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Opinions

Gearing up for summer

Food for Thought

It was usually well past Memorial Day (and often after Independence Day) before I settled into the mind-set that nearly everybody else had enjoyed since the last day of school. By that, I mean that, as a child, it took me a while to change gears, to get out of my school-mode and into vacation-mode. I don’t know why I needed that transitional interval, but I still tend to pause, look around at my new circumstances and mentally switch gears before embarking on a new phase of my life.

And the murder mystery continues . . .

Walkin'

Besides the folksy crew that runs Bender’s, there’s a small sect of people making an annual pilgrimage to the fishing Mecca. They’ve been returning to the same spot on the same week for decades to commune with nature in the rustic setting and fish, fish, fish. Little Bro Bob has given nicknames to most of them:

No gifts, please

Food for Thought

By the time you reach age 75 or 80, you probably have enough fancy guest soaps, golf balls, pretty stationery, fishing lures, or useless what-nots to last for another decade at least. So, you’d really like to have that birthday party your kids and grandkids are planning for you, but the idea of receiving, acknowledging, and making use of so much additional stuff is discouraging, to say the least.

Some beach, somewhere

Food for Thought

Besides the cast of interesting characters running the Bender’s Fishing Camp, I arrived with two of my favorite Chicago fishing pals: brother Bob and his friend Rob, aka Gonzo.

Lawn mowing

Food for Thought

I remember the lawns surrounding the houses where we lived when I was a child. The grass was sparse and interspersed with dandelions and assorted other non-grass things that, at least, were green for most of the summer. My dad mowed with a push mower with a whirling cylinder of curved blades that he kept razor sharp. As far as I could tell, everybody mowed their own lawns, even Dr. Stone who lived at the end of our block, and Henry Reem, who had the biggest insurance agency in town and could afford to take his family to mountain dude ranches and seaside resorts every year.

Bender’s Fishing Camp

Walkin'

(Recently, I spent a week with my brother Bob and his friend Gonzo at Bender’s Fishing Camp in northern Minnesota. The place is so beautiful and away from everyday life that it is almost mythical in my thinking, a place like Avalon. In the far recesses of my mind, I’d like to write a play that takes place at the camp. Here’s how it would start).

The setting: Benders Fishing Camp in Northern Minnesota.

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking...

Food For Thought

How many amateur orators have started out a nerve-wracked speech with those words. They warn the audience that they are not used to public speaking, but don’t quite explain why they agreed to do so in the first place. They seem to think that the disclaimer will earn forgiveness and sympathy should their words fail to live up to expectations– in fact, the opening statement itself automatically lowers expectations by about 50 percent and may, in some way, help to ease the pressure and discomfort for the speaker.

The year of the Amazon

Food For Thought

According to my television screen, current politics has been usurped by a pair of Amazons – those fierce female warriors of ancient myth. One claims to have grown up on a farm “cutting hogs” as she puts it, and threatens to “make ‘em squeal” - scary! The other represents herself as a soldier and boasts that she packs a gun in her purse, actually giving us a glimpse of herself at target practice to drive home the point. (She fires a total of five rounds and we are shown her target sporting about a dozen holes.

Facial hair and other problems

Food for Thought

Again, it was time to get my driver’s license renewed. I couldn’t wait to see what novel requirements they had dreamed up since the last time I partook of this adventure. Even though (because of my age, I suppose) I am now required to renew my license every two years, there are always new innovations to the process.

Keota

Walkin'

“And then there was the time the gunpowder blew up,” Marjorie said matter-of-factly while listing the number of times she almost got killed. It was a long list that also included a felled tree that nearly crushed her and a fall from a ladder that almost broke her neck.

A wink from Amtrak

“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the overly officious clerk told Sabra, “but I can’t let you on the train with that ID.” The train was the Southwest Chief, run by Amtrak between Chicago and Los Angeles.

On finding people

Food for Thought

I recently had cause to contact, by mail, several old friends whose addresses I no longer had handy in my head or my little address book. Accustomed to a lifetime of being able to simply look in the phone book for that information, I was dismayed when I found that a good many of them were no longer listed. Now, if they were no longer listed, that meant that they had either moved without my knowledge, changed their phone numbers to unpublished ones, or gone completely cellular. I found it difficult indeed to track down their mailing addresses. Some, I never did manage to find.