Some treasure their big-screen TV or the lakeside view at their summer cabin.
The object I want to stare at on a cold February morning is a warm, brick fireplace filled with gently burning logs. It soothes the soul in the same way that lapping lake waves and a loon's call calm a summer night.
It took my wife and I about 10 seconds to decide to buy our home about a decade ago. We walked in from a cold, damp, early spring drizzle and the first house feature we saw was a wood-burning fireplace flanked by bookcases. The real estate agent could have started spending his commission at that point. We were sold.
Neither one of us had ever lived in a home with a fireplace. And even though the hearth had instant appeal, we probably didn't realize how how much we would enjoy it.
The weekend morning routine starts early, when bare feet are subjected to a slight chill on the living room floor. We light the fire, brew a pot of coffee and stare aimlessly into the fire. Talking to each other in those foggy-headed, early morning hours is optional. Often, it's discouraged.
Instead, we sip coffee and stare at the changing pattern of burning logs in the fireplace, poking and shifting them every now and then to keep the fire going.
It's the lazy part of the morning. Laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping are all on the chore list but with each poke of the fire the embers flare up a bit and our peaceful time extends a few minutes.
Our view of the fireplace is enhanced by the old, comfortable books and family mementoes that fill the bookshelves. There's a framed paper Santa Claus that used to decorate the tree of grandparents when they farmed in Hewitt. There's a brick from the Gophers' old haunt, Memorial Stadium. Two odd pottery pieces from a vacation in Door County, Wis., share space with pictures of parents, a baby book, a wedding album and Grandma Mabel's old sugar bowl.
There are more ornate rooms and more breathtaking views, but this morning I'm content to warm my coffee cup and stir the logs in the fireplace again before I start the day.
Think of a newsroom as a giant kitchen sink located under a constantly flowing spigot of mailed news releases, faxes, e-mails and phone calls and newspaper clippings.
Some of the information is vital. Some of it useful. And some of it just makes you scratch your head.
I scoured the sink the other day and came up with the following:
What sort of odds would you get in Las Vegas on this happenstance occurring?
Two Brainerd natives who attended school together at what was then Brainerd Junior College are now teaching at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Mark Elison Hoversten, son of the Rev. Chet and Phyllis Hoversten, is associate professor and coordinator of landscape architecture and planning in the College of Fine Arts. His boss is Jeff Koep, dean of the College of Fine Arts. Koep's parents are Walt and Mary Koep.
The two academians, both Brainerd High School graduates, played football and acted in plays together when they lived in Brainerd.
There are a lot of former Brainerd residents out there. Dixie Lee (Westin) Brunet of St. Cloud is one and she figures there must be more, based upon a newspaper advertisement for ice skating at the Embarcadero Center she saw in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The display advertisement showed an old, black and white picture of a bundled-up youngster ice skating. The copy read "Relive your childhood. Without having to move back to Brainerd, Minnesota."
Those lovable tree huggers at the National Arbor Day Foundation mailed The Brainerd Dispatch five copies of an identical news release in relation to the non-profit group's latest tree-planting campaign. Two of the people who received news releases no longer work at the newspaper.
Maybe they needed the tree-planting effort to provide paper for their voluminous mailings of news releases.
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