Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mardi Gras hype...

We arrived safe and sound to our vacation destination and found that the merriment of Mardi Gras has already begun. Until we experienced the madness down here in the Land of Mardi Gras, we had no idea what all the fuss was about. (Christmas City of the North parades and Fourth of July parades are in our frames of reference living in the Northland.) Here's a link (HERE) about the first parade of the season as reported in The Mobile Register to give you an idea of what's to come. Parades, krewes, mud pies, Mardi Gras beads and more... from now until it all ends on Fat Tuesday! A fun column in the Register, written by someone who goes by "The Masked Observer," adds to the hype. Only in the Land of Mardi Gras....

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The land of Mardi Gras....

I've been a bit busy lately with some other writing tasks and just a busy life. And now– here it is–time for me and my wife to travel south on our winter vacation for (we hope) some sunshine and warm weather.

We're heading to the land of Mardi Gras and sandy beaches. The photo on the left was taken last year at the annual Mardi Gras parade on Fat Tuesday near where we stay. The krews on the floats throw beads, moon pies and you name it. So we all "catch" a bead necklace or two and every person gets in the spirit. It's a great tradition that we seem to miss up here in the north.

Hope you'll check the blog later for some of my musings, from the beach.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A short jaunt up the North Shore by way of the digestive system...

By Jim Heffernan
Split Rock Lighthouse
As I lay on the operating table last week waiting for the anesthetic to take effect before the start of an extremely invasive procedure, the woman nurse asked me a few innocent questions about my past life.

Where did I grow up? Duluth. “I’m a native.” What high school did I go to? Denfeld, way back when.

The doctor performing this extremely invasive procedure hadn’t arrived yet in the operating room, so I decided to ask the nurse a few return questions about her past life. She said she was originally from Silver Bay.

Ah, Silver Bay. I know it well. Well, not THAT well, but I know it pretty well, mainly by reputation.

As the anesthetic continued to course its merry way through my vast vascular system, and still no doc on the scene, I told the nurse how when I was in high school the word was that girls up the shore in Two Harbors were really hot to trot, an expression of the day that means everything that it implies.

She told me to be careful because a second nurse in the room, this one a male, was married to a Two Harbors “girl.”

I told them both not to worry. Continuing, I told them that years ago I had a colleague who hailed from Two Harbors and that, discussing things in general, I had shared with him that when I was in high school the word about Two Harbors girls was that they were really hot to trot.

This Two Harbors colleague said he found that strange, because when he was in high school in Two Harbors the word was that Silver Bay girls were really hot to trot.

At that point the doctor came in to conduct this extremely invasive procedure involving the insertion of a long camera doohickey through your entire digestive system by way of an entry point usually employed as the exit for usually solid wastes, but not always.

The doctor’s presence halted my conversation with the nurse (by now nurses) as he started getting down to business. As he did so, the anesthetic, failing to knock me out but – it was fervently hoped – succeeding in deadening my entire digestive tract, I told him about the West Duluth-Two Harbors-Silver Bay hot to trot connections.

He cheerfully said that when he was in high school – he didn’t say where – it was generally believed by the boys that the girls in the next town to the north were similarly hotter to trot than their own girls.

As he got on with this extremely invasive procedure we conjectured that it appeared the farther north you got, the hotter to trot the girls used to be. The doctor wondered aloud what might happen if you got all the way up to Canada. We all laughed.

By then I was wondering how far north he had progressed in my digestive system, which, it turned out later, he had taken a few snapshots of as he moseyed along, just like we might take snapshots of Split Rock lighthouse on our way to Silver Bay and maybe beyond. Tofte? Lutsen? How grand might the girls of Grand Marais be? You wonder.

At the end of this extremely invasive procedure, I was presented with a few of these color snapshots of my innermost innards, which I now have at home, awaiting reproduction in our 2012 Christmas letter along with the grandchildren and the rest of us, especially me. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here's news for Bachmann: America not missing...

By Jim Heffernan

Before Michele Bachmann got to the point in her withdrawal speech in which she said she would “step aside” from her presidential campaign after finishing dead last in the Iowa Republican caucus, she repeated many of the themes she and other GOP hopefuls have been sounding throughout their campaigns:

They keep saying they want to “take back the country.”

I didn’t know the country had gone anywhere.

The United States (“of America,” as the politicians all add in case there was any confusion about which United States they might mean) seems pretty much the same to me as it has for most of my lifetime, a not inconsiderable period of time, it turns out.

Nevertheless, every time I hear Bachmann and Willard “Mitt” Romney and Republican also-rans say they want to take back the country, I wonder what they could possibly mean. I look out the window, and there it still is – the United States (of America) looking pretty much the way it has looked for the last half century-plus that I have been paying attention.

Still, when I hear them say these things about our country, I worry that I have somehow missed the theft of an entire nation and didn’t even notice. I wonder if I had Rip Van Winkled for a few decades and suddenly awakened to find that my country had been taken away.

So I jump in my car and drive around, looking for signs that my country had disappeared, and find that at least one small portion of the country, Duluth, Minnesota, is still there pretty much as I have always known it. There are cosmetic changes, of course, but there it is, a shining city on a hill, as President Reagan might have described it. And atop flagpoles, there they still are, the stars and stripes, forever waving in the wind.

I have a hunch the rest of the country is still out there, too.

So, I wonder what these Republican presidential aspirants and, one assumes, their supporters, mean when they say they want to take back the country. I hate to sound too cynical, but could it be that they mean they merely want to take back the presidency? Could that be it?

If that’s what they mean, they should say so. I sense that many tea-drinking Americans simply don’t accept President Barack Obama as a bona fide president like all of the white, male presidents of the past. Somehow, they can’t see him as as strong a commander in chief of the armed forces as past presidents, especially some of the great White House warriors like Reagan, who spent World War II in uniform on the 20th Century Fox lot in Hollywood making training films, or George W. Bush, our immediate past president, who flew for the Texas National Guard…over Texas, but not Vietnam.

It’s getting hard to find presidential candidates of either political party who have actually served in the armed forces, but Bush fils has probably taken care of that when vets of the wars he started begin to seek political office.

Finally, Michele Bachmann accuses Obama of being a “socialist” because he wants everyone in America (that’d be the United States that has gone somewhere and needs to be taken back) to have access to affordable health care.

That will be quite a change for America – health coverage for everyone, like in Canada and most of “old” Europe. I’d say bring it on, but somebody already said that. In a different context, of course.