Going the other way

I’ve been walking every morning, around the boundaries of the property, down along the river, through the woods and over the hay fields and around the horse pasture. I leave when it’s barely light, so I can’t make out the changing leaves, but I have seen a fat skunk twice in the last month, and deer quite a few times. Lucy the lab chased deer the first time, but then seemed bored with it. She wanted to check out the skunk, but something (possibly my frantic screaming) told her not to.

Yesterday I didn’t feel like walking, so I went clockwise instead of my usual counter-clockwise. Everything was different. So different that at one point I thought I had lost the path. The full moon was still up, and it had rained over night. As it got lighter, I saw drops of water hanging from the leavres and the electric fence. I went home and got my camera and took some pictures. Haven’t seen how they turned out, but maybe I’ll post one later if they’re any good.

Today I’m meeting with some Onamia parents about the referendum. The Onamia district is apparently in dire straits financially. I generally support referenda for schools, but it’s unfortunate that communities have to resort to those measures. It would make a lot more sense for the state to fund all schools adequately and equally, instead of allowing this haves vs. have-nots competition between rich suburbs, poor inner cities and just-getting-by small towns.

It’s cheesy enough

I see that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which already calls itself the cheesiest, is even cheesier. It made me wonder how many times over the years Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has become “even cheesier.”

The question I have is “When will it be cheesy enough!?”

I used to buy my kids generic or organic macaroni and cheese, but they always wanted Kraft because of the weird orange color that occurs nowhere else in nature.

I finally gave in, but it’s embarrassing to admit it because I have lots of friends who give their kids gourmet and healthy foods.

Bank robbery in Garrison today. See the Messenger’s website or next week’s Mess for the story.

Last swim

I live by the Rum River and don’t have air conditioning, so when it gets hot, I usually walk down to the river for a dip. It’s about a 10-minute stroll over the fields and through the woods.

Normally by September 23, it’s too cold to swim, but yesterday was an exception. I was up on the roof washing the dormer windows and got so hot I rode my bike to the river. Lucy the black lab came along.

The water has come up a bit from recent rains, and it was relatively cold, but not too bad, considering the time of year. I once learned that one of the old Ojibwe names for the Rum, Iskode Waboo, means “warm water.” The same word can also mean “fire water” or alcohol, so that might be one reason it was called “Rum River.” The Dakota name was Wahkon, which means Spirit, which can also be translated as alcohol. Then there was the woman who wrote in to the Princeton paper and said her father had named it Rum River because it reminded him of Rum. I don’t believe that story, because the maps have it named Rum River long before that woman’s dad would’ve been alive.

Anyway, it might have been called “Warm River” by the Ojibwe because it’s mostly fed by runoff and not cold-water springs, and since it’s pretty shallow, it warms up fast on hot days.

We also took a drive to see a friend near Cambridge on the weekend, then felt like heading over the Taylor’s Falls to see the fall colors and walk around on the cliffs. The kids found some rocks to climb, and we got ice cream cones that were too big. What ever happened to a single scoop? I asked for a small, and it was about the size of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. No wonder we’re all so fat.


Of course when you finally do a story on the low lake level, it finally starts to rain. Big storms moved through yesterday. Rob’s out now taking pics of a guy’s pontoon boat that blew over.

The Rum River was up at least a foot this morning, but at our place we didn’t get much rain. This morning there were storms on the radar in Milaca and Princeton, but at our place the grass and trees were dry. It was oddly warm this morning — probably 75 degrees at 6 a.m.

Things we’re working on this week:

Bob’s writing about the lake level, which will probably be up a foot by the time the paper comes out next week.

I’m writing about the state leasing mineral rights. Kennecott Mining is looking for copper and nickel in the area. Apparently they’ve done aerial surveys and the general terrain looks interesting to them. I’m sure if it ever gets beyond the exploration stage, it’ll be very controversial, but right now it’s just kind of interesting to think about what lies under the ground, and who owns it.

Rob did a nice first-person feature about grouse hunting with an old friend, and a sweet story about a woman who had 800 foster kids. Diane, who is on vacation this week, has a great one about a woman whose parents drowned on Mille Lacs 57 years ago.


The colors have been breathtaking on the drive up 47 from Ogilvie to Isle, so today I stopped at a few places and took some photographs. I have a pretty basic point-and-shoot Canon, but I’m amazed and what nice pictures it takes. One of these days I’ll upgrade to a digital SLR, but for now I’m doing all right with what I have.

I was trying to take close-ups of different types of leaves, so we can do some kind of photospread showing the different kinds of trees and what colors they take on in the fall. I want to get pictures showing the difference between the maples: sugar, silver, red and mountain.

Today I got pictures of dark red sumacs, reddish-brown red oaks, bright orange-red maples that I think were mountain maples (more spectacular than the basic sugar and silver maples), yellow slippery elm and ash, and ironwoods that just turn brown, but are still pretty. Close to the ground, the Virginia creeper and poison ivy were vibrant red. The aspen haven’t really started turning yet.

I had forgotten how amazing the changing leaves are. Being away for a year made me appreciate it. In New Zealand, most of the native trees don’t lose their leaves, and the few imports that turn in the fall (our spring), aren’t nearly as appealing as our maples and red oaks.

A crazy week, and more to come

This job keeps me hopping. I’m rarely doing the same thing for more than a half hour. Just when I get into editing stories or writing, the phone rings, or a reporter comes in, or Kathy wants me to look at a layout, or I get an email.

I like it. I wouldn’t say I have a short attention span, but I do think I’m most productive when I don’t have time to stop and think.

So last week I was trying to write about foreclosures, and an update on the McGrath City Council, and the Isle City Council meeting, and I missed the Onamia Council meeting because I had the wrong time written down in my notes (strike two with the city of Onamia — after the infamous curve story). And by the end of the week I had done about half of what I had hoped.

Monday, deadline day, rolls around, and it’s a mad scramble to read everything, most things for the second time, since our top proofer, Diane, is on vacation. I didn’t really stop from 8:30 until 6 when we finished the paper. No time for lunch even, or to read the weekend papers, which I like to do so I don’t miss anything we should be covering.

Complaining? Nope. I love the action.

Hope people are enjoying the papers we’re putting out. Viv did a great story on bears last week, and Rob had a couple nice ones on a youth hunt and a Paul Bunyan collection. Diane got an update on what’s happening at the hospital and long term care facility. Good pics, too. Rob got the prize this week for his rodeo coverage, but Viv had some great action shots of the bears, and my daughter Cedar and I took some decent ones of the bike ride we did on Sunday. My little point-and-shoot Canon works pretty well.

Today it’s off to the county board in Milaca. It’s my slow morning. I usually leave the house at 7:45 when Cedar leaves for school, but on Tuesdays I don’t have to be to Milaca until 9, or sometimes 10:30, so I have time to take it easy, read the paper, have a second cup of coffee.

‘Nuff about me.


The Bike Ride Around Mille Lacs (BRAML) is a 15-year tradition in the area. I had never biked it, but this year Cedar and I did the 12-mile ride. It made me think we’ll try the 35-miler next year, and maybe 70 after that.

It was a crystal clear fall day, brisk when we left at 7:30, but after a stop for hot chocolate, Cedar’s hands were warm. We waited near Wahkon and took a few pictures of people biking by. Beautiful ride on the Soo Line trail through fields and woods, nice people volunteering. I’ll definitely do it again.