The Flow

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being in the flow of things, in tune with life, in perfect harmony with the state of affairs? For many who revere the fall season, it may be possible to attain such a blissful state.
Check out the essential components . . . it is the heart of the harvest season, all of man’s planning; hard work and stewardship are coming to fruition. One memorable summer season gives way for the imminent bounty of fall. The birds, animals and trees are more animated – they too have a heightened sense of urgency for the harvest. Everything intensifies – the colors, the multitudinous gathering of the migrating birds. The approaching winter season plays out in the narrative of all that lives – it’s the mating season for many, including whitetail deer. It’s time to stockpile without delay for a variety of animals from beavers to field mice, and yes, for men. And inside the spirit of man, whether you be a nature lover or outdoorsman and hunter . . . fall quickens.
Let’s go and see. There is nothing like floating in a small boat and watching the gathering of countless migrating ducks. You see the flock of bluebills dropping out of the Northern sky, wings cupped, heading for your decoys. Your hunting dog sees them too and his gaze becomes fixed on the approaching birds. He does a side-glance at you to make certain you see them as well. You nod to your dog and he once again locks onto the ducks. The bluebills make a precautionary fly-by, ripping the air as their wings slice into your consciousness . . . a forty mile per hour blur just inches above your decoys. Your dog is shaking. You whisper one word, “Steady”. After three more passes, the leader of the flock decides it is safe. They commit and come in. Three quick shots and your dog goes to work. He flies (did you know dogs could fly?) out of the duck-boat, landing ten feet away in a spray of icy water. He spots the downed bluebills and swims without delay. He picks up the first, then the second and returns to the side of the boat. He delivers them to your hand, then immediately goes for the third duck, which is swimming away from the decoys. He catches up to the bluebill but it dives underwater, out of reach. This is repeated with a marathon chase three times. Finally, the dog closes in and when the duck dives under, he does to, disappearing for nearly a minute. The water explodes as the duck and the dog rocket out of the frigid water . . . duck firmly lodged in your retriever’s mouth. He makes his way back to your boat, making you proud. You pull him aboard as he bountifully shares the 40 degree water. “Good boy.”
Shooting ducks is bittersweet. You study them, in the bottom of your boat, and you consider that they are perfect in form and color. When they arrived this day they became an aerial display more like a song than a flight. They rose and fell in concert, holding their relative position as a member of their flock. You could feel their movement, just as the roll of the waves underfoot and the tapping of the reeds on your shoulder. I wonder if all this is recorded in the book of life . . . only the Creator knows. The spent shotgun shells bob in the waves, rising and falling, tapping out a cadence on the wooden hull of your boat. The entire experience becomes riveting. The concentration exhibited by your dog as the bluebills approached was perfect. No creature on earth, man or beast, could best the intensity of your dog. October, you, your retriever and the hunt move into the perfect flow.
Fall energy tips: Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day or when you are home, and at night or when you are away, turn it down to 65 degrees or less. Change the furnace filter at least once per month, and if you have not had your furnace cleaned and tuned for two years, do so. These simple measures can save you up to twenty-five percent on your yearly heating bill. Also, use ceiling fans to blow the heat down from the ceiling (heat rises) and you will mix the hot air better, requiring less heat to stay comfortable. Check out all of the energy saving programs and initiatives at Tri-CAP. If you are income eligible, there may be good news for you. Check us out and get in tune and in the flow of the season.

Tri-CAP blog for October

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

Lillian’s Song

It’s easy for me to write about fall. In “Moby Dick” Herman Melville wrote that all things in nature carry a greater meaning, the wind, waves, storms and creatures were merely a mask covering a deeper, epic meaning.   In his way of thinking, everything was a pawn in the greater conflict between the forces of good and evil.

That may be true, but I can find little that is sinister in the things of fall. My favorite life experiences live in my memories of autumn. Here’s one I’ll share with you. Lillian Osander was a farm lady who owned the land my Dad and his friends hunted on by North Turtle Lake in Ottertail County. I was in my teens when she was in her 80’s, and I thought of her as a second grandmother. She was kind-hearted to everyone – it was her way of life. Peder Osander, her husband, had been bed-ridden with a stroke and Lillian could never leave him for long. She used to love the outdoors, so I would stop and see her and Peder before I joined my Dad and his friends at our duck hunting cabin.

Sometimes I would ask Lillian if she wanted to go out with me and sit in a duck-boat on Redhead Bay. She always said yes. I would motor over and pick her up on shore behind her farm. We would drift in the tall “pencil grass” and watch the ducks come in and land on the bay. Sometimes, if we were fortunate, we would see the redwing blackbird migration. Hundreds of thousands of the raucous birds would appear in a great flock in the Northern sky of North Turtle Lake. Every bird in the flock was sounding. The flock was an undulating cylinder of souls, taking up to twenty minutes to cross over the lake and then over our heads. Their wings were a roar like water rushing over a falls. Their song was almost deafening. They would all land in the oak and maple trees between us and Lillian’s farm. Every branch, every twig was occupied by a singing redwing. It was a sight and sound like no other – but it was nothing compared to the joy on Lillian Osander’s countenance.

If fall is a mask, it is mine to remember.

September energy tip: Fill your heating fuel tank. Don’t wait for the propane or fuel oil to run out – it could damage your furnace. Also, if you run out, your heating fuel provider may charge you extra for an emergency fill trip.

Tri-CAP September 2018 Blog

By Stephen Bjorklunc

Nordic Saga

Each of us holds dear what is important, however, that thing of great value is not necessarily universal. Let me share a case in point. I visit diverse families in the course of doing my job as a home energy advisor – many are Scandinavian. Recently I met an 86 year old Norwegian who lived on his family’s “Century” farmstead, just outside of the small town of Holdingford. As I sat with my client at the kitchen table, something caught my eye outside of the bay window. There, on a raised mound surrounded by pansies and purple irises, sat a huge fossilized bone. It appeared to be a section of backbone, a vertebrae standing over two feet tall. I asked Lars, “What’s the story behind the fossil?”

His old blue eyes flashed and he responded, “How much time do you have – it’s a bit of a tale?”

“Enough,” said I.

“Before Grandpa Finn took a wife, he lived all alone in a one-room cabin – do you see it – over there next to the milking parlor? Over the years a red fox with a black face started to hang around the cows. He would dart in and lap up the spilled milk. Grandpa tolerated his antics, and as time passed, the fox lost his natural fear. Grandpa and the black fox became friends. If anyone else came to the farm, the fox would vanish like a spirit.

“One fall day Grandpa Finn took a hike down to the north 40 woods. He saw his black fox sitting next to a hole in the ground. He approached and the fox disappeared. After a closer look-see, Grandpa discovered that the fox had found the entrance to a here-to-fore undiscovered cave. Grandpa went back to the log cabin and retrieved a kerosene lantern, and returned.

“He squeezed through the narrow opening, slid down a smooth rock ledge and found himself standing in a cavern. It was bigger than his one room cabin. The black fox appeared by his side, peering up at Grandpa Finn. Then the fox walked to the far end of the chamber, to a smaller passageway. Grandpa Finn followed. The fox stopped and pawed at the cave floor, partially unearthing a white object. It appeared to be a large bone embedded in the limestone. Grandpa Finn’s curiosity was peaked. Over the next months, in all of his spare time, he worked at carefully extracting his find from the limestone. Finally one spring day he lifted the massive object from its limestone crypt. It was a sight to behold. He hefted it up – as heavy as a hundred weight milking can, and carried it to the center of the main cavern. He set it down on a wool blanket and walked around his prize with the kerosene lantern. His gaze fell upon a mystifying sight. In one of the clefts of the fossilized vertebrae lodged a perfectly formed stone spear point, half embedded into the bone. This unknown creature had been felled by an ancient hunter –by a man with a spear!”

“Have you ever had the fossil identified or dated?’ I blurted out.

“No.” said Lars. “Grandpa Finn was a private sort, and he didn’t want any of the neighbors to know about the cave or the fossil. His business was his business. His cave was his cave, and he especially didn’t want anyone poking around the farm or endangering his black fox.”

“Do you mind if we go out and get a closer look at the fossil?”

“Sure, why not. Let’s go and see.”

We walked around the great white mystery, stopping to examine the stone spear-point.

“Do you realize what this is?” I asked.

“Grandpa Finn had some ideas.”

“It is a segment of the back-bone of a dinosaur. It’s far too large to be from a wooly mammoth. That means that it may be many millions of years old. It could be priceless. And the fact that a man – an ancient hunter killed it may change history as we know it. Don’t you think that you should find a safer place to store it, at least until you have an expert identify it? This could be the greatest find in modern history.”

“Who wants an old bone in the parlor? And another thing, it’s part of Grandpa Finn’s life – that is all the history that matters to me.”

“But think of what the relic could be worth to your family.”

“Well, Grandpa Finn always had enough. The farm provided for all of his needs, and in time, our needs. All the extra money in the world, or notoriety, wouldn’t improve our life here on the farm. You see, what was important to Grandpa Finn was that thing that he treasured.”

And with that, I departed. I tried to imagine the mind of Grandpa Finn, and the worth of that black fox.

August energy tips: The monster in your basement – Radon gas. What is radon? It is an odorless, colorless gas that seeps up through the soil. It usually appears in your basement. Radon gas is formed from the natural decay of Uranium in the soil. In Minnesota, radon levels vary county by county.

How can radon hurt you? Long term exposure can damage the cells that line the lung and may even cause lung cancer. In Minnesota, 2 out of 5 homes have high radon levels. In our area, two out of four counties are subject to excessive radon. Stearns and Sherburne Counties are high; Morrison and Benton County not so bad.

How do you know if you have a problem? Test your house with an inexpensive test kit that you can place for three to seven days in the lowest living area. You can order the kit on-line at: mn.radon.com

If you send the test in, they will send you back the results. The magic number is 4. If higher than 4.0 (pCi/L), consider installing radon mitigation.

Radon mitigation: This usually entails installing a sump-type basket or collection pipe holes in the basement (to create collection pockets under the concrete slab).  A Radon gas exhaust pipe is installed (has to be vented out through the roof, fan assisted). Every gap and crack in the basement, including exhaust pipe surrounds, must be sealed. Cost: from $1200 to $1,700, depending on the building characteristics. Hire a state licensed radon mitigation contractor to get the job done right.

Tri-CAP August 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

The Long and Short of IT

How long do things live? Here’s the list.

  • Bristlecone pine tree – 5060 years.
  • Giant tortoise – 255 years.
  • Asian elephant – 86 years.
  • Blue Macaw – 119 years.
  • Horse – 62 years.
  • Dog – 29 years.
  • Cat – 38 years.
  • Black bear – 30 years.
  • Whitetail deer – 4.5 (wild); 25 years (captive).
  • Greenland shark – 512 years.
  • Bowhead whale – 200 years.
  • Lobsters – 140 years.
  • Pheasant – 27 years.
  • Grouse – 11 years.
  • Cottontail rabbit – 3 years.
  • Canada goose – 28 years.
  • Mallard duck – 27 years.
  • Bald eagle – 20 -38 years.
  • Robins – 13 years.
  • Humans – 79-100+

Let’s talk people. How do most of us end?

  1. Heart disease.
  2. Cancer.
  3. Stroke.
  4. Lung disease.
  5. Accidents.
  6. Diabetes.
  7. Flu & pneumonia.
  8. Alzheimer’s.

Where do people live the longest, and why? (90, 100, or more). SARDINIA, ITALY – They largely have a plant diet and typically walk five miles per day. OKINAWA, JAPAN – They have a strong social circle that lasts for a lifetime. NICOYA, COSTA RICA – People love the outdoors; eat a natural diet with no processed food, and they devise their own plan for life. LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA – This is a strong religious community with strict adherence to a day of rest on the Sabbath. IKARIA, GREECE – The people have a natural diet, socialize late into the evening, and take frequent naps during the day.

How does Minnesota fair? Men – 79 plus. Women – 81 plus.

Have you ever heard any of these from your parents: eat right, work hard, exercise, go to church, and take good care of your family? Looks like they were right again.

July energy tips: Close your window shades during the day and open them in the cool of the evening. Use a fan instead of your air-conditioner, or run the fan on your furnace. Install awnings over your big windows, especially to the South. Dry your clothes on an old-fashioned clothes line. Water your lawn early or late in the day, and let the lawn grow longer (takes less water). Freeze bags of water, place a frozen bag in a dish in front of a fan and point it at yourself. (The frugal man’s air conditioner). Call Tri-CAP if we can be of assistance through our many programs (for qualified families), and have a good, safe summer. More of Dad’s wisdom – a day of fishing adds two days to your life.

Tri-CAP July 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

The Time Travelers, Part #3 “Vectors and Resonance”

 

Within the month I received another summons to visit Jethro Olam. We wasted no time on formalities, and went directly to the latest news from his parents.

“Dearest Jethro, we arrived in Guatemala at the peak of the Mayan civilization’s cultural and scientific renaissance. By fortuitous circumstances, we were able to witness the construction of a new pyramid and temple structure, and in the process, we learned that time travel is an ancient science and a here-to-fore lost art. We spent nearly 50 of your years rediscovering these ancient truths. Now it is time to reveal what we have found.”

Vectors

“The building blocks of theoretical time are spherical and circular in nature. Linear time, past, present, and future are really a function of spherical movements.   At any given time we are moving from three impetus, the earth spins daily; it orbits around the sun annually; and we are flying away like a falcon from the beginning of time – from the creation burst. To travel in time, we must establish our location and our desired destination point. By a series of computations, we can arrive at vectors, or coordinates, to reach the targeted date. The past is a point between where we are and the creation burst, it is an actual place that can be mathematically determined. Ditto for the future.

“It took many years to create a working model of the cosmos. Of course it is incomplete, but we had enough information for our purposes. All matter is flying away on a concentric, spherical shock wave from the beginning of time, from creation. We were able to locate our relative position in this construct and determine the speed at which we were moving. TIME IS A FUNCTION OF MOVEMENT AND LOCATION.

Resonance

“Part of understanding the movement of time is very elemental. We are being pushed by a shock wave originating from creation. As with all waves, there is a component of harmonic motion. Without harmonic motion, the wave energy would dissipate and the wave would cease. Time would then come to rest like water on a glassy pond, or like the surface of the biblical crystal sea, and time would also cease to exist.

“Every point in time has a unique signature, a harmonic resonance that is just as telling as a finger-print. This is an energy pulse that behaves similarly to a sound wave. The secret of time travel is creating the correct “pitch” or “tone” of this identifying signature. Have you ever watched a freight train approaching? The pitch of the engine changes as the train gets ever closer, then changes again as it departs. The pitch of this sound is a calculation of the sound wave from the point of origin, as modified by the pitch of sound relative to your present location.  Likewise, this signature energy pulse carries a different pitch at every location on earth’s journey through time and space.

 

The device

“What would our story be without an actual time machine? Bear in mind that the device had to be small enough to fit into a back-pack. We could not depend on a ground crew from our original point of embarkation, as we could easily out-live all of our contemporaries. We had to be self-contained and self-reliant if we ever hoped to return.

“We discovered that an unblemished crystal, about twelve inches in length, had the molecular characteristics necessary to act as a time machine medium.   Scholars of old may also have possessed knowledge of the unique properties of crystals, and mention is even made in the scriptures of the crystal sea flowing before the throne of the Creator. After decades of experimentation, we were able to catalog the pitches of different earth times, different ages. Next, we calibrated two tuning forks, one with the signature pitch of our present time; one with the pitch of the time we wished to travel to. When these two forks are activated at the same time and scanned over the crystal, a meta-physical transformation takes place. The molecular structure becomes an energy pulse which seeks out the desired target date. So with the crystal aimed precisely (utilizing a device akin to a sextant), everything within a three meter square area instantly transports through time and space to the destination. We do not yet know the range of this pulse, but we do know that it will reach thousands of years into the past. As for time travelers, the loss of any component of this device could result in becoming marooned forever.

“After our return last year from Guatemala, we discovered that we had not aged in your time. We have not yet determined why . . . this will be our next scope of inquiry. Hope you are well.”

Jethro and I sat without speaking for a time, processing the revelations from his parents. I finally said, “I wonder if they could travel in geological time, say, all the way back to the age of the dinosaurs?”

Jethro Olam did not respond. He was totally engrossed in thought. I excused myself, and returned to the rather lack-luster duties of our time.

 

June energy tips:

Fix leaky water faucets right away. Don’t let your money run down the drain. Install low-flow aerators on your faucets. Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening, and don’t mow your lawn more than necessary (short grass takes considerably more water). Wash only full loads of laundry (in cold water) and dry your clothes outdoors on the old fashioned clothes line. Use a bucket of water to wash your car, instead of a hose. Don’t have to pay for city water? Well water still costs you money for the pump, and wasting water effects all of us sooner or later. Some neighborhoods are running out of well water, make sure it’s not your neighborhood.

 

Tri-CAP June 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund

The time travelers, Part 2 “A letter from Switzerland”

A few months after my mysterious visit with Jethro Olam, he asked if I would stop by. I assumed that he wanted to discuss the appliances that we had ordered for him, or some other question regarding the referrals made on his behalf, so I agreed to meet him on my way home from work.

“Come on in – there’s fresh coffee and glazed doughnuts in the kitchen.”

I sat once again across from Jethro.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I called you, it doesn’t have to do with the services from Community Action. I could just tell from our last meeting that you are interested in science, and intrigued with the goings-on with my parents.”

“Indeed. The prospect of time travel, for real, would be beyond words.”

“I have received another correspondence from my parents.”

I blurted out, “Did they send drawings or formulas?”

“Not in this correspondence. Instead, they set the stage, the foundation, the big picture. They said that time has many components – the physical, meta-physical, and spiritual. They said the physics of time and time travel, the nuts and bolts of the matter, can be explained logically, step by step. Once you hear it you may wonder why it took so long for mankind to come to grips with the mechanisms. The key is a blend of geography, mathematics, especially geometry; and physics – adding a dash of astral-physics. This letter was an introduction to coming revelations – it also contains a warning.”

“So where did your parents disappear to?”

“Let me read a portion of their letter, ‘Jethro, we chose our target destination into another time most deliberately. In the course of our research, we discovered that there are places on earth that are unique, when it comes to time . . . for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of them: the magnetic North pole; Death Valley; the caves of France; the jungles comprising the ancient Mayan Civilization in Guatemala; and a mysterious mountain top in southern Mexico. The metaphysics of time are refined and distilled into a powerful force in these special places. We chose to begin our journey into time on that mountain in Mexico. Here, we encountered millions of Monarch butterflies. They were gathered into great bunches in the trees, like fish-nets filled to the bursting. Never had we seen such a dazzling assemblage of the power of life and time. All these beauties came from untold distances, migrating at the same time to this same place. We too, were drawn.’”

“With that, their detailed description of place ended.”

“What else did they say?”

“Have patience. Remember that my parents disappeared in 1967, and did not resurface until 2017. They appear to be preparing me, and perhaps the world, for a momentous revelation. They concluded this second letter from Switzerland with, ‘We must warn you that time travel comes at great risk and personal sacrifice.   Eventually, we came to realize that time can be “traded” but not replicated. The years that we lost with our family are gone forever. It cannot be re-lived. It was an exchange. Had we known this on the mountain top our journey would have come to an abrupt end. Instead, we pressed on to Guatemala.’”

“I have many questions. If they can’t replicate those years, why did they not age, that is, in our time?”

“Perhaps in future communications. Would you like for me to keep you informed of further developments?”

“I would be most grateful.”

And with that, our second meeting came to a close.

 

May energy tips:

Some important facts: A new energy star refrigerator could save you up to $100 per year for electricity, over using your old fridge. CFL light bulbs last 8 to 10 time longer than incandescent bulbs.   They cost more to purchase, but you come out way ahead in the end. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, and save up to $100 per year in electricity.

 

Tri-CAP May 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

 

 

The Time Travelers

I meet many fascinating people in the twilight of their lives, during the course of my work as an energy advisor for Community Action. I am often treated to some unforgettable stories and here’s one for the record book. I won’t attest to the veracity of this tale, but it sure is a mind-twister.

Jethro Olam, with snow white hair and beard, led me to the kitchen table and poured us both a cup of coffee. Next to the table was a built-in cabinet with many glass shelves. Displayed there-on was Jethro’s life . . . his wife, children, grandchildren and his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. He began an astonishing account.

“My people originally were wheat farmers from the Ukraine. My parents were grade school classmates, and they excelled in their studies thereby catching the attention of the local government officials, who recommended both of them for scholarships. They were allowed to attend University at Russia’s expense. During the course of their studies, they fell in love and were married. They became physicists and spent their lives doing government research. Their field of study was unprecedented . . . theoretical time.”

I asked, “Did that have to do with the weapons program?”

“Only peripherally. Russia was experimenting with many non-traditional fields of study, such as extra sensory perception, drug induced hyper-awareness and the like. I’m afraid the government’s intentions were suspect. In those days, it seems, everything had a military application.”

“Did your parents speak of their research?”

“Only once. I was keenly interested in mathematics and physics, and I’m afraid that I badgered them without mercy. In the late 1960’s, my Mother reluctantly shared that they had discovered the key to understanding the fourth dimension – time.”

“So what’s the secret?”

“Shortly after we had this conversation, my parents disappeared without a trace. They never had the time to share the key of time.”

The old man slid his chair back from the kitchen table, and stood up. He walked to the bookcase and picked up a framed picture of his parents. They were a handsome couple in their mid-forties, and they were standing in a field of wheat. He turned the frame over and retrieved an envelope that had been taped to the back. “Would you like to see something amazing?”

“Sure.”

“Here’s a letter that I received just before Hanukah last year. It’s from my parents. It says simply, ’we’re so sorry for the time we lost with you. We were in a different time and place – and that’s all that we can say. Hope you are taking good care of your life and our family – love, Mother and Father. PS. See you soon.’”

“The letter was post-marked in 2017, and contains a photo of my parents in Switzerland. Here it is.”

Jethro Olam handed me the photo. It was indeed his parents, and they looked identical to the photo in the bookcase.

I’ve run into a lot of great stories in my tenure as an energy advisor – but this one will be hard to top. I completed the remainder of my tasks for the home energy visit, but I must confess that my mind had drifted to another time and place.

April energy tips:

Do you know why your heating and electric bills are so high? The average three bedroom Minnesota home uses about 9500 KWh of electricity per year (about $1350). The average heating fuel bill for propane or natural gas is about $1350 per year, and for fuel oil, about $2000 per year. If your bills are higher than average, ask Tri-CAP for a home energy evaluation, through the home energy and resource advisor program (income guidelines apply).

Tri-CAP April 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

 

Another World

We navigate through most of life with the reality of what we can see, feel, hear, taste and touch. There is also the reality of the mind and spirit. All of the aforementioned comprise the realm of the conscious mind . . . our awake moments. But is that all there is? What about our dreams? What about our imagination (our day-dreams)? Both can take us to alternate realities which seem very real, but how real?

Have you ever been in a dream that was as real as any life experience? Some are great dreams that you hate to wake up from, others are close to a near death experience. We awaken from these dark dreams with a sigh of relief. We have little or no control of our fast-asleep dreams, so I won’t spend much time on them. We all have them and the experts have offered up a multitude of conflicting theories as to why. We must need to dream, or we wouldn’t do so.

The second category, the realm of imagination, is most compelling. We are the captains of our own ship when we venture here. I probably day-dream as much as anyone. I have two great compulsions in life, I like to write fictional short stories and do artwork, often illustrating the stories. These creative forays start with a day-dream. I can time-travel and be anywhere man has ever set foot. The more I concentrate on the story line and characters, the more I become an actor and participant in that place and time. I can see and feel the scenes. If you use your imagination on a regular basis, it’s like working out in a gym . . . you can get better and better at entering this alternate reality. You may be wondering if there’s a danger of going too far into your imagination and perhaps ending up lost. I can only speak for myself. It’s never a problem. If I’m writing a short story about the Civil War, my characters stay put on the written page.

How can you use your imagination in your own life in a practical way? No matter what your circumstances, you can imagine a better life. The revelation here is that you are able to take steps to achieve that life. If you are in a financial hardship, write down your debts, your income, and your financial goals. Seek some financial counseling and plot a course to your new life. Call Tri-CAP, we can help you complete a working budget, and we host free financial fitness courses for our income eligible clients. Imagine being out of debt and staying out of debt. Imagine having a savings account with at least three months’ worth of bill paying power, just in case of emergencies. That’s a good day-dream that can become your new life.

Energy tips – Three steps to getting caught up on your fuel and electric bills: Prepare a written budget and determine your average monthly electric and fuel bills; do what you can to weatherize your home by caulking and sealing exterior doors and windows and attic access panels; get a clean and tune on your forced air furnace. Check Tri-CAP’s Energy Advisor program. You may be eligible for a number of programs that would make your home more energy efficient, and you may be eligible for energy assistance. Tri-CAP’s energy advisor could meet with you at your home and discuss the options. Your first step is to complete an Energy Assistance application.

Tri-CAP March 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund

 

 

About Birds

Whether you are science-minded and hold that the earth is billions of years old or a Bible believer of the creation account, one common fact rings true. Birds were created before men. They occupy every biome on the face of the earth. They are a keystone species, meaning that without birds the survival of man would be a tenuous proposition. Birds are a fundamental part of the circle of life, kind of like air, food and water. Birds, on the other hand, could easily survive without man. They have done so in the past.

Aside from the survival component that birds hold for men, they also give us company, beauty, song and the wonder of flight. Would we be flying today without the prompting of our aerial friends? I doubt it.

Have you ever wondered about the songs that birds sing . . . whether they are actually communicating? After spending way too much time outdoors, instead of doing my homework or practicing on the piano, among other omissions, I am convinced that they do have language. As a deer hunter, I pay careful attention to what the blue jays are doing and saying, and I also watch the crows. When deer are approaching through the woods, these birds will raise a particular kind of ruckus. If you are attentive, you can hear it in their calls – “deer on the move”! Song birds, like cardinals and chickadees, also have a distinct alarm call if a fox or a cat are approaching. The other birds pick up the warning, understand, and react.    And here’s something we all experience . . . birds express happiness in their songs. They greet the sunrise with an extraordinary celebration of life.

I am a life-long observer of crows. They love to play – on the ground and in the air. And they are very intelligent rascals. Once, while camping in the Boundary Waters of Northern-most Minnesota, the crows invaded our campsite. Every time we left camp to go out fishing, they would come in and steal from our backpacks and take things off the picnic table, including some shiny fishing lures. We tried to trap them by placing walleye filets on the table top, with mono-filament snares. They simply ate the filets, avoiding the snares. Then we tried a box trap, with more fish filets. The trap was sprung – but no captive crow in sight. The crows actually waited for our return from fishing, perching in the white pines by camp, and they gave us a raucous chorus of the crow version of the raspberries.

Another story from my youth: I was working at the lumber yard one summer, and delivered a load of roofing supplies for a shed to one of the local farms.   I parked next to the outbuilding that looked like a candidate for roofing. I didn’t see any of the farm folks, so I yelled out “Hello”. The response came loud and clear, “Hello”. I then said, “Where would you like the roofing unloaded?” Again the response was “Hello”. This exchange was repeated a couple of times, and I assumed the farmer was hard of hearing, so I went looking for him. As I rounded a shed, I saw a huge crow sitting on a perch, about four feet off the ground. I walked up to him and he greeted me with a perfect, “Hello!”

My best bird story: I used to live on a farm by Lake Christina in Ottertail County. Many Canadian Geese frequented the stubble wheat field between my farm house and the lake. One day a couple hundred geese were gleaning wheat on the far side of the field. I tried an experiment. I pulled out my harmonica, sat on the backyard patio and began to play.   At first lots of geese stopped feeding, and stuck their heads straight up, facing me. After a while, they went back to feeding, but about a dozen peeled off from the group and began to walk straight toward me. They covered the 200 yards separating us, laying down about 40 feet from me. I kept playing and some of them began to “gabble”, which is a gooses’ version of a cat purring with satisfaction. They just plain enjoyed the music, especially “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes”. After a most enjoyable hour they went back to gleaning wheat, walking out of sight down the stubble rows, disappearing into the land of memories.

If we are observant, what might the world teach us?

Energy tips: Use the right sized lids when cooking with a pan; use the microwave whenever possible versus your oven; use the air dry option on your dishwasher and wash in cold water and with full loads; unplug your second fridge and save from $100 to $200 per year; set your fridge at 36 degrees and your freezer at 6 degrees; buy Energy Star appliances, they cost much less to run.

Tri-CAP February 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund

The Looking Glass

 

You can tell a lot about a person by what they do for recreation. The internet marketers are keeping track of everything you buy on-line, and everything you look at. They are profiling you as we speak. If you have a TV service, they are modeling you as well. They know about every show and commercial that you watch. Your credit card company is also logging every transaction. Once you have been evaluated by any of these entities, they can profit by selling your profile to other businesses or advertisers. The department stores are also tracking your purchases. We are living in a glass house – nothing is private and nothing is off-limit . . . or sacred. Have you ever bought anything through the mail or over the phone? You may have opened Pandora ’s Box.   So everybody knows your name . . . but how well do you know yourself?

I like good movies, how about you? I’ve been thinking about the movies that I like the best, my top twenty-one. Perhaps if I write them down they may form a pattern. I’ve never done this before, so here goes. Maybe I’ll become more self-aware by pausing to peer into the looking glass. You could do the same.

Top 21 movies

  1. Ben Hur, with Charlton Heston and Haya Harareet.
  2. The Ten Commandments, with Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls, with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman.
  4. Spartacus, with Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons.
  5. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, with Humphrey Bogart and Walter Houston.
  6. The Sand Pebbles, with Steve McQueen and Candice Bergen.
  7. The Bridge on the River Kwai, with William Holden, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa.
  8. The Phantom of the Opera, with Claude Rains and Susanna Foster.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird, with Gregory Peck and Mary Badham.
  10. The Yearling, with Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claud Jarman Jr.
  11. The Robe, with Richard Burton and Jean Simmons.
  12. Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
  13. To Have and Have Not, with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Walter Brennan.
  14. The Shepherd of the Hills, with John Wayne, Betty Field and Harry Carey.
  15. King Kong, with Fay Wray and Bruce Cabot.
  16. The Day the Earth Stood Still, with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.
  17. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara.
  18. Across the Wide Missouri, with Clark Gable and Maria Elena Marques.
  19. The Red House, with Edward G. Robinson and Allene Roberts.
  20. Scarlet Street, with Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett.
  21. To the Last Man, with Randolph Scott and Esther Ralston.

Here are the patterns that I see:

  • Well made movies with Bible themes are powerful stuff.
  • Human nature, light and dark, is fascinating. Life choices are the ultimate test.
  • War and conflict can bring out the heroic and unselfish nature of man.
  • We can imagine our best life through love and adventure stories.
  • When the hero is a tragic figure it mirrors life, courage can be short-lived.
  • Stories about coming of age are priceless, we can re-visit our youth.
  • Science fiction and horror stories reach deep into our imagination.
  • I like any well-told tale about Native Americans – their culture is compelling.
  • The perverse nature of man is worth exploring – we all have it in us.
  • Comedies don’t make my list – I must be too serious.

What do you see? Let me know.

January energy saving tips: Take a quick look at your house, if you have icicles, ice-dams, or uneven snow melt at your roof, it means heat is escaping into your attic and you need to do some air sealing, especially around your attic access panel. If you can see the stud framing lines behind your siding, or the nail heads, you don’t have proper moisture/air barriers in your outside walls; if you have frost or condensation on the bottom of your windows – you have too much moisture in your living spaces – relative humidity should be around 40%. If it’s higher, your air quality and your health could suffer. If you see these things, and you are signed up for energy assistance, give Tri-CAP a call. Have a safe winter season. Thanks to all of you from Tri-CAP and enjoy some good movies this month!

January 2018 Blog

Written by Stephen Bjorklund