Columnists

Sat
23
Apr

Hook and Bullet Club - Minnesota-born star

Sitting in the back seat of a station wagon while we were cruising the streets of Ely in the summer of 1984, a new cassette was flipped in. The music that came out was different and every song was worth a listen.
“Do you know who this is?” asked Joe as he wheeled us down Sheridan Street.
“Nope, who is it?”
“It’s Prince, he’s from Minneapolis.”
“Doesn’t he sing that song about a pocket full of horses - ‘1999?’”
“Yup, same guy, he did “Little Red Corvette” too.”
“Cool.”
For at least one generation, Prince’s music helped define us and made us proud to be Minnesotans. Prince died on Thursday at 57, another music superstar gone far too early.
That cassette tape was played over and over again and we listened to every song. The days of artists putting out albums where every song is worth listening to is now a nearly forgotten art.

Mon
18
Apr

Trout Whisperer - Patience

Patience
Dangerously close, to my way of thinking, sits a fresh paddle, raw of blade, not a trace of wear to the shaft or grip, mind you not quite in the small orange flame. But because he is curing it with balsam resin, I think, or maybe I fear, it will just suddenly burst into flames. So I ask, Could it? Will it?
He says it has happened. “It’s not a serious matter,” he says, “I just douse it, and sometimes the charring, it adds a bit of color. Or if I’m away, it becomes heat to warm me. After all, it’s just wood and my time.”
After all his effort, the calmness he shows me, I think I would go nuts if the blade were to burn up wasting all that time - felling the cedar, waiting for its drying (or in his words), the time seems now, to carve it.

Sun
10
Apr

Hook & Bullet Club reflections

In a week where sadness reigned I looked for a bit of levity if for no other reason than to keep my sanity.
Death steals away so much. Thankfully the love of family is a powerful force in times of loss. But each of us must find our own way, a path we can follow out of the darkness.
So I looked for some semblance of normality for myself. What change in the cards life dealt me did I share with others?

I found it in so many of my friends who shared the loss of a father. From my friend Joe who has lived without his father since just after we finished our college years to Jay whose time of loss is nearly as close as mine.
We’re not alone in the club, I counted Jim, Roger, Mark, Tom, John, Brian, Steve, Paul, Terry, Curly, Earl, Dave, Al...so many I wanted to stop counting.
Each one I talked to offered condolences and more.

Sun
27
Mar

Trout Whisperer - He nails it

He nails it
When nobody is looking, and for no good reason, he will build a bench, a chair, a wood duck house a bluebird nest box, a picnic table, and one time, a set of stairs.
With absolutely no fanfare he will perch a wood style Adirondack chair along a river bank, where he particularly appreciates the view and he thinks others would as well.
He will slap up a nesting box on his drive to work, might be for a wren, a bluebird, lord only knows, and if he is canoeing he may have with him a wood duck house. Then if he spies a tree he thinks looks just right, he just paddles over to shore, points the opening towards the shade, and nails it to a tree, all for free.
Several churches in the local community have his picnic tables; one charter school has six of them. I’d like one myself, lord knows I’ve bugged him about it enough, but he aint in to that. He says you go make your own.

Sun
20
Mar

From the miscellaneous drawer - Each time

I hankered after the post-war Paris, the world of Sylvia Beach.
Of Hemingway and James Joyce and Rue de I’Odeon.

And I was too late.

I yearned to touch upon the jazz world of Bricktop in Rome
and learned that Rome had become a mecca for movie stars and tourists.

I was too late.

In San Francisco I arrived just as the beat generation howled upon the world’s stage
and modern music sounds enticed disconnected listeners to small intimate clubs where the music accumulated in their psyche.
And it seemed I was again too late for that which it had engendered, had birthed as a sound.

The years which followed crumpled up my life, pushing me to the edge of my existence,
working to make me more malleable, more adaptable to everyday living.
But when it was done, when the pummeling was accomplished, it was not enough.

And now, though this is not Paris nor Rome or San Francisco or London, it is where I need to be.

Fri
11
Mar

Hook and Bullet Club - Go outside!

Weekends are usually a time to get outside. This time of year can be a roll of the dice as to what’s available from snowmobiling to standing on the ice, fishing for crappies. With the recent warm spell, a trip to the shack might even be in order.
But my damaged sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing much outside following knee replacement surgery five weeks ago. Last weekend was spent binge watching “House of Cards” on Netflix. A baker’s dozen of one hour episodes over two days.
Sure there’s always work to do and a computer waiting like a puppy with a tennis ball. But all work and no play makes Nick long for a walk in the woods.
I don’t know if the snow is melted out at the shack right now. Usually our south facing exposure means an early melt or a skating rink depending on the amount of rain.

Fri
04
Mar

From the miscellaneous drawer - Friends and readers

The Echo family is not just owners and staff members who have shared these many years together, it is also the over 3,200 Echo subscriber families which equal well over 6,000 readers who have become family members too.
They call or write with their requests, memories and send clippings. Dorothy Shuster reminded me of the “Frigid winter of 1935” when temperatures never got above zero during January and February. “We thought our thermometer had died,” she wrote.
“Russ Albums” asked if we have a photo of the south side of Sheridan in the block where Maid-Rite once was. On Sanborn insurance maps much of the block’s structures are now gone, some replaced.

Sun
28
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club - Waiting for the good times

At three weeks past my knee replacement surgery I’m still waiting for the good times to roll.
My recovery has been hampered by a damaged nerve that has left me without feeling in the bottom of my foot. This has made walking difficult and kept me from recovering as quickly as I had hoped.
All of this is due to developing an allergy to cobalt in the first knee replacement two years ago.
My super awesome physical therapist Liz tells me I’m doing much better in being able to bend my knee than where I was at two years ago. That’s the real good news and I’m happy to hear it.
My doctor tells me the surgery went over two hours and even though they take a break and undo the tourniquet around the leg during the surgery, that’s what likely caused the problem.

Fri
19
Feb

From the miscellaneous drawer - Jobs, politics

When you have a job you love, it doesn’t feel like working. A friend of mine is 71, still working a 40-hour week job in the Chicago area. She’s good at the highly specialized requirements and finds it challenging. If all goes well, she hopes to work a few more years before giving it up.
Of all the jobs she has had, I don’t know if this is her favorite job, but she has grown into the specialty and it fits.
And me? You must know by now that I love my job. Compare this one to my previous ones: Office work in Indiana, camp counselor in Michigan, slinging hash as a waitress in Iowa, clerking in a gift shop for millionaires in California, being a book buyer in Illinois, and the stint as record buyer for an unsavory Chicago group.
What bugs me currently is the unrelentless barrage of political news about electing the US President.

Mon
15
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club - Another knee

The surgery was a success…again. This time my knee replacement is made out of zirconium instead of cobalt so hopefully there won’t be any allergy problems two years down the road.
My thanks to all of the health care folks at St. Luke’s who took care of me during my four day stay in the hospital.
Now my family, specifically my wife Mary, have the full-time duties of helping me recover and get back on my feet.
That’s actually the problem that has cropped up. One of my feet thinks it is still in surgery.
I decided to go with a spinal block instead of general anesthesia and that block has yet to wear off from my ankle down.
This makes walking a tricky proposition. If you’ve ever awoke with a foot asleep and did the electric glide down the hallway, you have an idea of what I’m going through.
Are my toes hot or cold? I don’t know. I’m not really sure if they’re still there to be honest with you.

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