From the miscellaneous drawer

Feeling guilty.
After 60 years of working, with only a few detours or escapes, I’m now retired.
Seventy years ago when my family got their first television, there were limits on tv watching.
As years passed , when I had no access, I didn’t miss it. Even radios were banned from foreigners in post war Italy.
I’m filling my time now with PBS and other popular shows.
In Illinois, a long time ago, life was more normal for a stay-at-home mom of two kids. I mowed and gardened as people do.
A phone call changed that when a neighbor called and offered to help me since I was “dying” of cancer. The word was wrong. In an attempt to improve myself before the operation, I had been “dieting.”
Young school buddies got the word wrong.
In Winton there was a garden plot at the back if the house. Among other things I grew cucumbers. Neighbor Huxley Pelkola gave me lessons in how to make dill pickles.
They were yummy.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Among the reminders of friends is a wood plaque on my wall. It says: “Old friends take a long time to create.”
It was given to me by a friend. I was reminded of her with the notice that soon she would be 76, if she had not died at 75 or 74.
An accomplished piano player, she had played in Alaskan clubs and my music room. But she hadn’t always been easy to find in Ely.
She chased mind goblins until her life slowed down.
More recently I’ve heard from an artist friend, Stephan Krasemen from Canada. We caught up on the changes in our lives as we age.
Quick notes have come from Bob Columbo in Brazil, and Kent Worley.
My biggest and best surprise was from artist and cartoonist Bill Baron in Taos, New Mexico. We were friends in an Illinois high school long ago.
He had just refound an old poem of mine entitled “Each Time.”
I hankered after the post-war Paris, the world of Sylvia Beach, James Joyce and Rue de I’Odeon.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Our home is a bit quieter tonight. For the first time in 15 years there isn’t a Yorkie living here.
Her final day was a tough day made only easier by the great folks at the Ely Vet Clinic. We knew this day would come but it arrived quicker than we thought.
None of that was on our minds 15 years ago when we drove to Rochester to look at purchasing a Yorkie puppy. Megan had picked her out and we took her to a vet there on a Saturday afternoon.
The vet was honest and said there was a chance this wasn’t a purebred but at the same time there weren’t any red flags on the puppy’s health. This made Megan a happy camper and we brought Morgan home.
For the next 15 years there were times I wondered who was the owner and who was the pet. Morgan did what she wanted when she wanted. Independent to a fault, she seemed to relish the times I would take an empty garbage bag and head for the back door.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Have you ever traveled and not known in advance where you were going to eat or sleep that night?
Life is an adventure if you choose it. Traveling with friends or alone, we sometimes stayed in new, strange places without prior reservations.
That’s adventuring without care. It reinforces the feeling of freedom. On cruises or escorted trips this may not be possible. At least there’s some native human contact.
Traveling by bicycle in Canada as a young teenager, there were several challenges, one being speed and losing control on a curve, and crashing.
A train from Vienna to Rome by way of Cortina d’Ampezo allowed me to see talented friends at the Vienna Opera, friends of my brother’s in the ski and Olympic place of fun.
But I don’t recommend long bus rides. So little choice in any area but it was a way to get from California to Chicago.


Hook and Bullet Club

We spent a good part of last weekend in Babbitt for Peter Mitchell days and there’s one thing that kept coming back to me: How can we do this in Ely?
It’s amazing what Babbitt is able to pull off each year. Even without a carnival, this was one of their best years.
The list of events is impressive, starting with the Walleye Whamma fishing contest and continuing the next weekend with the main events.
They had kids races, a 5K run, a classic car show, live bands both nights, a rover radar run, free watermelon feed, sawdust pile giveaways and a whole bunch of tournaments (kickball, volleyball, bocce ball, holey boards, etc.).
The holey board thing cracks me up. It’s similar to the popular cornhole or bags game but you toss large washers instead. Must be the impact of the taconite mine not too far away.


Miscellaneous Musings by FunGirlDi

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.


From the miscellaneous drawer

As a house is being dissected and disemboweled, one finds many unmarked treasures. Where did they come from? Why was I keeping them?
If they were important enough to keep, why weren’t the photos identified with real names? If I was the one taking the picture, why did I scribble such lousy names on them?
“Sixth grade bums” doesn’t identify my best friends of the time.
Perhaps what stirred the pot of memory was being invited to my Thornton High School reunion. I’ve been to one previous reunion. Since there were over 5,000 kids in the school and over 1,000 in my class,
A lot of distancing was the norm. Aside from a few friends in my circle, the ones I enjoyed seeing the most at the reunion were the remnants of the grade school class. It had less that 30 kids and was integrated.
High school consisted of maybe 10 communities and breaches weren’t sought.
So I replied to the reunion booster that I would not be coming.


June may try to be warm but dry

The best paying job I ever had was janitor at the Voyageurs Visitor Center from May to September 1984. That gig paid $13.65 an hour. My current job didn’t match that until just a few years ago.
The Visitor Center (now the Wolf Center) also paid in fun. It was fun to keep an eye on the wood duck house they had on display out the observation window where people now watch wolves. The front of the house had been replaced by plexiglass so people could see the duck nest inside. But, some enterprising red squirrel took over the place and turned it into an apartment with a picture window.
One night, squirrely spent a good chunk of time sitting on top of the house while excitedly preening. Then it hopped down and bounced tail up into the forest as if it was heading to a hot date. It never came back. I hope it was off that night to move in with another squirrel rather than ending up dinner for a predator.


From the miscellaneous drawer

If you are over 60 years of age you may be faced with what to do with mementos from your past. You’re learning to make adjustments to your life.
My Mom took on the role of family historian. She corresponded with dad’s four to five sisters, as well as her own.
That which occupied your spare time and life, your hobbies or passions, has disappeared into the future.
John and Kathleen Noid of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and sometime summer residents, agreed in a note about changing values. I thank them for writing.
A DQ lunch at the house with friends Sue and Lowell Syverson, also from Iowa, was also a treat. Sue and Muffin Nelson handle the children’s Art Camp at Pioneer Mine and encourage the creative spirit with various art projects and teachers.
I’m glad my Mom became the family historian, keeping in touch with her own family and Dad’s sisters. Some stayed with us for a while. One sister, a teacher lived in the Tower area after the gold rush.


Hook and Bullet Club

We’ve lived in our house on Boundary Street for nearly 30 years. It was Pat and Chickie Harristhal’s before and originally the home of the Muscatelli family.
There is a backyard but you can’t get to the alley. I was trying to explain why to my granddaughter Kinlee but I agreed it doesn’t make sense.
It’s my understanding CCC crews built the rock wall that extends 10 feet up from the alley. There is a gate (with a lock on it) but if you opened the gate you’d be jumping from the top of a basketball hoop.
Kinlee accepted the gate doesn’t open and set off playing. With the dogs running around her, Kinlee fought off imaginary bad guys with her baseball bat and climbed into her room, which in an alternate reality is a red plastic Radio Flyer wagon.
Later that day we set up boards in the backyard and played bags, all in celebration of Evan graduating from Bemidji State University in four years.


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