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 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 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.

Taking The Knee

Nope, it’s not the political knee but the washing-the-floors knee and that only because the sponge mops I have don’t fit into the bucket I have and so we do things the old fashioned way. That’s at the Luck house, which is rapidly approaching the time when I can advertise for potential tenants. I have one more floor to wash and then it’s on to ridding the attic of its mouse and bat poop. I can replace the front storm door while prospects are looking over the place and very soon I should be able to begin scraping and painting outdoor wood trim .

All this takes place as I “garden” at home, which consists mostly of digging out unwanted volunteer plants and trees and pulling out invasive vines. There’s a buckthorn waiting to get the axe, too. And there’s the weekly grass to mow, both in the yard and down at the lake, so summer’s outside work keeps the calendar full. Maybe I’ll be able to begin cutting and splitting some of those trees downed by the tornado two years ago. I always seem to need firewood.

Lest you think it’s all work and no play–which is too close to the truth–we did get the pontoon out on the lake for the second time last week. The first time was July 3rd. That seems to be consistent with my pattern over half a century: when we had the cruiser berthed in Hudson, we always seemed to be the last boat launched in Spring. Spring?It was early July, mostly because I couldn’t come up with the money soon enough. On the other hand, we were among the last boats to come out in late Fall and I remember clearly  the beauty of being the only boat out cruising the river with falling white snow gracing the dark river water.

Wolf Creek continues to meet on Sundays at 8:15 a.m. We record the services on You Tube (Wolf Creek United Methodist Church services) so every time I mess up something it’s on record for everyone in the world to see. Look for a Zoom Bible study this coming Fall, the subject to be decided upon.

My “Some Mangled Fairy Tales” book now is being sold at the Polk County Information Center and at the Gift Shop of St.Croix Regional Medical Center. I’ve proposed to the Century College Foundation a reading to help raise scholarship money for their students. Marina went from housewife to MSW/CAPSW and began her academic journey at Century College (it was Lakewood Community College back then); son Aaron took his final year of high school there and earlier had been part of the school’s pre-school class; and when I served as president of the White Bear Lake Area Arts Council we had our juried Northern Lights art show there, so my family has some attachment to the school. In addition, the College always had something going that our family could enjoy, including orchestra concerts, plays, recitals and art shows. We shall see what, if anything, develops. Meanwhile, St.Croix Festival Theater has expressed interest in my doing a third fundraising story evening for them. For me, doing that produces far more money for them than any check I could write.

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

At least that was the old saying. But around here we were wondering if it ever might come true. Until today’s rain, it has been dry, very dry, too dry, and hot as well and we all thought we might well join the parts of the country that are in a drought situation. But today came the rain, not a great downpour, but steady and gentle. It was just what we needed.

Last week I had a conversation with St.Croix Festival Theater’s prexy, Meg Luhrs, who expressed the theater’s interest in having me read my stories again as a fund raiser for the theater. When that gets scheduled, and it will be when we can get more people into the building without social distanced spacing (a full house = more money raised), it will be my third such venture with them. I’m anticipating that LaMoine MacLaughlin and his poetry will join me to offer a different voice than mine for the evening.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, so to speak, Wolf Creek United Methodist Church meets now without masks and spaced as people feel comfortable. We’re not a huge crowd in any event but we do pick up another 5-17 people on YouTube views and perhaps at some time we will see some of those viewers in person at our beautiful downtown Wolf Creek location.

It has been hot and –finally–the pontoon left the dock last weekend for the first time on July 3rd. Back when we had the Dilly, it always seemed that we got the boat in the water around July 4th. But, then, we were almost the last boat to be pulled at the end of the season, so we could be out when the St.Croix River was much less crowded. I remember cruising once in a snow storm. White snow flakes drifting down on the river’s dark water was beautiful; we were inside Dilly’s roomy cabin and cozy. We’ve also been swimming in the lake. Talk about refreshing after a hot day of physical work!

My books now are available at the St.Croix Regional Medical Center Gift Shop and at the Polk County Information Center. Last night’s WPCA-FM monthly broadcast of my stories featured “Snow Job and the Four Dwarfs”. It’s probably my favorite of the mangled fairy tales, mostly because it has lots of gag lines and laugh opportunities. When I read it at Osceola a few months ago, one lady apologized for “giggling all the way through the story” because she thought her giggling was disruptive. Truth was, she wasn’t giggling alone. “Little Red Hoodie” is another fairy tale filled with many laugh opportunities. WPCA’s broadcasts are streamed online (

In The Good Old Summertime

So it’s still Spring but this week is beginning to feel like Summer. All of a sudden, it’s short sleeve weather. Today saw an Osceola Seniors picnic at the Oakey Park shelter. We talked about the beginnings of what may be congregate dining at the Osceola Senior Center in what has been called up until now The Discovery Center. As we move to put this together, we will be finding out how things will work as we go.

Speaking of short sleeves, tomorrow is an outdoor wedding I’m doing for Bjorn and Maisey, Bjorn being one of my grandsons. It’s outdoors at Bavaria Downs, which is way over in Chaska, Minnesota, which is a bit like being on the other side of the world from where I live. And I think I’ve finally found a solution to keeping the wedding rings from rolling off my hymnal as I bless them: I’ll have the Best Man hold them in his cupped hands. Blessing rings that way has GOT to be as valid as having them placed on my hymnal. After having the Groom’s ring roll off into the rose bushes during my daughter Hannah’s wedding, I have been nervous about that part of the ceremony.

Last week was my last Sunday service at Taylors Falls United Methodist Church. I was able to do their worship service following our service at Wolf Creek. Their new pastor comes this weekend. We–the Taylors Falls congregation and I– like each other and I’ve been there often enough that I’m a known quantity. At the end of last Sunday’s service, people offered me profuse thanks for our month together and several people were in tears. I found their response very moving and I am grateful to the Lord for that ratification as I try to bring to people an understanding of God and of the relationship God says God wants with all of us. We need the assurance of that possible relationship in these difficult and angry times.

The WPCA-FM story this week was “Annika’s Angel”. As I listened, I think the story reads better in print than hearing it. That’s because the story is told in segments, separated by days and even a few weeks. It’s also very conversational in the early going and that back-and-forth talk may be difficult to follow when one listens, rather than reads. Still, the story has a punch at the end and some cute moments prior to that. (“I think,” I said, “that when someone buys one of your pieces of art, you giggle all the way to the bank.”)

Always on Sunday

“Never On Sunday” just doesn’t apply. During the month of May I’m helping out Taylors Falls United Methodist Church. Services there are at 10 a.m. so I can zip out of Wolf Creek after the service there and get to Taylors Falls in time. Good old “Doctor Bill” is of great help; he gets the earpiece of the mike to fit my ear, which always seems to be a struggle. Taylors Falls always treats me well and I enjoy the congregation in that historic church building.

Tonight’s WPCA-FM’s “Adult Story Time” reading was “I Loved That Bike!”. Since we recorded that story, it has been published as one of four e-book stories available through Amazon Kindle. That book is called  “Another Four Break Time Stories” and, as with the rest of the books I’ve published, the final and fourth story is a mangled fairy tale: “Snow Job And The Four Dwarfs”.

This is a medical month. Marina gets her second COVID vaccine (I had my second jab last month), I have hernia surgery next week and that puts significant lifting on hold for about six weeks, Marina has her new cochlear implant adjusted and an ultrasound for something else, and. . . . What else? Meanwhile, I’m feeling pressured by the work still needed at the Luck house before we can bring in a tenant, downed trees still awaiting cutting and splitting so the wood can dry for next Winter’s wood stove season, shaping up the front yard after having septic tank work done, an interment of a very nice guy, an appointment with a dermatologist because this California kid got lots of sun there growing up–you get the idea. I need to chill a bit and just let life happen this month. Maybe it would be good to listen to some of the counsel I give in my sermons.

And so. . . .

Today I enjoyed a lunch with LaMoine MacLaughlin, Amery’s first poet laureate, a friend of mine and one of the first people to read and hear each of my short stories. I always appreciate his insight, comments and encouragement. He, his wife Mary Ellen, and my wife, Marina, and I had a rigorous discussion ranging from the gift of faith to the Hemingway broadcast this week. It was good to have some demanding discourse after being isolated for so long by the pandemic. We had a brief interruption–but a good one– by Jane Smith, whose husband Kirby just died and whose celebration of life will be held next week. My kids thought Kirby, who taught Literature at Unity High School, was their best teacher. And so it was a literary lunch in some ways.

Yesterday, I read my short story, “The Great Experiment” to the Osceola Senior Citizens Club. It was well received and I was asked if there might be a sequel. I think not. Getting to hear one of my short stories is what happens when that group has no program planned. (Small voice: “Serves them right!”) The night before I listened to my reading of “Green Card” on WPCA-FM. I still cringe at my poor diction; it’s a long way from when I did radio years ago. “Green Card” is a good story, made better on the broadcast by my tagging the story with a recording of “Pajaro Campana”, done by the Trio Los Paraguayos back in, probably, 1953. The Paraguayan Indian harp is superbly played on that album and I wish it could somehow be included in the print version of the story so people could catch its enchantment, rather than the best I can do in print and by voice: “ping, pong, ping, pong” as I try to imitate the plucking of the harp.

Wolf Creek United Methodist Church is back in the church building, masked and socially distanced, beginning with our Easter service. A good number of the people who attended have had both injections of the vaccine (I’ve had my first shot and have the second Moderna scheduled for next week) so we may not be all that many weeks away from being able to sit closer and perhaps even forego masks in a few months. We continue recording services to be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook but we can’t do simultaneous Zoom because the building has no phone nor Broadband connections. That’s a subject sure to come up in our next Administrative Council meetings. Taylors Falls United Methodist Church has asked me to be their interim pastor for the month of May and since they have a 10 a.m. service I can do that. They are a fine group of people and always have been very good to me. I’m looking forward to our time together and they tell me they are excited about it. I can tell you that being liked feels better than being disliked and I’m sure you would agree.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on the Luck house, where staining and varnishing are finished, so now it’s on to fresh paint, some electrical upgrades, and a re-do of the bathroom medicine cabinet, electric plugs, lighting and flooring. There has been much to do to help this old house recuperate but I can see light at the end of the tunnel and maybe even renters in the house by July. That’s on top of the usual work here, where I am way behind on cutting and splitting firewood from the trees downed by the tornado and the usual Spring tasks of raking, dock installation, and general cleanup, especially windows that somehow get very dirty, even with rain falling on them. Daffodils and crocuses are up and are making nice colorful displays in their arched and circular planting beds.