I am back from one of my periodic writing breaks. My last column was in the June 3 edition, and now it is three months later. Time does fly and in many ways I feel like I just completed summer …
I am back from one of my periodic writing breaks. My last column was in the June 3 edition, and now it is three months later. Time does fly and in many ways I feel like I just completed summer school, finishing one task after another and learning new lessons along the way.
In early June, I was scheduled to fly down to Kansas City to spend time with my brother, his wife and family. I had saved up a nice wad of cash to spend on frivolous wonderful things if I chose to. A reservation was in place to take the shuttle from Duluth to the Minneapolis airport. My son and his girlfriend planned to drive me to Duluth, but a few days before departure my brother called and said that he had COVID, so we had to cancel my trip. It was a disappointment, but I decided to go to Duluth anyhow with the kids and stay overnight at the Radisson with dinner and all the trimmings of a mini-vacay. There was lots of dining out, a bit of shopping, plenty of laughs, time on the beach at Park Point and by the time we headed home the next day the wad of money I had saved was pretty much shot. The lesson learned is …”spending is quick; earning is slow.” It was equally enjoyable spending it on family fun rather than only on myself. It all turned out different than planned but going with the flow in life is a good lesson to learn, too. My brother thankfully eased through his bout with COVID, and my trip was rescheduled for the fall.
In mid-June, I once again took part in LVCC’s annual Mid-Summer dinner and show. The theme this year was “A Musical Evening In Norway.” The auction, guest speakers and formal dinner all took place at the Tower Civic Center, then guests walked across the highway to the new LVCC building for the entertainment portion. Singers from the Iron Range, Twin Cities and California performed a variety of wonderful selections under the direction of Jan Kimes of Minneapolis, who is also an LVCC Board Member. The warmly-lit wood interior, open beam ceiling, and happy guests brought the old building to life. It was a magical evening! Show highlights included Steve Solkela, Hardanger Fiddlers, Linda Bajan and yours truly. After the choir finished a song...I tossed on a hat loaded with fishing tackle, stood up from my choir chair pretending to be a Norwegian, and told an Ole and Lena joke. I haven’t forgot how to be an actress....not yet. The lesson is....JUST DO IT…get up, assume you’re funny....then go sit down and get on with the show.
Getting on with the show of life is important, too. When a person moves to a new town like I did in 2017, and then becomes a divorced empty-nester, having pets is more important. My family of three cats, known as a clowder, a clutter, a glaring or a pounce, proves I am not a “Crazy Cat Lady.” I am instead a Clowder Queen, a Clutter Boss, a Glaring Administrator or a Pounce Parent. These are titles to be taken seriously but stepping outside of my family-feline organization and making new friends has taken initiative, courage and patience. New and worthwhile things don’t often come easy. That is a lesson to be sure. I have met so many wonderful, talented, kind people since I moved to Soudan in 2017.
In July, I continued to stain my deck...having started in May (and am still not finished). It is a tedious job involving thick gray stain that needs to be applied with a brush. Then I am doing the rail spindles in white. Painting and staining makes joints stiff, ruins clothes, and frustrates cats who get tired of having to watch from the window. No new lessons have been learned from this.
In mid-August, I woke up with a little sore throat, two sniffles and a mild headache. “Unusual symptoms,” I thought. I took a COVID test, and it was positive. I was glad it happened right before a weekend so I didn’t have to worry about going to work for a couple of days. My experience with COVID was surprisingly very mild. I did have to mow my lawn, screenprint some shirts, and keep-on-truckin’. I was able to mask and work at the newspaper when others were not present. My COVID was gone within a week. I did start taking low-dose aspirin as an additional measure for help in preventing COVID-related heart attacks or strokes. Paranoia can bestow wise actions. I learned that vaccines do save lives and most likely kept me from more serious consequences.
In mid-September, after COVID, I went out of my comfort zone and went on a date. This “seasonal resident” messaged me one night and caught me so offguard that I couldn’t even return the message for a day or so. I thought, “I’m too old...I feel vulnerable.” My mind raced....“Surely if I did this I would need plenty of liquor to even begin a date!” “What do I want to date for anyhow?” I asked myself. The idea of getting close to somebody again...bringing them up to speed with the gory details of my earthly existence....let alone how I acquired so many surnames, sounds like an exhausting ordeal. Then there’s the whole circus involving the physical part that I know would lead me directly into Seinfield humor and I’d burst out laughing. It’s easier to fly solo! I can drive to the Y-Store for an ice cream cone and eat it with controlled passion in the privacy of my own car as I drive home to Soudan. No risk involved. No prep, no shaving required, nobody shoving my limbs in places only the Flying Wallendas should go. So I thought about this dating gig for a day, then called the dude back...thus ending up at his place one evening after first stopping at a bar for some liquid courage. He had said he planned to cook me a fish dinner. “That was nice,” I thought. We had cocktails, then a bit of the devil’s lettuce and laughed a whole bunch. It was fun. All of a sudden he eased his chair over to me, took my face in his hands and his assertive lips were on mine. I felt the light intrusion of a tongue-on-a-mission, so I eased away but kept up my humor. Soon after, I heard those chair casters approaching across the linoleum again, and with his forearms extended, fingers positioned like two lightbulb changers, he locked on to my “knocks.” I took pause, I was in the middle of a good story. My eyes glanced down to quickly consider if I wanted anyone climbing the “Himalayas” that night. I looked him in the eyes, then eased his arms away like fallen tree limbs across a darkened path after a rainstorm. “Not tonight pal…….base camp for you.” Needless to say, there’s a lesson to be learned. “You don’t have to “put out”... even if it’s Walleye.”
I have not gone on any dates since then and am quite at ease about it. I have male friends including Bill, and I think I prefer it this way. Besides, I’ve been busy co-managing the Vermilion Park Inn in Soudan, with part-owner Tom Burns. Chief-owner, Mary Batinich, led a tour group through Finland, Sweden and Norway. The group of 37 departed on Sept. 4 and returned this past Monday. Overall, the guests at the Inn were great, and things ran smoothly. Many days I would sit in the small laundry room at the Inn, pressing 100-percent cotton sheets and pillowcases on the vintage 1956 IRONRITE brand mangle. The pressing cylinder turned as I steered the sheets through one by one, with the smell of “clean” rising up. Behind me a fan set on low directed cool air in my direction and the busy washing machine and dryer worked their cycles. It’s a therapeutic process to mangle and listen to Audible and nobody’s tongue will come calling. I’m moving through “Revenge.. Meghan, Harry and The War Between The Windsors” by Tom Bower. It’s not one of the classics and the response… “ouch” comes to mind. Not because my hand went into the mangle but because the book is very biased against Meghan Markle. I try not to pass judgement because it’s hearsay. I was not there; it’s not my business; and I did not hear or see anything. Another good lesson.
With September drawing to a close, I have also been immersed in coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death and funeral events for the past 10-plus days. Nobody does pomp and circumstance like the Brits (meaning impressive formal activities)...so many that are centuries old in historical significance. The glorious music, the processions, the military, cathedrals, harpists, costumes, her lone dedicated bagpiper, flowers from her residences, her beloved animals lining the streets, and the many spiritual readings are some examples. Queen Elizabeth lived a solid ninety-six-year life with seventy-three years of it spent in service to her country and the Commonwealth, having ascended the throne at the age of twenty-six. Billions watched her funeral worldwide with millions in the United Kingdom alone paying their respects. London has never seen such a huge event. She was a strong, gracious monarch who remained steadfast in her Christian faith, bestowing much of her wisdom and life-lessons to the many lives she touched. Considering her life and legacy is a great way to wrap up my summer school.
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