Archive - 2003


November 17th

Another good old church story rolls in...

Email correspondent BW sends another fun story of an old church that was kept up through the efforts of a dedicated former parishioner:

November 16th

Hunting report

I promised a complete report on the success of my high school buddy and his suburban friends who hunted our land this weekend. Nothing much to report. They were shut out. All they saw was a moose cow and her calf. But they had fun, and we ate a lot of good food that they brought up. They also treated me to elk steak at the fancy casino restaurant on Saturday evening. A little tough, but very good. I have had elk before--but that was prepared by my Aunt Ede, who could make shoe leather taste tender and good if she had to.

This week's newspaper column

Maps are one of my favorite forms of literature. Or, perhaps they are art. The walls of my house are plastered with them. Maps are more pleasing to the eye than most art you can buy nowadays, and they often come in handy.

For years, my mother collected the maps out of the National Geographic. They accumulated in the dough box in the living room underneath the old magazines. I didn’t figure she’d miss them, so about fifteen years ago I stole them all and put them on the walls of my house.

One church saved

A woman named Judy Kotrba from near Thief River Falls called me earlier tonight with a heartwarming story. The church near near her home farm northeast of Grygla has been closed for forty years. It was falling in disrepair. When Judy's mother was dying, she said, wouldn't it be nice if the church was restored to its original condition.

Tell-all books

A member of the household staff of former governor Jesse Ventura has written a book "to set the record straight" about what it was like to work for the Ventura family in the governor's mansion. Jesse spent hours watching TV in sullen silence. His wife Terry tried to get trooper escorts to go to the Mall of America for sales. Son Tyrel held wild parties in the mansion. Jade was a well-behaved sixteen-year old.

November 15th

More baseball notes...

The Twins traded their steady catcher A.J. Piersynski, to San Francisco. This was inevitable, given that phenom catcher Joe Mauer is chomping at the bit. But I will miss A.J.'s intensity, his ability to foul the ball off with two strikes, and his feeble looping base hits to left field. I really do look forward, though, to seeing Mauer develop. He has a sweet swing, he's great defensively, and--no small matter--he is a gentleman with the umpires. A.J. was not, and it worked against the Twins. Mauer, a native Minnesotan, is more smooth.

Steroids in baseball

The test results are in: a substantial number of major league baseball players tested positive for steriod use this season, even though they knew well in advance that they were going to be tested.

I have always suspected that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds blasted their way past Roger Maris a couple of years ago thanks only to their use of "supplements." Barry Bonds in particular, a svelte player in his early career, all of a sudden became unnaturally beefy. Is it any coincidence that he also turned sullen, another effect of steroids?

November 14th


Most people don't realize that columnists have no control over the headlines newspapers put on their columns. Sometimes the headlines make me wince, other times they make the column more complete. Most of the time, I don't look. No matter what, I don't envy the editors who have to come up with headlines for my columns. It would be much easier if there were just a masthead with my name and "Down on the Farm" on it.

Close call

I just heard this morning (the electrician is here, and brought the news from town the old-fashioned way) that a local lady had a bullet come through her wall and bounce around her house last weekend. It passed only inches from her head. They found the hunter who shot the bullet, and he was pretty shook up over it. Makes you want to leave for the weekend. Or wear a helmet and a flak jacket around the house.

Hunters arrive

Last weekend, a dozen hunters (we call them the Waubun boys) hunted our land. They've hunted here 25 years. They know the land and always take a bunch of deer, although I haven't heard how they did this year. I just know that they dropped off a turkey in thanks for letting them hunt, as usual, which is appreciated.