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The Commute


Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Monday, June 18, 2001

People who commute to the big city, in my case Rochester, often have the opportunity to run big city errands for the ones they love. I recently had the chance to pick up a canary and canary equipment at a pet store in Rochester for some Fillmore County folks. The drive home, with the occasional fluttering of wings coming from the small box in the passenger seat, gave me a chance to think about birds. And my father.

Fifteen years ago I rented a large house in the small town of Madelia, Minnesota, and commuted 25 miles to Mankato to work on my degree. My parents lived 30 miles away, and my father was still the man in my life when it came to emergencies. Not that there were many emergencies. I worked hard to maintain at least an image of independence.


To be honest, my father wasnt known for his handyman skills anyway. He was tender-hearted, helpful, and had a finely tuned sense of humor, which he tended to use whenever he felt anxious. He more than made up for not being a Mr. Fix-it with his other qualities.

But my move to Madelia came at a time when Dad was considering retirement, and maybe he thought becoming more of a handyman would make retirement bearable. For whatever reason, and to my surprise, he started calling me once in awhile. Hed say things like "You really ought to trim the winter kill off that shrubbery." Or , "I noticed you have a cupboard door that wont close." Or, "I could give that Lawnboy a once over and show you how to mix the gas and oil." Each time, he just happened to have a holiday from work, or was taking an experimental "day off" in preparation for the inevitable retirement. "Ive got some time," hed say. "I could stop over."

This was such a strange, new development in my relationship with my father, but Im glad I didnt question it. He never actually "fixed" anything: the shrubbery he trimmed died a week later, he forgot to close the bottom drain on the Lawnboy so I was able to mow ten feet of grass before it quit, and the cupboard door never did close. But in between and during these mishaps, we had some of the best conversations wed ever had.

There was one time that I sought his help in an "emergency," and it involved a bird. A sparrow had found its way down the old chimney and into my fireplace. I unwittingly let it out while trying to prove to my two cats that there was nothing in there. After about an hour of highly charged activity, the cats and I mana .....
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Fillmore County Pork Producers
Hoffman Stables

"About a Thousand Quarts...Every Summer!"

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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June 18, 2001

The Art of Farming is a project of the Collaborative for Watershed Sustainability to gather stories about farm life in southeastern Minnesota before World War II. Stories have been gathered from individuals near Harmony, Lake ..... 
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Niagara Cave

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Monday, June 11, 2001


Our guide flips a switch and plunges us into a darkness so black no eyes can see. It is cold down here over 200 feet below the surface. The roar of a 60-foot waterfall drowns all other sounds. Even those of us who ha ..... 
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"Come Hell or High Water"

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Monday, May 28, 2001

Weaver Dunes Field Report Mid Spring 2001

Peepers and Chorus Frogs now sing in earnest from wetlands throughout Fillmore, Houston, Winona, and Wabasha Counties. The incredible din of these tiny inch long fr ..... 
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To manure or not to manure

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, June 18, 2001

Whether compost or manure, fresh or aged, you can help your garden grow by adding organic matter to your soil. If you garden on a small scale like I do, without the aid of tractors or plow horses, it can se ..... 
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Stuck in the Mud

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Monday, June 18, 2001

This has been one of the wettest springs ever. Most of the rain didnt seem to fall heavily, just steadily. Farmers have gotten only a brief period of fair weather to get their crops planted. Most of the acres are planted ..... 
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The Death Penalty, with Chinese Characteristics

Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Monday, May 28, 2001

The European Parliament, considers capital punishment to be both barbaric and inhumane, regardless of the means by which the death penalty is carried out. They routinely mention the United States in the same breath as Chin ..... 
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Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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Fri, Jun 15th, 2001
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