Category Archives: Little Falls

Oberstar Tweets

Several weeks ago, after reading a legislative update from Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, I emailed him and suggested that he consider tweeting some of his updates on Twitter. Today I received the following reply:

Ms. Jody Scott-Olson

Royalton, Minnesota 56373-0184

Dear Ms. Scott-Olson:

Knowing of your interest in a Twitter account for me where you can be updated on current legislation and other relevant issues, I am pleased to report that you can now follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JimOberstar.

With best wishes.

Sincerely,

James L. Oberstar, M.C.

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Filed under Government, Little Falls, Minnesota, Politics

Digging for Clams on Black Friday

I admit that going into Thanksgiving I was behind schedule. I planned on getting a bit of shopping in on Wednesday but ended up spending the afternoon helping my son get his car started. This meant that I would have to risk life and limb by making a trip to the store on Black Friday.

I decided to go the Wal-Mart so I could get everything done in one trip. Suffice it to say that the store was busy but it wasn’t overwhelming, I buzzed from pet supplies to the dairy case with ease and even found a check out lane that held the promise of a relatively short wait.

My satisfaction with how smoothly my shopping trip was going was squelched when the man in front of me began scratching his backside in a way that could be characterized as digging for clams

My insides did ill little flips so I turned my back to him and tried to distract myself by repeating the word “peppermint”.  When I was certain he had adequate time to completed his mission I turned back to the front of the line. As it would turn out, I turned just in time to catch him scratching and adjusting his… um, oysters. As his itching and adjusting dwindled, he became cognoscente of my presence behind him and he turned around as though I had just arrived, he raised his eyebrows and smiled at me.

In an effort to be polite, I returned a very small smile all the while desiring nothing more than a very hot shower and  a scrub brush sturdy enough to remove my first layer of skin:)

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Filed under General, Life, Little Falls

A Tribute – December 28, 1961 – February 18, 2007

It was a year ago today that I recieved a phone call saying my daughters father had died, he was 45.  Nothing in my life could have prepared me to break that news to our then 16 year old daughter.

My daughter wrote the following tribute which she read last year at his funeral:

 Dear Dad,

I can’t believe how hard it is to write this. I can’t think of anything right to say. If I let myself write without choosing my words carefully this letter would be an angry letter for leaving me here. Although I nod and agree with the people who tell me that you will always be with me I can’t help but feel selfish and want you here all the way.

I’m so very worried about going through life without you, you were my go-to man. If I ever felt bad or sad or had a problem I’d call you and within minutes you’d have my problem solved and you’d make me laugh again with your your cheesy jokes. Who will I go to now? No one will ever be as perfect as you were, and still are.

After I found out the news I was devastated, I thought oh, my god I have to call dad. As I made my way to the phone I realized that you were the one who was gone. I miss you so very much and I guess I took my days with you for granted. But I will never forget all those great memories we shared. Like the silly pirate game we would play on your water bed when I was Isabella’s age. We would pretend we were on the raging sea, I would jump to make the waves while you would pretend to raise the sails.Then there were the times when you and Jimmy both would take Matt, Kalli and I to Leaps and Bounds. You would chase us through the tunnels with us kids screaming bloody murder.

Every night I wasn’t with you I would call you just to say goodnight. We always ended the phone call the same way. We’d both count to three then hang up so no one was left on the phone by themselves. But almost every time between those three numbers we’d start up a whole new conversation. As I grew older I grew out of it. I never thought I would miss something so small so much, I will cherish those memories all of my life.

As my dear little sister, Isabella grows up I will tell her every little detail about you. I will tell her how much her daddy loved her and adored her, more than words could ever say. I’m so very lucky to have had all this time with you and yet so angry that I won’t have more. I worry about the big days ahead, like graduation which is so very close, then college, marriage and hopefully kids.  I know I have all these people who are here with me, like my uncle Jimmy who said he would fill in and though that means the world to me they will never be you. And while I am with those people I will be wishing every second of that day it was you with me.

I miss you daddy so very much. And I love you around this world and back again. So for old time sake lets finish this like we always did –  One, two, three –  Goodbye Dad, I love you.

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Filed under Events, Life, Little Falls, Writing

Repealing Murphy’s Law

I’m having a less than stellar week and Murphy’s Law has announced its arrival with authority.

It began with my flash drive loosing 100 to 150 KB of data when the casing slid off after a mere 4 weeks of use. Thank you for that ineffective spot of glue Corsair. In my universe you’re taking up permanent residence in the doghouse, maybe the pig pen, strike that I’m kicking your ass to the curb.

But it didn’t stop there because the treadmill I purchased croaked after just 5 miles, now I have to track down the seller and sort the issue out. Naturally this happened after I made Fettuccine with shrimp Alfredo sauce, justifying the butter and whipping creme by telling myself I’d walk it off after dinner. It was divine, but my treadmill wouldn’t budge.

After that came the hair cut incident, vain as it is I can survive anything if my hair’s cute. Since I have a wedding to attend this weekend I purposely over grew my hair cut so when I had the very ends taken off it would be the prefect length. I explained this in detail to the stylist at Fantastic Sam’s, she had nice hair so I felt remotely confident even though she had never cut my hair before. As she began cutting I got the distinct feeling she was one of those nervous sorts who, in their constant state of anxiety, leak data like a defective bladder. She’d stare blankly and every so often I thought I saw a bubble above her head captioning the words…”now what was I supposed to be doing?” 

She sheared an good inch leaving me with about a half inch of hair.  The worst part was when she asked if I wanted my bangs short or long…I deliberated and she snapped, “you have to decide.” I said long, since my deliberating irked her. She cut them to the middle of my forehead which made me to wonder just where they would have ended up if I would’ve told her to cut them short. I’m thinking the answer would have been, the waste basket.

Now I’m in such a bad mood that I’d like to go back and ruin her perfectly groomed tress just to be hateful.

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Filed under General, Life, Little Falls

Thomas Maltman, The Night Birds

Night Birds

 Every year a few shops in downtown Little Falls host a Christmassy open house, many serve samples of mulled ciders and decorated cookies. Each year my mother and I take the downtown stroll and visit the participating shops to smell $6.00 bars of soap and decorative candles. I rarely purchase anything but I did this year, I bought a book from Bookin’ It. It was the last stop on our open house tour.

Weeks earlier I recieved an email from Laura Hansen at Bookin’ It announcing that Thomas Maltman, author of The Night Birds would be in the store to sign copies of his new book. Since I’m a book dealer by trade I know I should pay attention to these opportunities but I don’t. I’m not as good of a book dealer as I could be maybe because I only run the business so I can stay home and write. Maryjude, an employee of Bookin’ It offered a run down of the discounts of the day and then began telling my nephew and I about Maltman’s book. Fascinated, I made my way to his table and talked to him about his book and bought a copy which I am excited to begin reading.

Since I am sure I will fail at capturing my conversation with Maltman I’ve included an excerpt from Publishers Weekly about his debute novel.

Set in the 1860s and ’70s, Maltman’s superb debut evokes a Midwest lacerated by clashes between European and Native American, slaveowner and abolitionist, killer and healer, nature and culture. Asa Senger, a lonely 14-year-old boy, is at first wary when his father’s sister, Hazel, arrives at his parents’ Minnesota home after a long stay in a faraway asylum, but he comes to cherish the mysterious Hazel’s warmth and company. Through her stories, Asa learns of his family’s bitter past: the lore and dreams of their German forebears, their place in the bitter divide over slavery and, most complex of all, the bond between Hazel and the Dakotan warrior Wanikiya that deepens despite the violence between their peoples. Maltman excels at giving even his most harrowing scenes an understated realism and at painting characters who are richly, sometimes disturbingly, human. The novel sustains its tension right to the moment it ends with an adult Asa at peace with his own complicated heritage—a tentative redemption that, the book’s events as well as our own world’s disorders suggest, is the best for which the human heart can hope.

-A STARRED REVIEW IN PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY—6/25/07

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Filed under Books, Events, Fiction Writing, Little Falls, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

A Chance Meeting with Mary Casanova

The following post is from 2007 but here are the details of the 2008 craft fair for those who are landing on this blog because they are looking for information:

Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair
09/06 to 09/07 2008
Downtown – Little Falls, MN
 
# of Exhibitors: 700 

I live in a small town, each year in September the hub of downtown is taken over by crafters from all over the United States and our small town hosts one of the largest craft fairs in the country. Last year a surge of 130,000 descended on  downtown Little Falls, a similar figure was expected this year. My daugther and I were among the shopper both years. After a good long wander, my daughter and I stopped in at the neighborhood bookstore to poke around and say hi to Laura Hansen and her dog Jack.

I’ve known Laura for about 2 years now, she is a local poet who owns and operates the local bookstore, Bookin It. She also heads The Great River Writers group of which I am a member. Despite the length of time I’ve known Laura, I can’t seem to shake the propencity to call her Laurie. It’s a strange habit, I rename people without realizing it. If your name is John and you remind me of a Frank, I will call you Frank at least 50% of the time.

After calling Laura, Laurie…again, I noticed a copy of Water for Elephants displayed on a shelf and I commented on how much I enjoyed the story. I joined Audible, and Simply Audio to test drive listening to books on my MP3 player. Water for Elephants has been my first experience with listening to a book. As much I as I love reading, I find that I have too little time to cover all the material I’d like to cram in.  In addition to the audio of Water for Elephants, I am also reading The Sixth Extinction, Saving Fish From Drowning and The Kite Runner. Kite Runner tends to tug my attentions most often. It was my hope that if I listened to some of the material while doing things I enjoy less, like laundry, cleaning the house and walking off my waistline, that it would add embellishment to the mundane and I would get more “reading” material covered in a shorter timeframe. My only real question was, would I enjoy the experience as much.

After listening to Water for Elephants, I can honestly say that the quality of the reading is excellent and I found listening to a story every bit as satisfying and reading one.  As I commented on the book author Mary Casanova, chimed in and said she too enjoyed the book. Lucky for me, Casanova happened to be signing copies of her most recent book The Klipfish Code at the same time my daughter and I happened in.

Laura introduced me (kindly using my correct name) as a member of the Great River Writer’s group, so naturally, Casanova and I talked about writing. I explained to her that progress on my story had been slow. I’ve spent the past year polishing my writing skill, I told her that I wanted to do justice to the story. I went on to say that the story I am writing may very well be my life’s work. Casanova said that she never hangs on to her work too long.  Casanova credited her ability to churn out published material to her unwillingness to hold on too tight. She said that she writes a story, reads and edits it once or twice then ships it off. I told Casanova that I didn’t have another story to move on to and she replied, “we’re only given one story at a time, once you write the one that is in your head the next one will come you.”

What a delightful and unexpected notion. And she was right about the letting go of your work part. I did not want The Eyes to See Grace to sound like a children’s book and when I began writing the story that is exactly how I thought it sounded.  After my first public reading with the Great River Writer’s group a woman approached me after the reading and said, that my writing reminded her of Kate DiCamillo work. Despite being a true a fan of Tiger Rising and the Tale of Despereaux, I knew I wasn’t reflecting the rich, very adult tone I felt about the story. I began reading honing in on the work of authors that inspired me, Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Gabriel Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

What I learned was that the answer didn’t lie within a single component rather from all elements, narrative, character, voice, tone, I even felt truth to be among the elements. The following year at the annual book reading, the guest speaker and published author approached me after the reading, and commended my work saying, “that book you are writing is a movie, you’ve written Out of Africa.” I could not have been more flattered. Her choice of comparison was uncanny,  I had told my daughter a year earlier… I want the story to be an epic like Out of Africa. When she said, Out of Africa I felt like Air Jordan slam-dunking a b-ball…swoosh.

That having been said, it is indeed time to let go and push for completion of my first draft.

Before we left, Casanova looked at my 17 year old and said, you write too…I can tell by the twinkle in your eye. Mary Casanova could not have been more right. The narrative flows from that child like a river. She is in fact so good that when school let out for the summer classmates began calling in July wanting to read the next chapters of her book! My daughter of course thinks because she is still a young girl that there must me more to it that she couldn’t be an author at 17…princess, you already have a captivated audience, so you are an author. I will be sure and add excerpts from Lexrae’s book this website.

Wearing Mules to the Party,

Soloist

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Filed under Books, Fiction Writing, Life, Little Falls, Minnesota Fiction, Writing