We've learned a friend has gone to see his mother one last time. For him, this Mindy Smith video:
We've learned a friend has gone to see his mother one last time. For him, this Mindy Smith video:
In Blue Earth, the Faribault County Register reports in Legislators do some explaining:
Read the whole thing at the Register.
Via an article in the Mankato Free Press, we been reading the Dakota 38 blog, written by a participant on the Dakota Reconciliation Ride that works to remember the largest mass execution in U.S. history and heal its painful consequences. December 26 will mark the 146th anniversary of the mass hanging in Mankato; the Free Press notes:
On Dec. 26, the riders will gather at the hanging site where the existing library is to hold a ceremony. Later, the riders will eat dinner at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato. Mayor John Brady is writing a proclamation to be read by him or Councilman Jack Considine.
A group of Dakota Indians also makes an annual run from Fort Snelling in St. Paul to Mankato, leaving midnight Dec. 25 and arriving in Mankato at about noon. At the time of departure a vigil fire is started at Land of Memories Park. The run has been held since 1987.
Stay warm on this winter day.
The LaCrosse Tribune reports in Asian carp invade area:
A CBS News clip from 2006 explores the invasion of the energetic exotics:
This should play hell with the flathead cat fishing; the Minnesota River is one of North America's great flathead catfish waters. We hope that measures will be taken to keep these fiends out of the tributary of the Mississippi River.
Southern Minnesotans might be justified in feeling a bit paranoid about flying critters these days: the Winona Daily News writes in Authorities: Beware around bats:
Authorities are warning Minnesotans to be careful around bats after
three of them tested positive for rabies in Olmsted County this year.
The Health Department’s Dr. Joni Scheftel said only one bat from the area tested positive last year and one bat in 2006.
She says the 2008 results don’t necessarily mean there are more rabid
bats out there; it’s probably the result of a spike in the number of
bats being tested for the viral disease.
She credits the rise in bat submissions for testing to the story of a Monticello, Minn., man who died of rabies after a bat bite.
Two bats in Winona County tested positive for rabies in August, when health officials reported treating an unusually large number of people who had come in contact with bats.
Still, Rochester veterinarian Dr. Tobin Emrich says he’s concerned because he’s already treated two family pets for rabies because they had ben bitten by infected bats.
Scheftel said the most important thing people can do if they touch a bat, or think they were touched by a bat, is to capture it and have it tested.
We add that pet owners should make sure to have their companion animals vaccinated for rabies; kittehs find bats especially enticing, as some friends recently woke to discover.
The Austin Herald reports in QPP workers protest:
Workers affected by a neurological disorder contracted while extracting pig brains at Quality Pork Processors demonstrated outside the facility Saturday. . . .
. . .Demonstrators from the immigrant rights group Centro Campesino as well as affected workers and their families held picket signs outside the gates of QPP Saturday demanding answers to why the hog processor has allegedly denied workers’ medical restrictions and laid affected workers off. They are also demanding QPP process workers’ compensation claims. . . .
The Byron Review says that Canadian Pacific Holiday Train coming down the track to Rochester on Sunday. Rev. Paul Ibisch writes the Caledonia Argus to say Local food shelves will benefit from Holiday Train in La Crescent. Yes, Virginia, there is a railroad after Kevin Schieffer, as certain as generosity exists. Those who visit the train and listen to the entertainers traveling on it should bring food or funds to donate to local food shelves.
In Spring Grove, the Festival of Trees raises over $15k for county, local charities the SG Herald reports.
Congressman Walz is hosting a workshop on federal grants in Rochester today.
Finally, the great singer Odetta has passed. A while back, we posted a clip of here singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Here's another clip:
Just how much this world needs its Jared Stenes rang home earlier today as we read through the morning papers. Even in the Winona Daily News, we came across this barbarous diction in the lead of the article WSU international students get taste of first Thanksgiving meal:
Well, we never ate green bean casserole, either, until we went to college. What's more, we certainly never heard of Tater Tot casserole ever until we read about Jared's crusade to make the WSU cafeteria speak Minnesotan.
Jared would never have put up with that mangling of our Minnesota heritage. It's hot dish, by the love of all things North Star.
It's called hot dish, doggone it.
Tomorrow, we'll be handing out the First Annual Jared Stene Hotdish Award to student groups in the First who have worked to stock food pantries across Southern Minnesota.
To further honor Stene and the anti-hunger activists, we encourage our readers to donate cans of those fundamental hot dish fixings, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Celery or Cream of Chicken soup to their local food shelves.
The Winona Daily News' Mark Sommerhauser reports in Walz backs economic-stimulus concept:
Fresh off re-election to his second term, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., may team with fellow House Democrats to press President Bush to sign an economic-stimulus bill before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.
Southern Minnesota voters returned Walz to Washington, D.C., by a more-than-62-percent margin Tuesday as voters picked Obama and bolstered Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. But the Democrats’ victory party was doused Friday by a dire glimpse at America’s worsening economy: a jobs report that showed unemployment at its highest rate in 14 years.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- citing a need to act quickly -- told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that she may ask Bush to sign a stimulus package that could cost between $60 billion and $100 billion. Walz spokeswoman Meredith Salsbery said Friday that Walz backs the second-stimulus concept. . . .
. . .Salsbery suggested Friday that a second stimulus package could include job-creating investments to rebuild infrastructure and aid to state and local governments saddled with burgeoning budget deficits.
We'll have to learn the details of this before we can comment, but we hope the package will head in those directions, rather than the checks to individuals. We'll see.
Posting at Bluestem will be lighter than usual while we pursue some other projects; readers can look to one or two posts daily until January.
We arrived in the last hour, but we could have been another hour or more late, for the line of people coming to say goodbye and to comfort the large and remarkable Lourey family snaked out of the gym of the old school that has been converted to one of the Nemadji Research Corporation's three locations. Familiar faces from political circles were there, but mostly those in line had never been on Almanac.
People in line shared the connections that brought them there: work, school, community building. A quip about dodging combines brought a response from a fiercely blue-eyed man that he'd been off the road by three. We struck up a conversation: he turned out to be a forest fire fighter as well as a farmer, who would be our intrepreter for the woodsmen's tools laid out on a table among the cuttings from Gene's beloved trails.
Visitors were welcome to take a cutting, and we choose a sprig spangled with bright red berries. Mike the forestry guy said it was winterberry, what some call American holly. It's beautiful.
We gave our respects to Becky, who worried about her children's grieving, a mom even in the hardest times.
It was dark when we stepped out into mid-October in Northern Minnesota for the long drive home. The gods of ipod froze, and so we drove in silence, thinking about people who build communities, who blaze trails for the delight of their family and friends, who step into fire.
The winterberry now hangs in our writing studio, a bright reminder of a good man who blazed trails.
A public visitation and time to visit with the Lourey family is planned for 3-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Nemadji Research Corporation building in Bruno, Benzie-Lourey said. The company occupies a former school building in the small town, located south of Kerrick, and the visitation will be in the old gymnasium.
Read the rest. One of the daughter-in-laws calls Gene "an unassuming man who sought to make the world a better place." [end update]
We are saddened by the news that our friend Gene Lourey had died in his sleep Saturday night. Husband of former state senator Becky Lourey and current senator Tony Lourey, Gene was preceded in death by three sons: Jay, who died from complications of heart surgery in 1974; Fernando, who died in a diving accident in 2000; and, Matt, who was the 22nd Minnesotan to perish in Iraq when his Kiowa helicopter was shot down in 2005.
Gene and Becky were champions for peace, social justice and civil liberties in Minnesota. They adopted eight of their twelve children, walking the walk about caring for the next generation. He will be missed by his many friends and large family. He was Becky's husband, business partner and best friend.
MNBlue has provided an address for those who wish to send cards to Becky:
51752 Oak Leaf Road
Kerrick, MN 55756
We will post information about the services as it becomes available. Please keep the Lourey family in your thoughts and prayers.
And in his honor, this song from the late Phil Ochs. The lyrics to "Power and the Glory" provide a vision of a just and merciful nation:
Photo credit: Jim Robins (Note: we edited this post once Jim supplied this photo).
Over at Blueman, Hal tells his late father's struggle with cancer. Rod requested that the following old hymn be sung for him:
The Minnpost chose to include Congressman Walz's remarks in the article Officials hail new I-35W bridge and the workers who made it happen:
Congressman Tim Walz
"Politics and governance are not synonymous, but there are time when they cross each other's path at a perfect sweet spot, and that sweet spot was on the rebuilding of this bridge; showing what we could do when we came together; showing when we came together for common purpose, not division, what could happen."
Photo: From the AP, Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher recognizes sisters Randy-Lynn and Mary-Juanita Leonard, who were on the school bus that was on the Interstate 35W bridge when it collapsed. In the upper right hand corner of the picture, Congressman Walz looks on.
(H/T to the Political Muse) In his floor remarks on the anniversary of the bridge collapse, Walz, a teacher, recalled seeing the school bus the Leonard sisters were in:
Pounding rain woke us up early this morning and dawn reveals a sullen overcast sky today. Not so seven years ago, when we spent a sunny morning basking in our living room. That peace was shattered when we went upstairs to fetch something and MPR said one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit.
Everyone knows the rest of the story.
We take a moment to remember those who died in the crashes, the WTC, the Pentagon, and the rescue.
Here's a song for the heroes from The Boss:
Word has reached us that Congressman Peterson's mother, Della, died unexpectedly in her home yesterday.
From her obituary:
Della was born June 7, 1923, to Clark and Sena (Thompson) Askegaard in Comstock, MN, where she grew up and graduated from high school. She then went on to Moorhead State College where she received her teacher's certificate and taught in rural Baker, MN. On October 20, 1943, she married Lauren Peterson in Comstock. Together they settled on the farm near Baker, and raised eight children. While living on the farm she took care of the children and made many meals for the family and the hired men. In 1963, they were awarded "Valley Farmer and Homemaker of the year." In 1978 they moved to Moorhead, MN. After her children were grown she worked several years for Carol's Craftique. Her biggest joys in life were her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her interests were crafts, bowling, golfing, cooking and baking, especially her brownies. She never missed sending a card to the people important to her on their special day. She will be dearly missed.
Della is survived by her husband of nearly 65 years, Lauren; children, Collin Peterson, Carol (Hugo) Moeckel, Connie Budke, Margaret (Mick) Johnson, Mary Peterson, Trish (Kurt) Fischer, Karen (Hal) Dickelman; grandchildren, Sean (Kristen) Peterson, Jason Peterson, Elliott (Janae) Peterson, Grant (Marie) Moeckel, Camille (Jarad) Niemi, Kevin (Angie) Budke, Neil (Mellonie) Budke, Joshua (Piper) Larson, Michelle Larson, Brandon Johnson, Caleb Johnson, Chelsey Peterson, Lucas Fischer, Logan Fischer, Heath Dickelman and Brady Dickelman; great-grandchildren, Caris Peterson, Karly Peterson, Collin Peterson, Tori Peterson, Corbin Moeckel, Dorian Moeckel, Avalon Niemi, Steven Budke, Taylor Budke, Kami Budke, Ian Budke, Stephen Nygaard, Westyn Larson, Coltyn Larson, Kaylin Larson; sister, Olive Olsgaard; sister-in-law, Arluene Seter; and son-in-law, Greg (Cindy) Larson.
She was preceded in death by daughter, Muriel Larson; sisters, Clarice Hendrickson, Inez Rekansrud; and brother, Archie Askegaard.
Because of his mother's death, Congressman Peterson will not be in Washington this week. Visitation will be Thursday from 5 to 7, with a prayer service at 7, in Wright Funeral Home, Moorhead. The funeral will be Friday at 11 in Westminster Presbyterian Church, Baker, Minn. Burial: Elmwood Cemetery, Sabin, Minn.
This clip was posted a bit after the fact by the Political Muse at Liberal in Land of Conservative, but better late than never, as he said.
We'd like to give a shout out to all the emergency response personnel who responded on that day, as well as the people rebuilding the bridge.
And, since it's Labor Day, remember the workers who died while on the job. Paul Eickstadt, a bread truck driver and Teamster whose semi burst into flames. Greg Jolstad, a 49er working on bridge repairs whose body was the last of eleven victims to be recovered from the Mississippi River.
The Washington Post reports the passing of Isaac Hayes; Created Memphis Sound, 'Theme From Shaft.' There's a Minnesota connection here: filmmaker and photographer Gordon Parks got his professional start in St. Paul after moving to the city at age 15.
What better way to remember them both than the opening of Shaft:
The Marines Vietnam vet still a had a touch of red in his hair and beard, a good union job, and a sense of play, but I managed to keep my flirting on a leash. No need to stir up any trouble: he was supporting Kerry and we were an Edwards girl. Immediately taken by the stranger's easy laughter and good looks, I assumed that he had to be married or at least attached to an offstage girlfriend.
Flash forward to early summer: I was canvassing for John Kerry, and called Chuck's number. After a little conversation, he invited me over for a drink. I came over to his place, an old farmhouse on the edge of town, and met his pinto horse, his Dalmatian, and his black and white cat, Buttons. No lady in sight--but it took about a month of flirting before we became a couple. With age sometimes comes a little caution.
But what good fortune that was, once we eased our way into it. He was about 6'3"; I'm five feet tall on a good day. When we started showing up at fundraisers, DNC member Nancy Larson dropped her jaw, then said, "Oh! Oh!--you've got yourself a Viking!" The gospel truth. Born of German and Norwegian stock in Renville County's rural Franklin area, Chuck was every inch the Vietnam Vet, Teamster shop steward, Harley-riding, ex-farmboy he seemed to be.
And yet that hadn't come easy. He was the first child to contract polio in Renville County in the epidemic that swept the country in the 1950s and had spent a month paralyzed in an iron lung at Sister Kinney's in Minneapolis. His father died of diabetes while Chuck was still a boy. Not a smooth start, but at 17, he was able and willing to serve his country. His mother signed his enlistment papers, and he was off to basic in 1963.
He didn't go to Vietnam until the final year of his service as an aviation mechanic; once there, he was choppered into the jungle to help recover downed aircraft, mostly spotter planes. His pictures from that time show a handsome giant with heart-stopping six pack abs; I'd tease him about how the Vietcong could have missed. How could a giant redhead not stick out in the jungle? But he made it out without a scratch.
Back on the farm, he barricaded himself in his boyhood room in his sleep. His mother and stepfather fretted a moment, then told him to go get a job within a week of his return. Chuck was off to Minneapolis, his union card, and a stint at the U's General College. He joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War ("We had no goddamned reason being there" he told me in the proper Teamster vernacular) and marched for peace.
After marriage and a succession of four daughters, it was back to rural Minnesota. The marriage didn't last and he ended up at the place on the edge of town. We started dating when his youngest daughter was entering her senior year of high school, and he babysat his toddler grandkids. He was the perfect grandpa. He collected pieces of the rural past, uncomely and broken, things worn out and old, and made them new again: vintage Cockshutt tractors, lovely firearms, eccentric friends. He could get just about any old machine running. And so he did.
Few adult romantic relationships are ever perfect, and ours only lasted two years, although we had lately become good buddies again (without benefits). It was easy to see what had attracted me to him in the first place: the strength, the ultra-rural hyper-masculinity ("What's a metrosexual?" he asked once when the term was used on television; "Never mind," I said, "Just don't ever become one"), the sense of justice and fair play, the wealth of practical skills, the easy laughter.
He was frequently surprising. One day he came home from work, driving one of Cemstone's blue cement trucks, wildly enthusiastic about a senator he'd heard interviewed on public radio. Public radio? He'd caught it from me, and would switch once Tom Barnard was over to MPR. He thought the guy being interviewed that day in 2005 spoke right to him--was the name? Somethingback? "Brownback?" I asked, furrowing my brow. "No, no, something weirder than that." I paused: Barack Obama? That was it. Chuck decided he'd like the senator from Illinois to run for president.
And there was music. Aside from a few old buddies in Detroit Lakes and Fayetteville, my friends aren't fans of real country music, the Outlaws, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell. Lucinda Williams. None of that pop crap you could play at a Promise Keepers' meeting. With Chuck, I could create whole playlists that would last all the way to Morton and back.
And then suddenly two and half weeks ago, he stopped taking my calls. I hadn't known what I had said or done; was I too tardy in getting that rhubarb pie baked? After a week and a half of silence, one of his daughters called back shortly after I left a message. Her father had died two days before his 62nd birthday, when his pacemaker malfunctioned while he was napping. I hadn't picked up the local paper --and the girls had been too grief-stricken to contact all of his friends. I missed the funeral's closure.
His big laughter is gone from the world. This last week has been a trial, going about town, knowing that he won't be at his haunts, nor will I again hear his vivid expositions against the Republican Party, too Teamster-esque to publish on this blog, even in paraphrase.
Mostly, I've been thinking about how much fun he was. One night in particular keeps coming up: a perfect full moon in cloudless October sky, still warm enough to take the Harley out. We were heading up Highway 15 when a local radio station served up Roger Miller's "King of the Road." We both started singing over the engine's roar.
Life was as good as it gets, right that moment.
So here's a serving of Roger Miller and Johnny Cash, clowning around in 1969. Rest in peace, Viking warrior, and have a laugh in heaven.
Via the St. Louis Examiner, an AP article about House members statements on bridge anniversary:
Excerpts from statements by Minnesota House members on the first anniversary of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse...
-Rep. Tim Walz Democrat: "Ordinary residents of Minneapolis displayed extraordinary courage on August 1st. We are here today to note this sad occasion and to remember those whose lives were lost."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune looks back in One year after: Remembering, rebuilding.
In Our bridges: To do nothing will cost more, Walz speaks to safety:
And Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., who is on the Transportation Committee with Oberstar, said infrastructure safety should be a top priority.
The I-35W bridge collapse and the recent Winona bridge closure are two examples of what is happening across the country, he said.
Image: The Strib offers an interactive map of Minnesota bridges that are "'structurally deficient,' 'functionally obsolete' or have gusset plates like those on the I-35W bridge."
We realized this afternoon that we've been so self-absorbed with grieving our friend's death that we neglected a Bluestem tradition: remembering 2006 Mayo High grad Kenneth Ramage.
Enthusiastic volunteers provide the energy of every campaign, and we take this moment to thank everyone helping fuel our democracy, regardless of party, and offer our prayers for the health and safety of all those pitching in. Take care.
Jen and David Boyle's wedding in New Ulm on Saturday was simple, elegant and moving, underscored by the two soldiers' understated remembrance of late family members and their "fallen fellow soldiers" in the program.
For their Gospel reading, the couple chose John 15: 12-16 a passage approved for Catholic weddings, though one verse also gains a special resonance on Memorial Day weekend:
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
Since Saturday afternoon, that line has stuck in our mind. And today is Memorial Day, a moveable day of remembrance made even more poignant today by being the third anniversary of Chief Warrant Officer Matt Lourey's helicopter being shot down in Iraq.
We count his mother, former State Senator Becky Lourey, among our friends, and so we joined the hundreds of Minnesotans at his memorial service in early June 2005. It was heartbreaking, especially watching his widow, herself an Army captain, struggle for self-control as she spoke of the blessings Matt had brought to her life and to those around him.
"Just because we opposed the war doesn't mean Matthew died in vain," Becky Lourey said. "Ever since he died, we've come to find out how many lives he saved, how many people he taught. He flew cover for Iraqis when they went to vote."
No greater love. While she was still our student, Jen, a sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard, missed class when she was assigned to transfer the remains of Minnesota soldiers who had been killed in Iraq. Both her then-fiance (now her beloved husband) and her brother were deployed at the time, so the duty was solemn indeed for her.
For many Americans, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are abstract policy questions. For many rural Minnesotans, our traditions of service and reputations as warriors make the sacrifice deeply personal. There's a fine illustration of this in an audio slide show on the Star Tribune's website: No Greater Love.
Here is a list of Minnesotans (and those with close ties to the state) who have died in Iraq, and another at WCCO. The Washington Post maintains a catalogue of the Faces of the Fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here at the VA's web site is a list of the numbers of Americans who died in wars from the American Revolution through Desert Storm.
Quite literally, we can never thank them, but we can remember their sacrifice and thank their survivors. One way is to keep a moment of silence at 3 p.m. today.
Finally, we found a YouTube of photographs documenting the families' sacrifice, with commentary from the AP photographers who covered the funerals.
Congressman Walz was on Air America last night to talk about reports of the Bush administration concealing information about military suicides.
April 28 is Workers Memorial Day, and the Mankato Trade Unions held a service to honor the eight members they lost in the last year to accidents and work-related illness, KEYC-TV reports. Congressman Walz, a member of Education Minnesota, participated. Video available.
Congressman Walz has signed the American Cancer Society's Congressional Cancer Promise. His father died of cancer when Walz was still in his teens. Senators Coleman and Klobuchar, along with all of Minnesota's House members, save Bachmann and Kline, have signed the promise.
North Star Politics is back and analyzing like it never left. See a Walz mention in Pawlenty Cozies Up to Fat Cats.
Update: The Pipestone Star reports that the DFL first district convention [is] tomorrow. [end update]
And now, on this damp, cold, and sadly, snowy night, we are going to do just that with Oscar de la Hoya and the Big Boo Boo, our favorite fat cats. Good night, and good luck.