Columnists

Sat
17
Mar

Letters from Ely - Good Dog

Jane and I are both fond of the larger breeds. But little Muttley captured our hearts on a trip to the animal shelter a few years back. <BR><BR>At 14 pounds, he's by far the smallest dog we've ever owned. Something of a Shi Tzu mix perhaps, he certainly fit the AKA's description of that breed: "Playful, with plenty of spunk, not afraid to stand up for himself although he usually gets along nicely with strangers and other animals . . . this dog especially dislikes hot weather and prefers a much cooler climate." <BR><BR>The description said nothing about relative doggy intelligence and I wondered . . . was the dog dumb? Or smart? Now, after many years of ownership (not saying who owns who), I still can't decide whether he's the sharpest knife in the drawer or the dimmest light in the harbor. . .

Sat
10
Mar

In the front row - Changes

It wasn't all that long ago - just about 10 years in fact - that high school basketball tournament season meant that a convoy of vehicles left Ely for Virginia's Miners Memorial Building.<BR><BR>About 3,000 people filled the Miners on a cold night in March, 1996, when Ely and Orr squared off in what was the last District 27 boys basketball championship game.<BR><BR>Cut to this week. Ely may have had about 50 fans at its girls basketball playoff game in Coleraine on Mar. 3.<BR><BR>And on Tuesday, Ely fans' loyalties were tested when the girls and boys basketball teams had playoff games at the same time - a girls quarterfinal at Hibbing and a boys first-round playoff tilt at the high school gymnasium.<BR><BR>Early-round playoff games nearly 100 miles from home. Conflicting tournament games on the same night. Playoff games at home sites.

Sat
03
Mar

Letters from Ely - Weighty matters

Weighty Matters <BR><BR>It was about four months ago I started walking seriously. An easy two miles at first, then three, finally settling in to a 4.5 mile loop. <BR><BR>At first, those 4.5 miles took an hour and 20 minutes to complete. But soon I began jogging along stretches where softer ground made less of an impact on these old joints. This reduced my time to around an hour. <BR><BR>After a few weeks of that, I added a 20 lb. vest and returned to walking the entire loop. Now I've found I can even jog short stretches with the vest in place, again reducing my time to around an hour.<BR><BR>For this 50-year old kid, it's been a great way to burn off the excess energy produced by two cups of strong morning coffee. More than that, I was hoping to also burn off a few pounds along the way. <BR><BR>After two months of this, you'd think I'd be slim as a church mouse during Lent, right?

Sun
25
Feb

From the miscellaneous drawer - Important things

The important things<BR><BR>When my mom began to suffer from Alzheimer's, she was moved to the Ely-Bloomenson Nursing Home. She lived there a number of years before she died. When it was all over I realized that the one part of her I missed the most was her laughter. She might have been prudish about the parts of life which old time Methodists found sinful - dancing and card playing come to mind - but she had a delightful sense of humor and a hearty laugh to go with it.<BR><BR>Laughter. One of the joys of life. And one of the tragedies when laughter is silenced.<BR><BR>This week we learned that the smiles and laughter of Dave Staubitz are silenced. <BR><BR>On recent Friday mornings Dave was part of a breakfast gathering I attended. I looked forward to his quick repartee, his puns and his way of looking at world events.

Sat
17
Feb

Pelican briefs - Winter Festival time

My husband John and I have gotten to "hang out" with some pretty impressive people here in Ely during the Winter Festival. Four of these were ice sculptors Natasha Taylor and Leo Melamud, formerly from Russia and the Ukraine respectively, and Betsy and Andy Von Duyke. They were up from their homes in Minneapolis, along with their youngsters, Anna Taylor and Anton Von Duyke, to create their work of art out a huge block of packed snow. <BR><BR> What an impressive "ice" show is on display at Whiteside Park. The two couples and their two children were house guests of our neighbors, Frank and Retta Fifo, who open their home to these traveling sculptors every Winter Festival. <BR><BR>We were able to share Retta's homemade pizza and some beer and wine with these fine folks and hear how the idea for the ice figure was conceived and created in these frigid temperatures.

Sat
10
Feb

From the miscellaneous drawer - Addiction

At 20 days into recovery from knee replacement, I've started working again. I had to. I was becoming addicted. <BR><BR>No, not to the drugs given for pain. It was the drug of television. I was starting my day with BBC's Cash in the Attic, wandering through Court TV's Poirot mysteries and capping it all off with the Ellen DeGeneres Show by 5 p.m. Blowing the whole day away in sloth.<BR><BR>The explanation for this sudden-onset addiction might be that I grew up in a household where television as a source of in-home entertainment arrived later than in most homes. <BR><BR>Much as people today wait to add a personal computer into their lives, people way back when waited to see if the flash of the television industry was worthwhile or a flash in the pan of progress.

Mon
05
Feb

Letters from Ely

Ouch<BR><BR>Schwack!<BR><BR>It was math class, the last class of the day. Ms. Weber had left us briefly to take a phone call. Neither Tim nor I were likely to waste a chance for a little mischief, so my best friend had just buried a spit wad in the side of Jeff's neck. <BR><BR>Jeff wheeled around toward Tim, but now it was my shot. I was the biggest kid in the class, with lungs to match. The plastic straw came up. My own spit wad had spent the last minute being chewed and tightened and condensed to the approximate size and hardness of a large BB. I inserted it into the straw with my tongue. As I took aim, Tim raised his weapon for the next shot.<BR><BR>Jeff, a Chippewa just down from the reservation, was short in stature and even shorter in temper. In short, he was the perfect target for two larger seventh-graders who still had lessons to learn about cruelty and its rewards. <BR><BR>SCHWACK!!

Mon
29
Jan

Letters from Ely

Forgiveness<BR><BR>O.C. and Tommy vaulted over the fence and into the yard. The two boys ran toward the house, then slowed to a walk when they saw me working in the garage. Tommy said, "Gotta go," mounted his bike and was gone in a moment. O.C. disappeared into the house just as quickly. <BR><BR>A moment later a man my age also came over the same fence, out of breath. He'd climbed the steep embankment from the busy city street below. "Somebody threw a rock through my windshield!" he gasped. "Have you seen any kids come through here?" In the next instant a mail truck came wheeling around the corner. Its windshield was broken. The driver was upset. "A rock hit my windshield and I KNOW it came from up this way - coulda killed me! Have you seen any kids up here?"<BR><BR>I had a pretty good idea of what might have happened, and I wasn't happy. "Look, I'm glad you two are okay," I said.

Mon
22
Jan

Bush pilot - Tales of Luzon, Philippine Islands

Part 13<BR><BR>Murph gave me the rules for his camp. He said at retreat the women came in and at reveille they left. Next, he said people were going to ask for help at times and we could help them, but we couldn't accept money if offered. We could accept booze which would be put on the mess table at supper time. At my first supper, there were seven bottles of various kinds of liquor on the table. An interesting camp, with the extras, but I didn't partake of either one. Of course, some readers will think "oh, sure." A lot of the guys had double cots, with large mosquito nets covering them, to accommodate their 'friend'.<BR><BR>I went about my daily tasks, usually with a grader. One day, while passing through town, a man came out of a nice house and stopped me. His house was of a more conventional style and set back from the road. Farther back, he had a garage, but the ground was muddy for the whole distance.

Sat
13
Jan

Letters from Ely - Warmer

Warmer <BR><BR>The first steam powered cotton mills began producing cloth in Lancashire, England in the 1840s. Thus began the first large-scale burning of fossil fuels on this Earth; the Industrial Revolution. It took two million years for man to discover how to extract and burn the organic crud which nature had managed to bury during the previous 58 million years. And now, we wasted no time. The factories quickly grew, and they demanded more fuel. <BR><BR>The smoke and soot from these first coal-fired plants was horrible, of course. But it was a big world with less than a billion people. Burning a few thousand tons of coal each year didn't really matter. The Earth slumbered as the factories grew still larger and as gasoline engines replaced steam. <BR><BR>Henry Ford's Model T cars began rolling off the first assembly line in 1913. Soon thousands of humans were driving instead of walking or riding.

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