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Archive for November, 2018

The Last Laugh

Sadly, our home town newspaper is closing its doors. When I was a teenager, my parents and everybody else’s parents subscribed to The Western Itasca Review. Inside this small town publication were the stories of our lives: The weddings, the funerals, who was in the service, and who was having a garage sale. It was also filled with columns from the local smaller communities in the area. I am embarrassed to admit that my friends and I used to laugh and make fun of the news from Ball Club, Suomi, and Bowstring, to name a few. We snickered over who was visiting whom, who stopped in for coffee and cookies, and who “motored” in from out of town. Yes, we laughed and made fun as naughty teenagers tend to do, but we read each one, and with few exceptions, we knew each person. As we grew up and moved near and far, each article was no longer something to laugh about but something to bring us a little closer to home and each other. For me, Kentucky and Florida didn’t seem so far away from home when I had my paper to read and reread each week. Pictures of school activities, home town celebrations, and awards filled each page. Friends got married, had children, and even started having grandchildren, and most of us looked for familiar faces or beamed with pride as we got out the scissors to cut out a picture to tape to the fridge or send to a relative. People rarely announce engagements, weddings, or babies any more. The internet, smart phones , and social media give us immediate news at our fingertips. People don’t stop in as often for coffee and cookies with their neighbors, and there are no more folksy, home town columns from Ball Club, Suomi, or Bowstring…or maybe there are. Belle Johnson wrote the news from Bowstring for many years. I didn’t know her, but learned through others that she loved visitors and always had coffee and cookies to serve friends and neighbors when they dropped by, and she shared these comings and goings in the paper every week. Belle was in a wheelchair in her later years, and you can see the scars from the wheels on her kitchen cupboards as she wheeled in as close as she could to get her chores done. Her house was small but welcoming, and her basement was damp. How do I know these facts about the grand lady who kept readers in this part of the county informed? Because, in one of those strange coincidences of life, I live in her house. The stories and misadventures of The Minnesota Farm Woman that you read in this newspaper column each week are actually a modern typed-on-my smart-phone version of the news from Bowstring, except that I don’t bake cookies. I don’t have the time or the energy to refinish the scarred-up cupboards, either. Belle’s basement is still damp, and there are chickens in the stable that once housed goats. Until the paper closes its doors at the end of the year, I will spend a few more Sunday afternoons racking my brain to come up with a column that is interesting and enjoyable, just as Belle did all those years ago. Oh, and if you stop by for a visit, I may or may not write about you, but don’t expect any homemade cookies. It is not THAT much of a strange coincidence.

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Barney the Chihuahua and I are usually awake around 4:30 a.m. He is usually a chipper, tail-wagging bundle of energy at that time of the morning. No, not that HE. I am talking about the dog. I am somewhat less chipper until I have my first cup of coffee. Last night, we were supposed to turn our clocks back. Changing our clocks back and forth every six months keeps me in a perpetual state of confusion. Just when I get used to the time, it has to be changed again. HE always changes the clocks in our house because he stays up later than I do, but unfortunately, is not amenable to questions at 4:30 a.m. asking whether or not he remembered to change the clocks. There is a very valid reason for my confusion. Last spring, when we were supposed to move our clocks forward, my phone, which is supposed to go with the flow, didn’t change automatically until noon. My fitness tracker didn’t change because it needed to be manually synchronized with the phone. (It took me two days to figure that one out!) This morning, I stumbled to the back door to let Barney out for his business. It didn’t matter if it was 4:30 or 5:30, because it was dark:30. The clock on the stove said it was 4:30. My phone said it was 4:30. My fitness tracker said it was 4:30. My brain said it was 5:30. Was it really 4:30…or 5:30? Did he change the clocks last night or did he forget? Did my phone adjust itself properly this time? Since I now have a new fitness tracker, did it change automatically, or would it require a syncronization like the old one did? It is enough to drive a Farm Woman insane. Out of desperation, I Googled it. Don’t laugh. I Google all the time, and it is a much better alternative to driving myself crazy or waking HIM up. After another cup of coffee, I will get dressed and figure out how to change the timers on the outdoor security lamp and the lights in the chicken coop. Or, maybe I will just go to church and see who showed up an hour early. I shouldn’t joke about it, though, because the early bird could very well be me!

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