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Europe in Two Years or Bust!

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Gosh, I almost forgot I had this thing (it's been what, over a year? Wow. Long time, no post!).

Let's see here, lost a bunch of weight...

Wrote a lot of books...

Yep, now you're updated. :) Going back to Guate at the end of this month! W00t!

-Mel

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I'm kind of restless this weekend, even though I have tons to do, so here I am posting for the first time in something like six months. I suppose it's time for an update.

The Stock Cars book is in its revisions stage. I am not liking the revisions stage. It pisseth me off and my editor keeps calling me Meghan.

The Tarot Within Sight (hopefully they let us keep this title) book has had its deadline pushed out to November, thank God. I've got a chapter to get done this weekend and hopefully Nance will have more chapters for me when she gets back from camping.

Big, huge, ginormous thank-yous to Uncle Mick and Aunt Rita for letting us use the cabin!

Tomorrow we dance at St. Thomas Aquainus for the anniversary. David Haas will be there.

Still working at van Wagenen.

Hope everybody's well!

-Mel

Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
busy busy
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Forsooth, we have finished. Behold the cover of the mighty book:

This book will be offered as a free gift from the family in the hope you will use the included Hastings Family Service envelope to make a (TAX DEDUCTIBLE) charitable donation to Grandpa's favorite charity. Proceeds from any copies purchased through other means will be donated to Hastings Family Service.

Miss you, Grandpa!

-Mel

Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
Current Book:
Twilight
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I'm told I haven't posted on here in a while, but to be completely honest, I haven't felt up to it until recently. I haven't even wanted to look at the site (except to look at other people's journals, which you can conveniently do here without running into your own). How long is the denial stage, anyhow, and how many times do you come back to it?

But, I've got new news, and I thought this was probably the most effective way of reaching everybody. Nancy and I were offered a contract with Llewellyn for a Psychic Tarot book (tentatively titled: "Psychic Tarot - Shedding Light on a Dark Art"). We met with a lawyer over the contract on Tuesday (to make sure we're not selling the farm when we just meant to sell the milk, so to speak), and she's going to see if Llewellyn is willing to incorporate the changes we wanted to make to the contract. I figure in a week or two, the contract will be signed.

Aimee, our lawyer, said it was remarkable that we got a book contract, being "first-time authors" in this economy, an that we managed to sell the idea on a proposal without a completed manuscript is something Barbara, the editor, said was incredibly rare for first-timers. Me, I'm just nervous as heck. I can hardly believe this is happening, I keep expecting someone to e-mail me and say, "oh, wait, it's you. We made a mistake."

Nancy and I will also be signing a co-author's agreement that will be drafted by Aimee so that, in case of fire, flood, disaster or death, we know each others' responsibilities and rights as far as the work goes. Mostly it's meant to cover the "what if" if something were to happen where you either died or were incapacitated and someone needed to act on your behalf (eg: Estate, Power of Attorney). I'll have to give it a look-over, but as these are all Nancy's ideas (I'm contributing and doing most of the writing, but really, it's her experience and her excercises and basically her way that's being written about), I'd be more comfortable if she had control if something happened to me.

At the same time, Grandpa's book is shaping up (Ooo, I can't wait for people to see the cover, Alan did a MAAAAAHVALOUS job with that picture Uncle Steve found), Suzi's running like a dynamo, and the deadline is still set for March (that is to say we're working, Suzi especially, really, REALLY hard to get it done for the 1-year), but we're not going to just slap it together, either, so if it ends up being more like Good Friday (April 10th), I don't think we should panic. I'm very excited about it. Alan's doing some mock-ups of how the book will be laid out as far as style and the book cover.

In other news, Girl Scout Cookies are coming at the end of this month *yum!* and I'm working on a story I hope to sell to Harlequin (if you get in there, you're set) when I have the time. Overtime at work is crazy now because of winter and the storms (I work in what is basically the Total Loss Unit for GMAC) and we have more accounts than we know what to do with. The ink is now dry on the contracts for Nissan Canada, too, so that'll add a few more accounts to our plate. VanWagenen is working hard at expanding its business and we do a good job, if I do say so myself.

Mom's in Mexico, hopefully having a wonderful time.

Kathryn said her first word (Aspen, the name of Martin's (Kasia's brother) dog). She says it like it has 3 syllables "A-pe-NNNNN." She can also say "Hi, Lilly!" (Lilly is Kasia's dog). It's more like "hililllleee," but it's cute. She also walks, and really likes the book "Little Miss Naughty."

And that's what's new and shakin'.

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
busy busy
Current Book:
Dragon's Lair
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*** Just a reminder, June 1st is the deadline ***

I got a letter from Jim Mullenbach today! I'd thought maybe they'd stopped, but maybe not!

May 14, 2008

Sparkling Lake, Canada. It took all day to get there and all day to get back. A simple to and an overnight in Grand Marais, because we needed a good hot shower and warm bed. Understand that we roughed it in tents including a tent serving as kitchen, a dining tent with tables and chairs for cocktail hour and meals plus our own pup tents.

Mel Humbert, the organizer was so exact & disciplined about the entire excursion and had the patience of Job with some of us. Usually there were six of us, but got to eght on occasions which created the need for more groceries, cooking & other equipment.

Generally, we loaded the trailers, boats & pickup the night before so we could depart before sunrise. It was necessary to have all your personal equipment, clothes, libation products without fail or you thrived without.

The group usually consisted of Mel Humbert, Leonard Bauer, Tom O'Conner, Gerry Gerlack, Andy Anderson, Wallie Bauer, Clint Caturia, Clarence Rotty, Jim Mullenbach and others whose name has slipped my mind. Doc tailored this group to six and it seemed to work very well.

Mel had an unbelievable ability to have a complete grocery inventory for four days. We had one steak night, otherwise our fill of walleyes, potatoes & salad. Breakfast was early consisting of bacon, sausage or ham, pancakes, eggs and toast. Wally Bauer was chief toast maker. While Mel was making breakfast, others, shaved, loaded boats or set around drinking coffee & juice. Mind you, this went on whether, cold, rain, warm, windy or sunshine. You had three days to fish so live with it.

Our crew was quite experienced with setting up and dismantling the camp site. Most times, camp was all up soon enough to allow us to fish and catch enough for our first meal of fish on the arrival date.

We traveled about 60 miles north of Upsala Canada to a landing site on the river leading to Sparkling Lake. This required complete unloading of boats & equipment, then, reloading boats after launching in the river, to include maneuvering th loaded boats up a sixty foot rapids, rising about four feet to Sparkling Lake from where we boated another three miles to camp site. Amazing what six grown men would do to bring hme six walleyes after eating their fill for three consecutive nights.

There are so many great memories of Canada fishing with Mel Humbert at the helm, dating back to the 70's and 80's. Since then several have passed away and we remember them in our prayers. Got Bless Them!

Jim Mullenbach
Battle Lake, Minn


*** Hope you enjoyed!

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
surprised surprised
Current Book:
A Dios le Pido
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*** Letter 2 is pending permission.

Letter 3:

Some memories of the selfless, energetic Gentleman Doctor Mel.

*** Post-It on top says: "Melanie - A great man! Ben S"

Sometimes '"it" started, for some of us, at the Director's meeting of the Northwestern National Bank. When the agenda was covered and reports closed, a hasty trip found us all in the backroom at Weiderholts. Then the important business started - cocktails, followed by dinner order, more cocktails and some stories.

"It" is Mel's invitation to the summer fishing trips to Sparkling Lake. The next step, we gather to load the boats and drive to 106 6th Street W. At tjat address is a very efficiently designed dental service, but of equal concern is the layout and use of the lower level. It contains facilities for all the gear and food that eight fishermen would require when seventy mile from the nearest store. Some of the fishermen come there to load and go home to dream about the big ones.

The next morning we all show up on time. We are on the way to Grand Marais for the night's stop. Some seemed to find the evenings and night in the downtown pretty enjoyable, but most just retire. Next stop in the moring is for minnows and camp permits.

We left the hightway to the logging trail that many of us had a name for every bump. Then we come to the lake. That's where I lose my ability to back a trailer. Having backed trailers for some forty years by turning around to watch them I am experienced. But as the boats on the trailer blocked the view of the curvy trail one needs to use the mirrors. The unlearning has stuck, so backing either way is a problem.

The boat trip on the water is another real joy. Such beautiful water and wooded area is becoming more and more of a rarity. I can still see the picturesque narrows and the challenging rapids.

Yes we are back in the bush. Some times another party is on the lake. In fact one day some fellows wanted to know who flew us in. Rusty Meyers had flown them into this inaccessible lake so they would be alone.

Unbundling the camp gear and setting up our tents was hurried by the anxious need to catch some fish before dark. Of course that's when I find out that my sparkle tails and jigs were the wrong color. Seems the earlier campers retrain the walleyes each year. I remember one year though when Leonard Bauer was going to fool the fish. He had an electronic color sensor that would show him the right color of the bait to use as well as the proper water color for the best fishing.

I'll never forget Mel and Wally out fishing. Never saw anyone having more enjoyment.

As we progress on the venture, everyone was impressed by the need to be on schedule, and rightly so. This is a trip to maximie fishing with the necessary breaks to enjoy good meals and an adequate social hour. Then too the evening fireside time brings out many stories.

The fishing is also interrupted by fish cleaning. The entrails are all transported to another rock islan to keep the wild folks occupied. Canners and cutters (the smaller and sometimes best eating) are bagged for camp use. The rest are bagged in an attempt to comply with the current, ever changing, game-cop regulations.

One afternoon as the cleaning is progressing a bear comes down the latrine trail toward the cleaning table. About twenty feet away he sniffs the air and decides to make a right turn to the water. When he turns again to size up the situation, one at the table, Dave Holtorf, suggests that all go to the nearest shore and gather a rock or two. When the bear rambles back the pelting changes his mind, so he goes back up the trail.

I'm sorry my fishing story is probably much like yours, but they were a wonderful experience. An experience that Mel provided for the pleasure of many, very typical of his life.

His service to the schools helping the public schools through some testy times, his fund raising for the Catholic schools has give them a solid foundation.

The strength of our medical facilities is a great testament to the efforts of he and many others of the Hastings Community.

He made a real difference for all of us.

Ben Sontag

"Teeth in great shape too!"
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
nostalgic nostalgic
Current Book:
Wicked
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Well, darned if someone didn't send me a story today!:

Dear Melanie,

I saw the article in the Star Gazette... it is a wonderful tribute you plan... my memory is from MANY years ago - when he was a young dentist... I came to him at age 22 - having been to ANOTHER dentist 6 months previously... after an evaluation - he said I had 26 cavities and needed 4 GOLD crowns (at that time) I said "Oh, just pull them all out, I go with dentures (mind you... I was only 22 yr. old). He said "It's not as bad as it sounds - these are all SAVEABLE teeth - so I went ahead with HIS PLAN - the 4 gold crown were $35.00 each and I still, at age 70 have a couple of them! He was ONE GREAT DENTIST and ONE very PERSONABLE person! I now sing in the Chapel Choir at S.E.A.S. - which sang for his funeral Mass - I felt honored to be a part of his FAREWELL! After listening to the WORDS OF REMEMBRACE at the funeral Mass - I envied all those who were his "fishing buddies"... what an experience THAT must have been!

Thanks, Melanie, for doing this "memorial book"

Fondly,

Maryann Brummel

***

Yay! A story! A story!

Stephie wrote some FABULOUS ones, too, that maybe other people haven't seen yet, but I'll let her share if she wants to. This is just an easy way to collect those that aren't in a Word doc.

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
surprised surprised
Current Book:
Wicked
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We went to the cabin last weekend. And the office. And we still can't find that pole. We've decided to wait until all the Canada gear gets trotted out.

It was strange to be at the cabin without Grandpa there. I never thought too much about it, but I actually haven't ever been there without Grandpa. Even with all the changes in decor, when I turned my head just so and looked at the dining room, out of the corner of my eye, I could see myself sitting cross-legged on the sofa, reading a book while Grandpa rubbed his hands and clapped them together over the football or golf game on TV. I could see a mess of little animal dolls and coloring books next to the end table, left in complete chaos the moment Grandpa wandered in and asked if I'd like to go fishing.

If I focussed on the TV, I could see the sun setting outside, and Grandpa making popcorn in that bowl and skillet contraption I'd never seen anyone else use. I could see him shaking it out on paper toweling and portioning it into University of Minnesota cups that must have been aroung forever. Another day, he might grin and hold out a rootbeer float made with frozen yogurt in that same cup.

There's the fish over the mantel. Beneath that fish, I remember the graceful piece of wood that looked like a fish that Grandpa liked so much. On the wall facing the door is the bass Grandpa caught in Dunn Lake itself. "Bass can get a lot bigger," he said, "but I had that mounted for those people who say there aren't any fish in this lake!"

When we walked down to search the green equipment box by the lake, a foggy memory came to me of stones instead of wood stairs. I remembered Grandpa being so tall, and how I had to stretch my legs so far and still thought I'd never reach that next stone.

I could see Grandpa stringing poles beneath the "My wife said she'd leave me if I didn't give up fishing; God, I'm going to miss her!" poster in the basement. He was muttering at the hot tub in the bathroom when it wouldn't start how it was supposed to.

It was almost as though if I just didn't look right at any one spot, he'd be there. But then I'd turn my head, and he would be gone. Like smoke.

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
sad sad
Current Book:
Wicked
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Since I started going to Canada, I can probably count on one hand how often I've been to Dunn Lake. But it was not always so. I don't know exactly how often or for how long I went as a child, but I do know I went often enough that every time we drive through the trees, I expect to see something different. My eyes seek the cement slab and Grandpa's fillet house. It's very odd.

When I went often, I think somewhere near where the cabin stands now there were bottlecap bushes. I remember picking them with Grandpa, and Gramma, at different times. Grandpa put them on his oatmeal. If I looked up at him while we were picking, Grandpa would pop one in his mouth with a sparkle in his eye. The ripe bottlecaps always ended up being sticky, maybe I held them too hard. I didn't like the crunchy of the seeds inside, but I liked to pick them. They ended up in a bowl in the trailer.

It was at Dunn Lake that Grandpa started teaching me about nature. We went out looking for wild strawberries and blueberries, and I was young enough to be surprised they didn't come from the carton in the supermarket. Ticks were an unavoidable nuisance, and the only bug I'd ever seen that you couldn't just squish. Gramma would put a match to them on the stove. They'd die with a creepy hiss-pop!

On the lake, Grandpa knew places where turtles would sun themselves. He explained the difference between the minnows in his bucket and the minnows in the water. The lilypads hindered swimming, and Grandpa often went in the water to clear them away from the dock. But Grandpa also explained how sunfish, and probably other fish, nibbled the stems. I learned about bass, and perch, and crappies, and which ones were good eating, and which ones were more fun to fish.

I also learned those things that sometimes it's just important to tell kids, such as worms, and fish, feel little to no pain. Grandpa actually made a good case for the fish, so I believe it to this day. He showed me the inside of a crappie while he was gutting once and pointed out with the knife-tip how the fish had very few nerve endings.

The accomodations inside the trailer would probably seem cramped compared to the two lovely, big lake homes that stand there now, but it didn't seem that small to me. There was a TV where I could watch the Wuzzles. The bed where Grandpa slept in the kitchen became wraparound seating and a table in the daytime. I think there were three or four bunks in the passage. I can't remember if I ever slept on a higher bunk. I think Gramma and I both slept on a lower bunk. I do remember they were nice reading nooks in the daytime, and that everything was upholstered with a really rough fabric with 70s orange flowers on it.

Gramma cooked, we fished, and all was right with the world.

Except dragonflies. I still hate dragonflies, and back then was afraid of them. I didn't like the clacking sound they made when they flew. I didn't like how they hovered and sometimes landed on you. I didn't like their long, skinny bodies and big, ugly eyes.

One landed on the side of the boat while we were fishing, right next to me. I swore it was the biggest, most awful bug I'd ever seen, and started panicking. It was probably one of the little blue ones, but to me it was monstrous.

Grandpa sighed at all my fidgeting, and told me, "Melanie, dragonflies don't bite."

I still couldn't take my eyes off it, so later, he shooed it away.

I've recited "dragonflies don't bite" as a mantra on many fishing excursions since then.

It's funny what sticks with you, I guess. I've eaten popcorn, gone fishing, told scary stories, set out in a paddle boat, and spent a lot of wonderful times with my cousins since the cabin was built at Dunn Lake. But that's never stopped me from expecting to see a white trailer, the fillet house, some bottlecap bushes, and trees as far as the eye can see every time we turn off the dirt road.

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
contemplative contemplative
Current Book:
Taran Wanderer
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Grandpa loved to read, and his newest love was epic fantasy. Swords and princes, elves and sorcerers, all wrapped up in plots and places you needed a map in the front of the book to follow. And an appendix at the end.

I myself was only able to slog through the first book of The Wheel of Time, while Grandpa read every one. He said once he had a little trouble figuring out who was who after a while. I look back at the books now and can only recall Rand al'Thor, and it's rare for me to forget a character. Robert Jordan must have had hundreds, and Grandpa only had trouble with a few, which just goes to show the power of that amazing mind.

When Grandpa came home to die with us, I grabbed the two books of poetry I could find and brought them to the house. I thought maybe people would want to read to him, and I thought poetry was meaningful, yet short enough for some of us to get through it. After reading a few, I realized it wasn't the way to go.

I'd gotten a series for Christmas I'd loved from childhood, and I'd intended to loan it to Grandpa for his Arizona trip, but forgot. Compared to his epics, the Prydain Chronicles are short. But I thought he might enjoy them anyway.

So I began reading "The Book of Three," not sure how far we'd get, but knowing it was better than the poetry. Reading it again as an adult, I could see the book was full of easy fantasy cliches and common writers' mistakes. Points of true wisdom were hit harder than a Bible at a Baptist mass. Still, it told an important story that was bigger than the book itself, and in that it hit its mark.

Grandpa died during a break, but after a time, I decided to try to read the rest anyway. We were twenty or thirty pages from the end when the funeral home came for his body. I closed the book.

I looked at Grandpa, and thought as hard as I could, "The boy became a man, and then became King."

-Mel
Current Location:
Hastings, MN
Current Mood:
sad sad
Current Book:
The Castle of Llyr
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