About The Wait

“The waiting is longer than the wait itself,” said the narrator of Conversations In Absentia, last night’s story read on WPCA-FM. It’s a good story, if I don’t say so myself. Absentia was the first short story I wrote after I retired and no longer wrote articles for publications like the St.Paul Pioneer Press. And today, after waiting for Spring to arrive before Summer heat hits us, Marina and I took the pontoon out on the lake for the first time. This year I put in the dock and platform myself. This, after yielding to age last year and hiring it done. And having lost our lawsuit appeal down at the beach and the resulting loss of about 1/3 of the property we had previously, several of the owners joined together and we removed the berm, flattened the land, and planted grass. This will make it easier for people to put in their docks, as well as opening up the view of the lake.

Wolf Creek United Methodist Church celebrated its 135th birthday on Memorial Day. We tossed a free lunch for anyone attending the Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery next door and in the process hosted the Historical Society’s celebration of the 100th birthday of a neighbor and Veteran. Since our last conversation, though, the Wolf Creek congregation lost one of our key people, a younger woman who died too soon. Deb had handled our technical stuff, getting us on You Tube each week and helping us use the new internet connection we never had in the past. Her brother, Mike, has stepped up and continues what Deb was doing. The result: Ascension Sunday and I’m doing the Benediction at the end of the service when a fight breaks out in the back. It had me at a loss for words for several moments. Let’s hear it for great Christianity! Since we are on You Tube, it’s on record for people everywhere to see–forever, I guess.

I have my next story rolling around in my head and will start getting it down when I feel I can take a break in telling the story of my early years. At this point I have more than 50 pages done and I’m just finishing high school, with some college thrown in. It’s a first draft but I think I’ll print it out for my kids in case something happens to me and it ends up being trapped in my computer. Jill, Luck’s Librarian, has talked with me about doing story reading in the near future. I’ve suggested doing it as a fund raiser, so if Friends of the Library can drum up an audience it will provide the Library more money than any check I might write them. We shall see how it unfolds. St.Croix Festival Theater and I have had three conversations now about a third fund raising reading and a date for that has yet to be set. In the past, we’ve done those on nights the theater would be dark. No money comes in when the stage is dark. In the past, reading with LaMoine MacLaughlin, we’ve had audiences of about 3/4 capacity+.

Spring Is Springing, But Slowly

Yes, there are buds on some trees and a few bushes. And, yes, some birds I’ve not seen in ages have returned. And, yes, the ice on Bone Lake withdrew just a couple of days ago. And yes, Amen! the grass is turning green, except for where Marina’s retired female Seeing Eye dog deposited her pee. Soon I’ll have the mower going. But, there’s a fire in the woodstove–still–because it’s cool in the lower level where I have my office and also because the temperature is due to drop down to 34 above tonight. I’ll get out the rain gauge when it will stay above freezing at night.

Tomorrow I hand over the gavel to the next president of the Osceola Senior Citizens Club. I think I’ve served two terms plus part of another and it has been a honor and a privilege. It’s a great group of good people and the organization and its quarters have great potential. Signs are up inside–finally! Signs are due to go up on the outside of the building so the Senior Center will be identified. It has not been easy to “show the flag” by being present often when I live 45 minutes from town; the president should be someone who lives close by and who can be in and out of the Center often.

Tonight’s WPCA-FM radio broadcast was Number Eleven Oakwood Lane, a story about an aging actor who’s seen better days and part of whose issues is that life came easy to him because of his looks and athletic ability. The story also raises the same issue for women, especially beautiful young women whose pushy mothers bring them to Hollywood in the hopes that they can be “discovered”.  When things come too easily in life, how does a person develop character? In the February-March issue of the AARP Magazine, Halle Berry has some insightful things to say about that very thing. I find I admire women who have overcome beauty with brains, courage and perseverance. Growing up in Hollywood, I saw plenty of that as a young person and, obviously, it stuck with me.

If I wrote this previously, please forgive me; I can’t see what has gone before until I shut all this down, but I’ve been writing an account of my growing up after being encouraged to do that by my wife and eldest daughter, Britta. There’s plenty my kids just don’t know. I’ve said that when it came to theater and voice work, I was good and that I have the reviews to prove it, so now the reviews are being reproduced in print and anyone can make his/her own judgment. I can say that I learned a great deal by working with some of the best and most honored people in the business. For a kid with no studio contract and no TV series, I got quite a bit of attention in a highly competitive market, as Hollywood always has been known to be. These days, however, I hear myself reading on the radio and I deplore the poor diction I hear. It’s almost as bad as when I review the weekly YouTube recording of our Wolf Creek Sunday services. Still some work to do, I guess! (Small voice: what do you mean, “guess”? Get on it, man!)

I spent several hours last night fussing with my printer/scanner/copier that was not working. I’d wanted to scan an interview with John Mellencamp and send it to my daughter, Alice, because she toured with him and opened for him for many months. The scanner didn’t work and both the HP Tech and I were plenty frustrated. (I’ve been there before with this machine.) Anyhow, I ended up copying the page and sending it to Alice by snail mail. Now, tonight, the scanner works, so it’s either someone’s prayers or the Tech’s dreams after he quit for the night or just because the thing decided to be cooperative; who knows? I’m wanting it to keep working as intended.

And on that note, I’m ending this. May you all be well!

Into Each Life

It’s raining as I write this, but in early April we’ve had worse weather, at least in the 50+ years I’ve been in Minnesota and Wisconsin. No buds are evident yet on our trees and the woodstove still gets a workout. WPCA-FM has been broadcasting my story readings the first Tuesday night of each month, but it’s a “drop-in” so the “drop” gets missed every once in awhile. Tonight was one of those “once in awhiles”. I can’t complain; I’m not paying for the airtime and I am very grateful for the privilege of having my stories heard. It’s a privilege few authors enjoy.

As I’m about to end my stint as president of the Osceola Senior Citizens Club, what we had hoped would not happen has happened: our Senior Citizen space now has a sign on it advertising it as the Polaris Community Room. Eventually, there will be a larger sign above the door that reads “Senior Citizens” and I suppose a dual-purpose room is what is intended, but the building policy is that Seniors get priority over the use of that space. I figure if we fill the room(s) with activity, in peoples’ minds it will be the Senior Center that people are coming to know and use. During my tenure I’d hoped to have nipped that encroachment on our space. Obviously, I was unsuccessful.

Family has prevailed on me to start writing down my growing up experiences, especially the theater and performance years. I’d avoided it because it seemed to me to be just a recitation of famous names, but now, several thousand words into the writing, I find it’s more than that. It is true, though, that you can Google almost every person with whom I co-starred and performed with. They were Academy Award nominees, Emmy Award winners, Grammy Award winners, Tony Award winners and others who made their living in the performing arts. I learned from some of the best and I was good enough to more than  hold my own. I have the reviews to prove it. This was in southern California and Hollywood, where the competition back then was as ferocious as it is now.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. Our pianist is away that day, so I’ll be leading our service with the guitar. I’ve been working up some callouses on my fingers; it has been a long time since I’ve used my trusty old guitar in public. I’ve had it since 1957, when I bought it for $10 from a kid who’d had it at the beach and cracked it. My mother found a violin repairman in downtown L.A. and he fixed it so well that you could barely see the former crack. Since then I’ve had it repaired twice more, once a “butcher job” and more recently a very well done job. Of course I’d like to tell our You Tube audience that our massive choir and full orchestra will be missing, but I figure that it’s not polite to lie about things, especially when in church.

Marina had a major birthday yesterday and Grandson Erik had the elegant solution for her celebration, since she has trouble handling large groups of people: people would bring/send elements of the birthday dinner separately and at different times, so Mom/Grandma could focus on each person and give each person individual time. It worked very well. My benefit? The food was very good and all I had to do was the dishes.

Easter reminds us that Spring does come and so do new beginnings. God is a God of second, third, fourth chances–and many more–so our lives can have many “Springs”; we never are beyond repair, forgiveness and God’s grace. Repent and be forgiven. It’s easy. The only tough part is seeing that we have things to be repentant about. And not to forgive ourselves is a form of blasphemy. So, here’s to Spring–finally!

 

How About Some True Justice?

Last night’s story aired on WPCA-FM was a newly recorded tale, True Justice, a whodunit that I’ve also entered in a competition with the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. We shall see if it charms any of the judges. It’s always fun to listen to the radio station’s story broadcasts, first because I never really know which story will get aired, and second, I’m still trying to improve my diction after years of sloppiness and only by listening to myself can I identify the kinds of words I’m letting slide by my lazy tongue. Last night also featured the President’s State of the Union address. I have a sneaking suspicion that his broadcast drew a larger audience than mine.

A major portion of the President’s address dealt with Ukraine’s Russian invasion. I live with someone who experienced the Russians coming to town. That followed our (U.S.) and British bombings that took place both day and night. Marina, a child, had the job of bring her mother’s silver foxes cape and the iron down to the basement at night when the bombs blew up any chance of sleep.. The Russians entered Berlin and a contingent took over the house where Marina lived. It was a large villa with several apartments. We do not know if her mother was sexually assaulted but she was a musician with a liquor cabinet and apparently kept playing so the Russians kept drinking and singing their favorite songs. If she suffered harm, we never heard about it. The Russians were sure, of course, that people had hidden their jewels and valuables in the furniture cushions, so they sliced them open to find out. Also, they didn’t trust toilets so they did their business in a side room that the house holders had to clean up. Herding everyone to the basement allowed the Russians to shoot their pistols into the ceiling and just about anywhere else their drunken aim might wander.

One person unable to go to the basement was “grandma”, who, ancient and “very sick”,  was upstairs in bed wth blankets piled high and draping down to the floor. Underneath the blanket piled bed was Violeta Rindsig, a very beautiful 16 year old who would have been a desirable commodity for the occupying Russians. Violeta was kept safe and later came to Hollywood, where, as Violet Rindsig, she had a good career in films.

Needless to say, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brings back strong memories for Marina of what it was like and a solid identification with Ukraine’s innocent and vulnerable civilians.

Today, I told the Osceola Senior Citizens that I would not take another term as its president. My job essentially is finished. I was asked to take the office to help the group defend its space, which has been eyed by several entities and vulnerable because of the way the civic building in Osceola was funded. With a small contribution from the Seniors, signs both inside and outside the building will identify the Seniors’ location. We have an increasing number of activities so that the space is being used more often and more visibly. It’s a big change from meeting in the activity rooms of Polk County housing units. Also, I am in year four of not having lived in town; I’m a 45 minute drive away. I believe that leadership should be “showing the flag”, in and out of the building regularly and close enough to make it easy to attend Village Board meetings and other events that involve the Seniors. When Marina was swimming twice a week, I could get to the Center regularly, but that has changed and with the exception of getting a haircut and doing some banking, I’m just not in town anymore. Fortunately, there are a couple of good candidates to take my place and, for me, the run as the group’s president has been both enjoyable and a privilege.

We are in Lent. Because I am a part-time pastor at Wolf Creek United Methodist Church, we will impose ashes this coming Sunday, rather than having a separate service tonight. We are not an uptight bunch.

I just finished Peter Kwong’s second book, Have You Eaten?, which details some of  his fascinating life’s journey, together with a variety of simple but versatile recipes for just about any Chinese dish you might imagine–and some beyond your imagination. It’s a fun book and when Peter is at his best “I’m just a poor immigrant boy and there’s so much to learn”, we see ourselves in an enlightening way. It’s worth a read and, if I may say so, it’s full of food for thought, too.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside–And Inside, Too

This morning our furnace’s gone to rest was obvious the moment my nose burst the covers. I tried the usual trick and when that didn’t work I called Joe, our stalwart heating/a.c. guy in Amery, who, as always, came promptly after admonishing me by phone “Don’t touch anything!” so he could isolate the problem. While awaiting our hero, I got an electric heater going, fired up the wood stove, and got the kitchen (electric) oven cranking. Bravo! Heat in time to leave to chair the monthly meeting of the Osceola Seniors.

Speaking off heroes, WPCA’s story broadcast last night was The Many Trials, a mangled fairy tale from my first story collection, Four Break Time Stories. The story is an upgrade, if you can call awful puns and plays on words an upgrade, from stories I told my children when they were small. The hero, Horatio, must pass three difficult tests in order to marry the princess. If he can’t pass the tests, he loses his head. It’s a fun story that had me chuckling myself at times as I listened.

Wolf Creek UMC continues to meet, even during our bitterly cold weeks of late. We’ve had the furnace adjusted with a new thermostat so that the place heats up nicely and stays warm while we are there. The number of people showing up is down; perhaps some of those who are not physically present with us are catching our service each week on You Tube (Wolf Creek United Methodist Church services). I have no way of knowing, but we do have some regular subscribers.

The longer you live, it seems, the more funerals you attend and there have been plenty of those to note lately, including those of good friends. The circle grows smaller with time. Words, no matter how wise, just are inadequate. The fact that we live with hope for the future because we have Jesus’ promises makes all the difference.

Friday I record True Justice, the first story I’ve written and completed since they dredged me out of retirement to pastor again three years ago. It seems that the creative energies have been tilted toward what to say on Sundays. However, once I “got” how to extract two of my major characters from the box I’d written them into, everything rolled nicely into place. I’ll be reading that story for WPCA-FM, as part of my short story series that they broadcast each month. The station streams online so anyone with a computer can listen in. (It’s wpcaradio.org.)

The dust is settling now that our out of town kids have returned home. Son Aaron is back home in Portugal after being more than helpful around the place and after showing me some nice flamenco guitar tricks. Daughter Alice squeezed us into her busy schedule so she could join her siblings in a face-to-face get-together, where I’m sure they talked about their parents and probably shook their heads in dismay. Actually, there was some concern because Marina was fighting a nasty infection that put her out of commission for about a week until her doc changed her prescription to a drug that is more risky but also more effective. (Most every drug can have side effects, so we are careful about what we put into ourselves.)

I leave this trusting that the furnace, which is new, will stay on all night on a night when it’s forecast to hit 19 below zero.

More Snow

Tonight’s WPCA-FM radio station reading was “Futuro De Oro” (Golden Future), a tale about an incompatible couple trying to sort out life’s decisions against the background of a Tijuana slum and an upscale Ensenada restaurant and then the beach at Malibu. It’s a “talky” story that produces a variety of reactions from readers, most of which fall along the lines of “how can such a couple find each other attractive in the first place?” Women tend to come down on the side of the woman in the story while men respond to the man. As a writer, it’s interesting to hear the variety of responses.

Son Aaron has been in town and arrived with no problems. He’s skilled at international travel, having visited more than 50 countries in the past few years and having spent time in most of those, not just passing through. Last month I said he was a skilled guitarist. That was an understatement: his flamenco is very, very good. Me? I faked it all those years. I was a bit taken aback when my younger son, John, told me he never knew I’d played in coffee houses. Behind me as I write this is a black and white photo taken by Jack Takemoto as I performed at 13 Below, a coffee house near Macalester College. Maybe John needs to hear about the Sunday night I was singing and playing at the Enlisted Mens’ Club out at Fort Snelling. There was a huge old retired (probably) sergeant, Eli, at the bar. I’d been warbling the folk songs of the day and, finally, Eli raised his head from the bar and said, “Hey, kid. Do you know the shit house blues?” My response: “Eli, I just sang it.” “Ohugh,” he said, as his head sagged down again to the bar.

Right now it’s snowing and more is forecast overnight. I’m due in Osceola tomorrow to chair the Osceola Senior Citizens Club meeting, where the program should include an intro from our new local newspaper editor, Nealy Corcoran, and a presentation by Ron Pedrys, Osceola’s Chief of Police, on the latest scams targeting senior citizens. The Enclave has very good new tires so it’s sure-footed and I anticipate no problems driving. My apprehensions come from having the car outdoors and wondering if it will start at 23 below zero so I can get to Wolf Creek UMC for our service. The car did start and we held our service with the few stalwart faithful.

I look at the You Tube recording of Wolf Creek’s Christmas Eve service and it comes off as cozy, family-like, intimate and very personal. That’s what we want; we have no large choir, no paid vocal soloists, no kids for a pageant and not even a baby Jesus (yet). Without all that people-power, we go for the opposite: less of a sermon and more of a sharing, and sometimes congregational sharing of remembered Christmases past. Holy Communion is administered with each person’s name, except for the new boyfriend’s name that was not known by the pastor. (It’s Matt.) For us, low key works.

Need to check some glitch in sending a story. More later? Maybe.

Let It Snow!

So we’ve had our first real shovel-able snow this past week and there are animal tracks in the snow that I can’t identify. I’ve described them to a few friends but they are stumped, too. I’m going to take some pictures of the tracks and send them to the Wisconsin DNR; they like to identify things like that.

Last night’s story reading on WPCA-FM was a story called “Betsy”, a tale about a gun named Betsy and about a protagonist trying to understand the link between narcism and paranoia. It’s one of my longer stories, clocking in at around 32 minutes but I was struck anew about how the sense of danger builds from page to page and, of course, the ending is a surprise–at least that what readers have told me.

I’m writing this just after finishing our third Zoom Bible study session with members of the Wolf Creek United Methodist Church. With the exception of me, the group is all women. They are smart, savvy and willing to engage in a study that keeps injecting new thoughts into our spiritual minds and I appreciate them.

I’ll share a cute thing from last week: I was putting the finishing touches on a new story and one always wants to be accurate in the writing, so since there is a priest in the story I wanted to make sure I knew what Roman Catholics call the priest’s residence. So I called Sally Christiansen, the Administrator at Our Lady Of The Lakes Parish over in Balsam Lake. I said, “I know it’s not a parsonage and it may be a rectory, but what do you call the residence you provide for your priests?” Sally said, “It is a rectory.” Then, after a pause, she said, “Are you thinking about converting?” I love it!

More snow is forecast for tomorrow and my shovel has been used and is ready for more. Tomorrow is a Zoom conference with the Northwest District’s pastors; then I have to prepare a list of prayers and people we pray for on Sunday; I need to bring more logs closer to the house for the wood stove; and then do a little spit-and-polish to be ready for lunch guests here on Friday. Our guests are a couple from a congregation I pastored 13 years ago. I was there for 11 years, which is fairly long for many pastorates, and some people become friends that you can keep up with after you leave. Yes, as a pastor you can’t have “favorites”, but you can keep friends after you leave; you’re just never their pastor again because if the church is still there and they still belong to that church, they have a pastor and it’s not you.

Son Aaron flies in from Portugal next week, or at least that’s the plan and with COVID all plans can be dicey. He’ll be here for a month and his siblings are trying to put together a family gathering while he’s in town. I gather he’ll zip off to California while he’s here to pick up a painting my mother gave him for his college graduation years ago that has been held for him in San Francisco. He’ll also stop in the L.A. area to check in with a major client of his and maybe even see some of our relatives in that area. We are looking forward to his visit. He likes to “jam” so I’ve been working to rehabilitate my guitar playing callouses because I know he’ll want us to play together. It has been good to pick up the old instrument again. It’s a guitar made in Mexico and I’ve had it since I was 14 years old. I bought it for $10 from a kid who’d had it at the beach and cracked the bow. My Mom found an old violin maker in downtown L.A. who did a superb repair job (you couldn’t see a trace of the former break). While the guitar doesn’t have a hole like Willie Nelson’s guitar, it is plenty worn where holes eventually appear and I’ve used it in coffeehouses around the country, in various churches, and to lead worship. However, since retirement, my old friend has seen little use. After playing at a nursing home event, a guy from Dresser named Roger repaired the top that was separating so now it’s good again. We’ll see how the riffs go; Aaron has sent me some clips of his playing and he’s pretty good. But then, he’s one of those people that can take an instrument and make good sounds in a short time. It doesn’t matter whether you bang it, blow into it, strum it, pluck it, or create it electronically, he can be credible quickly. Example: at age 12, with just a few lessons, playing cello he did a duet in the Siren UMC church with the church organist. What a nice and unusual gift! His electronic music has taken him all over the globe. It will be good to see him.

All of the above about Aaron is not to slight anyone else in the family. With her sixth CD out, Alice’s kids are old enough now that she can do a small amount of touring, so she’s had recent shows down in Georgia, North Carolina, her old stomping grounds of Nashville, Michigan, Wisconsin and in the Chicago area. She was able to bring along her daughter Samantha, age 9, to her show last week just north of Milwaukee and said it was fun to have such good companionship. A few months ago I had someone introduce me as the “father of a world famous singer-songwriter”. That may be so, but she’s still Kid Number Three.

Hardly Any Daylight Left To Save

Man, does it get dark early now and it’s plenty dark when I roll out of bed, too. Whatever time it is in the morning, save for Sunday morning when it’s 5 a.m. and he sleeps in, Marina’s Seeing Eye dog, Andy, comes to my side of the bed to greet me and to reassure me that both of us still are alive. Today was the monthly potluck meeting for the Osceola Seniors, of which I’m president. We had a nice turnout, for which I’m grateful, and the big room is getting more and more use by seniors. We need that to cement, by our use, the “official” designation of our space as THE space for seniors. There still is a push for that space to be used as a community room. We are happy to share the space, but with seniors having “first dibs”.

As of today, also, my “Some Mangled Fairy Tales” paperback is for sale in Osceola’s “Coming Home” store. The store is a classy addition to Osceola’s downtown. Along with this new retail site, my “Mangled” fairy tales are sold at the St.Croix Regional Medical Center gift shop and at Polk County’s Information Center, as well as through Amazon.com. Last night’s WPCA-FM story reading was one of those fairy tales, “Little Red Hoodie” and, like a famed porridge, it all went “just right”.

Last blog I talked about the fallen leaves around our place; after three mulching passes and much raking, there still are leaves to be dealt with. (Small voice within: “maybe tomorrow”.) So yeah, maybe tomorrow. I’ll add that to the necessary run into St.Croix Falls to get some things we just didn’t have time to get today.

Wolf Creek UMC had its Charge Conference in October and we did it electronically via Zoom, with the District Superintendent on the screen and one church member joining us from Madison, Wisconsin, as she drove. It went well. I still struggle with the forms to be filled out and have no idea what has been submitted and what has not and by whom. It’s like pushing a string and I find myself very anxious and tense when dealing with the forms and the information demanded. Since I’m designated as “supply” and retired, there are many things I’m not required to do, but skipping those forms is not one of them. The only consolation I find is remembering the admonition of one of the professors at Licensing School lo these many years ago. He said, “Remember, paperwork is people work.”

The District Superintendent surprised us–me, especially–when she said she subscribed to our You Tube Sunday Services. If you want to catch us, go to You Tube, Wolf Creek United Methodist Church services. Because of our camera limitations, it runs in two parts. I have no idea, beyond the two or three people who’ve told me they watch, who does watch, but we are open to prayer requests from viewers, as well as those we receive in our customary way. (You can email a request to wolfcreekmethodistchurch@gmail.com or snail mail us at Wolf Creek United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 176, St.Croix Falls, WI 54024.)

One of life’s pleasures is to get together with family, and we were able to catch up with Granddaughter Number One at son-in-law Steve’s place in Mahtomedi, where we were able to oooh and aaah at his new garage, which is more a play space than a place for a vehicle that might drip oil on the new, pristine concrete floors. The garage’s upstairs is a large space that’s perfect for some music jamming, which happens when our elder son is in town and he corrals Steve and another son-in-law and they lay down some hot rhythms and string work. Remind me to sit in sometime.

 

Leaf No Pile Unraked!

Fall is here. Tree leaves understand “Fall” as an order, so my annual drill is to shred as many as I can with the tractor mower and rake the rest. Some leaves go into the pile at the back of our property and some into the compost bin because the bin requires more leaves and brown matter than the banana peels and other scraps we bring to its maw from our kitchen. I still need to get the chainsaw going again and do some log splitting, too, for a Wisconsin Winter is just around the corner. Some predictions, like from the Farmer’s Almanac, call for a colder season than usual, while others predict a warmer Winter. Either way, the boat and dock will be pulled out for the season and I’ll have the snow thrower and shovels ready.

I took a break this afternoon and sat in our fifth wheel for a bit. It brought back memories of good times, mostly in State Parks here in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and South Dakota. I went and sold the old truck last year so now I have nothing to tow the trailer. And so it just sits, needing a good wash job and some company. Another memory venture this week was going through old photos and photo albums on a quest to find pictures of our kids. Alice wants pictures of herself at the ages of her children now and I did manage to find some. I have the pictures separated into envelopes for each kid. This was a good break from things like “supervising” the installation of a new water heater. The Luck house is inhabited now by Tony and his daughter, so my work there has shifted to outdoors. I dug out many buckthorn bushes, an invasive plant that either was planted deliberately (and probably unknowingly) in beds and along the driveway. There is a giant evergreen with branches reaching close to the house next door, so I need to call my favorite tree service to see what that will cost us to have those branches trimmed. Actually, the tree is too large for the site and probably should be taken down before it falls down.

Tonight WPCA-FM broadcast “Freddie and the Giant’s Blocks”, a short story for 5th grade boys. The reading makes that story come alive. It ran 11 minutes, which is right on target for its original intent of being a story that someone could read while on break and then get back to work on time. Yesterday, I whipped up six ads for the six e-books online. Somehow, my previous ad campaigns either had run out or got lost when I changed internet providers, so at least now people can see my stories occasionally when the Amazon algorithm allows my ad(s) to surface. I’m up against other advertisers, some of whom probably have opted for spending more per ad than I have.

You Tube continues to post the Wolf Creek Sunday services. If you want to catch the pastor’s mess-ups that now can be shared world-wide, bring up “Wolf Creek United Methodist Church services” and you’ll find them there. We plan a Fall Bible Study on Zoom using James Bryan Smith’s “Hidden In Christ” as our study lead. We also are just beginning to explore the possibility of having healing services at Wolf Creek. Our list of people for whom we pray each Sunday is a long list. Some people go off the list, often because prayers have been answered, and more continue to be added. We believe in the power of prayer and that’s why more names are given us each week.

Marina and I have been enjoying visits with new friends Gunter and Lois Joy Hofmann. They did a circumnavigation after their retirement and Lois produced three very fine books documenting their travels. They took their time and spent a lot of their time “on the hard” with native tribes and locals. Lois writes very well; she’s honest and obviously works off meticulous notes and her photography is quite good. Her three books are coffee table quality and have won her three first prizes for travel books in San Diego, California competitions. Besides all that, they are engaging people and interesting to be around. They have a seasonal cabin not far from us.

I’m toying with the idea of issuing a paperback version of the last four stories now out on e-books under the title of “Another Four Break Time Stories”.  The stories: “Lost Wax”, about the rise of a popular sculptor; “I Loved That Bike!”, about a biker with a problem; “At Midnight’s Stroke”, dealing with Hollywood’s casting couch and some of its results; and “Snow Job and the Four Dwarfs”, a mangled fairy tale that has people giggling and laughing all the way through when I’ve read it in public.

Fall Is Falling Quickly

All of a sudden the leaves on our trees are changing color and the air intake in front of my car’s windshield is gathering leaves that have fallen. We know what’s coming: a good Wisconsin Winter. I love the way the sun’s angle sets in Fall and the way it filters through the leaves. Once we get a freeze, mosquitos are gone and it’s more pleasant to work outdoors. More log cutting and splitting of the trees downed by the tornado of two years ago awaits me; meanwhile, most of my gardening here consists of digging out or cutting volunteer trees and weeds. That, and mowing the grass around the house and down at the lake.

Marina and I went down to the lake earlier this morning. Due to showers early last night and a heavy dew, things were damp and I wasn’t bright enough to bring along a towel to dry places for us to sit, either on the pontoon or the dock. I found a cleaning rag in one of the boat’s compartments and was able to wipe off enough space for the two of us. In our time there, only one fisher-person was on the lake and that boat was headed for the north landing. Things were calm and skies were a Fall Blue. It was perfect! Later on, the lake will be surrounded by Fall-colored trees, but that is yet to come; it’s early.

I can’t share which story WPCA-FM broadcast Tuesday night because the station inserts my stories into the pre-programmed music they feature. Once in a great while someone forgets to do the insertion (I think they call it a “drop in”) and, what with the Labor Day holiday, it probably just got missed. I can’t complain; I’m not buying the air time and, as I’ve said often, having my stories broadcast is a privilege afforded very few writers and I am grateful.

It’s almost mid-September and those of you who follow these notes know that I’ve been working since the last week of December, 2020, to rehab a small house in Luck that we hope to rent. Finally, I feel comfortable showing it. Two good prospective renters applied. One would like to move out of his present situation; the other must move out, as his landlord has re-purposed where he lives. So it’s a choice: a want, versus a need. I asked myself, given two almost equal choices, what would Jesus do? Jesus, I feel, would go with the potentially homeless. In regards to that, I need to say that finding any rentals at all is very difficult now. One landlord I know advertised a two bedroom apartment and got 13 calls. In Luck, there are no others available or coming on the market. I feel badly not to be able to accommodate both applicants and I dislike having to make the kind of choice I’m making. I do pray I’ve made the right decision.

The church? We continue to meet, but with masks optional since virus cases in Polk County have been rising rapidly. Everyone in our small congregation has been vaccinated, there are not many of us to begin with, and we don’t have a choir up front spewing droplets at us as they warble their anthems, so we should not be very vulnerable. We will be talking about what we can do to help the Afghan and other refugees now in Wisconsin. I suspect one or more of the larger churches in our area will sponsor a family. We might be able to help that effort. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Conference has an in-gathering of clothing and other items that will be sent down to Camp McCoy, where the refugees are being housed initially. Wolf Creek UMC also is on You Tube each week (Wolf Creek United Methodist Church services) so you can see us in action, complete with the pastor’s mess-ups and all on record for the world to share. We are getting some views; I have no idea who those viewers might be, but I’m guessing that at least one of them is a person who just can’t quite make it to our in-person 8:15 a.m. service. We do have coffee before service time and I suspect it’s an effort by the congregation to help people stay awake during the sermon.