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Kevin Grinde

Kevin R. Grinde is a veteran journalist. He grew up on the Minnesota Iron Range in the town of Hibbing but graduated high school in Roseburg, Ore. He is a Bemidji State University mass communications grad. Grinde and his wife, Sara, have three daughters, Arin, Alexis and Aleah. They turned out OK, he says. All of them own advanced degrees in science, teaching and motherhood. The five grandkids are turning out OK, too. In the mid 1980s, Grinde developed his chops in the newspaper profession as a reporter, editor and page designer at the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Daily Journal and Mesabi Daily News in Virginia, Minn. In 1985, he began his 26-year run in Grand Forks, N.D., working for the Knight Ridder Corp.-owned Agweek Magazine. In 1989, he joined the Grand Forks Herald as news editor. As a sidebar to that job, he was editor of Northland Outdoors, a four-state monthly magazine about the outdoors. He was the paper's outdoors reporter from 1995-98 and then became managing editor and ran the newsroom until 2011. In the last few years, he has spent extended periods assisting his three daughters and five grandkids and five granddogs at their homes in Brainerd, Pine City and Mentor, Minn. He's edited two books, including "Cracking the Channel Catfishode." He is one of a handful of instigators who launched He spends his time reading about the universe, observing hockey, delving into drums and drumming, hunting, fishing, backpacking and teaching kids how to become strong individuals and decent human beings.

RON SCHALOW: Just Say Nyet To Cro-Magnon Cramer

It did not go unreported that Kevin Cramer might run for Senate in 2018, but the news was largely lost in the fog of the scandalous AMC miniseries, “The Case of the White Pantsuits and Other White Outfits,” based on the true story of a primitive male, with a bad combover, and his faithful miniature poodle, Port, named for the fortified wine the holy man uses to give himself Communion.

His other pup, Hennen, is at the vet. The Pomeranian pounded too much port.

Besides being livid at what Port would call a violent riot of white-clothed feminazis — he’s one of those women hating talking dogs — the perpetually befuddled man, not in the yellow hat, was appallingly mortified that the female lawmakers fled the chamber so quickly after the president addressed a joint session of Congress. Some took off their heels and ran for the exits and into waiting Ubers. Nothing left but vapor.

Why, the man stupidly wonders. So, he and Port wander the country looking for clues. It’s quite the mystery. In the meantime, Port broke this story, “A State Senator Cracked a Fart Joke During Floor Debate Today,” which really classed up the InForum website, but the dim duo still hadn’t cracked the riddle of the sprinting woman.

Here’s a clue, Columbo: Perhaps none of the women wanted to be felt up, or indelicately grabbed, by the predator in chief. The weird man may pine to be held close by the large soft piece of $#!*, with the wandering small, smooth hands, but it’s not a pleasant experience for everyone. Being ranked a four by the orange-tinted primate won’t get the peculiar man assaulted any time soon. Sad.


“The at-large congressman from North Dakota also reiterated that he hasn’t ruled out a Senate bid next year for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, and he said Trump has already pledged his support should Cramer decide to run.” — CNN.

It’s good to know that Kevin will have the backing of the Mad King, but it assumes a lot. Six weeks in, Trump is already up to his armpits in borscht, and is cracking under the pressure of three-day weekends, down from his accustomed seven.

DT has been tweeting various lies about Barack Obama — former president of the United States, kind of an important hombre, in case the sleazy birther forgot — and bragging about his golf scores.

His weekly trips to his safe space, the Mar-a-Lago resort, are costing American taxpayers millions, plus an extra half-million per day to keep Melania safe in New York, although you can hardly blame her for wanting time apart from the crude bastage. Plus, the old man hid her passport.

And if Donnie keeps tweeting trash to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnie might catch up to him on the back nine one day and squeeze DT’s head until his hair pops off like a fuzzy Dom Perignon cork. Even the Secret Service wouldn’t tell on the Terminator and Danny DeVito’s twin brother.

Becker and the Inglorious Bastiats

Besides, I think Rep. Rick Becker wants the senator job. Something is up. Not since the days of limit-free duck hunting have so many bills been carried by a single individual.

The primary could include Cramer, of the Bat$#!* Crazy Caucus and Becker of the Bastiat Caucus.

Thanks to the Bastiats, grandma can still sell her banana cream pies at the church fundraiser without the nanny state getting involved, as if that would stop her. They say nanny state a lot. Google maps can’t find it, but it seems to make them happy.

They couldn’t get raw milk legalized, though, so our freedoms got sapped, milk-wise, except for the lactose intolerant. We’ll still have buy our unpasteurized milk from those seedy-looking guys who man the corners of inner city Mott. Bring a pickup, or trailer, for faster service. Tipping not required but welcome.

They post on Facebook quite often, Memes featuring quotes of Frederic Bastiat, a Frenchman who died in 1850. He said some smart things, and most of them seem to take shots at the government and people who would be legislators, which seems masochistic. People who hate the government but want to be in it. I guess that schick has worked many decades for Cramer.

This Ludwig character also holds some sway with the Bastiat Caucus:

“Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.” ― Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

Dark quotes like Ludwig’s, — Wiggy to his friends — and the bills they introduced, which are gun-heavy and include issues like homeschooling, milk from the tap, marijuana, overwrought concern about refugees and the elimination of “safe spaces,” just in case they crop up, leads me to believe we have some ideologues on our hands. Namely, Libertarians, who ran as Republicans, so they would get more than twelve votes.

“Interesting or dorky? You decide. Mises, Bastiat, Goldwater, etc. — all on on Rick Becker’s desk in the State House.” From the Bastiat Caucus Facebook page.

There has never been a government that has successfully run on libertarian principles, so there’s that, but Dr. Becker is popular with the far right. It could be the glasses — or his ability to drive while simultaneously streaming his latest update to the troops. Most likely, it’s the guns. Freedom, dude!

A Bastiat Caucus meme:

“Many gun-control advocates really do believe that government regulation and management can solve every social ill. They ignore the realities behind failed experiments such as alcohol prohibition or the war on drugs and instead move on to the latest sexy prohibitionist drive because they sense an opportunity to control one more aspect of daily life.” — Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute

Or maybe some of us just want fewer people to be perforated with high-velocity lead, but whatever.

Becker also tried to free the liquor. According to the manager of his bars:

“So, some of you also know that the owner of our bars and most amazing boss ever happens to be a state legislator. Well, we’ve been working on a bill that would allow license holders to bypass distributors and purchase products that distributors are unwilling pick up. Yes. You read that correctly. GAME CHANGER.”

That bill failed, so we’ll have to manage with the zillion brands of alcohol we already have, and the beer selections are getting out of hand. Freedom averted this time but fewer top shelf bottles to dust saves on the Swiffer sheets.

Finally, this Bastiat Caucus gem:

“Bottom line: American beer is awesome, and Michael Moore is an as$h%le. #BeerIsFreedom”

We know Heitkamp. Don’t we?

Heidi could pull a fast one and switch parties. Allowing coal gruel in the streams? Really? That isn’t going to save the coal industry, anyway. Just because tangerine face doesn’t understand how markets work doesn’t mean you have to jump off the cliff with the bozo. And Ben Carson? Sheesh.

Seeing her in such a close proximity to weasel head made me itch. And there must be a hard to wash off fumes emanating from his odious carcass. It isn’t Old Spice. It’s probably the sweat from some endangered species, that one of his boys shot in a refuge for the filthy wealthy.

I would still crossover to vote for her in a three-way primary, since I wouldn’t vote for the other two on penalty of death — or worse. She will have options, but since Trump is intent on burning the place down, Heidi will remain a D.

Or she could just call it a day, and retire like people do.

Then a very wealthy Democrat, willing to spend his own money, will be needed. It’s a proven winning strategy.

Back to Cramer

How many months will Trump have spent behind bars by the time of the 2018 election, or will he have quit? Will he hang on and wash all of the R’s down the drain like bread crumbs?

45 isn’t right in the head, and defending his abhorrent behavior isn’t normal either. It isn’t a sign of good judgment, which begs the question:

Is Cramer any more fit to be a senator than Trump is to be president? No, he isn’t.

“He (Cramer) called Trump’s speech the best before Congress since President Reagan’s addresses three decades ago.” — E&E Daily

Now, that’s some certifiably insane *&@ $#!*. Dogs aren’t that loyal, even the stupid ones. The deranged riff on women’s fashion didn’t make him seem all that solid, either.

Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama:

“He may not be operating his brain properly.”

Cramer said this, just a handful of years ago: “We’ve normalized perversion and perverted God’s natural law.”

Such a charmer.

But what is Trump, if not a normalized pervert? He used to walk through teen beauty pageant dressing rooms and gawk — because he could, for crissakes! That’s OK with Cramer.

Cramer has always plays the pious one, but his views don’t come from the nonsmiting parts of the Bible. Not the one I read. Jesus, lepers, prostitutes, money-changers, the destitute and the other good stuff. What Would Trump Do? Not words to live by.

The congressman is positively giddy at the prospect of separating people from their health insurance and cutting assistance to the poor and hungry. As Trump’s footrest, he is willing to sacrifice lives, give corporations a greener light to pollute, take health care away from women, keep wages low and fight a woman’s right to choose.

Stained by Trump means being anti-science, lie-accepting, ethically challenged, xenophobic, racist, ignorant, anti-free speech, white nationalistic, Islamophobic, anti-government and a Putin loving bully. That’s OK with Cramer.

45 is narcissistic, offensive, an exaggerator and a megalomaniac. He condescends and is full of jealousy, yet fragile, and a sociopath. That’s OK with Cramer.

Trump has conned people out of thousands with a fake university, and he’s a bilker. He’s bilked his contractors, employees and business partners. There really isn’t enough space — or time — to do the whole list. His promises are worthless, but this is the slop bucket that Kevin Cramer chose to hitch his wagon.

Cramer handles the misogyny and homophobia just wonderfully by himself. He and his wife seem to be on the same page, which is between them, but his cherry- picked biblical views need not be accepted by the voters.

Given the choice between making Bakken oil producers make the mixture they ship by train safer by removing the explosive gases, he sided with big oil over the safety of his people. I asked. He answered. Let the market decide if more people should die. A malleable ideologue. Rare.

He holds a Town Hall one da, and then badmouths the people who attended the next day on the radio, hosted by his pooch Port.

Cramer’s a shill for oil and coal, as are his hounds. He got so excited when Trump mentioned the Dakota Access pipeline, in 45’s first big boy speech, he nearly had a seizure.

He is not a good person. Not a moral being. Not an empathetic individual. Not an honest man. Not an ethical human.

His wife, Kris, tried to help normalize his nutty white fit, but I still don’t know what “We wore plaid,” infers:

“Women in white: the majority of North Dakotans and I understand how you feel. We just lived through eight years of Barack Obama. We wore plaid.” — Kris Cramer

The Cramers could watch any of Obama’s State of the Union and see how the Republicans treated the president. Wearing white is peanuts comparatively.

History will judge this period harshly. That’s OK with Cramer.

I can imagine how one of the forthcoming anti-Cramer ads might go:

Cramer: “Waiter! What is this woman doing in my cream of milk soup?”

Waiter: “She appears to be giving you two fingers — and treading soup, sir.”

Cramer: “Well, I never. This is an obvious attack on President Trump!”

Waiter: “It is?”

Cramer: “And in broad daylight!”

Waiter: “I believe it is just regular daylight, sir.”

Cramer: “Take this away. First, we give them the vote, allow them to dress poorly, and now they want soup and comfortable shoes. When will this insanity end?”

Waiter: “Perhaps when #%&@!’s like you go extinct, sir.”

KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — A Walk Along The Red Lake River Corridor

Spring teased the Northland last weekend. The seasonal diversion seemed as though it knew the winds from hell would soon attack us from the north.

Rarely do March temperatures rise into the balmy, high 40s. But when they do, cabin fever-crazy Minnesotans head — where else? — outside.

Sunday was the ideal day to take a hike along the East Grand Forks Greenway.

A long walk on the bike trail would have provided enough free medicine to chase away the fever. A walk along the more rugged Red Lake River corridor provided the instant cure.

The flooded ice-covered river had occupied the deer trail I followed only a week prior when the Red Lake had crested.

The path allowed easy access to the surreal frozen wonderland the river had deposited along its banks as far as I could see.

The icy river flowed west underneath a tumult of covered ice. But, on shore, the Red Lake had transformed a 50-yard wide strip into an Arctic landscape.

The river’s retreat had deposited endless rugged hunks and lumps and chunks of ice in many shapes and forms: sculptures, pool table tops and sheets that could have hosted a pond hockey game.

Cottonwoods, willow trunks, limbs and vegetation had trapped many slabs as large as a garage floor and as small as a table top.

Across the river (of course), where the current is always lazy, I could see the phalanx of cottonwoods had arrested suspended slabs as long and wide as driveways.

Most of the shore’s ice I walked on was glued to the ground, but many sheets were left suspended a few inches or feet in the air. Still others were captured as high as my thighs.

I hadn’t crossed a hockey rink in boots in decades, but that’s what walking across the miniature glaciers sort of felt like.

Every once in awhile, the ice cracked beneath my boots. Another step, another crack. Another step and suddenly — woomph! — a swimming pool size slab would drop to the ground. I recalled a little nervously that’s exactly what I felt when I fell through a frozen beaver pond while deer hunting back in the day. Only then, I never touched bottom. On Sunday, the ice and I landed on ground with a thud. The experience was eerily similar, though. After the eighth or ninth time the ice dropped, I couldn’t help but giggle or laugh.

I couldn’t resist dropping to hands and knees to peer beneath the trapped sheets at the ground. One fat grey squirrel sprinted under one ice field. No fear there.

The river’s gift of an other worldly landscape offered the ideal diversion for two hours.

I hiked back realizing I’d just witnessed two seasons at war with winter still on top and spring down below.

Who knows what spring will bring tomorrow?

Stay tuned.







KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — Trump By Any Other Name

And so the Illegitimate One has taken the oath and in so doing has vomited even more lies with the world as a witness.

Meanwhile, “Hairman Mao’s” Cabinet of criminals awaits approval from his fellow congressional conspirators.

Never has a man so unpopular and so divisive taken the oath of office as the president of the U.S.A.

As the world turns, its citizens hold their collective breath while believing nothing good can come of this.

The Clown wears many names.

Except for his deplorable fanatics,  #Notmypresident may be the most common.

In keeping with PutinPuppet’s list of Cabinet nominees, the list is not inclusive.

Time and research would produce a book of epithets the size of “War and Peace.”

The names were compiled from letters to the editor, news stories, comedians, politicos (some from his own party) and astute students of politics in the USA.

Names like these are a dime a dozen in the cellar of newspaper/magazine web sites typically called The Comment Section. You’ve seen them. You’ve laughed at them. You’ve probably cried after digesting the fact that they’re all mostly accurate.

You’ll see the list contains some profanity (duh). So for readers with hard-core and supersensitive Christian beliefs, spare yourself the pain — don’t read it and just turn the channel.

Careful readers with a just a gram of brain matter will discover the list reflects the American virtues of creativity, hard work and fairness, equality and justice for only the richest of the rich bastards. As Bernie calls them: “The One Percenters.”

On the day few saw coming, the list is most appropriate and fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on one’s perspective,) eerily accurate. Critics will call the list classless, tasteless and lacking respect for the fool who now occupies the alleged top office in the land, which, of course, is complete b.s.

If and when Americans finally figure out that the president is nothing but a figurehead, and that the top offices of the land always have been and always will be located on Wall Street (but now in Moscow), the throne of corporate oligarchy the world over, maybe the country will  get its act together.

But don’t hold your breath because you’ll need a breathing tube to survive.

One last warning: the names are funnier than hell. Reflecting the future state of the union, the list is in no particular order. Chaos, you see, just went nuclear.

A complete list of names would take four years to read. By then, most of the USA and the world hopes the fascist and his criminal cronies will be just an asterisk in history. Meantime, do you have your bugout bag ready?

The List

  • AntiChrist.
  • Camel hunter.
  • Adulterer.
  • Fascist.
  • Racist.
  • Plebeian.
  • Rump.
  • tRumPutin.
  • Sauron.
  • Buffoon.
  • Lex Luthor.
  • Orange sad man.
  • Orange philistine.
  • Hairman Mao.
  • Rapey McRaperson.
  • Conman.
  • Peodophile.
  • Rapist.
  • Orange manatee.
  • Mein Furor.
  • Misogynist.
  • Clown.
  • Fat, arrogant orange penguin.
  • Con man.
  • Great Genghis CON.
  • Twitler.
  • Rump.
  • Donald.
  • Hitler.
  • Sphincter.
  • Asshole.
  • Babyman.
  • Baby.
  • Traitor.
  • Liar.
  • Psycho.
  • Mr. Golden Shower.
  • Stupid.
  • Trumpaloopas.
  • Sicko.
  • Sick son of a bitch.
  • Bigot.
  • Dipshit.
  • Dumbass.
  • Trumpet.
  • Putin puppet.
  • Sociopath.
  • Narcissist.
  • Nazi.
  • Manchurian candidate.

And last but not least, the list ends with a batch of names from a story the New York Daily News published last summer. They’re the best of the best.

  • Angry Creamsicle.
  • Human-toupee hybrid.
  • Orange manate.
  • Like Godzilla with less foreign policy experience.
  • Short-fingered vulgarian.
  • F–kface Von Clownstic.
  • Decomposing jack-o-lantern.
  • Fascist carnival barker.
  • The face of a butternut squash who wished on a shooting star and became a real boy.
  • Chairman of the Saddam Hussein fan club.
  • The uncle who hits on your wife at funerals.
  • A racist clementine.
  • Sociopathic, 70-year-old toddler.
  • Tangerine tornado.
  • Failed mail-order meat salesman.
  • America’s back mole.

KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — I Had Fun Reading A Bunn Coffee Maker Instruction Booklet

We’ve all been there. You’ve bought something — an appliance, tool, toy, DIY furniture, whatever — and the time arrives to use the thing.

But first, decision-making time arrives.

You see, humans divide themselves into those who read instructions before use, and those who don’t.

Many, many men (mostly) I know believe they are born with that special intuitive skill — you know, the one that allows them to assemble, build or connect the damn thing and watch it work.

I’m not one of them. That’s because I possess an instructions fetish and enjoy reading them. I think that’s because instructions provide a much-needed diversion or distraction from consuming way too much information from way too many websites that may or may not contain Fake News.

After reading volumes of instructions over the years, I know that most are written by technical writers who’ve never used the gadget they’re writing about. I also know the chances are pretty good that the poor person tasked with writing them lives in a country where English is the fifth language. Whatever the reason, reading instructions can be an adventure.

The guide that came with the Bunn coffee maker we bought was stunning in its simplicity and clarity. And get this — whoever wrote it had a heck of a sense of humor. I laughed at least a half-dozen times reading the step-by-step guide. (These days, laughs seem to be a precious and seemingly rare commodity. Again, I blame it on the news.) As I read the booklet, each page drove my anticipation of using the device a bit more. That, I swear, has only happened to me one other time, when I bought my first audio/video receiver.

For the record, the Mr. Coffee machine we bought four years ago and blew up a few weeks ago clearly was a victim of engineering incompetence. But when it worked, the machine looked cool, especially at night because its clock cast a cool blue glow throughout the kitchen. The Mr. Coffee maker (what a stupid name for an appliance brand) also made OK coffee. Imagine that. Problem is, it met my definition as a piece of crap precisely because it lasted only four years. For $50, I figured the thing would last at least a decade, like its predecessor did.

The new Bunn is made in Iowa, and Bunn promotes that in its package literature. I’ve got nothing against Iowa, but I still found it strange that Iowa was the machine’s birthplace. Who knew? (I always thought Iowa made only hogs and Republicans — including the biggest GOP freak in Congress right now. His name is Steve King. For more about this asshole, check out your own news source.)

About that instruction booklet
The “Welcome” booklet’s cover grabs your eyeballs and doesn’t let go. That’s because it’s printed on blaze orange paper. I like blaze orange a few weeks out of the year. I turned the page and soon found myself immersed in the directions like a container of crushed, aromatic beans in Bunn land.

Page 3 greets the reader/user with “Why Bunn?” in large, black type. The paragraph that follows explains: “Since 1957 restaurants have been using Bunns to make ‘the best coffee experience possible by building the best coffee makers possible.’” The graph goes on to explain that Bunn is a proud company that’s based on honesty and passion and other haughty claims. Maybe they’re even true. Time will tell.

The paragraph ends by saying, “Great coffee is just moments away.” I’m not sure how Iowegians define “moments,” but I needed 20 minutes to read the booklet.

Page 4 is an actual table of contents. Remember them? They were common back when people read books and didn’t tweet. The Bunn table tells the user that “Let’s Get Started” begins on Page 6, for example; “Meet the Brewer” is on 7; “Let’s Be Safe” can be found on Page 10. The one that raised my left eyebrow when I read it was the last line: “Legal Mumbo Jumbo.” Hmmmmm, I thought, so far these instructions definitely beat reading the news.

The Big Black Page 5 yells out in 3-inch letters, “Let’s Get Started.” And in type 90 percent smaller: “PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO A TEE.” I liked that line because it suggested Bunn knows that far too many people — even the ones who buy their stuff — are dumb asses and need extra encouragement not to goof up. (For proof dumb asses rule the Earth, have you driven anywhere yet today? And then, of course, there’s tomorrow.)

The next few pages contain a parts diagram, which is even accurate. In fact, all of the illustrations in the book are accurate because they look like the actual machine. This is a first for instruction booklets and should qualify Bunn as a Pulitzer Prize contender for Community Service.

After turning the page, one can’t miss the warning on Page 8 in all caps: “Do not plug in until Step 4, or you risk permanently damaging the machine. AND WE DON’T WANT THAT ANY MORE THAN YOU DO.” (I love that line. Honesty. It’s another precious commodity these days. For proof, as of a month ago, Wells Fargo was our former bank.)

Page 9 marries illustrations with the step-by-step printed instructions that explain how to prep the machine. Step 5, the last one, reads: “TURN ON BREWER. Press Tank Switch on side to ON position. Wait 15 minutes for water to heat (you only do this once for life of brewer, so don’t fret). Keep Tank Switch on (unless you’re taking that much-needed vacation). Then be sensible and shut it off.” (I found that funny. Maybe because I’m a fan of using parentheses wisely. That the words within the Bunn parenthesis are funny to me is a bonus. I actually read them aloud to Sara when she asked what I was laughing at. She laughed, too.

“LET”S BE SAFE” launches the list of dos and dont’s most product instructions contain. Page 11 begins with, “IMPORTANT. NO, REALLY, THIS IS IMPORTANT.” I laughed again.

Finally, we get to the most important part of the instruction booklet: “Let’s brew 101.” Here Bunn explains the Bunn Difference, which contains more claims about how the machine makes great coffee. There’s a ditty for Time, Temperature and Turbulence. That’s right: turbulence. Bunn anticipated my consternation … “Created in the Brew Funnel as water uniformity showers over coffee, resulting in smooth flavor.” Hmmmm. I never thought of water as having uniformity. “Let’s Brew 101” ends with another sentence in parenthesis: “(We coffee geeks call this uniformity of extraction.)”

The last 10 pages tell how to clean the machine and how to troubleshoot if something’s amiss. I found more humor there, too.

The Basic Cleaning section ends: “If you’re a neat freak, do it more than occasionally.” The last page is reverse white type on a black background that simply says, “ENJOY.”

And I did. The machine performed exactly how, according to the instructions, it should. The thing made the best cup of coffee I’ve had in months.

So, here’s a tip of my coffee mug to Bunn for manufacturing what seems to be a bulletproof coffee maker. In four years, we shall see if what Bunn says in its instructions proves true.

I wish all gadgets, toys and tools were accompanied by instructions half as funny as Bunn’s. Reading them made my day and beat the hell out of reading the news, fake or not. Better yet, it made a perfect cup of coffee, when the temperature outside was 12 below.

Bravo (for now), Bunn!

RON SCHALOW: Sorry To Break This To You …

… but, our president lied to us on the very night of 9/11. On a sacred day in American history, George W. Bush decided that politics were more important than telling the truth, and this is where his re-election campaign started. Luckily, he wasn’t under oath.

Here are his words, when the commander-in-chief uses his photographic imagination to recall the days events:

8:30 p.m. on 9/11/2001
“Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C., to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow.” — GEORGE BUSH
Lie: Bush didn’t implement emergency response plans immediately, or at any other time. All actions took place without input by the president.By his own admission, which also served as an alibi, the president claimed not to have a single notion, “no alarm bells,” after being told that the first airliner hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, that it was terrorism.
The FAA, NEADS, the Air Force, the Secret Service, and others knew, but the information didn’t make it to Mr. Bush.

A few heard bells.

“I think when information came in about the first crash, I think the natural reaction was, was it a plane that went off course, what could this be, is this terrorism?” — ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, TO REPORTERS ON 9/11/2001 (His story changed.)

“This has bin Laden all over it. I’ve got to go.” — CIA CHIEF GEORGE TENET’S REACTION, AFTER HEARING ABOUT THE FIRST ATTACK.

8:19 a.m.

8:37:52 a.m.
The military — Northeast Air Defense Sector is notified of the hijacking by the FAA.
FAA: Hi. Boston Center TMU [Traffic Management Unit], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked headed toward New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16’s or something up there, help us out.
NEADS: Is this real-world or exercise?
FAA: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.

8:46 a.m.
Two fighter jets are scrambled from Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts to track down Flight 11, as is the protocol, soon after the FAA determined that the airliner had been hijacked.
Even if the jets can get to the airliner before it reaches New York, the pilots will have few options, since the president is the only person who can order the shoot-down of a commercial airliner,and he’s unaware of the situation, and for some reason, he can’t be reached.

8:46:40 a.m.
American Airlines Flight 11 Smashes Into The North Tower Of The World Trade Center

8:47:50 a.m.
In New York City — “We have a number of floors on fire. It looked like the plane was aiming toward the building.” — BATTALION FIRE CHIEF JOSEPH PFEIFER “102 MINUTES”

8:55 a.m.
Before entering the classroom, the president spoke to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was at the White House. She recalled first telling the president it was a twin-engine aircraft, then that it was commercial, saying “that’s all we know right now, Mr. President.” — 9/11 COMMISSION

It wasn’t until the second plane hit the south World Trade Center tower — and Andy Card came into the classroom. And whispered into his ear, “America is under attack,” when Bush was sitting in the Sarasota, Fla., classroom listening to children reading, when his mind, but not his body, began to stir.

“I was thinking about what the heck we were going to do. I’m an action-oriented guy. And I am thinking to myself: What is it I need to do?” — GEORGE BUSH
“I have nobody to talk to. My God, I’m commander-in-chief and the country has just come under attack!”— GEORGE BUSH

“In the Dec. 4, 2001, town-hall meeting, the president said he didn’t begin to make major decisions about the emergency until he was back aboard his plane. “I got on the phone from Air Force One, asking to find out the facts,” he said. — WALL STREET JOURNAL MARCH 22, 2004
“… and so, I got on the phone from Air Force One, asking to find out the facts. You’ve got to understand, Jordan, during this period of time, there were all kinds of rumors floating around. Some of them were erroneous. Obviously — for example, there was a news report saying that the State Department had been attacked. I needed to know what the facts were. But I knew I needed to act. I knew that if the nation’s under attack, the role of the commander-in-chief is to respond forcefully to prevent other attacks from happening. And so, I’ve talked to the Secretary of Defense; one of the first acts I did was to put our military on alert.” — GEORGE BUSH AT TOWNHALL MEETING

The problem with that story, is that the president didn’t get back to Air Force One until three planes had hit their targets, and he didn’t talk to the clueless Secretary of Defense. Minutes later, passengers forced Flight 93 to crash into a Pennsylvania field at 10 a.m., and the four attacks were over.

“Secretary Rumsfeld told us he was just gaining situational awareness when he spoke to the vice president at 10:39.” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
Lie: The commander-in-chief didn’t have the military prepared to protect people on THIS continent.
“The nation was unprepared.” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT

“I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He talked to people about this. But I don’t remember the al Qaida cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about. ”— CONDI RICE TO 9/11 COMMISSION
Rumsfeld covering his own butt. Always amusing.
“Under our Constitution, under our laws, the United States military’s task is to defend against foreign invasion and foreign threats. The threat we saw recently was from a person in our country in one of our airplanes filled with our citizens. This is a law enforcement job. It is a job for the FBI. It is a job for the police.” —DONALD RUMSFELD INTERVIEW FOR ABC NEWS “THIS WEEK” WITH SAM DONALDSON SEPTEMBER 16, 2001
“The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn’t intended to be going, not to fly it into buildings.” — DONALD RUMSFELD TO 9/11 PANEL MARCH 23, 2004
“Prior to 9/11, it was understood that an order to shoot down a commercial aircraft would have to be issued by the National Command Authority (the president and secretary of Defense).” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
“The mission of the Air National Guard at the time was to protect the American coast. We were trained to shoot down other airplanes.” — GEORGE BUSH, “A CHARGE TO KEEP”

Lie: Bush’s first priority should have been to protect the country from further attacks …
… but it wasn’t. The commander-in-chief wasted many a minute, sat through a photo-op, made a TV appearance, showed no evidence of knowing his duties and vamoosed to Louisiana and Nebraska.

But after a day of failure, the president’s approval ratings soared over the 90 percent mark, his staff got the stories straight, and he rode 9/11 into a war of choice and a second term. Slick.

Conversely, when four Americans were tragically killed by terrorists at a CIA compound in Libya, the response of a certain sector of U.S. citizens was totally unforgiving.

“At any rate, I knew I had a job to do. And I was quoted in the press the other day as saying I haven’t regretted one thing I’ve decided. And that’s the truth. Every decision I made, I stand by. And I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made.” — GEORGE BUSH DECEMBER 4, 2001

NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — To Form A More Perfect Pumpkin

Russ spotted a row of pumpkin pies at the Village Inn the other day. He stopped dead in his tracks, and breathed one wistful outburst: “Yummm.”

So now, it’s officially autumn. A few weeks earlier, he’d never have wasted a second glance for a brown ugly duckling pushed toward the back of the pie case, skulking behind the more glamorous choices — strawberry, peach, Key lime, coconut cream, lemon meringue….

But somehow, as sure as the world keeps turning, the first hint of autumn inspires a longing for perhaps the least celebrated but most temporarily beloved pie in the cabinet.

Pumpkin pie — or “punkin,” as we knew it growing up — is the Rodney Dangerfield of desserts. For most of the year, it garners no respect, none at all. And worse: Even now, in these few brief months when it finally gets its turn to shine, pumpkin — or, more properly, pumpkin spice — has turned into fall’s version of a Christmas fruitcake joke.

Among the trendier, latte-sipping cohorts, the overexposure of pumpkin spice has turned it into a punch line. The bullying started when Starbucks debuted its seasonal hit, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, about 10 years ago. Suddenly, the flavor was turning up everywhere — no longer just in Mom’s dog-eared recipes for pumpkin bars and pumpkin bread, but in neighborhoods where no self-respecting orange orb had formerly been known to venture.

Pumpkin-flavored everything is popping up all over. I’ve only read of many of its permutations, rather than spotted them on our local shelves, but believe me: This is the kind of thing that, once described, makes a real impression. Pumpkin Pop-Tarts and Pringles Potato Chips. Pumpkin vodka and beer. Pumpkin bagels and breakfast cereals. Orange-stuffed Oreos. Pumpkin chewing gum, M&Ms and even Peeps. Scented candles that smell sort of like pie … and pumpkin air fresheners.

The funny thing — I mused last night, as I happily slurped my single Pumpkin Pie Blizzard of the season — is that the real fruit that bears the name (and yes, it’s really a fruit) doesn’t deliver much flavor of its own.

Pumpkin flesh is notoriously watery and fibrous. Only the distinctive pop of spices sets it apart from the Valley of the Bland.

We who are known to pie it up already understand the fresh pumpkin’s inadequacy in a half-subconscious way. That’s how we justify never sacrificing potential jack-o’-lanterns in pursuit of our desserts. Why take a chance at cannibalizing the Great Pumpkin when it doesn’t even taste all that good?

Instead, we invariably turn to one of Libby’s best-selling products, its canned puree. The label proudly proclaims it “100% pure pumpkin,” grown in good ol’ Illinois — a special variety the cannery itself developed.

Funny thing, though. The Libby’s label shows a lovely piece of pumpkin pie … but not the globular orange gourd of that name. And there’s a reason for that.

Libby’s “pumpkin” — and every competing brand on the grocer’s shelf — is squash.

Yes, squash … the unprepossessing dull-colored but delicious gourdish spheres and ovoids. Fill them with sliced apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, then bake to dinner table perfection. But don’t fashion a face on your butternut and light a candle inside. You’d get more centerpiece bang from carving broccoli.

This deception does not come as a shock to botanists. They’ve always known that pumpkin is merely a species of squash, closely related to its dull-shelled but golden-fleshed cousins. It’s distinguished only by its glowing color, stiffer vine, edible seeds and sub-par contents.

That’s right. In the tasteless department, the pumpkin bears a strong resemblance to its notorious shirttail relation, the zucchini. There’s a hidden resemblance there. Both are valued mostly because, if grated fine and stirred into well-spiced batters, no one even realizes what’s hidden inside.

According to Department of Agriculture statistics, only a scant fraction of the 2 billion pumpkins American farmers grew this year are destined for the dinner table — and that includes pretty much all of Libby’s proprietary variety, the dull-colored, butternut-shaped Dickinson squash.

False advertising? Who cares? The Ag Department says it’s perfectly all right that the canner universally calls it “pumpkin.” Same difference.

Try telling that to a child picking out his Halloween pumpkin, though, or the householder piling perfect specimens on her front porch. “Those” are undeniably pumpkins. They’re good for décor, not dinner.

But “pumpkin spice” is really a thing. It just doesn’t involve a molecule of its namesake. A little can of McCormick’s pie spice has been living out the twilight of its half-life here since my grandmother gave up housekeeping in 1970 — inedible for sure, but part of my family’s heritage.

That flavor that inspired you in October is composed of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice, the blend McCormick’s officially christened “pumpkin pie spice.” The venerable seasoning company created a real stir with the pre-packaged blend back in the 1950s. It took a load off the minds of home cooks who used no more than one pinch of allspice per year, yet fretted over wasting the remainder.

What you smell when you pull a pie out of the oven is the spice blend, not the squash. The aerosol that covers your cat odor is spice, not pumpkin, magic. The delicious aroma you inhale as you sip your Pumpkin Spice Latte is from your barista’s industrial-sized bottle of flavoring, not the produce department.

What puzzled me most last night, as I suctioned the last milliliter of my Blizzard from the cup, was this: How can a classic flavor so long anticipated and so fabulous, beginning right this moment, leave you totally cold by the day after Christmas?

And would Halloween night ever be the same for little Linus if he were waiting for the Great Squash?

KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — Another Hike, Another Fantastic Mushroom Discovery

Fall has finally arrived, and we’re on a roll.

I said two blogs ago Nature is pregnant with surprises and looked forward to a return trip to the Brainerd (Minn.) Lakes Area to discover more of them.

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest daughter, Arin, and her mountain climbing son, Asher, stumbled on a delicious species of edible mushroom called the Bear’s Head Tooth. The soft, white ‘shroom resembled a chunk of coral that looked like it would be more at home on an ocean reef than a forest floor. 

Once we discovered the Bear’s Head was edible, of course I cooked it. I described the eating experience like this:  “The ‘shrooms were so tasty, so delectable, so mouthwatering delicious, so slyly and subtly flavorful, so creamy, just so damn good! we were astonished — speechless even. We couldn’t believe that something so odd looking could taste so heavenly.

Last weekend, we took a short hike around a small lake hoping to absorb Minnesota’s fall colors (and more mushrooms?). Our walk took us along the top of a ridge that contained a beautiful early autumn overlook of the far lakeshore.

North-central Minnesota’s fall color transition is happening in slow motion. The foliage remains 70 percent green, but the splashes provided by golden draped maples promised the fall color explosion is on its way. Although we couldn’t fully see autumn, we could feel and smell the cusp of its arrival. 

The hiking area contains an almost balanced mix of blowdowns and standing trees. That’s because powerful straight line winds ripped the Nisswa/Baxter/Brainerd area apart this past August and in July 2015. Besides tearing up the forest, storms raised havoc by damaging roofs, blocked roads and knocked out power for some people for a week. The area also has been a target for parades of tropical precipitation two years in a row. Besides producing too many wet basements, the wet earth makes trees susceptible to toppling during hurricane force winds.

We were witnessing the result of what happens after nature twice flexes her muscle. White pines, popples, basswood, oaks, maples — the indiscriminate wind didn’t care what it bullied. The Weather Service calculates the wind in 2015 blew more than 100 mph. Uprooted stumps, angled widow-makers — hung-bung severed trunks that haven’t completed their inevitable surrender to gravity — and fallen trees lay haphazardly on the ground.

In time, the wood will rot. As it does, the trees will return to dust, fertilizing the forest floor with nutritious decay that will allow new plants and trees to take root.

Already, mushrooms are finding the battle zone to their liking. I counted nine species of ‘shrooms on our mile-long hike. I couldn’t identify eight of them.

And then we struck gold again, or should I say orange?

Chicken of the Woods mushroom.
Chicken of the Woods mushroom.

Sara was the first to ask, “Aren’t those pretty?” as she pointed toward a clump of stuff that reminded me of Halloween. Three clumps of elongated pumpkin colored fungus, each about the size of a football, were growing just above the ground attached to a fallen oak. I sliced one clump and was surprised it weighed much heavier than a football. The “cap” contained about 30 individual fan-shaped and overlapping “shelves” that were 3 to 8 inches across. I’d soon discover that these are the parts one cleans and eats.

I had a pretty good hunch my hand held another type of mushroom that wore a wacky sounding name — maybe as goofy sounding as the Bear’s Head Tooth ‘shrooms we found a few weeks ago.

To confirm our discovery, like I did with the Bear’s Head find, I posted a photo on Facebook. Amazingly, the social media site proved it has some value once in awhile. My nephew, Blake, supplied the answer in minutes: chicken of the woods. Five more people confirmed what I already suspected. More research back at the lodge confirmed the confirmations.

We found what are called Chicken of the Woods. One more time: Chicken of the Woods. I like saying the name. Especially when it’s the answer to the question: “What are you cooking?”

“Chicken of the woods, of course.” 

COTW are sort of related to another mushroom that looks similar and grows in a clump but isn’t as colorful. The COTW’s relative is called Hen of the Woods. I’m not making this up. Both species are not only edible but deliciously so.

I learned a few things about COTW from the web:

  • COTW is sometimes called chicken fungus, chicken mushroom and sulphur shelf.
  • They grow on hardwoods.
  • COTW, as Sara demonstrated, is easily identified because of its orange color. As specimens age, their color fades as does their taste.
  • The ‘shrooms grow in northern states east of the Rockies.
  • I repeatedly read COTW are one of the easy and “safe” mushrooms to identify.

Back home, I cleaned the chickens with a paper towel. I removed the tough firm, white base and discarded it, then sliced the orange shelves into 1-inch pieces.

I grilled them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees with an occasional coating of parsley butter.

So, what did they taste like?

Some humans compare COTW to chicken of the sea or other seafood critters such as snow crab. I think they taste like chicken. The friend I invited over agrees. “Tastes like chicken,” he said. We’re not making this up. That the mushrooms accompanied grilled chicken breasts also may have had something to do with the taste comparison. A second meal of COTW the next day, this time in an omelette, confirmed the culinary chicken connection, however.

 I’ll be heading south to the Brainerd area again soon, which is getting pretty late in the mushroom hunting game. But who knows, striking gold — or orange or whatever color the edible surprise turns out to be — three consecutive times on the fungus front remains a possibility.

I know one thing that won’t be difficult to find because the fall’s color explosion will be peaking.

Fall carries with it treats that tease and saturate multiple human senses. Autumn, with its orange and crimson and bronze and tan and yellow and purple palette, is the sensual season.

And I’ll take its offerings in our neck of the woods over any other state, thank you very much. If I find some edibles in the meantime, that’s just more frosting on Minnesota’s ultimate season.


KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — A Coupon Lesson In Toilet Paper Mathematics

Coupon grocery shopping is sort of like hunting for Easter eggs.

Since I have no say in our household, I do both the shopping and egg hunting.

The local family-owned grocery monopoly mails coupons to residents every once in awhile. Two weeks ago, we received some, so I decided I’d go spend and save some money.

The colorful coupon package is entitled, “CouponMania! Enjoy family Favorites For Less!”

There are 32 coupons in all. Coupons are divided so shoppers are offered four bargains a week. For you mathematically challenged shoppers like me, that computes into eight week’s worth of coupon shopping. What a deal!

Once I got permission to spend, and armed with the coupons plus a few other items on My List, I headed to one of the grocery chain’s stores on 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks, which for people living in East Grand Forks may as well be in North Fargo. I could have chosen the EGF store, but I had a few other stores in North Fargo to hit.

Most of the time, assuming you are willing to travel every aisle, navigating the grocery store’s lanes for  coupon products isn’t difficult — except there always seems to be that one elusive item on the list. Always.

I’m not sure but I think the store owners are trying to pull a fast one on us. Could it be because they hope each shopper might throw three unnecessary packages of Oreos or whatever in our cart in addition to buying the coupon specials?

So I found the coupon specials — deli meat package, the bottle of juice and Lay’s Family Pack of potato chips — no problem.

I paused before retrieving the last list item to catch up on my label reading. For many reasons, I study product labels. I pay attention to the ingredients, the weight and how many slices of product are promised  in the package. Frequently, the company doesn’t tell you how much product the plastic or cardboard container contains. Drives me nuts when I’m trying to count those invisible slices of bacon.

If one has read labels over a period of years, you’ve probably noticed a trend. One has to wonder why we are paying much more for much less of whatever it is we choose to buy. Coupons allow consumers to forget — at least for a while — that we’re probably getting screwed again.

I discovered the salami in the plastic box weighed 7 ounces, which is 1 ounce shy of 8 ounces, which is a half-pound; the healthy potato chips in their red and yellow package wore a 15¾-ounce weight — not 1 pound, mind you — 15¾ ounces.

I wanted to know how many chips are in 15¾ ounces, but that information remains secret. I wondered out loud how much more of a profit margin Lay’s makes by eliminating that 1 ounce of chips.

The juice actually contained 64 ounces, which is a whole one-half gallon. I was momentarily stunned when I saw the 64 ounces. Following the logic used by the other manufacturers, I expected to read 63.2 ounces.

tppicSince I’d left the hunt for the 16-roll package of TP — aka toilet paper — until last, off to the “bathroom tissues” aisle I went.

And that’s where I found Jerry and enough TP packages to fill our deer shack outhouse 50 times over.

Turned out I wasn’t the only person using my Mania coupons.

Jerry had to be pushing 80 on the human anniversary scale. He was slowly moving along the TP display and mumbling to himself. I could relate.

After a few minutes he asked, “You seem as puzzled as I am. Are you doing what I’m doing?”

“You mean trying to find the 16-roll pack? Yes. I wonder where they’ve got them stashed because they don’t seem to be here. Maybe they’re in the organic aisle.”

We continued hunting for a 16-roll pack of Northern Puffs — or whatever they’re called.

We found packs of 4, 8, 12 but couldn’t find what we both imagined to be a package containing 16 rolls of TP.

I normally don’t buy TP at the grocery store — too expensive. My wife and I head to a double-jumbo box store to stock up on bulk paper products such as TP and PT — aka paper towel. We grab the usual brand and heft it into the cart and are on our way to paying $17 for a pack of 18 rolls. I’ve never read a TP package until the other day. Apparently, my new shopping partner hadn’t either.

We focused our attention on typography and labels hoping to discover the secret to TP packaging.

“Do you see this?” he asked, pointing to the bottom line of tiny blue type on a clear background.

The label clearly stated he was holding 16 rolls of TP — and the word “Double.” We deployed Google Analytics and examined the package even closer. You see, both of us wear glasses.

“I’ll be damned,” I said. “I only see eight rolls, how about you?”

“Yep, eight rolls. Must not be the one.”

To gain clarification, I read the entire package aloud. In green type, top left, it read: “Double 16 double rolls = 32 regular rolls.” And at the very bottom in blue type: “16 rolls. 312.8 SQ FT (28.7m2). 176 2-PLY SHEETS PER ROLL. 4.0 IN X 4.0 IN (10.1 cm X 10.1 cm).”

“That’s a pretty crappy thing for Northern Puff to do — lie about the number of rolls in a package in plain blue writing!” Jerry said. “And what the hell is a CM? And who the hell measures toilet paper in square feet or inches?”

Jerry was getting a bit ornery.

“You’ve got that right, but technically, they’re sort of being honest.”

“It’s still a crappy thing to do. With that logic, when we check out, we should get our stuff at half price. Or get twice as much of everything for the same price.”

Clearly, Jerry is a math genius, and he lost me.

We both tired of the toilet paper challenge.

“Hell with it, I’ll submit this to the checkout person and punt,” he said.

“Got any more coupon items to buy?” I asked.

“Three more.”

I told him where to find the juice, the meat and chips, said “good luck … nice talking TP with you,” and I headed to the checkout aisle where I was interrupted by another TP-related blockade.

The whole ordeal reminded me of constipation.

“Ummm,” the very pleasant checkout woman said, “this isn’t the right toilet paper package for the coupon. Would you like me to get it for you?”

And off she went but quickly returned.

I thought that fetching my TP was a very nice thing for her to do and told her so.

“Thanks. I’ve been doing this my whole shift,” she said.

“Coupon shopping is sort of like Easter egg hunting,” I said, while grabbing my bags, “except then the eggs are free.”

“Actually, they will be on sale in a couple of weeks,” she said. “See you then!”

KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — A Hike, A Discovery And Then Food Fit For The Gods

The stuff on the log looked like something that belonged in an ocean.

Like pure, white clumps of coral growing on a reef, it stood out in stark relief to the jungle green of early September’s foliage.

How could we have missed it? That we had passed it by the first time on our short hike on the mountain bike trail was odd. Was Mother Nature up to her old tricks again?

Daughter Arin, carrying her 6-month-old and future Himalayan climber Asher in a frontpack, spied the stuff on the return trip. She stopped in her tracks and asked, “What’s that?”

She pointed to what clearly were clumps of fungus growing on a dark gray popple deadfall.

What is that? I wondered.

Of course, I couldn’t keep my hands off it and gently removed a fist-size ball with my trusty knife, which wasn’t really needed because the fungi easily surrendered from the log. I peeled four clumps in all and took a closer look.

The sample felt supersoft, like a ball of feathers, only it was rubbery. It smelled like the September forest floor, which is perfume to my nose.

“What is it?” ended up being the question that would occupy our time for the next several hours.

Nature contains a billion mysteries, and clearly the white fungus was one of them.

Mushrooms, you know, can be deadly when consumed. Or quite fun, depending on your mood, so I’m told. They also can be one of the tastiest things you’ve ever eaten. Probably because a grandkid was around, I entered a cautious state of discovery. So I posed the question on Facebook, “Anybody know what this stuff is? Found  it growing …”

Not even 20 minutes later, Lisa Foss, who lives in Ely, Minn., with her husband, Steve, offered the answer. The Foss couple knows a thing or two about woods, water, flora and fauna — they lead a wild life. So I trusted her. I always trust people who live in Ely.

I also know a thing or two about fungi —  just enough to be dangerous. I’m  hesitant to eat anything I find in the woods. I’ve probably passed up a half-ton of wild edibles over time, but hey, I’m still kicking. One of these days, I need to hire a guide, a mentor, to show me all of the safe edibles Nature has to offer. (Hey, bucket list, make that so.)

As we headed back to the ranch, I was still a bit wary about the mystery mushrooms and felt compelled to further verify our prize’s identity. Turned out to be quite easy. At least a half-dozen mushroom sites I found on the internet were in agreement about our find.

handOur discovery is commonly called the Bear’s Head Tooth mushroom and is one of the easiest species to identify and safest forms of fungi one can consume.

One description found oddly enough on explained our specimens succinctly: “The Bear’s Head mushroom is white with soft spines drooping downward from a thick, branched fruiting body. Often growing from hardwood trees. …  Its texture is meaty and tender with a sweet and fragrant seafood-like taste, similar to lobster or crab.”

Yeah, right.

As the fungi sautéed in butter and garlic, we would soon see about that.

Some of the other info I sucked up on the Web about the ‘shroom includes:

  • Bear’s Head is a member of the Hericium fungi family. Hericiums are found in Minnesota in late summer and early fall. The log that produced the edibles could do so again a few years in succession. Map that log!
  •  Mushy mushroom specimens aren’t good; spongy and stiff is good and crumbly is OK, too. Store them in a paper bag. Don’t let them dry out.
  • Hericium species contain a healthy bunch of ingredients. One is a compound that is an anti-convulsant and neuron protector for epilepsy, brain or spinal cord injury. The edibles also bulge with vitamin D, are high in fiber and protein. Native Americans are said to have dried and powdered the mushrooms and used a paste to stop bleeding wounds and cuts. Asians soak the fungi in hot water to make a sports drink.
  • To prepare the mushrooms for cooking, all you do is wash and then squeeze them to remove excess moisture, like a sponge, which it kind of is since it’s 80 percent water.
  • Break the mushrooms into chunks and cook until the tips are crispy. Or bake them until they shrink to half their size. Dip them in flavored ginger or garlic butter. Or batter them in Panko and fry them. Or pickle them. Maybe dehydrate some and store in the freezer? Use them in pasta. Make a soup with leeks and spuds.

We decided to serve the mushrooms by themselves. Desert seemed the appropriate dish.

We tasted the fungi tentatively at first. After the second and third bites, the expressions on our faces revealed all. The ‘shrooms were so tasty, so delectable, so mouthwatering delicious, so slyly and subtly flavorful, so creamy, just so damn good! we were astonished — speechless even. We couldn’t believe that something so odd looking could taste so heavenly.

And yes, the mushrooms had an inexplicable seafood taste. I thought of snow crab or shrimp during the first mouthful. Arin and husband Adam said they tasted lobster. We’re not making this up.

The next day, Arin, Adam and Asher went to harvest more Bear’s Head Tooth near the towns of Crosby and Ironton, Minn., which are located somewhere between the Gulf Coast and Lake Winnipeg. They prepared and ate three more meals the next few days. Arin said that, after the last meal, the mushrooms still tasted like lobster, but she had reached a mushroom saturation point. Another batch rests in their fridge, and they’re curious how long the ‘shrooms’ shelf life will be.

Meantime, now that we’re armed with information, another return trip to the forest is planned. Maybe Nature will have another surprise waiting to be discovered.

I’m anxious to see how she tops the Bear’s Head shroomery find.


To learn more about mushroom hunting and identification, check out these field guides. Owning a heavy dose of paranoia when exploring the world of mushrooms is a healthy thing. Don’t leave home without one.

  • “Mushrooms Demystified” by David Arora.
  • “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms” by Gary A. Lincoff.
  • “Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest,” Teresa Marrone and Kathy Yerich.
  • Online, check out

ABOUT US: The Fish Welcomes Jenkinson, Myhre and Strand welcomes three contributors aboard our ship.

We believe you’ll enjoy reading blogs from Clay Jenkinson, John Strand and Russell J. Myhre.

Here’s some background on each, plus an excerpt from one of their recent blogs. All three men have joined other Fish bloggers who’ve provided exclusive, complete, accurate, relevant and thought-provoking stories about the ongoing saga connected to the Dakota Pipeline Access story in western North Dakota.

Clay Jenkinson is a public humanities scholar who lives and writes in Bismarck, N.D. He grew in western North Dakota, not far from Theodore Roosevelt’s Badlands. He attended the University of Minnesota, the University of Colorado and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He also is the host of the “Thomas Jefferson Hour,” a syndicated public radio program dedicated to the search for truth in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson.

Here’s an excerpt from Clay’s blog: “In the southern heart of North Dakota, we may be witnessing the beginning of a national and international pan-Indian renewal of First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, Native Americans. Anything that helps rebuild Indian pride, cultural confidence and a firm and solid assertion of Native American rights is a good thing for all of us, for all Americans.”

John Strand, co-owner of the High Plains Reader newsweekly in Fargo and former editor of the Grafton (N.D.) Record, currently serves on the Fargo City Commission. He was elected in June 2016 after serving two terms on the Fargo Board of Education. A native of Crystal, N.D., he graduated from Valley High School in Hoople, N.D., and received a bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University in 1977. In between two stints as editor of the Grafton paper, he spent 13 years in specialized orthopedic medical sales in Fargo and Rochester, N.Y. As a city commissioner, he’s the board’s liaison with the Human Relations, Native American Commission, Historic Preservation, Library, and Arts and Culture commissions, as well as the Board of Health and Fargo Youth Initiative.

John visited the Sacred Stones Camp in western North Dakota last week. Here is one story sample:

“The main campground became visible from the highway. It resembled a small city, hundreds and hundreds of tents. Conversations stopped; we fell silent.

“The roadway into the Sacred Stones Camp was lined with dozens of tribal flags from across the Northern Hemisphere, and at least one from South America; and inside, license plates from practically every state in the nation, as well as Canada.

“In light of outside reports of illegal activity and unruly behavior by the protectors, it was reassuring to see quite the opposite. The people — all the people of all walks of life, races and religions — were peaceful. The atmosphere was mournful, solemn, prayerful and heartfelt: families, children, elders, all as one.”

Russell J. Myhre is an attorney in Valley City, N.D. Early in his career, he was an assistant Sioux County State’s Attorney, Public Defender for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court and later the Tribal Prosecutor and Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the Tribe. He registered voters on South Dakota reservations and was involved in a successful federal lawsuit brought under the Voting Rights Act. He was married to a Native activist and has children who are enrolled with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is the adopted brother to the late Isaac Dog Eagle Jr., a Lakota tribal leader and a direct descendent of Sitting Bull.

Russell provides some personal perspective and observations about the Dakota Access Pipeline developments.

“After all these years, most people have forgotten the racial tensions in South Dakota about four decades ago. In those days, AIM was considered to be a domestic terrorist organization. In fact, after every time I had gone to pick Bennie (his wife) up on a date, I had received a telephone call from the United States Marshals and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to interview me. It’s tough enough to be interrogated by your date’s father. Imagine what it was like being interviewed by the feds after every date.”

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