It was a pleasant surprise
to find out my fishing license was good for a couple of extra months. Alyssa's
4-H group was scheduled to go fishing on Lake of the Woods
and I decided to tag along. We stopped
in at the Riverside Saturday morning to pick
up some gear and the nice gals at the till verified what I'd heard: the
licenses are good through April 30th.
It was a beautiful day to
be on the lake and many people were taking the opportunity. A profusion of
pickups, ATV's and snow-cats rolled across the lake to the favored
destinations. We ended up fishing on 5-mile. Our luck wasn't too good; a small
walleye and some perch were all we caught but the kids and adults all seemed to
have a good time. There's about 4 feet of ice on the lake. I don't think it
will be gone by tax day, maybe by fishing opener...
Management called me while I
was on the lake and said that tryouts for "Annie" were being held at
the Zion Lutheran Church
so would I please stop there with Alyssa? Like a good husband I said,
"Yes." We stopped at the church and Alyssa tried out. While I was
there I found out that the Warroad Summer Theatre was putting on
"Sylvia" so I thought that might be something to take Management to.
After the tryout, we stopped at the museum for a bit, then back home.
It was an easy sell to
convince Management to spend Sunday afternoon watching "Sylvia" with
me. We had a nice date, I'd never seen the play or attended a performance of
the WST before so it was a new experience.
I've done a review of "Sylvia"
that should appear on the pages of this newspaper. Some of you may be wondering
if I'm qualified to review a play. I'll relate for you some of my experiences
with theatre and you can be the judge. My first theatre experience was to play
the character of Major Metcalf in an Itasca
presentation of Agatha Christie's "Mousetrap". I learned that I could
do a somewhat credible British accent if need be. Later brushes with theatre
included playing Potiphar in "Joseph and His Amazing Techinicolor
Dreamcoat," the part of Benjamin in "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" and
one of the ball players in "Damn Yankees." I also did build part of
the set for "7 Brides" and headed the set building for "Damn
Yankees," "Anna and the King of Siam" and "Cinderella".
All of these later productions were done for the Grand Rapids Players; I served
on their board for 6 years and worked in other parts of play production. I
ended up taking a job that entailed shift work so working on sets ended up
being easier to schedule than playing a part.
My enterprising sister eventually
stared up a group called Itasca Children's Theater so somehow I ended up doing
sets for many of her productions. Often she'd wait until about a week before
the production (or so it seemed) and come to me in a tizzy, saying, "Just
come over for a little bit and tell these guys I have lined up what to
do." Predictably, it always ended up being quite a bit more than that. Alyssa
was a cast member in several of the productions and Management was on the board
so I guess it was somehow fitting that Dad would build the sets. I did have
some fun, though. One of the projects was building a little truck for "101
Dalmatians." I took a riding lawn mower, lengthened it out and a friend
and I built a wooden panel body on it. It ended up being a neat parade vehicle
long after the play was over.
So, the question is,
"Is Rob Crowe qualified to write a theatre review?" Well, I say if
Jim Heffernan of the "Duluth New Tribune" can write a review, anyone
can. That still doesn't say I'm qualified, you'll have to be the judge of that.
The important thing to
remember about a theatre review is that it is only a single person's opinion. I
do my best to be objective and give credit where credit is due. The bottom line
is that I think community theatre is an important part of a healthy community
but I also think that it should be done well. Each production is a unique
experience and I encourage everyone to experience it in one way or another.
It has been another very
interesting week in Roseau
County. Thursday I headed
to Warroad to cover the Academic Letters awards at the High School. A great
event to cover. The school has some pretty high standards to maintain for
students to acquire an academic letter and 43 students achieved the standard.
Congratulations to the students, parents and teachers.
As I was waiting in
Counselor Gary Olson's waiting room before the event, I happened to see an
interesting tidbit on the wall. He, I'm guessing it's Gary, has this posted: "Give the world
the best that you've got and you'll probably get kicked in the teeth. Give the
best that you've got anyway." I've
After the event, I slipped
down to the Shop Department (I suppose the sophisticated call it Industrial Technologies,
us oldsters still call it Shop) to check on things there. Jeremy Culleton had
the class polishing the floor, I'm not sure what they did to have to do that. Anyway,
he had the high mileage cars up on stands so I shot a picture of Andy Pelland
with one of them. The frames are done and the powerplants will soon be mounted.
He says the cars will be using ceramic skateboard bearings for some of the
wheels for lower friction. We'll have to keep track of how the guys do.
Saturday I attended the Roseau
Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting. It was good to find out all the things
they are doing. I didn't realize that
they also supplied the electricity for the Northwest Angle. They showed some
pictures of the recent power line project up there and of cutting a line in the
ice and laying cable. They didn't say if anyone tried trolling for walleye in
the trench after they were through. Trapper didn't know about it or I know he'd
Board of Directors President
Erickson regaled the audience with a few stories. The last one he told fell in
the "don't try this at home" category. He said, "Do you know how
to find out who loves you the most, your dog or your wife? Just lock them in
the trunk of your car for an hour and, when you open the trunk, see who is glad
to see you..." Management says I'd better not try it, besides the Rolling
Playhouse doesn't have a trunk.
On a more serious note, the
cooperative is doing well in improving the supply of alternate energy sources.
The larger cooperative they are a part of, MinnKota, has contracted for buying
electricity from a windmill farm in North
Dakota that will provide a relatively substantial
portion of the supply given that the wind will only blow hard enough about half
the time to generate electricity.
The down side of current
events that is causing sleepless nights for the cooperative leaders, and sooner
or later, us, is that the state legislatures are considering taxing carbon dioxide.
This is major. MinnKota sees the need to build another coal fired generating
plant due to increasing demand, however with the uncertainty of what the
legislatures plan to do, they have delayed the decision.
Either way, this will cost
the cooperative members money in the form of increased rates. If the
legislatures tax carbon dioxide, it will cost us. If electricity use increases
and the cooperative has to purchase it on the open market because they cannot
supply it, it will cost us electric consumers more money.
The Global Warming Craze,
and that's what it is, a Craze, is starting to have a major impact. I invite
anyone who thinks carbon dioxide is bad to stop breathing. It is as simple as
that. There is no energy form that is anywhere close to being able to power our
needs without heavy reliance on coal, petroleum or other fossil fuel. While
many are working furiously towards a carbon free solution, it is not anywhere
close nor is it even proved prudent.
our busy lives and McDonalds have changed the restaurant scene, there is still
nothing like a small town cafe. Probably the most classic cafe I've seen since
coming to the area is Cafe 89 in Wannaska. I had heard much about the cafe,
Trapper is a frequent visitor. Recently, it was in the news because the
governor visited it to address the Bovine TB situation.
invited me to come and visit it Tuesday morning. He knew I was writing about
the Bovine TB situation. I think it might be because he likes to see fireworks,
anyway he picked me up and Abby the dog for the outing. Roseen's Corner wasn't
open for coffee for awhile that morning.
headed south, then west. Trapper's Chevy was having a problem with the
hurricane-like winds, but I guess my Ford would have too. Abby started whining
when we got close to Skoien's place, she wanted to stop to play with Rex the
Border Collie, but it wasn't happening this morning.
farms and land looked calm in the spring sunlight, the river ice is gone and
water is running strong. If the wind had died down, it would be an idyllic
morning, belying the undercurrents the TB situation is causing.
reached the cafe and I let Abby out for a few minutes to mark her territory. We
went into the cafe and I felt at home. It is a very neat, homey place. The
walls are festooned with memorabilia, the most notable being a couple of old
time ads featuring pretty girls in shorts and, on another wall, a clock stuck
on 10:35. A group of fellows was sitting
at one of the tables, Trapper confiscated a corner table to hold court. The
waitress came over with coffee, water, some menus and traded a couple of
insults with Trapper, the sign of a really good cafe. She told us the specials,
Trapper took the biscuits and gravy, I opted for the American Fries with
food came, mine was really good and I noticed that Trapper more or less inhaled
his also. We could hear the guys at the other table talking about bovine TB,
and the subject was brought up with each new arrival. I'd guess because I was a
stranger it hadn't been talked about when we arrived.
of Trapper's old friends came into the cafe and sat down with us. Retired now,
he jokingly referred to it as "retarded", he isn't being affected
much by the TB. He told us who was sitting at the next table and how many cows
each one had, if they had any. Nothing
like being in rural Roseau
eating, I went over and talked to the patrons about their take on the TB
situation. It was interesting, most were affected by the situation and it had
caused major changes in some of their farming. The ones that still had cattle
were looking closely at the provisions of the proposed state buyout.
bought my breakfast, he said it was because I'd bought the last one. That would
be the 25 cent meal in Badger, the one more fitting for a newspaperman's
budget. Thanks, Trapper. I'll get the next one. I think...
took me across the street to the Hardware store to get some brake fluid. Then
across the street for gas where Abby had to check out the river. Trip home was
easy, wind at our backs this time.
I read with interest that
popular author J K Rowling was taking someone to court in New York for publishing a Lexicon about her
Harry Potter series. It seems that the woman was concerned that someone might
make a few dollars on the book and that had to be stopped. Rowling hadn't
bothered to do one herself and an enterprising fellow decided to take advantage
of the oversight. Whether the lexicon will be stopped or not remains to be
seen, but it led me to do some thinking, a dangerous situation.
I started thinking about my
more or less popular column; Southwest Angle. Someone might want to do a
lexicon about my diverse bunch of characters since I haven't provided the
readership with one. To head off a messy lawsuit, I might as well get started
making one up.
Since I haven't written
multiple volumes yet like Rowling, it won't be big, just a quick reference
paper one can attach to the refrigerator with a magnet for easy access. So here goes:
Southwest Angle Lexicon
Abby the dog - a pudgy, 4
year old yellow lab - terrier cross that spends every minute possible with the
Big Kids - Travis, Heidi
and Erin, columnist's oldest kids, grown up and moved out of the nest.
Blue Star - Where columnist
spends his afternoons melting pieces of steel together. This company builds
toys. Guy's toys. 4-wheelers of divers sorts and snowmobiles.
Hard Driving Editor - The
editor here at the Pioneer. Has a
Pontiac GTO, thus the hard driving moniker.
Oslin - Legendary marksman who bagged a Taurus
with 2 shots one year.
Little Girls - Alyssa,
Katelyn and Valeri, the three youngest of the columnist's family.
Management - No explanation
Missus - the woman that
more or less keeps Trapper in line, pretty much a full time job.
Old Rocket - Chuck Lindner,
Warroad entrepreneur, named the Old Rocket for his high placing in the 2007
Yellow rose 5-K run. Also does winter ultra-marathons on his bike.
Pronunciations: There are
some unique names in Roseau
county. This bit of verse will help you remember the pronunciations of a couple
After moving up the rung in
I had to lay low in Salol, to
avoid the fallen women of Falun.
Rolling Playhouse - RP for
short, it is the old, rusty Econoline conversion van the little girls used for
a playhouse before Management totaled two vehicles, now the primary vehicle for
SOTY - Slob of the Year, the
only entry so far this year is the individual that cut down the "Hanging Tree"
near Bemis Hill.
Southwest Angle - Imaginary
location off the southwest corner of the Lake of the Woods.
Lots of things happen here, mostly in the mind of the columnist.
Trapper - Tough as nails
Landlord/Philosopher. He farms, traps and holds court at the breakfast table at
Roseen's Corner for whoever stops in for morning coffee. His most regular
customer is the free-loading newspaper columnist.
Yellow Rose - where
Management works. Company makes windows; on the company logo is a big yellow
What a week. I was just
rolling through the nice spring that finally seemed to have arrived when Friday
morning rolled around and I, along with the rest of the Southwest Angle, heard
about the devastating fire at the Warroad
Center. Since I was deep
into my morning responsibilities of getting the three little girls off to
school, I had to wait a little before Abby the dog and I could go in to check
it out and grab some photos for the newspaper.
As most of you know, the
devastation there was pretty much complete by the time I got there. I was able
to get some far away pictures and happened to be standing in the right place
when Roseau Chief Deputy Terry Bandemer was taking one of the Big Time TV Reporters
into the site and asked if I wanted to ride along. Naturally I said yes and
hopped in the patrol car. I got some closer pictures and also took an
interesting picture of the Big Time TV guy interviewing Terry.
The TV guy wanted a home
video of the nighttime fire so I called Management to see if anyone at the
Yellow Rose knew of any. She consulted her impeccable source and got a list of
possibilities so I picked up the list and tracked down the Big Time TV guy at
the Government Center and gave it to him. The Big Time TV
guy complained that I hadn't given him any phone numbers with the names. I told
him I wasn't going to do all his leg work and left him to his Big Time reporting.
I had to leave the small
time reporting and go work at the Blue Star that afternoon. I left work at
about 9:00 PM and some snowflakes were in the air, soon to be joined by untold
amounts more. It was storming pretty good when I got to Roseen's Corner so I gathered
all the bikes scattered around the yard and wheeled them into the garage to keep
the couple of inches of snow we were going to get off them.
Did I say a couple of
inches? The biggest snowstorm of the winter on April 26th. Abby the dog and the
little girls loved it. Well, the small time reporter did too. Trapper had taken
the Missus to Sandstone to a concert, the yard needed to be plowed so...I put
the plow on my old Ford 4x4 Supercab and plowed the yard. No Chevies around to
spoil the fun since Trapper, figuring he'd see some snow on his trip, smartly
took the 4x4 Chevy pickup instead of the mini-van.
There was a festive
attitude in the Crowe household all day Saturday. Abby the dog was like a puppy
playing in the snow. The girls played on the snowplow piles. Every half hour or
so it seemed Management would laugh out loud. When I asked her why, she said,
"the only weekend in April in Hibbing
without snow was last weekend. Erin's wedding
was last weekend!" That's true, we'd been at daughter Erin's wedding in
lower northern Minnesota
last weekend and, though the snow was mostly gone, the rivers were full from
the two most recent snowstorms down there.
I took the Rolling
Playhouse into Warroad to buy some gas for the snowplow and cover apparently the
only event in northern MN going on, the wildlife Food Plot Day at Streiff
Sporting Goods. There were a couple of hardy souls there. Meandered into
Warroad proper and snapped some of the snowy happenings. The devastation of the
fire was barely visible through the blowing snow. The most weird was seeing a
couple of rigs with boats behind down at the Point. An early spring fishing
trip gone awry, I imagine...
Sunday was a good day,
cleaned up the rest of the snow in the drive, went to church, home to eat. Made
up a sign and posted it on the door for Trapper when he came home: "This
driveway plowed by a FORD on April 26, 2008."
Trapper liked the sign when
he got home. Go figure. Anyway, who'd 'a thunk the biggest storm of the winter would
be on the last weekend of April. As Trapper says, "Someone go tell Al Gore
this isn't Global Warming!"
On another front, most of
you will remember Kari Nelson, the talented fiddler who went to Nashville to further her
musical career. She's coming to Grand Forks
to perform with her boyfriend, Phil Bernier. Phil was on the show “Dance War –
Bruno vs. Carrie Anne” with the winning Team Bruno. The two of them will be appearing
at their own evening show at the Empire Arts Center in East
Grand Forks, North Dakota,
on May 10, 2008. Phil composes his own
music, he will play guitar and sing. Kari plays the fiddle and does background
vocals for the duo.