Showing posts from July, 2023

Duluth Artist Lisa Stauffer Shares Plein Air Talent with North Shore Workshops

They arrived in a handful of cars at the public boat landing in the Rec Park the morning of July 7 as the Art Colony prepared Grand Marais for its annual Arts Festival. Bearing license plates from  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ontario, the cars carried artists attending a workshop conducted by Duluth-based Artist Lisa Stauffer. While the attendees unloaded chairs, easels, umbrellas, and bug repellant, Lisa scouted the location where the En Plein air (in the open air) workshop would take place. The spot they chose was the southwest most place on the harbor, and they set up facing the massive rock outcroppings that separate the bay from the big lake. The artists spent a few hours in the cool breeze off the lake, and each painted the scene as they saw it. Observers could watch as blank canvas gave way to the beauty that is Lake Superior. Lisa, recognized as an Eminent Pastelist by the International Association of Pastel Societies, says, “I love painting, and I like sharing my love

The Long Way Home 7.28.23

My annual physical is next month.  Coincidentally, I’m attempting a smoking cessation program. You could say I’m “quitting smoking,” but that doesn’t sound as sensitive or current.  There is a history with me and smoking cessation. Estimates are that I’ve quit between eight and twelve times since those first prepubescent puffs in the 1960s. Each quitting was successful, just not permanent. Frankly, I’ve come to a point where I’ve had enough of tobacco and decided to quit. Sometimes for a week or two and sometimes for a few years or more. I’ve reached that point now and I’m running out of tobacco, so by the time you read this I’ll be in withdrawal, ready to spew bile over anyone who asks me if I’m having any fun.  Back to my physical. Other than intermittent cases of strep throat I rarely went doctoring and only had a physical when some life insurance company was looking to take a large bet on my continued existence and well-being.  Then I started getting older. When I was 50ish, I star

Double D’s Catering Recovering Following Papa Charlie's Fire Last Month

The Saturday morning of the Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race, Papa Charlie’s, the heart of the Lutsen Mountains business burned to the ground.  A popular business in Cook County owned by the Marshall family, Double D’s Catering, did its food preparation in the Papa Charlie’s building and suffered a grievous loss of prepared food and equipment in the fire. James and Christy Marshall came to Cook County in 2008. James, already becoming a barbecue virtuoso, prepared pulled pork sandwiches to serve at a booth during the annual Fisherman’s Picnic in Grand Marais that year. The Marshall’s two kids, Dakota and Dylan, sold lemonade during the event.  For many years, the Marshalls helped operate the Chez Jude Restaurant and Wine Cafe in Grand Marais. Christy and Dakota worked the front of the house while Chef James and Chef Judi Barsness hustled in the kitchen to prepare a wide array of fine meals, made from scratch. Young Dylan diligently washed dishes to keep the whole operation on track. Havin

The Long Way Home 7.21.23

If there is anything more annoying than a vocal and unceasing proponent of the power of positive thinking it would have to be the scowling, snarling, and often sniveling negative nellies always finding fault with something that may have happened to them or that they’re convinced will happen to them. The negative nellies seem like they want none of us to be having a good time. On the other hand, almost everyone else wants us to have fun, or tell them that we had fun. These are the people who get to me sometimes.  “Did you have fun at (wherever you were)?”  “Are you having fun?”  “Are you doing something fun (this weekend or wherever you’re going)?” Fun, along with journey and adventure, are overused words, don’t you think? Wanna be less annoying? Ask me what I did if you will, but don’t ask if I did anything fun. I’m an old man. Fun for me is making it to bedtime without additional disease or injury. And laughing at the absurdity in the world. A recent news story said that a man found d

The Long Way Home 7.14.23

It’s taken me quite a long time to call myself a writer. Despite all the contracts, marketing materials, regulatory filings, newspaper columns and stories that I’ve written and edited, I hesitated to call myself a writer. I even published a book, Ideas and Insight From 40 Years in the Freight Business, before I admitted to myself that I am a writer.  We tend to think of writers as the sages of wisdom who have agents, best sellers, blockbuster movie deals and exotic book tours with auditoriums filled with adoring fans. It just ain’t so. Everyone has stories to tell. Putting it all down on paper is a gift, to the one doing the writing and the ones who will one day read it.  A few examples. My great-uncle Gust, after spending 20 years underground on the Cuyuna Iron Range, booked himself a trip back to Sweden to see his sister, and maybe decide if he wanted to stay. He kept a diary, a record of his activity, in Swedish. And now, several decades later, it fell into my hands. A relative tran

The Long Way Home 7.7.23

 Here it is, 24 hours before the deadline for this column, and I’m setting aside the one nearly completed to bare a bit of my soul with this. I have a Facebook habit that rivals the one with pipe tobacco. So this morning, July 3, I was doing my routine browsing through what the Meta monster’s algorithms thought I should see. Up popped a video of recent American Idol winner Iam Tongi performing with singer/songwriter James Blunt. The song, “Monsters,” was written by Blunt, and Tongi performed it in his Idol audition. Blunt wrote this haunting song after being at the bedside of his dad who was near death (spoiler alert, he survived but that outcome wasn’t clear at the time.) If you’ve never heard it, it is quite a tear jerker. The chorus: I’m not your son, you're not my father We’re just two grown men saying goodbye No need to forgive, no need to forget I know your mistakes and you know mine I’ve listened to this song several times since young Iam’s audition. He dedicated the song to

Water Scientists Work With YMCA Day Camp Kids to Sample Water for Didymo

Under a hazy sun with a cool breeze off the lake the morning of June 21, kids from the Grand Marais YMCA Day Camp came to the Letterecy Deck to learn more about Didymo, commonly known as rock snot. Minnesota Children’s Press coordinated the learning sessions. The kids worked with scientists from the Science Museum of Minnesota to take samples of water from different places in the harbor and study them under a microscope. Seeing first hand what some kids said was “weird stuff” they learned about Didymosphenia geminata, or Didymo. Didymo is an invasive species that has been found moving into the streams and rivers that feed the big lake. Known by the nose wrinkling name of  "rock snot", this type of algae attaches to plants and rocks in rivers and streams. It can produce thick mats that cover stream beds, making swimming, fishing, and other water activities undesirable. Waiting for their turns at the high powered microscopes, the children colored worksheets that point out that

Papa Charlie’s Destroyed by Fire During Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race

Saturday, June 24 was a bittersweet day for Cook County and visitors to the North Shore.  It started at 6 a.m. with a call to report a fire at Papa Charlie’s, a popular restaurant, bar and music venue at Lutsen Mountain for many years. As the morning progressed, fire departments from several communities responded to the mutual aid call.  Charlie’s planned to open early that day, 1 p.m., to welcome supporters and racers from the Lutsen 99er mountain bike event. They were, according to a Facebook post, to offer, “cheese curds and beer for supporters and racers.” Next to Grandma’s Marathon, the Lutsen 99er is one of the largest outdoor sporting events on the north shore. Hundreds of people were riding in one of the four distance races through the trails and woods in Cook County. Each had family and friends here to support them. But by one o’clock it was clear the building was a total loss and Papa Charlie’s wouldn’t be opening. In the past, the Lutsen 99er began on Lutsen Mountain at Papa

The Long Way Home 6.30.23

Sad to say, we are often misunderstood. As a writer of sorts I try my darndest to write so my meaning is understood, and sometimes I succeed. After 50 years of wedded bliss, being misunderstood is a fact of my life. Our daughter Angie, who lives and works in Lutsen, made a Facebook post last week of a pine beetle clinging to a window screen. It’s pine beetle season on the North Shore. If you’ve never seen a pine beetle, think of a cockroach with long antennae. Not very pretty. They rarely bite, but when they do you’ll know it. With the picture, Angie wrote, “These bitches stress me out. I still will take them over winter, darkness, cold and viruses galore. But they are the devil.”  Many of her Facebook friends jumped in to share their own visceral hatred of the pests. Crushing the exoskeleton of the nasty things makes a satisfying crunching noise which some commenters find too much to bear. I noticed that a mutual friend had written a comment to her post that was flagged by the Faceboo