Showing posts from June, 2024

The Long Way Home 6.21.24

Published in the Northshore Journal Friday, June 21, 2024. In the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the onboard computer HAL has a mind of its own and takes control of the spaceship from astronaut Dave Bowman.  I thought of that sequence last week when something similar happened at the Fernlund Compound, although IBM was not the tech culprit. After several nights of restless sleep due to thunder and lightning and a dog frightened by both, I hoped for an uninterrupted sleep. We had a nice dinner that evening and did our bedtime routines with the dogs and the drugs we take to keep blood pressure and cholesterol in range. My Kindle worked its magic, putting me into a deep sleep before 8:30. One of our dogs, Fiona, is a powerful alarm barker. Usually, she barks at various mammals skulking through the yard or a late-arriving FedEx delivery. So when I woke to her jumping off our bed, barking, and running into the living room, I figured it was that she was upset about, or maybe some lightn

The Long Way Home 6.14.24

Fats Fernlund was born in July 1922 in the Cayuna Iron Range town of Crosby, MN. The second son of Swedish immigrants, he sported curly blond hair and blue eyes.  No one knows how he earned the nickname Fats; odds are, it was because he was a big Swede. He probably didn’t mind that moniker since it kept his middle name, Sherwood, out of public view. Like many other children in Crosby, Fats' family was deeply connected to the mining industry. His father and uncles toiled in the underground mines, a fact that shaped his early life. He would see his father return home, six days a week, from his grueling twelve-hour shift setting dynamite and exploding the rock face that contained the iron ore that helped build America. He’d lay down on the living room floor of their modest, company-built house, demanding the kids remain silent, hoping to make the headaches go away. Fats knew the mining life wasn’t for him. Before the end of the Great Depression, Ma and Pa Fernlund bought a farm and mo

The Long Way Home 6.7.24

Seventy trips around the sun have taught me a thing or two about trust. Trust is almost as crucial as being fed.  Over the years, I’ve earned the trust of many people. Sadly, I’ve broken that trust with too many, some close to me.  If it takes an hour to earn trust in the first place, it takes years to gain it back after you’ve broken it--and the repaired cracks are always there when you do. Last month, the Cook County Board of Commissioners held a retreat at a venue in downtown Grand Marais. The purpose of the retreat was to discuss something other than county business, though. The retreat facilitator, Rachel Thiemann, had this to say in leading off her proposal to earn the contract. “Cook County has identified a need for consulting/training services to be provided to the Board of County Commissioners, focusing on their ability to work harmoniously and effectively together at all times. The background supplied indicates that meetings can at times become emotionally charged, unfocused,

The Long Way Home 5.31.24

For nearly 60 years, the television soap opera Days of Our Lives has been a staple of our screens. Its iconic opening sequence, featuring an hourglass and the phrase 'Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,' has become synonymous with the show. Originally airing on NBC in 1965, the show concluded its run in 2022. The story didn't end there. New episodes are now exclusively available on NBC’s Peacock streaming service.  The show is set in a fictional city called Salem, IL. There is an honest Salem, IL, and I’ve been there. It was the headquarters of one of the last trucking companies I worked for before my latest attempt at retiring. I don’t recall any bragging in Salem that it was the namesake for a long-running soap opera. But enough about that. The hourglass and accompanying phrases remind us that the characters and our lives are steadily slipping away.  To supplement our fixed income, I do some freelance writing. I’m also a certified and paid aqua