Lake Poinsett Nostalgia

Photo Challenge

What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

Lake Poinsett Nostalgia

The word that was suggested for the one-word prompt recently was nostalgia. It was a photo challenge, but the photos I’m using here are not current. The beautiful lake named Lake Poinsett in northeastern South Dakota is where I will take you on my nostalgia trip. I was born in 1940 and grew up witnessing many changes at that lake. With this post I hope to take a short trip back down memory lane and recall different things about Lake Poinsett. It has seen dramatic changes in usage, population, residences, year around homes, food, drink, bait and tackle places and a multitude of water level changes.

We lived on a farm less than a mile south of the lake. So we spent a lot of time either fishing or swimming in our lives. Our great uncle Simon Hoel built a stone house on the hill just east of the park, part of it still stands. My grandfather Andrew Olson helped him farm the land.

There was virgin prairie grass for a mile along the south shore of the lake. Simon and my grandfather cut hay from it for forty years. There is a beautiful state park on that land today, trees and campgrounds everywhere.

There were few original trees, mostly growing along the shoreline. A wagon trail can still be seen in places, it went to the east boundary fence and on for another mile to the Hendrickson farm, what is now Runia’s place. There were no homes or cabins on any of that land.

Just to the west of the State Park property. There was a very lively, rowdy,noisy dance hall named Smith’s place. It flourished  in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was a very lively dance hall, where many big name bands played as they traveled through this area. We knew Charlie Smith the owner and his family very well. Their daughter baby sit the three Olson boys on occasion. Karlton, Harlan and Leland. My brother Harlan was a banker, writer and collector of artifacts who helped start the Museum at the state park entrance. Harlan loved every minute of it, many volunteer hours. He passed away on March 8, 2016. I can see him searching for artifacts on old Heavenly terrain now. I would imagine there are some very nice artifacts to be found near those streets of gold.

Smith’s dance hall and the property was all sold to the Methodist Church. When they bought the property they may have become the first church to have a beer license. The original dance hall building still stand on that stretch of shoreline. Today it is used as a dining hall, that says something for old-time construction.. Just to the west of Smith’s place was Arlington Beach. It was run by a lady named Ann Oburn when we were kids. It was then purchased by Russ Weiland and is wife who operated it for many years. Russ was possibly the original Evinrude Johnson dealer in this part of the country. His daughter and son-in-law relocated Weiland Marine, which is now on Highway 81.

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This picture is of the Lake Poinsett water slide in the 1920’s. I think it was located at Arlington Beach, as far as I can tell from looking at the Hills and the trees in the background. I will be glad to edit this story and change the location if it is wrong. Ann Oburn had a few rental cabins, cafe and bait house. West from there were only two or three houses until you got to the hill top farm with the goats. There were only two cabins between there and Mundt’s Resort. They had several small cabins that they rented out. There was a farm between Mundt’s resort and what is now Pier 81.

There was another dance hall on Highway 81 just north of the corner by the Poinsett Cemetery, next to Ann Engals Place. Ernie Edwards moved a building to the lake and started Edwards resort, possibly in the late 40s early 50s. Then on the west side of the lake there was a resort called Sportsmans Lodge, it burned down. A very long large building with a restaurant, I believe they also had cabins that they rented out. What is now Lakeview resort was a small resort opened by Ole Mikelmier. It later became Fish Haven, home of the famous Carp Sandwich, then Lakeview.

When you crossed the inlet from Lake Albert going north there were a few houses, one near the Hansen farm corner. There were a couple west of Grapes farm. The first home built on Grapes Point was built in the 1950s. From Grapes Point Northeast to Saarainens point there were no homes. That land was later purchased by the state and the state sold some property in later years. From Saarainens Point North there were a few homes because it was close to the highway.

Nittebergs Resort was just east of the Stonebridge. They must have had a couple dozen summer cabins that they rented out.They also had some carnival rides in the summer months and afternoon rollerskating in the dance hall. The dance hall was built over the lake at one time, but ice damaged made them move it back to shore. It was a family business.The brothers John and Clair maintained most jukeboxes, pinball and other game machines in a large area.

When you went east from Nittebergs, there were only one or two houses, the one right below the hill was named ‘The Mouse Turd Inn’. The resort on top of the hill was known as Jim Bagley’s place. They also had a café, fishing equipment and bait. The name was changed to the Hilltop Resort later,when owned by Louie Moralies and family.

Just down the hill east from the hilltop resort, there were three or four homes before you got to Hammers pasture and to the outlet of Lake Poinsett, that led to Starks Bridge where gates were installed. There have been several fish winter kill years when oxygen in the lake got so low most of the fish died. There has been dead fish in windrows around the lake. The worst spring brought out the National Guard with front end loaders, trucks and lots of shovels.

The Bakke farm and Cemetery took up most of the east shore. Two home were on the hill overlooking Prestrude’s Landing. Goulds opened a beer and bait place there in the late forties but it didn’t last. The next mile of shoreline was only recently developed by the Hansen family. Going south from the Hansen development to Hendricksons  or Runia’s there was two cabins.

This has been a rather selfish nostalgic trip around Lake Poinsett. I’m really to young to have nostalgia for the water slide or for the swimming attire. So actually I feel a lot younger by taking this trip back just a few years before my time. I thought I would like to share these memories of Lake Poinsett while I’m still able to share them.The changes at Lake Poinsett have to be hard to imagine, if you didn’t witness them. The number of homes today must reflect great prosperity in the country?

At night the lake was darker than pitch, this was in the days before REA, no all night lights, no lights period. The country was a whole lot darker, the small glow in the sky to the west, was Lake Norden’s light glow, to the east was Estelline. You could barely make out a tiny glow for Brookings, that was a long ways off. Nights were a bonus for ghosts and goblins in those days. Nights were a whole lot darker. Can you imagine going back to live in those times?

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Swimming attire has gone from one extreme to another throughout the centuries. In classical antiquity swimming and bathing were done naked. The swimming suits here from the 1920’s seem a wee bit extreme, under exposed I would say. Now close to 100 years later we saw, peered, our way through the tiny polka dot bikini era, we are almost back to swimming in the nude again.

What goes around comes around, with nostalgia or Murphy’s Law.

My Winter of Discontent



Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.

For those of us who reside on a area of the globe where there are four weather seasons. We should feel very blessed and fortunate. Living where there are four seasons we have the appreciation of springtime when all new life starts fresh, everything is growing. Then we move into the summer months when the temperatures increase and life becomes even more active in all the animals and plants. Fall arrives and the life span of many things draws to a close. Harvesting is done, garden produce is canned or stored in preparation for the long, cold winter months that are coming. If the winter season arrives and you are not prepared, it can be a tough long period of time waiting for the arrival of a new warm  spring season.

Preparation for winter is something that has to be done by both people and animals, domestic and wild. A winter supply of feed must be made ready for domestic animals.Critters like the muskrat and squirrel store up food to get them through the long winter months when food becomes harder to find. If the snow gets deep many animals simply starve to death because they can’t find what they need to survive on.

Man and natures creatures must all prepare for winter long before it arrives. Wild animal understand preparation for winter is a serious undertaking that might mean survival. Preparation for life’s winter means getting ready for the end of life as we know it. Thoughts of where will you spend eternity are pondered and hopefully decided.

Man also must prepare himself and his family for the winter months when the temperatures are freezing and the snow covers everything with a heavy white blanket and a coating of ice. The person who doesn’t have his fire wood gathered in preparation for winter, usually only does it once. You do not want to be digging in the snow banks trying to find fire wood in the cold of winter. It is much easier to have the firewood stacked in a neat pile near the house long before winter arrives.

You will be sure to have your house ready for winters frigid blasts too. Storm windows on, seal cracks around windows and doors. You will be much warmer and more comfortable when the wind attempts to make a snowdrift under your door. Garden produce should have all been harvested, canned in jars or stored in a root cellar, to sustain you during the long winter months. These are all ideas of things you do in preparation for winter on the South Dakota Prairies.. Preparations for winter that I just described here are for someone like myself, living in the last generation. We don’t want to go back to those days, but stuff happens.

The modern man living in the city has far less worries about winter preparation. Just close the window and turn the thermostat up or down depending on what his comfort zone is. He also has to depend on trips to the market to get what he needs as far as food supplies.

As we enter the winter of our lives, our tired old bodies are just about ready for that final harvest. How do we plan for that? I really don’t think it would be wise to try and plan for that inevitable time. Don’t just sit and wait for it. You want to continue to exercise your body to keep your strength up. Try to stay active mentally, so you stay alert and stay as healthy as you can. The body starts to slow down, pain makes you tired all the time. You must press on and make the most of each new day.

We actually spend most of our lives planning for winter, hoping to get through the winter, because it tests our resolve. The knowledge that spring is coming, with abundant new life gives hope. The first meadow lark sitting on a fence post, sent there to sing just for you, is a reward of spring. Is this the last winter of my life? Will I see another spring? I do not want to know, just relax, look out the window, or at the computer screen and make the most of this winter’s days.

Blog or Bust


Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post on your blog.

My first assignment posted at Blogging University, Blogging 101, is introduce myself to the world.

Hello World, “My name is Leland Olson, I’m 75 years old so some of you know me well.” I am, “Really glad to be here, or anywhere in this world.” I decided a half a dozen years ago to make an attempt at writing, not realizing it at the time that it was called blogging. I love life, humor has always been a great friend of mine.

My reason for deciding to blog was my deteriorating physical condition. It has continued to get worse, now I am almost a full-time blogger. Don’t get out much anymore. Life is playing out in slow motion for me. My life experiences have been extremely varied. I have had many different types of jobs. I found writing about my life experiences has supplied my writing with plenty of fuel so far. I will probably attempt several different writing venues, one thing I have learned, “Truth is much stranger than fiction.” My photographic skills have not surfaced yet, will have to work on that for photo blogs.

At one time I thought about having a private blog and decided against it. I’ve come to realize if I can share my life experiences with others and if even one person is helped by something I have written. I will feel it has been a worthwhile adventure. I am a 50+ year survivor of a severe spinal cord injury. That alone gives me plenty to write about. There are other people out there who have suffered from spinal cord injury, if they want to share notes on how their lives have gone. I will be very happy to share my life experiences with them. Spinal cord injury is a very nasty thing that usually affects each individual in different ways, but always leaves disabling consequences.

I started blogging at WordPress in September of 2015 so I’m a newbie here. I have found WordPress provides excellent tools that are fairly easy to learn, I have had some problem with a few areas but there are lots of help forums to fall back on. I do think anyone choosing to blog at WordPress has found a very good place to call home. If I am still blogging here a year from now I hope to be reaching a lot more people around the world. I know doubt will try to test the waters and experiment with different areas of writing. I have made a few attempts at some fiction and found it to be challenging. Humor should remain funny. I may leave that alone.

Blogging U.

Problems Associated With Growing Old


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Laughter is one prescription that we can all afford. Tears of pain can be hard to overcome if the body is diseased as we grow older, but laughter sure helps. When most people start to grow old they usually wish they would’ve taken better care of their bodies when they were younger. We seem to be stuck with the physical consequences of those wild oat sowing, and those cane raising years. Thankfully some good memories can be conjured up from those early years. Much about growing old is only in our minds. We have to learn to keep our minds and bodies active as we get older. We can either dwell on that troubled old body or grin and bear it, just don’t look in the mirror too long.

Worry will never become a problem solver, not even in those senior years when we have a lot more time for it. We usually don’t consider old age troubles, until we get close to writing our last chapter in life’s book. We might as will try to make it one of the best chapters, by thinking about the good things. High sugar levels in the blood will not sweeten a sour disposition. Try telling that to someone eating a cookie, who can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel, even through the cataracts on those old eyes.

As we get older, sharing information about our bodies, even the most private doesn’t seem to bother us. I had a cousin who started talking louder as she was losing her hearing. One day while having lunch in the local cafe she confided to a friend about how dry her vagina was. Everyone in the restaurant got the information about her discomfort, even the cook and the dishwasher back in the kitchen. When you said hello to her you would be careful not to ask, “how are you today” unless you planned on spending a lot of time listening to her reply.

Dear cousin Flo has gone home to be with the Lord but she left many memories with us. One morning she announced, “I LOST MY HEARING AID.” They could not find that hearing aid anywhere in her small apartment. She said, “I HAD IT WHEN I WENT TO BED”. Later at coffee she said, “OH MY, I thought my cat coughed up a hairball last night on my pillow and I flushed it down the toilet”. It must have been my hearing aid!

My life plan never included getting old, the idea was to stay my young, happy, carefree self until I died. I would always eat what I wanted; bacon, eggs, Sugar Pops and Fruit Loops I could never imagine bran cereal or prunes in my diet. Most digestive systems develop plans of their own, no more regular like a clock, in any time zone.

Then the old ticker develops problems. Hey Doc, what do you mean no salt? My grandfather lived to be ninety six without heart trouble and he covered everything was salt. Doc says, ‘he sure was lucky’ you have high blood pressure. Now about your new diet, no salt, carbohydrates, saturated fat, sugar, caffeine, etc. I decided to get a haircut last week, when I got in the Barber’s chair he said, “Looks like maybe your only going to need one more clean shirt.” You cut the old doctor’s hair, didn’t you?  “They aren’t supposed to talk about their patients.”

My wife asked again this morning, “Did you take your pills?” I say no and start out for that pill container with all the different compartments for each day of the week. I always get side tracked on the way to my pill box, it is about 20 feet away from my La-Z-Boy recliner. An older person can have many distractions on a long walk like that. Some days that pill trip is repeated several times and I still miss my pills. I wonder if it’s really natures way of telling me I don’t need all those pills.

I never thought I would be leaving notes for myself to remember appointments, calls to make, chores to do, etc. Now I have post-it notes all over the place, sort of like little wallpaper sheets. My hearing is still fine, one thing that I can’t understand is why my wife keeps talking lower and lower all the time. The only time I can hear her real good is when she says,”DID YOU TAKE YOUR PILLS?”

Old Computers Or Dead Mules

I have always been the one in the family to call when something needed fixing. I was blessed or (cursed) with the ability to take stuff apart and put it back together and not have a lot of parts left over, the thing usually worked afterwards too. If you’re born a tinker, it just comes natural to get stuff back in running condition, obsessed may be the correct term.

When the first computers came out I was very fascinated with how they worked and knew absolutely nothing about them. I took a home study computer repair course and joined The Computer Book Club. The following picture shows my little workshop, I had it set up in our front porch. The one wall was full of computer repair manuals from the first computers on. I had even purchased several books about writing computer code, that maxed out my mind’s memory storage capacity very quickly. My little workshop looked a bit cluttered, because it was. I knew where everything was at though. The best thing I got out of my computer repairing years was the exercise required to lift them up on the desk to work on them and then hauling them out to warehouse number one, our old chicken coup.

Lee computers
I picked up my first computer at a surplus sale at one of our colleges. It was one of the first IBM’s with the 8 bit processor no hard drive, two 5.25 inch floppy drives, the RAM was measured in kilobytes instead of megabytes. I continued to collect many older computers and got them in running condition, then stored them out at our little acreage. Why? I thought they would ever have any kind of value is a mystery to me??? Kind of like investing in dead mules! The computers didn’t stink up the place, must by why I choose them. There really will never be any demand for old PC’s except for precious scrap metal. I spent several years at this and found it to be quite rewarding and challenging. I finally started to slow down as the new technology was traveling at a much faster pace than my mind could process. The last computers I work on were the early Pentiums.

We had to sell all of our stuff and move into an apartment two years ago. That sale was probably the saddest day of my life, most of these old working computers weren’t ever bid on. They went into a huge recycling dumpster. There is a link below to the Old Computer Museum. It lists part of my old collection. I sure was proud of it even if it had no value. I guess everything that we do isn’t always done for money. What kind of a nerd gets fulfilment out of tinkering with old computers raises many questions? I expect someone in a white coat will be asking me to put square pegs in round holes soon.

The compter is the only invention of man that has continued to come down in price as it increased in the capabilities of what it can do. Today a wrist watch can process more information and handle more applications than a desktop computer did five years ago. Some of my old tower computers cost over $60,000 in the 1980’s when they were purchased new by our county government. They had 486 CPU’s and 8 MB of Ram, 220 Megabyte hard drive.There is no comparison, awesome in every sense of the word, that really goes beyond what we call awesome today. This link below will take you to a place where you can read about artificial intelligence.

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Lake Poinsett, South Dakota, USA

















Fishing was usually good.


Our old cabin

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Amber fish

Amber’s alligator !







24 lb. Northern Pike


36.5 lb. Carp


The Olson boys L/R Leland, Karlton, Harlan


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2011 was another year of high water level, wind damage.




Why I Started This Blog



My Archery Deer in 2003

I have always been the active, outdoors type, two years ago my health forced me to move into a small apartment and travel in super low gear using a walker. My active outdoor life ended, over, done, no more! I want to share my outdoor life here. My wife and I are now each others caregivers. We might remind you of “Waiting For God”, like in that old English sitcom. I started this blog to keep my mind active, reliving old memories. The urge to write is hard to explain. I have been blessed with a long life at 75 and want to share events from my life.

I quit high school in 1957 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I completed jet aircraft mechanic school at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas in 1958. I was sent to Misawa, A B, Japan in 1960, for two years. I did two months temporary duty in Thailand and became crew chief on RF-101 C number 56-080. I got out of the Air Force in 1962. I went back on highway construction and worked many jobs, from truck driver to Asphalt paving machine operator.

My job experiences changed radically after getting my back broke in 1964, I stared the ‘School of Hard Knocks.’  Did farm labor, commercial fishing through the ice, day labor, car-wash, door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales, apprentice offset press operator, insurance agent for American Republic and Mutual of Omaha, over the road refrigerated truck driver and tanker transport driver all through the 70’s.

I have always enjoyed golf, hunting, fishing, trapping, gardening and almost anything outside. As my body started slowing down I repaired computers, starting with the Apple 1, IBM 8088, 8086, up through the 286; 386; 486 and all the early Pentiums.

My goal with this blog is mainly sharing my life story with a spinal cord injury. I have been truly blessed. I also plan to share other stories that I have written, “truth is stranger than fiction.” I have some stories that are still slowly percolating on the back burner of my mind. Hopefully I can share my understanding and information with others about spinal cord injury and living the best life possible after that injury. Clicking on the following URL’s will take you to my spinal cord injury stories.

This will take you to the story about my car accident.


This will take you to the spinal cord injury zone.


Gender-Neutral Facilities

Discover Challenge

Add another dimension to your message by meshing a new medium with your current style.

Gender Neutral

My mind is open to gender-neutral bathrooms, they also benefit transgender populations and other people who exist outside of the gender binary; people with disabilities, the elderly, and anyone else who may require the assistance of someone of another gender; and parents who may wish to accompany their children to the washroom or toilet facility
Making public facilities accessible to diverse populations has long been a divisive issue.

Unisex public toilet

“Gender segregated restrooms in the United States and Europe are a vestige of the Victorian era where women’s modesty and safety were considered at risk and under constant need of surveillance and discipline. While public water closets were considered necessary for sanitation reasons, they were viewed as offending public sensibilities. Because public facilities were associated with access to public spaces, extending these rights to women was viewed as “immoral” and an “abomination”. While some public facilities were available to women in London by 1890, there were much fewer than those available to men.”

California became the first state within the US to legally require all single occupancy bathrooms to be gender-neutral from March 1, 2017. The rest of the Nation might as well get off the pot and follow their lead, or maybe end up waiting in line.

I have been in favor of using gender-neutral facilities for my whole life. I would not recommend the following facility for LAX, they would no doubt prefer more modern, polished and up-to-date facilities at the airport.


Speaking of lax, I do recommend using some lax, as long as it is not over used, it must be gentle and mild.

Harvest Time “Threshing”


Our quiet little farm took on a carnival atmosphere when threshing time arrived. From the time the steam engine pulled the old threshing machine into the yard, we knew everything was going to be different for a day or two.The crop determined how long the threshing would last. There was at least a half a dozen neighbors all working together, a few men from each family. They all shared labor, equipment, everything, during threshing season. This was a very special time, of neighbor helping neighbor, many hands make light work.

The threshing machine was usually set up fairly close to the barn, so when a person needed straw for cattle bedding he didn’t have to haul it very far. This made for a lot of very fast traffic going in and out of the yard. Horse-drawn hay racks were trying to keep the threshing machine busy at all times, so the whole process went smoothly, without having to shut down the threshing machine. The old threshing machines were run with a long, huge, heavy drive belt that ran off a tractors pulley. The operator did not want to shut it down unless it was dinner time or quitting time for the night. Starting up again took some time, this gave the bundle haulers plenty of incentive to keep those hay racks moving.

There were no traffic lights or stop signs going in and out of our yard, those fellows hauling bundles with horse-drawn hay racks seemed to think it was the Daytona 500. They no doubt got some type of premium for whoever hauled the most bundles. I do recall one hay rack coming into the yard so fast it tipped over going around the corner. That made a lot of extra work for the two fellows on that rack, they had to pitch all those bundles four times.

When it comes to threshing memories, most people remember having dinner as the main event of the day, there was always plenty of good food and matching appetites. The kitchen was so busy, we kids were treated like Little Jimmy Dickens, “Take a cold tater and wait.” My brother and I were outside one time during dinner hour. Harlan crawled up in somebody’s hay rack and managed to get the reins loosened up, those horses took off, a runaway, Harlan was bouncing around in the back of that hay rack like a ping-pong ball. He ended up with a few black and blue marks before somebody got the horses stopped.

There was always a very quick nap and short break right after the huge (noon lunch) dinner was finished. That was a time when everyone swapped lies about each other. My dad often recalled one of those break periods were a daredevil climbed the windmill and got out into the wooden, wind vanes. He stood in there, had someone start the old windmill, then rode around a few revolutions, I think it was done on a bet. There were many young fellows who followed the threshing circuit to earn extra money, some left surprise gifts that went unseen for nine months. The windmill rider maybe made himself a small fortune during harvest time, just riding inside of windmills.


The threshing machine was usually pulled up into the farmers yard the night before it was going to be moved and they did all the greasing and oiling and sharpened the twine cutting knives, until they were razor sharp. We had strict orders DO NOT play around the threshing machine, There’s an old saying, “Parents should have eyes on both sides of the head.” This was one of those cases. The bundles are fed into the threshing machine with a chain driven feeder. At the end of that feeder are some large razor-sharp knives for cutting the twine’s off the bundles, so they won’t tangle up in the machine

Harlan and I climbed up on the threshing machine that evening, doing our exploring as we usually did and we discovered a little sliding door. So of course we opened that door, I told Harlan , ‘I don’t think we better go down in there,’ “He had to try it”. He put his legs right down into those twine cutters. A huge cut instantly opened about 6 inch long, on the fleshy part of his left leg, right below the knee. There was blood squirting everywhere! I screamed loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Our dad came running, grabbed Harlan and got him in the car, mom must have had a tourniquet on his leg for the ten mile ride to the hospital.

From Pompeii to Pulitzer


Daily Prompt
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

From Pompeii to Pulitzer
I have been feeling really ancient lately. I seem to be doing everything in slow motion. It is an effort to just get out of bed. It is a big effort to get myself dressed another challenge is putting my shoes on. The next effort is taking nourishment to refuel my ancient carcass. Going out of the apartment might be equated to traveling to another universe. Getting back into bed at night should be a slam dunk but it is not, just more effort.

I decided to look up the meaning of ancient, this is what I found, belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence. I almost did a backflip in my exuberance over the knowledge that I must not be ancient because I still exist. This was a very big day for me, even thought about going jogging, until I woke up.

My connection to the ancient past still haunts me in a positive way. Why? I have to figure out what that connection is. Was I an ancient philosopher in the city of Pompeii? Was I there for the eruption of the volcano in A.D. 79? I couldn’t have been there for that or I would be preserved in part of the ruins of that ancient city.

Maybe I was killed in the volcano in that ancient Roman city and I was reincarnated as a rat. I scurried onto the first Viking ship that docked there and went back to Norway. After other reincarnations in the 1600s. I begin to study writing feverishly. Or did I get scarlet fever trying to write at such a fever pitch! My health was in very serious danger at that time also.

My goal was to become the first recipient of the prestigious Nobel Bloggers Prize.
I’ve been thinking about my serious dilemma all day today. It is no mystery, there should be no wonder or question about my physical condition, for feeling so ancient, I’ve been working on my goal for hundreds of years.
I don’t see an end in sight. I will just have to keep on blogging.

Harvest Time “Shocking”

This story is about the shocking part of threshing grain in the late twenties or early thirties. The real shocking part is the amount of labor involved, to harvest a crop of grain. Today, one person with a modern combine can harvest a field of grain in a few hours. Today’s farmer takes pride in the amount of speed they have. In the days of the horse drawn binder, I believe speed was very important too.

The farmer took pride in getting those bundles gathered together into a picturesque display of shocks, as fast as possible. It just didn’t look right having bundles of grain scattered on the ground where the weather had a chance to destroy them. There were many times when those beautiful, in line, shocks of grain did get rained on. The shockers had to go back and open up shocks or try to rearrange or situate the bundles so they could get dried out in time for threshing.



The picture shows some of our family cousins at grain shocking time, after their lunch break. The way it looks, they are getting ready to go back out to the grain field. From left to right is my grandpa Andrew Olson, his daughter Alice, Winton Johnston, Fred Wirta, Frank Olson, Edna Johnston and Elma Olson.

My dad Frank, born in 1913, is holding the old brown Redwing crock water jug, that always went out to the field. It was no doubt just filled with cold water at the windmill well. When it was really hot, a wet burlap bag was wrapped around the jug to keep it cooler. This was about 10 years before I was born but they were still shocking grain and using threshing machines in my younger days. I got to drink water out of that same old brown jug, when I attempted to handle bundles of grain.


There was a drinking water bucket in the pantry with a dipper in it. We all drank from that dipper, a real sharing family. I also recall if you had a drink shortly after grandpa there was always a very slight, yet  unmistakable essence of Copenhagen, that was okay with me.

The grain was cut and bundled with a horse drawn grain binder, the bundles came out of that binder fast. The shockers job was to pick up a bundle in each hand and stand them up on end together, another person stood up two more, until there was about five pairs standing teepee fashion. One or two bundles were laid across the top to help keep the rain off. The shocks had to be constructed for strength to withstand wind and rain. It could be many days before a threshing machine was going to be in the neighborhood to thresh the grain from the straw.

If grain shocks got left in the field for a long period of time, wild small animals wanted to move in and use them for their living quarters. I bet more than one bundle pitcher had to eat his dinner out on the porch, after waking up a skunk with the end of his pitchfork.

Grandma’s Button Box


Grandma’s Button Box

I sewed a button on a shirt the other day. It was something I guess I learned to do watching my mother and my grandmother as a child. It’s not really rocket science, it is something everyone should learn how to do.

I dropped the button box, you should never do that, if the box doesn’t have a cover on it. We have had my grandmother’s old button box for over forty years. She didn’t go for the fancy stuff, nothing for show. Her button box was an old coffee can, Tone’s Pressure Packed Coffee. The lid was missing when we got it. Made me wonder if grandma ever dropped it! I just found out the Tone Brothers started a coffee company in De Moines Iowa in 1873, they went on to add hundreds of other spices to their list of products.

Back to the buttons, they went all over the floor. My first instinct was to grab the vacuum cleaner, vacuum up the mess and throw it all in the garbage can. As I started picking up all the different items, I thought to myself, this could have been grandma’s little treasure can. There was every kind of button you can imagine. I found two candle clips for putting Christmas Candles on the tree. There was a small white onyx dove of peace. There was a lone gold cuff link, a silver thimble and a wooden spool with heavy cotton thread on it. The same thread she used on my buttons or knee patches. That spool is about my age and I used that thread on my button job the other day. There was also a finger nail clipper for thread or finger nails

There was one item I  am still wondering about, that is a silver buckle. It doesn’t look like a person’s belt buckle. The more I thought about that buckle the more of a mystery it became. Grandmother Minnie Virtinen came from north of the Arctic Circle, from the land of the reindeer people. I believe that buckle came off a reindeer harness. She brought it all the way to America. So she would always have something to connect her to her homeland. Their Reindeer are very important, they live together, dependent on each other. When I look at that buckle now, I will wonder to myself, how often did grandma take that old buckle out and hold it, look at it and remember her childhood days in the far North.

My grandfather, Minnie’s husband came from Tromso, Norway. His name was Kristian Andreas Olson Hoel, I believe they met each other in Norway or on the ship coming to America. When they left Ellis Island they made their way to Michigan, where many worked in the copper mines. My grandfather and grandmother continued on to Northern Minnesota were grandpa worked in the iron mines for a few years before coming to South Dakota to start life as a young farmer.

This bottom picture shows my grandmother with her famous Rhode Island Red Chickens. She loved her chickens, they talked to each other all the time. She won many ribbons at the county and state fairs throughout her life. This picture of her feeding the chickens was possibly taken in the 1920s or 30s. I know when we were little kids, things seem bigger, but these old red chickens were huge. They loved to walk up to little kids and look them right straight in the eyes. I always turned around and took off running as fast as I could go.

Minnie Olson (2).jpg

Make Authenticity Your Goal


Discover Challenge

Radical Authenticity

Make Authenticity Your Goal

I believe most writers search for true authenticity, in their own way or genre. They may well be better off staying with a certain style of writing. Our emotions keep coming to the surface, with ‘make changes’, written all over them. They can alter, create doubt, change the mood we are in. Hopefully we can alter those moods to write clearer lines. The goal is to be confidently sure and happy in our own minds, that is not always going to be the case.

I don’t believe I have an untethered soul, even if I do have a tethered spinal cord. I refuse to let pain run my life. Instead, I stay busy, able to block out the pain by shunning it. I refuse to think about it, let alone dwell on it. I refuse to let it get control and I don’t take pain drugs. It is done with the power that is in my mind that I cannot explain. I have found if I sit back and relax, take my mind off everything else that is going on around or in me. I have fairly good results with a project. I am a relative newbie when it comes to writing and I missed out on far too many classes that would have helped mold me into being a writer. “Hind site, means you could not find your rear with both hands at one time.”

We as a Nation are obsessed with happiness. We want everything to be cut and dried for us, with out our own input. We want all the answers made for us and want them to be positive. We appear to be someone we are not in many circumstances. Just put on a false front, most importantly look and act prosperous. It’s a great instant feeling for the right now, but in the attic of your mind, the subconscious whispers to you. ‘This is not you, you can’t keep up with the Joneses, you can’t even keep up with yourself.’ Down you go and you were just up so high!

We need an excuse, so we blame the advertising world for brainwashing us. We as people make the final decision on how many cars, homes, boats, luxury items, electronic gadgets, we need. No one twisted our arms or made us buy all that stuff. Most people are in debt, way, way over their heads, with no chance insight of ever getting out of debt. We need counselors to tell us why were unhappy? Something is very wrong with this picture.

There has never been a time in history when authenticity meant so little, probably including the Roman Empire. There is much unhappiness, self-pity, need, greed, selfishness, and people just letting it all hang out in a dream world. They don’t think they will ever have to wake up. We pretend to be a religious, wealthy society. It is not authentic!

I sound like the authentic, negative nabob, spreading negativisms about our Nation. Shame on me! I just feel individuals have to start taking more responsibility for their own situations and station in life, not expecting someone else to do all of the heavy work for them. True happiness can only come from within, one action, one thought at a time. It can’t be bought at a big box store.

What does my authenticity mean to me? I am what I am, I always try to change for the better when sliding down the inevitable slippery slope. I learned many years ago, “I can B.S. somebody else, but I can’t B.S. myself or my creator.”

Easy Scratch Recipes Week 33




Microwave Apple Crisp

6 c. pared, sliced apples                      1/2 c. margarine

2 Tbl orange juice                                  1 tsp. grated orange rind

3/4 c. brown sugar                                 1 c. flaked coconut.

1/2 c. flour                                               walnuts optional

Put apples in a 7 x 9″ glass baking dish, sprinkle with orange juice.Combine sugar, flour and orange rind.
Cut in margarine until crumbly. Add coconut and sprinkle over the apples.
Cook dessert for 12 minutes on the high setting, turning dish.once during the cooking period.
Cool, add whipped cream or topping when served