Thursday, May 29, 2008




No husband, no dogs, no phone calls, no computer allowed. I will be giving myself up totally to the "Lost" experience tonight.

The first hour is a repeat of a previous episode, which I am hoping is the episode I missed a couple of weeks ago due to book club. I debated, I really did. Since our hostess for May lives only a half a block from me, I thought of going to book club for an hour, walking home and watching “Lost” and then returning afterward for the rest of book club. But I was a grownup and did not do so.

After the repeat tonight comes the much-anticipated two-hour finale. Promos have promised to reveal "one of the island's biggest secrets".

I can’t believe how wrapped up I am in this show and its characters. Regarding the Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle, I root for Kate to eventually end up with Jack, but I do see the good in Sawyer. And I have always had a soft spot for bad boys.

I still can’t believe Charlie is dead. Or, for that matter, Boone – and he was killed off in what, the first season? The island heals people, so why didn’t it heal gravely-wounded Boone? So many questions, so many mysteries. I can’t say that I have followed the twisting, turning plot all that well over the years. Who has? And this year, with flash forwards as well as flashbacks, it has been even more confusing. It helped a lot this season to have a captioned repeat episode that aired before each week’s new episode.
There are many theories as to what the island really is, but I don’t much care. All a dream? A fourth dimension? All in Hurley’s mind? A mass hallucination? It doesn’t matter. To me, “Lost” is a character-driven series. So my concerns are: Will Hurley finally escape the curse of winning the lottery? Will Desmond be reunited with Penny? Will Sayid find a woman to love who doesn’t die on him? Whose side is Juliet really on? Is Benjamin a good man or a bad man? Will the Oceanic 6 return to the island?


Here’s a piece of trivia for you: Sam Anderson, who plays Bernard, attended my alma mater, the University of North Dakota. Although - aside from “Lost” - he usually plays less-than-savory characters, I’ve loved him ever since I saw him perform the lead in “Luv” when I was a freshman and he was a senior.

I’m not thrilled that “Lost” is aired only in the spring. I think it cost the network a lot of viewers. But not me – I’m in it for the long haul. Because I must find out what happens to my friends in the end. Not just in tonight's season finale, but in the (sadly) few remaining seasons.



Monday, May 26, 2008



"We few, we happy few,
we band of brothers
For he to-day that
sheds his blood with me
shall be my brother"

William Shakespeare, "Henry V"

Last year for Memorial Day, I wrote about my three Scottish Munro great-uncles who fought in World War I. Two were killed in the war, and one died afterward, as a result of being gassed.
This year, I honor my two American Munro uncles who fought in World War II, and made it back home afterward, to Crosby, ND.

Donnie fought in both the European and Pacific Theatres. His younger brother, Scotty, who dropped out of high school to join up, fought in Europe. He went back to school and graduated after the war.

Donald "Donnie" Munro

James "Scotty" Munro
Donnie and Scotty, you're both gone now, but this is for you, with love and gratitude:
"These mist-covered mountains

Are a home now for me

But my home is the lowlands

And always will be

Some day you’ll return to

Your valleys and your farms

And you’ll no longer burn

To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction

Baptisms of fire

I’ve watched all your suffering

As the battles raged higher

And though they did hurt me so bad

In the fear and alarm

You did not desert me

My brothers in arms

There’s so many different worlds

So many differents suns

And we have just one world

But we live in different ones

Now the sun’s gone to hell

And the moon’s riding high

Let me bid you farewell

Every man has to die

But it’s written in the starlight

And every line on your palm

We’re fools to make war

On our brothers in arms"

"Brothers in Arms," Dire Straits


To learn about a true life WW II band of brothers in arms - the members of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division - watch "Band of Brothers", the excellent 2001 10-part miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. To learn more about it, go here:

Saturday, May 24, 2008


"SPRING RAIN" - John Sloan (1912)

It's thundering, it's lightning, it's raining, it's POURING!!!!

Rain has finally come to us parched folks in Bismarck and across a large swath of North Dakota. And no grownup will, I dare say, complain (at least aloud) that this rain has ruined their Memorial Day weekend. We NoDaks have needed rain so badly for so long that it is entirely welcome. We'll gladly sacrifice a weekend of camping, ball games, boating on the lakes and rivers, gardening or just sunning on the lawn.

It's been raining at least since I woke up this morning at 7, and the thunderstorm came up a while ago. I had actually gone back to bed (how nice to sleep in on a rainy Saturday), but a little scritch-scritch at my door told me a certain dog was scared of the thunder boomers.

Right now I have not one but two dogs at my feet as I type. And when one of those dogs is a golden retriever, there's not much room for feet.

I was looking forward to having lunch with my sis, but she just now called and postponed it until tomorrow (she received unexpected company). I guess I'll just take some books and magazines and bundle back into bed with a couple of dogs and the TV for company.

The rain certainly didn't spoil OUR holiday plans, because we didn't have any - never do. Dan always has to work Memorial weekend Saturdays and Mondays.

In fact, I really, really dislike Memorial Day. Don't get me wrong, I have always loved this holiday, the kickoff to glorious summer. But in the past few years terrible things have happened to us on Memorial Day. One year, my niece and nephew's dad shot himself in the hand with a bow and arrow. Another year, Dan had his heart attack. And still another year, Kristen was hit by a car.

So all in all, Memorial Day means "Jinx" to me, with lots of time spent in the emergency room or intensive care. I think I'll stay home all Monday too, and hide under the covers, whether it's raining or not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


David Cook, 2008 American Idol Winner

David Cook pulled it off! Cook has been my favorite American Idol contestant for weeks (ever since Michael Johns was - shockingly - eliminated). Cook was my daughter's favorite too.

This is the first year I have watched American Idol. I started watching when the contest had been winnowed down to 24 contestants. (I'm too embarrassed for the bad singers to watch the preliminaries.)

I always thought the Top 3 would be soul rocker Cook, youngster David Archuleta or Aussie Michael Johns. When Johns was eliminated, I was stunned, along with the judges, host Ryan Seacrest, the other contestants and the live and TV viewing audiences.

Last week, I even did something I never thought I would do - voted! But last night I didn't vote because frankly I thought Archuleta had won the contest. (Thanks to Simon Cowell who all but named him the victor.) Little David does have the smoother voice, but frankly, he is bland. His personality never shines through. Last night Cook was nervous, his voice seemed strained, and the song choices weren't as good. But Cook is a genuine star. He puts his heart and soul into every song. The emotion is always right at the surface with David Cook. "Subtle and wistful" was one description of last night's performance of "The World I Know" by Collective Soul. Besides, Cook is a rocker, bless him. He won by 12 million votes, so I don't think anyone can say David Archuleta got robbed.

I wouldn't worry about little David A. He's only 17 and he has a great singing career ahead of him. I see him as fitting into the Josh Groban-type category, where he will do very well. And I predict Michael Johns will have a great run too. In my opinion he has as much charisma as that other Aussie, the late INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence.

It was a great ride. What I missed out on by not watching the first first six seasons, I think, was getting to know and love - or hate - the contestants. Who could forget sweet Brooke White, stopping and re-starting her songs? Even always-kind Paula Abdul says you can't do that. And dreadlocked Jason Castro, you're cute and cool, but what the huh happened with you? Then there was Irish-born Carly, who couldn't catch a break with Simon, and Syesha Mercado, who couldn't catch a break with any of the judges. Danny Noriega? Ick! Biker chick Amanda Overmeyer? Not my style. For sure, I'm going to watch next year.

An Entertainment Weekly online poll tonight reveals that 85% of respondents thought the right David won. Congratulations, David Cook!

Michael Johns, not an also-ran at all.


I've selected the name of the person who gets to read about a moongazy girl and the other folk at Stonewylde. The winner of the drawing to receive "Magus of Stonewylde" by Kit Berry is Tea, of "Tea and Margaritas in my Garden" in Ontario, Canada. Congratulations, Tea! Please send me your real name and address so I can get that book out to you right away. I know how long parcels take to get to Canada!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008



Today has been a happy, happy day for our family!

Almost 21 years ago, our daughter, Kristen, entered the doors of Will-Moore Elementary School in Bismarck for the first day of kindergarten. Over the years she moved on to Hughes Junior High School and Bismarck High School, and then went on to college at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She earned a B.A. degree from Georgetown in December 2005.

And today, she received her Master of Science degree in library science from Catholic University of America. Sadly, we were not able to be there, but we were there in spirit.

Effective June 1, she has been appointed director of acquisitions, serials and fast-track processing at the CUA library. (She was acting director of serials; this promotion brings a hefty raise!)

Kristen was a much-lauded student of languages in high school, taking first place in the state French and German exams, and earning the national gold metal in Latin. She studied German and French at Georgetown, eventually settling on French for her major.

But along the way, she changed her mind about her future vocation. We might have suspected that Kristen, a gifted reader, would someday turn to library science. I used to bring her to the Tribune after school some days, and my fellow reporters would marvel at this petite child, almost dwarfed by the newsroom desk she sat at, totally absorbed in reading books like "Gone With the Wind" and "The Stand."

Because she was interested in languages, I encouraged Kristen to go to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, just a three-hour drive away with a superb languages program. "I'm not going to a religious school (Lutheran)", she declared. (The truth: "I'm not going to college so close to home.")

It's a standing joke in our family that Kristen ended up attending two religious universities. Georgetown is a Jesuit institution, and CUA is obviously Catholic. And we are not Catholic!

For Kristen, a trip to the East coast at a tender age clinched her college decision for her. She fell in love with Georgetown and with the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and would only consider and apply to those two.

Over the years, Kristen walked miles of hallowed hallways and entered many an ivy-clad building. She had some bumps along the way - problems with physical and emotional health - but she overcame her obstacles and bounced back better than before.

I salute her strong work ethic (yeah, she's a North Dakotan), her intelligence, her strength, her humor, her tender heart and her wisdom which is far beyond her years and far beyond mine.

To celebrate her graduation, she and her boyfriend are taking a trip to California. Well deserved, Kristen! We love you so much and we are SO proud of you. Love from Dad and me and the puppies, and Glori, Kelsey and Mike.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


“If you feel a little strange when you gaze up at the full moon …
If you sense some greater power when you stand on a hilltop
With the skies arching above you …
If you’re touched by the presence of something unseen
When walking in the woods …
Then ... enter the world of Stonewylde …”


You may have noticed the new banner at the top right side of my blog. It is a portal to the website for the “Stonewylde” series of books, with which I am totally enraptured at the moment.

If you click on the banner, you’ll see this description, which begins to explain the allure of the Stonewylde books: “Stonewylde is somewhere that lives in our imagination. A beautiful Dorset estate hidden away in the depths of rural England, where the community live in harmony with nature. Stonewylde is the perfect place, a place where you can escape to in your dreams.

Stonewylde is a real entity, an enclosed sanctuary where nature is unharmed and undamaged by modern exploitation. It's a place of standing stones and earth energy, an idyllic refuge from the stress of ordinary life.

But although the place may be perfect, human nature never is. Behind the organic farming, rural crafts, colorful festivals and pagan ceremonies, there's a darker more sinister side to Stonewylde. It's a place of secrets and mystery, where menace stalks in the shadows. “

There’s no doubt that Stonewylde itself is a main character in the books. It’s been described as an alternative community, a walled enclave for a religious sect and a modern feudal utopia. It is a place of pastoral delights and beautiful scenery, dotted with standing circles, dolmens and a hilltop where hares cavort each full moon.

With its green magic, earth energy and moon energy, Stonewylde is a place that strongly calls to me. The descriptions of "the old ways” of village life and farming, and the celebrations of the wheel of the year, are enchanting, and make me yearn to have experienced the Dorset of the past.

I wrote earlier that the website's description only begins to explain Stonewylde's allure. It’s Berry’s powerful storytelling skills and the fully-fleshed-out characters that KEEP me so enthralled.

The three main characters, Magus, Sylvie and Yul, are especially well-drawn. The first book begins with Sylvie, age 15, and her mother coming to Stonewylde from The Outside, Sylvie having the unmistakable, silvery-haired looks of the Hallfolk, the aristocrats of Stonewylde.

I don’t think I’m revealing too much when I say that Sylvie is what Stonewylde folk call “moongazy". She feels a deep urge to sing and dance with the hares on Hare Hill in honor of the moon goddess.

Yul is one of the village youth, who suffers greatly at the hands of his cruel father and the Magus. Sol, the Magus, rules Stonewylde with a benign hand. Or does he? The village folk call him Magus, believing it means ruler. But magus also means wise man, and, more tellingly, magician, and Sol is no stranger to deception.

After having finished the first two books (“Magus of Stonewylde” and “Moondance of Stonewylde”), I begin to sense unrest among the simple village folk who live in complete service to the Hallfolk. Will there be a rebellion? Will Sylvie and Yul’s love persevere? (Yes, it’s a love story too!) Who will prevail in their struggle for dominance: The all-powerful Magus or Yul, the seemingly simple woodsman who, it is suggested, is destined for bigger things.

I was turned on to the Stonewylde books (there are three so far) by a British blogger. Written by former Dorset resident Kit Berry, they are very popular in Britain. They have been described as fantasy, but I would not give them such a narrow classification, especially since I don’t like the fantasy genre. I prefer “earth magic adventures”, as they are dubbed in the website.

Berry has encountered quite a few obstacles in her path to bring these novels to the public. She is self-published, and needs to recoup her costs each time before bringing out the next book. She also had difficulty getting her books into bookstores, although, in Britain at least, this is no longer a problem. And Berry has also persuaded booksellers that the Stonewylde books - deservedly - belong in the adult sections as well as with the teen books. (In fact, I think they're a little too mature for all but the oldest teens.)

Some people, especially in the United States, may be turned off by the clearly pagan aspects of the Stonewylde community. Since I am a Celt, I am open to learning all I can about “the old ways”. I, too, feel the pull of the full moon, although not as strongly as Sylvie.

Actually, I (and I hope potential readers will) consider reading the Stonewylde books as being no different than reading about strange – to me - foreign practices in a couple of other excellent books I read lately (“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini and “Bliss” by O. G. Livanelli).

In the end, when a story is as good as the Stonewylde books, it doesn’t matter how strange the landscape.

I really, really want to read the third book, “Solstice at Stonewylde”. The first two books have taken me through a number of pagan holidays, each of which has been marked by very dramatic events. I can’t wait to see what the Winter Solstice brings!

But I also want to put off starting it in order to savor the experience! There will eventually be five novels in the series, but the publication date of the fourth book is unknown. I know of only one source for the Stonewylde books in the U.S.:

Kit Berry also has a personal blog. To check it out, go to:


Added 5/14:

I will draw for the book on Tuesday, May 20, so please be sure to enter the drawing before then. I have learned that some people cannot click on the banner. To get to the website, go to I also learned of a new source of the books for American and Canadian readers. Go to

Kit Berry, author of the Stonewylde books

Monday, May 5, 2008



Not long ago I wrote a post entitled "Where I'm From," which basically outlined where I came from, geographically and socio-economically.

This time, I thought I'd show "Where I'm From In Time," by listing items from my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s. Although old-fashioned soda fountains appear now and then, I doubt that many of these other products or customs are in use or found any longer, unless they're in a vintage shop.

35-cent movies, with 10-cent popcorn and 10-cent bottled pop.

Bags of white margarine with a color dot (you squeezed the bag until all the color was distributed).

Silver dollars in wide circulation (especially in Montana).

Black-and-white newsreels before movies.

“Two-Holers” (outdoor wooden toilets with two seats).

4-cent postage.

Rabbit ears on TV sets.

The Watkins Man – a door-to-door salesman of vanilla, nectar and other household products.


The Grit – a folksy tabloid newspaper delivered door-to-door every Saturday.

Station wagons instead of SUVs for large families.

Toni perms.

The candy: Black Jack gum, Pixy Stix, Dots, candy cigarettes, Chuckles, Necco wafers, Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies, candy buttons on paper strips, wax bottles with colored sugar water.

Water pails with dippers (everyone dipped and drank from the pail).

Wooden screen doors.

Hank Williams on the radio.

Enamel coffee pots, cups and pans with the inevitable chips.

Scrapbooking meant pasting magazine clippings into scrapbooks made with coarse buff paper.

Cigarette and liquor ads in magazines.


Stirrup pants, Capris and flip flops were in, and they were not retro wear.

Thongs were another name for flip flops, not underwear.

78-rpm records.

Granny panties for everyone.

Skippy Peanut Butter in fancy footed glasses.

Sugar-loaded cereals. (Sugar Pops, anyone?)

Scarves tied at the throat and the ends knotted at the back of the neck.

Wearing dresses to school and church.

Hair set in pin curls with bobby pins.


Pop-It Beads.

Easy Bake Ovens (how I loved the flavor of the little cakes they made).

The phrase D.A. meant a duck-tail or duck-a-- haircut for teenage boys.

Spiral notebooks with brown covers.

Five and Dime stores.

Velvet hair bows a la Rose Marie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (I had them in all colors).

Spam (the meat) was not a joke but a regular on the dinner table.

One-speed bikes.

Flypaper strips.

Rope and board swings.
Ditto machines at school.

Running boards on cars.