The Soviet Union in 1986-87

It’s a dangerous thing to make light of  or be ignorant of the encroachments against personal liberty and property rights by any level or any form of government.

The article at the link illustrates why.

I don’t know who said it first but it’s true:

If we keep going long enough in the direction we’re headed

eventually we will get where we’re going.

man under tree

There’s no reason for me to try to say again what so many others are saying and have said, more effectively than I can. The material is out there and available from so many sources.

We are on the brink of having laws that could be used to pursue thought crimes as a stand alone charge. The existing category of hate crimes is the perfect setup for it.

Here is a simple illustration- one of hundreds that could be used: How is a hate crime different than a regular crime? It’s determined by what one was thinking when they committed the crime. That’s all.

Murdered someone? All righty, then: you are going to be charged with murder with a potential penalty of X years.

Oh. You were hating them before and while you murdered them???? Ah! You will now be charged with a hate crime and the potential penalty is now X times X because of what you were thinking You shouldn’t have been thinking that way.

Read the article linked above and share it with your children and children’s children. They need to know what actually happens when one group of people in a country decide they want control to be the cornerstone of national life rather than liberty.

Posted in History

…..and then he said,……

crossI had a 24/7 front row seat to the last four months of the earthly life of Grant Donald Torgerson. He had many blessed last words. He was patient, content, and confident. Not perfectly so,  but so well done. It was a privilege to participate in the gifts and grace that he received.

Someone who observed us asked if there was some book we had found that described how to do this. Oh, goodness, no! We were borne along from day to day by our loving Father who provided us with things that we never thought to ask for, Who gave us a harvest we did not anticipate.

Grant’s last words from those weeks are recorded in this post to give witness to his way and his thoughts. These words provide for his sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, and nieces and nephews a knowing of their Dad, their Grandpa, their Great-Grandpa, their Brother, their Uncle’s heart as he faced physical death in late 2013 and early 2014, leaving this life on March 1, 2014. Continue reading

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For the Dear Hearts and Gentle People Who Still Live in my Hometown – Culbertson, Montana

mailbox,farmcountryLike some others in the community, we (those kids of Immanuel and Edith Larsen) did not live at Culbertson except for the first decade or two of life but like most in the community, our lives were and are utterly stamped, defined, shaped, and framed by Culbertson, Montana and the good life that was built by the persistent Danes of Dane Valley.

To this day our family shares the same life roots and heritage as those who have sheltered and nourished their families in Roosevelt County over the sixty years since I last lived there. We share the same blessings that were the motivation for the word pictures I’ve tried to provide for our two sons. Perhaps some of my word pictures will reflect some of your old black and white photographs. I hope you find that to be so.  Perhaps you will discover some memories that you were part of as well. You may be reminded of something that is yours alone.

Perhaps your Grandma or Mom rode the same school bus as Fred and I.  Perhaps your Dad was one of Bill’s high school buddies. (I heard something about a shop teacher being given grief by Bill and some of his friends when they sort of dismantled and rebuilt an old car—inside the shop in the basement of the old high school?? Some of you may want to ask your Grandfathers if they might know anything about that.)  One of your aunts may have mentioned some odd goings on with Virginia and her trombone…there were some cattle involved in that story. Continue reading

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Working on more family stories – but more music for now!

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How Big is God ~ by Big John Hall

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Music For the 2017 Eclipse: When I Consider Your Heavens…

Psalm 8:3-5

When I consider Your heavens,

the work of Your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man that You are mindful of him,

and the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels,

And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language

Where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.

Its rising is from one end of heaven,

And its circuit to the other end;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat. Continue reading

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My Home – All things Willamette

Our married life began in Minnesota in 1965. Then we spent 28 years in California, escaping from there in 1993 back to Minnesota farm country where we were for 18 years until moving to Oregon in 2011.

One of the fixtures of every move we made, including more than one within California, was that on move-in day at the ‘new house’ the very first order of business was to get the beds assembled, made up, and fully ready for occupancy by exhausted humans, child or adult.

We came to Oregon with a great sense of satisfaction and completion – it was the culmination of a longed-for plan to get to our final home on this side of the Jordan sort of. The real estate agents we worked with after our arrival assured us there was no way we could find a house with the payment we had established as reasonable – and this fact (in their minds) combined with the fact that we had already been approved for a payment almost twice what we were choosing to pay, caused them to quietly accompany us to horrible little houses that we would never have the strength to refurbish as needed, but that were within our price range.

We got better at computer real estate searches and found things within our price range.

Grant found the house I am now living in. The payment came in 20% below what we had set as our maximum. That maximum was 40% below what we were pre-approved for.

With the assistance of family and new friends, we moved in on January 15, 2012 and immediately assembled the big bed so it was ready for two exhausted adults when they couldn’t do any more.  I got the drapes up in the bedroom before the sun went down and we went happily to bed in our new home. Grateful.

The Willamette Valley – The Willamette River – The Willamette Falls

Just beautiful

Continue reading

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WW I Vets were subject to the first peacetime draft in 1940

This post is being updated on 9/24/2017 to include historical information regarding the peace time draft first imposed in 1940. I was born in 1944 so that was all before my time – and I had not pieced together the fact that the WW I draft act was limited. So while my father, Immanuel, was subject to the draft in WW I, I am not actually clear (at this time) whether or not he was drafted or joined voluntarily.

By the guidelines set down by the Selective Service Act, all males aged 21 to 30 were required to register for military service. At the request of the War Department, Congress amended the law in August 1918 to expand the age range to include all men 18 to 45, and to bar further volunteering.[7] By the end of World War I, some 2 million men volunteered for various branches of the armed services, and some 2.8 million had been drafted.[8] This meant that more than half of the almost 4.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces were drafted. Due to the effort to incite a patriotic attitude, the World War I draft had a high success rate, with fewer than 350,000 men ”dodging” the draft.

Young men at the first national registration day held in association with the Selective Service Act of 1917. The biggest difference between the draft established by the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Civil War draft was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place. In the Civil War, men who did not desire to fight could hire a substitute.

The biggest difference between the draft established by the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Civil War draft was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place. In the Civil War, men who did not desire to fight could hire a substitute.

Peace time conscription was, for the first time, imposed on American citizens in 1940.


The record of our father’s service in the Navy during World War I is laid out in detail in a handwritten diary,  given to him as a Christmas gift in 1918 by his brother, Willie and his sister-in-law, Elvina.

Immanuel was sworn in at Salt Lake City, Utah on June 26, 1918 and was discharged in September of 1919, arriving back in Culbertson on the 14th of September at 7 PM.

On New Year’s Day, 1919, he left Culbertson by train, headed for the west coast where he received his rating as a Shipwright on January 15.

On January 30, it was back on the train again for a cross country ride to New York.

He notes arrival times in Denver; St. Joseph, MO; St. Louis, MO; Cincinnati, OH; Chillicothe, OH; Washington, DC; Philadelpha, PA; and finally, into New York on February 6, at 2 AM.

The phrase “Join the Navy and see the World” was used for some decades on recruiting posters – apparently a lot of the world would be seen through train car windows in the opening years of the 20th century. Continue reading

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Failure to Improve is Still Being Used, Wrongly, to Deny Medicare Coverage

Reading this post in AT this morning:

Then, reading in the comments, Danalynn says:

My father-in-law was denied continued physical therapy (after a botched surgery) because, under Medicare rules, he wasn’t progressing fast enough. Because the facility was “Medicare approved”, we were not allowed to pay, with private funds, for the needed therapy. Worse, we could not find another facility that would allow private therapy, as they all played by the same rules. The lack of physical therapy led to his death within a year.

That is probably an accurate portrayal of what Danalynn’s family was told but it is not an valid application of Medicare rules.

Continue reading

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Sounds for Sunday Night

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Immanuel Larsen was born in Nebraska in 1897

MBOB mailbox.larsenIn May of 2010, Grant and I were preparing for a nine-state road trip which would take us south from Minnesota on I-29 to Omaha; west across Nebraska on I-80, with a planned historical/family heritage stop in Aurora, NB, for a full day; and then on to Denver where we would attend our grandson’s high school graduation.

Then we would head north into Wyoming and west to Oregon to visit our other son and his family, finally returning to Minnesota via Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. A long trip!

We had reservations at a B & B in Aurora, Nebraska, and planned to spend a day and a half there exploring some Larsen family roots.

A couple of days before we were to leave a big tree fell, destroying our garage and woodshed in addition to other things in its trajectory. Our departure was delayed and as a result we only had three hours in Aurora for the intended heritage search. But it was still such a rich find!

We left Aurora satisfied and excited – with terrific documentation, information and photos, and a large book of newspaper article replications from 1874-1902.

Continue reading

Posted in Denmark, Larsen Family, Travel | 2 Comments

Cancer is a major event but it’s not really special

As news of John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis spreads, seems to me there are two issues presented. I’ve seen both of them in play with regard to the news itself and the reactions to it.

People seem to feel compelled to comment re their reaction to someone’s diagnosis about whom they already have strong opinions in matters unrelated to health. Secondly,  it seems that somehow it’s special when a public person gets a diagnosis like this.

Two general truths: 1) No one has to comment. 2) John McCain’s brain cancer is not special any more than the diagnoses of thousands of others who received such information this week.

Having been through the last eighteen months I have now tested my pre-existing theory that having a cancer diagnosis just isn’t that special outside of immediate friends and family.

My opinion is Senator McCain’s importance has to do with his failure to use his political opportunities more efficiently over the last couple of decades. My opinion has nothing to do with his health.

It’s not special and it’s not inherently heroic to outlive, or try to recover from a cancer diagnosis. Continue reading

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The First Day of School

Somehow it always seemed that the first day of school was a perfect, sunshiny day with a whiff of the smell of wheat chaff in the air.

The hollyhocks on the east side of the house were so tall that they leaned over the sidewalk. The sweet peas were about done blooming. The cottonwood trees were fading from their bright green, getting red for fall yellow.

It was good to go back to school in a new plaid skirt or jumper with new blouses on hand, and a new jacket or sweater.

My brother and I always stood for a picture just by the open door of the school bus that first morning.  It was a sign of the times that those in the photo didn’t resist and onlookers didn’t snicker.  The Photo By The Bus was expected ritual for any household that boasted a camera.

The first grade teacher had taught first grade since the Civil War, as we understood it.  She was friends with the really old ladies in town, because she had grown up with them.  Her hair was always in a tidy little chignon snugged up against the back of her neck. She was never unkind. Her students were never unruly.

Continue reading

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We Went to Yellowstone Park in 1949

At about 7:08 in the video, there’s a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with the usual view of Yellowstone Falls.

Our parents drove the family there in the old car.

It was a trip of over 500 miles. Preparations included a basket full of packed sandwiches and thermoses full of coffee. It involved sleeping in the car sandwich-like, the six of us sort of packed next to one another.

The narrator in the satirical video above, does have a properly ominous voice. The information he provides is quite accurate but apparently he just doesn’t know how to enjoy Yellowstone. (Maybe he’s from New Yawk ‘r somethin’…secretly, he loves it….which comes out as he goes along….)

We enjoyed it every time we went, including the several trips in our adult years when we introduced our boys to the marvels to be found there. In 1949 we,  like most farm kids raised around DDT, rusty nails, and literal raging bulls, did as we were told and if we were little, a parent was clutching our little hand in a death grip so we were quite safe.

Gas was about 20 cents a gallon in those days and bread ran about 14 cents a loaf. Household income averaged a little over $3,000.

I was five, my closest brother was seven, older brother and sister were fourteen and fifteen.

That must have been the first time I saw, in person, Gil’s Got It, a packed-to-the-rafters-souvenir store in Livingston, Montana which had as many road signs in those parts as Burma Shave had across the west. Continue reading

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The Familiar and the Unfamiliar: It’s All Good

barn with mailboxTraveling by car with or without a family was a big deal in the 1930s when roads that were sometimes barely more than well-worn trails across the prairie connected one little town to the other.

Those who traveled them regularly knew where the mud holes were, which creeks were fordable and when, and which farmers didn’t mind if you camped overnight at the edge of their pasture or field. A heavy canvas tent was sometimes carried along in case shelter was needed. Our parents had such a tent.

We still played in it in the early 1950s. It was about 12′ by 12′ – a large one. Probably weighed about twenty pounds and it depended on heavy wood poles for its sturdy stand.  We depended on older brothers to set it up when they might have time after field work on a summer evening.tent

Staying out and sleeping in it overnight meant waking up in unfamiliar surroundings which could be a delightful thing to experience, with only the occasional wandering skunk adding an unfamiliar threat…which might cause us to relocate to our familiar bedrooms. It was just a few skunksteps to the back door of the house, a scamper through the length of the first floor to the stairs that we could climb in the middle of the night to find our familiar beds…if we had decided the familiar was better.

Such an alternative was not available when Grant and I woke up in the middle of one night in the 1970s and learned that we had camped in Mule Deer Mid-Night Meet ‘n Greet Territory.

We were hiking with Eric and Jon who were about seven and nine at the time, at 7,000 feet elevation somewhere south of Yosemite. This was in the good old days when trail signs were few and hence, trails were lightly traveled. Hikers didn’t venture out on long trails unless they knew how to read maps. We were in the process of learning.hiking trail

We had run out of daylight some time before we ran out of trail that evening. Our destination, a lake with camping options for backpackers, was too away far for us to push on. When we saw packed ground in an open area about four hundred feet square under the forest canopy alongside the trail, we set up there for the night, on the slanted ground.

One small area was flat enough for supper preparation over sterno cans, using lightweight camp-cookware kettles.

A little after midnight we awoke to heavy movement and shuffling feet all around us. It was perfect audio for a tucked-safely-into-your-own-bed nightmare – but not so good when you discover you’re in territory that is not yours by any definition.

The noise was a group of mule deer moving through the clearing, nibbling at the brush along the edges of the clearing and chatting among themselves.starry sky

Now backpacking at altitude in the The Sierras has several delightful features: one of them is that there are seldom any mosquitoes, so we never used tents. Just sleeping bags on thin foam pads. We literally slept under the stars which meant that as we struggled awake in those moments there was no tent wall between us and hooves and legs that were scuffling up against our sleeping bags, bumping into our heads.

We had shifted a log so we could brace our feet against it- as though we were on a tilted bed – the boys between us, so we wouldn’t lose either of them in a downhill roll during the night.

As DH and I sat up and realized we had company (of course the boys slept soundly through the entire event), we immediately scrambled to our feet, recognizing that these confused and slightly alarmed and hooved mammals had a serious advantage over us. In such a situation there’s no option but to combine what you know how to do with what you’ve never had to do before, but must now do.

We had thousands of pounds of Mule Deer on The Hoof who did not appreciate our presence. It was flat dark so they couldn’t clearly see who or what the intruder was. What species we were. What threat we were. They did know we were noisy.

We used the flashlights to little effect and added the audio of the lightweight cooking utensils, each of us pounding two pieces together to make as much noise as we could; repeatedly taking a step or half step toward the animals who stood fully as tall as we did, yelling as we stepped – then stepping back in order to keep our legs as a useless little fence around the boys, still sleeping between on the ground between us.

The deer finally decided to give us about an 8′ foot open space but didn’t leave their midnight ground until about an hour later – I suspect their usual time.

It was a frightening and unfamiliar situation. and left us with badly dented cookware.

RalstonRemember the young man in Utah who got his arm thoroughly caught between two rock formations a couple of years ago? After a few days dying there, he realized that it was up to him to save himself by cutting off his arm. So he did that. He mixed the familiar with the unfamiliar to get through a bad situation.

He walked out, met a family who helped him, and he survived.

And, of course, wrote a book – because everyone wanted to try to understand how on earth could you make yourself do that? 

I haven’t read the whole book but I’m guessing his  motivation had to do with what was at stake: his life. Lack of meaningful options tends to focus the mind.

Aron Ralston took something he already knew about (his own anatomy, his level of dehydration, his knowledge of the minimal chances of being found within his projected survival window) and mixed it with unfamiliar necessity (breaking your own arm and then cutting it off would fall under the unfamiliar). *See links below for updates on Ralston’s life since that experience.

When he decided to cut his right wrist and hand off he was excluding the option of having two of those for the rest of his life. Every choice made excludes other options.

On December 18, 2013 the oncologist said there was one treatment that might extend Grant’s life by a matter of weeks. She also explained that on most of those days, due to the effect of the treatment, he would feel extremely ill with some very unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms. He would likely not have much enjoyment out of any additional days.

We looked at each other for a few seconds as we used thoughts that were familiar to us, added in new and unfamiliar thoughts, and we made a decision what we would never have volunteered to have to make.

We did what we had never had to do before and were, from that moment forward, content with it.

What he said to the oncologist on November 15 after she delivered the initial, unchangeable verdict carries continued weight to this day, “It’s all good.”

In retrospect, that’s still a good and honest evaluation.


Whether or not a choice is easily caught in the act it still possesses sequence and result.

It is a process as much as a raindrop hitting the ground is a process….

…even when the choice requires a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar.


A refusal to choose is also a choice, and and it will have both sequence and consequence.

page divider blue and green
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Letters from Grandma Irene Torgerson (1985)

This letter was written by Grandma Irene (Torgerson) on September 26, 1985, to my mother (Grandma Edith [Larsen]).

I have the original which is written in her classically beautiful penmanship.

Dear Edith –

It was so nice of you to send me the church paper with the news about Eric*. That was wonderful! Things like that encourage our young people.

Toward the end of this week, Sonia & Karen are taking me to Michigan to spend a while with John & Lorilee & Timmy. It’s a long trip so I think we’ll have to spend one night in a motel.

After I’ve been to Lorilee & John’s I’m going to try being at home** in my little house.

God is so gracious! This last week I am feeling more like my old self. Continue reading

Posted in Cancer is a Cardboard Box, Heritage, Letters, Otter Tail County, MN, Torgerson Family | 1 Comment

God’s Faithfulness and Goodness is Great

Think back, if you’re old enough to, to June, 1962 – or visit that time in memory with me.

My thoughts return to my high school graduation, one month earlier. Now, on some day in June, we are loading the very last items from the house on to trucks driven by my uncles as Mom and I prepare to move to her new home forty miles south on Highway 16 in eastern Montana. One of those uncles had assisted our Dad (who had died on March 31) with the details and process of purchasing that house for Mom.

One of the final heavy items brought out of the house was the piano that had been purchased when I was in about first grade. It had replaced the old upright player piano that had served the house through the ’40s. Now that newer studio piano sat on the open truck bed in the open summer air. Continue reading

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An Unattended Death in 1892

During the 18 years Grant and I spent in Minnesota (1993-2011) we came to deeply appreciate the treasure trove that was the local museum: they had resources that provided endless raw material through which we could research the life and times of the Torgerson family line in Otter Tail County.

Among my favorite haunts were the microfiche files that contained newspaper copy – column by column – going back well over a hundred years at that point. It was not indexed. So it was a matter of simply reading, reading, reading – making a note of which microfiche I ended with and picking up there the following week.

It was common practice in the newspapers of the time to have a column of news from each township so I didn’t have to read the whole issue but simply scan the news from Aurdal Township, where the Torgersons had homesteaded just before the Civil War. Continue reading

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The Old Rose Bush

Sons and Grandchildren: Grandma Ella Torgerson lived on North Union Avenue in Fergus Falls during the ’40s and into the early ’60s IIRC. Grandpa (Grant) often talked about the beautiful rose bush she had. The roses at 7.01 are the closest resemblance. The skating rink at Lake Alice where they skated in winter was only a couple of blocks from her home.

the old rose bush

by the old lady’s house

in the old country town

left memory tracks

so deep in his mind…

…sixty-five years after

the memory was made  

he planted another

at his Oregon home

just like the one at Grandma’s house

Continue reading

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Endurance is not a feeling – it’s a choice

Three years ago I posted the thoughts shared in the devotional book, Streams in the Desert:

Last week I had my regularly scheduled IV infusion of Herceptin, one of the toxic-yet-amazing tools used in the treatment of the cancer identified one year ago today. During that appointment I had a productive conversation with the nurse which I will relate in a bit – the nurses who are trained and experienced in oncology IV treatments are quite a resource….such resources are best drawn on when the awareness of the one coming to take is met by the readiness of the one ready to give, in this case, IV/Oncology Nurse Carol. We had a wonderful meeting on Tuesday.

When the 33 radiation treatments ended in early February I was glad to be told by the radiation oncologist that I would begin feeling distinctively better in a couple of weeks as recovery from radiation fatigue got under way. But there was an OOPS. Feeling distinctively better didn’t happen. At all. Continue reading

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