Tornado’s winds blow in a chance for kindness

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

“It’s not easy being the smartest man in the room.”

“Ha! I’ll bet you could tell everything you know in five minutes.”

“Maybe so, but I could add all you know and the telling wouldn’t take any longer.”

Driving by the Bruces

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I have two wonderful neighbors–both named Bruce–who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: after all these years, we still don’t know who let the dogs out.

Things I’ve learned

1. To leave a phone message after the beep.

2. To do the hard stuff first.

3. Not to take a fence down until I know why it was put up.

Mystery tour

I’ve worked with bus tours for many years—as a leader and as someone who talks to the travelers. A mystery tour is a common endeavor for bus tours. The participants get on the bus and have no clue as to where they are going. I’ve toiled on a number of those tours. I’d have each passenger write his or her name on a slip of paper along with a guess as to the tour’s destination. Then I’d pass a hat around in which each passenger would put in $2 along with the slip of paper. The winning guess won the pot. I stopped doing that after the bus driver won five in a row.

Before there were such things as MapQuest or a GPS, my wife and I went on mystery tours. I’d jump behind the wheel of the car assuming the role of the pilot. I’d toss my wife the map, making her the navigator even though she hadn’t volunteered for the job.

“We’re making good time,” I’d say, my hands firmly in place at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.

“That’s good,” my bride would respond. “Because we just missed our turn.”

That’s when the tour became a mystery. It was all good. We saw parts of the world we would never have seen had we taken the right turn.

Losing an elder

I was at a funeral of one of the elders of my family. Aunt Ruth had a good run. She didn’t quite make it to her 100th birthday. I thought of her generation and how wise they were. When I was a boy, I thought that when I became an adult, I would acquire that wisdom. Then I discovered that the best I could do was to fake it. I’m all too aware of how little I know. I make decisions based on a method not unlike those described by the writer David Brooks. Brooks recommends flipping a coin and observing my reaction to the coin flip. I shouldn’t go by the flip. I should base my decision on my reaction. I just hope that I get more things right than wrong. I’m losing my familial elders. As I stood at the cemetery, I recalled that the Greeks said that we suffer our way to wisdom. Maybe wisdom comes with tears.

Tornado tales

Alice Jensen of Albert Lea told me that when the tornado hit her brother’s (Elwood Tukua) home last June, many things were lost. Kind children from New Richland found an odd visitor in their yard. It was the wedding certificate belonging to Alice and Elwood’s parents, Oscar and Norma. It was in perfect condition. The wedding took place on June 1, 1929 and Oscar and Norma celebrated 60 years of marriage. The finders returned the wedding certificate and it will be celebrating its 82nd birthday in June. The certificate was strong like the marriage.

Words on the wind

There is a large wind farm not far from me. Many turbines are spinning. At night, red lights on the wind turbines blink in an eerie manner. Michael Cotter of Albert Lea asked me how I liked living near a red light district.

From the family files

“How old are you now?” I asked in the same dumb voice that I use on a 3-year-old granddaughter. Only I was talking to my 102-year-old Aunt Edith.

She smiled and said, “I’m 200 years old.”