Columnists

Sat
21
Apr

Letters from Ely - Home

In last week's column, I was unfair to Jane in describing her reaction to my snowy parking lot mishap. In truth, she was quite calm and forgiving, as she always is. I should be ashamed . . . going for a cheap laugh at her expense. So, Jane? If you read this, honey, I'm sorry. Please forgive me, and then be kind enough to unlock the door to my study. I have to go to the bathroom. <BR><BR>It's a heckuva way to spend this semi-retirement, driving back and forth from northern Minnesota to southern California. <BR><BR>If there's a plus side, it's that we now have a computer, modem, fax machine, printer and other office conveniences in the Ely home, allowing me to extend my stays here while managing (or at least pretending) to get a little work done. <BR><BR>It actually costs slightly more to drive than to fly when you count meal and motel costs for the three-day trip each way.

Sat
14
Apr

From the miscellaneous drawer

In northern states of the U.S., one way to break up the monotony of winter's waning is to hold an ice out contest. <BR><BR>Some contests are large, expensive affairs with thousands of entries and thousands of dollars in prizes. <BR><BR>A few are closer to the Echo's annual Ice Out Contest with a spirit of fun and pride in maybe, just maybe, guessing the correct date and time.<BR><BR>When Associate Press writer John Curran phoned a few weeks back to ask about the Echo contest, it was fun describing our Shagawa Lake contest, the $100 prize from Grand Ely Lodge and learning about some of the more sophisticated contests around the country. <BR><BR>In Alaska, the Nenana Ice Classic last year yielded over $270,000 to eight lucky guessers who chose the right time for the Tanana River to thaw.

Sat
07
Apr

From the miscellaneous drawer

Every person has his or her own stories. Fables of their life which are told over and over again not only by oneself but also by family and friends.<BR><BR>Those stories or fables are unique to each person and serve to keep the memory of the originator alive.<BR><BR>One of my favorite tales about people I've known was of a teenager who took such pride in his work that when asked to dig a hole for a septic tank, he dug it almost exactly. When the owner of the tank complained that no way would the tank fit, the young man challenged him to try. It fit perfectly. <BR><BR>"If a job needs to be done," the young man told me, "it needs to be done well, no matter what the job is."<BR><BR>I've often thought of that advice as a guide when a task lay ahead of me not of my choosing.<BR><BR>I didn't like all of his advice, however.

Sat
31
Mar

Letters from Ely - Just a moment

Just a moment<BR><BR>Your life is complicated. So many tasks lie waiting, you can't decide which one to even consider let alone begin. Nerves fray from thoughts of chores undone, calls to be returned, bills to be paid, appointments to make. And like some cruel childhood playmate, anxiety is always close at hand, waiting for its moment. <BR><BR>Anxiety loves weariness, choosing your tired moments to bring up memories of past mistakes, past embarrassments, things you should have done but didn't, friends you should have loved but couldn't, opportunities you should have grasped but wouldn't. <BR><BR>As you ponder those regrets, you may also begin to dread what the future holds. Fear of the unknown thus completes your anxious psyche. Sometimes, when you're by yourself, it's enough to make you softly moan out loud.

Sat
24
Mar

Words from a burning heart - Silent

Some walks these days are over snow, some are over clear sidewalks or dry streets. Depending on how much sun we've gotten during the day and how much it may have snowed the night before. The blackbirds, crows and ravens are clamouring for Spring with a wide range of calls from sweet-almost-warbler-like to rough and glutteral.<BR><BR>They sit atop the dry maple branches and peer down at people of the neighborhood who are tapping the trees trying to anticipate the flow of sap. The temperatures here are changing from frigid 10 below to the mid forties and we're all looking forward to leaping over the first day of Spring towards rising mercury levels.<BR><BR>The boots or shoes or heavy jackets and maple tree sap aren't the only casualties of this uncertain time. Yesterday on my walk I spotted a small field mouse frozen stiff in the snow.

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.

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