Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

Writer’s Shock

The only writer’s block I ever suffered from was when I was afraid to write. My guide for this was the old maxim: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” In checking for the source of this quote google attributed it to my hero Abraham Lincoln although I also saw that Mark Twain might be a possibility for another attribution. So before I launch into the meat of this post a couple stray thoughts.

1st. In my case I had lousy handwriting which I used to disguise my poor spelling. When I was young I felt that spelling must be the proof of intelligence and as a poor speller I didn’t want to show my shortcomings by writing. What I had yet to learn was that the key, at least for me, to confident writing would be editing, editing, editing. Ironically, I was the “pronouncer” at our regional spelling bees for about fifteen years running.

2nd. Abe Lincoln, now famous for his literary skills, gave the public plenty of literary ammunition to confirm his foolishness. Perhaps, like in my case, this was a result of his extreme self consciousness about what he felt to be his impoverished education.

If anything when I stop writing here in the blog it leads to a build up and bloat of ideas. Its more of a shock than a block. To remove some of the Lincoln-like clutter, (He kept notes in his hat) of paper scraps, I now dash off ideas in my cell phone’s messaging ap. I lost hundreds of these notes when I replaced my phone nine months ago but in my new phone I’ve got several hundred new ones. Some of them may find their way into my future writing.

Over the past two weeks I’ve had about seven ideas for a new Not Eudora column that have made it to my messaging ap. I’ve chosen to write about space today for this week’s Reader. At the end of this post I’ll share the notes I may use in cobbling together today’s column. The deadline was moved up a day for the beginning of the summer run.

If I get it written I still hope to write something about my empty “baby killing” post from a couple days ago. Its no longer just me. Dim but self righteous Republicans are rousing a great sleeping beast with all their recent posturing about saving rape fetuses. Heaven forbid that future Supreme Court justices lose the children that they tried to impregnate their victims with.

Nuff of that:

Here’s the raw ore for today’s column. I hope I can refine it into something thought provoking: NOTE: I’ve made no changes. This is what my hastily written notes look like at 3 in the morning when I roll off my pillow to tap them into my cellphone

Continue reading

Polymet posting delay

I tempt fate whenever I post a title with no content. The question is whether I will care enough about the subject after titling it to fill it out with my thoughts some days afterward. On the preceding Baby killer title I sure do intend to get to it. Getting called a “baby killer” at Republican conventions stiffens one’s spine.

But, I’m biding my time as the Alabama legislature does its best to make sure that the rape fetuses of future Supreme Court nominees are guaranteed the chance to be born. Precious semen. I read one proposed law would outlaw onanism. Let me check that. Yup. Seems to be true.

Today I visit Polymet. As a quicky candidate for Congress last summer I took no stand on copper-nickle mining. The schools took up too much of my time to properly research this issue in the past. But now will be a good time to put more time into the subject. My men’s church group wrangled an invite to tour the Polymet site. I’ll have a few questions.

Lately, I’ve done little with the diary part of this blog. Last friday I healed a major break in my family that I’ve obliquely mentioned in the past. Life is good. Rain didn’t delay our grandson’s Leif Erickson park music gathering yesterday and it looks sunny for my trip to the range today. Life is good…….even for baby killers.

Look what I found!

Checking my blog stat page I discovered that my old Congressional Campaign website from 2012 can still be found. I thought it had disappeared from the Internet. I forgot that I’d once put my URL into a snow sculpture. Its a sculpture I remember being very disappointed in but looking at it now, 7 years later, its not so bad.

And I’d forgotten this race against Democrat Oberstar and former Senator Nolan. I actually got on Almanac North with my rivals that time. I’ve been thinking that running against Pete Stauber in the GOP primary last year was my third “run” for Congress. In fact, it was my fourth although all I did was spend 300 bucks to put my name on the ballot against a Trumplican. If, however, I were to do it one more time I think I’d put a lot more oompf into my campaign. But I may also have a school board race in me too. Helping choose a new Duluth Superintendent offers a powerful temptation. We can do better.

I’ve always described myself as a Don Quixote with my long string of electoral losses. That fourth time I ran and finaly won an election my daughter was asked at my campaign party how she felt. She explained that for once she wouldn’t feel like putting a paper bag on her head at school the next day.

That was in 1995 my 7th attempt at public office. I long ago got over the fear of losing an election. That fear is what has turned so many Republican politicians into zombies flushing Abe Lincoln down Donald Trump’s golden commode. Someone should send them all JFK’s book Profiles in Courage.

I read it in Junior High and it made a powerful impression on me. It reminds me of my take on a The Emperor’s New Clothes which I published in the Reader 17 years ago this month: The King is Naked.

I hope my version doesn’t prove prophetic:

Duolingo and learning lingo at an advanced age

I just spent some time reading a discussion site on my Duolingo ap. One person about my age had expressed frustration with how slow going it was to learn French at 67. She asked if there were other older learners who could give her tips. I just had to add my two cents. For anyone contemplating such an activity this is what I told Dranke (probably not her real name)

Good luck Dranke,

We are the same age and I started from scratch learning French on Duolingo 16 months ago just before my 67th birthday. I’ve had two streaks – 194 days when I quit because I had just begun a month long tour of France. 30 days later I started a 208 and continuing streak. I’ll have more to say after I share this link from yesterday’s New York Times about the limits of online language learning from someone who just passed a 500 day streak:

I don’t know if that will be an active link when I push post but if not just copy it and paste it into your browser.

The story is spot on but more dismissive of learning Duolingo than I am. I am not someone who simply redoes easy lessons to add points or win lingots or worry about owls. Everyday I try to cram new information in my head. I have put close to 2 hours a day memorizing… the article says….the vocabulary and the grammar. Nine months didn’t come close to preparing me for speaking in France. Neither has the subsequent seven months. But I am improving. I have started listening to cartoons in French, Peppa the Pig and Zazou the Zebra. Movies are too hard to follow so far.

I’ve considered similar immersion programs in Quebec. I’ve also considered spending a month in a rural part of France where there will be fewer English speaking residents to hamper my practice. Continue reading

I want to write my own damned book

Having told my whole town about how I was witness to a fizzled out train I’m just popping to speak my mind about a whole lotta stuff. Claudia just ordered a book for us to read and I am a little PO’ed that it covers a lot of what aggravates me – My last 50 years watching the Republican Party pulling train on America. Look it up in the “urban dictionary.” I want to write that book.

The book is called “Fault lines” and I just took a couple of pictures of it but can’t manage to transfer them to the blog on my cell phone. I will attend to this post too, just like the previous one, later on. Probably before I go to bed tonight.

I am going to get my daily French practice in first. OK done. Here’s the book on my lap.

I did read the first seventeen pages to Claudia. It starts just days before our wedding as Jerry Ford was settling in as our new President. Its a good recap even for someone like me who was glued to the television through much of the tumult. It was almost fifty years ago.

Here’s one of the pictures of Jerry Ford who I very much liked and appreciated for pardoning Nixon.

The picture below it shows how he caught a lot of blowback from kids who wanted to see Nixon in prison.

Impeachments in our nation’s history have not been pretty. That’s a small part of why I would prefer to avoid one over Trump. It would only serve to make him a martyr and that is one pedestal I wish to deprive our Sleazebag-in-Chief from clambering up onto.

When I started this post yesterday I had a few other things to say but 24 hours can distract a fellow. For instance today I was sent Bill Maher’s thoughts about how Robert Meuller let America down by not calling for Trump’s impeachment. Here was my reply to that:

I understand but I don’t agree.

Trump is a symptom of 40 years of Republican mismanagement of America, the world and the Earth. If this was 1974 we could do what Bill Maher wants but its 2018.

Mueller, by being back-breakingly fair, has convinced a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents that his report was fair. That is a major accomplishment and something to build upon if we are going to knit the nation back together.

Using Mueller’s work to impeach Trump will deprive America of what we desperately need. To defeat Trump in a fair election.

To do otherwise will likely postpone any healing for a generation.

We all, Republicans, Democrats and Independents have a lot of work ahead of us for the Nation, the world and the Earth. Leaving the air poisoned with payback is a lousy way to start in on this work.

My aplogies to the WLSSD

The Western Lake Superior District is not the garbage and recycling company Waste Management that so disapointed me from January to April. Not surprisingly WLSSD was taken aback when they read an April 12 post complaining about their lousy service.

I got a very concerned email from the water treatment folks today seeking clarification and if possible a correction.

This is the email I just sent them:


I am very sorry. I will make the change to Waste Management. WLSSD is next to it in my cell phone’s directory and I suspect that is why the acronym stuck in my head when I wrote that post.

I hope most of my readers saw my mistake but I will also post a correction for regular readers tonight in today’s posts.

My apologies

I am making the correction NOW. Tomorrow I am hauling last fall’s leaves to their compost site tomorrow! I don’t want to have to go wearing a disguise.

Despite the pictures below all has been resolved to my satisfaction

When I first moved into my house some traffic engineers made an official count of how many cars drove by our home daily. It was about 21,000. That was 32 years ago. It may be double that figure now.

Until this January I had never had any trouble with my trash and recycling pick up by Waste Management. After about six failed pickups I was tired of calling Waste Managements’s call center to complain that no one was picking up my garbage or recycling. I waited a day for the “Bomb Cyclone” blizzard to be over and I put my recycling next to 21st Avenue’s traffic as a little advertising. When I came in from putting it up my sweetie told me that minutes before the local office had called to say they thought our stuff had been picked up yesterday. Its the first time for the past three months we’ve gotten such a call after all our complaining. They were about to send someone to pick it up.

Before they got to our house I brought took the recycling bin away from the Avenue and put it by the alley but I kept the sign on it for the recyclers to see. While I was at it I took out three more bags of recycling to haul off as well.

Not long afterwards a pickup sidled up to retrieve my refuse. I went out to chat with the picker upper. He had already taken my sign off and was tossing the extra sacks into his pickup. He asked me if I was Welty and I said I was. He then introduced himself and I immediately recognized his name as one of my former Proctor students. He’d changed a bit over the previous 45 years. We had a cordial conversation and I told him how nice I’d been to the innocent call centyer folks who had no control over Duluth’s Waste Management management. He told me he’d taken my sign to show to the fellows in his shop. He asked if it had really been that long since my last pickup.

My sign had only been up for about ten minutes so my public protest ended quickly. Tomorrow they are scheduled to pick up my garbage. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

After I came back inside I practiced my part in tomorrow night’s Symphony Chorus. Having seen my recycling hauled off my singing soared. Too bad I’m not one of the soloists.

Joseph and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Tired of Duluth and of winter I happily signed on to hop in my daughter’s car for an overnight jaunt to the Twin Cities with my grandsons. We weren’t fussy and looked for some theater we could take the boys too. They’ve been in some local musicals lately. The Seminary at St. Paul’s St. Thomas was putting on the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical about Joseph.

It was great and the students played themselves as collared student priests studying the Old Testament before they transformed into Joseph’s jealous and murderous older brothers. Never saw so many religious collars at one time.

The following morning before the latest weather bomb was supposed to smash a blizzard into Minnesota we went to the Science Museum. We went to check out a big roaming exhibition on the history of electronic games. We spent a good four hours playing them.

“We’re gonna take care of you.”

I’ve written about waste plastic recently in the Reader. I’ve complained here in the blog about the reportedly mafia owned Waste Management failing to pick up either our garbage or now our recycling. And for about the fifth time since they didn’t pick up last week’s four-week load of recycling. Its supposed to be picked up every two weeks. I’ve been putting in more calls to their call center. Its my third call of the day and it isn’t even 10 AM yet. They are five weeks overdue. And I am invariably polite and ruefully humorous taking to their call service staff who have no control of what’s happening here in Duluth. The supervisor today who answered my third call to tell them that no, the locals didn’t call to schedule a pick up told me not to worry. “We’re gonna take care of you.” Twice.

I can’t help but wonder if China’s decision to refuse further American recyclables a few weeks back, thanks Mr. President, isn’t partly to blame. He tells us private enterprise solves all problems. I’m beginning to have my doubts about that.

Going to bed with Peppa

Last night for the second time I risked my cell phone’s melatonin messing blue light to watch little snatches of the cartoon Peppa the Pig in French. Between the cartoon’s pictures, its elementary vocabulary and my fifteen months of study it almost seems like I could understand the language if I could only squint my brain enough.

A year ago I wrote a column about my intent to learn a second language in the Reader in a column titled “Pardon Mon French.” That was after three months of studying. Now I’ve got a year and three months under my belt…..except for the month of September last year. That’s when I was actually traveling through France and didn’t have time to keep practicing if I wanted to see the countryside. I had nine months of French practice under my belt and I was hopeless.

To my surprise I resumed my study within days of returning and have added another six months of study. I don’t have any expectation of spending a lot of time with French speaking people but that could change if I actually begin to find myself understanding and speaking it. The US State Department lists French as one of the three easiest languages to learn. The State Department says it takes about 480 hours to become conversant.I presume their preferred teaching methods are a lot more intensive than my home study without other speakers to guide me personally. I am probably beyond that level of time spent but comprehension still eludes me. I take heart in the experience of a polyglot who gave a TED talk type presentation before other polyglots. Polyglot = multi-lingual.

This young lady spoke about six languages. Her presentation followed a year of visiting other polyglots and asking them about their method of learning. She found, as I would have expected, that no two multi-lingual speakers study in exactly the same way. I found their stories very hopeful. All were in their twenties when they began throwing themselves into languages. The speaker had a very useful motivational quote. “The best time to learn a language” she explained “is when you are young.” She added, “The second best time is now.”

This speaker claimed to have spent roughly an hour a day learning new languages. She explained that polyglots generally had a little corner with all their teaching/learning tools, books dictionaries, etc that they cuddled up with. Here’s mine: Continue reading

Into my mental Expanse

Up and out of bed for four hours. Until a few moments ago when I took a ten minute break to clear my mind I was busy nonstop with mental activity skimming the News Tribune, the NY Times and other news filters on my cellphone. Twenty of those past minutes were used solving some Time’s puzzlers and fifteen minutes were on my French practice. I still have another half an hour of French practice today to do in order to keep to a half year streak of putting about an hour in daily. Will I ever get to use French if I become fumblingly conversant. Maybe. So am I learning it for vanity, practicality or just to keep my brain cells from slipping into dementia? Don’t know. Probable all three.

That’s what I pondered in my nap while trying to keep my mind clear. That and the dozens of things I’d like to write about now. But I have a Reader column to turn in today and like last week when I missed the deadline I have some rough draft work ready to operate on. But I’m operating at the moment in the “meantime” with some time to kill and ideas to spill. As I fritter away precious minutes I’m listening to the Birmingham Symphony’s recording of the Mendelssohn that I will be singing in two weeks at the DECC with the Symphony Chorus. At last week’s practice a native of Texas from the French bayous caught me working on French. My mind froze up and I got no French out but I was hoping I’d see him again last night but he wasn’t sitting behind me to give my French a spin.

But I’ve learned a couple things about the composer. He taught Queen Victoria piano lessons. That’s added to my enjoyment of the current PBS series on young Queen Victoria. I also learned that he was a polyglot speaking a half dozen languages. He was easily conversant in English which makes his assures that his English lyrics …..“All that has life and Breath”……its playing now…Heavenly…. are not at all stilted.

So with Mendelssohn playing in the background let me mention one of the dozen items I’ve watched with Claudia over the past few weeks. Not Brooklyn 99 which tickles my funny bone and which is proof that racism in the US doesn’t stand a chance in the long run. Instead I’ll mention The Expanse three seasons of which we’ve live-streamed over the past couple weeks. I read a note about its being saved after by two seasons by none other than Mr. Bezos of Amazon fame. He put a good word in for them when it was about to be canceled.

Its about a future Earth at a time when Earthlings are divided into three groups. Those living on Earth. A militarized Mars and everyone else called “Belters.” They have colonized the Asteroid belt and all the other moons beyond Earth of the Solar system. In the first three seasons war is about to break out between all three subdivisions of the Solar System bound Earthlings. The Mormons have commissioned a massive Space ship to be sent to other suns and that project is being constructed in space by the belters. Bezos reportedly fell in love with the series because it works hard to show how the real life environment of space would have to be negotiated by humans. (No bathrooms have shown up yet. Probably just as well. What a distraction they would be)

There was one things that caught my attention. While there are vague hints that the Earth of a few hundred years from now is radically different one Martian warrior who finds herself at the United Nations in New York wants only to see the Earth’s ocean which is so foreign to her having grown up on desiccated Mars. When she escapes her confines and is directed to what is clearly New York’s battery overlooking the Statute of Liberty I had a quick reaction. I’ve been there and in a couple hundred years barring some industrial miracle that little bit of beach will be covered by 20 or more feet of water. I suspect the makers of The Expanse knew this but chose not to ignore this far more likely future. The idea that we will be zipping around the solar system mining its asteroids and moons in a mere two hundred years seems pretty fanciful to me. Will it happen? Oh I fully expect this but I think it would take a lot more time than this although like with Startrek I’m not entirely clear on the dates projected by The Expanse. And I haven’t even mentioned the “proto molecule.”

They had one thing right. The spaceship slated to be flown (is that what you would call it) by the Mormons is expected to take many generations to reach a habitable star beyond the sun. Alpha Centuri is the closest at 4.3 light years. NASA is contemplating sending out a space kite powered by lasers shot at it from Earth which might be able to reach one fifth the speed of light. That would make for a 30 year journey. What it would take to power a spacecraft with a 1,000 people on it at that speed is not yet within the grasp our our engineering. And Alpha Centuri may be the wrong place to send humans let alone a whole colony of them surviving the loneliness of space for generations. In a million years? Sure some new generation of hybridized bionically and computationally augmented humans will quite likely make the journey. At a fifth the speed of light their successors might make it to the far edge of the Milky Way in half a million years – a period of time 50 times as far away in the future as agriculture’s beginnings were in the past.

So for me and the immediate generations following me the question will be whether Earth and Mars or simply China Russia and the USA can avoid turning the Earth into another Venus before this endless future Era of exploration begins. To that end I’ll mention my pleasure at seeing a letter-to-the-editor in the Reader mentioning my last column about plastics. I don’t get a lot of feedback. The letter suggested a book for me about plastic waste. I won’t read it. I haven’t read the Sixth Extinction yet and that just about sums up what Donald Trump inspired politics all but guarantees will come to pass.

I give. Time for French.
I’ll save any proof reading of this for later. Maybe

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.