Notebook
December 4th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

It looks like the ice on the pond is here to stay for a while.  Do not go out there unless you are with a buddy and be sure to check the ice often.  We used to drag race cars across Cedar Lake west of Upsala when we were teenagers.  To my knowledge, no one ever went through the ice. We got away with a lot of stupid things as kids.  One winter we made a game of standing on the hood of a DeSoto, using it as a giant snowboard as we were towed in the ditch behind a car.  Dumb and dumber.

My sister and one of my classmates both ended up in casts after a toboggan run down a steep hill in the Burtrum Hills.  After a heavy snow we would make a party by driving into the Burtrum Hills with our old cars and just try to get stuck.  These were not SUVs, simply rear wheel drive Chevys with a bunch of boys and snow shovels.

Here is one way to enjoy the winter and the ice in a safe environment.  https://youtu.be/iNuCXUkp2DE

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”   Seneca

November 27th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

Yesterday was the most unusual Thanksgiving of my life.  Our family decided to not gather, but rather we scheduled a Zoom meeting for 11am CST.   There are six Osberg children, five boys and one girl.  The girl came first, so she always had her own room.  She is the sweetest of the bunch.  Besides some spouses and two children, there were a couple of nieces who were on also.  One with her dog and one with her fiancé.  The wedding is probably going to be in 2022.   Maybe the second Saturday in June. (inside joke).  Three states, Minnesota, Arizona and Illinois were in the mix.  We had a wonderful time with lots of laughter.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been if the loved ones that have passed on would have surprised us all with a check in.  I actually pictured it in my mind.  I am sure that others were thinking the same thing.  One of my brothers mentioned that our sister reminded him of Ma.  2020 has been a very tough year for many.  So much loss. 

A big shout out to the genius that made this happen.  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and whomever it was that came up with Zoom.  The only reason that I am still sane is because I have loved ones that I can stay in constant touch with.  Sharing pictures, sharing music, sharing videos.  But the best is still going to the mailbox and getting a note that is signed “Love,”

“The world is very beautiful and very wonderful.  Life can be very easy when love is your way of life.”   Page 127 of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.

November 20th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

In 1998 Dad moved from his high rise apartment in downtown St. Paul to my house in Upsala. He had been a city fellow for most of his adult life, but he was raised in Upsala. I was working in Minneapolis as a sales manager with a Xerox agency and I was gone most of the week. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience to have him there. His passion was cooking, however I told him in no uncertain terms that I hated the smell of fried foods and I did not eat leftovers.

In July of 1999 the Xerox agency and Xerox parted their ways and they no longer needed a sales manager. I spent the summer painting old buildings and garages in the Upsala area and started working for Minnesota Public Radio in October of that year. If I did not leave a post-it note on the counter in the morning that said “NO SUPPER”, there would be a home cooked meal on the table when I arrived home. The food was awesome. The baked potatoes were done in a special way. He boiled them 10 minutes first and then baked them for one hour at 400 degrees.

As Dad struggled with old age and cancer, sometimes the quality was not up to his usual standards. Also, many times the smell of burnt food or worse, burnt plastic, from the tea pot handle, would greet me as I came in the back door. He burned three tea pots, with plastic handles, in the last six months. It got so that the only time I did not leave out the post-it note, “NO SUPPER”, was on Fridays.

On November 18, 2004, I came home and he greeted me with “I have to go to the hospital, but you can eat first. Your supper is in the oven” I responded “No way, we will go now!”  I put on the oven mitts and grabbed the baked potatoes and dish of meatballs from the oven and shoved them in the frig and we drove to the VA in Minneapolis.

That was Dad’s “Last supper”, he never did come home. That weekend I ate the leftover meatball supper. It was a very tasty meal.

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself.”  Howard Thurman

November 13th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

Today is Friday the 13th. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, NC, reported that an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business on this day. “It’s been estimated that $800 to $900 million is lost in business on this day..”   Source: John Roach.

According to Wikipedia, the actual origin of the superstition appears to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil – a gathering of thirteen – and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week.

For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.” source: Charles Panati, Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  Frederick Douglass

November 6th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

One of the hardest things about this pandemic is that we can’t break bread together.  Many families are going to be playing it safe and not gathering as usual.

Each family has the one or two meals that everyone looks forward to.  In our family, it was “Ma’s roast beef”.  She always put on a very special roast beef dinner.  The meat was very tasty, the mashed potatoes were perfect and the gravy was “right on”.  There was many a time that the four Osberg brothers who lived near Minneapolis would gather at Ma’s apartment for her roast beef dinner.  After she passed on, there was much discussion at the dining table about what cut of meat one should ask the butcher for.  Since Ma raised six kids as a single parent, we know that the meat had to be “affordable”.  Brother Craig always claimed that it should be “the eye of the chuck”.

I went to Byerly’s and they said that normally they would cut steaks from the “chuck eye”, but they would be willing to simply provide the cut as a roast.  The balance of the recipe, as I understand it, is to sear the meat in a roasting pan on all sides, slow roast in a covered roaster with water added and roast it for a long time.  Adding onions, potatoes and carrots is an option.  The finished product should be a roast beef that will flake at the touch of the fork and not break the “piggy bank”. 

“Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven!”  Pillsbury Doughboy 

October 30th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

Tomorrow night is Halloween, the night before All Hallows Day. According to Wikipedia, though the origin of the word Halloween is Christian, the holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain”, which comes from the Old Irish for “summers end”. Samhain was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar.

Samhain was seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the “Otherworld” opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. “Guising” – children going from door to door for food or coins is a traditional Halloween custom and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895. The practice of “Guising” at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children “Guising” around the neighborhood. I am not sure that there are any outhouses left to tip in central Minnesota.

This year is going to be different.  Stay safe everyone and please vote. 

“Life is easier than you would think.  All that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable.”  Kathleen Norris

October 23rd, 2020 by Gary Osberg

Next Wednesday, October 28th,  I will reach a milestone.  For twenty one years I have been representing Minnesota Public Radio in central, western and southwestern Minnesota as well as Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Sun Valley, Idaho.

After spending 23 years selling office furniture and 6 years in the office equipment industry I was laid off by Albinson, the agency that represented Xerox. They simply decided that they didn’t want to be a Xerox agency anymore.  The owners didn’t like the new contract that Xerox had presented.  So they didn’t need a sales manager.  On July 13, 1999, I had supper with my son at Byerly’s in Golden Valley. I told Erik that I would keep the old parsonage house in Upsala, but I was planning on moving to Minneapolis, since I had my dream job as a sales manager with a great product and I would be making a very good living.  The next day my boss told me that I should pack my things and they would pay me thru the end of the month.

I spent the summer of 1999 painting old buildings in the Upsala area. I drove to Randall and went to the back room at Bermel’s Shoes & Boots, the local Red Wing boot dealer. I picked out a good pair of sturdy work boots and started climbing ladders. My first job was painting the Post Office in Upsala and then I painted an out building on my cousin Dave’s farm. Per my brother Bill’s instructions, I used oil based primer and latex paint. He let me use his power washer. The two buildings that I did the summer of 1999 still look good. The boots are in pretty good shape too.

In August of 1999 I read an ad in the St. Cloud Times for a “Development Officer” for Minnesota Public Radio. I didn’t know what a “Development Officer” was, but it turned out to be sales. A perfect fit. It took two months and seven interviews to get this job, but it worked out well. Compared to “slamming boxes for Xerox”, this is more fun than it is work. I have no plans to retire anytime soon.

“It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul” From the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.

October 16th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

The first snow of the season has covered the roof tops here in Mill Stream Village in St. Joseph, Minnesota.  Too soon for this guy.

In Upsala some were “summer kids”, not “village kids”.  They were kids whose parent or parents grew up in Upsala and they were sent to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa during the summer.  Some stayed for a few weeks and some stayed for the whole summer.  In one situation that I knew of, the son was getting into too much trouble in the “cities” and they thought hard work on a farm would be a better way for him to spend his summer.

Larry was a “summer kid” and he ended up marrying one of the Upsala beauties.  She was chased by all of the boys, but Larry won her heart.  He was also one of the eight couples that camped on our lakeshore on Cedar Lake west of Upsala every fourth of July.  He was a fun loving fellow. One year he decided to make sure that my son Erik and I had a chance to experience grouse hunting.  This is the story that I share every MEA weekend, because it means a lot to me and I know Erik had a great time too. 

MEA weekend is a special time of the year. Many a father/son(daughter) combo head for the woods or ponds to bring home the “bacon” in the form of grouse or duck. Larry, a friend of mine who died way too young, knew that I had never taken up hunting, but he wanted my son and myself to experience a weekend of grouse hunting, up north at “the shack”. He invited our friend Ron and his son Matt, my son’s best friend, to join him and his son Danny. So there were three dads and three sons along with a black lab, “Bear”. We formed two teams and I was the “bird dog” on the DADS team. Bear went with the boys.

The first day we brought back 17 grouse and Larry fixed a meal of grouse with wild rice and cream of mushroom soup in the giant iron skillet that hung from a nail in “the shack”. It was one of the most memorable feasts of my life. I trust that you are doing something special with your family this weekend. Stay safe.   

“Remember, it’s not about having time it’s about making time.”  Erik Osberg

October 11th, 2020 by Gary Osberg

During the sixties my dad worked as a night desk clerk at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. While I was still attending high school in Upsala, Ma would ship me down to spend some time with him once in a while. The first thing he would do is send me to the barber shop in the lower level of the hotel for a haircut and a shoe shine. He would put me up in a room at the hotel or at the YMCA.

Fifty five years ago this week, the Twins were halfway to a World Series Championship. “Mudcat” Grant was the ace pitcher of the 1965 Twins. The Twins beat the Dodgers in both home games but the road trip to LA was a bust. The Dodgers swept three games on October 9, 10 & 11. Back in Bloomington, Mudcat started game 6 in the Metropolitan Stadium and the Twins beat the Dodgers 5-1 to even the Series.

Dad was able to get me a press pass for game 7. I was worried about being challenged about my status as a reporter, so I stopped at a drug store and bought a note pad and a nice ball point pen. The press pass worked and they even gave me a box lunch. Sandy Koufax shut the Twins out in game 7, allowing only three hits and striking out 10. The final score was 2-0.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help a man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

October 1st, 2020 by Gary Osberg

I am not sure when the homecoming is at Upsala this year. In my day it was the Upsala `Cardinals’, but some time ago Upsala football merged with Swanville and now it is the USA (Upsala Swanville Area) `Patriots’.

Some of my favorite memories of football games are those played in the mud. I was an overweight freshman on the Upsala Cardinal team in 1957. Freshmen wore the old uniforms and helmets and we did not win any fashion awards. John Atkinson, a senior running back, ran with his knees pumping up and down high and hard. He still managed to make yardage. In practice, I would simply bounce off of his knee pads. The memory of the pain is still with me. That was the year when no other team even scored on the Upsala team. Clarissa got to our three yard line, but our defense held.

A couple of years ago, the 1957 Upsala football team was inducted into the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame. I was one of nine of the twenty-nine original members of the 1957 Upsala Cardinal football team who showed up for our induction into the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame. One of the guys, Dave Chuba, came all the way from Ohio. The quarterback of the 1957 team was Bob Soltis. Bob was named All-State in 1957.  Bob was the guy who nicknamed me “Murray” because I went to the U of M in fall of 1961.  The other nickname that I had was “Alkie”.

This was the second year that inductees to the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame were chosen. Bob’s brother John was a junior on the 1957 football team and he accepted an individual award for his older brother.  The first year of the Hall of Fame, Bob’s younger brother Ralph was chosen. There were lots of Soltis boys and they all played football. No one lifted weights in those days, they just threw bales of hay all summer. Those of us who were “village kids” had a tough time keeping up with the “farm kids”.  

“There is only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.  I do, and I demand that my players do.”  Vince Lombardi