Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon Category Archive: Guest Bloggers

Scene Through A Lens

Posted at 6:00 AM on June 1, 2010 by Dale Connelly (30 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

It's a group Guest Blog day today.

tim made a suggestion on Friday that Trial Balloon readers take a picture over the three day weekend to share with everyone. Excellent idea!
Here are the replies.


2_Donna 2 Jackson Cemetary.jpg

This is the war memorial at Sunset Cemetery in Jackson, MN. This cemetery and two others are on either side of hwy 71 on the south edge of town, which is the road I usually take, once I exit I-90, when I visit my parents. As far as cemeteries go, Jackson's are very pleasant to look at.

Barb in Blackhoof:
Barb 1 fungus.jpg

We walked with our local naturalist friend on saturday, and he found a dead tree with this beautiful sulfur fungus called "chicken of the woods".

Such striking colors in the late afternoon sun.


This picture is Saturday morning fieldwork with our home / farm in the background.


2_Joanne 1 tomatos .jpg

I am a sloth - but I did manage to plant 4 heirloom tomatoes and 2 heirloom pepper plants in my wonderful Earth Boxes. Taa Daa!
I am not a gardener, but using the Earth Boxes makes it quick, easy and I get great results with very little effort. Perfect!

2_Anna 2 butterfly_2.jpg


We moved through Saturday and Sunday with a huge collection of morning cloak caterpillars (about 20, now in their cocoons in our bug house), including a very friendly butterfly who came for a visit in our yard.

Thanks to our photo-correspondents.

Even if you didn't take the picture, what image sticks in your mind from the Memorial Day weekend?

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A Bertie Wooster Aunt Fest

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2010 by Dale Connelly (36 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

Today's entry is a dispatch from Trial Balloon's Mankato office.
Thanks for the assist, Clyde!

A few days ago several bloggers indicated they wanted to tell stories about their aunts. We agreed to call it "A Bertie Wooster Aunt Fest."
Let me explain that title.

In his delightful stories of the valet Jeeves and his dingbat employer Bertie Wooster, P. G. Wodehouse uses a variety of Bertie's aunts, particularly Aunt Agatha, to drive the plot. Agatha, like all of poor Bertie's aunts, is a strong-willed woman married to a weak and ineffectual man who barely emerges from the 1920s-era British wallpaper. So Agatha and the other aunts use Bertie for their various schemes, such as stealing a sterling silver cow creamer which is really Agatha's in the first place. Jeeves then always saves Bertie and the aunt, well, almost always. By the way, there is a delightful series "Jeeves and Wooster" from the BBC starring the multi-talented duo Stephen Fry as Jeeves and the Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) as Bertie.

To get our stories started, I will tell one of many stories I could tell about my aunts. My father had two half-sisters, Mabel and Nellie, two petite old maids with their levels a full bubble off. Their only acknowledged living relatives are my brother, my sister and I.

Nellie, who once had her skull split open in a ringside fight at a wrestling match, died 15 years ago, but Mabel, a WAC for 32 years, is still spry at age 90 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Somehow they picked me as their heir, a purely honorary tile, and executor, which will require some expense and time when Mabel does die. Mabel and Nellie spent years amassing things, which over the years they sent to me. Oh, the tons of junk they have paid UPS to ship to me so I can put it in the garbage. "Tons" is not hyperbole.
Where did they keep it all? Little has ever been useful, and most has been entertainingly awful.

Camel Bench.jpg

We have received cheap tourist kitsch from their many world travels, already-disintegrating religious items "offered" by TV preachers, gaudy jewelry purchased from Home Shopping Network and at parties, impossible-to-open Tupperware-like containers, right-wing and fundamentalist publications, their old pastel-colored polyester clothing, and other things.

The photo shows of one of our favorites. We kept this for a couple of months, before it got to be too much to bear, because our then two-year-old granddaughter liked to sit on it. It is a delightfully ticky-tacky blend of plywood, naugahyde, yarn, and pseudo-native craft.

So, friends, the door is open. Tell us your aunt stories, be they funny, touching, uplifting, ironic, or human.

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Amateur Archeology

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 4, 2010 by Dale Connelly (43 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

Radio Heartland has tickets to a show by Carrie Rodriguez and Romantica at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis this Friday night, May 7th.
The doors open at 7 and the music begins at 8pm.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck!

Today we'll start a feature that may turn out to be regular - it's up to you!

I'm calling it "Amateur Archeology", an attempt to reach conclusions based on a submitted photo of some sort of human construction or activity. In other words, if we were archeologists looking at this as an ancient artifact, what would we think of it?

Our first submission comes from Clyde, who sent the photo below along with a few explanatory notes. Click on the image to see a larger version.

This appeared on the Minnesota State University Mankato campus either two or three summers ago. I bike ride by this most mornings on my way to work, which means that over 200 times I have speculated about it.

MSUM Sculpture medium.jpg

I have never seen a story about it on local media, but then I ignore local media. The MSUM Website has a page on campus art and landmarks, which seems to include everything else on campus, but makes no mention of this. The campus does have a bit of sculpture strewn about it, none of which appeals to me. As it was being installed, I was on the fringe of a social group which included a MSUM administrator and two professors, none of whom knew anything about it. University officials might say it sits at an entrance to the campus, of which there are many, none of which really is an entrance. It is surrounded by the extensive athletic facilities, a fair distance from the academics and arts portion of campus. The Vikings would pass this every day when they are here.

Question #1: What is it? Is it a sculpture? Does it have a practical use? I have never seen it used in any way and the wear pattern on the grass would not indicate any use. Could something be a sculpture and have a practical use?

Question #2: Is it supposed to look like something or have a larger symbolical meaning?

Question #3: Can we draw any allegorical conclusions from the placement of various items? Here I have many thoughts, but the only specific thing I want to point out is the one block with no title on it.

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Field Trip!

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 21, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (28 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

Radio Heartland has tickets to Eliza Gilkyson in concert at the Cedar Cultural Center this Saturday, April 24th at 8pm. We'll take entries until 1pm today and will notify the winners later this afternoon.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck!

Last Saturday an enthusiastic group of Trial Balloon readers met for an outing at The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. Since much of the planning for this trip was conducted in the comments section of this blog, members of the group were kind enough to collect some impressions of the journey to share with those who were unable to attend. Thanks also to Misha Dashevsky at the Museum for sending along some exhibit photos.


Joanne of Big Lake:

The blue and gold of the Northstar Train reflects the spring sunlight, looming large in a small town. Surrounded by a crowd of happy, chatting Twins fans sporting logo-ed wearables (was there a Twins game today?), I find a seat on the upper level of the train.
I am excited to meet up with fellow bloggers from the Radio Heartland Trial Balloon blog on a trip to The Museum of Russian Art.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

It's a beautiful old Spanish stucco building that served as a church and a funeral home in past incarnations. Dark, polished hardwood floors and woodwork provide a simple contrast to cream walls that accentuate the lovely artwork throughout the building. Well designed alcoves, bench seats and subdued lighting invite lingering over artwork, quiet conversation and contemplation.


thanks to clyde, the suggestion of the russian museum of art was a good one. the art on exhibit was incredible stuff from the 1950's.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art
stalin was dead. when kruschav came in he loosened the reins on the artists vs what stalin had been up to. stalin had done the dictator bit where the only art that was ok was the military the stalin portrait the flag kind of art. kruschav came in and said that the arts could embrace anything russian and that included the landscapes of the russian countryside and the pictures of russian life in the farming life and life in an average russian village. the art on exhibition was like what the impressionists were doing in france, strapping their canvas to their back and painting the scenes in front of them.the scenes were of the farm life in the 50s with horse drawn wagons pulled into the village square to create a farmers market, the farm house that the russian farmers knew where the horses and cows and chickens lived on the first floor and the family lived upstairs. the farmers would live in a community of farmhouses set up like a townhome community and then would go out to the field to work and come home again at night vs the american way where the farm house was on the farm and the neighbor was a half a mile down the road, the community formed was as much a fiber of the russian country life as the log cabin was to the americana we know and love. in the 50s these guys reveled in the freedom and had beautiful bold wild brush strokes where they mixed the paint on the canvas (actually most of them painted on boards) and the stuff that results is fresh vibrant and feels like van gough and cezanne rather than the very stiff military portrait style of the stalin era. the art was breathtaking and the museum wonderful. they had side exhibits on textiles (nice) and enamel lacquer boxes (incredible).

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

Barbara in Robbinsdale:

I spent a lot of time in the Textiles area in the lower level -- the "homemaking section." Ah, here's where the Russians showed their colors! On display were brightly colored, traditional 19th century costumes, worn only on special occasions, and some of the tools used to create them. All but one of the garments were homespun women's dresses [I'm just trying to imagine life without jeans!] . There was just one man's shirt -- men apparently wore out their clothing in their more vigorous outdoor labors, so fewer pieces survive for the museums. The table and bed linens, decorated mainly with intricate bright red embroidery, really were a sort of linen -- made from flax, which grew in abundance; spun into thread [Rumplestiltskin comes to mind]; and hand sewn into garments, bedding, table cloths, etc.


Do you ever meet a group of people and have the sense that you've known these folks for a very long time, even if this is the first time you've met? That's what meeting my fellow Radio Heartland listeners and Trial Balloon bloggers was like; that immediate sense of ease you have when you meet old friends.


Left to Right: Anna, tim, Joanne, Barbara & Sherrilee

I'm sure you all have had the experience of meeting another MPR listener, or finding out that a friend also listens to Radio Heartland, and it is often not too much of a surprise (though sometimes it might be). But with this new added layer of meeting in the virtual space of the Trial Balloon blog, you get to know your fellow listeners and develop a community in a way that hasn't really happened before.
We chatted about kids, what we do, were we remembering the right thing about this or that person (are you the one who...or was that Beth Ann?). We talked about the art (the brushwork on this painting is fabulous! Did you see that in the embroidery? I didn't either...). And then, there in the sunshine with our frozen custard, was that same feeling like these were longtime friends that I hadn't seen in awhile, and we finally had a chance to get together and catch up on what was happening (where's your daughter in school? what project are you working on now?).
Did I look like they thought I might? Did they? Didn't matter. The ebb and flow of conversation, the intellectual curiosity, the wittiness, the thoughtfulness - it was all there, in real time.


One of the exhibits we saw at the Museum of Russian Art covers the art of lacquer. The boxes on display are small and exquisite, but the big surprise is that the boxes begin as sheets of cardboard.

Photo: Museum of Russian Art

They are then covered with paper mâché and layers and layers of lacquer. The impossibly small decorations on the boxes are hand-painted with teeny tiny brushes made from squirrel hair and then lacquered again.
As we sat in the warm sunshine at Liberty Custard we talked about the last day of the Morning Show and how it had eventually led us to a Trial Balloon Blog field trip on a gorgeous Saturday.
And this made me think of other times in my life when something I didn't want to happen led to an unexpected small treasure. My daughter didn't get her first choice of elementary schools but I met a woman who turned out to be a really close friend when I volunteered at the school. I didn't get a job I really wanted and a few weeks later, another job came along that turned out to be wonderful and which I'm still doing 20 years later.

What unexpected small treasures have shown up in your life?

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spring: a season of hope, success and dreams

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (35 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

from the desk of the heartlanders
guest blogger - tim

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to a concert by Loudon Wainwright and Richard Thompson at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul on Wednesday, April 14th. Entries will be accepted until 1 pm today, and winners notified this afternoon by e-mail.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

i was 6 when the washington senators moved to bloomington minnesota and became the minnesota twins in 1961. it was the perfect time to be a kid in the universe. the burbs were a place where baseball games sprung up like dandelions and the big kids taught the little kids to catch, throw and hit before the dads got around to messing with them in little league.

i remember bernie allen, zoilo versallas, rich rollins, harmon killebrew, bob allison, earl batty, lenny green, don mincher, billy martin, cesar tovar, tony oliva, camilo pascual, lee stange, jack kralick, jim kaat, mudcat grant, bob lemon, jimmy hall, sandy valdespino, cookie lavagetto, sam mele, bubble blowing first baseman vic powers who was a great first baseman and a good ball player but had a showboat side which never been seen in these parts before. i would follow the games on the radio with my best friend ray dewberry and we would draw the runners in the dirt with sticks while listening and playing rummy in the backyard of the split level suburban postage stamps we called our turf, while halsey hall, herb carneal and ray scott painted pictures for us on 50,000 watt wcco over those little made in japan transistor radios that were in our ears, hanging from the handlebars of our bicycles or sat on the picnic table during those summer card games and were so special in early 60's.

this baseball season marks the 3rd phase of the minnesota twins. we move into the outdoor stadium that will be their new home for the next bunch of years after an eyeblink in the metrodome where 25 years ago they moved in with a concrete floor and indoor outdoor carpeting that would send a ball bouncing like a piece of flubber and made for an interesting variation of the game we all knew and loved.

before the metrodome the twins played in the metropolitan stadium. the met was the epitome of the" if you build it they will come" stadium. built in a corn field in the growing metropolis of bloomington mn population 13,000. the twins came to fulfill my every dream at age 6. there could have been no greater gift on earth than having the boys of summer move into my life and accompany me through the 60's 70's and on into my adult life. when they played the radio would give us the play by play with halsey hall and hamm's "from the land of sky blue waters" . when the visiting team came to town it was mickey mantle and roger marris, carl yastrzemski and ted williams, frank robinson, brooks robinson, boog powell, clete boyer, al kaline, rocky colavito, norm cash, yogi bera, moose skowron, whitey ford and denny mc lain, world series against sandy koufax and don drysdale. names I knew from my baseball cards, I was in heaven.

then the twins took a turn for the worse. we had a team that was an embarrassment. there would be 500 people in the stands for the final games of the season to watch the likes of bombo rivera, lyman bostock, and butch wynager. rod carew left to finish his career with the angels and no one even blamed him. then the twins moved into the dome in the spring of 1982 and in came kirby pucket, kent hrbek, frank viola, greg gagne, gary gaetti, gene larkin and tom brunanski, we had some great seasons of hope, success and dreams. then they announced the deal that brings us target field where we will hang our hat until I am done watching them. a monument to the greatest game ever devised and to the city that the visiting dignitaries can finally see while they are here, not on the cab ride over to the event but during the entire event. out in the elements once again in the wind and sun and rain, deal with the universe you are in head on rather than climbing into the prophylactic womb of the sterile concrete teflon and astroturf we have called home sanctuary for the last 25 years .

i am ready to celebrate the newfound freedom of the out of doors, to believe that the ensemble called the 2010 twins are here to do their best is showing us how baseball and life is supposed to be played. they have their head on straight and they will do us proud.

george carlin did a routine on the terminology in baseball vs football and why baseball is america's game.

take me out to the ball game take me out to the show buy me some peanuts and crackerjack i don't care if i never get back cause its root root root for the home team if they don't win it's a shame cause its one, two three strikes you're out in the old ball game.

what are you rooting for in the spring of 2010?

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An Oasis in The Desert of Life

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 8, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (36 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Aaron

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to a concert by Loudon Wainwright and Richard Thompson at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul on Wednesday, April 14th.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

My name is Aaron, and for those of you who don't know me, I am the guy who Dale mentions on air from time to time. I sometimes makes requests via this blog, and he's good about getting them on air in a timely fashion. That's why Radio Heartland (and the old Morning Show) were like an oasis for me , a deeply refreshing drink after what is being offered as "morning programming" these days.

What I mean by oasis is the place where you feel at peace and calm. When I am in the oasis of my apartment, I feel like I am in control, and I can do what I want to do without interruption. I also feel like I am in my own oasis when I am playing my percussion in various suburban bars with various local acts, or just being with people I know and love. That's my favorite oasis, being with others.

The oasis can be anywhere for anyone, home, church, your back yard, a goat barn. Mine is just in my new apartment, just listening to good radio like Radio Heartland or chatting with friends. This is what life is about, figuring out where your oasis is, and getting there as much as possible.

What is your Oasis?

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A Knack for Nicknames

Posted at 7:37 PM on April 5, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (7 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Barbara in Robbinsdale

I was born Barbara Ann Britson. It was 1948, there were a lot of Barbaras in that era. There were always 2 or 3 Barbaras in my classroom or Brownie troop, so we might be called Barbara B, Barbara S, etc. And as an adult it was the same - a group of 8 or 10 folk dancers around my age and three of us were Barbara. Of course, some people resorted to nicknames.

At home I was known as Barby by my mom, and my dad called me Barb or Barbadino. Various school nicknames included Barbwire, Babs, Barbarella, and then the Beach Boys et al. did the delightful Ba-Ba-Baaahh Ba-Bah-ber Ann.

In college I was Brits.

For a while when he was little, my son called me Barber; my step son knows me as Babbyra.

In the 90s I joined a very small (4 of us) business consulting group where I was replacing the front desk person, also named Barbara. I just gave up and became Abby (a favorite "play name" from childhood, and an anagram of Barby if you take out the r). This worked brilliantly while I was there, and ever since it has been my personal rule that if any group I join contains more than 25 % Barbaras, I flip into Abby mode. I also have the odd habit, when asked my name, of hesitating and figuring out if I should be Barbara or Abby in the new setting!

I feel sure that others on this blog have had some interesting aliases - heck, some of you change your blog name almost hourly!

What are some of the more interesting or colorful nicknames you (or someone dear to you) have had?

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Darlene's Flowers

Posted at 5:37 AM on April 6, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (75 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Anna

"Can you weed a garden?" This was the entire interview for my first job. When I answered in the affirmative, the follow up question was, "Can you get here by 9:30?" The application, such as it was, consisted of my future boss writing my name and phone number on the back of a green order pad of the sort used in diners. My only reference was a pal from school band who had worked there the prior summer. Clearly, this was not a job requiring security clearance, or for that matter, even a Social Security number. This was working for Darlene.

Darlene ran a floral shop out of the front of her house and yard. Her summer uniform consisted of double-knit polyester shorts, a cotton smock with patch pockets, flip flops, a fisherman's hat, and a cigarette. She was barely over 5' tall, "sturdily built," and didn't take any guff. Darlene believed in liberal politicians, church attendance for teaching kids morals, reheating coffee on the stove, a loop of floral wire was enough of a "lock" for her gate, and that everyone should be able to afford fresh flowers, even if it was only a single carnation (she'd throw in a little greenery to dress it up).

As promised, on that first day for Darlene, I weeded. Her pressing need that morning was to prepare her back yard for a graduation party for her son, who was completing law school. She was appropriately proud, but knew with fresh cut flowers in the house and bedding plants out front, she had to hope for nice weather and host the party in the back yard. After a few days of weeding and cleaning up the back yard, I was promoted to sweeping the front walk and selling bedding plants (divided, thankfully, into annuals and perennials on different sides of the front walk, and sun vs. shade front to back). I watered and sold and, as the summer progressed, was asked to help out with making boutonnieres and corsages for weddings.

When I left for college, I was asked back on weekends to assist with more weddings as well as lilies at Easter. Easter also brought the lily wreath that had previously been the purview of her son, the freshly minted lawyer. I was shown the large foam wreath form, the boxes of blooms (prepped in floral "picks" with water in them), the bow for the bottom, and given the one direction, "keep them all facing the same direction as you go." Darlene disappeared upstairs leaving me with the basement bench, the smell of lilies, and a lot of anxiety (mine only - she trusted my eye for flowers). I got a call from Darlene when I was back at college telling me how lovely the wreath had looked at the church ("one of the best").

After that first wreath, there was never an opportunity for a second; the shop had closed by the time the next Easter came. This is some of the wisdom I gleaned from Darlene: tuck the holder for a handheld bride's bouquet in a beer stein so you have both hands free; roses should smell good, not just look pretty; have faith in your endeavors (a neighborhood flower shop can flourish even on a side street); share praise. And even a single carnation can be enough to bring someone a little joy.

Who was your favorite, or most interesting, boss?

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Posted at 5:35 AM on April 7, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (37 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Barb in Blackhoof

No, the topic for today is not about the Welsh language. It's about songs.

There are some songs that I just like - no matter who does it.

The Tokens' version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is a favorite, but I also enjoy Straight, No Chaser's version.

Tony Bennett sings so well, but I love to hear KD Lang singing "his" songs. And I like "Forever Young" when it's done by Joan Baez but Rod Stewarts' version is ok with me too.

There are other songs where I want to hear one artist only. No substitutions.

Don Gibson singing his version of "Sea of Heartbreak" (written by Hal David and Paul Hampton) is one case where I have to stop what I'm doing and listen. Those long sliding, almost whining, phrases of Don's, that "bum, bum, bum" bass singer, the women in the back going "doot,dodoodleoot", everything just hits me fine.

Another one that stops me in my tracks is Marty Robbins' "Don't Worry ('bout Me)" (words and music by Marty Robbins). When I hear him singing "sweet, sweet, sweet love - I want you to be as happy as I when you're with me" and "oh, oh, oh, oooohoh, sweet baby sweet, baby sweet. It's all over now, don't worry 'bout me" so gently and with so much feeling and then along comes that fuzz bass guitar solo (some say the very first use of fuzz distortion), I think there is no other recording I would even consider requesting.

Interesting that both of these were recorded in 1961 (I don't know what that says about my musical growth - not anything good, I suppose). But there are things about those two songs - performed ONLY by those artists - that captivate me. They're not even my favorites; but I do not want to hear anyone else sing them!

On Google I read that over 150 artists have recorded "Sea of Heartbreak." I don't care. I don't want to hear Rosanne Cash and Bruce Springsteen singing it. (I don't want to hear Bruce sing Erie Canal, either - sorry Bruce)

Are there songs that, in your opinion, can only be sung by one particular artist? Like "At Last" - Etta James or "Santa Baby" - Eartha Kitt (who would be fool enough to even attempt it??)

Who is on your IDWTHAESTS list?

*I don't want to hear anyone else sing this song

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Who am I today? Or, Am I my own Grandpa?

Posted at 5:34 AM on March 31, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (23 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Ben

I was pleased to discover recently that I'm distantly related to an acquaintance. His Grandfather's Uncle married my aunt. So that makes him..... well I don't know but I couldn't be more pleased! We all know about Six Degrees of Separation but to see it in action is such a cool thing!

And isn't it that sort of discovery that makes life so much fun! Just when you think you've got it all figured out you find out you're not who you thought you were!

My wife, Kelly, recently acted in a play that required her to dye her hair dark brown (her hair is naturally red) so right now she looks different. She also needed temporary tattoos covering her arms and upper body for the show. I told her one day that if she looked like that when we first met I probably wouldn't have been interested in her. She said if she did look like that she probably wouldn't have been interested in me. So there.

When I was milking cows I would grow a beard every winter. It was just a practical thing to do as it kept my face warm. And then would come some day in the spring when my little voice would say, "...Shave..." so I'd shave. Since I don't have the cows any more I haven't had the practical need for a beard but sometimes I get tired of shaving, hence a beard this winter. And it was the same this year with the little voice (not to mention the beard was scratchy) so I'm back to being clean-shaven.

The consensus? I look like me again.

Playing dolls with my daughter is one of our favorite activities. She assigns me the roles of Mom, Dad, Aunt Snow White and Brother Ben. And she plays all the sisters and various hangers-on. And that works out great --I get to talk in Monty Python old women voices, practice accents, improvisation and character development. Sometimes our son will join in as 'Annoying Big Brother', Real Mom becomes referee, our indoor dog, Allie 'SuperDog' Bolt' adds to the confusion, the room ends up in complete disarray and it's the best of times!

Life, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

How many different roles have you played? Which one is your favorite?

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The Peanut Butter Prom

Posted at 5:23 AM on March 30, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (39 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Clyde

High school teachers are usually assigned extra duties, some more onerous than others, especially advising the junior class, which means supervising the junior-senior prom and banquet. 1971 was my turn to be head junior class advisor with John as assistant advisor. The class of 1972 was about the best group of people I ever taught, so it was a lucky year to draw. They actually raised most of the money their sophomore year.

Finally, it was the night when the banquet was held and then a couple of hours later the prom in the same space. John and I supervised 25 students taking down the banquet and setting up the prom. When the task was done, six young ladies were left talking to me, whom I shall call the "beautiful six," all of whom were on my yearbook staff. John said to them, "Don't you girls have to go get ready for the prom?" They told him they had not been asked. For the rest of the night as we chaperoned the prom without incident, John kept saying "Oh to be 17 and have my pick of those six girls." I finally told him when we were 17 we would have barely noticed any one of them. He replied, "Yeah, I was that stupid." They were indeed six beautiful young women who were also smart, verbal, assertive, and intimidating to the slower-maturing boys. This is a long-running tale of woe for such girls, who were so often on my yearbook staff.

But the "beautiful six" had a rare leader, whom I shall give the alias of "Mary." You will see in a bit why I am hiding her name. While they were talking to me, Mary decided they should get their revenge on the world; she had a plan. At Monday evening yearbook I heard the story. They got a big jar of peanut butter and went downtown to where the Moose and the Legion were across the street from each other surrounded by the cars of their patrons. The "beautiful six" put peanut butter on the inside of all of the driver's side door handles. They sat parked in an alley with a good view and watched in glee as people in various states of inebriation came out, put their hands on the handles, and reacted, trying to decide exactly what it was. But suddenly they saw a police car coming down the alley behind them. They were sure they were busted, but they were going to play it cool. Carefully and slowly they pulled out and drove away in front of the cops, at which point they noticed the peanut butter jar sitting boldly in the rear window. Of course, the cops were just cruising and not after them.

"Mary" is now a Minnesota high-ranking state senator; another is a school principal in St. Paul; two have very important medical careers; one has been a very successful writer. The five who have chosen to marry have made very successful mothers and wives.

Beautiful, smart, and mature at seventeen,
They worry and fret that by boys they are ignored.
They are caught at a place in between.
Sure they are lacking, out of their hearts is poured,
fear that by boys and then men they will never be seen.

I tell them it's the silly and young who will be lost.
When finally among men they will be found
To have an attraction profound.
That being who they are is worth the cost.
But for now by their emotions they are tossed;
Until one day they bring a partner to prove my words sound.

What is your prom story?

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A Dog by an Ironic Name Is Still a Dog

Posted at 5:30 AM on March 29, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (74 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - elinor

I am going to admit to an embarrassing fact about myself right now and get it out of the way. Occasionally, I will shut myself in my room with a pile of pillows, a cozy mound of blankets, and a DVD to watch Love Letters, a 1999 teleplay of the AR Gurney play by the same name. It's probably embarrassing enough to admit that I have read and reread the play, which is more than a tad concerned with WASP life, but the truth is that, about once a year, I dig this DVD out of the stack to watch a movie that was never even destined for the big screen. Many rationalizations are handily at my disposal: Laura Linney (one of my favorite actresses) is in it after all, the play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for gosh sake, and, if it was good enough for the guy who directed Singing in the Rain to make for TV, who am I to judge? Still, the fact remains that for me watching this Made-for-TV movie has been a guilty pleasure, in which I have indulged - up until this moment - covertly.

It's been the same with listening to The Carpenters or to Abba. For years, their albums came out of the closet when nobody else was around to hear (quite possibly because no one else wanted to hear), but recently I stumbled upon an emboldening interview with Brian Eno. In Paul Morley's interview "On gospel, Abba and the death of the record: an audience with Brian Eno" in The Observer, Brian Eno talked about his feelings about Abba:

In the 70s, no one would admit that they liked Abba. Now it's fine. It's so kitsch. Kitsch is an excuse to defend the fact that they feel a common emotion. If it is kitsch. you put a sort of frame around something - to suggest you are being ironic. Actually, you aren't. You are really enjoying it. I like Abba. I did then and I didn't admit it. The snobbery of the time wouldn't allow it. I did admit it when I heard 'Fernando'; I could not bear to keep the secret to myself anymore and also because I think there is a difference between Swedish sentimentality and LA sentimentality because the Swedish are so restrained emotionally. When they get sentimental it's rather sweet and charming. What we really got me with "Fernando" was what the lower singer was doing, I don't know her name. I spent months trying to learn that. It's so obscure what she's doing and very hard to sing. And then from being a sceptic I went over the top in the other direction. I really fell for them.

It was pleasantly refreshing to witness an artist I admire unleashing the guiltier pleasure from from its acceptable place behind irony. When my friend Jack (who is a writer) and I were discussing Brian Eno's passion for Abba, I told him about how I had started watching Law & Order SVU for the gems of terrifically bad writing I would encounter without disappointment in each and every episode (the perp left a calling card, for example) but how now it appeared I was just watching the show in earnest. He aptly followed up with something that the writer Flannery O'Connor had said of her mother, "I always thought that if she had a dog she'd name him Spot--without irony. If I had a dog I'd name him Spot, with irony. But for all practical purposes no one would know the difference." Just as an observer would be unable to do, I can no longer tell if I'm watching Special Victim's Unit with or without irony. One thing is certain, though: I have an appointment with the television when Law and Order SVU airs.

What is it for you? What's your kitsch? Do you listen to Barry Manilow, watch the Miami version of CSI, or perhaps watch reruns of Three's Company, whether it be with or without irony? We Heartlanders are all friends here, so your secrets are safe. What are your guiltiest pleasures?

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Lenten Sacrifice

Posted at 5:36 AM on April 2, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (26 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Beth-Ann

I come from a Christian tradition that observes Lent and calls for some sacrifice. I have been for the most part disdainful of the "I'm giving up candy" or "I'm dieting to fit into my bathing suit" approach to the 40 days of reflection. It seems that too often these acts of piety devolve into self-centeredness and bragging. They tempt the cynic in me to claim that I am giving up sweet corn and watermelon for Lent.

In junior high, we had a guest speaker for religion class who told us rather than giving something up, he changed a part of his daily routine during Lent so that every day he would be reminded that something was coming and he should prepare. As I recall, that year his plan was to switch his usual breakfast from Cheerios to Frosted Flakes.

With this inspiration, I resolved that for all of Lent I would say good morning to Sister Bitting. Sister Bitting ran the school store and every morning she stood behind the counter and sold pencils, notebooks, etc. She never smiled and we were all afraid of her, because we knew she must be mean. In the spirit of Lenten sacrifice, I began to greet her every morning rather than just rushing by. As the 40 days went by it got to be an easy habit and Sister Bitting even began to respond.

You can guess how the story ends...At the end of Lent, I continued to greet sister and she would not only respond but would wish me luck on my exams and ask about my family. When the freezer broke, Sister Bitting called me out of class and gave me all the ice cream and popsicles. Over the years she proved to be quite kind and I came to feel guilty. I wanted to say, "Stop! You were my Lenten sacrifice. I shouldn't be benefitting from this arrangement."

On the other hand, maybe that was the point....

Have you ever gotten back more than you deserved?

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Snot Funny

Posted at 5:22 AM on April 1, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (34 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Donna

It's April Fool's Day! The day that was invented for merry making, tomfoolery, and trick playing on whomever we have left for friends. Raise you hand if you share my enthusiasm for this world's most neglected holiday.

My awareness for playing jokes developed early in life, having an older brother who subjected my sisters and me to many ingenious pranks. He booby-trapped our doors with pullstring firecrackers, drenched us at the kitchen sink by rigging the spray nozzle, and mortified us with whoopee cushions. His most impressive stunt took place one night during supper when he sneezed an enormous amount of snot into his hands (he'd stuffed green jello and little bits of lettuce up his nose) and ate it.

As a result of my brother's damaging exploits, I decided that when I grew up I would only play jokes that were lighthearted and recreational. Two that I really enjoy can be performed at dinner parties. The first is, when the host asks you how you like the food, answer, "It tastes pretty good, but it's a little tough." Then spit a few Tic Tacs onto your plate so it looks like you've lost some teeth. The other one is, while chewing, stand up and begin coughing vigorously. Continue to cough, make gagging noises, clutch and point at your throat and pretend to pass out. With any luck a good-looking single male will come forward and administer chest compressions (the lifeless faker determines the duration). When you've had enough, open your eyes and exclaim, "JUST FOOLIN!" then watch the fun unfold.

In the event the resuscitator is old school CPR trained and combines compressions with mouth-to-mouth, be sure to use breath spray and apply shimmer gloss before choking. During the heroics, try to look as desirable as possible. Hopefully you've landed in a tempting position with your head titled back and a bit to the side. Keep your lips parted but resist any urges of tongue movement. These should be enough subtle signals to communicate that you are available the following Saturday night.

Yes, April Fool's Day never fails to bring out my playful, fun loving nature!

Have any all-time-favorite practical joke stories?

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Some Film Roles Meryl Streep Didn't Get

Posted at 5:18 AM on February 12, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (78 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Cynthia in Mahtowa

In June 2008, I was enlisted as a volunteer actor to be in a film written and directed by my friends' daughter, Summer. The story of the "Muck Monster of Cloquet, Minnesota" is based on her father frequently covering himself in muck, mud and weeds to scare his young daughters and their friends while summering at their cabin near Cloquet, MN.

The film has the feel of a documentary, or rather a Christopher Guest-syle "mockumentary" (re-dubbed MUCKumentary) with a "journalist" in search of the answer to the question "Does the Muck Monster really exist?" With the exception of a few professional actors, most of the cast was made of friends and family, cousins and acquaintances - amateurs all.

Muck Monster blog.jpg

The Muck Monster was played by Summer's real life father, Roy. I played Clara Lyndhurst, Spiritual Leader of the Slimetologists.


Recently I received an email from Summer inviting me to play a "creepy old woman" in her latest endeavor: filming two weekends in February the story of "Lumber Jill" - another tale of life in northern Minnesota. In 'Lumber Jill," she plays the central character, Jill LeBlah, "an outcast who discovers she doesn't belong to the people and place where she has grown up." The story follows her as she seeks her true identity, home and family in the "magical and oh-so-quirky town of Cloquet." Along the way she encounters "talking taxidermy, magical lumberjacks and a community of strange but loveable characters who, in the end, teach her about true warmth in a frostbitten town."
If you are signed up for Facebook, you can see more photos and get updates on the movie's progress.


By the way, I immediately accepted the challenge of portraying the Creepy Old Lady. And look how she imagines my character!

Creepy Old Woman blog.JPG

If you could choose to play any character in any movie, who would you be?

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Extraordinary Moments

Posted at 5:14 AM on February 11, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (48 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Renee

There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace,
are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong
to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the
same, as though such things had never been.
A.S. Byatt, Possession

Yesterday, Joanne sparked some memories of choices made along the way when she wrote about "the road not taken".

I have always been fascinated by these moments of decision, and how persons and events align to point us in one life direction or another. I have also noticed that these seminal events or people sometimes can be modest or even inconsequential in others' eyes, yet have great influence on us.

In my own case, I knew for years, even in elementary school, that I wanted to be a psychologist. I can identify only two events that pushed me in that direction. Both were very significant to me, although no one else seemed to notice.

I clearly recall designing my first, formal behavioral intervention when I was six during the first week of First Grade. I noticed that the girl sitting next to me sucked her thumb. I was horrified for her, and worried about the teasing and humiliation I was sure she would be subjected to, so I said to her, "You need to stop sucking your thumb. I'll help you stop. Ever time I see you suck your thumb, I'll pull your hair." Oddly enough, she agreed, and I proceeded to yank whenever I noticed the target behavior. I remember being so excited when I noticed a decrease in thumb sucking as the first days of school progressed, and was equally disappointed when the teacher, for no good reason I could think of, changed the seating chart and she was out of my reach. The girl in question went on to be my very best friend and godmother to my children. She has no recollection of our plan or the hair pulling.

The second event that pushed me toward my profession occurred in Sixth Grade, when my teacher, who read aloud to the class each day, chose to read Dibs in Search of Self by noted Play Therapist, Virginia Axline. It chronicles the course of therapy by Dr. Axline with a very emotionally disturbed child. The book is a pretty strange choice to read to a bunch of sixth graders, but when I heard her read that book, I decided then and there that I had found my calling. I don't know if any one else in that class liked the book or even remembers it-my best friend certainly doesn't.

Is there a moment in your personal history that was by all appearances ordinary to those around you, but turned out to be influential to you in a significant way?

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Forgotten Roads And Parallel Universes

Posted at 5:28 AM on February 10, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (45 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Joanne in Big Lake

The Road Not Taken (excerpt)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both ...

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
By: Robert Frost (1874-1963)

While I am content with my life and have no regrets, I always wonder about the times when there was a major fork in the road of my life. All those "what-ifs" ...

What if the boy I had a huge crush on all through grade school had actually noticed me and we got married like my girlhood fantasies? Last I heard he's a smart, handsome doctor living in a swanky part of Green Bay, WI. Would I be happier? That swanky house is appealing, and a more comfortable lifestyle certainly, as well as a reputation in the community, etc. But does that equate to being happier?

What if I had stayed in Green Bay instead of following my deep desire to move to Minneapolis for college? I wouldn't have met my loving husband nor had my wonderful boys. Although I have not specifically used my B.A. in Theatre, I definitely had fun in the process of getting the degree (I'll spare you the debauchery of cast parties). Plus, it's nice to have some kind of degree on my resume.

On a more morbid note, what if I hadn't been wearing the seat belt in that car accident 20+ years ago? My face would have been through the windshield. As it was I had a bruised rib cage from where the seat belt held me fast - and thank goodness for that.

What if I wasn't laid off from Pillsbury 10 years ago? That was the best job I ever had - nice pay, great people, generous benefits and stimulating work. But the long-distance commute to downtown, high stress and the excess 40 lbs left me an unhappy camper at home. Nowadays money is a constant struggle, but I'm a happier person now with a low stress job 1.5 miles from home.

Some of the metaphysical stuff I've read makes the assertion that every decision, every minute of every day, has a separate timeline. Imagine infinite possibilities branching out from every moment of our lives, and each of those moments intersecting with other people whose lives we touch -- millions of parallel universes. It's just mind-boggling. Don't know about you, but I like to boggle my mind, push the envelope, and upset the apple cart of my belief systems. I'm not a risk-taker, but I enjoy skating the intellectual edge of new and innovative ideas or thought systems.

Can you imagine what your life would have been like if you had taken the "other path"?

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Being Eeyore

Posted at 5:30 AM on February 9, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (24 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Anna

"Wonderful. I'll probably make a fool of myself. Well, might as well get it over with."

This was my entrance line as Eeyore in "Winnie the Pooh," coming on stage to lose my tail. And this was the role I played when I had my brief tour on the London stage, my limited run treading the boards in the land of Shakespeare and Stoppard.

At the tender age of 15 I was in a production of "Winnie the Pooh" that had a four week tour in London, England, prompted by an invitation from the Polka Children's Theater in Wimbledon (yes, that Wimbledon - and no, the theater wasn't anywhere near a tennis court). Our company had a one-week run at the Polka, and performed three other plays as well as "Pooh" at theaters, schools, and parks around London. While the Polka was memorable, it was our first performance that I hold dear.

The day after we arrived from Minneapolis, we walked from the hostel where we were staying, costumes, props, and set pieces in tow, to a school in the Putney section of London. The boys at the school wore grey short pants with white shirts, yellow ties and knee socks. The girls wore peach dresses. It was like walking into the world of Christopher Robin and performing our show for all his school chums.

After the show, it was the tradition of the group to spend time talking with the audience while still in costume. In my case, the costume was a head-to-toe grey Eeyore suit over a large "pod," which made me look like a stuffed animal. All you could see of the "real" me was my face and a few blond curls. Being Eeyore, I had a removable tail - it was attached with a large snap. Out I went into the "garden" to talk with the students and pretty soon a little blonde boy came up alongside me and took my hand. His name was Charles. He didn't say much, just held my hand while I talked with the other kids. He disappeared at one point, but reappeared quickly and announced rather sadly, "My friend took your tail" in a perfect Christopher Robin sort of voice, holding up my Eeyore tail for me to see. I asked that he kindly return it where it belonged, which he did, and then took my hand again.

After a bit it was time to go inside and change into our regular clothes so we could have "squash and biscuits" with the students in the garden (squash and biscuits? we all wondered - strange treat for primary school kids...turns out it was orange drink and cookies - squash and biscuits - no vegetables to be seen). Charles stood by the steps into the school, waiting for me. When I came out, he pronounced, "I knew who you were, you were Eeyore," and resumed his place, holding my hand. Charles, my one-kid fan club, gave me my best memory from a brief career on the London stage.

What is the most charming 'thank you' you have ever given or received?

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Fond of the Footlights

Posted at 5:30 AM on February 8, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (63 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Beth-Ann

I love musicals. I acknowledge that they are often racist, sexist, and improbable. Still, I willing suspend my inner cynic and believe that orphans will be adopted by gazillionaires; it is perfectly reasonable to dance in public or up walls; and that we will all find happiness after two hours and an intermission.

I have been entranced by professional productions of musicals. Seeing "A Chorus Line" on Broadway, "Phantom" in London, and Rock Hudson and Carol Burnett not in "The Odd Couple but in "I Do, I Do" is something I will still be talking about in the home.

It seems to me that the best venues for the musical are the community theatre and especially the high school. I love seeing my city councilman sing "The Wells Fargo Wagon is Comin'." My son was entranced when we ordered our Kung Pao Chicken from the high school soprano who played Maria in "Sound of Music" one year and "West Side Story" the next.

I think the transformations that happen to a cast are even more amazing as they rehearse, build sets, and perform together. Watching the ipod generation bond during the run of a show is amazing. It is especially magic to see the freshman cast as the 3rd Arab on the left take as much pride in and responsibility for a production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" as does the senior playing Joseph.

Because I can't sing, dance, or paint a straight line I've never been in a musical. I did formulate the mud to spread on the costumes for a college production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and I am a good house manager. I am also an excellent audience member and know that every high school musical should end with a standing ovation.

Many adults who never sing in public did so in their high school musicals. Dale admitted in an e-mail that he was ... "A sailor in South Pacific, General Bullmose in Lil' Abner, and King Arthur in Camelot! I remember being in the musicals more clearly than anything I did in any of my high school classes!"

How about you? Ever been onstage or behind the scenes in a musical?

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Faulty Inferences

Posted at 5:30 AM on February 5, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (56 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Clyde in Mankato

Case #1
When I was a quiet and passive four- or five-year-old child, my family would frequently drive the 30 miles to Duluth for my brother to see an eye doctor. We would go to this mysterious building called the Medical Arts Building. But before we could go down the hall to the doctor's office, the five of us in our family, and sometimes a few strangers, would enter this small room. The door would close, the room would shake, the door would open, and then we were allowed to walk down the hall to see the doctor. It seemed clear to me why we did this: I knew what the word "medical" meant, and I knew there were these bad things called germs which had something to do with things medical. So I assumed we went into the room to have the germs shaken off of us. I did not know why we did it on the way out. Did we pick up more germs in the doctor's office?

Now I submit that this was a reasonable inference for a five-year-old who had never heard of elevators. The result of this on my life is threefold: 1) I still think of travel in 30 mile units. 2) When I hear the world "elevator" I picture the Medical Arts Building. 3) I am no longer quiet and passive, to the regret of all who know me, and am willing to ask questions, except for directions.

Case #2
When I was about twelve, without explaining why, my father told me to put the garden hose in the back of the pickup. He walked off do something else. After I had done the task, he came back and told me that he had changed his mind; that I should mow the lawn instead. Not knowing what "instead" referred to, I got out the mower. He drove up the rough track to our upper meadow, where we also had a potato field. I was wondering why he wanted the garden hose up there, where there was no source of water. Then I saw the problem. In a few minutes the pickup came bouncing down the track, much faster than it should. My father was a man of quick and hot temper. He got out of the pickup and snapped at me that I should pay attention. He had told me clearly to put the garden hoes in the pickup and I had put the garden hose in the pickup instead. Then it dawned on him. He stopped, stared at me for a bit. Then he went and got his hoe and drove slowly back up the track.

It was as close as he ever came to apologizing to me until I was an adult.

Case #3
When my granddaughter was three, she was afraid of my mother, who was missing a leg and confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home in Sioux Falls. One day her parents were driving to South Dakota to visit her other grandparents, who live near Sioux Falls. They told Lily that they were also going to go see great-grandma. Lily promised she was not going to be afraid of her this time. When they arrived at the other grandparents, they found a note on the door to meet them at a restaurant and that great-aunt Edith was there too. When they told Lily that she was going to meet great-aunt Edith, Lily asked, "Is she all there?"

It seemed a reasonable guess apparently that "great" meant you are missing a body part.

Have you ever been tripped up by a faulty inference?

Edited to add:

Enter TODAY by 1 p.m. CT! We have a drawing for Rosanne Cash tickets.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

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Rituals of the Heartlanders

Posted at 5:30 AM on November 13, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (24 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the desks of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger: tim

Kurt Vonnegut made a comment in one of his books that was something along the lines of "People all have things they love to do on this earth. If we could divide people into groups that were determined by areas of interest then we could all look up those groups where ever we went and feel like we were among friends. No matter where on the earth you were you could find people with common interests and feel like you were in a wonderful environment among friends."

Robert Fulghum, author of "Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" wrote a book called "From Beginning to End - The Rituals of Our Lives". He talks about how the stuff we choose to do everyday is a huge part of how we deal with the world.

I have some rituals that are hard wired and part of how I get the day the week the month started. I watch CBS Sunday Morning from 8 until 930 every Sunday. I record it and episodes that go back quite a ways. I listen to Prairie Home Companion on Saturdays and have for a long time. I play cards 1st Thursday of every month. A guys night out where we smoke cigars, talk smart and win or loose 15 dollars on a big night. I drink Lipton's tea in the morning. I have to settle for English breakfast tea sometimes when I travel. English breakfast tea is good but I prefer my Lipton's and I usually remember to bring it with me so I am ready to begin my day without stress and trauma.

For about 25 years I began my day with a bath, a newspaper a cup or two of tea and The Morning Show. I remember the day I heard Jim Ed was retiring and The Morning Show was going off the air...I couldn't believe it. It was like a lifeline was cut. I wondered would I ever be able to enjoy the mornings again. I remember thinking that I should be thankful for all the years of wonderful stuff we had been gifted with.

Then Radio Heartland morphed. Dale with out Jim Ed is a little like English breakfast tea instead of Lipton's. Pretty good...obviously different... It turns out Dale is good all by himself, different yes, not quite as quirky as with Jim Ed, the skits and bits are different in print than they were as radio dramas. But you've gotta love Bud Buck, Captain Billy, Bubby, Congressman Beechly and all the friends Dale has access to. It turns out Dale is really good all by himself and the show has everything the morning show had and more. Plus it is 24/7. Great stuff

And then there is this Trial Balloon blog. Dale's topic of the day. Dale comes up with great topics. I love the responses he gets from the fellow bloggers and all of a sudden I realize you guys are now part of my ritual. I wake up get the tea start the bath and turn on Radio Heartland tunes and look at the topic of the day and what Barb has to say about it. So thanks to you all for being one of the most enjoyable rituals I have these days.

What rituals do you have, how did they come about and what kind of familiar stuff makes your life work for you?

Hot off the press from the Radio Heartland staff
Today we have a ticket giveaway! Enter today before 1 p.m. for a chance to win tickets to see the John Gorka concert at the Cedar Cultural Center, Saturday, Nov. 14th at 8 p.m. Check the rules for details.

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Fjord Focus

Posted at 5:30 AM on November 12, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (28 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the desks of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger: Anna

Several years ago I won a trip to Norway - round trip airline tickets and a week's stay at a hotel in downtown Oslo! Needless to say, I was ecstatic. A free trip to the land of my ancestors - even if I didn't get outside of Oslo, this was bound to be a grand trip. The Viking ships, the Munch museum, stave churches, Henrik Ibsen, all in a beautiful city. What more could a girl ask for? Well, a girl could ask for friendly locals to show her around. As luck would have it (or more precisely, as the oddities of my family's immigration would have it), I have not-so-distant cousins living back in "the old country" who were as happy to meet me as I was to meet them. Here is the brief saga of me, my cousins, and my brush with the past.

The family story goes that there were a handful of brothers farming a chunk of land in the mountains outside Kongsberg, southwest of Oslo. This being the 19th century, life wasn't so swell if you were a farmer in Norway. So one brother (Abraham) got the bright idea lots of other Norwegians had and decided to emigrate to the United States. He was the "ahead team," if you will - Abraham found a chunk of land in Wisconsin that felt like home, even if it was appreciably flatter than home, and he could see farming would be good there. He wrote back and told his brothers that this was the land of milk and honey (heavy on the milk - they were dairy farmers), and everyone should move to Wisconsin. So the Lower brothers, including my great-grandfather Lars, and their parents Ole and Greta sold the farm, the livestock, everything but a few necessities they could pack in a handcart and walked over the mountains to the fjords to come to America.


Shortly after the others arrived, Abraham went back to marry his sweetheart. He was planning to return after the wedding, but life intervened and he stayed in Norway. Abraham's children in Norway, then, were my grandfather's first cousins; cousins who came to Minnesota to visit when I was a kid and who my grandfather visited in Norway, cousins who sent Christmas cards every year. Cousins who had children and grandchildren that I got to meet on my visit. One of my grandfather's cousins - Esther - was still alive, though by this time in her 90s, when I went to Norway. She spoke no English and I spoke only enough Norwegian to bring greetings from my grandmother and say thank you (hilsen fra Elsie, mange takk), but that was enough, it seemed. The younger generations of cousins - Svein and his daughter Bente - showed me around, fed me several times, and, perhaps most significantly, brought me out to the old Lower family farm, which is still an active farm. It was planted with golden fields of rye while we were there and chickens had replaced the cows of my great-grandfather's family. But this was the same chunk of land where my ancestors had farmed, where they were born, where they grew up and probably ran through the fields when they were children.


I sat and had a picnic lunch of cold waffles and gjetost on their farm. I stood and looked at the mountains the Lower brothers and their parents traversed with their handcart to get to America and felt like I was standing in history. I was connected, directly, to the past. This was the family place, my roots, but not my place because of events in the past - a past that now felt more tangible and real. I was there with family looking at what my great grandfather left behind to start a new life that would eventually lead to me being in the world. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

How deeply have you looked into your family's history? What surprises did you find?

Hot off the press from the Radio Heartland staff
Today we have a ticket giveaway! Enter now for a chance to win tickets to see the John Gorka concert at the Cedar Cultural Center, Saturday, Nov. 14th at 8 p.m. Check the rules for details. Hurry, contest closes Friday Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.!

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Whose Garden Was This?

Posted at 5:30 AM on November 11, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (19 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the desks of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Don in West St. Paul

They say music can change the world. The same omnipresent and anonymous "they" will also speak of a "song that changed my life."

But changing the world, or even a life, seems quite a burden to place on the shoulders of a song. Most songs, fortunately, have more modest aspirations. The best aim to convey something of the thoughts and emotions of the writer to the listener in a way that, to quote songwriter Carrie Newcomer, makes the listener say, "Yes. I know. Me too."

A piece of music, though, might change the way you listen to music. For me it happened when I was maybe 14 years old. My listening at the time was pretty much limited to whatever happened to be on the top 40 countdown of the week. I played in the school band, but the "classics" we were exposed to hadn't really sunk in. My parents were not at all musical. My father's tastes ran the full gamut from Mantovani to 101 Strings (though he was enamored of the wordplay of Gilbert and Sullivan, and I am forever grateful to him for that). I don't recall my mother ever listening to much at all. In other words, there was nothing to lead an observer to believe that I would become the avid listening, concert-going, record-collecting enthusiast (my word) or raving fanatic (other's words) I have since become.

On the fateful evening my parents were watching "60 Minutes." I didn't care much for the show at that time, but I just happened to walk by the TV as they began a story about the record business. They were following a recording from the studio to production, marketing, and, ultimately, the store. And in a particularly wonderful happenstance, the record they were following was not "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've Got Love in my Tummy" but "Whose Garden Was This?" by Tom Paxton.

Whose garden was this?
It must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers,
And I'd love to have smelled one.

It stopped me dead in my tracks. I didn't know that songs like this existed, that they could have words that meant something and that these words could be enhanced by a sensitive melody that made me say, "Yes. I know. Me too."

(My actual thought process was more like, "Hey, cool." I was 14. Cut me some slack.)

A week or so later, I was being dragged by my mother through a J.C. Penney's store in Syosset, New York. To relieve my boredom, I wandered over to a very small record display, and there sat Tom Paxton's new album "6," and the first track was "Whose Garden Was This?" My fate was sealed. I made the purchase, and here I am, some 1500 albums later (still including my treasured copy of "6") writing a guest blog for a roots music program and wondering what would have happened if 60 Minutes had chosen to feature 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" instead.

I bring this up because most people never get beyond the "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" of their generation. But Radio Heartlanders are obviously different. We march to the beat of a different 12 string guitar.

So what was it for you? Was there a song, or an artist, who changed the way you listen? Did others have a Paxton-like epiphany? Did your tastes change more gradually? Or were you born with a banjo in your cradle? Let's come up with a list of music that, if it didn't change the world, at least left some lasting mark on us.

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Saved by Intuition

Posted at 5:30 AM on November 10, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (19 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the desks of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Joanne in Big Lake

On an early evening in late autumn, just a couple weeks ago in fact, I was browning hamburger, onions and garlic in preparation for supper. Suddenly -- Click ... On ... Click ... On ... Click ... On ... then one final Click. The power was out.

Did we pay the bill? Yes, we're current. Was it a blown fuse? No. Were the neighbors' houses affected? Unsure and I don't know them well enough to call them. After a few minutes, I hunted down the phone book and called the appropriate Outage line to report our location. It wasn't dark, but it wasn't real daylight either, so I scouted for flashlights and lit some candles. Then we waited.

After 45 minutes, I figured we would just have a cold dinner so we could get going to karate. I put the partially browned hamburger into a different container and set in garage, then put the cast iron skillet (still dirty) on stove burner.

We blew out the candles and armed with flashlights to get to car, started our 5-mile journey to karate. About 2/3 of the way there, I suddenly realized - Yikes! I hadn't turned off the burner! What if the power came back on soon? I envisioned the flames, smoke and firefighters that would surely be there, berating the moron Mom who left the skillet on an active burner. It seemed OK to finish journey - so I dropped off kids and told them what I was going to do.

As I returned home and drove down our street, I saw lights on in all the houses that had just been dark a short time ago and felt my stomach do a flip-flop. I dashed into the fully lit kitchen - and sure enough - the burner was on, the dirty cast iron skillet was just starting to smoke ... and I had just averted a crisis. I felt like Super Mom!

Looking back on that event, I figured out that the instant thought of the active burner was about the same time as when power returned. {Cue theme to "Twilight Zone"} Whoa - that's weird. How did I know? I'm usually very careful and aware of turning off stoves, burners, irons, etc. But with the distraction of wondering when power would come back so I could finish dinner, finding light sources, taking care of kids, getting ready to go in car and so forth, pulled me from my usual awareness. While driving, it felt like an instant knowingness that I didn't turn off burner. But I also knew I had enough time to drop off kids before going calmly back home.

We would have been at karate for about 2 hours - plenty of time for major smoke damage or possible fire to our humble home if I hadn't gone back to turn off burner. I'm not particularly intuitive. My husband is far more intuitive and sensitive than I am. But we all have hunches, gut instincts or insights that guide us, bring good fortune or avert a disaster in my case. I'm sure you've seen the TV shows where pets wake up their owners to get them out of a burning house or other such life-saving actions.

There's a great spiritual joke that goes like this: A guru goes up to the hot dog stand and says, "Make me One with Everything." The guru hands hot dog vendor a $20 bill. The vendor gives the guru his hot dog, and the guru asks, "Where's my change?" The hot dog vendor replies, "Ah, but change comes from within."

It's a funny little joke, but also rather profound. We are all interconnected. I'm a great believer in the possibilities of the human mind, intuitive awareness and finding sources of strength and knowledge within. Dan Brown's last two books, but particularly "The Lost Symbol" touches on Entanglement Theory - the interconnectedness of all beings. Whether it's schools of fish that move as one, plants that react to negative stimuli from a plant in a different room, a dog's welcoming bark when the master turns down the street 2 minutes from home - all signs of our interconnectedness. The question is whether we're open and attuned to it - much like a radio picking up the signal from a broadcast tower - the frequency must match.

Have you had an intuition that brought good fortune or averted a crisis? Or perhaps just really interesting synchronicity?

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Antidote to Melancholy

Posted at 5:30 AM on November 9, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (22 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the desks of the Heartlanders
Guest Blog by Kay in Utah

rh.jpgThis summer, in an exuberance of midlife liberation, I gave myself permission to do what I really wanted to do: quit my job, move to the sunny Southwest, and spend more of my time on what matters to me: caring for animals. I picked Kanab, Utah, because of the proximity of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where each day about 2000 animals are treated, healed, trained, loved, and readied for adoption by a staff of 400 and myriad volunteers.

Last Thursday I drove the five miles to volunteer there for the day. On Wednesday I'd spent 4 hours on work-related conference calls, so it was with a sense of relief and freedom that I awoke that morning to blue sky, fresh air, powerful sunshine, and a break from sitting at the computer.

The day started the honor and responsibility of cleaning a small indoor room and its attached screened porch where about 20 cats live. My friends would be surprised at the joy with which I enter with my mop bucket, rags, and bottled biofriendly cleaners. The joy is not for the cleaning--although there is satisfaction in the shiny floors and fresh scent upon completion--but for the greetings. The cats hear the door and gather quickly around me, gray and black and tuxedo cats, tabbies and torties and calicos. After I get the more physical work done (litterboxes and bedding), I wipe off all the cat shelves and make up soft new beds, receiving head rubs and leg rubs and little meows all the while.

Then I bring in brushes and combs and the kitties literally line up, according to their respective levels of shyness. In no time I have one purring on my lap, one on each side, and several circling or pressing a soft body against my back, a gentle reminder of one waiting patiently for his or her turn. Despite the volume of cat hair up my nose, I'm happy when the cats show their trademark appreciation for this sensual grooming.

For the afternoon I head to Dogtown There I pick up a water bowl, a bottle of water, and a bag of dog treats, and the "okay" to take Jenny for an outing.

I'm almost in love with Jenny, I confess. She is a tall, slender, velvety black Lab who came to the sanctuary from Salt Lake City. One of the "leftovers" from an adoption event, she was slated for likely euthanasia because the shelter there had no room for this "unadoptable" dog. Her "sins" include being female, black, and a big dog; she is perfectly healthy, genially playful, and full of low-key affection.

I've visited with Jenny several times before, and this time, gratifyingly, she clearly recognizes me and comes running to get her leash on. She leaps into the backseat and immediately settles down to be my afternoon companion. I drive to a natural red-rock amphitheater nearby and give her a chance to walk, play on grass, and sniff and sniff and sniff. The gloss of her black coat in the sunlight is rich and deep and irresistible; I stop several times to sit on the ground and wrap my arms around her and revel in the touch of that warm, soft fur and wriggly body. The time goes quickly, and I have to leave visits with the pot-bellied pigs, horses, parrots, and bunnies for another day.

On the way home, I sigh contentedly. Yes, there are bills to pay and chores to do and various concerns awaiting me at home. But I feel uplifted. There is a pure and redemptive quality to spending a day giving care to fellow creatures who, through no fault of their own, have been neglected, mistreated, injured, or abandoned. In return, I experience their honesty, their affection, and the gift of their presence.

Anyone else have a tale of giving and receiving friendship with our fellow creatures?

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One Trick Pony

Posted at 5:17 AM on October 9, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (23 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - barb in Blackhoof

Most of my family is of German heritage. Not a joyful bunch, really. Practical, hard-working, dependable people who went to church, didn't dance during Lent, liked a beer on occasion, laughed at jokes, but didn't have much time for seemingly useless things like music (other than polka), theater, literature, or developing skills that did not produce money or food. So, as a young child, my interaction with my grandparents could be described as pleasant but not joyful, ok but not too interesting.

With one exception: my maternal grandfather (the lone Norwegian in the town) used to entertain us royally with his tricks - useless things he did just to entertain us - just with his body and his imagination. The best trick was that he could make his nose "squeak" and we would squeal in amazement. (I know now that he created the squeak by using his thumbnails to scratch his teeth while he seemed to wiggle his nose by cupping his hands over it and moving it back and forth.) Simple but so much fun. Now that I am old enough to have grandchildren of my own (but don't) I am thinking it would be fun to have at least one trick or skill that I could do. Something pretty useless except to maybe make kids squeal and want to try to do it themselves. There are two tricks or skills in my "bucket list" - things I'd like to learn to do before I kick off.

One is easy (well, obviously not so because I haven't learned to do it yet) - I'd like to learn to whistle very loudly, like people do when applauding a talented person (or when calling some goats, maybe).

The second is more challenging. I'd like to learn to make noodles the way Noodle Masters do. A noodle master can produce long, beautiful, noodles that are exactly the same every time. The Master grabs a hunk of dough - probably flour and water only. In a series of moves that take a total of about 2 minutes or so, he stretches the gluten in the dough to make long strands - pulling, stretching, swinging and twisting until he thinks that the dough is ready. The dough gets so long sometimes that it looks like he is getting ready to jump rope. He adds a bit of water, sometimes a dab of flour - he knows exactly what texture the dough needs to be. When the dough is ready, he flours it a bit more to get the gluten strands ready to separate. and in a flash - stretch, twist, stretch, fold - the noodles appear. he cuts them and pops them into the broth for the next lucky diner to slurp up!

Check out these Chinese Noodle Masters on YouTube:

I'm sure this second trick would take years to learn - but I'm retired, right?

What trick or skill is on your bucket list?

From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale

A giveaway

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Friday October 9 for your chance to win tickets to the West Bank Bash at the Minneapolis Eagles Club on Sunday, Oct. 11th at 7:30pm. Official Rules in fine print available.


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The Time Travel Staycation

Posted at 4:56 AM on October 8, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (15 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - That Guy in the Hat

Technology continues to be an amazing and fascinating thing. Within the span of our lifetimes, we've seen gadgets and gizmos go from the realm of science fiction to commercial availability to practical indispensability. And while the strides that have been made are truly astounding, more are just around the corner. Perhaps hybrid cars will be the gateway to our long-awaited flying cars. Who knows?

But while we're waiting, did you know that there is a form of time travel that is available to you right now? At no cost? And without that pesky risk of altering history or having to obey a 'prime directive.'

Consider the cultural amalgam that is an antique store. Every antique store is like a unique time capsule; a repository of languages, history, and popular culture from all around the world. And an interesting thing happens when you put all those tokens from different times and places together. They start making associations with each other. Connections that you'd never expect but, once pointed out, make perfect sense.

Kind of like people.

Here are some unlikely "found" pairings.




If these were musical acts, what might they call themselves?

Edited to add! From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale
A giveaway

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Friday October 9 for your chance to win tickets to the West Bank Bash at the Minneapolis Eagles Club on Sunday, Oct. 11th at 7:30pm. Official Rules in fine print available.


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I Won't Grow Up

Posted at 5:12 AM on October 7, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (25 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Mike in Albert Lea

The last few years I've been experiencing my mid-life crisis. I turned 48 at the end of September, and I still feel young, but realize the pace at which life is passing. No, I haven't resolved this (yet) by buying a Corvette or a Harley-Davidson, my bank account unfortunately is not that mature.

My parents are healthy, but aging. My children are growing all too fast. I've questioned what it is I want to do with my life. My wife has been diagnosed with cancer and been successfully treated. My hair is thinning in back, but I have no plans for Rogaine or other miracle balding cures.

In the last 10 years, I've changed careers, been elected mayor of a mid-sized city in southern Minnesota, and joined a water ski show team. Here's a picture of us, on Labor Day 2009, performing a human pyramid in our final show of the year. That's me on the far right, with my oldest daughter standing on my shoulder and the guy next to me (Tim, who's in his early 20s).


I don't often read Garrison Keillor's newspaper column, but it caught my attention when he wrote about his recent stroke and his realization of mortality, which I thought was interesting since he's 67, I believe. Now that's old, right?

RH listeners are an eclectic bunch, but seem to be a largely mature group that is young at heart. How do you demonstrate your refusal to 'grow up' or, gasp, 'grow old'? Daring activities? Silicone? Little blue pill?

Edited to add! From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale
A giveaway, enter TODAY!

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Wednesday October 7 for your chance to win tickets to the Over The Rhine concert at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at 8pm. Official Rules in fine print available.


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The Allure of Radicalism

Posted at 5:04 AM on October 6, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (22 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Barbara in Robbinsdale


A few weeks ago when Husband and I were on a Minnesota stay-cation, we were honored to attend a memorial service for a man who had been a real "mover and shaker", someone who was active in many arenas and really got things done. In addition to this, he was considered a "radical." On a hilltop overlooking the gorgeous green valleys of Southeastern Minnesota in August, people told stories about this man for three solid hours - how he kept to his principles, questioned and at times defied authority, blazed trails, and worked incessantly for environmental and community-building causes.

I grew up in a household of mixed messages: Be Different (but not So Different That You'd Embarrass Us). In the late 60s and the 70s, there were so many ways to Be Different! You could blaze a little trail by trying out vegetarianism or marching in protest to the Vietnam War. Some of us left for the East or West coasts, or abroad, hoping to find something radically different, and of course we did. When ready to settle down, I came to Minneapolis in the late seventies hoping what I'd heard was true - there were Radicals in Minnesota. I've never been disappointed - the coastal hot spots had nothing on this state!

Most of us are now more subtle in our radicalism - there are hundreds of ways to be a little bit radical. I still enjoy getting people to raise an eyebrow by telling them, say, that I listen to this eclectic radio show on - what! - an HD radio.

What is the most radical thing you've ever done, in your mind OR someone else's?

From Dale's desk, but not necessarily from Dale
A giveaway

Enter now! Or at least before 1 p.m. Wednesday October 7 for your chance to win tickets to the Over The Rhine concert at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at 8pm. Official Rules in fine print available.


VW Bus image courtesy Julia Schrenkler

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Growing Up With Siblings

Posted at 7:03 AM on October 5, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (22 Comments)
Filed under: Family, Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Donna

This picture was taken on our farm in 1960. From left to right are Linda, me, Curt, and Debbie. Our lovely mother is behind us. My mom says this is a rare photo because I'm in it. At age three, I went through a spell of camera fright. I used to run and cry at the sight of one, whereas Debbie's unique impulse was to scratch.


My little sister was a kewpie doll cutie. Anytime we had company, they would go on and on about her big blue eyes and want to pick her up and carry her around. By the time I started school, I was pretty sick of it, which was, I suppose, the reason I told a couple classmates one day that she had unexpectedly died in the night. The news spread quickly and before I knew it, I was repeating the tragedy to my alarmed teacher, looking as sad as I could fake it. Although I enjoyed the sympathetic attention, my conscience started bothering me, and the next day I owned up to the fib. I tried unsuccessfully to smooth things over by saying it was a joke.

The sibling I quarreled most with was my older sister. One time in the barn, I called her "Big Butt" and she overreacted and threw an egg at me. Ordinarily her aim was terrible, but this was her "lucky day", as she still likes to say. Not only did the egg hit me, it was rotten besides. Thankfully, the stench wore off by the time I was old enough to date.

As a rule, my brother was mean. He got a kick out of ridiculing us with nicknames. When Linda went through a pudgy stage, he called her "Chubby Checkers". I had an overbite from sucking my thumb (insecure) so he named me "Charlie Horse." He referred to Debbie as "Beautiful" in her early adolescence, when she was gawkily unattractive, even though he knew she couldn't help it. He also dismantled our bicycles and used them to build a go-cart.

Were we unusual? It would ease my mind to know other families have sibling battle stories.

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A Member of the Wedding

Posted at 5:30 AM on October 2, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (31 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - elinor

On Friday, September 18th, I found myself at a wedding for which I hadn't specifically been invited. This came about because I had purchased tickets to see one of my favorite artists in concert at First Avenue, unaware of the nuptials to take place during the concert. Lucinda Williams was to begin celebrating her 30th anniversary of her recording career right here in our town! While I was a little skeptical about a wedding situated between the main and encore sets of a concert, being able to see the concert to kick off what is essentially a retrospective of Lucinda Williams' work up to this point was exciting.

Williams began the concert with blues standards, which she sang while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, and worked her way chronologically through her albums. She talked about being rejected by rock labels for being too country while being rejected by country labels for being a rocker and about how it felt to be playing "Americana" before the genre had even been invented. Sometimes, however, there is an advantage to entering a market at its inception, and Lucinda Williams remarkable 30 years of recording music certainly exemplifies how this is true. By the time she got to the Essence album, it was pretty obvious that Lucinda Williams was most in her element when she was completely rocking out, and the concert remained at that pitch until Lucinda Williams in her unusually formal attire stood alone on the stage with her guitar.

Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams informed the audience, had been married on stage, and she and her beau Tom Overby reckoned that, if it had been good enough for Hank, it was good enough for them. Furthermore, she had recently had the opportunity to write a song with Hank Williams. Bob Dylan had in his possession, it turned out, some Hank Williams lyrics that had never been set to music and had invited Williams to compose music for them, and now she was standing on a stage getting married (as her idol had done), singing the Hank Williams' lyrics to the music she had written. Her poet father Miller Williams, who was very old south in his comportment, took the stage, lending a bit of sobriety to a situation where beer bottle toasts and hoots from the audience competed with the proceedings and reading his most anthologized poem The Caterpillar, a poem to which 7 year old Lucinda's contribution was the last line. The wedding was short, the vows were punctuated with laughter, and Tom Overby took up a guitar to join the band for the encore. The concert concluded perfectly with a fantastic cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)".

Without question, this was the most unusual and festive wedding I had ever attended. Barring "extreme" weddings you've seen featured on "reality" shows or perhaps Tiny Tim's marriage to Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, what was the most unusual wedding you've ever attended? Or perhaps your wedding, if you have been married, qualifies for the distinction.

* NPR All Songs Considered blog w/photos: Lucinda Williams Gets Married On Stage

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