Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Truth is Out There

 *Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sit back, start a fire and enjoy the tale I am about to tell you. 

Every so often it happens. Our hero and his spouse are just living their lives to the best of their abilities. Hard working people. America was built on the backs of such hard working people as themselves. He wore a soldiers uniform. Many times not seeing his family for days, weeks and yes, even months at a time. All in the name of freedom. She had to raise two small children while working full time jobs. Just to give them the morals and values that make good human beings.We will call them Tango and Gladys. 

Our antagonists, Jethro Buckhumper and Bambi Poledancer, are from Wisconsin. Need I say more? Tango and Gladys are from Minnesota. So you know there is a natural hatred amongst them. I mean, just look at their rival football teams. The proud and Noble Vikings.

Feared far and wide throughout Europe. Even going so far as to discover the Americas. Then look at what Wisconsin has to offer. Cheeseheads.
Wearing a block of cheese on your head. That is what is supposed to strike fear in your enemies? The teams mascot is actually a "Packer". I am not sure what a packer really is. Does it have something to do with fudge? Here's another look at them.
But I am getting away from the story. 

Tango and Gladys had worked hard all their lives finding a chance to make a new life after their kids had moved on, they decided to travel this great country in their RV to explore America. Not only to find new adventures but also to find themselves. It started beautifully. The spark returned to their eyes. They began to see each other as if it was the first time in their lives. 

The cruel hand of fate was about to deal an evil blow. Our heroes were in the middle of Florida one year not so long ago. Minding their own business when what should happen on that fateful day. A day we refer to as "The Beginning". We were sitting outside our RV when we noticed a funny little man walking a funny little dog in front of our rig.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Now I wish we would have ran into our camper and locked the door and drawn the shades, but we didn't. At the very least I wish we would have listened to the advice from my dear departed mother. That was "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS". Four simple words probably would have changed our lives for the better. But we didn't.

As he ambled by, I winked at Gladys, nudged my head in his direction and we both chuckled to ourselves. We watched in amazement as his little dog crapped in front of our camper and he nonchalantly just kicked some dirt over it and continued on. He took two more steps, stopped and ever so slowly turned in our direction. He looked at us with eyes that didn't see. His mouth started to quiver as if there were words trying to form. Before he spoke he spit a stream of tobacco juice onto the dog turd. Wiped his chin with his forearm and said these words.

"Howdy neighbor! I see those plates on that there pickem up truck is from Mini-sota dag gum it! The little woman and me are Wisconsinites. I'm Jethro and she goes by Bambi. She's going to love ya all, I just knows it. We will be back for dinner at 5. I likes to eat early so I's can drink all night. You have beers right?" With that he grabbed his little dog, jumped up in the air and kicked his heals together and returned to where ever it was he came from.

Gladys and I looked at each other and said "What the heck just happened?"

5 o'clock came that night and sure enough so did our new friends (for lack of a better word). Jethro introduced us to Bambi. If there was a Daisy Duke look alike contest, she would win easily.

Jethro on the other hand. 
It was truly amazing to see that man eat. He had a spork in one hand and his beer in the other. It went something like this. Shove a bite of food in his mouth and then wash it down with beer. Eat, drink, eat, drink and on and on it went. He would occasionally belch once in awhile but that was it. I noticed that he never went to the bathroom. 
"Jethro," I said. "Don't you ever go to the bathroom?"
He said "Not since I discovered these new fangled underpants called Depends. I never have to stop drinking to use the potty."
To which I had to inquire. "How long have you been wearing that pair?"
"All day, why?"
"Well you seem to be leaking."

For years we traveled around. That's putting it nicely, when in fact we were hiding from them. Now I don't blame Bambi .That's the hand she was dealt with and I am sure she is doing the best that she can. WE worked in Moab, Utah. Sure enough they were there. We worked in Yellowstone. Again they were there. I don't know how many times we would be somewhere and they would show up.

We finally got off the road and built our house we even gave it a name. SSUVFL. That stands for Super Secret Undisclosed Virus Free Location. I don't know how they find us but they do.

That's my tale. Those who know, know.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Fall 2023

Procrastination-the action of delaying or postponing something. (Oxford Dictionary)

I have been meaning for weeks now to put a blog together. I started out naming it just October. Then I changed it to October/November. Finally settling on just "Fall". Mainly because it encompasses many weeks of activities. When thinking about subjects for the blog I go around and around about ideas. Usually shooting them down because of the lack of entertainment value or witty insight on my part. 

But after reading a blog I found on the internet today about a guy playing the word game called "Wordle" and about how he went on and on for ever in his blog. Then the other half was about dogs. Maybe if the dogs were playing "Wordle", then maybe it would have been interesting. So I thought to myself, can I really do worse?

We can't believe that it has only been over a month since we closed up our food trailer. It seems like it was a lifetime ago we were slinging soup and Cheesey Sasquatch's to the populace of Ottertail county. But that is the beauty of having a seasonal business. We can pack it away and then concentrate on other aspects of life. Such as our next big endeavor.

Well as many times it happens, we were enjoying a fire with libations. We find that libations really get the creative juices flowing. Decisions were decided on and plans were planned. It was time to start working on our new addition to the house. Once done it will nearly double the living space keep in mind that our cabin is small to begin with. 768 square feet. The new addition will be 576 square feet for a grand total of 1,344 square feet. We will be expanding into the barn with our cabin. Not needing such a large space because we have decided to sell our fifthwheel next spring. So if anybody is looking for a great camper, let us know.

So with our plans decided on it was time to get things in motion. First off we had the side overhead door removed.

Inside of door.

Outside of door.
Once the door was removed. It was time to frame it and install the new walk in door.
Door gone.

Framed and new door installed.
Then came the time to add the OSB sheeting, Insulating and add the steal to the outside.
OSB installed.


The outside view.
I think it came out pretty good. Just for the record. I have not had any formal training in the construction arts. Although I did attend "Josef's School of Construction" as I grew up as a child. My father was a DIY'er long before it was cool and I was always around to help him out and to carry on his knowledge. Don't get "Josef's School of Construction" mixed up with "Josef's School of Hair Design". Two different things and I went to both. Confidence was high so I started the next phase. Framing the rooms. We are adding a family room, a walk in closet and a primary suite which used to be called a Master suite until everybody got hyper sensitive.

Again things were going much better than anticipated. So much so that I decided to start my own construction company. It is going to be named, "Cripple Guy Construction". My motto will be "When you simply can't afford anyone else". Well after the framing it was time to put the floor joists up. I had to hire my son to help me get those 16 ft. long 2X10's up there. It took us an hour and a half. 

Up top we hope to use for storage of our many treasures that people start gathering when they live in a house. In other words, a place to store junk as Lisa would say. When we lived in our RV for those 6 years, everything we owned was inside the RV. Now we are buying it all back. So the next phase is to build stairs. Never have I ever done that. Here goes nothing.
I looked at the local lumber yards to see if they had them pre-made. They didn't. It was a special order. So I watched a ten minute video on Youtube. After that I was 50% sure I could do it. 16 ft. 2X12's are only $35. So I laid it out, marked it and began cutting. We brought it into the barn and held it up there. Perfect! Took it back outside and traced it over the other board and cut that one also. Nailed them in place and then put the stairs on them and Presto! Steps!
That is where we are now. 4 weeks it took us to get to this point because at "Cripple Guy Construction" we work 2-6 hours a day, depending on if our arthritis, gout, hips, knees and all other joints, IBS, and ED aren't acting up.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Summer 2023


Ahhhhhh........ What a grand and glorious morning. As I sit here at our table sipping my morning coffee, I pause and look up at the calendar. To my shock and bewilderment, I see that it is October 15th.

"Lisa! Lisa!" I yell. I look over at her and she looks like she was just run over by a truck.

"What happened to me? Was I in a coma for the last 5 months? Tell me woman! And what happened to you? Did you fall off a horse and get dragged for a mile?" I asked. So many questions racing through my head.

"What happened to September? August? July? June? May?!" My mind reeling out of control.

All she could muster was a faint whisper that said, "You had this bright idea of owning a food trailer, dumbass."

Well she never really said dumbass, but I could see it in her eyes.

So, here we are. Our last and final event for the summer is in the books now. After the dust has settled we ended up doing 92 events this summer. Not bad considering that this was our first year owning and operating a food trailer. For those that need to catch up about our food trailer they can do so by clicking this link here. The Learning Curve

This past summer went by so fast. Moving from one event to the next. It all is such a blur. As I said in our last blog, we have learned a ton of what to do and what not to do. Like one of my life's motto says. "Work smarter, not harder". Next year we will definitely put that to work for us. Another one of my motto's is to "Adapt, improvise and overcome". From the way we started this season to the way we ended proves that we have done that.

It doesn't really sound that bad until you really delve into the numbers. Like working 92 days out of around 150. But those numbers really don't take into consideration the amount of prep work before the events. The number of days when we didn't work but we ended up driving to Fargo (an hour each way) to get supplies. Also the amount of time it took to clean up after the events. Pots and pans don't clean themselves you know. Never in our wildest dreams had we ever thought that owning a food trailer would be so much work. Don't get me wrong. It has its pros and cons, like anything.

We have met many new people in our little food trailer community here that we never would have before. Simply because we ended up working so many of the same events together. We don't consider ourselves competition like so many other types of businesses do. But rather the more there are the better the business for each of us. Except on a few occasions where we went to an event thinking that there would be other trailers there and there weren't. Then we get all of the business and sell out and then pass out. 

We really enjoyed the positive feedback on our food. So many people have said that they are surprised that that came out of a food trailer and just how much they loved what we were serving. That really makes up for some of the hard work that is involved in doing it all. I am proud to say that I think our quality of food always remained on the same level as from when we started, all the way up until our final day.

So out of the entire summer I would have to say that we had maybe 10 days off that we didn't have to do anything at all for an event or what we refer to as doing trailer stuff. 

Some more numbers for you. We had 2,596 transactions. It seemed like a million. 1520 sandwiches. Again, it seemed like a million. 919 bowls of soup. That's 11,028 ounces of soup or 86 gallons of soup. When you add in the 8 oz. cups of soup, the numbers go even higher. 321 cups of soup for 2,568 ounces or another 20 gallons. I only include those soup numbers because Harry and Jim would text me daily wondering how much soup we sold. I never get a break from them.

That is pretty much our summer in as nutshell. Now we can put that trailer away until spring and concentrate on other things. We still have a house to finish and we want to start an addition on to it. Maybe i can talk Lisa into a vacation also. Maybe there is a soup seminar in Vegas or something. Then we could write it off. 

I want to thank all of our family and friends who helped and supported us on this crazy ride.

Until next time.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Learning Curve

This is unedited because my editor is too busy to edit it. So I take all responsibility for mis-spelled word and grammatical errors.

 Flashback if you will.


A dusty little farm town named "Harwood" in eastern North Dakota. Population, maybe 100 on a good day. A town like so many in North Dakota. It consisted of a grain elevator, post office, a gas station for interstate travelers and a bar. As time started to abandon this little town, an entrepreneur from the nearby mega-tropolis of Fargo eyed a business venture he couldn't pass up. The 'bar". It was quite large for a small town and in his eyes it had possibilities. This entrepreneur was my father, Joseph. He was no stranger to the bar business having owned a few before. So he bought it. It was called "The Harwood Hideout". 

Ahead of his time, he breathed new life back into that bar. He brought entertainment out to that dusty little farm town on weekends. He created amateur shows highlighting area talent. Comedy shows to make people laugh. Word started to spread in the mega-tropolis of Fargo about a little bar in a dusty little farm town. People started to show up, weekend after weekend, bringing much needed life back into this dusty little farm town. 

How does this affect me you might ask? I mean I was probably 14 at the time. Let me tell you how. My father, the entrepreneur, decided to put a little food trailer in the parking lot of that little bar in the middle of the summer. It was a hot, dusty summer. So hot and so dusty. His idea was to have his three children work the stand selling hotdogs, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy. Something for the younger people in town to enjoy. It started with three. Soon my brother bailed out, then my sister bailed out. All that was left was me. Sitting in a little food trailer in the middle of a little dusty farm town, sweating profusely all day long. Eating hotdogs, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy. There were no profits for my father because if I was lucky and I mean really lucky, I would get one or two town kids to come over and spend a buck or two.

Why do I relate this all to you, you are probably wondering? Well I, or should I say we, to include my beautiful wife Lisa, find ourselves sitting in a little food trailer in the middle of summer, sweating our "you know whats off" in a small little town in western Minnesota. It really went full circle on that one.

At the Kirkbride for a concert.

Could I say that owning a food trailer of my own has been a childhood dream of mine? I don't think so. I never really thought about it until we found ourselves sitting for hours waiting and waiting for a customer to show up, and we had nothing on our hands but time to sort through old memories. Then "WHAM"! An old memory slaps you in the side of the face like Will Smith and then you realize that you have done this before.

We are smack dab into the middle of summer here now. Our food trailer has been up and running now for two months and we are definitely muddling our way through this. We have a ton of events scheduled and it is getting busy for sure. We are learning valuable lessons every single day and learning a lot from them also. One such lesson would be not to leave a container of soup on the counter when you load up the trailer and head home. All you are going to find is a floor full of soup when you get home. Lesson duly noted.

Disgruntled Brewing.

Another lesson would be after a long day of slinging soup. You are tired and may forget things. Such as this example. When we are done and we have unsold soup in the warmers, we have to get them home to get them cooled down and refrigerated so that they can be re-used. Now it is very important not to forget about them until morning. Because at that point they are wasted and have to be thrown out. Another lesson learned.

At Fergus Brewing Co.

I think we are on lesson 387 right now. I will give just one more example because I could go on and on. We use a food service for many things. Our problem is that we have to order a certain amount from them in order for them to make a delivery. In our case, it is 16 cases of merchandise. So we placed an order. We picked it up and put it away in our trailer. We have two refrigerators and one freezer. They were stuffed full. As fate would have it, we had a power outage while we slept. We knew that because in the morning our clocks were flashing. Well the power came on so we didn't think anything of it until later on in the morning Lisa went out to the barn and the trailer was off. The outage tripped the circuit breaker to the trailer unbeknownst to us. We figured that the power was out for at least 8 hours and our refrigerator temps got into the 50's wrecking the food in there. The freezer was still okay. We figured we lost about a thousand dollars worth of food. What did we learn. One, not to order so much food. We have found a different food service that will let us pick up small orders. Number two, always check the circuit breaker after any power outage. Just because the power comes on doesn't mean the trailer comes back on.

One of our biggest problems is figuring out the food situation. Every event is different. We don't serve the same food at every event. We are not a corn dog stand and serve corn dogs every time. Our menu changes daily and from event to event. As we go to some places repeatedly we are getting that under control. Also we are learning which events are keepers and which ones we will have to let go next year, and which events we will try harder and earlier to get into. Like the title of the blog. The learning curve.

The 1910 Sip House.

One of our best sellers is a sandwich we created. We do a lot of breweries and as we talked to them they thought that "men" wouldn't want soups or pasta salads. So we developed our own Research and Development lab of The Lone Pine Soup Co. There we look for new food concepts and then we test them out on friends and family. Our Guinea pigs as we lovingly call them behind their backs. I wanted to serve a creative hot dog. What we came up with is what we call the "Cheesy Sasquatch". Now I can't go into the specifics because of trademark laws, but it has become one of our biggest sellers. I will just say that it is a hot dog wrapped in cheese, ham, onion on Italian bread and then grilled on a Panini machine. 

Our location downtown Fergus Falls.

Lisa is the CEO of the Lone Pine Soup Co. She is the head of this world wide conglomerate. She is the problem solver and the main person that books all events across the country. Other hats she wears are Chief Chef, Cook and Over Thinker. My titles are CFO, Delivery Driver and one that I didn't know about when I signed onto this company and that one is, drum roll please.........Head Dishwasher. As a bonus, I get my own sinks and all of the dish soap I need. 

Like I said before we are so busy now. Summer will be gone before we know it and in the winter we may have a turn key business for sale. JK. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Jethro and Bambi, Need I say More??

"Tango! Did I tell you that Jethro and Bambi are coming to visit?" Glady's said.
"What! We just saw them! Wasn't it just last year? Well call the beer store and tell them I'm coming".

Sure enough, our trail camera that is hidden near our driveway caught this image.
Please pay close attention to his mirrors. Jethro swings their rig into our yard and I jump out of my chair to show him where to park. I'm standing there waving my arms frantically in the air as he nearly takes out the side of my daughters new car. 
"Stop!" I yell. 
He says "I can't see you in my mirrors!" 
"Don't they flip up?" I said.

Well we got him parked and then hugs and handshakes all around. Jim has the handshake of a used car salesman and then he wraps his other arm around you. Instinctively a grab for my wallet. Now Bambi on the other hand. When Bambi hugs you, you know you've been hugged. She just kind of melts into you. It really gets your juices flowing if you know what I mean. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

They got settled in and we immediately started to get caught up. 
Jethro was showing us his bottle of Fireball. He was so proud of it. You would have thought that that was his first born or something. He said "Yuck, this here there bottle was full when I left the farm this morning. I'm glad the drive wasn't any longer cuz then I would have had to open another while driving which is dog gone dangerous. Yes sirree Bob."

They brought the dogs with, of course.
Dakota was not all that impressed. I think she was just thankful to be out of the truck.
Zoey, I said to Jethro she is starting to look like him more and more each day.

Bambi was all bubbly with excitement. "Glady's! Tango! I went 'on-the-line' and bought a fancy picture taking device. They said that if I hold it up to my face like this
I can take pictures of people and flowers and bugs and save them forever. Wait, it's not working." Bambi said.

"Tarnation's woman, let me see that gosh darn contraption. Your not doing it right."
"Hey! I can't see anything!"
"I'm going to take a picture of my foot. People like feet."

"Jethro! Let me see it." I said.
"Works fine."

"So Jethro, that's a Ram 3500 truck, right?"
"Did you know the mirrors swing up?"
"How long have you owned it?"
"A year or so I reckon."
"Follow me."

"So you have been driving around for over a year on many excursions and never knew your mirror extended?" I said.

Well I looked back through last year's blog posts and sure enough.

Jethro got quite a lot of Fireball in him and started to serenade us with one of his quaint little folk songs.
I'm not that familiar with Appalachian folk songs but that really didn't sound like one.

I said to Jethro, no more beer? He said he now prefers the Fireball. I guess that fridge full of beer is mine then. 

And just as the Fireball was all gone, Jethro and Bambi were all gone. I asked him how far he had to travel that day? "Just a half bottles worth" he said. I guess that is his unit of time and distance now.

It was fun seeing them and as always sad when they go. 
One more thing. See those little black bags on his bumper. They have dog poops in them. I was impressed that they were picking them up, until after they left and I found them all along our driveway and on the road into town. I can just hear him giggling now.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

So Close We can Taste it

 The SS Soup Trailer has left dry dock and is sailing full steam ahead to a port near you. (I don't know why I am talking all nautical because I have never been in the Navy). Anyways, we have passed our final inspection. We are legal and are getting anxious to get out there and start slinging soup. In fact we received our first food order from the food distributor just the other day. We also got our POS system up and running so that we will be able to take most forms of payment. However, and this is for the South Dakotans, we will not accept goats as payment, nor chickens.

Our first official gig will be April 29th at the 1910 Sip House in Battle Lake, Minnesota. There will be live music, awesome ciders to drink and of course our yummy foods. We are looking forward to this as we have been working for months to make this happen. So like the title says, "So close we can taste it."

We launched our Facebook page recently. Lone Pine Soup Co. if you want to follow us. We got a huge response from that in just days. The local paper saw it and wanted to interview us. Nothing wrong with free publicity.

Lisa has been working hard at perfecting her recipes and booking gigs for us. As of this blog post we have over 55 gigs booked. Plus more opportunities to do pop up events. So I think we will be busy.

Lisa in Soup Central taking care of business.

I would like to also share something else that was "So close you could taste it". I am not making this up either. We went to Sam's club in Fargo to join. Feeling like there are things there that we could use. So we are standing in line behind a woman leaning against her shopping cart. Lisa and I are talking amongst ourselves waiting our turn when I think I hear  a fart. Very faint. So faint that Lisa didn't hear it because she just kept talking. Then right after that the lady let out another one. She was not holding back for the second one. It was loud and lasted about 10 seconds. (Count to 10, that's a long time for a fart. Gross.) It was like OMG! Lady, do you not see us standing behind you? WTH? She just carried on as if it was perfectly normal to crap your pants in line at Sam's club. We both looked at each other, took 10 steps back and just shook our heads. Honestly.

Something else on a more personal note. I have not worn pants for months. I know that may shock some people and to some others it doesn't. To be more specific, I have not worn my jeans since before my hip surgery. Until today. It's like some of those unexplainable things that happen in the universe. Like why does one sock disappear in the dryer? Or why do they keep making Fast and Furious movies? Why do your jeans shrink after you have been wearing sweatpants for months? Some things we will never be able to explain.

Next post will be after an event so stay tuned.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Full Steam Ahead

 Our new venture is going full steam ahead. We are busy purchasing equipment and supplies having inspections and just the many other things that are involved with the starting of a business in "The Peoples Republic of Minnesota". Hush money has been paid, palms have been greased. (I am just kidding. That last statement was put in for comedic value, even though I think it is a home run, others may be offended.)

Deliveries are many. I have a secret game camera set up on our driveway to take pictures of trespassers here at the SSUVFL. It then sends me pictures over the cellular airwaves so that i know who is coming and going. One day Lisa came home to this.

After checking the images sent by the camera we had Amazon, UPS and FedEx all delivered in one day. It's great that the service is so good but things are starting to melt here and those trucks are making a mess of our gravel driveway.

We have gotten the graphics put on the trailer and it sure came out nice. The black really pops on that orange trailer.
That picture was taken March 26th and as you can see we have a lot of snow still on the ground. They predict that the snow will be around well into the later part of April. Any other year we wouldn't think much of it but we are booking gigs starting in April and we are hoping that it isn't a big muddy mess.

The other day when I went into town, I crossed the bridge near our house and there was a dead raccoon that somebody ran over. The reason I mention that is that we have a raccoon that visits our bird feeders quite regularly. It is fun to watch as he works to clean it out. Wearing the mask makes him look even more diabolical. I often see him on the game camera.
Here he is going out for the evening.
Then later on he will wander home.

So after we saw the dead one, we were thinking that it was our raccoon. He then showed up to our feeders that night and we let out a big cheer for him. "Hip, Hip Hooray!" was heard throughout the SSUVFL. You can tell we don't get out much when that is the highlight of the week. We had 15 deer in the yard this morning.

On the medical front. My hip is getting better thanks to the weekly visits to the physical therapist. I am still having complications with my thigh and knee. My IT band muscle is still very sore and hyper sensitive to touch. Below the knee is numb which my Orthopedic Surgeon thinks it may be a new problem which he hopes to address in November.  He also says that I am just one of the few people that take longer to heal. So frustration levels remain high. 

That's it for now.  Next time I hope to be blogging about our first experiences of running a food trailer. It could be a very funny post or one filled with horror. We will just have to wait and see.