Fearsome Panther


From Av Gammel Og Ung, December 10, 2022.

The Trosseth Brothers, Ole and Olaus, who lived just outside of Fergus Falls a few miles, were found dead as doornails in the kitchen of their bachelor home on Friday. Their bodies were lying on the kitchen floor in front of the the refrigerator.

I checked with Elsie, a friend of theirs and a waitress who works at the Bluebird Cafe, and she said that she hadn’t seen them for several days. In fact, it was Elsie who asked Herb from the hardware store to stop in and check on them on his way home, which led to the discovery of the unfortunate duo. “I liked those boys,” she said, “but I never thought they were quite right in the head.”

Elsie also said that the brothers had become concerned recently that their Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls were getting a little snug, and rather than get new ones they decided to lose some weight. Too bad for them that they chose a new fad diet that was posted on the bulletin board over to the Sons of Norway clubhouse. It was the Mixed Nut Diet.

In this diet a person is allowed to eat only the sort of unshelled mixed nuts that you put out in a dish around the Christmas holidays. You just crack and eat and crack and eat until you are the weight you want to be, and then go back to what you were doing before all the fuss started.

Apparently the Trosseth Brothers seriously overshot their endpoint, and kept going until they were too weak to change their minds. Sheriff Peterson thinks that’s why they were by the refrigerator when they bought the farm.

I talked with Mabel, the nutritionist over to the Sunset Home and asked about this diet, which I had never heard a darn thing about. She told me that it had been studied at a university and quickly tossed out, when it had been found that it just took too long to shell enough nuts to stay alive. A bunch of university students who volunteered for the study got real sick, and it was touch and go for a couple of them before they shut the darn thing down.

If you know of anyone who is trying this bit of loony-ness, please contact Sheriff Peterson and request that he make a “welfare visit.” If you know the people pretty well, you might take a big bowl of rice pudding over for them to chow down on while they’re waiting for the sheriff to arrive. Couldn’t hurt.


Being Mortal, continued from previous post

Atul Gawande writes in Being Mortal that he was impressed by the work of Susan Block, a woman who heads a hospice program at the Massachusetts General Hospital and who has a list of questions that she attempts to cover with sick patients in the time before any decisions have to be made about their future care.

  • What do they understand their prognosis to be? Has someone sat down with them and taken the time to lay out the seriousness of what they are facing?
  • What are their concerns about what lies ahead? Pain, suffering, spouses and children left behind, how long can I continue to work?
  • What kinds of trade-offs are they willing to make? Chemotherapy and/or surgery vs doing nothing. Hospice? At-home care vs hospital? Putting off therapy for specific reason – wedding, graduation, vacation trip, etc?
  • How do they want to spend their time if their health worsens? Doing everything medically possible vs deciding what activities or interests they would especially like to pursue for as long as time allows?
  • Who do they want to make decisions if they can’t? Spouse, children … ?

Being Mortal is not light reading, but while these topics might seem gloomy and best avoided for as long as possible, it’s one of those situations where reality bites a bit at first, but it provides a starting point which is ultimately freeing.

An overriding theme of the book is that we can continue to write our personal story even when time is growing very short for us. Or we can be swallowed up in a system that is centered purely on survival, which is not the same thing at all.


I first ran across the song Going Home on a recording by folksinger Odetta. I was captured by its simplicity and beauty at first audition. It is based on a passage from Dvořák’s New World Symphony. I would have played that version for you, but it was one of the songs that was lost when my computer lost its mind two years ago. It was part of an album that is out of print.

Fortunately, YoYoMa’s group has this beautiful recording for us to listen to.



Did you know that there was such a thing as an American Lion? I didn’t. Not until this morning when I read an account of finding fossils of the animal in at two sites in the same week. The location: the drying-up riverbed of the Mississippi River. This critter has been extinct for 11,000 years, which has something to do with the excitement that these discoveries have produced among fossil-finders.

And this was some special pussycat. Here is a photo showing the American lion femur at left, and compares it with that of other large predators.

This little kitty stood four feet high at the shoulder, and would have weighed up to 800 pounds. It would have been the sort of creature that would have had my undivided attention should our paths have crossed a few thousand years ago. Of course my own thoughts would have turned to how to make my getaway, while the lion’s would probably have simply been = dinner.

Here’s what the experts think it looked like. Like I say … undivided attention.

The scientific name for the cat is Panthera atrox, which is translated as “fearsome panther.”

No kidding.

Wimoweh, by The Weavers


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