Elijah and Grumpy Old Bumpa

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Bumpa, can I be president… or do I have to be a lawyer?

Yes, you can, and no, you don’t. Why would you ask that, Elijah?

‘Cause they’re the only people who count.

Oh, my, Elijah! You were born in a strange time!

Uh-uh! I was nine when I was born. Mom says it was past time. Mom was miserable before I got borned.

She was, Elijah. She sure was.

You’re miserable, Bumpa! Are you pregnant?

No, only young women get pregnant and miserable. Old men just get miserable and grumpy.

Yeah, we’re Minnesotans. When can we go ice fishing?

fish houses of ice fishermen in Minnesota

Grandpa doesn’t do ice fishing. Maybe Uncle Andrew will take you and Calvin together.

Does Uncle Andrew have a fish house?

No. You don’t have to have a fish house to go ice fishing.

But you have to have a big house if you want to be president or a lawyer, right?

Well, no. You don’t have to have a big house to be a lawyer. Some lawyers are street lawyers and public defenders. All lawyers take an oath to protect the constitution.

But some lawyers are bad, right? Like Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Grandma says they’re walkin on thin ice. It’s a national emergency!

Yes and no, Elijah. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Giuliani represented or represent the president. The president’s about to fall through the ice for making stuff up.

Yeah, the president’s a national emergency and his lawyers pretend he’s not!

Yes, that’s our opinion.

Right! I changed my mind. I don’t want to be president, Bumpa, and I’m glad I don’t have to be like Michael and Rudy.

Like I said, Elijah, you could be either president or a lawyer, but you don’t have to be. You can be anything you want.

OK! I wanna to be like Uncle Andrew! I can be a ice fisherman right here in Minnesota and grow up to be a grumpy old man. I wanna be like you, Bumpa.

— Grandpa (“Bumpa”) Stewart and Elijah (21 months old), Chaska, MN, February 17, 2019

Do we have to go outside?

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The following conversation took place this morning with Barclay, the five year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in a warm living room in Chaska, Minnesota where it’s -33 degrees F outside.

temperature map, Jan. 30, 2019.

I’m not going!

You have to!

Why?

‘Cause you’re a dog.

But it’s 26 degrees BELOW ZERO out there! It’s only 10 above in Antarctica!

I know. We’ll make it quick. I promise.

Oh, sure! What you mean, “We’ll make it quick?”

We’ll go out and go real fast.

Easy for you to say. You have a big coat and boots!

But you’re a dog. You have a coat.

You’re makin’ stuff up. You’re prejudiced!

I’m not prejudiced!

Are too!

Am not!

Prove it!

There’s no way to prove I’m not.

Uh-huh! You go outside and I’ll go inside!

You can’t go inside and I can’t go outside.

Why?

‘Cause dogs go outside and humans go inside. I’d get arrested for indecent exposure.

See. I told you! You’re prejudiced. I’m not going out there!

Barclay, I’m sorry. There’s no alternative.

Uh-huh!!!! It’s warm in the basement.

But the basement’s part of the house. You’re a dog. You know the rule. You can’t go in the house!

I’m not going out there! You have paper towels. Take me to the basement! It’s warm down there.

How about I put on your winter coat and your booties?

Barclay in his winter coat..

Okay! Deal!!! You put on my winter coat and booties . . . then we go in the basement!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, Minnesota, January 30, 2019.


Let Down in Minnesota

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We’re not going to the Super Bowl — again — this year. But there’s a mostly proud and wonky history here in Minnesota. In politics, think Hubert Humphrey, Floyd V. Olsen, Walter Mondale, Gene McCarthy, Jesse Ventura, Michelle Bachmann, Al Franken, and Amy Klobuchar. In sports, think the Minneapolis Lakers and the North Stars before they left the Land of 10,000 Lakes to become bigger fish in Dallas and L.A., Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Kevin Garnett, Paul Molitor . . .  and last, but by no means least, remember the name Minnesotans are still trying to forget: Shawn Chambers who gave up one of the most famous goals in all of hockey history in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991.

After the Minnesota Vikings did a Shawn Chambers in the NFC Conference Championship game that would have put them in the Super Bowl, I remembered Gene Wilder’s mocking Green Bay Packers’ grin and heard his Packers taunt.

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Grumpy Old Men

I’m a Philadelphian transplanted in Minnesota, still learning how the game is played here. I love my adopted State and today I’m still a little grumpy about the loss to the Eagles and having to be nice to them.

 

Although it will be the the Eagles who will fly into Minneapolis for the Super Bowl we Minnesotan thought belonged to us, I have no desire to return to my native Philadelphia.

 

Nope! In an hour or two, I’ll head north to the cabin. No ice hockey. No ice fishing. No football. No TV. No cell phone. No internet. Just a warm fire and a book in the woods next to the wetland where the eagles soar and the owl perches in the oak tree, reminding me that I’m dust and to dust I shall return.

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  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 23, 2018.

 

Earth Day 2016 – farewell to evergreens

white-spruce-apThe tall White Spruces that add beauty to Village Point Urban Townhomes in Chaska, MN require annual treatment for spider mites. Without early spring treatment the spider mites eventually will kill all the evergreens: the arborvitaes, junipers, and pine trees.

Last week the arborist who treats the association’s evergreens told us what we didn’t want to hear. Because of rising temperature, the Greater Twin Cities Area of Minnesota will no longer be suitable habitation for the evergreens. In five years they will be dead or on their way to becoming a memory of a cooler climate in Minnesota.

It’s one thing to believe that climate change is real. It’s another to learn of a real consequence that drives it home. You have to work really hard at denial!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Earth Day, April 22, 2016

 

Lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp

Felix's Fish Camp near Mobile, Alabama

Felix’s Fish Camp near Mobile, Alabama

Driving home to Minnesota from Key West, Florida, Kay and I stop for lunch near Mobile, Alabama. Trip Advisor ranks Felix’s Fish Camp the #8 most highly recommended of 581 restaurants in Mobile, right on the waterfront. An old fish shack; our kinda place!

Our waiter has Southern DNA written all over him. His style is the epitome of Southern hospitality: unhurried, gracious, warm, personable, respectful, friendly. “Yes, Ma’am. No, Sir.”

In his late-2os, Brian is very tall. He kneels down beside the table to get acquainted. He introduces us to Felix’s, talks about the menu, asks about our tastes, and zeroes in on the dishes we might like most.

The man in the next booth overhears the conversation.  He’s smiling. Getting to his feet with the help of his cane, he comes by to say hello. Turns out he’s from Duluth, Minnesota, a traditional stronghold of the Democrat Farm Labor Party. He and his wife closed their chiropractor office in Duluth three years ago to retire near his son in Mobile. He asks what brings us here and what we did for a living. He smiles. “You’re a pastor. You like people. What church?” “Presbyterian,” I say.  “I’m a Lutheran,” he says. “What’s your favorite Scripture? Mine is Psalm 91. I learned it as a child and can still recite it from memory.”

Lunch at Felix's Fish Camp, Mobile, Alabama

Lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp, Mobile, Alabama

Brian delivers the fish, topped with fried oyster, shrimp with cheese grits, and side dishes of almond green beans, cheese grits, and turnip greens to die for.

At just the right moment, as skilled waiters do, Brian returns to ask whether we’d like desert, maybe some lemon pie or Key Lime Pie. The lemon is more unique to Felix’s but he thinks perhaps we might prefer the Key Lime.

After the Key Lime pie, we thank Brian for his extraordinary hospitality and service, promise to write a review on TripAdvisor, pay the bill, and say goodbye.

The relocated Minnesota couple leave at the same time. As the four of us walk way out together, our new friend wishes us a safe trip home and then says “Before you go, I have a question for you. Which Republican do you like for 2016?”

His wife grimaces. We just smile. Maybe he’s forgotten that he’s from Duluth, or maybe he’s being playful one last time…or maybe he’s confusing Christian and Republican. We’ll never know. Life is funny like that.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 26, 2015

 

Barclay preparing to go to school

All schools in Minnesota will be closed Monday out of concern for children’s safety. Governor Dayton wants no child left behind freezing at a bus stop. The prediction is 50 degrees below zero with wind chill. Meanwhile, seven-month old Barclay is practicing for his first trip outside in booties. He’s a champ, despite the slur in the narration. He’s attending his first obedience class Monday night in New Germany, MN. Unless they call school off.

The guns in my own back yard

It’s the eve of Martin King Day. This morning’s Star Tribune tells the story “Murderous ‘monster’ acquires an arsenal” in Carver County, Minnesota. Three cheers to you, Jim Olson, Carver County Sheriff. Thanks to the Star Tribune and other newspapers for keeping us informed.

The Oberender case exposes loopholes in national gun laws and Minnesota’s background checks. Here’s the link to the piece:

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/187610601.html

Today in worship we will look again at the call of Samuel and the call of Jesus’ first disciples who asked Jesus an odd question. “Where are you staying?”  “Come and see,” he said. I wonder: Are there guns where Jesus lives?

Marriage and Old Love

Minnesotans will vote in November whether to amend the MN State Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. This beautiful video of “old love” features couples in long relationships here in Minnesota. The music and the pictures speak for themselves. Some of the faces are from a congregation I once served. Enjoy.

The World through a Poet’s Eyes

Join with Plato Oct. 23: “Poetry is closer to vital truth than history” … or a political campaign.

An evening with Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen 

MN Poet Laureat Joyce Sutphen

Joyce Sutphen’s first collection of poems, Straight Out of View, won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; Coming Back to the Body was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and Naming the Stars won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published Fourteen Sonnets in a letterpress edition. She is one of the co-editors of To Sing Along the Way, an award-winning anthology of Minnesota women poets. She is also a Renaissance scholar and has published essays on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. She grew up on a farm in Stearns County, Minnesota, and she teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her latest collection, First Words, is a “memoir in poems,” and was published in 2010.  She is the second Minnesota Poet Laureate, succeeding Robert Bly. Joyce will read and discuss her own poetry and works of other poets:

  • Wislawa Syzmborska,
  • W.S. Merwin,
  • Charles Simic,
  • Mary Oliver, and
  • Nazim Hizkmet.

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history” – Plato. Take a break from the campaign season to look through the eyes of a poet.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012    7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church, 145 Engler Blvd., Chaska, MN 55318.

*First Tuesday Dialogues: examining critical public issues locally and globally” is a community program for the common good, re-creating the public square in the southwest Twin Cities metro area. 

www.shepherdofthehillchurch.com

“A place for the Mind and Heart”

“Holy Tears: David, Absalom…and Us”

A sermon inspired by the personal story of a king who was losing it and his son, Absalom, leading to the larger question of how we define abundance in our time. If you can get by the first minute and have the time – it’s dreadfully long 🙂 it might be of interest. Please let me know your responses to the last part of the sermon re-defining the idea of abundance.