Showing posts from August, 2023

The Long Way Home 8.25.23

I recall that my mother looked forward to receiving the newsletter of Richfield Lutheran Church in the mail each week. It listed those who suffered health issues needing the intervention of prayer. Who was married, and who was buried. It contained a schedule of worship services. And it reminded her to sign me up for Daily Vacation Bible School. The weekly mailing eventually ended while I was still a minor. Mom had to attend church each Sunday to get the printed bulletin with the same information instead.  She loved to get the mail. Mom read everything almost to the day she died, from furnace duct cleaning mailers to political flyers. You’d see her poring over it all and pondering what they had to say.  Most people aren’t like Mom. The cost of printing and postage to mail newsletters has hurt many groups over recent decades, just like it ended the newsletters from RLC. But that hasn’t stopped organizations, from businesses and government to non-profits, from trying to communicate with t

Singing Sheriff of Cook County--Pat Eliasen

Pat Eliasen is on his third term as sheriff of Cook County, but he’s been playing music since he was in grade school in Grand Marais. He started off playing trombone in the sixth-grade band, an instrument that kept his attention for only a year or two.  He discovered the guitar in his teens, and it has been part of his life ever since.  Pat says his hero is Eddy Van Halen, the late lead guitarist of the rock band Van Halen. In 1991, Pat became the lead guitarist in a local band with three other guys that was called “Oversize Load.” The band was driving to an early gig when they saw a truck on the highway with a sign that said “Oversize Load.” The guys thought it would be a great name for the band since trucks were out there giving them free publicity. More than 30 years later, the band is still performing together. Now a trio, the band is known as “Mysterious Ways.” Mike Pratt and Matt Bronikowski round out the group with Pat. Pat also plays guitar and sings for the “Minnesota Brass Ho

The Long Way Home 8.18.23

An article about the income gaps in our state by Madison McVan in The Minnesota Reformer caught my eye. The Reformer is an independent, non-profit news organization in Minneapolis that publishes online. Income and wealth disparity has increased for the last few decades but has worsened recently. For those in the lower levels, It limits social and economic mobility. It often affects a person's life expectancy and access to essential services.  According to Madison’s reporting, Minnesota is in the top five states with the highest average income, yet half the population earns less than $62,500 annually. These figures came from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.  The US Census Bureau puts the median household income in Cook County at $65,045. Almost 10 percent of the population in Cook County lives below the poverty level, which is about $30,000 for a family of four.  In the Arrowhead region, the income gap threatens tourism and health care.  In the case of tourism, the wealth ga

The Long Way Home 8.11.23

Like most of you, I hadn’t heard the phrase “bucket list” until the movie by that name in 2007. Starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, Bucket List was the story of two men who were dying and went on a road trip together with a “must-do” list. As buddy movies go, it was a pretty good flick. It was also one of the last movies I paid to see in a movie theater. But I digress. The bucket list became a thing, even for people who never saw the movie. We all have things we’d like to see or do before we go. Making a list, and checking them off as you go, seems like a good thing.  But it also adds stress you don’t need in your golden years. I talk with many people in my job as an Aquatic Invasive Species Watercraft Inspector. The other day I met a robust older man in his 80s at the landing on Devil Track Lake. He lives in Idaho but grew up in Colvill, my current home township, and told me stories about the area I’d never heard.  When the conversation strayed from the past into what “woke” e

Ten Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Old age causes the same thing. The Alzheimer’s Association's list of ten early signs and symptoms follows below. If you suffer from some of the following, you should contact your primary care physician. who can determine if further testing or referral to a specialist is needed. 1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. 2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. 3. Difficulty Completing familiar tasks. 4. Confusion with time or place. 5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. 6. New problems with words in speaking and writing. 7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. 8. Decreased or poor judgment. 9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. 10. Changes in mood and personality. The Alzheimer’s Association offers ten ways to help a family living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. 1. Educate yourself about dementia. 2.

Walk To End Alzheimer's on the North Shore Next Month

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the fifth-leading cause of death for Americans over 65. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the US National Institute of Health, between 2000 and 2019, deaths from stroke, heart disease, and HIV decreased. In contrast, reported deaths from AD increased by more than 145%.  The Alzheimer’s Association reports, “Those living in rural America are more likely to develop the disease, less likely to receive an early diagnosis, and more likely to encounter barriers when seeking assistance.” People like Julie Wilson, Executive Director at Care Partners of Cook County, are working with the Association to help its efforts to bring increased local awareness of AD, treatment options, and resources for help. Wilson pointed out that there are no assisted living facilities in Cook County and no indication that there might be any in the foreseeable future. The nearest healthcare specialists in the dementia arena are in Duluth, as is an off

Temperance Traders Bring “Trading Post Mentality” to Schroeder Area

Temperance Traders in Schroeder offers people in the west end of Cook County a variety of products and services. “We have a Trading Post mentality,” said Patrick Reeves, Co-owner and General Manager of the business. Patrick and his co-owner, wife Christina, purchased the Temperance Trader property in May 2020. They bought the property because it had four cabins they could rehabilitate to help provide affordable, long-term housing in Cook County. It also included a liquor store they initially hoped to have someone else operate. While fixing up the cabins, it was apparent they’d also need to run the liquor store.  The two owners saw more needs in the community.  Added to the Temperance Liquor store building first was the Speakeasy Thrift Store offering quality secondhand items.  Next was North Shore Ebike, renting Ebikes and selling bike accessories just off the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail. The Campstore offers a wide range of camping and RV supplies and accessories. Most recently, they added

Dying Balsam and Birch Trees Are a Part of Our Forests

Visitors to the North Shore are attracted by the seemingly timeless beauty of its forests. Beautiful as it is, the forest wasn’t always this way. We all see the signs of trouble now. Many stately evergreen trees appear to have become everbrown. Every year there seem to be more birch trees dying. Balsam Fir and Spruce trees are dying, partly due to age but mostly due to the Eastern Spruce Budworm assisted by the drought conditions that prevailed up here in recent years. The Arrowhead region of Minnesota was the last area in the state that was accessible for logging in the late 19th and early 20th century. Demand for the White Pine and Cedar boards that resided in North Shore forests was high throughout America.  Logging practices were not as sensitive to the environment in those days. The White Pine and Cedar trees were clear-cut and floated across Lake Superior to mills in Wisconsin. Slash, which is the treetops, limbs, and branches of the trees, were left behind on the forest floor. 

The Long Way Home 8.4.23

Defining the culture of the community you live in should be easy.  A Twin Cities-based reporter put me on the spot recently with his question, “What is the culture of Grand Marais?” I immediately felt like Jackie Gleason doing the “hummina, hummina, hummina” bit. The reporter who put me on the spot is working on an in-depth article for an online magazine about the killing of Larry Scully by Levi Axtell last March. The crime shocked the small Cook County Community and received international press coverage.  Those of us who don’t like people prying into our lives didn’t appreciate the media coverage of this incident. And now that I think about it, that dislike of prying people is a fundamental part of the Grand Marais culture. It is fundamental to the culture of every community and organization where people gather. I don’t think the answer I ultimately gave the reporter indicated that privacy is a cultural value here. If my interview makes it into the final story, I’ll know for sure.  Bu