Archive for November, 2013

The Little Free Library This Week.


Unlike the main public library and its many branches, the Little Free Library is open every day of the week, 365 days a year. It’s open all day long. It’s even open at night, but you’ll have to bring your own flashlight.

This week at the Gilliat Street Little Free Library, you’ll find all sorts of treasures for readers of all ages. The inventory changes every day, depending on who’s taken what and who’s left what behind, but some of this week’s offerings include:

• Annie Leibovitz photos of Olympic athletes
• Two novels by Larry Watson
• The Philosophy of Kant
• Crime novels by Timothy Halliman
• Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
• A cookbook or two, though those never last long, so hurry
• A few magazines, including “The Sun,” with the world’s best fiction
• Books for little kids and a teenagers

You’ll also find a supply of creative black & white street scenes by local artist Byron Johnson (find him at and a few DVDs and VHS movies.

The library’s always open. It’s great entertainment, and it’s absolutely free. You don’t need a card, there are no fines, and you don’t even have to return the book if you don’t feel like it.

Come on down!

Road Trip! Duluth to Rice Lake, Wisconsin


Road Trip: Duluth to Rice Lake

For the past 2 weeks, I have been driving this 2014 Ford Fusion. It is a sleek car; low to the ground and very fast, but it’s too low and too fast and too computerized for me, and I was happy to return it to its rightful owner, which is Link Ford in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Such dashboard craziness.

What does all this mean, anyway?

(And why can’t I make pictures go where
I want them to go?)

One major complaint (and I always have one) is that everything you need is located on a touch screen, so that if you want to turn the heat down before your shoes melt, or change the station on the radio, or figure out your mileage, you have to select screens and press here and there and over there. It takes your eyes off the road for too many seconds. People who drive new cars are probably laughing about this, but I found it irritating as hell, especially since they did not include the manual with the car. One great thing about it is that when you put the car in reverse, you get a lovely screen shot of everything behind your car. I was rather enchanted with that, so I found lots of reasons to back up.

How I came into possession of this lovely roadster is a sad tale of woe, which I will save for another time when I’m ranting about how life is unfair and everything happens to ME. The short version is that I had to replace the engine in my (old) Ford Escape, which is hideously expensive, especially when it happens on a Saturday when you are far from home. In Rice Lake, let’s say.

So after two weeks and much angst and a huge dent in my budget, my own car was ready to pick up on Saturday, and I was eager to have it back. Off I went.

While Superior is a fine town and the drive on Highway 2 is picturesque, my favorite part is where Hwy 2 turns onto Hwy 53, where all of Wisconsin seem to open up. The wood, the green rolling hills, the cows and horses, the eagles and circling hawks and turkey vultures and bears and badgers and turtles crossing the highway… I love all of that.

After the smaller towns of Gordon, Solon Springs, Trego, Minong and Sarona, Rice Lake seems like a bustling city, which I guess it is. There’s lots to see there (including my old newly-engined car) and I decided to take some times to explore.

You can’t go to Rice Lake without stopping in at their huge Goodwill store, which contains more new stuff than old. I bought some fuzzy socks and a pretty scarf. I figure once you spend thousands of dollars on car repairs, what harm in spending a few more dollars? None. That’s how my reasoning works.

Girly stuff from Goodwill

Next stop was Herbergers (stop that snickering this instant!) where I shopped for a new winter jacket, which I did not find until I got to a thrift store and purchased one for $10. Life is good.

Check out that busy parking lot!

Also had to stop at Aldi’s, a grocery store whose cart and bagging structure remains a mystery to me (“Ma’am, please don’t take that cart unless you brought one into the store!”) but who sells the most wonderful 3 cheese salad dressing which my friend Cathy introduced me to in Pennsylvania last June. How’s that for sentence structure? They also had huge pomegranates off 79 cents, so I had to get those, too. The thing I like about this particular Aldi’s is that the parking lot faces the town cemetery. A lesson for us all.

(Pay attention to those “use by” dates…)

At a Salvation Army Thrift Shop, I spotted this license plate. What the hell?

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw on a van in Duluth. I am guessing it was made specifically for the owner of the car, perhaps by the owner of the car, and which made almost no sense to me, except I nearly missed the green light. I believe this is a one-of-a-kind, and makes me think of that line from a movie where someone says to the other person, “Do you ever think things that you don’t say?”

Said bumper sticker: “I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes. I am an adult, and I understand this is part of the deal.”

Yeah, whatever, pal.

But I digress.

After a truly miserable lunch at Hardee’s, which I thought would be nostalgic but which was really dry and icky, I headed back to Duluth.

One thing I love about this stretch of Hwy 53 is the little yellow train in Trego that I call “Little Toot.” I know that traditionally Little Toot was the name of a tugboat, but isn’t it a perfect name for this gem? I see this nearly every weekend, but this is the first time I’ve had time to get off the highway and get up close to see it. It is especially impressive to see Little Toot when an actual real train is next to it. I love its friendly face, and I wish I had it parked in my back yard.

Also in Trego is the Dinner Bell, where I probably should have had lunch, and then the lovely produce stand where I buy my Halloween pumpkins every year. (Thanks a lot, you pumpkin-smashing jackasses that struck my house this year.)

This time I bought a variety of squash, but wish I’d bought more. I bought spaghetti and acorn squash, and these little roadside beauties. (That’s probably what the tow truck guy said when he saw my Ford with the thrown rod. “A little roadside beauty. Cha-chinggg!”)

Examples of roadside beauties:

Ha ha. I crack myself up.

That was my exciting road trip (210 miles of adventure and fun) and as much as I appreciate the hard work they do at Link Ford, where they have bailed me out of trouble twice in the past 3 months, I hope I never have to see them again. But Rice Lake is always on my list of  places to go for fun.

Go see it.

And say hello to Little Toot!