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I hope everyone is enjoying ‘nothing time’; that span of time from Christmas to the first working day in the new year. It’s nothing time because pretty much nothing gets done. There are occupations for which there is no ‘nothing time’ and I appreciate the sacrifices made to be sure everything in the country works when we need it. For the rest of us, it’s a chance to breathe a little after the chaos of Christmas and to actually enjoy all the work we’ve put into the holiday.

I was thinking about when Christmas goes away and the real world descends again and having to put the beloved Christmas decorations away for another year. Which lead me to think about my home. Which lead me to think about ‘home’ and what that looks like today. The American dream has always been owning one’s own home and a lot of people do. What is changing, however, is the idea of what that home should look like. I grew up in New York – most homes there are brick, some stone, a few frame. When the pioneers crossed the country, they took that idea of brick homes with them. Depending on where they decided to stay, a lot of the architecture of the midwest and west is very much similar to the homes of the east. Then regional changes had an impact on the design and construction of homes. Technology and innovation changed the layout of houses and how they could be used differently than our grandparents and great grandparents used their houses.

Today, I’m very much interested in ‘tiny houses’. I am both charmed by and fascinated with them. I live in a house that’s 1800 sq. ft under cover. How much of it do we use? Probably around 1000 sq. ft. As long as my tiny house has a fully functional bathroom with a flush toilet, I’m good to go.

Our children are grown, live out of state; we don’t entertain anymore. A family could use this house to its full potential. The only time the foyer gets used is when Amazon drops off a package; the dining room is lovely but unused, the spare bedroom very rarely gets used. A tiny house makes much more sense for two people or someone living single.

YouTube is filled with tiny house videos. I thought this was brilliant – I’d love this house

We don’t need any more room than that. If I have room for my computer set up, I’m happy. Another option, depending on what you’re looking for is the dome – it’s been around since the 1980s, if not before, and it, too, has been improved. Take a look at these

With the space problems Japan has, they, too, are going tiny. Some are no more than a coffin with a hot plate but some are very clever and airy. Once you’ve gotten over the need to impress people with what you have – which is our tendency when we’re young – you realize it doesn’t really take much to make you happy. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity and freedom from ‘stuff’. It seems to be human nature to fill the spaces we have; the less space, the less stuff. Additionally, I’d a whole lot rather mop 1000 sq. ft than 1800 or 2500 or 5000. It just makes sense to me, those tiny houses. I think I could be perfectly comfortable in one. I have a dream – it’s silly, really – a dream of building a tiny house on a corner of the land my son owns. Far enough away for personal privacy but close enough for coffee and cake of an afternoon. Yes; I’m ready for tiny.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Whitney Valentine, 1887; Howland sold her New ...

Whitney Valentine, 1887; Howland sold her New England Valentine Company to the George C. Whitney Company in 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Since I’m single, I’m not really celebrating today, although it does set the topic. I’ve been following a post from The Little Knife on a particularly disgusting poster for a Valentine’s Day ‘special’ occasion at a bar on England. You can see the poster at he link, I have no intention of publishing it here.


Demeaning misogyny is far too polite a way of describing it, worse still that a woman wrote it, the appropriate way I would describe it would offend drunken sailors, so I won’t.


What I will do is remind TLK, and the rest of you ladies (and yes, I used that old-fashioned term intentionally) that there are still some men out here who are perfectly willing to respect (although we do insist you earn it, nothing given away cheaply is worth much) you, and to give you as much credit as you deserve. I ran across a quote yesterday that I think is very appropriate to the occasion, I can’t credit the author since it is anonymous.


So this, is my Valentine’s wish for you all.


A woman would be much better off if she could distinguish the difference between a man who flatters her and a man who compliments her, a man who spends money on her and a man who invests in her, a man who views her as property and a man who views her properly, a man who lusts after her and a man who loves her, a man who believes he is God’s gift to women and a man who remembers a woman is God’s gift to man. Know your worth for you are God’s jewel.


Old fashioned? Maybe! But you know what, the world was a far better place when that was the way we looked at each other.


My God, these folks don’t know how to love – that’s why they love so easily.


D. H. Lawrence


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Mother’s Day /Every Day

I really enjoyed hearing Jess talk a bit about her mother this morning, and decided it wouldn’t hurt if I did as well.

One of the things that brought Jess and I together originally is that our parents were older, her views of life are more like mine, and mine are more  like a pre-baby boomer than would be expected. And also like her, I have little left of my family, she has a half-sister and I have a brother-in-law (and we each have some nieces).

It is funny though, Jess (as usual) is correct, I can’t remember not knowing right from wrong, of course, I don’t remember learning to walk either, I must have learned them about the same time.

I idolized my dad, which is not unusual for a boy, I still do, really, In my 60 years on this earth, I’ve never met a better man, a few, like Jimmie Doolittle, have come close, but they were very similar, really.

If you’ve never dealt with us Scandinavians much, something you have to get used to is, most of us rarely yell, and storm around. if you anger us, we’re likely to just get quiet and withdraw, and decide that whoever or whatever angers us just isn’t worth messing with anymore. It’s not limited to strangers either. I can remember dad not speaking to one of his brothers (one of my favorite uncles) for about 15 years. And, yup, I inherited that too.

In junior high and high school, I worked summers for dad, at the company he ran, and at home we were restoring an old windmill that a neighbor had given us. Given that I was about 15 dad said a lot of stupid things, and we were working on it when he did it again. I dropped my hammer in disgust, it went clang. Dad looked at me and said, “If you don’t want to do it my way, just go in the house.” So I did. It was six weeks before we spoke again. And, yes, it was a bit awkward at work. Good thing was, the rest of the employees understood, they’d been there, as well, and respected me for standing up like a man.

But you know, who always got in the middle of these? Yep, Mom did. She was plenty strong-willed herself but she managed to mediate between all of us, and keep us all alive and reasonably healthy, when dad and I wouldn’t talk or when one sister cracked the other upside the head with a cast iron frying pan or whatever else. The mediator.

But that’s the thing, she was easily the equal of any of us. In an age when most schoolteachers had a year or so of college, she had a BA in English. In fact she commented one time that I spoke good English till I went to school. Her dad was a somewhat big wheel in the Minnesota DFL, and a highly respected man, all the brothers and sisters were successful by their standards, and often prizewinners from others as well.

But, unlike Jess, she detested housework, there were stories up in Minnesota about how good she was at grinding the valves on a Model T, and working on the farm in general, and I can easily remember how much she preferred mowing grass to cleaning house, or even making lunch. She was a good cook, of course, in the somewhat limited sense of a traditional Norwegian menu, of white food on a white plate. She made the only Lutefisk I could choke down.

After college I ended up living at home mostly because dad wouldn’t do much of anything if I wasn’t around, and obviously there were no real rules anymore that I had to follow (like curfews and such) but when I’d get home at night, she’d be sitting there, playing solitaire. She said, and meant it, the only reason she didn’t go to bed was that she wouldn’t go to sleep, there was no reproach if it was 2 am and I was half drunk. But you still got up about 6:30 and went to work! No slackers.

But you know the story I always wanted to know more about was how she and dad got together. You see every once in a while when they’d go back to Minnesota, they’d stop and see a very nice lady named Amy, I think I met her twice and liked her considerably. I found out later she’d been mom’s roommate at college. But the other thing is, mom met dad when Amy brought her date to the dorm! Good thing they didn’t hold grudges, but I still wish I knew how dad pulled that one off.

And it strikes me as significant that when dad was about the age I am now, I was paying a fair amount of attention to girls, and I commented a few times to him about some girl being pretty (or something similar), his comment was, “I didn’t notice.” I believed him, I don’ think he ever noticed another woman’s looks in his life. He (and she) had found everything they needed for better than 50 years in each other. How I wish I could say that some day.

Mom, like dad, passed over quite a few years ago now, and as I get older some of the memories fade but, you know, not very much, and like dad, although in a quieter sort of way, she’s always there in the back of my mind. I think with her love of English (reasonably well used) she’d like that I have come to do a fair amount of writing, and I hope in general that she’d be as proud of me I was and am of her. Thanks Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day

Merry Christmas

Merry, Merry Christmas

Merry, Merry Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Just a short post to let you know how much I have enjoyed knowing and talking o each of you this year. I believe Jess has a post scheduled here for tomorrow but other than that, it is time for us to be with our families, and in our churches. I’m posting this from the train as I head for my sister’s.


So I and Jess wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you later in the week, and regular service will resume next year.


Happy Birthday, Dad.

Saturday, again, huh? Well we all know what that means here, don’t we? Time to unwind a bit, it’s been a stressful week.

But it’s also the 1st of December, an that’s an important day for me. My Dad would have been 105 today. He’s been gone for over 25 years now but, every time I have a problem one of my key questions is, “What would Dad do (or say)?. If I listen closely, he often tells me, still.

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.”
― Robert E. Lee

The last couple weeks he has seemed especially close, reminding me of a man’s duty. So, I thought maybe we should look at some of the things he loved.

One thing he dearly loved was music, his father did two things: ran the town light plant, and directed the town band, in truth it was the family band practically, of the 10 of them 6 of them were my uncles plus Dad. In his opinion, this was the last great American composer.

I have some problem disagreeing!

I can’t remembering him ever going to a movie, I suspect he got it out of his system when he moonlighted as a projectionist. He’d watch on TV though, usually something like this.

He liked technology a lot too, he had the first TV in town, and when color TV’s started coming out, he didn’t think he could afford one, so he bought a kit and built one. What was on? Good shows, like these.

And for all his insistence that their were no composers after Sousa, he never seemed to have much trouble watching this.

or this

In fact, even the commercials were neat.

But for all that he was a serious man, devoted to keeping the lights on, while keeping his people safe, and he would brook no compromise. He was one of the people who made our lives in the field both easier and safer

Dan Miller ran this song this week, in another context, and in truth he and I both saw it over at the Mad Jewess’es shortly after the election as well. It’s considerably too new a song for Dad to have heard but, it’s a pretty good summary of this article.

It seems a sad song on first listening doesn’t it? But, it’s not really, it speaks to us of the eternal dreams and battles we fight for what we believe in. And those dreams live as long as we are remembered.

A perfect man? Nope, he surely wasn’t, but he was the best I’ve ever known.

“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”
― Robert E. Lee

That would have made a good epithet for him

Happy Birthday, Dad, and Thanks.

Speaking of Class

Let’s start Monday with some memories of our childhood. I can’t speak for you but my upbringing was very much like Mac describes here, maybe that’s why he’s my friend. We have a lot in common like personal responsibility, and a dislike for hurting people needlessly, and a love for Scotch. Some would say we have a modicum of class. As you read his post, you will discover some people who have made it to the pinnacle of our society without any class at all. You will also discover why we both think that that is a very bad thing. It’s important but, it’s also a look back at a society that I miss greatly.

From The Lean Submariner, a class act, a great blogger, and my friend.

Growing up in a middle class house in America was really a blessing. We learned early on about manners and the importance of following the basic rules we would need later on in life. There were rules like

  • no arguing at the dinner table
  • no borrowing from your brothers things without their permission (it was assumed my sister really didn’t have much that would be useful to a boy so that rule was not needed
  • wash your hands before dinner and clean up your plate after
  • no wasting of food… we had enough but we knew that to waste it was a wicked thing
  • no fighting in the bedroom – especially if Mom and Dad were still at the dinner table directly below our room. The modest chandelier was a dead giveaway no matter how quiet we wrestled
  • no swearing… ever… about anything
  • you asked permission to leave the table and could only do so when Dad and Mom decided it was appropriate
  • if you made a mistake, admit it. Quickly. And apologize to the person who was offended

The last one was kind of tough sometimes. I am not sure how many times I knowingly made a mistake that hurt someone else but I know I did it. I think we all did from time to time. But taking responsibility for it was the bedrock for being a mature and responsible person.

I distinctly remember a few times when I was not directly responsible for something bad that happened but was indirectly part of the event. Maybe in my mind I would justify how unfair it was for me to take my share of the blame but taking my share of the apology seemed like the punishment did not fit the crime. But as a part of my parents values, learning to admit the error was only part of the process. Taking your share of the sincere apology to the offended person was the natural next step.

Continue reading What does class cost?.

It’s time for a course correction.

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