Columnists

Mon
22
Nov

Slice of life - On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is scarier than Halloween. <BR><BR>To be sure, it’s a bit frightening to figure out how to manage to get seven or eight different dishes on the table at the same time without the mashed potatoes getting cold or the green beans getting rubbery. <BR><BR>And for those of us who host friends or relatives in our homes - especially when they stay for a few nights - the Thanksgiving holiday can be a cause for alarm. <BR><BR>Then there’s the fear of overindulgence - that one might eat too much, drink too much, say too much - or perhaps that fear belongs only to me. <BR><BR>But the most unsettling thing about Thanksgiving is the giving thanks part. As with most issues, this one can be traced back to childhood.

Mon
15
Nov

From The Desk of the Old Timer

Since the national election, there has been considerable discussion in the press and on TV concerning something called “reaching across the aisle,” the idea being that the Republicans, Democrats and any odd Independents, should put their partisanship aside and extend the hand of friendship in a spirit of cooperation.<BR><BR>Frankly, there are no hands to grip. Any Senator or Representative who attends a session of Congress will find no one for whom to reach.<BR><BR>This is the way both houses attend sessions. Or, rather, do not attend sessions. One of the most disappointing events witnessed by visitors to either of these august bodies of democracy is that when the Congress is “in session,” it really isn’t. No one is there. Well, not exactly. The presiding officers are there - Speaker of the House and President of the Senate.

Sun
07
Nov

Slice of life

I’ve been flying solo quite a bit lately. My husband’s job requires him to do some traveling in the fall. Since mid-September he’s been home a week, gone a week, home a week, gone a week. The weeks that he’s gone are, in a word, exhausting. <BR><BR>When my partner is gone and I’m left to juggle things on my own, I have a hard time keeping up. I rush through homework with the kids; dinner is fast food or a bagel and a bowl of cereal; the little kids get hands and faces washed before bed - a bath takes too much time - and the laundry sits wet in the washer, wrinkled in the dryer, and piling up in the hamper. Life is MORE hectic, MORE hurried. <BR><BR>I’m anxious; the kids are anxious. When I drop them off for practice, they speak from experience when they say, “Now don’t forget to pick me up!” <BR><BR>But for me, there’s an end to all of this in sight. Soon this stretch of travel will be over.

Sun
07
Nov

From the miscellaneous drawer

One of the things I enjoy about Ely is the ongoing connection people have to it. This is especially true of families whose children grew up here and attended schools here.<BR><BR>In the collective Elyite mind, even those who chose to live elsewhere in the world are still kept in Ely’s heart. Though physically removed, there’s enough DNA floating through Ely to recreate an image or untangle a memory bound into the location by its forests and lakes. <BR><BR>Those of us who attended schools elsewhere rarely have that generational glue that assists memory. We didn’t know who a casual friend’s grandfather was - his name or where he was employed. We probably didn’t know if the classmate had a baby sister or a mother who also worked. <BR><BR>Looking at connections in that way makes newcomers seem underprivileged.

Mon
01
Nov

Around town

Small Town USA... The most American thing about America (now there’s a profound statement). Where else will you run into a situation that could put labels such as caring, nosy, interested, big mouth, phoney, gossip, mean, lazy, ambitious, cheap, generous, quiet, happy, crabby - all describing one person! Depends on your point of view.<BR><BR>But because everyone knows everyone else, at least by family or maiden name (and in Ely by nickname), a mental picture immediately forms when a name comes up. Of course, this could also include the “big town” presidential candidates who are calling each other every name in the book. <BR><BR>Granted, someone moving from a metropolitan center would have a few adjustments to make, but those who choose to live in a village or community find the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and soon fall into a pattern of living that is quite comfortable.

Mon
18
Oct

From the miscellaneous drawer

When you look at strangers, who do you see? A friend recently told me that when he looks at people he brings to the reality of meeting someone all the baggage of his own past experience. <BR><BR>When you are traveling through an airport, do you see individuals, humans who have a life and family somewhere else, or do you see people hollowed out yet functioning as part of a movie set reality.<BR><BR>What do we bring to our new relationships? Is it no more than the summation of our childhood, education and family?<BR><BR>There was a place I lived as a child which had a train yard separating the white, lower to middle class folks from the east siders. The east siders were mostly poor and included Polish, Italians, Mexicans and blacks.<BR><BR>When we were in sixth grade the two schools merged for the junior high grades. Altogether we were fewer than 40 students. By seventh grade new friendships involved most of the kids.

Mon
11
Oct

Around town

ELY ON BROADWAY? That’s not as far fetched as it might seem and while you’re at it... think big! A musical “Don’t Hug Me” is being staged in Minneapolis right now at the Hennepin Stages Theater, formerly known as the Hey City Theater, located at 824 Hennepin Avenue and the story has an Ely connection. <BR><BR>How did this happen, you ask? Well, it seems that old saying “It’s who you know” that counts, and that’s how playwright, Phil Olson, now of Los Angeles found out about Ely, MN.<BR><BR>Phil has a friend, Chuck Melcher who is a brother of Barb Colvin of Cedar Lake (that is close by Ely as we say) who introduced him to Ely for some fishing and relaxation. Phil knew a little about Minnesota, having grown up in Edina, and after only a couple of visits to Cedar Lake, he fell in love with the town and its people.<BR><BR>Because of this love affair, he decided to write a musical along with his brother, Paul Olson who wrote the music.

Mon
13
Sep

COLUMN: Slice of life - Getting a night out alone

The original plan was to spend two nights camping with family and friends. After making it through thunderstorms the first night and, upon waking, hearing forecasts of continuing storms for the next couple days, one by one tent stakes were pulled up, soggy tents and sleeping bags were rolled up, and people began to bail out. <BR><BR>By mid-afternoon, I was the sole camper in our party remaining. No matter, I thought. I wasn’t about to let a little rain dampen my plans. <BR><BR>Granted, I did have the advantage of being in a pop-up camper and was spared the experience of sleeping in a water bed on the ground. <BR><BR>Looking back, if I had to pinpoint the start of my prideful attitude, I’m ashamed to say it showed its ugly face as soon as the first load of people and gear pulled out of the campground. <BR><BR>The big babies, I thought, and I established a clear line between them and me. They were deserters; I was tough.

Mon
06
Sep

From the miscellaneous drawer - Cheers for the Blues Festival

Even the most unseemly people can have a fire burning within them.<BR><BR>It may be a passion for quilting or baseball, for snowmobiling or music. Whatever it is, if it is a passion to be shared a person steps out of the crowd or out of the rut to make it happen.<BR><BR>Ely is fortunate to have so many of those passionate people. They’ve drawn attention to their interests, started events or projects in motion, and with determination and follow-through have enriched our lives. <BR><BR>The Ely area now has multi-use trails, an active arts community, unique baseball facilities, festivals and performances.<BR><BR>Recently I attended a few hours of the Boundary Waters Blues Festival, held on the grounds of the Ely-Winton Rod and Gun Club’s Longbranch facility which commands a terrific view of Fall Lake.<BR><BR>When I arrived there I wondered to myself why I hadn’t gone to Blues Festivals in past years.

Sun
29
Aug

In the front row

Stop down at the Ely softball complex this weekend, and there’s a good chance you’ll see Jerome Debeltz.<BR><BR>Between games, he’ll be grooming any and all of the three fields in use during the annual Labor Day weekend slow-pitch softball tournament.<BR><BR>One might find him behind home plate calling balls and strikes, or he might be serving up hot dogs and pop from the concession stand.<BR><BR>He could even be in uniform as a player for one of the 16 teams taking part in the Worth Before the Fall Classic.<BR><BR>It’s safe to say that no one does more for local slow-pitch softball, certainly no one has done more to keep the Labor Day weekend tourney alive, than Debeltz.<BR><BR>For well over a decade, Debeltz has organized the local slow-pitch league and did much of the behind-the-scenes work that allowed softball to continue in Ely.<BR><BR>And each Labor Day weekend, it’s a virtual family reunion at the comple

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