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.

Beware those who cherish the history they’ve never studied

And by the way. The only reason a person would wear a hat saying “Make America Great Again” is because they don’t think America is great now. I can’t help but wonder if what they really think is that America is crappy.

I also wonder what their crusade has accomplished to make America greater over the last two years. Health care? Economic security? Military security? Good feelings? Political fairness? World confidence?

Our Mafia President

This will be brief and very incomplete. Its really meant as an introduction to the next two posts.

Among the plethora of Trump related mini-exposes lately have been a couple about Trump’s past working with the “Russian Mafia.” Russians began settling in large numbers in New York at about the time the Berlin Wall fell and were getting acquainted with the dark side of the American economy. Claudia and I stayed near the Brooklyn Bridge the year before 9-11 to see our daughter’s East High School Choir preform in the Big Apple. We were down by the area where sea food is sold and already were wondering if some of the shadowy figures we were seeing were tied in with this new mob. Its been described as more of an extension to Russia’s old KBJ spy network.

Today a whole set of billionaire KBJ offshoots traces back to this Era of gobbling up the old USSR’s most valuable state industries. Putin, himself is reputed to have become one of the richest Russians today based on his connections.

Those connections may have extended to the cash strapped, bankruptcy riddled Trump family. Reportedly he has had Russian Banks shore his lost fortune up by about four billion dollars while also getting him into the business he’s made beau-coup bucks at – licencing the Trump name.

I don’t take any of these charges lightly. Donald Trump bragged when he was running for President about knowing how the swamp works.

I haven’t posted any links to these current stories because anyone can find them with a quick google search. What my eight loyal readers would have more trouble finding are the Minnesota connected stories to the Mafia that I will write about in two cursory posts to follow.

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.

“Hate helps no one…” Tommy Rukavina’s last letter

The last time I remember seeing tiny but obstreperous Tommy Rukavina he crawled out from under a table at a candidate’s forum I was attending as a Republican candidate for the legislature. Tommy died yesterday. After cleansing my front yard by replacing Cheeto Boy with a new snow sculpture I know just what to post under the picture of the new one. Its the last letter Tommy wrote to my favorite Minnesota newspaper, the Timberjay, before he passed on to that Union Hall in the sky. God go with you Tommy!

Hate helps no one, love solves everything
A letter from Tom Rukavina
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2019 5:33 pm
Tom Rukavina

This is the last letter to the editor we received from Tom Rukavina (who over the years submitted many). At the request of a reader, we are posting it on our website….

Marshall, Your editorial on xenophobia touched my heartstrings. As your readership may know, I am currently in the University of Minnesota Medical Center receiving excellent care after my bone marrow transplant on Nov. 14.

Every day a nurse walks in who is a little different than me. She or he might be Somali or Hmong or Japanese-American and have a little bit of an accent – just like those old Croats I used to listen to on the northside of Virginia. Or, my nurse’s assistant may come in to take my blood pressure and tell me how she fled the war in Liberia when she was a young woman and what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here in America.

Then the housekeepers come in, they’re in a hurry, they say hi. They are Somali or Ethiopian or Liberian. One was a male who stopped emptying the wastebaskets and talked to us. About how he came from Ethiopia five years ago because of tribal conflicts. He already had a master’s degree in chemistry and is now working two jobs while going to school to become a pharmacist so he can give his three children a college education. He was particularly proud of his four-year-old daughter whose teacher told him was extremely intelligent. He told us his dream is that she will grow up to do something good for her country – this country, America.

I could go on and tell you that one of my transplant doctors is from Brazil and my primary oncologist is from India. She came to get her degree at the U of M and decided to stay on here to pay back for the great education she received from our state.

So, it’s puzzling to me that some of my friends and their children have forgotten that they are the children and grandchildren of immigrants. That they came to America for the same dream, to make life better for themselves and their families. And they were treated as badly as today’s immigrants. I can’t help but relay the story told to me by one of my dad’s best friends.

They had milk cows on the northside of Virginia and it was Bruno’s job, as a 12-year-old kid, to deliver the milk in the morning to the mining locations – Lincoln, Higgins and Minorca – which sat above the hill north of Virginia. One early morning on his way to deliver milk, he saw smoke coming from the top of one of the mine dumps, so on his way back after delivery he decided to climb up there and investigate. It was a smoldering cross put there by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the Slovenians and Croatians because they were Catholic, and the Finns who they claimed were radicals. He also happened to notice there was a little book on the ground. He picked up the book and put it in his pocket and he brought it home to his father.

His Italian father couldn’t read English so they brought it across the street to another Italian immigrant who could read English. The book contained the membership list of the Virginia KKK. Rinaldo got so scared he threw the book in the kitchen woodstove and burned it, because it contained the names of some very important “American” people in Virginia. To this day I still remember some of the names that were told to me that were in that book. Much to my surprise I’ve kept those names to myself, and all of you knowing my big mouth, it has been a chore to not blurt them out at times. But, among the descendants of those individuals were many good people. My hope is that someday, the descendants of those people who are currently creating so much hardship for our new immigrants, will learn that people are people no matter their color, religion or country of origin. That they are good people coming to the land of the free for the same reason our ancestors did.

On a final note, I can’t help but think that if not for the care of all these wonderful Somali and Liberian and Ethiopian and Brazilian and Indian and Hmong and Japanese immigrants that I’ve met here, I might be six feet under.

Hate helps no one, love solves everything.

Tom Rukavina
Pike Twp
via University

What Fred Trump never did – Spank Donald

(NOTE- I just fixed the link to my column)

I hurried this column so as to make a Church Properties Meeting. Sadly, I can now see a couple mistakes that might have been fixed had I not rushed it to publication:

It begins:

It’s coming! The biggest case of overdue Karma in America’s history. The only question will be whether Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office like Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy left his Senate soap box with 36 percent of American’s still approving of him. Or, will President Trump’s lock on 30% of America (80% of Republicans) evaporate? . . .

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:

S…..,

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.

Harry

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

“Lock her up”

Our pussy grabbing President is shocked that one of the new Congresswomen has referred to him as a “mother****er” in a call for his impeachment. Considering our President’s previous reputation I suspect the term, as rude as it is for folks like me in their sixties, is probably accurate.

As for the call from the Congresswomen there are two mitigating facts. First – Impeachment is only a process to force a trial. Considering the charges that have been made it to the news so far that seems like a pretty modest statement. The trial, should one happen, will take place in the United States Senate, a body controlled by Republicans. AND…

Second – Donald Trump constantly led cheers of “lock her up” while he ran for President. He has certainly set the standard for inflammatory language and thus has no cause for sympathy when similar words are aimed at him. As for the criticism directed at me for disrespecting our President by depicting him as a cheeto colored New Year’s Baby. Tosh!

Oh, and I remember how appalled the establishment was when an earlier President inadvertently called a now infamous mass murder guilty during a trial to determine his guilt. That was pretty tame compared to Trump’s calling Mexicans refugees rapists.

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.

Harry Welty, “Provocateur”

Brady Slater’s piece about my Cheeto-in-Chief sculpture and its temporary decapitation was fine by me. However, as a diarrhetically, self analycal writer I would have written a different version of my work.

Had I noted the drubbing I got at the hands of the Eighth district’s Trump cult I would have emphasized that the extent of my protest campaign was a $300 filing fee, gas to Hibbing and back and a couple hours filling out candidate questionnaires. Under those circumstances getting ten percent of the vote was a triumph and proof that, like the Jews after the holocaust, not all moderate Republicans were dead.

But that’s a quibble.

I thoroughly enjoyed Brady’s description of me as a “political provocateur” even though, when I set out on a political career, that is the last thing I would have imagined I would become. I still regard myself as the most reasonable politician I’ve ever met. I would probably have been reluctant to sign on with the Declaration of Independence in the beginning. I might also have retreated from Abe Lincoln’s resolve to stop secession in its tracks. I would have wished for cooler heads to talk over grievances. In my most notable local crusade demanding a vote on the half billion dollar Duluth school construction plan I was too slow and reasonable for my side’s ultimate success. My Dad was an attorney but I am no eager litigator.

In my college years there were lots of long hairs my age eager to provoke “the establishment.” I had little use for them when their words were middle fingers. I winced when one of them wrote a popular how-to-manual found in bookstores everywhere titled, “Steal this book.” People did.

But while slow to anger and quick to cool my parents held the example of my Grandfather up to me from my toddling years on. He was not just a war hero. He had been awarded his nation’s highest military medal of honor for bravery in the face of the enemy. When the stakes are high I’m all in and will meet fire with water.

I first heard the verb “provoke” from my Grandmother Welty. “I’m so provoked.” That’s what she would say in her calm, teacherly voice. It was typically small irritations that would provoke her, flies in the house, a missing piece of silver, a leaky pipe. In the face of these “provocations.” I never saw her lose her composure. However, raising my Uncle Frank, might have raised her hackles higher. He once found a pack of his parent’s prophylactics, blew them up like balloons, tied them to his bicycle and rode it and their contraceptives around the block. One time she was so provoked that she ordered her husband to put the whole family in the car and drive to the nearest boy’s juvenile center to scare her son Frank into behaving himself.

As Lincoln, and the Founders he revered would have said, they were not the provocateurs. The real provocateurs were a distant government taxing colonists without consultation and southern politicians subverting the constitution to violate the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. Ditto for me when the Duluth School Board levied a half billion dollar tax without asking voters for their approval in a bonding referendum.

So, who is the true provocateur here? Could it be a Presidential candidate who rallied his supporter to lock up his opponent? or shamelessly lied his way to the White House or who hired legal bullies to enforce this theft from business partners? or who may have colluded with foreign agents to make himself richer and compromise the laws and security of the United States? or who didn’t just avoid taxes but illegally evaded them on a colossal scale? or who so threatened the Republican Party that he resembles the tin pot dictator of Venezuela who destroyed his nation’s once booming economy?

Me, a provocateur? I spent twenty hours building a snowman and painted it cheeto-orange. In the spring it will melt and drain into Lake Superior. In contrast the man who was its model has acted the demagogue, kleptocrat, and put nearly a quarter millennia of fragile democracy in jeopardy.

And as for MAGA. A better acronym would be Make Average a Great America.

A brazen daylight crossing of …

… Baby New Year’s border wall ended tragically for Baby New Year.

2019-01-02_07-22-52

It is not clear if his decapitation was committed by haters of baby New Year or sympathizers who wanted to put him out of his hypothermic misery. He was not well dressed for a Minnesota winter.

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.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."