December 5

* The year that will live in infamy . . .

So, how will you remember this year? The year of the pandemic? The year of the national election that may have saved democracy? The year of George Floyd and the international consequences? The year of Ruth Bader Ginsburg? The year of the ZOOM meeting? The year of outdoor dining? The year of only having to fill your gas tank once a month? The year the Earth fought back with record numbers of hurricanes and wild fires? The year of the jigsaw puzzle? The year where we never once escaped the boundaries of Minnesota? The year in which summer camp and Mini-University were cancelled? The year the Fat Boys Walking Club achieved international fame and went full-time exterior? And as I recall we were within sniffing distance of family members only twice the entire year . . .

The entire year encapsulated in a single photograph – the Super wearing a RBG COVID mask . .

If only in my dreams . . .

And so, with limited adieu, and the usual acknowledgments to Dave Barry, here is the year in review:

[The end of 2019 . . . ]

[Was beautifully wintery.]

[New Years Eve at the Garden Bar on 6th with Tuesday Night Club, a group notably distinguished for every member being older than me (l-r: Terry Kennedy, Jim Faber, Bill Riggs, Mel Lamar) . . . ]

The Super always starts the New Year . . .

[New Year’s Eve is of course also the Super’s birthday eve. I have no idea who any of these people are, but they invited us to join their table for her birthday dinner . . . ]

[The author foster-cared our kitties (story when we get to October), and as I write this Jess just introduced a new novel, Bloodline . . . ]

[The photos above and below reflect the Super’s New Year’s Day birthday and the presents she received as a result of said day . . . ]


[The Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra, a winter jewel for the area’s non-snowbirds, in the Alexandra Area High School Performing Arts Center . . . ]


[The Super prefers I not put sports in the Christmas card. But it’s what I do all winter. I am the Cub Reporter and after 40 years I am concerned that I still have not lost the “Cub” portion of the sobriquet. So I keep trying. This is senior Ella Grove (11) and it’s a photo I particularly like . . . ]

[The Ella theme then led us into the COVID theme. This was the state tournament on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Alex played No. 2-ranked Becker in the first round. I liked this photo because Alex was in white, and Ella was shooting a free throw against a backdrop of white clad Becker fans. Alex lost a close game, then won the 1st round of the consolation bracket the next morning, and then everything stopped. This is when the pandemic shut everything down. Ella was nevertheless named to the all tournament team . . . ]

[And the Super and I were at the tournament with high school classmate Kathy Skadsberg. Kathy’s granddaughter played for the No. 1 ranked team in the state, Hopkins. The pandemic cut short Hopkins’ attempt for back-to-back state titles and an undefeated season . . . ]


We worked a lot of jigsaw puzzles . . .


[After two months in lock down, we were getting antsy. We decided on a road trip to see Jami and Danny at The Harn, a 2 1/2-hour drive north. Here’s Ruthie and Jami on The Harn’s quarter mile long driveway. No creatures were harmed in documenting this event . . . ]

[We visited on their porch, keeping social distancing throughout . . . ]

[The Super “at the center of” Are You an Ally to Black & Brown People?]


[In the year of the jigsaw puzzle, the Super completed 14 with my occasional assistance. Any further attempts at such projects have been curtailed due to excessive felines on the premises . . . ]

[The Super arrives at the Time for Change rally on the grounds of the old high school. This was all part of the George Floyd aftermath taking place all over the world . . . ]

[The regulars at Carlos Creek Winery. We did outdoor music events when we could. In keeping with the traditions of this bizarre year, this was late June and everyone was bundled up . . . ]

[We were there to see Josie. Editor’s note: Absent the usual Christmas report on the year’s travels, this year’s blogging involved taking trips back to days of yore. I was able to blog a 1997 European trip and a 1983 Japan trip; and a 20-episode posting of the Complete Abridged History of Music in the greater Alexandria metropolitan statistical area. Josie played a major role in the latter . . . ]

[Outdoor dining every Wednesday at the Alexandria Golf Club with past and current members of the senior men’s league . . . ]

[And downtown outdoor dining whenever we could at the Garden Bar on 6th . . . ]

[That’s the Super’s VW convertible on the far side of 6th as we await fellow diners . . . ]

[And music, always music, at the Garden Bar where Terry Kennedy and Bill Riggs entertained us in the alley all summer . . . ]

[And then we joined a Change in Motion rally at Big Ole park. Change in Motion, started by two Alexandria college freshmen, is an organization for racial justice. Here the Super is talking with four college students . . . ]

[Say Their Names . . . ]

[And here’s the Super as we lined up along 3rd Avenue . . . ]

[We found ourselves in need of a road trip. The Redhead Creamery in Brooten (pop. 743) was featured on the cover of the University of Minnesota Alumni magazine. It’s a mere 33 miles south of Alex, on roads not heavily traveled . . . ]

[Lookin’ for a ride, big boy?]

[The last miles into the creamery were on dirt roads, again not heavily traveled . . . ]

[We’re here . . . ]

[And enjoying another outdoor dining experience . . . ]

[The Boy Tenor with the Salty Dogs at Carlos Creek Winery . . . ]


[The Fat Boys Walking Club returning to their parked cars in Big Ole Park. The pandemic required a change of venue to the great outdoors for our daily amblings . . . ]

[Erik Schultz at Carlos Creek Winery. As the pandemic kept becoming a more worrisome issue here in the heartland, the Salty Dogs were reduced to solos by Erik . . . ]

[Winery owner Tami Bredesen checking to make sure all is well for the 4th . . . ]

[The entire city block between 3rd & 4th on Broadway was razed in preparation for the Rune, a 4-story multi-purpose building scheduled for a 2022 completion . . . ]

[Theatre L’Homme Dieu was on the cutting edge of keeping live entertainment alive during the pandemic. On July 15, Farewell Angelina performed our first outdoor concert of the year. This national group was delighted to perform before an audience for the first time in months . . . ]

[They were great!!]

I know Samantha Bee, and I know she’s not a racist or anything. ~ Carl Reiner

[Anthony Miltich at Lure Lakebar overlooking Lake Le Homme Dieu. Anthony was also prominently featured in A Complete Abridged History of Music . . . ]

[These two featured masks made by the Super as we dined outdoors at Interlachen prior to the next outdoor event at Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

[A panoramic photo from the concert stage at Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

[The cast of Love at a Distance, featuring opera and show tunes . . . ]


[The Super sitting behind the 9th green at the Resorters Golf Tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club. This was the first time in years we were able to attend. In “normal” years we spend the 1st week in August at the Indiana University Alumni Camp in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin . . . ]

[The sky over Lake H2Obert on August 12; two days later the Super and I went to our 10×10 basement shelter for the first time in 19 years . . . ]

The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband. ~ Joan Rivers

You want to do what you can while you are on this earth. Otherwise, the alternative is to go shopping. ~ Saul Landau

[That is indeed the moon and Venus on August 15 . . . ]

[On the grounds of L’Etoile du Nord winery (16 miles north of Alex) overlooking Lake Irene . . . ]


[Josie turned 21 this year . . . ]

[We thought a bottle of Carlos Creek wine an appropriate present since she has been performing here for 10 years . . . ]

[We call it our Wednesday night “fine dining” at the golf club. This is a commercial (the name of the entree, with fire-roasted corn) . . . ]

[Wednesday fine golf club dining conflicted with pizza night at the Methodist church wood-fired pizza oven. We often ate first at the golf club, then went to church and got a take home pizza for the next night. The Cardinal No. 5 helping in the background is Alexandria football’s all-time leading rusher . . . ]

[The Super heads to the next outdoor event at Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

[A panorama shot of the attendees . . . ]

[An evening with Kevin Kling, Minnesota’s storyteller . . . ]

[And it doubled as the theatre’s annual fundraiser . . . ]

[And a bit of TLHD history from Jack Reuler. In his spare time, Jack is also founder and artistic director of Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis . . . ]

Heavenly shades of night are falling, It’s twilight time . . . ~ The Platters

Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up. Even John Stuart Mill would have agreed. ~ Michael Tomasky


[The Fat Boys Walking Club, a/k/a, Carol Wenner’s outdoor campaign staff for the Minnesota House of Representatives . . . ]

[And, of course, the Fat Boys gained international recognition when the local newspaper ran a full page story on us on September 8 . . . ]

[Happy Birthday to me! The Super brought birthday cupcakes to Wednesday night fine dining . . . ]

[And then birthday dinner with Deb and Paul at the Garden Bar . . . ]

[In the year of the jigsaw puzzle, the Super built Minneapolis . . . ]

[The year’s final event at Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

[The panorama shot from the stage . . . ]

[Our fearless leader, executive director, Nicole Mulder, was a bit overcome as she was able to give us a partial season under extraordinary circumstances . . . ]

[I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar . . . ]

Then and now, my model is audiences coming together to fight racism. ~ Jack Reuler

[Senior College had to go virtual this year. Rather than 225 mature students in an Alexandria Technical & Community College auditorium, we ZOOMED. Here Amy Sunderland, senior college director, and Louis Johnston, a favorite and regular lecturer as a St. John’s/St. Ben’s economics professor . . . ]

[The Fat Boys ambling off into sunrise on the Central Lakes Trail . . . ]

[A tall, thin stranger oft visited our dock on Lake H2Obert . . . ]

[A hint of a change of seasons is in the air . . . ]

[As an unofficial good-bye to summer, we visited Crazy Dave and Mary on Lake Darling before they snowbird off to Sarasota . . . ]

[Nothing like a fall sunset over a Minnesota lake . . . ]

[From the sunset vantage point . . . ]

[And a feeling we’re getting close to the end of the outdoor dining season at the Garden Bar . . . ]

[And the Tuesday Night Club boys are still playing us through dinner . . . ]

[The Fat Boys Walking Club trail reflects the changing seasons . . . ]

The margin is narrow, but the responsibility is clear. ~ John F. Kennedy

[Wrapping up the outdoor music season with Anthony at Carlos Creek Winery . . . ]


[And then on October 3, our lives changed forever – for the rest of our lives. We adopted two-month old brother and sister from the Humane Society in Golden Valley . . . ]

[And here they are: Gallahad, on top, and Guinevere. The “babies” were an absolute necessity for our emotional distractions and unrequited feelings of wanderlust . . . ]

[Trying, with little effort, to be cute . . . ]

[Trying, with a great deal of effort, to be cute . . . ]

[Not only was the annual turkey day at Basketball Dan’s cancelled this year . . . ]

[But Sid died at age 100 . . . ]

[The Fat Boys not quite as lovely as their surroundings . . . ]

[We tried to maintain Community Education movie nights, but we eventually had to throw in the towel. We had to change the venue from Grand Arbor (senior housing) for COVID reasons to the auditorium at the middle school. We were nicely spaced but we all got too nervous after a couple of movies . . . ]

[Absent our movies, we have to rely on Professor T. to carry us through the quarantine . . . ]

[This was October 20, and it actually happened again a couple more times. It’s hard to believe now in the first week of December we have no snow on the ground . . . ]

[The kitties first snow . . . ]

It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true. ~ Paul Watson

[Shoes? I don’t need no stinking shoes!]


[The Boys of ’65 continued monthly lunches when possible. All four of us made the lunch on November 2 when Tom Kiehne came up from Austin, Texas (to join Brad Anderson, Greg Johnson, and me), for his dad’s, Merill, 99th birthday. We’re looking forward to his 100th next year . . . ]

[In the era of COVID, how Happy Hour was celebrated with friends on November 6 . . . ]

[The kitties’ playpen . . . ]

[Lake H2Obert has gone through multiple freeze-thaw cycles this fall . . . ]

[The kitties first Christmas tree. As their alter egos, the Tasmanian Devils, they have made many demolition attempts against the tree . . . ]

[Sister Gretchen has acted as a stringer all year providing reports from the nation’s capital . . . ]

[Gretch also provides regular updates from the Big Ole camera. Where’s the snow? . . . ]

Happy Thanksgiving!!

[We had guests but kept them in a separate room . . . ]

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together. ~ Garrison Keillor


That’s the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me. ~ Jerry Seinfeld

Sending Christmas cards is a good way to let your friends and family know that you think they’re worth the price of a stamp. ~ Melanie White

This holiday season, no matter what your religion is, please take a moment to reflect on why it’s better than all the other ones. ~ Guy Endore Kaiser

[Until we get COVID under control, hunker down, and enjoy a glass of wine . . . ]

[Read some good books and have a Merry Christmas . . . ]

At Christmas mom would make krumkakes, fattigmanns, sandbakkels, rosettes, cookies shaped like Christmas trees and Santa and iced in green and red, divinity, and Russian tea cakes. Looking back, all I can say is, “Wow, way to go, Mom!” ~ Me

5 thoughts on “MERRY 2020* CHRISTMAS

  1. Hey, hey, to you and Super! A BIG thank you for this outstanding and entertaining presentation! Jack and I have appreciated and enjoyed! Sending holiday greetings and be well wishes to you through this craziness. Gratefully, we are well, but remain stir-crazy for enjoying the horizons out of our zip-code! Thanks you for including us in your holiday mailer! We’ll be in touch! Cheers, JoAnne and Jack


  2. Wow!! Such fun to follow you guys throughout the year. Even with Covid, you still managed to be really busy — which is a good thing. Let’s hope 2021 is going to be a better year than what the whole world has endured this year.


  3. You two managed a busy time out and about despite the plague. So glad you made it to Red Head Creamery! If you didn’t get the full tour, return for it next summer. I hail from Brooten don’t you know??! SURE


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