Canoeman Joe Seliga stars in a new picture book biography for young readers

Ely’s own Joe Seliga is the celebrated subject of Canoeman Joe, a new picture book biography published by Green Writers Press of North Brattleboro, Vermont. Written by Robin Radcliffe and illustrated by Consie Powell, Canoeman Joe follows Joe from boyhood into elder years and chronicles the fascinating journey by which Joe taught himself to make wood and canvas canoes.
Born in Ely, Joe Seliga was one of 12 children in a close-knit family that owned two wood and canvas canoes made by the Morris Canoe Company of Veazie, Maine. It was the use, care, and repair of these Morris canoes that helped the young Joe ultimately figure out how to make canoes of his own design.
This biographical picture book celebrates Joe’s life with canoes as well as his independent spirit that instilled a tradition of self-reliance in a whole generation of campers across the lake country of northern Minnesota. The opening page offers just a hint of Joe’s independent spirit:


From the miscellaneous drawer - Changes

You meet a whole set of new people when you are immobilized. It’s interesting to find how much every one shares in the way of human experience.
One thing many of us have in common is the alienation of family members. Whose judgement is that which creates it? We must all be guilty in some way.
Do each of us become so self absorbed in our own life, our own world that our priorities become skewed?
When children of any age divorce their families, does it make sense? Not if you’re a person(s) being isolated.
But that isolation is not rare. In the process of becoming an adult, establishing one’s values and beliefs is usually a process of evolution, of learning and observing, and making conclusions based on those.



Whiteside Park – Ely MN – July 26, 27, 28 – 2019


Pelican briefs

Our three-month summers and two-month winters pass quickly when you call Ely your Fortress of Solitude…that is what my husband, John, has always called our Ely cabin since 2005, when we knew this was such a pure and perfect treasure. Ely, where we are at home in the woods.
AT HOME IN THE WOODS, is the title of a book that “Boy Scout John” read in his camping and canoeing days in Virginia…before we met. Now, after 40 some years, Florida is where our story began, and continues…and Ely, shows us its’ summers that slide gradually into colorful, golden, earth-colored falls, that nature brings to a rest, to spread out before us, the quiet, frozen, white and green landscapes under beautiful blue skies of sunny days and black night skies, star-filled.
Is it possible to love both places equally?? Yes, is the answer. The friendships and families are what makes life perfect in both places. What’s not to love?


From the miscellaneous drawer

Wednesday night as the northland dealt with the potential for a severe storm and possible tornado, my thoughts turned to the kind folks who have sent emails and cards while I’m home bound. I have a new goal for Monday - to be well enough to come to the office at least for a while.
I’ve missed seeing Echo subscribers and the folks who stop by for photos and copies. I think I will especially regret not cleaning off my desk before summer arrived!
Stuck at home these days, I’ve watched more television in a week than I have in many years combined.
* * *
The 50th year celebration of the first moon landing made me think back to where I was on that occasion; in Duluth, attending UMD. On a bus heading to class I heard the disbelief spoken by bus riders and understood the skepticism of my northern neighbors. Such an event was far outside of their daily life.


The Postscript: “Singing Lessons”

I’m having fun singing.
I started singing lessons a few weeks ago. My teacher lives out of town, but every other week she teaches in her parents’ house—the house she grew up in—just a few minutes away. So, I drive to a little house in the suburbs, meet her parents’ two friendly little dogs, (“More people! So exciting!”) and take an hour-long voice lesson in my teacher’s childhood bedroom.
I stand next to an auxiliary refrigerator, put my purse on a storage cabinet, and face my teacher, who brings a portable keyboard for the occasion. There’s not a lot of space.
“I can’t believe I used to sneak out of that tiny window at night!” my teacher marvels, pointing to the one small window in the room.
But even if the surroundings are not exactly glamorous, the singing has turned out to be a lot of fun.


Native son: Fentanyl

The pain was all over my body. I walked doubled over. The doctor said I would have to go to the hospital for an MRI. They would have to sedate me before they put me in the tube. I was told the procedure would take 40 minutes and I could go home the same day.
I woke up two days later in intensive care. I thought I was having a bad dream. When the doctor walked into the room he told me there were complications but he didn’t say what they were.
The source of the pain was a disc in my back which they were able to fix. I was in intensive care for six days which I couldn’t understand. No one was talking and telling me what went wrong. Mentally I didn’t feel like myself.
A nurse came into the room and said I was being discharged. I was thoroughly confused. When I got home my doctor reluctantly told me I may have been given an overdose of a drug called Fentanyl.


From the miscellaneous drawer

When an elderly parent becomes ill, there is nothing as wonderful as an attentive son and caring daughter-in-law, as I witnessed last week.
Especially if it’s not a simple medical issue threatening the life of your mother, who has worked and lived independently into her eighties. One day she is maneuvering through her life, and the next day she’s in dire medical straits. It’s a turning point, with the realization that the family’s life has now entered a new and unfamiliar phase. The matriarch will no longer be fully on her own at home, or fully capable of advocating for her health care. So, it’s left to adult children, the ones with compassion and empathy for aged parents, to fill this void and fight.


Fun With Fungi Wednesday at Nature Nights

Nature Nights
brought to you by the

Date: Wednesday, June 26
Time: 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Location: Vermilion Community College
1900 E. Camp Street, Room CL104

So many people have asked about mushrooms and other fungi and expressed their desire to learn more about them. This will be the year that Ely Field Naturalists connects those people with mycologist, Anna Gerenday, who will bring her knowledge of fungi to feed your interests. Studying fungi in 2019 starts next week at Nature Nights and also through some field explorations leading up to more in-depth studies during August and this fall.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you toss and turn, going over the things which need to be done the following day?
If so, you’re not alone. One trick I’ve used is to tell my body parts to shut down, telling my toes to sleep, my ankles, legs and so forth, one at a time up to my head.
When I got bored with that, I chose a different path.
Much as I resented grade school teachers forcing students to memorize poetry -“The Raven” unfortunately remains etched in my brain. That requirement to memorize seemed a sure fire way of getting children to hate poetry.
However, Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” has meaning at my age. I do believe I am still raging “at the dying of the light.”


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