Shining Your Shoes – My latest Not Eudora Column

Robert Sumner Mars May 21, 1926 – July 10, 2016

It begins:

I’m the odd Republican on a largely Democrat Inspired Facebook page where I’ve been watching the intergenerational tug-o-war between Biden and Bernie supporters and everybody else. There’s nothing new in this. John Kennedy heralded a changing of the guard when he became the second youngest President in 1960 giving the parents of baby boomers their moon shot to remake America. Now in 2019 its the Baby Boomers turn to stand in the way.

I had my own tug-o-war with a representative of JFK’s generation. It came to an end when Bob Mars died in 2016.

Read on.

No more Arbor Vitae

A large part of the hours I’ve spent on my yard involved removing two arbor vitaes which stood sentinal above our back patio for two decades. This shows their replacements two spindly pea bushes from a rank of pea bushes. The spindly ones had grown feeble as other trees overcrowded them. Now they will have a chance to fill out a bit. Cleaning the stones at their base turned out to be the most time consuming part of the work. Once laid on a still existant plastic sheet to discourage weeds I found about an inch of rich soil under and between them which I was eager to wash off so that no new weeds would take root immediately.

My intention with this heavy duty gardening now early in the season is to clear the decks so that I can campaign vigorously for the School Board election. We’re down to annuals now although Claudia is hoping to attract orioles to a new bird feeder she bought. They are in town but I haven’t seen one in about forty years when we set out oranges for them in Western Duluth.

Gardening – minus 101

My lackadaisical view of gardening was cemented in my head forty years ago when I read an article in one of my American Heritage magazines. I recall it showing a fellow pushing an old rotary lawn mower much like the one I acquired when we bought our first home. Yeah, I know. Sounds as ancient as a crystal set.

I’m not sure which era it highlighted. It might have been the 1920’s or the 1950’s but which ever time period it was it described a mania for keeping up one’s lawn that continues even today. Eager for excuses to shirk yard work I think long and hard every time I look at Lake Superior from my sun roof. When I apply fertilizer to my yard I think about phosphates draining into the waters below and something that was once never seen in Superior – algae blooms. As a high school kid in over-fertilized, farm-centric Southern Minnesota I remember swimming in lakes so thick with algae that it looked like you could play Jesus and walk across them. And of course some blooms kill dogs who drink their water like the Red tides that wash up on Gulf Waters.

When my wife was corporate and I was busy running for office every year and everyone knew where we lived because of my snow sculptures she caught grief at work every spring because it looked like dandelions held our front lawn together. Her self consciousness made me self conscious. I began, and continue, to remove them by hand. And the whole lawn is rutted because of my early and spring snow sculpting which leads to my clomping around on thin snow that cuts into the earth below. This year I’ve been trying to clean up the front yard I couldn’t mow because the county was fixing up fourth Street. And global warning may be responsible for a massive infestation of creeping charlie in my front yard. I associate this weed with my childhood in Kansas. I’ve been pulling it out by hand. I’m going crazy cleaning up my strawberry/raspberry patch. I’ve cut my grass to a near balding golf course height and sewn new grass seed. And there’s my back yard too.

In back I removed one arbor vitae damaged by a Globally warmed October and replaced it with a spindly pea shrub from elsewhere in our garden. That took two long days. I have one more such exchange to make (the remaining tree in the picture above). I am doing all of this to free up my summer to campaign for the school board. Only I will be campaigning in my own unique way……by blog and by mail. After 17 campaigns over 40 years I figure that there are only a few thousand houses in Duluth whose doors I have not yet knocked on. I will not be getting plantar fasciitis like I did in 2017. Walking 30,000 steps daily so crippled me that I lost two weeks of door to door week by the end of the campaign.

As for my front yard. Without corporate types teasing her about my dandelions this year Claudia has expressed concern about my picking the dandelions out for my front yard. Now, with all the stories about the environment, she is worried I’m shortchanging bees by taking out one of their best early season sources of food. I’m heartless. I captured a stingless bee a couple days ago and fed it to my grandson’s Venus fly trap. All nature needs nurturing.

Most visited Posts of May

Much of what I post is preliminary, scanty, and off the top of my head. But sometimes I post things that are worthy of more consideration. I’m going to start highlighting not so much what I value but posts which seem to have generated more interest based on increased visits or “page views.”

So here are what I believe to be my most visited posts of May 2019

May 3 – page 6,409 pageviews JESUS AND WASHINGTON, LONE WOLVES VS HERDS

May 14 – 9,794 pageviews I Double Dog Dare You to Call Me a Baby Killer

May 23 – 6,966 pageviews A FAILED TEACHER MAY TAKE ON A TEACHER OF PRINCIPALS

May 27 – 17,874 pageviews A MEMORIAL DAY REMEMBRANCE

NOTE ALSO: That visitors may be more interested in preceding posts. I don’t know what they are looking at for sure and because I sometimes upload entries late at night their visitor numbers are reflected in the next day’s numbers which I may use in lieu of that actual days numbers.

Memorial Day Remembrance

At noon I put up our US flag for Memorial Day. I’m not a fanatic about following the rules or it would have gone up at daybreak. I hope my Grandfather would forgive me. I don’t know if he put up a flag every patriotic occasion or not but there is no doubt he was a patriot. I lived in his shadow as a child. I haven’t read through these five posts to confirm it but it appears I might have told this story on the blog five previous times. When I was little and scraped a knee and came looking for my Mother’s solace she would tell me “Don’t cry Harry. Your Grandfather was shot in war and he didn’t cry.”

BTW – That’s such a tough love piece of advice that as an adult I took great delight in quoting it back to my Mother to embarrass her. And she was embarrassed. I’m chuckling at the remembrance now.

But I’ve only come to more deeply respect my grandfather, George Seanor Robb, as the years have passed. This blog has ample evidence of that and this post is just the latest. I’ve been thinking all through the Trump years that writing a book about him would be a good antidote to the Trump contagion. Damn me for my tardiness. I hope to start writing it after the Fall School Board election. Before that I’m hoping to publish another book.

George Robb used his prestige as a Medal of Honor Winner for good. As a big shot Kansas State Auditor he was asked by his Alma Mater for their advice on whether to admit a Japanese student during the Second World War when all Japanese-Americans in the continental United States were being put in internment camps. Here’s the post about the letter he wrote Park College.

In recent years little Park College has honored my Grandfather by setting up the George S. Robb Center for the Study of the Great War. If you follow that link you will see pictured African American men who served with my Grandfather in the trenches of World War I. Following that war my Grandfather was generous in his praise of his fellow comrades at arms. After the war racist Americans bent over backward to besmirch their reputations as fighting men.

Today the GSR Center is spearheading a long overdue evaluation of warriors who were denied the nation’s thanks for their valor and service.

Mining Minnesota

The Glen Avon Presbyterian Men’s group getting a good look at Polymet Mine’s operations this May.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned here that my church men’s group got a tour of Polymet. I was impressed. Today I discovered that the little people who invested in the new mine have been used and now sold out so that Polymet can sell out to the huge mining investor Glencore. This is the outfit once headed by Marc Rich who Bill Clinton infamously pardoned on the last day of his Presidency.

Here’s what Minnesota Brown (Aaron Brown) wrote about this today: http://minnesotabrown.com/2019/05/polymet-leaves-some-investors-cold.html?unapproved=514092&moderation-hash=802b40e6d75ccff5c4c9222cc0e97bdc#comment-514092

Here was my two cents entered into his talk back section:

Aaron,

Letisha gave my church men’s group a tour of Polymet 2 weeks ago. I was impressed. Lurking in the back of my mind was Glencore. They seem to represent the nexes between profitability and amorality. Letisha told us of her decade working hard to open Polymet and add new mines to the Range. I guess she risks betrayal of that long work as well.

Reply

Fighting Trump Fire with Water


This image, which I understand, was one person’s response to the following Facebook post about a planned vote for Bill Weld in the GOP Presidential primary:

I like all but one of the Democratic presidential contenders.* My favorite is Klobuchar. But since I think she has little shot at winning the nomination, I have just about made up my mind to vote in the Republican primary instead of the Democratic primary next year, and vote for Bill Weld. (*Gabbard is Trump-lite)

I know Weld is extremely unlikely to beat Trump for the Republican nomination (though can you imagine if he did?!) But I think Trump will be wounded in the general election if he comes out of the primary with only, say 75% of the Republican vote. Anything less than that and he would look like a sinking ship, from which rats would begin to flee.

Bill Weld was the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee in 2016, and was formerly the Republican governor of Massachusetts — a blue state. Weld believes in low taxes and deregulation more than do, but he is also a believer in women’s rights and LGBT rights. He understands the threat of climate change.

And this is the way he talks about Trump…

I of course sympathized with both posts but I stuck up for the tactic laid out with this comment:

Re: the ethics of voting in “the other party’s” primary.

The GOP has gerrymandered, vote suppressed, put Kavamaugh not Merrit Garland on the Supreme Court and elevated an amoral, lying, narcissist to the Presidency. The GOP worked hard to make all this possible through the rule (or misrule) of law. Compared to all this, the legal right to vote in the primary of your choice in order to disrupt the other party in its depredations only makes sense.

That’s what I’ll be doing only in my case I will be honoring the memory of Republicans like my father and grandfather…long dead.

The Good Fight

During an hour long phone call with my brother, a significant portion of which was spent hyperventilating about Donald Trump, I recommended that he and my sister-in-law watch the CBS Access (online only) TV series The Good Fight. The first I’d heard of it came from this NYT story about its opening credits. For the past five or six days my wife and I have been watching this fresh, topical and stellar series.

Anyone who detests Trump should watch it. Some very smart writers know how you feel. I’ll only tell you this brief summary. A white woman attorney in a big Chicago Law firm that is beating back some savvy black attorneys representing a black victim of a vicious police attack is about to retire. After she signs her papers resigning from her partnership she discovers that all her savings have been lost by another Bernie Madoff. None of the big Chicago Law firms is willing to throw her a life jacket to continue in the law except for the all-black law firm she had been fighting. That specializes in suing the City of Chicago Police for tens of millions of dollars. Although The Good Fight is not on network television its one of the smartest programs I’ve seen and after a year of losing interest in Colbert and other Late Night Trump critics this fits my bill.

Perry Mason was the top TV lawyer when I was little but the Television Law show that really captured my attention was called the Defenders. It starred E.G. Marshall as the head of a law firm that took the liberal side of a lot of ripped from the Headlines cases. I watched it with my Dad, himself a lawyer, and I got an early eyeful about issues like Miranda Rights. According to this Wikipedia entry the episode on the legal defense of an abortionist was its most controversial episode. This was twelve years before Roe vs. Wade. I don’t recall seeing this particular program. Like The Good Fight the Defenders was well suited for its time in the early 1960’s.

Watching a Season of The Good Fight on Amazon Prime will cost about twenty bucks. As I told my brother that’s 13 shows for the cost of a good bottle of wine.

A failed teacher may take on a teacher of Principals

David Kirby announced recently that he will run for the School Board again to represent the 2nd School Board District. I once represented the 2nd District. I’d like to do it again especially because the next School Board will be choosing a new School Superintendent. David once told me that before he became a doctor he taught school principals how to be principals.
I rediscovered the story below today and thought it would offer an interesting contrast between us. But first:

I have always gotten along well with the reporters who covered the Duluth School Board. So, I was surprised last year when one of them, Tom Wilkowske, wrote something dismissive of me on Facebook related to my candidacy for the Duluth School Board. I suspect he found my handing him a letter that I sent Frank Wanner, the teacher’s union President, a tad inflammatory. It was. At the time the School Board was locked in a war with the Union which was hell bent on to forcing a teacher’s strike. My letter ended up being a banner headline in the Trib the next day. ( (Here’s more on the Union President’s long history of ridiculing the School Board.)

Or maybe Tom was troubled by my nationally publicized use of a voodoo doll to make a grand exit from my school board chairmanship. It could be many other things that soured Tom on me. My support of Edison – my dispute over the Red Plan – my defense of an ornery fellow school board member, Art Johnston. Maybe it was this.

I am coming closer to breaking my wife’s heart by filing yet again for the School Board this Fall. To prepare the voting public I’m sharing the story Mr. Wilkowske wrote about me after I was elected Chair of the Duluth School Board:

PERSISTENCE PERPETUATES BREAKTHROUGH \ NEWLY ELECTED DULUTH SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN HARRY WELTY PROVES SUCCESS CAN FOLLOW FUTILITY

Duluth News Tribune (MN) (Published as Duluth News-Tribune (MN)) – January 25, 1998
· Author/Byline: Tom Wilkowske/News-Tribune staff writer
·
If failing as a junior high school teacher 10 years ago is among Harry Welty’s greatest disappointments, being elected Duluth SchoolBoard chairman this month may be among his sweetest victories. Continue reading

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.

I double dog dare you to call me a Baby Killer and …

not be anonymous when you do.

This is a post begging to be written. Later. When I am finished practicing French and have a school concert and some lawn improvements out of the way.

NOTE:

This post became unintentional click bait. I’m still stewing about it in the wake of Pro Life laws being passed by Republican State Legislatures but I never found the time to come back to this post. I am writing this now after starting a “most visited Page” section for the Month of May, 2018. For those of you reading this now understand that sometimes just like little kids with desert on their plates my blog is sometimes like that plate. Its too big for my mind or my free time. This becomes apparent when I can’t stop myself from posting a title but then never get back to it as was the case here. Never Fear. I’ve nibbled at this subject many times before and will again.

Here are some old stabs at the subject:

Sympathy for a Mass Murderer

Where have all the Fetuses Gone?

The Aborted Girl
Five Anecdotes about Sex This one also helps explain how I lost my last teaching job.

…and anything on the category “Abortion” here on the blog. As of today there are about 60 such posts.

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:

Eudora’s latest – Family Heirlooms

It begins:

“I spent last night polishing a family heirloom to send to my son. It’s was set aside for him years ago before college. Back then it wasn’t the sort of artifact he had any use for. It still isn’t. But one hundred and forty-five years ago, filled with ice chopped from a frozen Smokey Hill River, it kept the Robb family’s butter cold on the supper table.”

Read it all on the Duluth Reader website.

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:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/04/smarter-living/500-days-of-duolingo-what-you-can-and-cant-learn-from-a-language-app.html?searchResultPosition=3

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…..as 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

Colbert on Trump………..again

I don’t watch the late night hosts mock President Trump very often anymore. They were a comfort to me for the first year of the Trump Presidency but I eventually decided that going to bed early was better for my mental health. But occasionally some of them are sent my way and this is another one that is right on target:

Jesus and Washington, lone wolves vs herds

This is a thought I may pursue before the day is out after I attend to some mundane chores. Otherwise I might just delete this post like a dandelion seed about to be blown to oblivion.

ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT! FOR WHAT ITS WORTH:

For an American George Washington is the first citizen of the land. He is the nation’s Father and Founder above all others. For Christians the same must be said of Jesus. George W. Bush was once roundly ridiculed when asked who his favorite “philosopher” was for answering, “Jesus.” That in a nutshell demonstrates the challenge of dual loyalties. By so honoring the founder of Christianity, even if thinking of him as a philosopher was a stretch, Bush offended the same crowd that Hillary Clinton may have had in mind when she called Trump folks “deplorables” and handed the Presidency to him. Continue reading

How a lot of us feel

I am in awe of what sculptors can do with sand. I was asked to give it a try in Two Harbors thirty years ago at their Kayak festival and that was enough for me.

I also know that I’m not that dedicated a snow sculptor especially in terms of technique. Weather plays a role as well. I’ve done a number of presidents over the years. I’ve done Lincoln twice. The second time I did I too used the famous sculpture of him seated in the Lincoln memorial. It was a warm day and my sculpture wasn’t huge and sun defying. One fellow at church afterward told me he just didn’t think my sculpture was as good as others I’d made and that it didn’t look like Lincoln. Well the head was only a foot wide not six feet wide and he saw it the next day which was in the mid thirties and sunny.

I later used its picture as one of my 50 “trading card” pack for my 2017 school board campaign. You will note the sculpture was built near Lincoln’s birthday in 2006. That was the same time as the birth of this blog when I ran for Congress as the sole member of the “Unity” party.