energy like solar and wind power, whatever we could afford. I had the house all torn up with a remodeling project gone awry when Barb came in one morning during her paper route crying hard. She had been accosted and although she got away from the would be attacker, it put the fear into us and I finally got going and finished the project so we could sell the house and move.

We found this 18 plus acres with 400 foot of frontage on the Snake River in Southern Pine County about 5 miles from Pine City. It was being sold on a contract for deed and I had the down payment if I sold my house in St. Paul. We sold it quickly and we bought the place. I had taken a new job with the State of Minnesota and had quit LaSalle Cartage Company. I stayed working for the State and we got away with one vehicle, the newer Ford F-150 with matching green topper, as Barb drove me to work, 60 miles one-way, on Monday, and picked me up when I came off the road on Friday.

I had a lot of experiences on the road for the State. Maybe another story book will mention some of these escapades. Right now, I’m going to continue with this chronology about how we got to Pine City and built our own home.

What Mother Earth News didn’t tell you was that while your busy making a living so you could afford your land, you had no money or time left to do all that was required to become self sufficient. Now, we had the land and all the projects swimming in our heads. The solar power project, the wind power project, the hydro ram pump water project, the garden complete with fruit trees and foods of all kinds project, the animal project, this project, that project, the other project, etc etc etc etc.

Floor joists put in place

Here we were. It took us 8 years to have what we thought we wanted. We had three wonderful beautiful daughters, a place to live on our own land on the river, our faithful dog, Sarge, and a pick-up truck. It was March of 1980 and the real adventure was just getting started.

Yours truly on the ladder, with Brother Frank helping out, working on the interior

Pine City started out as a mobile home with an addition. It had a great 55 gallon drum turned into a wood stove in the addition part and that provided much of our heat. The walls of the old mobile home were so thin that they had frost on them in the mornings. I ended up hanging thick furniture moving blankets along the walls from floor to ceiling for insulation. They would stick to the walls from the frost that formed under them on those still cold March mornings.
Keeping up with firewood was a big chore. I had to have a chain saw, an axe, a splitting maul and wedges, chain sharpening equipment and spare chains, gas and oil cans and equipment, a pick-up truck to haul it and the stamina to keep at it because in Northern Minnesota, you used it up pretty quickly. And you had to get ahead of it so the stuff you had to burn was dry. This hardly ever happened. We were always “chasing wood”, as it was called, and were heating with wet stuff that didn’t have as much heat and was hard to start.

We used wood, and cut most of it from deadfall and down logs on our own acres. The chore of cutting wood took place before, during and after the regular wage earner jobs of which we had many as we tried to make a living in a hard economic time and in an area hit hard by a slow failing economy.

The first walls going up

But we kept somewhat warm. I don’t recall remembering being really cold on a regular basis. But we knew what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to build our own home with the things inside that we wanted. Rooms for the girls, a pantry, a sunroom, a big kitchen.

We tore down the addition to the mobile home and burned all the wood we did not salvage for later use as lumber. The old mobile was traded in on a newer mobile home with good thick insulation. My folks had bought an older mobile home and put it on a pad on the 18 acres. We lived in that while we prepared the home site for the new trailer. The County required landfill to bring up the bottom floor because we were so close to the river. Even though we knew in the future we would be building our home on this spot, we built up the site for this new mobile home and lived in my folks place while doing so.

Tiling the kitchen

We moved into the new trailer and lived there for a while. Then, we moved back into my folks trailer, 150 yards away, and sold the other mobile home. We started the foundation for our home and after 2 years of building, moved into our newly built, self-designed place.

Another view of the construction

So, here we were. We already moved from an old mobile home to a mobile home my folks had bought to use as a place to stay when they came to visit. Then we set up a newer more modern well insulated mobile home to live in on the home site we prepared. We lived in the newer home until we got our plan for a house. Then, we moved back into the mobile home my parents bought, sold ours, and started construction on the house. It was really quite simple.

We drew up plans on graph paper. Sizes of rooms, how many rooms. Features we wanted. At first, I was thinking we could add on to the newer mobile home. I had a local construction company stop by and told him my plan. He gave me a price to incorporate the mobile home into a structure, but advised against it. Basically, it would have been a two story addition to the mobile home. He suggested we start from scratch and gave us a very basic drawing of a two story structure.

The house had a vaulted ceiling and clerestory windows facing South. The back half of the house was tall enough for a second floor, the front of the house would have this vaulted ceiling. It was to be on a 24’X 32’ crawl space foundation. Room enough beneath the living space floor to access the plumbing easily, but not a basement as it would only be five courses of cement blocks. That’s 40 inches high.

When I first went to the bank, the Banker told me, "NO", He wouldn’t give me a loan. I tapped out a Visa and a Master Card to pay for a foundation, and with that semi usable blueprint from the estimate I got for the building, I went back to the bank a year later. The banker must have figured we were serious because after the foundation was in, he gave us a loan. I found a cement contractor in Rush City that came and did the work. He allowed me to help to keep costs down. If he didn’t do that, I never would have been able to afford to even get started with the foundation.

Our home in Pine City, MN

We built the house by hiring a contractor/carpenter friend for $1000.00 worth of expertise and the use of his pneumatic nail guns. All the other labor was pizza labor. Friends came and worked, we fed them pizza. We moved into the house in 1984, four years from the time we bought the land and four mobile home moves later.

The house was passive solar that worked pretty good considering it was designed by non-engineering types like Barb and myself. We just built in stuff we had seen in magazines and bought the best wood heater we could afford. We heated with wood for 5 years. Only what turned out to be the last Winter we spent there had supplemental electric off-peak heat. Barb kept those fires going all night long as the rest of us slept, or feigned sleep so we didn’t have to get up and stoke the stove.

Now, ten years after leaving Chicago to go “Up North” and build our own home and live off the land, we were doing it. We achieved a goal without setting a goal. No time frame, just living it as we did it. Hard times, easy times, feast or famine, hot and cold, we were “Them That’s Doin’’ as they said in Mother Earth News.

The house design itself was pretty much taken from a magazine and lofted up to sizes and specifications for what we wanted. We just didn’t have the expertise to make blueprints. I showed a picture of a house to one local contractor. He drew up a real simple plan that showed wall heights, roof angles and structural beams. He recommended the size timbers we should use for lintels, rafters and joists. That was it.

The whole thing revolved around six four foot by eight foot insulated glass window panels I had came across at an auction. This was to be the focal point, a South facing sun all season sunroom. We insulated the floor and all four walls of the 9” cement slab the sun room was built on. Then covered the floor with a dark blue indigo ceramic tile. This absorbed the heat from old Mr. Sol and stored it in its mass, then released the heat when the sun went down. Ceiling fans circulated the air and we used a convective loop instead of a ventilation system. Thick walls and ceilings filled with high quality insulation made this a passive solar house. The convective loop was a simple louvered vent that ran the length of the house on both sides against the outer walls. The warm air would rise and be pushed by more warm are to these louvers. The air would pass through the vents into the rooms below, all the while being pushed by the rising warm air created by either the sun room or the wood stove. Fans circulated the air by drawing it up towards the ceiling.

We used seven different kinds of wood. Pine for the framing, cedar for eaves and facia, straight kerf sawn white pine for siding, old recycled fir from a one room school house for the living room floor, oak flooring in other rooms, birch cabinets and our own table sawn popple, (Poplar), for much of the trim.

When we moved there, Maggie was seven, Alyssa was four and Jayne was three. Mrs. Spadoman was 27 and I was thirty one years old. We are proud that we did this. I am proud that my daughter remembers where she grew up and that we provided all our children with love and good memories. She says she remembers the house, but I think she remembers the home.

Playing in the leaves at the waterfront

We never did get every nail driven or every screw tightened. Other plans were in the making for us and we left Pine City and our empire in 1989. But before we left Pine City, we lived in this home. I remember having many a meal and shared our home with many people over the years we were there.

In 1983, my Father passed away. My Mother, not having a plan in the event he died, was visiting our new construction and asked, “Where’s my room?” I guess she figured that since dad was gone and I had little kids that needed care while Barb and I worked two jobs each to afford the house payments, she’d move in with us. I took the original plans and added a 16’ X 20’ room on the East side of the house. Mom payed for the added expense of materials. Our new house had a remodeled addition immediately. Mom lived with us for a while, then moved into a mobile home across the lot on the aforementioned mobile home pad.

I had some heart problems that started in 1985, and by 1989, we were forced into bankruptcy. I could have stayed in the house, but a variety of factors made me decide to let the house go to the local bank, who happened to be the mortgage holder, and move back to St. Paul.

Pine County, MN , and Pine City in general, were pretty economically dead in the 1980’s. This was before Native American casino gambling came to the area. The building of the casino and subsequent prosperity it brought, along with the economic upturn that took place in the 90’s, made making a living easier. But when we lived there, we scrambled for jobs. We kept working and, in fact, were quite creative. We made enough to pay the bills until I went without income for almost a whole year because of the heart surgery.

We left our home in Pine City in March of 1989 and never looked back.

Peace to all

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ruby Tuesday 05/11/2010

Ruby Tuesday is the creation of Mary T/The Teach, who pens the "Work of the Poet" Blog. See more Ruby Tuesday photographs and the guidelines for participation Here.

Red Canyon Wyoming


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday is the creation of Tracy who pens the Hey Harriet blog. She hails from Queensland, Australia. I’ve never been to Australia. I was close when I was in Southeast Asia in the 1960’s. Maybe someday I’ll get there. It will be hard to ride the motorcycle across the water though. If you want to participate, HERE are the guidelines. mI am posting this in the late afternoon on Saturday as many of the readers and participants are in Australia. The time difference will show this post on Sunday there.

Today, I have a shot I took at the end of a commemorative motorcycle ride I have participated in for the past four years. It is called The Crow Creek Longriders Commemorative Motorcycle Ride and will take place this year, 2010, on June 16-19.

The ride remembers the forced exodus of the Dakota and Winnebago people from their homelands in Minnesota to Fort Thompson, South Dakota to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. It is a sad point in our Nation’s history. We remember to show our respect to the ancestors and bring the event to people so that a tragedy such as this never happens again.

We also have a couple of fundraisers and the Crow Creek Longriders raise money for The Boys and Girls Club at Fort Thompson as well as Project Head Start. Both of these organizations serve the youth of the Crow Creek Community.

The photo is from the overlook on the Missouri River at Crow Creek. We ride in and gather there. Every rider has a chance to speak and say what’s on their mind. Each year, the Spirits grab a hold of me and thank me, by sending me tears, for remembering the people. Of course, click on any photograph to enlarge it.

The sun was nearly over head as the ride takes place in the middle of the day right near the Solstice. Shadows aren’t long and deep, but rather compact, and firmly attached to our sides. Same with the motorcycles standing on their kickstands. I like this photo for many reasons other than the shadows. Maybe I am remembering the shadows of the people who we ride to commemorate. Maybe the flags are the Spirits of those people waving at us as we arrive and talk.

I will not be taking part in the ride this year. I have other plans and I’ll be away. But there will be a ride. This Blog/Website will give you more information. In the meantime, I’ll post the Shadow Shot, and beneath it is a story I did after that first ride in 2006. If you care to, have a read. It was originally a posted article, but is no longer in publication. I have places a few photographs of the previous years rides throughout the story.

Peace to All

What a dream. I was riding my motorcycle through the summertime breeze with a bunch of friends. Some I knew, some were new friends. We were along the river. The vistas were fantastic. Through woods and prairies, corn and beans, the river flowing at our side throughout the journey. Together, as one, we rode for days. Our stops at night for rest and food were at beautiful wooded campsites. It was hot and muggy, cool and rainy, calm and windy.

When we got to a place in South Dakota, there was a car parked on the side of the road. A man was holding a camera, an arm waved from the front seat, little arms, those of children waved from the rear. Then another car, and another, then a bunch all parked near an old cemetery. All with arms waving as we rode by.

We arrived at an overlook. A prometory with a view of a great river. We gathered there and people spoke. We rode again and after a short distance, two riders on horseback came out in front of us and led us into a grassy circle. The circle was full of teepee lodges with a great fire pit in the center. Over the pit was hanging meat from Tatanka, the bison. We were along the river once more. Spirits were all around us. Spirits of long ago and spirits of not so distant past. People were around the circle, standing around, some in their cars, some in lawn chairs in the shade of large cottonwood trees.

The mounted riders led us and we lined up one after another in the circle and got off of our iron horses. The people gathered and formed a line and came by each of us and shook our hands, Some were crying. Some hugged us. Some shook our hands holding ours with both of theirs. The children were there as well in great numbers and their shyness made them choosy about who they offered their little hands to.

The motorcycles arriving at the Pow Wow grounds at Crow Creek

A man played a small hand drum and sang a song in Dakota language. He told us the words to his song. He told us he wrote this song especially for us. The song sang the praises of a group of riders on iron horses that came to give him hope, give hope to all his people.

An old woman, an elder, sat in a lawn chair. She held a feather of an Eagle upright in her hand. The small children were gathered about her like a magnet would gather paperclips. A younger man held an umbrella over her to shield her from the hot South Dakota Summertime sun. She brushed him aside and got up and she sang and old song. An honor song, for us, the iron horse riders.

The children dancing and enjoying the Pow Wow circle

She beckoned, and each of us walked up to her one at a time. She sat there. Her eyes ahead, vacant, holding the feather. We put our hand in hers and she prayed, silently. Tears streamed down our cheeks as they have been since we saw the first car along the side of the road.

The people came by and shook our hands again. The children now less choosy, and more were crying, more people grasped our hands with two of theirs.

This was a dream. A dream I lived. A feeling so incomprehensible. A feeling of pride, honor, struggle, sorrow and peacefulness.

Iron horses lined up as tired riders sleep after four days of riding

The removal occurred during the spring of 1863 and moving over 1,700 Indian people by riverboat and trains accomplished it. This dark chapter in American history is scarcely a footnote in American history textbooks. The reasons for the Dakota Conflict were that the Dakota people were near starvation due to corrupt Indian agents who were swindling and denying the Dakota their food rations and annuity payments as guaranteed by the previous Treaty of 1851 and Treaty of 1858.

The federal government often overlooked this pernicious behavior on the part of its Indian agents and these transgressions were often the primary causes of Indian wars. The media vilified the Dakota for their actions and 303 Dakota men were sentenced to death by hanging by a hastily organized United States Military Tribunal. The largest public mass execution occurred in American history with the simultaneous hanging of 38 Dakota warriors at Mankato, Minnesota on December 26, 1862.

Over 1,700 Dakota men, women and children were forcibly interned at Fort Snelling during the winter of 1863. No accounting of how many Dakota Indian men, women and children perished during the brutal internment has ever been documented. In 1863, Congress enacted a law to forcibly remove all of the Dakota from Minnesota to Crow Creek, South Dakota.

From a small hillside near the site of Old Fort Thompson, a feeling of Peace after the Crow Creek Ride

The first leg of their removal by riverboat ended at Camp McClellan in Davenport, Iowa, prior to proceeding down the Mississippi River to a place near current day Hannibal, MO. Across Missouri by rail cars to St. Joseph, then again by riverboat North on the Missouri River to end at Fort Thompson, South Dakota.

The punishment for their actions during the Dakota Conflict resulted in their removal to Crow Creek, South Dakota by riverboat and trains. The commemorative motorcycle route follows the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

After we left the circle we ate a great feast of buffalo and cake, stew, soup, fry bread, lemonade. We talked and made new friends. Some came up again to talk and say thank you. Thank you for remembering us. Thank you for giving us hope.

I told them that I was the one to be thankful. I gave them nothing, they gave me the greatest gift. A smile at the end of my ride. They allowed me to honor them, the survivors, the self determined few.

This was the scene at the end of the Commemorative Motorcycle Ride for the Crow Creek Dakota and the Winnebago people who were transported by river barge down the Mississippi and up the Missouri River in 1863.

They arrived in Fort Thompson on June 24th, 1863 and started their life there. They lived in spite of the horror cast upon them by some of the soldiers. In spite of the rocks and stones thrown at them from the banks of the great rivers. The rape, beatings, the separation and killing of their loved ones.

We rode to remember. We wanted to call attention to this event. We wanted to remember what happened in hopes we would reach an ear of someone, anyone, anywhere, that would say this should never happen again.

The people of Crow Creek were happy, happy with tears that anyone remembered that they were there, remembered their ancestors from the boat rides in 1863. Remembered that they are a proud Nation of poor but forgiving people. People who were happy this day as the riders on the iron horses came to say we know you are here.

More Peace bestowed upon you

Friday, May 7, 2010

Only the Good Friday, May 7, 2010

Writing about only “Good” things on Friday is a project created by Shelly over at This Eclectic Life. Take a look and read her offering and scroll around to get the details if you care to join in on the fun. Just post a story about “Good” stuff.

I’ve had some “Good” happening around here. It sure didn't seem "Good" when it all started, but the outcomes of what I’ve been through have been “Good”. Let me spin a yarn or two and fill you in on what’s been going on. After all, I’ve been away, and I know someone missed me. It started last week, Tuesday think, when the phone rang.

Now that right there is deceiving as we use a cell phone as our “home” phone. I use a generic ring tone, one that came with the phone. It is a nondescript jingle of some sort. I’ve been meaning to get a unique ring tone. Maybe something from the Doors. Or maybe a small piece of a song we recorded in the 1970’s when I played with the Dump and Shortcake Band. But I digress.

I answered the phone, it was in the morning, and heard my brother on the other end of the airwaves. (almost said line, like we used to have someone on the other end of the line, get it?). Brother Frank lives in Sedona, Arizona. We talk now and then. He started the conversation slowly and talked about my Grandkids and how are they and how’s everyone.

That must have been his humble way to tell me he was in the hospital in the nearby town of Cottonwood, AZ. He told me he had experienced some chest pain and they were going to do an angiogram and take a look. Since he drove himself to the hospital, both he and I assumed that he might need a stent or two. The hospital nor the doctor seemed like it was an emergency and the blood tests didn’t show any sign of a heart attack.

I wished him luck and put him at ease. After all, I have had angiograms five different times, and heart surgery twice, and the speed at which progress is made pertaining to medical procedures these days, I was sure that they knew what they were doing. I went about my business that day, filling in other family members about Uncle Frank. I would wait for a call later that day with the results and go from there.

My call came, from his wife, not too long later. It seems that when they did the angiogram, they found a blockage that had closed an artery to 99%. They air lifted him to Flagstaff, AZ and performed emergency heart surgery on him the moment he landed at the Flagstaff Medical Center.

When I got this information, I called my sister in suburban Chicago. We discussed it and decided we needed to get down there and be with him and his wife. We both sought the airline schedule and called each other back a half hour later. I told big sister that I was going to drive down and leave first thing in the morning. My sister’s husband drove her to Des Moines, IA. I passed through there and met them at a truck stop at the junction of I-80 and I-35 called The Flying J. I met her at 11:50 a.m. On Wednesday and we pulled into Flagstaff at nine o’clock the next morning. We gobbled up the 1550 miles with a two hour nap in the parking lot of another Flying J truck stop in Albuquerque, NM.

The highlight of the drive was waking up just before the sun rose over Sandia Peak, a huge mountain the sits just East of Albuquerque. The moon had been full the night before, and as we sipped early morning truck stop coffee and got out on the Interstate, we had the unusual phenomenon of the moon, still full and bright on the Western horizon and old Sol peeking up over the mountaintop.

The town of Placitas with Sandia Mountain as a backdrop. Placitas is just North of Albuquerque

This beautifully stunning photograph of Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque is from the site of Sylvia Ortiz Domney.

My sister had brought her camera. She fetched it from her purse and I snapped a few shots out the drivers side window. It was a cosmic place to be, right there between the Grand Father Sun and the Grand Mother Moon. It was like having a tractor beam, hauling us at 80 miles per hour plus, towards our destination. The Spirits were helping us gather together. After all, we had just lost out Mother a few months before. We are all that is left and we acknowledge how much we love and need each other as our existence is all that is left of our family. That alignment of the cosmos was very very “Good”.

Not often is the Moon so bright in the sky when the Sunrise takes place

Uncle Frank was in his bed in what the hospital called a step down unit. He had just gotten there from the ICU and was doing very well. We visited and cried a little. Tried to make each other laugh too. We stayed at a beautifully appointed house across the street from the hospital called the Taylor House. Taylor House is a place set aside for visiting families of patients, we spent our days back and forth to his room.

On Saturday, the doctors and staff announced that he would be going home on Sunday. He was making a remarkable recovery and was doing great. We spent the night in Sedona, an hour away from the hospital, and on Sunday morning, passed through Flag, said goodbye and started the long journey home.

My sister had never been to Santa Fe, so we pulled in there after negotiating a freak Spring snowstorm at the Continental Divide near Grants, NM. Had me doing evasive maneuvers to avoid rear ending a squad of trucks stopped on the highway. We ambled down out of the elevation and soon hit dry pavement and sunshine in Albuquerque. We made it to Santa Fe and saw a few sights. I took my sister to Maria’s, one of my favorite places to eat in Santa Fe.

The next morning we headed out and made it to Osceola, Iowa and got a decent nights sleep. We pulled in to my place in River Falls a little after noon. My brother-in-law drove up from the Chicago area on Wednesday, spent the night, tidied up my yard, (he likes to do that kind of thing), and left Thursday.

So many “Good” things gleaned from this adventure. ”Good” that they found my brother’s problem and avoided a possible life ending heart blockage. “Good” that the surgery went well and that he was sent home so quickly and on the mend. “Good” that we had safe travel through all those miles and a weather pattern that sat on the high plains with heavy winds, rain and snow, and “Good” that we saved a boatload of money over flying, renting a car in Phoenix and the hospital having that beautiful guest house for families at a ridiculously low rate.

Also on the "Good" side was the togetherness we kept alive for what's left of my childhood family and the time spent in the car with my sister, having her as a captive audience to listen to me go on and on about whatever it was that was on my mind. I did do some listening as well.

I’m home now, but I’m having a hard time getting back into a routine, if there ever was one to begin with. I will never catch up on all the Facebook things. My e-mail box is jammed full of ads to buy Viagra and Cialis and methods to make my John Thomas bigger and better and more satisfying. And now I have the chore of getting on my creative hat and writing some amusing informative works and establish some readership again.

I’m happy to be home and that my brother is doing “Good” and will be with us for a while yet. It’s “Good” to be back.

Peace to all