Before attending a concert at Orchestra Hall, we made reservations at Monello, a trendy restaurant in Minneapolis' Ivy Hotel. We choked at the valet parking ($18 for three hours), but recovered at the thought of the special pre-concert dinner that was offered. A three-course dinner for only $39 each! Cheaper than Manny's down the street and close to Orchestra Hall.
It's 150 years ago this week. Great-Grandad's diary tells me that he, his brother-in-law Shubal Breed and his pal Lyman McNitt were breaking land on Dave Wood's 160-acre farm. Years back I read that the sand flats in southern Trempealeau County were a piece of cake. Down there, around Trempealeau and Galesville, a pioneer would cut down a sizeable tree, leave the branches on, chain a yoke of oxen to the trunk end of the tree and drag it along the flatland, where the earth was so friable it just needed scratching to make it ready for the first crop of wheat.
Our next door neighbor Howie Nelson dropped by last month with a gift, as if his gift to us as our loyal, caring neighbor wasn't gift enough. The gift, he explained, belonged to his late mother and he wanted us to have it because my wife and I are book people.
WARNING: Those readers of a delicate nature may want to pass on this column because it deals with a subject members of polite society may find abhorrent.
Some literary figures put up with all kinds of guff from fans, publishers, fellow authors. Still others didn't hesitate to suffer fools gladly or anyone else for that matter. One such character was Edmund Wilson, a snobby Ivy Leaguer notorious for his snottiness, even onto his ex-wife Mary McCarthy, whose physical characteristics he described gleefully in one of his stories after they divorced.
Last month in the merry month of April, I headed through the arctic wastes of Main Street and at the edge of town stood a forlorn fellow shivering in his boots and holding a sign that explained his presence outside: "FOR SALE, ALL FIXTURES AT SHOPKO" Across the road in the middle distance was the low, flat roofed building with a banner appended: "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS"
Monumental amounts of effort are expended on scholarly research projects that ofttimes come to naught. To be sure, some projects are so important that the survival of civilization depends upon them, as in the case of Norman Borlaug's research in the area of plant breeding, that resulted in vast improvement of feed grain productivity. And of course there's Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, et cetera, et cetera.
I've loved quiz shows most of my life, beginning in 1942 at Larken Valley one-room school where we frequently competed in spelling bees when it was too cold or snowy for recess. In eighth grade, I competed at the courthouse in the Star Tribune tri-state spelling bee, falling to some kid from the other side of the county who could spell "mulligatawny." How in hell, I still want to know, could a farm boy know how to spell mulligatawny, a highly spiced soup eaten mainly in India.
Valentine's Day is long gone, but not forgotten by the loving partners who dwell on Walnut Street. When it finally stopped snowing on the day that Walnut Street looked like a scene from "Dr. Zhivago" it was a day after Valentine's but we decided to celebrate big time, to do it up brown (but not overcooked—or overpriced). We made our way through the drifts to a favorite restaurant, which by the looks of the menu we probably couldn't afford, having recently dined at Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis, where the giant ribeye was selling for $125 (sides not included).