Posts tagged “Family

Giving Yourself Away: A Story of Friendship

This is not the type of writing  I normally do here. But this was a story I thought needed to be told, and asked my friends Kathy and Mary to sit down with me a month or so ago and tell it. A modified version of this article appears in this week’s Grant County Review.


Kathy Madsen knows how to celebrate a birthday.

On her birthday next week, Kathy will tie a bright red ribbon around her name and throw it into a five-state pool to match up with someone who needs a kidney.

That’s some party favor, let me tell you.

Last spring, Kathy was on her back porch in her pajamas drinking coffee when her friend Vangie called. Vern and Vangie Heupel’s daughter Mary, living in Sioux Falls, had just been released from the hospital after and ICU stay due to kidney failure.

Kathy reassured her friend that she would do everything she could, thinking that she might drop off a box of chocolates or offer to mow the lawn. But before she knew what she was saying, she heard herself tell Vangie, “I’ll test for you. If I can give Mary a kidney, I want to give.”

:: (more…)

There’s a Reason They’re Called Chickens

I have chickens* penned in my front yard. Right next to the apple tree. Between strays and intentional pets, now vandalistic landscaping, we’re running a regular petting zoo and small arboretum.

This morning, one flew the coop. It’s a 4×4 makeshift pen, but it doesn’t work with the idiom. After an hour of trying to outsmart an eight-week-old chicken, I’ve learned a few things I feel ready to share. (more…)

The Old Neighborhood

I was driving north on Lyndale Avenue. I crossed Interstate 494 running through the southern Twin Cities metro area and all of sudden I wasn’t sure I knew where I was anymore.

That’s not unusual for me, I know.

But this was my old neighborhood, and it didn’t look the same as I remembered. (more…)


As the students filed out of the classroom, he called one to his desk.

“Do you drive a green car?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered, and dropped her eyes. “Why?”

He took a moment, then asked, “Have you been to my mother’s grave?”

She looked up, eyes wide. “Was that your pickup truck?”

“No,” my husband replied. “That was my brother. But, thank you for the red rose you put there.”


Oh, teenagers. 


Photo: The thinking tree beside Dad and Mom
Lindquist’s grave, with a rose placed by
one of Lane’s students and caregiver to

Holding the Keys

“The secret,” he told me, “is to pull a cotton towel across the surface just so, while the car is still wet. It has to be all cotton, and you can’t let the sun start to dry it or you’ll get spots.”

I’d gone to visit my grandparents at the lake one weekend on a break from school. Grandpa was excited to see my car and was anxious to teach me the essentials of waxing and washing it. I wasn’t proud of my first car, the 1970-something Plymouth Volaré, dubbed the Vo-la-la by my brother. Of course, he had little room to talk. He drove my car’s big sister, the Chrysler Le-Bo-Bo, a voluptuous silver sedan.

Best as I could tell, my scuffed black coupe was a senior citizen hand-me-down that a misguided teenager souped up with an erector set, beginning with a hand-cut sunroof.