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Remembering Gene Larson


Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, June 25, 2001

Writing is a solitary job. Most of the time I work alone, but that changed recently for a few weeks when I had the good fortune to work with Gene Larson. Our relationship began right after I bought an old house in Lanesboro. Quickly I learned I was way over my head and asked Ordell Garness if he could help with carpentry. He was too busy and suggested I contact Gene.

"I work kind of slow," Gene said. But after we worked together for a few days I told him I didnít think he was slow. Instead, from what I saw, he was steady, thoughtful, he didnít waste motion and paid incredible attention to details.

"Why are you doing this kind of work?" he asked as I scraped hardened linoleum glue off the maple floor.

"The work I do is too lonely," I said, stopping to shake my sore wrist. "Many times all I have after a dayís work is crumpled pieces of paper. Plus Iíve been feeling pretty insecure about writing and I need to do something that will give me a sense of accomplishment."

Gene went to his van, came back into the kitchen and handed me his scraper. It was honed to perfection, reflecting years of sharpening.

One day Gene asked me to hold a piece of sheetrock against the wall while he set the nails. Perched on a narrow ledge in an awkward corner he twisted his body around to set each nail in place. Then he reached up and with one blow of his hammer punched in each nail.

"That was pretty slick," I said. "Youíve got good eyes."

He cocked his head, his blue eyes looked intently. "I do pretty good for a man with only one eye," he said, then talked about loosing his sight as a result of a cataract. Then he pulled his wristwatch from his pocket, "Iíll be back in a little while," he said and went to have his daily cup of coffee with his good friend Arlo Rexford.

After we hauled the old carpeting out, Gene let me use his polished metal pliers to pull rusted staples out of the floorboards. The pliers had the precision of fine tweezers. As he removed the quarter-round he talked about being in the Army. His demeanor became serious as he remembered the cruelty he had witnessed; he paused, then wondered what Italy would look like now.

As we shared our life experiences and learned about each other, I didnít find out anything that Geneís friends and family didnít know. He didnít share any secrets. What he did was share the experiences, wisdom and tools of 77 years. As we tor .....
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One of a Kind

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, July 2, 2001

What this country needs today are strong, forthright and honest people in our government. What we really need are more men like Al Capone. When Al was around, people knew just where he stood. Whenever a problem arose, he t ..... 
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The Commute

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

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 Roc ..... 
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"Two-Sixteenís, We Called it."

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Thoughts on runawaysÖEdited By Beth WaterhouseMonday, July 2, 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 ..... 
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Niagara Cave

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

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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"The Great Wall of Weaver"

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, July 2, 2001

As if near record flooding along the Upper Mississippi was not enough already, mid and late Spring 2001 for the most part proves to be gloomy, cool and gray. With the exception of two or three consecutive sunny, unseasonab ..... 
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Combating Weeds

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Virginia CooperMonday, July 2, 2001

Weeding is one garden topic that we can never say enough about. Weeds are the bane of gardeners everywhere, the one thing standing between us and 'House Beautiful.'

In her book, 'My Weeds, A Gardene ..... 
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It must be the altitude!

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, July 2, 2001

I wandered off again. This time I dragged my family to a combination business conference and vacation in exotic far away Colorado. This is an annual conference that is scheduled for the same week in June every year. It see ..... 
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The Death Penalty, with Chinese Characteristics

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

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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