Good Bye Minnesota

I’ve got to share another dream with you.  Whenever one gets a recurring dream it’s got to be more important than a “single,” right?  I just had this one for the second time Saturday night.  I’m running through an expansive green area of grass, like a park, when all of a sudden I look down and find that the grass is covered for as far as the eye can see, with dog poop.  I freak out and begin running like crazy trying to get through and out of the dog poop, but there is no end to it.  And that’s the end of the dream.  Ok, let’s examine this, and see what we can learn.  The obvious, there’s way to much crap in my life, but let’s go deeper.  Could my life itself be crap?  I don’t think so; just recently, I don’t know what brought it on, but The Princess opined that, “You’re really a contented guy.”  I think she may have been alluding to the fact that I had such fun just going to have an annual physical.  So, no, my life is not crap.  Well, maybe it is, but not in MY mind.  Could there be some symbolism hidden in this dream.  The two striking features were acres of green grass and thousands of dog turds, hmmm.  Green signifies renewal, hope and fresh starts, while dog turds, well, they signify waste (hell, they are waste), decay and possibly evil.  Yeah, I think we can sum this one up.  Life is full of hope and renewal, but as you live your life, tread carefully, there’s evil everywhere.  And, of course, before you come inside, check the bottoms of your sneakers.

Hey, Pony news.  Went out to Gene’s today.  Last Monday we had fully disassembled the carburetor, checked it all out, and hooked it back up.  I told Gene, let’s do like I do with lottery tickets and let it sit overnight before we check to see if we have a winner.  So, today we gave it another try.  We gave it the usual dose of oil and gas in the head, closed it up and went for a start.  It was a bit of a struggle, but we got it going, and it ran for maybe 10 minutes.  We accidentally killed it, so after replacing the starter switch (which did seem to make a difference, don’t ask me why), we cranked it over again and it started.  This is actually a step forward in that this is the first time that we’ve ever gotten  it to start without the stupid “oil-and-gas-through-the-spark-plug-holes” business.  We ran it  for another 5 to 10 minutes, but then I noticed oil starting to leak from several places, so we had to shut it down.  I’ll get back to y’all on the oil business.  As Rose Ann Rosanna Dana used to say, “It’s always something!”

Alright, I need to finish-up the Minnesota trip.  On my last day, I drove up to Grey Cloud Island, not far from the Twin Cities to visit my God mother Laverne and her husband, Richard.  Laverne is my Mom’s cousin, and she bought me more pairs of pajamas for my birthdays as a kid than I thought ever existed.  I think she kept buying them right up into my college years.  My roommates, “Hey, nice jams, bud.”  So, the first day of the trip was all about my Dad’s side of the family, while the last was dedicated to my Mom’s side.

What an amazing journey to Grey Cloud Island, where Laverne and Richard have lived since the 1950’s.  Although just half an hour from downtown Minneapolis, it is a world away.  It’s an island nestled in the back waters of the Mississippi River.  Laverne and Richard have a beautiful home site in deep woods with a view out the back to the water and their own private island a hundred feet off shore.  Here’s a picture of Richard taken from the house looking down to the water and the island.

When we went down to the dock, there were a pair of bald eagles doing loop de loops right above us.  Richard keeps a lawnmower out on the island, so he can mow it and keep it looking neat.  In the winter they have holiday skating parties.  I don’t think he’d mind my saying it, but Richard is coming up on his 89th birthday.  He still holds I think three part-time paying jobs, he’s held every official position there is on the island, he knows everyone every single person on the island, he’s run boats down the river to the gulf (some really harrowing adventures), and he’s a veteran of WWII having served in New Guinea and Manila among other places.  Here’s a couple of pictures of Richard with some spears and paddles he collected while in New Guinea over 60 years ago.

He also shared some his childhood treasures with me.  Check this photo out.

These cast iron toys dating to Richard’s youth are from the early 1930’s.  He said that he loved them so much that he’d take them to bed with him at night.  Note that I am holding what he referred to (without any coaxing) as a Fordson tractor, nice paint!

I had it in my mind that if I got up to the Twin Cities with enough time, I’d like to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.   And who better for a guide than Laverne.  As a young woman Laverne attended the Institute by day and earned her tuition by canning corn in a Green Giant plant at night.  She had some fairly important artists as teachers.  She’s got stories too.  One artist kept pressuring her to pose for him.  Another said he’d cut off his ear and send it to her if she wouldn’t continue seeing him.

After graduation  she got a job as an illustrationist and worked for the phone company doing advertising lay-outs.  That’s where she met Richard.  She also spent three months traveling in Europe and studying art, a pretty gutsy move for a young woman at the time (the late 40’s).  As if we’d slipped back in time at the museum, a security guard directed us to an elevator in order to get to the art I wanted to see.  Here’s a shot of that elevator.

Laverne then picked-up the receiver to pretend she was talking for another photo, and she was shocked that the phone actually worked, “Oh, excuse me!”  One more shot from the Museum.

That’s  a Cezanne on the left.  The woman who took this picture was so petrified that the flash might go off, you’d a thought she was about to steal the painting not take its picture.  Anyway, the flash did not go off, and we were all allowed to leave the museum.

On the way back to Laverne and Richard’s house, Laverne was telling me how she enjoyed taking trips with my mom.  She said that since they were kids my Mom was always a leader, while she has always been a follower.  She volunteered the following anecdote to prove her point.  She said that when Mom was about 8 and Laverne was about 4, a suitor took an interest in  Grandma (Mom’s mom).  Grandma had lost her husband to illness when she was still a relatively young woman.  Apparently Mom wasn’t too thrilled with the new suitor, as she told Laverne to cry and make a fuss, so that the man would get fed up and go away.  Jeez mom, you were a “pistol!”

Here’s something else that goes way back.

On a tour of her home, Laverne explained to me that the little green stove had been my Mom’s.  Just to show how things have changed, that stove was wired-up and worked just like a real stove.  Richard snipped the cord years ago, so their kids wouldn’t burn themselves while playing.  But, on seeing this stove a memory was triggered for me of playing with it as a kid way back when, in a Minneapolis apartment of Grandma’s.

The next morning I said my good byes and headed to the airport for the trip home.  Luck continued for me at the airport, where my flight was overbooked, and I snagged a $400 travel voucher.  Did that make me happy?  Check this out.

Yeah, me and the “WWI flying Ace,” Snoopy, happiest travelers you’ll ever see.  Back at home now, I’ve got to get back to work on the Pony, while trying to avoid the dog poop.  Thanks for reading.

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