Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I'm back! And I'm the dumbest guy in Grand Marais.

After ten full and relaxing days on Osler/Sleepy Walleye Island, I'm back in civilization and ready to blog. It was a great break.

Still, I did have one of the top bonehead moments in Minnesota history last week. Because Osler/Sleepy Walleye Island is, uh, kind of remote (off the grid-- no electricity, phone, or running water), you need to go into the nearest town once in a while for provisions. That town (a boat ride and 64 mile drive away) is Grand Marais, one of America's most beautiful little towns.

Beautiful, but a little weird. You would think that would let me fit in, but you would be wrong. Grand Marais has its own oddities, and they are different than mine. Plus, after all these years I still haven't figured out the rules there.

My trip into town began with a trip to Johnson's IGA for groceries. Unfortunately, because I love groceries, this took longer than expected and I felt rushed by the time I got to the check-out. Johnson's IGA has special, unspoken rules of behavior-- you use a regular cart in the store, then at the check out they put your bags on a different kind of cart and a sullen teen wheels them out to the car. My mistake was thinking that this second step was optional. I started to throw my bags into the cart I used in the store. One of the sullen teens came up, alarmed, but (because he is Minnesotan) he just said "you know 'dere, uh, hmmm... " and looked down. Not getting the message I brushed him off and said "I've got it" and kept loading the in-store-only cart. Soon I was surrounded by IGA reinforcements, all muttering about "you know... about 'dat cart" and pointing at the cart. Finally, they basically blocked my path-- it was sort of a scene. The woman behind me in line said "Ya, some people are stubborn." Oops.

Next stop-- the laundromat. After the confrontation with the grocery-cart posse, I was really pressed for time. But... laundromats have changed since last time I used one (1989). Not only the dryers but the washers are front-loaders. Confused, I threw my dirty clothes into a dryer and prepared to dump in some detergent. Again, I was surrounded by concerned and strangely polite Minnesotans (including the same woman who was behind me in line at the grocery store). One lady said "So, you just trying to save some time, dere?" in a tone of voice usually used on a tot lot. Oops.

Now really behind, I got done with the laundry and realized that I needed to get ice for the cooler full of provisions. I went back to another store (they probably won't serve me ever again at Johnson's) and got some ice. My task was to break up the ice to dump in the cooler, as I stood behind the car. Now, most people would just drop the bag on the ground to accomplish this, but there was a break in the bag and I didn't want the ice to get dirty. So, instead, I decided to break up the block of ice with a serious of head-butts, strategically directed at the problem areas.

It was just then, as I was banging the bag of ice against my head, that the woman from the grocery store and the laundromat rode by in a bike. She stopped for a minute, looked at me for a moment with almost as much disdain as the furious not-fat Dallas socialite, and rode off. I'll bet that's a story she will tell all through the long, cold winter...

Perhaps all of this could have been avoided if you had earned a terminal degree.
Great to have you back. Glad you're refreshed and all of that. Hope you enjoyed the 2 weeks of summer in Minnesota before they start winterizing everything and missing their snowmobiles.

For those of us freaking out about the start of PC, do you have an estimated time for when the 1st day (preferably 1st week) PR assignment will be posted?
Let me be the first to say welcome back Osler!! I think my haiku skills have gone completely in the crapper over the last two weeks (some would dispute the idea that they could ever get any worse).

By the way - for all you Detroit folks - I'm up in Detroit for the next three days for a deposition. If I only do one fun thing, what should it be? Are there any clubs to go see good/weird live music on a Tuesday or Wednesday night?
If she is still in business, Ortheia's Place on Eight Mile is the best for live music. Steve's Soul Food is to die for as for as great home cooking in Detroit--nothing better. If you have an expense account hit the Lark or Tribute--you will thank me. Also, Miller's Bar and Grill for a Ground Round (Burger) puts Double R to shame. I also thought the Motown Museum which is just a few blocks from Steve's Soul Food is worth going to. As far as cultural entertainment, the ballet in Windsor, Canada is also outstanding. If you ignore the suggestions of a lawyer who represented Ford and lived in Detroit for different periods of time shame on you. By the way, any lawyer worth anything who wanted to cultivate a connection ought to call for lunch at least once since they graduated from law school. At least Mrs. Palvino had the good sense to ask me to perform her wedding. I guess you've been busy. But, I digress . . .
Osler has no terminal degree???! That explains so much. Thanks for alerting us ged3.
Are you sure you didn't rip this off from a Simpsons episode?
I'm pretty sure I saw an episode of "The X Files" which was kind of like this Grand Marais day. Except it was in the South.
Anon 3:38--

I'll have the assignment up by Tuesday-- boy, I have to get my game face on and get back to it!

Which, frankly, is a great thing. I have a fabulous job.
The derth of blogging from you and Swanburg has forced me to actually get off my arse during my two-week job transition. I'm less pathetic, but not necessarily happier.

I'd say "welcome back," but this is your place.
Uhmmmm The Windsor Ballet? That is a REALLLLLLLY old joke....
My family lived in St. Paul for 6 weeks the summer I was 6 years old. We took weekend trips. We stayed at Fenstad's (sp?) Resort north of Little Marais. The sheer size of Lake Superior, coupled with needing to wear a sweatshirt to stay warm in July, was stunning. And, Minnesota had the biggest mosquitos every hatched.

We went back to Fenstad's Resort when I was 10. The first trip had been my parents and the 4 of us (ages 4 to 12) in a 1965 aqua Chevy Impala. The second trip we went in the first "new" car my parents had ever owned. A 1972 Chevy station wagon. With three rows of seats! Which was great until my younger sister got car sick in the very rear seat. Yuck.

My mother is putting her house on the market, and for the last 6 months my sisters and I have been going through 50+ years of memorabilia and I came across a brochures from Fenstad's Resort. I wondered if it was still in existence.

So your post brought back a flood of memories. And, as an aside...that 1965 Chevy Impala? That's what I drove when I turned 16. "Old Blue" "Aqua Velva" what a great car.


Fenstad's is still there! It's a stalwart.
Hooray! It's back!
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