I had forgotten that Gann Valley (pop. 14, according to the 2010 U.S. Census) in Buffalo County has the same number of exits from Highway 45 as Sioux Falls does from Interstate 90. I was reminded of that fact recently when I took Highway 45 south from Highway 34 on my way between Pierre and Sioux Falls. Just a ways south of the intersection is Gann Valley, and you have four choices of exits into the community, which is the county seat.
About three times a year, no matter how many holes I fill in the foundation of our 108-year-old home, we find a mouse in the basement furnace room. It's always the furnace room, which is a bit comforting in a way, I suppose. certainly better than finding several mice in several rooms of the house. It's an aggravation, however, because I can't seem to find the spot where the little rodents enter the house.
Weekend before last, I took the Friday off, and Nancy and I drove to St. Cloud to pick up our granddaughter and bring her to Sioux Falls for the South Dakota Festival of Books. The granddaughter and I also had a standing date with pancakes, a deal we'd struck when she was trying to decide which weekend would be her first trip back to South Dakota since the start of her freshman year at college. The book festival won. Pancakes with her grandpa? That's just something we do. The book festival was a great choice, for her and for me and Nancy.
I grew up at a time when folks just expected that other folks knew how to handle firearms. I never heard anyone say that. Saying it would have been unnecessary chatter. Of course people knew how to handle firearms. That was as natural as knowing how to handle a scoop shovel, a pitchfork or a grease gun. By firearm, I mean rifle or shotgun. I didn't grow up around handguns. I had nothing against them, and I doubt my dad had anything against them. We just didn't have them. We had no particular use for them.
On a Sunday morning news program, I learned that one gory television series (about zombies, maybe? It had something to do with walking around dead ... ) uses as much as 30 gallons of fake blood. I wasn't paying close attention at the moment (probably multi-tasking with a mobile device and thus doing two things poorly, but at the same time, so I was efficient in my poor performance). I'm not sure whether the 30 gallons of fake blood is used in an episode or a season.
I haven't hunted pheasants, or any other creature, for half a century, but when I think of those days when I did hunt, the word that comes to mind is "happy.'' I was happy. Or at least I think of myself that way when, as on most opening days of the big-time pheasant hunting season, I remember some of the time I carried a gun and pounded through the fields and shelterbelts after birds. I was happy. I know there were days when the weather was unseasonably warm. It gets that way in October in South Dakota.
As I reflected on South Dakota's 125th anniversary and thought back to the centennial celebration in 1989, it occurred to me not for the first time what an incredible thing Myron Lee did. I know. I know. I talk about Myron a lot. Well, he has been a hero to me since we were both kids, although I didn't meet him until the early 1990s. I'm referring, of course, to Myron Wachendorf, who dropped out of Sioux Falls Washington High School in the spring of his senior year (1959) to travel the country with his rock 'n' roll band, the Caddies.
A week ago on Halloween, more than 650 young girls and boys, most of them in costume, clomped across our porch to reach the bowl of treats. Among many memorable masks and outfits, one stood out for me.
The first real snow of the season came to central South Dakota just a couple of days later than it did in 1985. I know that, because the first snow came on Nov. 8 that year. My father-in-law, Paul Gust, died the day of the big snow. That was 29 years ago. I thought about it a bit during the past weekend. That was partly because I think of Paul's passing and the snowstorm every year on that date, and partly because Nancy and I were in Chamberlain over the weekend. We were visiting with Paul's widow, Lorene, and with one of Nancy's Colorado brothers.
For no particular reason the other day, I recalled a column I wrote four or five years ago about a fistfight in the Washington Post newsroom between a writer and an editor. I first read of the newsroom fisticuffs in a column written by Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite newspaper columnists. Generally, what she writes is factual, whether I agree with it or not.