Miscellaneous Musings by FunGirlDi

Back Home...Sweet Home

In recent years, home decorating has adopted a new habit that I personally don’t much care for. Paintings and photo art seem to have taken a back seat to wall signs with ornate, whimsical, calligraphed words like, “Family,” “Gather,” “Welcome,” etc.
Personally, I think the adage of a picture saying a thousand words stands true. When I have gone into model homes or boutiques, I chuckle when a plaque on the wall tells me to “Have a nice day,” or “Kiss the Cook.” I immediately think, “Stop telling me what to do.” Also, my secretarial training goes into overdrive as I automatically spellcheck the signs hanging on the walls.
Last year when the pandemic hit and everyone was on lockdown, there was a meme that popped up on Facebook made courtesy of a wall art sign. I thought it was one of the funniest posts I saw during a most stressful time in our world. I included a copy of it with this column.
I’ve been on a writing hiatus for two and a half months. We recently sold our home in the Twin Cities and made the big move back to Ely. I thought long and hard about the idea of returning back home after 42 years of suburban living on the edge of a large metropolitan area.
As I packed up our belongings, I noticed how many items I own that have ties to Ely. I wrapped up trinkets and glassware from the Cobweb Antique Store, Carl Gawboy prints, a Brandenburg photograph, Klun’s Store photo, a snapshot of a bucket of blueberries taken by Lois Leoni and two watercolor paintings by artist Edwin Matthews, which I purchased at Kess Gallery in Ely.
All these items speak to me every single time I look at them. Edwin’s paintings remind me of scenes around Ely and his work and these other artist’s creations bring forth more enjoyment than any word or phrase hung on a wall ever would.
With the move to Ely, I gave up some things, but gained a daily peace-in-my-soul feeling because I am back in the little town where I started back in 1961. Last week I turned 60, which astonishes me as I still feel like I’m 25. Time is going by way too fast.
The skies seem to be far bluer in Ely and you can see and count more than 20 stars on a clear night. The air is fresher and hanging sheets and towels outside on a breezy day makes me thankful for the gift of freshness and free clothes drying courtesy of Mother Nature.
In ways, it feels like I never left Ely. The buildings and streets are familiar even though new businesses have opened in them or they now stand empty. People are still friendly as they always have been, and waving is as commonplace as sunshine.
Kids are far more friendly in Ely - not scared to say hi and many times shout out a hearty greeting before I get a chance to do so. They give you eye contact, smile and many have asked me how I am doing.
I walk my dog regularly and little kids ask if it’s okay to pet him followed by questions about his name, how old is he and one little girl even asked me if I sleep with him in his kennel. I replied that I don’t, but he sleeps with me in mine. She let out the cutest little giggle and said, “I bet you mean your bed.” Great conversations with the cutest little dog lovers.
Since my return, I’ve been bitten by many sandflies, somehow are now referred to as gnats. Last week I was out watering my flowers and felt a warm trickle down my neck. The trickle was my blood caused by sandfly bites at my hairline. They do annoy me as they swarm relentlessly around and I was flooded with childhood memories of early summer days, stinging bug spray and dried blood in and around my ears (they got me there, too).
Some of the sandfly/gnats uninvitingly escorted me into the house and I found them crawling and flitting on my kitchen window. When I squished them, I’m pretty sure it was my blood that squirted on the window glass.
Last week I encountered several army worms in my yard, which I understand are making their comeback. In the late 70s, the infestation of these pests was so extreme around the Ely area. I remember accidents on Highway 1 as cars couldn’t stop because the pavement was slippery with battalions of these green, voracious leaf-consuming worms crossing the road.
I got my first mosquito bites after I said out loud, “I can’t believe I haven’t seen any mosquitos yet.” They heard me and nailed me several times, but these minor idiosyncrasies are just small inconveniences as we live our best lives in God’s Country.
The day after I moved back, I went up to the Ely Cemetery to visit my parent’s graves and told them I was back. My mother once said they weren’t sure where they would want to be buried. My father was a WWII veteran, and they could have chosen to be buried at Fort Snelling Cemetery in Minneapolis. Mom made the comment that if they were buried in Ely at Smuk’s Farm, who would come to visit them since all four of her children were living in the Twin Cities.
At the time, I laughed at her, but as a stood over their graves, I know they know I’m back and would be taking care of them and my visits will be often. For those not familiar with Smuk’s Farm, the Smuk family owned the property before the City of Ely purchased it for the cemetery.
When I have taken my little dog out for a potty break in the wee hours of the morning, I can’t believe the quiet. There are no planes, trains or automobiles and I am in the center of town. So peaceful, so quiet and so beautiful. I can hear frogs in the distance holding a pre-summer symphony accompanied by crickets and other nocturnal noisemakers chiming in. I truly love these sounds of summer in the Northland.
Did you know that there are words in the English language that end in Ely? Several years ago, I had a dalliance with an idea that promoted Ely on a t-shirt. Another former Elyite, Sandy Biebl, owned a garment printing business in the Twin Cities and assisted in the design and printing of 1200 of t-shirts that read:
Ely, Minnesota is:
God’s Country
I certainly was schooled in marketing, distribution, sales and disappointment when it took almost five years to sell the entire lot. The project all started with my love and belief in Ely and an idea that was sparked by an Absolut Vodka billboard that read: Absolutely Absolut. There it was in giant letters - a word that ended in Ely. I ran a dictionary search and found 12 words that I felt went well as a descriptor with God’s Country.
It took me years to figure out that peace is a wonderful realm in which to reside. When you have peace in your life, heart, and soul, you really have it all. Wishing someone peace is one of the most beautiful things to wish onto another.
The older I get, I have found for me that peaceful, quiet, and simple is the life to live. Ely, Minnesota has been steady in all three for all my 60 years. It’s no wonder that I came back home…right from where I started.
AbsolutEly Home Sweet Home.