Easy choice. My mom kept a diary for a few short years when I was a baby. She was a very special person and it gives me great pleasure mixed with profound loneliness to take it out and read randomly from time to time. Touching it feels almost like touching her hand.
Dan and Nancy Root are among Robert and Marsha’s (bro/sister-in-law) best friends. Now after all these years of knowing them and admiring their creativity and lifestyle I hope they won’t mind being my friends too.
Dan is a fish sculptor. Well, he creates these beautiful wooden fish that are sculptures but also real lures and decoys. I guess. I mean they float and so forth but I’m not sure what you do with them otherwise. Obviously I’ve never fished in my life.
I think these fish are the perfect representation of art for beauty and fun. First because they are graceful and colorful and imaginative. Secondly they are just so Minnesota! In fact Dan’s fish embody the state perfectly—Minnesota supports the arts better than most other states because of a tax on the sports of hunting and fishing. Yup, serious about outdoor sports but love our arts. Voila…Dan’s Art Fish. We Minnesotans are sober serious people with a weird sense of humor and a cynical, slightly wacky sense of life. Comes from that Scandinavian adage to not think too highly of oneself and from Minnesota winters and from a lifetime of mosquito bites.
Dan gave me a pet this summer, a bright and charming walleye. I suppose I’ll call him Wally, not original, but he seems comfortable with it. Wally lives on the table next to but pointed away from the stove—forever fleeing the frying pan. He doesn’t understand that he is wooden and just wouldn’t taste like his free-range cousins anyway. Also Wally’s much less bother than a dog or a cat so I’m doubly appreciative. Dan’s website is www.LarryTheBear.com
So thanks Dan. Love from Marj and Wally.
I had a whole outline written for a new post…but I’ve walked and driven hours today and I’m lonesome for Teresa who is on her way back home to California…and Minnesota, which is just a few miles away from here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So I am tired and sad.
PHOTOS FROM TODAY IN MINNEAPOLIS: Maybe I’ll write something to go with it tomorrow.
It is the last day of the EPIC JOURNEY of Teresa and Marjorie in the spring of 2013.
It ended today in Minneapolis at the Frederick Weisman Museum on the UofM campus (Frank Gehry’s big silver space/art/architectural wonder), then a very sweet downtown hotel and finally a gourmet meal up a few streets at 112 Eatery. Back in CityLand after our ever-so-wonderful Green Adventure in the North.
Few photos…off to bed. Goodnight Minnesota.
We’ve come from Canada today and are now cozily ensconced in the guest room at Oak Crest Senior Housing in Roseau, Minnesota. About three hours south of Winnipeg. My cousin Audrey lives here and her giant 80th birthday party is taking place tomorrow—a surprise for her. The fact that she’s very leery of both parties and surprises makes the suspense that much greater. I suspect once she is over the shock she will be honored and moved by having so much family around.
Tonight the three of us went over to Warroad to a most pleasant restaurant overlooking Lake of the Woods and serving perfect Walleye. My life is really chock full of good things…I am usually grateful…occasionally I forget. I think the cold is gone except for lingering laryngitis but no one seems to mind that I can’t talk.
PICTURES: Family Trees and Branches: A Photo Essay: In the last years I have come to know a whole new Norwegian family. Next week cousin Vivian and I will meet almost unknown cousins in Montana. In the meantime Teresa and I have had delightful times and visits with Minnesota family and friends. The following photos were taken at a clan gathering in Roseau, Minnesota at Cousin Audrey’s 80th birthday party. The cast of characters include Audrey’s three living children (Terri, Linda, David) and Randy’s family; more than a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren and some relatives from the Hahn (Audrey’s husband) side.
Audrey’s and my grandparents, Torgus and Asborg Neset, came to America with Sven (my dad), Ellen, Ilif, and Gyro; Ellen and a newborn would die here, and Helen, Audrey’s mother would be born. They came to Minnesota like so many Norwegians before them but did not necessarily prosper in what had been touted all over Europe as the promised land. In fact none of the children did well financially but the “American Dream” eventually worked as it is supposed to with each generation doing modestly better.
Minnesota: The parking area outside the window is filled with 4-wheelers, pickups, and boats, and trailers covered with tarps as it rained last night.
The pink girlie t-shirt at L & M pictures a curvy ‘babe’ holding a smoking rifle over a dead deer—captioned “I just dropped 50 pounds.”
It is all bright green and rainy gray. Good to stay in, better to be out. The smell is a blend of birch buds, baby balmies, damp decay of fallen tree trunks, earth reborn and rehydrated after its frozen slumber, cold cold water burbling in streams and ponds. It is a smell to draw deeply upon because it is only available in a northern spring.
All around it’s Minnesota-speak. And yes people do say ‘ya betcha,’ and chop off the end of each word rather abruptly…no melting away at word’s end like French.
It is all about the weather up here. And there is weather aplenty. This year it snowed into May. Now it rains and greens and grows; after while all will be all crisp and golden with a scarlet scattering of Canadian maples, rusting tamarack and the ever present spruce green of green spruce. Then snow again. Weather!
The Cemetery and the Old Place: Today Teresa and I went up north to the Forest Hill Cemetery and the old place. Me and the house. Same age. Further destruction on both counts. Doctor, dentist, L’Oreal and coffee keep me from cracking and crumbling at quite the same rate as the old house which—each year—just calmly rots and sinks a little further. No help cosmetically or structurally I’m afraid. I am sad—and not. The house is aging and dying like living things do. Not getting torn down and replaced by a new thing. Just going—slowly and quietly in the wind and wet.
Every year. Cemetery to check in with the folks. Teresa’s first visit to Great and Great Great Grandparents. It is an incredibly beautiful place which lies near a small stagnant swampy creek so its green gorgeousness is somewhat bothered by clouds and swarms and armies of mosquitoes. But we stay for a small visit and then it’s out Highway 71 to the old place.
Here it is. Home. Couldn’t wait to get away. Can’t wait to set foot back on this land every year. What a pleasure to tell Teresa my stories of this place. She says, “It must have been special to grow up here.” Yes actually it was.
The following two photos depict the final stages of the death of stuff. One summer about 20 years ago I lived here and took a cultural appreciation class for my Minnesota teaching license and several literature classes at Bemidji State University. The house had already been empty for awhile so the musty smell of wood rot and dampness pretty much permeated everything. My neighbor and I found some old paint in the garage and painted every wall whatever color was available. Hence the dark green and yellow and pink peels. Looked bad but smelled better. Mom’s old chore jacket has been hanging there in every photo taken in the last 10 years. I hope it will be the last thing to go.
AND NOW FOR THE LAND.
We traveled to Duluth today to walk along the shores of our magnificent Lake Superior and to study historic landmarks such as the Glensheen Mansion. There would be a little shopping and a quick lunch interspersed with these more serious considerations.
Unfortunately things did not work out as planned.
The following photo essay describes our misfortunes.
After stopping briefly at the Miller Hill Mall…well maybe not briefly—more like two hours I suppose—we drove down to the lake for lunch at the highly recommended Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar. We knew immediately that it would be extremely rude to eat and run from such a fine place so we decided to discuss Duluth history over lunch to compensate for our lack of historical research so far. That did not work out well either because we know so little about that topic—Duluth history. So there we were with these unusual and incredibly delicious appetizers and quite lovely wine we had ordered.
We did have a stimulating conversation about the role of food in our lives but then, to make up for our so far frivolous behavior we walked across the street to investigate the history behind what was probably a historic structure across the street. However, at every turn it seems another obstacle to exploring this city’s past had been placed in our path. A vintage clothing boutique named Fig Leaf is inconveniently located right at the entrance. Again, we are visitors here and really want to make a good impression so well…we were pretty much compelled to purchase something.
Oh darn…what a disaster. We are not one bit more enlightened; instead we have less money and more pounds. Bad on us.
I told Teresa that northern Minnesota is a very special place…with an abundance of wild animals. We are off to quite a good start in the five days since we arrived. We want to share the pictures.
Best Friends from Childhood. Back to the Old Place. Then Grand Rapids to our favorite Super 8 so far. Now a week off from the road. Think. Write. Walk. Hang out with Teresa, Rob and Marsh. Shop in Duluth. Go back out to Old Place with a picnic. Sleep. Wash car.
Photo album from day.
Spring out at the ‘Old Place.’