Pa Ingalls and keeping a good perspective

This will be short.

I told Kristina earlier this week, I think the creative muse that lives in my  head has  started to dry up.


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In the grip of Old Man Winter



Eight weeks ago while we were still in the grip of Old Man Winter,  I picked up  The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I  wanted to get my bearings and re-calibrate my winter “can do” attitude.  Figured that was as good a place to start as any.

Anyway, at  one point in the story, Laura’s family had just run out of kerosene (for lighting), the wheat was running out,  potatoes were running out, and it was still another two months until the supply train would be able to get to town….


“If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of light,” Ma considered.  “We didn’t lack for light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.”

 “That’s so, said Pa.  “These times are too progressive.  Everything has changed too fast.  Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves- they’re good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.”


Pa said those words 140 years ago and  they are still relevant.

My problem  (it’s not really a problem) is I am also a student of history.

In my mind’s eye, I filter current events through a 200 year lens.

(We just watched a couple of documentaries on the Irish potato famine for example…, if that didn’t stir up a feeling of thankfulness.)

I am living in a time of unparalleled prosperity, the current political climate not withstanding.  There are kind, selfless people all over the place.   

(Make sure you click that link)


Would love to hear your thoughts…


Tell me about this past winter and how you fared.

If you know me, you know I love detail.

Take care.  DM









Sara’s Reader

Or     “Why I love local  history “


Pretend  for a moment,  you were a crew foreman for 10 years.

Then  a new job  takes you out-of-state.

25 years later  you  step back into your old  position  at the same company and  realize things have really gone down hill  in the time  you ‘ve been  gone.

There are new faces on the crew. People  are padding their time cards, leaving work early to go  road drinking…and worse,  most of the crew think this is normal.

What do you have that the rest of them don’t have?



Hang on to that word…perspective.  I’ll come back to it in a minute.


Last weekend  I  grabbed a Mcguffey Reader  off  my shelf published in 1833.


Not a reprint but an original addition. Back in 2007 I was doing some research on a local history project and bought several old books on E-bay on a lark. This was one of those old books.  I noticed for the first time, the name  Sarah Ann Strawn dated 1838 in the inside cover.

Just for fun, I did some checking on the Internet to see if she was mentioned anywhere at all.

I hit a gold mine.

I found her mentioned several times.

I’m not going to give you too many details of her life just yet.. 🙂 but I will tell you  this…Between Sarah Ann, her husband Will and her mother-in-law, there is enough raw material  to write a whole new  Little House on the Prairie series….anyone want to help me????

Getting back to Sarah…

Sarah Ann marries when she is  just 17.    Her and her husband  Will   owned a hotel that entertained this young man  on several occasions:

I wondered what it was about their story that stirred me so?

Was it just the thrill of discovery?

A lust for knowledge?

It wasn’t until yesterday that I was finally able to connect the dots and put a name to my inner angst.

Their story gives me Perspective.

When I read about Sarah’s mother in law  with 7 sons carving out a livelihood in 1831, dealing with Indians  on the rampage murdering neighbors it gives me perspective on how good I have it.

When I read about harsh midwest Winter storms dumping 2 feet of snow and ice  and  young families  trying to keep warm in a 24 by 16 ft log cabin and all they had to eat was corn dodgers, salted pork and coffee  it gives perspective on how comfortable I have it.

When I read about how a  families meager salt  supply  runs low so a mom  is forced to let her 15 yr old son and his  7-year-old brother travel 90 miles with 3 yoke of ox to get salt in the dead of winter, it gives perspective on  worry and anxiety.

When I read  about an economic bubble popping   in our nation in 1837 which plunges our country into 5 years of  extreme deprivation, it brings perspective in these uncertain economic times.

    Found a quote on history that  also speaks to me:

     “The writers of history seldom give more than the rise and fall of nations, biographies of great men, kings and princes, and but little or nothing of the common people – a matter of far more importance, and more interesting.

To know the intelligence, opinions, tastes, amusements, method and means of living, routine of every day life, the hopes and fears, which swayed and controlled a people, would be far more interesting than the life of a prince socially far removed from and having no feelings in common with the masses”

So what do you think?

What would you do if  the electrical grid were to go down for a month?

What if  we experienced the popping of another economic bubble and all the wage earners in your home were suddenly out of work…long term?

It really does come down to our perspective.  (attitude)

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.  (I originally wrote this on my original heart to heart blog that is currently off line.  A  couple of you may remember it.) DM

Fear, Faith, Personal Responsibility, And How They Intersect In My Life

The area of the United States we live in is called “tornado alley.”  Homes in our area have basements.  When the weather man issues a “tornado warning” we head for the basement.  Now you don’t have to head to the basement if you don’t want to but if an F5 tornado happens to rip through your neighborhood, you’d better be ready to meet your maker 😉

Category F 5 tornado : 

      Incredible tornado (261 to 318 mph)  Incredible damage.  Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distance to disintegrate ; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 yards;  trees debarked; incredible phenomena will occur.

My point is – it is not a lack of faith to have a basement in our area.  It is common sense.

If you live in Northern Minnesota, you’d better be prepared to get snowed in and make do without electricity once in a while.  or be willing to suffer the consequences.

If you live in the coastal areas of Florida, while you may not have to contend with blizzards, you probably know how to prepare for a hurricane..right?  My point is there is no contradiction between preparing for storms and having faith.

With the current instability in the world today, it’s not surprising I’ve been wrestling with questions of faith, fear and personal responsibility.  This morning it hit me.  We as a family have spent the last 30 years learning how to walk by faith in such areas as:

Family planning

Finances (saving vs spending and giving)

Provision for the future (how much food to have in the cupboards)

Personal protection (whether or not to own a gun)




So, for what it’s worth, here are some random thought on having faith and being prepared:

#1  If my personal security is in my money, my job, my brains, my gun, the people I know, even the country I live in..then I am just kidding myself.

#2  A wise man once said, “A wise man sees danger and makes provision, a foolish person walks naively into danger and wonders later what happened.”  Proverbs

#3  When I encounter an area of life that has got me distressed .  I will ask myself this question: ” If the worst case scenario did happen. would I be OK with that?  Is there anything I can do to make provision so that it wouldn’t happen?  ( I will then think through my options, my current situation and do what I can)

For example:  Let’s say I’m  wrestling whether or not to use birth control.  I pretend for a moment we won’t.  I’ll just “trust” God for his provision.  Am I willing to have 8 or 9 children (or more) and live with the consequences of that decision?  (foot note: please don’t make a negative comment here on large families or take us down the bunny trail of family planning…I will delete it.. I’m just using this an example)

Unless I have a very good paying job, practically speaking, I’m probably going to struggle financially….that’s just a fact if I chose to have a large family

#4  Read Matthew chapter  25:1-13 from the bible for some thoughts on personal provision and decide which group of 5 you would like to be associated with.

#5  Too many people today live their lives from week to week, check to check.  In most cases, that is not faith that is stupidity.  For years we as a family did just that.  until I was challenged with the goal of getting one month, then two months, then three months ahead with our budget.  I can’t tell you the difference that has made in the stress level of our home going into winter.  My income didn’t change, how we managed our money did.  If you want to know more,. drop me a note and I would be glad to talk with you about this one on one via e-mail.

#6  Even in the animal kingdom (ants, bees, squirrels, bears, mice) all make provisions for the lean months.  Me thinketh they are smarter than some humans. 🙂

#7  It is better to be prepared and not have to use it, than need it and not have it to use.  That has many applications.

#8  I believe we live in a broken world.  I’m an optimist with a good dose of reality.  Because we live in a fallen world, it is not a lack of faith to lock your doors at night.  Feel free to do otherwise 😉

#9  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Still makes sense to me.

#10  To use a word picture, I see the uncertainty in the world today like a major change in the weather pattern.  You personally may have never had to have to deal with an F5 tornado before now, but now you might.  Balls in your court.

Picture of a lion looking into the storm.

Final footnote – the analogy of preparing for a storm comes from my wife. 🙂