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The Joke Machine

This Week's Joke

Who was the first tennis player? Joseph. He served in Pharaoh's court.

This joke was submitted by Julian Block from Larchmont, NY. Thanks!

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Post to the Host

The Slope is Steep

To the host:

I grew up in an unassuming town like Lake Wobegon, the middle child of a large family, and I shy away from the limelight and self-promotion. How can I change my ways? My self-published cookbook/reference book is soon to arrive from the printer. Marketing will fall squarely on my shoulders. Any words of wisdom ? Paths you can point me toward? Read more

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The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

It All Adds Up

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’ve been enjoying not having to clear snow daily, and this has given me a bit of time to catch up on inside things. You know. Taxes, scholarship forms, college applications, bills, laundry and a new recipe here and there. All important, but nothing urgent. Not at this point.

The phone has been ringing a good deal, too. Most of the calls have been solicitors looking for money for different causes. It’s that time of year, and, to be honest, it’s my inclination to not answer those calls. But they call back. And they keep calling, and I realized a while back that ignoring the phone’s ring doesn’t solve much. So, instead of expecting people to change, I’ve adjusted my own behavior. I answer the phone. Every time. And I listen. And I respond. These are, after all, people who have lives of their own, who have children and spouses and bills and laundry to do, and most of them are ringing my phone in the spirit of good.

I don’t give to all of them. Nope. There are a few causes and organizations to which I happily will give a bit of money, but I can’t do that for every one. I wish I could. And I explain that. We simply can’t afford it. I’m honest about it, and tell them thank you for taking the time to call, and I may support this cause, but the dental bill alone is a humdinger this month, and though I want to help, I have to opt out this time around, and thank you again for calling.

Most phone solicitors are respectful. Understanding, even. Now and then there’s someone who seems to take “No, I am not able to do that” personally, who gets a bit insistent and rude and pushy and mean, and that’s when I say, “Thank you again, Sir” or “Ma’am” and I hang up the phone. When the kids were young, before they could speak, there were occasions when I’d hand the phone over to them and let them babble awhile because I clearly wasn’t making sense.

It’s hard, sometimes, to be patient and understanding, especially when someone is telling you how far ten dollars can go to feed a child, to help someone who is struggling with cancer or to provide water for people after a storm. I think listening is important. And I think sharing, and giving what you can, is important. And I think it is important to say “No”, clearly, when you need to say no. It’s an awkward thing, but there’s a balance in there somewhere. And part of it comes from all the giving a person does that does NOT get listed on a piece of paper for tax purposes.

You know. The stuff you drop off at food shelves, the clothes you donate to a garage sale, the time you give to serve lunch at funerals and stand at doors handing out programs. The change you slip into the red buckets, and the rides you give to people who need them. Somewhere in the universe, it all adds up.

You know what you can give to the world, and you know when it’s time to say “No.” So give, with a good heart, and let go of the guilt when you can’t. It’s called being mindful, and responsible and real. And if being so means you don’t answer the phone now and then, well, that’s okay. Some days are like that. They sure are.

With the Superbowl just around the corner, this recipe is just the thing. Simple, tasty and wrapped in meat. No leftovers, guaranteed.

Festive Cheese Ball

½ lb grated white cheddar cheese
3 oz cream cheese
3 T sherry
¼ cup pitted and sliced ripe or green olives
½ tsp Worcestershire
Dashes of onion, garlic and celery salts
½ cup chopped dried beef

Combine all ingredients except beef. Form ball. Wrap and refrigerate. About half an hour before serving, unwrap and roll in dried beef until covered well. Serve with your favorite crackers.


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Russ Ringsak

Winter Stories

New Year’s Eve 1957

This is how I remember it. My first adult-legal New Years. I was home from college for the winter holidays and one of the town’s westsiders was having a big New Years house party while her folks were gone. It was 26 degrees below zero, not that unusual for a town halfway between Grand Forks and Winnipeg. Unusual or not, I wanted to use the car. But my household authorities were taking the car to their own big party. I thought they could be persuaded to have the neighbors take them. But no. Read more

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