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Rick's Blog 2001 - 2002

 Howdy. Our cat is back.

I suppose you didn't know he was gone, but he disappeared a month ago. We drove the neighborhood looking for familiar hair-of-roadkill but didn't even see a dead squirrel. We thought maybe Animal Control picked him up. He wasn't a very friendly animal. If you held him, he'd piss and moan and struggle until you let him go. On his annual trip to the vet he'd turn into a snarling devil of teeth and hind-claws. *Sometimes* he'd come and rub against your leg if his food dish was empty. Julie was pissed at him because he'd wake her half a dozen times each night at the bedroom door to the deck. Let me in. Let me out. Let me in. Let me out. If we closed the bedroom door, he'd *pound* on it until we let him in. There wasn't a room we could put him in that we couldn't hear him yeowling all night.

I mentioned to Alexz that I hadn't seen *her* cat (like she *ever* fed or cleaned up after him)  for a couple days and she said, "Can we get a puppy?"
At any rate, we decided *not* to go to Animal Control to look.  I think they put them to sleep if unsuccessful at adopting them out. The girls didn't seem to care, so I figured I'd save the $100 bail money. I started telling people we'd *murdered* our cat by not rescuing him from the city pound.
I know this sounds awful to you people who adore your cats. I will mail him to the first person who calls me bad names. 
Things settled back to normal for about three weeks. Then, we discovered a kitten hanging around. Little scrawny grey kitty with evil yellow eyes. Julie fed him and he ate like he hadn't for weeks, but we decided he wasn't ever coming in. No shots. No neutering. No de-clawing bills. We did leave the garage cracked open a bit and Julie threw some old towels out in the corner. For three days, the food disappeared but we didn't see much of the kitten. Then, the food stopped disappearing. Good, I hope the kitten found his way home. 
Yesterday, the food was gone again. Julie went to the garage to see if the kitten was back, and there was Hippy.
Dunno where he's been for a month. He's thin, but not straggly, and seems to be genuinely glad to be home... i.e. will rub against your leg even if his food bowl is not empty. 
Three nights now, so far, so good. But, I have a feeling that if he starts waking Julie, he'll be going back to Animal Control. (Are you listening, cat?)
Either way, Alexz is not getting a dog.
In other news...
An 89 year old Minnesota deer hunter mistook a girl on her pony for a deer and shot the pony. I later read
that the state suspended his license for a year.
Great. In two years - WHEN HE'S 91 - they're gonna give him his gun back. (Waddaya mean SUV? I could'a swore that roof rack was antlers!)
Life is so strange.
Happy Holidays to you all.


We're still here and doing fine. (Those of you who have suggested Saw Palmetto should know that it only works if you still *have* a prostate to shrink.)

I went to Wal*Mart last night and bought an electric blanket for my bed out in the screen porch. I've been sleeping out there since April 15th, but now the temps have started to drop into the 40's. This will make it a little easier to crawl in at night. I wonder how long into the winter I'll be able? Julie and I both sleep better this way. I like the chill air, and she prefers *toasty*.

Besides, she snores.

Piper Jaffrey sponsored hors d'ouevres and entertainment last week for all their investors who've lost a third of their portfolio in the tumbling markets. I only have a pittance with them, but that's been reduced to a smidgen. The food was OK, and the entertainment was terrific. Pat Donahue was the national 1983 finger-picking champion and is a regular on Prairie Home Companion. There are two songs on his website. I can't seem to hear them, but if you can, you'll enjoy them - especially the one about Kirby Puckett - *Touch 'em All*.

(How hard can it be to rhyme with Puckett?)

Then Monday, Mike Vehle called and said he had two bank tickets to the Concert Series, so we saw the Barbary Coast DixieLand Band - also regulars on Prairie Home Companion.

Saturday, Wooden Nickel played at Mooner's Bar, and a number of our *regular group* came to hear us for the first time. Thankfully, we sounded pretty good, and they left before things got out of control. That's one of those places where (after too many drinks) some in the band begin to equate *loud* with *sounding good*.

Sunday, I went to the Tribal Arts Show in Sioux Falls. Those Indians have learned well from the white man, and value their beadwork pretty highly. But, it gives me a comparison for shopping on eBay.

Alexz is typically 14, pushing the envelope every chance she gets. She bought a set of drums on eBay and will start Saturday lessons as soon as Tennis and marching band (flute) quit tying up her weekends.

Found a Dooney & Bourke purse at a rummage sale a couple weeks ago for $3, and then a week later spotted another at a different place. What are the odds? I grabbed it to check the interior, and it contained a billfold, sunglasses and the usual wad of gum wrappers and dirty kleenex. I got a nasty look from its owner at the other end of the table.

A wonderful, chilly, rainy night. I'm gonna go turn on my new blankie now.

Hoping you all are well,

I am beginning to have issues with some of Alexz' teachers.
Her Science teacher told her that when they first started making Total breakfast cereal, there was trouble with the machinery, and loose metal filings got into the boxes. Rather than fix the machines, they just added the words "NOW WITH ADDED IRON" to the packaging. He said if you took a magnet and swirled it in a box of Total, you'd get metal filings.
I have a magnet and I bought a box of Total at the grocery tonight. If I don't find metal filings, I'm going to have his head.
Her Consumer Business teacher has been teaching the class that there is never a reason to pay for name brands and that buying generic is always the best option. Today, she had them watch a movie on Wal*Mart and the whole class had to write an essay tonight on the history and goodness of Sam Walton and his company. With her mother's urging, Alexz found a "Wal*Mart sucks" website and liberally sprinkled her essay with tibits of how Wal*Mart has destroyed  America's small towns, put companies out of business, been fined for selling below cost to drive out competition, and has contributed to the decline of uniqueness in the country.
This is not sour grapes. Our business has been UP 7% since Wal*Mart came to town. Sadly, though, a lot of businesses can't say the same. Alexz will probably fail the essay, but her mom says she doesn't care. In fact, there is an FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) breakfast in the morning to which we have been invited. This teacher is the FBLA leader. Julie is going to the breakfast with her guns loaded. I'm going to sleep in. Teacher will have her hands full with Julie.
Otherwise... we have snow - only a little and it's melted from the pavement already, but it will raise hell with the farmers trying to get the rest of their crops in, and the roofers who are still trying to get the hail damaged roofs repaired. Lotta yards will have stacks of new shingles on their front lawns all winter.
I'm still camping on the screen porch. I turn my electric blankie on high and snuggle in and watch my breath until I fall asleep. The only bad part is, it's too cold to read.
Alexz spends every spare minute with David, who is only an 8th grader and three feet tall. I dunno what she sees in him. Maybe it's for the best. A *college* boy came over and helped her install the stereo speakers in her trunk. Ak! She'll be 15 in two weeks.
We drove to the Casino in Flandreau last Saturday to watch the regional competitions of the Colgate Country Music Showdown. I was a judge at the state contest and I wanted to cheer on our entry. Julie would'a spent the 3 quarters she found in her pocket but we honestly couldn't find an open slot machine. The money that flows into those places! Make me an Indian and declare my yard a reservation.

We've been busy getting Julie ready for the Sturgis Bike Rally. She left this morning with a truckload of jewelry and a folding table tied to the top of the Yukon like a surfboard. She'll be there two weekends and the week between, in the vendor's tent in the parking lot of the Rushmore (Rapid City) Mall. She recruited Danielle (niece) from Connecticut for the week, and friend Dana and her daughter are going to help set up. Alexz has band every night next week, so we'll drive out Thursday night after band. Then, she and I will come back home Saturday. Wooden Nickel plays Saturday night and Alexz goes to band camp in Iowa at noon on Sunday. 
The doctor removed the catheter Thursday. God, I'm glad to have that octopus off my leg. I have graduated to dribble pads for a week or so. The tube they stick up your dick is as big as a pencil, so I suppose it takes a while for that to shrink up again. Apologies to the squeamish.
Alexz bought a set of drums on eBay. She was frustrated at the set we borrowed because it was missing a tom-tom and the crash cymbal had been split, welded, and split again.  She has great rhythm, and could be a killer drummer. If she has as much fun with that set of drums as I've had with my bass guitar over the years...
108 one day last week, and humid.  I don't remember rain, and they tell me the fields in the country are awash with grasshoppers. Then it hailed. We suffered damage to our cars as did most of the town. Suddenly, every vacant lot and car dealer has sprouted a striped tent and banners offering paintless-dent-repair. There must be a hundred different companies.
Mitchell *looks* festive, anyway. Like a misplaced Arts-In-The-Park. 
 Then, last night it got down to 55. Downright chilly out in the porch.
Hope you all are well.


 late Saturday, June 22, 2002
Alexz is driving. Only until 8 o'clock, but the principle is the same. (Those of you who remember her toddling will be feeling old now.)
We bought her a '99 Ford Escort with a lot of highway miles but immaculately cared for. Dual air-bags... Red... Cheap. I guess our rationale was that we'd rather have her driving, than riding helplessly in the backseats of her idiot friends. Amazingly, her insurance is only $20 month. I was expecting worse. 
She's a cautious driver, and normally has an impatient convoy trailing and trying to pass, as she scrupulously drives exactly the speed limit.
We borrowed a pittance - mostly because I wanted Alexz to get the feeling for making *payments* and feeling *ownership* and so that she can start building credit history. I called 4 banks to get the lowest rate  - 6.49% with direct withdrawal from an existing account - but when we went to do the deal, it cost over 15% - counting the "loan origination fee" ($75) and "minimum interest" charges ($60). Shysters.
The weatherman tells me we are dry. About the only time I get to visit with the neighbor kid is when we're both out in the front yard admiring the wind and lightning of an approaching storm. I haven't seen him hardly at all this whole spring.
Tomorrow, the days turn shorter. Why wasn't today the hottest day of the summer? Why are the hottest days in July and August?
Julie will rent booth space under the big tent in the Rapid City Mall's parking lot during the Sturgis Bike Rally. I think it's an excuse to show off her thin black Harley halter, but she's convinced that she can sell some stuff, and is making a special trip to New York for goods. She's recruited Alexz and a niece, and about 60 friends to help her. 
I rummaged today. Surprisingly, I manage to find things even after the dust of the first herd has settled. I've run with that early crowd, and I bruise too easily. I figure if God wants me to find it, it will still be there at noon when I am. God has let me find some fairly interesting things. 
I sell them on eBay. 
We have our own religious scandal right here at First Lutheran. The very popular Junior Pastor was abruptly terminated by the dour Senior Pastor, and the Bishop, because Junior Pastor (recently divorced) may have had consensual sexual contact (but not intercourse) with a single woman (not a member of the church) he was dating. The congregation does not take this nearly as seriously as the Bishop, and voted 3 to 1 not to accept Junior Pastor's *resignation letter*. There'll be a showdown.
Julie thinks we ought to rename the Middle School (how inspiring) to the McGovern Middle School. We passed the opt-out so they probably have money for the new letters. I think it's a great idea. George lives right across campus from us, but I never see any activity around the place.
I moved a bed onto the screen porch a month ago, and sleep out there every night. I read as late as I want and thrash about as much as I need. I nod off to the wind in the trees, and the soothing hiss of the tires on the Interstate. In the morning, I wake to rooster crow and donkey bray from the last farm left between here and Cabella's.  Julie insists I snore, and now that she's getting a good night's rest, her mood has improved.   
A week ago, we had a ring of bird shit all the way around the pool and I was in the market for a BB gun. I supposed birds came to drink, and in the process, made room for a little at the other end. Then, I discovered that the blackbirds were actually bringing this litter by beak (surely, removing baby poop from the nest) and dropping it before they drank. Now that the nests are empty, my elimination problem has been eliminated. Thus endeth our Natural History lesson for tonight. 
Alexz is home. I can go to bed.


I went to Wayne Menning's funeral on Saturday. Some of you may remember him. He did a stint at KWYR, and was for many years (until November when he was diagnosed with esophagus cancer) news-director at KMIT / KOOL98.
The sermon was so weird... about how we are "all invited to *God's Feast* when we die", and "it shall be the happiest banquet  of which we've ever partaken". And it was all the more poignant, because for weeks at the end, Wayne hadn't been able to eat (except by tube) yet he watched mostly cooking shows on television. When asked why he tortured himself with what he couldn't have, Wayne always answered "Because I know I am going to *feast with God*."
So... getting towards the end of the service...
Minister:    "And, now Wayne Menning has gone to sit at God's table and partake in the lord's glorious abundance.

But, Is he feasting with God?

No!!! He's waiting patiently at the foot of the mountain, with all of those that died before him and with all those who will come after. Because Only God... can schedule God's banquet."   

Maybe I missed something.
Why couldn't they just say... Damn Right! He's got a chicken leg in one hand and barbequed ribs in the other and a big smile on his face.
Heaven is forever waiting for dinner? Bet they don't get many suicide bombers from the ranks of the First Reformed.
Anyway... We got 3" of snow Saturday.   
Julie left for Mpls. market Sunday morning in a late season blizzard. Alexz is a French Plantation daughter in community theatre *South Pacific*. She's onstage about 10 minutes. A chorus of girls dances, sings, and *signs* Bali Hi... Monday night she becomes a member of the Honor Society.


Stardate Friday. (late Sunday edition)
Cold and windy. Drizzly, with snow on the way. That's why I was surprised to go back to the store after lunch (Friday) and find all the doors propped wide open. The girls were *warm*. 
Simultaneous hot flashes.
Alexz is the proud possessor of a new South Dakota Learner's Driving Permit. I've been letting her drive for a couple months now, and she's cautious. Good. The "whoever is driving controls the radio" rule has been suspended.
She has also developed a keen fascination with Football. She's in now watching the Vikes and the Bears (Sunday). Don't ask where that comes from. I thought perhaps there was a gorilla-browed quarterback in the wings, but she says no, and her interest seems deeper than impressing mere boys. 
Big News is that the viaduct (railroad overpass) is finally again open. Looks like it was built by cold-war communists. Concrete and chain-link.  Barney's Market is gone.
Shane Osborn, the pilot who landed his crippled plane on a Chinese Island and led his crew home heroes... his dad is Doug Osborn, Mitchell Kernel Quarterback and homecoming King MHS 1966. In the news again 'cause he just wrote a book.
Julie and I went to Minneapolis last weekend to see Mike Miller (a Mitchell boy) and the Orlando Magic play the Timberwolves. We sat really high up - second row from the top looking straight down. The players all have good haircuts.
Any moron can
write Haiku. Just stop at the
seventeenth syllab


School started last Monday. In a last ditch effort to prolong summer, Alexz had a dozen kids over to swim. They are now all in the basement eating pizza and watching a video. One is Alexz' boyfriend (I have it on good authority) - Jeffrey Dice, son of Greg and Gayle. It's easier to hate a kid when you don't know his parents.
Thus it begins...
I turned 53 last week.  I got 3 CD's, two books, a shirt, and a phone call from my grand-daughter.
Bought a mattress last week, too. Cost as much as a small car. If I remember right, the old mattress was a present from my folks around the time I was married.  The first time.
When they delivered the new mattress, we told 'em to take the old one. Which meant I had to clean out under the bed. Untie all my bondage equipment... I thought my old Fender Jazz bass was hidden under there. John, do you have that?
Mattresses are taller now. Is there a reason? Or was my old mattress just *squished*?  I still wake up as often, but I figger I'm sleeping better *in-between*.
Wooden Nickel plays at Mooner's tomorrow night, and Julie heads off for Vegas market (Doesn't that girl ever stay home?) Her kiosk in the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls has done well enough so that she has extended her run thru Christmas.
Corn Palace Week starts Wednesday... Billy Gilman, Jessica Andrews, Engerlbert Humperdinck, Tommy Roe, and Carrot Top. I'll tell em y'all said "Hey!"
Two enlightened mystics sat arguing at the top of a Himalayan mountain.
"Do."  sayeth the first mystic.
"Be." countered the second.
"Do." insisted the first.
"Be." argued the second.
Do Be Do Be Do.


The neighbor hasn't been over to pee in my rain gauge since before the 4th of July. Wish he'd come back. We miss him and need the moisture.
*La Bamba* has never been one of my favorite songs. Never-the-less, we will attend the JazzFest in Sioux Falls this weekend to hear Los Lobos. What the hell, it's FREE. Of course, our whole "next weekend, we meet at *your* house" group will be there and we will all have adjoining motel rooms. How special. When I go on vacation, I don't want to run into the neighbors. I wanna see *indigenous* people. Neville Brothers playing too, on Saturday. (You know, Aaron Neville, the guy with the big face wart that sung once with Linda Ronstadt?) (Indigenous Cajun)
Then on Sunday, home to re-pack and leave Monday for Chicago market. We'll take Alexz, but Thank God, the rest of our crowd will have to figure out how to get along without us for 7 days, because they're not coming along. We will travel by way of Galena, IL and stay a day or two with Tommy Horman who has an accessory store there. He's been bugging us to put a store in Galena, and if we like it, maybe we'll stay. Then, on to Chicago where Julie will have a couple days at market and perhaps we'll have a chance to visit with her dad who lives just into Michigan.
If you are a burglar, ignore the part about us being gone.
I usually search eBay for keywords "Mitchell" "Dakota" and last week I found a postcard of Julie playing Faye Ray in the arms of that giant cement gorilla that used to stand in front of Herter's. She remembers having her photos taken for their catalogue, but had forgotten dating King Kong. Cost me $15 but I was tired of 'em splashing her picture around the 'net. Never know who lurks here.
The lease on my Tahoe is up next month. We offered to buy, and  even though the SUV market is softer than 3 week old bananas, the dealer acts like this was Elvis' personal coach. Looks like I'll be cleaning out the glovebox. 
Alexz has decided that she wants to play drums. I think this is great because although she has no sense of tune, she has great rhythm. And I always wanted to play the drums. One of the guys in the band has an old kit he'd like to get out of his garage, so we'll set up a "music room" in the basement. Another benefit is that we'll no longer have that *extra bedroom* for Julie's relatives. 
The Government has spent $400 million to advise me that I will be receiving a $600 tax refund. If you are younger than me, ignore the fact that this is coming from your social security fund. If you are related to me, forget it... The money's spent.
I am trying to remember what was so awful about last winter that made us wish for this weather. 105 heat index yesterday and today. I'm gonna go pee in my neighbor's rain gauge.

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