The Long Way Home 12.01.23

I don’t think this is the first time I’ve done this here, so here’s another mea culpa.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a time-honored practice of leaving on a high note that gave the impression that the bohunk, our crew of animals, and this old hoot were moving to the small town of Carlton. That may happen someday, but not now. 

In that column, I was doing something I often do: thinking out loud on my keyboard. My recent supervisor at SWCD, the best manager I’ve ever worked for, suggested I shouldn’t think out loud in a newspaper column. 

The confusion about us moving is all my fault. Not the thinking-out-loud part. But giving the impression that a move was imminent. MEA CULPA.

So here’s the deal. Since we first met on that fateful blind date when we were two misfit 16-year-olds, the Bohunk and I had regular and deep conversations about our future together. From how many kids we would raise (I favored nine to field a baseball team) to where we’d live and how we’d make a living. We tended to see our life together as a progression. When we achieved one dream, we’d move on to the next. 

Over half a century, we often had irregular but still deep conversations about where we were in life, where we wanted to be, and what the future holds. We’ve always thought this place on the Ridge was the last place before the final spot. Recognizing that physical decline may require an intermediate place before the final place, we’ve had some really deep conversations about what that means.

One of us thinks an excellent intermediate place would be an apartment in a building with a cafeteria and other amenities where I could play cribbage daily while arguing politics with sad older men wearing red hats proclaiming MAGA while the ladies play Canasta.

The other of us thinks that a good intermediate place would be a small house in the middle of a few acres of wooded flat land. The dogs would love it. It would be well-insulated with good windows and wouldn’t need six or seven cords of firewood to keep the chills away.

As you can see, our visions are divergent just now. We will work to bring things together as time passes, as we always have. And while we do, we’ll be here on the ridge in Cook County, looking at Lake Superior all four seasons.


The events at the North Shore Hospital in the past several months have clarified the weaknesses of an individual administrator and the complacency of the elected board of directors. As far as sexy elected offices go, the hospital board rests close to the bottom of the list. Elections aren’t what we’d call competitive.

The fact is that NSH is a public facility managed by a private, non-profit business based in Duluth. 

I’ll leave it at this. Health care is a right that should be open to all human people in a community, even a nation. Many of the staffing problems at NSH result from a CEO focused on managing costs at the expense of quality care and common sense. 

Let’s have actual public health care and leave the profit motive to other sectors.