Showing posts from January, 2023

The Long Way Home 1.27.2023

I’m not a fan of anniversary celebrations, although the surprise celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary in 1998 was pretty special. So it is with sincere humility that I acknowledge the one-year anniversary of The Long Way Home. Last January I was honored to become a contributor to The Northshore Journal. It’s been fun writing stories about the people of Cook County and their activities and businesses.  Before we got too far into our relationship, I asked Christine, the esteemed publisher of this community newspaper, if she would allow me to contribute a weekly column called The Long Way Home. I promised to put in some of the shorter stories about Cook County along with a cranky rant or two about the weather, fishing, spouses, local politics, or… To her credit, she replied, “Bring it on.” She has been a loyal and encouraging supporter of my feeble efforts, despite some of the criticism my jottings inspired. One reader--a now former reader--sent her criticism last summer, both to C

The Long Way Home 1.20.2023

After becoming empty nesters, Becky (the one I call “The Kid.”) and I discovered that having dinner out was easier than making meals for two at home. Living in the Las Vegas valley, southern California, and suburban St. Louis over a couple of decades, we had a full menu of restaurant options.  Within a few miles drive we could choose from steakhouses, Italian, Mexican, Asian, oyster bars, and even Greek restaurants. Not to mention a range of sports bars and casino buffets. And if you’re ever in the St. Louis area, the prime rib at Andria’s Steakhouse in O’Fallon, IL will spoil you for any other prime rib. Sitting down in a restaurant allowed us some uninterrupted time to check in with each other, put our dreams on the table to be analyzed together, and try to figure out our roles as parents and grandparents. The Kid didn’t spend hours preparing meals and when we got home there were no dishes to wash. Often we’d look around the restaurant and try to figure out the stories of the people
The log cabin is the quintessential icon of Northwoods living. Brought to the United States by Scandinavian immigrants in the 17th century, log homes became essential to the rapid settlement of a young and wild country. Isaak Beran Isaak Beran is continuing the log cabin tradition with his own log cabin building company in Grand Marais, Beran’s Handcrafted Log Cabins. His grandfather owned a log cabin that captured the imagination of the young Isaak.  Beran grew up in LaCrosse, WI. His father, described by Beran as a builder, was a longtime Athletic Director in his LaCrosse day job. His mother was a teacher. His brother, an engineer by trade, assists Berans with log and trusswork calculations for the cabins he builds. Unlike others in his age group, Beran took a job at a dairy farm when he was in high school, a job that kept him busy for six years. He’s not afraid of hard work. In 2014, Beran attended the Great Lakes School of Log Building in Isabella, MN, taught by Ron Brodigan, where

The Long Way Home 01.13.2023

Sitting down to write this column I contemplated several topics. Some reflections from my days consulting for and coaching small business owners might be helpful to some.  Overpopulation, with a nod to overtourism. When I was in high school overpopulation was a scary topic, an existential threat we were told. The world population in 1969 was 3.6 billion. Last year it was 8 billion. Yet we rarely hear about an overpopulation problem today. A worthy topic, but not for now. Resource depletion would be fun. Years ago I was told to buy lakeshore property since “They ain’t making it anymore.”. None of these topics jump-started my willingness to leave smudged fingerprints on my wireless QWERTY keyboard.  Then, like a miracle, a topic presented itself, on Facebook of all things. Sunday I was presented with a post asking the question, “What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?” I never answer these types of “question” posts from anonymous sources, but a FB friend did and it showed up for me to c

The Long Way Home January 6, 2023

 On New Year's Day, folks like to review “the best of…” from the previous year. The best movies, the best books, the best concerts, and the best sports highlights. Boring. I barely remember what I had for breakfast on any given day, so remembering something from the last 12 months is a problem. The older I get, the more often I wallow in nostalgia for the good old days. In my case, that would be the decade known as the sixties-the boomer years. When I’m lucky, I find a like-minded 60-something to wallow in the nostalgia swamp with me. Facebook is great for that. I follow pages that present nostalgic photos and memories of Edina, Bloomington, and Richfield where I was born and raised. Those three cities were literally brand new in the 1950s.  Pictures of Eddie Websters in Bloomington, the Mann France Avenue Drive-In theater in Edina, The Smorgasbord restaurant in Richfield, and the Southdale Mall which centered it all, remind me of the places where I had personal experiences. That’s

The Long Way Home 12.30.2022

If you’re reading this column you are likely a survivor of the Great Snowstorm of Christmas week 2022. With four days of wind, snow, brutal windchill, and blowing snow, you could say the storm was massive, unending, whopping, and huge--and not really Great.  This storm started early Wednesday and disrupted travel and life on the North Shore just days before Christmas. It didn’t gasp its last until Christmas morning.   Having lived the majority of my life in Minnesota, I am confident in claiming the Great Snowstorm last week is the worst in my memory--at least in duration. There may have been worse storms, but I don’t remember seeing four full days of snow and gale-force winds. Last winter I was deliberately and gainfully unemployed, having chosen to avoid going anywhere that required a time commitment in case of a winter storm, winter weather advisory, or lack of daylight. There were a couple of storms that were doozies, but I didn’t have to drive in them. The Bohunk signed up for some