A little bit of everything

Some years ago, my stepson was owner, publisher and editor of the Raymond (MN) News and wrote a weekly column using Potpourri in the heading. Today’s “Oh, Fiddlesticks!” column might be described as a bit of potpourri which in this context means: A little bit of everything.


Probably due to my distracted driving, I had a little fender bender recently that required leaving my car in the shop and renting a different vehicle. I guess I am spoiled because the one thing I had forgotten about was having to have keys to start my rental rather than just having a little electronic (battery operated) device about 1“x2” with rounded edges in my pocket that I never had to take out – just press a button on the door handle to unlock the car and press a button on the dash to start the car.

What a great invention: The keyless ignition system. It has meant not having the bottoms of the pockets of my pants torn to bits by sharp edged keys. Also nice is the safety device where the car honks at me if I get out of the car forgetting to turn off the engine which I have been known to do because the engine is so quiet – or is my hearing getting really that bad?


In the Independent this past week was an article about Karen VanKeulen’s service of 10 years on the Marshall School Board. Our community is not any different than most in that citizens are needed to keep many aspects of our lives running smoothly for us now as well as for the future.

This week Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes will have a “fireside chat” at a public get-together at the Marshall Area Adult Community Center (Thursday, Jan. 24 at 10:30 a.m.) about his many years on city council, first his six years as a council man followed by his 27 years as Mayor. With City Administrator Sharon Hanson there as well, it should be very interesting – maybe even some insights about Marshall’s future.

I could go on and on about the various opportunities available for helping us all to move into the future. I am not forgetting service men and women, police, firemen and women, the various boards for citizen volunteers (Library, Police Commission, Zoning, Park & Rec., etc.) and many other inputs needed for challenging problems.

Having served on a number of boards (YMCA, library, utilities, etc.) and on city council, I would note that many are unpaid positions and for those that are paid, my experience was that on an hourly basis (e.g. as a councilman on city council), the recompense amounted to less than $1 an hour.


Several times in the past couple of weeks, I have heard on news programs and read in newspapers and magazines that leaders in the U.S. Senate have proclaimed that they would not bring any bills before the Senate that the President indicates he would not sign if passed. I find that very disturbing. If we do indeed have three different branches of our government, I thought that the process was that the legislative branch could do its best to come up with what they thought was the best approach to a problem which then could be sent to the President.

The President (executive branch) THEN could analyze and approve or formally state specific objections on the subject of the bill and veto which could go back to the legislature where that branch might then possibly override the veto or try to write a different bill. Am I naïve? Oh, Fiddlesticks!


Also from news sources, I was reminded about one of my favorite poets this past week. Edgar Allan Poe was born 210 years ago on Jan. 19, 1809.

His short life was filled with tragedy but also with success. His father deserted the family when he was just 1 year old. His mother died when he was 2. He was born Edgar Poe, but as an orphan was taken in by John and Frances Allan, hence the middle name became attached to him even though he was never adopted. John Allan was estranged from Poe or vice versa several times. Early quarrels over money and behavior (gambling, drinking by Poe) and unable to settle down having attended but not completing a degree from the University of Virginia or at being expelled (apparently on purpose by not attending classes and other insubordination) at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point having lied about his age to get that appointment. At age 27 he married his 13-year-old cousin who died 11 years later.

He was a writer of articles, a literary critic and an editor – one of the first Americans to live primarily from his own writing. He died in 1849 at age 40.

Possibly his most famous poem is “The Raven.” A few lines:

“…Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; …

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore! –

Quothe the Raven ‘Nevermore.'”


Potpourri historically is from the French, somewhat literally meaning: Pot of Putrid Meat. However, in the last two centuries it has come to usually mean a dish or small porous bag of rose petals or other fragrant plant parts. Take your choice about the two definitions of these examples in my potpourri.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!