Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

The tortured writer

I might also have titled this “the tortured reader.” (there are a ton of news stories I haven’t yet gotten to today)

Most creative people have a bigger audience than themselves and I am no exception. While I write for myself I can’t help but look over my shoulder whether its making snow sculptures, news or posting on my blog. We are social creatures and we do not operate in a vacuum. We differ in how much we let our audience sway us. Some people pander to the masses. Others confound the masses for a smaller slice of audience. But even this smaller slice may tempt us to pander to their particular interests. At its most isolated a creative person may begin to pander to his/her own peculiarities.

This is a lot of preface to say I check my blog stats almost every day to see what’s cooking. I’ve been a very spotty blogger since a little before 2019 began. Its not my first drier spell but it is a sign that I’m keen to do something more than reach the smallish audience I’ve pontificated before for the past 13 years. My eight loyal readers know I’ve agonized about writing a book for ages. In fact, my first serious foray into writing was self publishing a 200 plus page adventure novel for young readers. It was a great test of my perseverance but a creative disappointment.

Yesterday I attempted unsuccessfully to write a third weekly column for the Duluth Reader. I had a subject I was eager to write about. So eager was I that I went to the Duluth Public Library at noon and spent a couple hours researching old newspapers on microfilm. Rather than print out the stories that caught my eye I simply took a cell phone picture of them. This is the picture that would have graced my column had I finished it.

Finding this was almost a confirmation that God or the fates wanted me to write the column. Here’s the story. Continue reading

Deferring to print

Yesterday I seem to have decided to put more emphasis on print over pixels. I took the “Glaciers?” post and turned it into a Not Eudora column for Duluth’s local tabloid The Reader. I told the Reader I would be trying to write weekly columns for them instead of every other week. I added that if that was too much they could publish the column I sent them the following week when they expected my contribution. I don’t know what they will decide to do with it but my head is full of ideas I’d like to see in print.

I work much harder to tighten up printed materials than most of my blog posts which are frequently short and therefor easier to edit. I haven’t attempted to average them but, other some long reveries of several thousand words, most of my posts are probably closer to letter-to-the-editor length 250 to 400 words. In Reader columns I strive for 800 words although my Sympathy for Ilhan column with its prologue was probably closer to 1,300 words. You could tell from the full version they crammed on a single page the week before last. They had failed to include seven paragraphs in their initial publication. You almost needed a magnifying glass to read it in the full version.

Anyway, the column I’ve just written is titled “Glaciers and Galaxies.” I took it from the local to the cosmic.

I may attempt to write a short blog post daily in the future with a similar intent to expanded for Reader columns or other print projects. I can’t predict if my blog output will stutter. Stay tuned.

Putting the patient thru her pace-making

Claudia and I are almost through two weeks of convalescence. My part is nursemaid. I fleetingly thought of taking a picture of my sweetie in her week of hospitalization but it was a fleeting thought. So many tubes, bruises, medical monitors, rumpled bedding and flimsy hospital gowns. So instead I present a sketch of mine from our patio circa about 2000. The chief difference today is that the book she is reading is on her cellphone.

The surgery to replace her aortic heart valve was a success however there were two disappointments. First, Claudia is an old…..ish, Iowa girl who’s uncle raised pigs on a farm. We were hoping she would get a “pig” valve to celebrate her family’s history. She still shares the farm with her siblings. Sadly, it is a bovine valve. Secondly, the original valve was so cluttered with calcium that in removing it nature’s electrical wiring had to be replaqced with the insertion of a pacemaker.

We will both have to return to the year 2000 when we first became empty-nesters and took up oenology. (the study of wine) Her beta blocker will make further consumption of this noble spirit rare indeed. I will visit the considerable wine cave in the basement only rarely no longer get regular reminders of my former school board colleagues whose picture stares up from the 4×8 election plywood billboard I designed for one of her campaigns. I needed it to rest wine racks on.

I’ve done little writing for the last month with this preoccupying my thoughts. The medical treatment NOT the dearth of alcohol to follow. But I have done a lot of reading and thinking. I’m not alone. NPR had a story today about geriatrics on their last legs pining to see the Mueller Report released before they visit St. Peter.

Today I might try to crank out a column for the Reader. I almost feel like weekly columns are pent up inside my head clamoring for escape instead of the mere every-other-week column I’ve been producing to date. I’m thinking about shifting more of my words to print than to the blog. I’m still undecided about this. I have to fuss a lot harder when something is going to print.

But. I am about to write a blog entry with a subject that has long been on my mind. It will have a little ruder title than I generally attach to my Reader columns. I think my eight loyalists will be able to handle it, civility be damned.

Where did the last two months go?

I just now pulled out my 2019 calendar from its spot next to the computer. I’ve kept them by my side for a quarter century. Until now I’ve been far more likely to enter important dates in them than in my cell phone’s calendar. Apparently that’s changed. This is the first time I’ve looked at the paper calendar since I tucked it away after Blue Cross Blue Shield sent it to me for advertising purposes. There is not a single entry in it and today is the end of February. One sixth of the year is over and I’ve not used it once. I did notice that February is “American Heart Month.” How appropriate. My wife came home yesterday from open heart surgery. The first 24 hours of freedom has been challenging but both the patient and nurse are doing well.

And that’s what I meant for this post to be about given the inactivity of my fingers blogwise. My eight loyal readers deserve to know how things turned out. The hard part is done. Now the long part begins…….probably eight weeks worth of healing.

I haven’t completely given up writing. I still have my bi-weekly Reader Column. I found time the day before I brought Claudia home to crank one out. I’ll link to it in the next post. My limited blogging has not stilled my busy mind. There are a wealth of subjects I’d love to have written about. For instance the fact that Duluth is the home of one of the actors in the hit Fox TV series that Claudia and I just discovered – Brooklyn 99. Its the only story I read in today’s Trib although I gave the NY Times a good work out…… Just as well. Its got a brief mention in my column in today’s Reader.

The helpful distraction of snow

My children are in town to sit beside their Mother in the ICU as she recovers from surgery. I am grateful. It gives me a chance to slip home and feed the cats, run errands and shovel the snow which is poised to break a February record for inches fallen.

As I was doing this today an intrepid young reporter from Fox News who has lived but three weeks in Duluth walked up 21st Avenue (In the street of course as I have for the first year ever completely given up on trying to shovel the sidewalk along the avenue) and asked me if she could interview me about the treacherous traffic on our Avenue. I warned her that I wasn’t your typical random interviewee as a well known local eccentric. She interviewed me nonetheless.

Its silly but I’m happy to have something to share with my eight loyal readers:

Serious Family News

To my Eight loyal readers,

I have had something on my mind for several weeks which helps explain the paucity of my posts. An inquiry from my Father’s Aunt Nancy a couple minutes ago merited a reply. In fact, after finishing it I decided it was as good a way as any to bring my readers up to speed on the personal side of my life.

As an aside. I came home from my rehearsal with the Duluth Symphony Chorus tonight and found Claudia listening to a CNN New Hampshire Town Hall for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. We were both very impressed.

Now to Aunt Nancy’s email

Hi, Harry

Reports are the you have had huge snowfalls this winter.  Are you still creating wonderful sculptures.

And, is there a sight where I can view? All is well here — just huge amounts to rain and more on the way.


And here is a lot more reply than Aunt Nancy probably expected:

Nancy, Happy New Year. 

February has been very generous. Around 30 inches. But I got my sculpting in earlier. Just after the new year a big baby ended up on my lawn. He had cheeto colored skin. Someone knocked his head off so I made a replacement sculpture. 

Check this news story out for – – the first sculpture then this news story about its replacement.

The last couple weeks I have been more focused on Claudia. To our surprise she Learned she needed an aortic heart valve replacement. The surgery is tomorrow morning. We will check into the hospital at 5:30 AM.

Claudia’s health is stellar and the operation while dramatic has become routine. We are optimistic she will come through like a trooper. I will keep you posted.

Ilhan Omar, Stauber email, and using french while shoveling snow.

Waking up at 3 this morning wasn’t so bad today because I hit the sack at 10 after an hour of practicing French. After my return from France last October I wanted to keep working on it because nine months of study didn’t come close to giving me the gift of French for our trip through France. I was disappointed but not surprised. I’d listened to a polyglot (multi-lingualist) online and she said it took her about two years of hour-a-day study before she could become a conversationalist in a new language. I had vague but serious plans to spend a couple weeks in France this summer (after that second year of study) in some corner where no one spoke English. Medical issues have derailed those plans. Maybe in 2020. Meantime I keep up my “entraine toi” (practice).

Had I set practice aside I’d have had an hour a day to blog. Goodness knows bloggable features have continued to pour over my head like Niagara. Ironically, I have engaged in some lengthy Facebook debates over the past two weeks. If it was easier to take the debate out of Facebook and post them I’d be strongly tempted to do so. I enjoy the back and fourth. And I’m more persuaded that America has lost the habit of give and take. We all see the splinters in other people’s eyes.

I didn’t rush to the computer to blog this morning. I got up and shoveled out of yesterday’s snowfall. That took an hour and a half. I have to leave in an hour for our church men’s group. I’ll lead the singing today as we hear Duluth’s former Mayor Don Ness talk to us about his new work for the Ordean Foundation. Ah, but since I finished my show shoveling a snow plow has just put a huge pile of snow in front of my driveway. When I stop blogging I’ll go and shovel myself out again.

Yesterday I did turn in a column for the Duluth Reader. Its titled something like My sympathy to Ilhan. Its not really about Congressman Ilhan Omar, however her recent stint as a punching bag prompted me to resubmit a column I offered the Reader three years ago. The Duluth News Tribune joined the dogpile in today’s paper. I wish they were as high and mighty where President Trump is concerned.

I also smiled to myself reading about the St. Louis County Board following the Duluth School Board’s example and forking over money to atone for their foot dragging turning over Pete Stauber’s business email. They were as anticipated innocuous. They were also public property.

Women’s Vitiamins

The good life has hit a pot hole which I am not inclined to BS about at the moment. There will be time for that later but know I woke up today momentarily inclined to once again ratchet up my game. If all goes well I will be facing two or three months of stay at home 24 hour fussing. Please God let all go well and forgive me my agnosticism if that’s an impediment and By God! if it is that’s both our problem.


I decided it was time start in on my office reorganization. I was thinking of all the things I wanted to write……largely books instead of blog posts……and how I really needed to make my stuff accessible and get it off my floor. Clutter keeps me out of the office. I’ve become allergic to it in my dotage as it only adds to my confusion.

But, as you can clearly read, I’ve stopped to pontificate on the blog so here’s what I have to get off my chest to proceed to the organizing. Write a letter to a friend, get blogging out of my system for the rest of the day and clean up my room. Before that began I crawled out of my bed at 4. Spent an hour denying my morning cat food until I had folded the sheets from last night’s laundry, put the clean dishes away, pulled my Duluth Trib out of the back door and quickly peruse it and take my woman’s vitamin. First digression.

I got my dalmatian done on Thursday – my 101st blood donation. (See 100 pints.) For years I was given a pass after a pin prick to my middle fingers to test my hemoglobin. Had I not had sufficient iron in my blood I would not have been permitted to donate that day. A year ago they raised the requirement from a 12 something, which I always had managed, to a 13 something. Suddenly I was barely making it. One month I didn’t make it but a nurse suggested I squeeze my fingers to get fresher more ironic blood to my finger tips. That worked. But the next time I came in I wasn’t given the option. I had to turn around and go home. I made it up later after eating hamburgers…..not that this is what helped.

My wife suggested vitamins and went out to buy some for me. The only bottles that had iron in them were women’s viatimins…….for that time of the month. Well a blood donation comes every other month for me but those viatimins have done the job. Last month I was at 14 something and on Thursday I was at 15 something.

So, I looked at the Newspaper, briefly I think I mentioned and putting my new my improved work ethic at risk I decided to look at the funnies in the back. Well, I’m glad I did. I’m always pleased when I see two unrelated commics coincidentally cover the same idea on the same day. I clipped these two out and taped them to my wall. Fortuitously, they both reinforced my newly found dedication. I taped them to my office door.

Its been two hours since I woke up and I haven’t yet attacked the floor. I did however get this written do the chores previously mentioned and am trying to bat some neglected work out of the way… doing it. Just before I began this I decided to act on the threat of losing my longest functioning formerly free photo sharing ap Flickr. For a month they had been sending me a warning that I was way over the 1000 picture limit. Unless I finally joined as a dues payer they would start deleting my uploaded photos. Gosh, I started relying on Flicker in 2006 when I first started the blog. I lost forty or fifty pictures of Denmark when my computer crashed years ago but I had uploaded a dozen of them to Flickr. I then used Flickr to post them on my blog for some color. They are still there. But. My pictures on these old posts will disappear if Flickr deletes them……so with that gun to my head I’ve started paying up.

Well, that gets blogging out of my system for the day. On to that letter and on to my clean up.

Bonhoeffer vs Hitler and and the attack on my nemesis

For the last two months I’ve been avoiding the last great organization of my house – the higgledy-pigaledy files I’ve successfully brought together up in my three year-old-office. Two months ago I was about to attack them when I let myself be distracted by, of all things, stamp collecting. I left roughly one third of my office floor with stacks of yet to be filed stuff.

I’ve been waiting for something to kick me into gear again. I cranked up the heat an hour ago, and its pouring out furiously with the zero temps outside the roof above. But I got distracted again. This time it was by the gift my daughter got me for Christmas. I’d let everyone know I wanted a copy of the book below on the right. Its called “The Faithful Spy.”

Next to it is a book I randomly found as a remainder. Its chock full of historical cartoons of Adolph Hitler’s rise and fall. Recent events call this man to my mind. I’ve been nibbling at it for a couple months.

I parked myself and began reading the book about the attempted assassin who Hitler would later execute for trying to topple him from power. I haven’t read a book since I finished one on Napoleon right after getting back from my trip to France in October. I think I need to read a good book on a sobering subject to light a fire under myself. After that and after the office clean up I’ll have run out of good excuses not to start writing my own book.

Facebook Debating

What prompted my upcoming Reader column is a recent spate of Facebook debating I’ve found myself taking part in. On the one hand it got me typing up my thoughts rather than waking up to them in nightmares. For instance, after cranking out 1100 words for the Reader last night I slept seven solid hours. That’s rare for me.

Among the debates have been one with a friend of a half second cousin who dearly loves folks who hate the President she voted for. After corresponding with her extensively I asked if she would mind if I posted part of our conversations without mentioning her name. She demurred. Still, it was good to have someone take over for my now deceased “Buddy” with whom I can no longer fuss.

Then there have been old-time DFLers and newbie Bernie worshipers and Women’s Marcher types arguing over the recent DFL endorsement and primary election going on to Duluth’s south. I sympathize with both sides in a fight that is not mine. But I worry it is a sign that Democrats will go into the election of 2020 divided against each other. I saw what happened last time and tried to remind the DFLer’s of this.

Then an old college buddy began sending out posters of villains who are crossing our borders. He was joined by his Obama hating friends who who are mad at Tump haters. I couldn’t resist tossing in a dollar’s worth of two cent replies. However, all these debates remind me that a society devoted to argument rather than solutions, mutually if reluctantly agreed upon, is heading up merde creek without a paddle.

Its too much work to copy the back and forth down although I’m pleased with my ripostes. I will give you the background of one of many discussions to set up the one reply I sent out.

The Background.

My old college chum was going on about the mass leaker Edward Snowden who skipped town and settled in Russia. He mentioned a former secret service agent who had guarded both George W Bush and Obama and has been busy pedaling the allegation that Obama chased him away because he had dirt on Obama. This fellow Daniel Boingo Boingo quit the Service to run for the US Senate while imitating Rush Limbaugh as a radio talk show host. Conspiracy buffs can make lots of money this way kinda like get-rich TV Preachers. Boingo’s also been on Fox’s Hannity and Info Wars. My old friend wrote something about Obama laundering millions of dollars through Switzerland to help terrorists in Iran or something like that. I guess Snowden had made this all public and Obama wanted to shut him up. It sounded vaguely familiar and not unlike the Info Wars’ hooey that prompted a young man from one of the Carolina’s to shoot up a Washington DC Pizza Joint said to have been protecting Hillary Clinton’s pedophile friends.

Anywhoo: After explaining I wasn’t a “Deep State kind of guy” I sent this final riposte:

OK. I Googled Snowden. This comes from WAPO so you can be assured it isn’t as trustworthy as Info Wars. Still, you must take into account that deluded people like me invest a great deal of faith in the rag that exposed Nixon’s treachery.

I really have to ration my Facebook debate time. I could spend the next thirty years in a very Deep State rabbit hole.


This was at 7AM this morning. It may get colder here in Duluth in the next two days. A news story this morning compared it to a temperature of 1 degree above zero which one of the rovers on Mars recently registered. I peaked out of my blinds early this morning and it looked like good old Mars was aligned with both Venus and a crescent Moon above our eastern horizon and our frozen Great Lake. Its only a few minutes by light speed beyond Earth. Well Mars may be sunbathing at perigee and all but you still couldn’t breath the air there. It barely has any. Closer to home in Antarctica I heard it was 18 degrees above zero at one of our Scientific outposts. That’s tropical. Fly me down and I’ll whip up some pina coladas.

Je ne suis si desole pas

If my French is correct the title says I’m not so sorry. That makes this a non apology for leading my eight loyal readers along about the week-old post promising a couple stories about Minnesota politics and the mafia.

First I rediscovered that one of the ties was probably wrong involving Duluth’s most famous millionaire and then I lost interest as other things filled up my plate. The later example was about another Minnesota millionaire who used to hobnob with the mafia in Las Vegas till they cut off his hand. The jail house rumor was that after he failed to pay the mob back it was that or the life of his daughter. I wonder if the President would have been so noble?

It was an anecdote I planned to at least footnote in this book I never got around to writing.

I’ll post something else soon.

Goodness Gracious! Harry is blogging today

A view from my car just before turning into my driveway this morning after dropping my grandsons off at school. This is first day Lake Superior has iced over this Winter after a recent blast of cold.

Two nights ago I reverted to my sleepless self for four wakeful hours for the first time in four nights. I even enjoyed solving the worlds problems for a change despite my annoyance that I was failing in my efforts to get eight hours sleep. This morning I woke up after six solid hours of slumber. As this is a Harry’s Diary entry I explain this minutia in case some future me is interested in my state of mind during this national crisis over our Mafia President. I explained a new serenity in my second to last Not Eudora column about the New Year’s Baby losing his cheeto-colored head.

And today’s news indicated to me that I’ve been right all along that even Trump’s supporters are beginning to see through him. People are not completely stupid and oblivious to the obvious even when it annoys them.

Two nights ago I got one of the best compliments in ages from a fellow who has gotten a mention or two in this blog several years ago. It was during one of my previous run ins with the law. As I passed out cookies for my grandson’s recent birthday he told me he was very glad that Not Eudora was back. I was floored. I know. This is a little opaque. Too bad for you dear loyal readers but it made my day.

Making my day is a lovely thing. I am running out of organizing in the rest of my life which leaves me with little to organize but some month old piles of documents on my office floor. I left them where they were when I decided, eccentrically, to organized my stamp collections a quarter century after leaving them unattended. I also have a jigsaw puzzle I am finishing alone seven or eight weeks after setting it out for the holidays. Its three quarters done. I mostly neglected it because I’ve been attending to more pressing concerns but, doggone it, as long as I keep putting off writing the third and fourth chapters of a book I’ve been teasing out of myself I’ll be able to finish it and get it out of my system. Heck, I’ve done two snow sculptures since New Years. One of them earned a compliment yesterday that I also enjoyed.

In the evening I went to our church’s every other Wednesday family night. Our pasture had called the Coast Guard and offered to let furloughed Coast Guard families come and have a dinner with us at no charge. She was taken aback when told that there were 200 employees in Duluth affected. We weren’t really in a position on such short notice to help quite that many folks. In the end about 8 families dropped by and joined us. One of the Guardsman recognized me from my recent appearances on the News and asked if I was the fellow who did the snow sculptures. He really enjoyed the one about the President/New Year’s baby. So did his wife. I guess missing a couple pay checks has not left this loyal American with much sympathy for his/our Commander in Chief.

My four hours of rumination last night left me with a number of things to post about later today. Because I’ve not blogged much my head needs a good emptying. I still keep putting more on my plate. I have yet to finish my application to substitute teach in the Duluth Schools but I’ve sent an inquiry about try outs for the Duluth Symphony Chorus. Its been a few years since I was a member but despite threats of running for the School Board I find myself with more time to rejoin it……if they are that desperate for a baritone.

My French lessons are chugging right along. I have a new 90 day streak of practicing. I would love to follow up my September trip with a week or two surrounded by non English speaking French speakers. A trip allowing that might be in the works.

But first more thoughts on the Mafia (which BTW are known to have deep tentacles in the garbage hauling business.)

And after snapping a picture of our iced over lake I stopped to take this picture of our garbage container which has missed two Friday pick ups. As I was contemplating this shot a neighbor backed her car up to ask me if I was having problems with Waste Management. Oh yes, I told her, I’ve missed two pick-ups and had called their hotline to report our growing debris six times. Each time I was assured they were going to do a quick pick up. That, more than a glitch in pick ups is what irritates me. I can imagine how a new driver perhaps missed us once or even twice. But to have their hot line folks tell me that they were going to fix things time after time and let me down is hard to take. If they miss my garbage a third Friday I might just paint a half dozen signs and post them in my front yard pointing out how they have left me with crow enticing sacks of garbage in my driveway.

Like the mafia I know how to break bones. BTW our recycling has been picked up regularly.

In the DNT and good bye to Baby New Year

I still subscribe to the DNT because I would miss things if I relied solely on checking it on my cell phone. And despite my sometimes contentious, if not acrimonious, fuss fests with its editors I regard my ongoing subscription to the paper copy as a civic duty. I want a local paper of some consequence however diminished it may be from the golden age of broadsheets.

I learned two things. Why it was that St. Louis County Sheriff Litman was shepherding former Vice President Mondale around. And I learned what happened to the fellow I began referring to as “my buddy” for long years in Lincolndemocrat. My oldest readers may recall those occasional email exchanges I put on the blog. (“My Buddy” shows up in 245 posts in my search function)

“My Buddy” was Vic Ulmer a longtime attorney for the City of Duluth. I first met him forty years ago when my wife briefly worked for the Personnel Office under Personnel Director John Muldoon.
Vic stopped replying to my blog posts about two years ago. This was the last time I posted one of our email exchanges. Vic died last February apparently after moving back to his old home state of South Dakota. That’s when he died. last February. In the early days of the blog I would simply call him Vic until it occurred to me that readers might be able to deduce who he was from some of his writings. He was single and died apparently unlamented until he was remembered in another DNT story about local attorneys honoring attorneys who had pass on the great courtroom behind the Pearly Gates this year.

Our latter emails began growing contentious and I would stop replying to his until we simmered down. If there’s a heaven Vic, I hope you don’t let it put too much of a damper on your ornery opinions.

At ten last night I dismantled the New Year’s Baby and tried to hide its gaudy painted snow. I took a reserve of sticky snow and until midnight molded it in the rough shape of a more sober sculpture meant to take its place. I slept well till 8AM. Now that I’ve got a couple things off of my chest its time for me to see if I can find that sculpture in my pile before it turns too cold.

On shoveling snow

I’ve just returned home from lunch at Duluth’s charming Italian restaurant Valentini’s where for an hour over an “Iron Range Porketta” Sandwich I was able to postpone shoveling the heart attack inducing snow covering my home’s driveway. On the way out after lunch I found a car parked in front of the stairway from which an elderly but distinguished gentleman had just exited. A peripheral glance showed St. Louis County Sheriff acting as his chauffeur. “Senator” I began expressing my delight at seeing Walter Mondale.

“We may have to drive the Vice President by your house,” the Sheriff corrected me in the most complimentary way my having acknowledged only the second highest office attained by Mr. Mondale. He added this after I quickly proffered my hand to the Vice President for a friendly hand shake.

The Vice President joined in a quick three way 45 second conversation as Littman told him I had a sculpture of the President in my yard and then explaining that it was a little worse for wear. The Vice President asked in some seriousness if the President would approve of it and I said I didn’t think so but that there was no accounting for Trump’s taste.

On my way home I decided I was in no hurry to change out the sculpture although I had already piled up snow to do just that. Baby New Year’s is still visible but imprissoned on either side by a vice of clean white snow. Just in cast the Vice President does take a detour past my house I don’t want to deny him the sight of the cheeto in my front yard.

BTW – This is the third time I’ve shaken the hand of an American Vice President. Spiro Agnew was the first followed by George H W Bush (prior to his election)

I came home and shoveled….slowly. This is heart attack snow. Just a week ago a wonderful fellow my age died shoveling and he was a fellow who had climbed Mt. Matterhorn and he was still slender and fit. The eight inches of snow that fell overnight ended up at our house as two inches of slush. Shoveling such snow is like shoveling lead and it is one of the most common stimuli to spark a heart attack. I’ve paid close attention to this because I shovel vast quantities of snow for my sculptures and I’ve always planned to live to be 100.

I have three policies while shoveling that I pretty strictly adhere to 1. Shovel like I’m in a marathon not a dash. 2. Pause when winded. 3. Never hold my breath when I’m lifting and tossing a shovel full of snow. Holding your breath puts a much greater pressure on a heart. I always in or exhale while lifting a load.

Its almost two and I’m still in marathon mode. I have twenty or thirty years worth of plans that I don’t want to be short circuited. Here’s what I just sent a reluctant Trump supporter by email today by way of apology for not replying to an email of hers to me:


You have a compelling story especially where loyalty to those you disagree with is concerned.

If you will grant me a pardon I have a couple time consuming activities ahead of me. We got 8 inches of freezing slush for me to shovel last night. I promised to repair a punky shower wall for my daughter. I have a column to write for a local tabloid and I want to replace the New Years Baby statue to something less alarming.

I haven’t had much use for debate since high school. I prefer conversations. I think we could have a good one. I’ll get back to you in a day or so.

All the best.


This doesn’t even include the hour of French I continue to put in daily. Now for that shower wall.

Not so fast Harry!

Before I break into some self defensive confession I must first say I’m delighted by my Baby New Year’s (aka Donald Trump) losing his head. Renee Passal from WDIO joined the Trib’s Brady Slater in giving giving my front yard and its headless snow sculpture some attention and since I’m no shrinking violet I didn’t mind the attention one bit.

Best of all, I was given a very sympathetic treatment by FOX News’s Nikki Davidson. She popped by with a sprained ankle and gamely clambered around my dangerously slippery, snow covered slope with camera and tripod in hand.

I chatted her up as I sawed Baby New Year’s head into manageable pieces and she took plenty of footage to edit down into a story for her station’s 9 PM News broadcast. Its a nice little story and I was charmed by News Anchor Dan Hanger’s banter with Nikki after the segment aired. Here’s the clip:

President Trump New Year’s Sculpture Decapitated

Admission to follow: Continue reading

The surgery has not gone well

I attempted an untested surgical procedure in order to return the New Year’s Baby’s dismembered head to its rightful place. Present to record, for posterity, this unusual procedure was crack Fox 21 News reporter Nicky Davidson. I hope she offers her viewers a warning that they look away during any airing if they were squeamish .

The procedure was a double crainiotomy in order to relieve pressure on the surgeon’s back. First the jaw was cleanly sawed off and replaced on the severed neck with freshly warmed surgical snow. There was some failure at the jawline but enough glue left over for the placement of the middle piece of skull including a recently deviated nasal septum. The scalp will have to wait until tomorrow after more fresh surgical snow is melted to a snowball consistency.

I chatted through the procedure with Nicky and observed that if I had discovered the miscreants who pushed the New Year’s Baby’s head off while living in a good Republican, “Stand your ground,” state and properly armed, I could have gotten away with plugging them for their trespass and damage to property.

This is the current state of the New Year’s Baby while it awaits a final operation followed by some cosmetic repair. It reminds me of the characters on the Simpson’s Itchy and Stratchy Show.

Winter busywork

The absence of blog posts doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to pontificate about……But perhaps silence really is golden.

In that case here are a couple pictures. They may be worth a thousand words. Or maybe they’re not.

First, above. One of our two cats in the midst of our Dickens’ Village.

And below, a picture of our winter kissed St. Scholastica on the day after a foot of new snow:

I have a new column to write for the Reader with a deadline pushed ahead two days.

I’m also piling up snow for a new sculpture. It is forecast to be 30 degrees tomorrow and Sunday which will give me pleasant working conditions. I’ll just have to cook some snow.

And I’m trying to be a decent host to our holiday guests. Its good busywork.

Thank you Ben Franklin

I was surprised in Bruges, France this September when just past the city’s great cathedral I found a philatelie shop. That’s philately in English and its stamp collecting. I had no idea if stamps were still being collected let alone in France. My collection began with my Dad’s Uncle Ben. When I was in grade school his wife Aunt Mary passed her deceased husband’s collection on to me. My Dad threw himself into helping me expand his Uncle’s collection. We began buying stamps on approval which meant they were sent to me for me to pick through and return those I was not interested in. Those I bought were put on hinges and into my new Regent Stamp Albums. Continue reading