Friday, June 14, 2024
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The Long Way Home

It seems the older I get the more time I spend thinking about how I got through the stupid and evil things I did to become the WOKE person I am as I end my seventh decade. Much of the stupid and evil is lost to my current memory but I have a partner in crime, The Bohunk, to fill in the dark spaces.

Jim Harrison, in his memoir Off to the Side, writes, “It’s amazing how ineffective a mind can be when studying itself.” You probably al­ready know this.

He also wrote that he titled the book as he did because off to the side is, “a designated and comfortable position for a writer.” Prefer­ring to avoid the crowds, this confession of his makes me feel better about myself.

The other night I was washing dishes after a wonderful supper, a sometimes tedious and sometimes joyful chore that I’ve been doing for a number of years, along with setting the table for the dinner service. At least since we returned to the paradise that was rural Cook County in 2016.

The Bohunk is an excellent and ever ex­perimenting cook and is always there for the pickup and clean up chores. On this particular evening she was standing alongside me with a dish towel in her hand drying my handiwork. I love these times when she lets me be in the kitchen at the same time as she is. We laugh, rant, and sometimes cry together and after 50 years married there’s nothing bad about that.

Looking wistfully out the window while scrubbing a stubborn pot that night, I opened my mouth to see how much of my foot I could get in it. After expressing my satisfaction with spending time together each night in the kitch­en, I went on to say, “It seems like I didn’t do much dishwashing before we moved back here.”

In response, she reminded me that in my ear­lier decades I thought of kitchen work as wom­en’s work. She usually prefaces her reminders of my stupid and evil things with, “Remem­ber,” when I obviously do not.

Then I was reminded that with four kids, a couple dogs, and one or more hamsters living with us in suburbia I was busy building a cor­porate and career ladder. She wanted to get a part time job to make a spot of pocket money while getting exposure to the adult world. I, a sanctimonious blowhard said, according to her memory, which is still pretty good on the historical parts of our life, “You told me that as long as all the housework (women’s work?) was done, you wouldn’t care if I took a job.”

Mea Maxima Culpa, I was a chauvinist pig in those early years on the baby boomer cor­porate rack. But, after a great deal of reflection and work, I’m better now. I only wish I was more enlightened when our daughters were growing up.

Speaking of enlightenment, an unknown Zen master once said, “Before enlightenment, wash dishes. After enlightenment, wash dish­es.” I wash dishes.


Sunday is Father’s Day. In honor, here are the words of Canadian poet, novelist and play­wright Alden Nowlan.

“The day the child realizes all adults are im­perfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; and the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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