That was before
It made for an interesting summer - level ground to what you see here in about six weeks. The garage door is due to arrive next Monday for installation a day or two later.
Of course, working construction after a 30-year layoff wore me out some, so I'll use that as an excuse for the non-existent posting since however long it's been. Well, that and the dial-up connection, which I'll hereafter not mention unless and until I start rambling about infrastructure in this country.
Of course, it wasn't all work and no play. We had the boat on the lake most of the time every weekend afternoon and evening, just putzing around and enjoying the company of each other and friends. Most of the friends haven't yet joined the retired ranks, so they didn't want to drive nails or move dirt, and we were happy to oblige.
During the week, we were mostly too tired to do much of anything - even cook, so we ate out with disturbing frequency, at least to us. There's nothing in this neighborhood even close to Lenny's Bar and Grill and Swapmeet, but there are places to get a beer and a burger. Or a steak. Or some walleye, either pan- or batter-fried. For steaks or walleye, either one, I have to recommend The Bergen Bar & Grill. They don't have a website, so that link is to the phonebook so you'll have the phone number and the addy if you're ever in that neck of the cornfields. Of course, even the phonebook info is wrong, that's how far out in the middle of nowhere this place is. It's not in Windom, at all: it's in Bergen (d'uh).
Keep in mind that when strangers utter the words "small town" I tend to think of places like Bergen: under 20 residents, only two businesses (three, max), and maybe a stop sign. Streching it some, I could allow up to maybe 500 before it loses the "small" label and becomes an ordinary town. You get over 10,000 and I figure that to be a small city.
But let's not sweat labels, shall we? It's all relative, and it depends entirely on where and how you grew up.
Regardless, the Bergen Bar & Grill serves up some excellent food. I don't know anyone who lauds the atmosphere, but the place is always packed. Part of that is that they can only squeeze sixty people in the place, but most of it is the food. Friday and Saturday nights, when they're serving prime rib, it's not at all uncommon to see forty or fifty people waiting as much as ninety minutes to get in. No, you can't get a reservation. You can call for take-out, though, which speeds things up for the locals.
And it's not actually a bar, at least in the sense that most of us interpret the term. In the Minnesota vernacular, it's a three-two joint with a setup license. So the beer is 3.2% alcohol instead of 4% or 6% (depending on whether it's measured by weight or by volume), and you can't get a Morgan and Coke unless you bring the Morgan yourself. If you want a Marguerita, just fill a Thermos and bring your own.
All right. I have too many details getting in the way of a perfectly good story:
We ate at Bergen one night mid-August, and on the way home stopped at the bar that Bruce runs in Ormsby. It's a real bar, with mixed drinks and high-test beer on tap or in bottles, and sitting at the end of the bar farthest from the TV was Norb. Now I've known Norb for a kazillion years, since grade-school, I think, certainly since before he had all those incidences, his wife, and all those kids. Norb works at the grain elevator across the road from Bruce's place, and does a fine job, by all accounts. But this night he seemed patiently morose. He'd finish a beer, peer into his shirt pocket, and order another. Three times he did that, and never ordered one of Bruce's boneless chicken dinners. Like I said, he seemed morose.
Finally, Bruce (setting yet another beer in front of him) asked, "Norb? How come you keep looking in your pocket before you order the next beer?"
Norb said, "Bruce, that's a picture of my wife in that pocket, and I keep thinking 'one more beer and she'll be pretty enough to go home to.'"