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Snowy Fun Near Ely

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 4:42pm

Ole Lake

A friend planned a weekend get-away that was right up my alley. We drove over to Ely and rented a cabin on Burntside Lake at Camp Du Nord. I didn’t know what to expect but what I found was a magical place covered with pine trees on the edge of the Boundary Waters.

Today we went hiking through the woods. There wasn’t enough snow to snowshoe or cross-country ski but there wasn’t too much that we couldn’t walk on the trails. We hiked the Ole Lake Loop for a total of around 8 miles.

Camp Du Nord

Ole Lake was frozen over with a light covering of snow but Burntside is still completely open. The creeks are still flowing with water and the ground is not yet frozen. A light snow fell from the sky throughout our hike and it was an absolutely beautiful day.

Superior National Forest


Categories: Member Feeds

Short Days of December

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 6:43am

One bonus to the very short days are the longer nights and more time for looking at the stars. The Gunflint Trail is the perfect location for viewing the night stars because there is no light pollution.

December Observing Highlight: Dark Winter Skies And Bright Shining Stars By Kelly Kizer Whitt | Dec 1 2016

Surround yourself with the beauty of the winter night sky. | Olegkalina/istock

 In the United States, December has more hours of darkness than any other month, and it’s also the most overcast time of year in many places, which means we may not see much of the sun. With the winter solstice on December 21, long nights will rule. So let’s embrace the darkness and take the opportunity to appreciate the night sky.

On December 1, after sunset, a crescent moon will greet us in the southwest as it hangs near Mercury and Venus. Mercury will be very low on the horizon and will be easier to see later in the month. On December 2 and 3, the moon will pass Venus, and on December 4 and 5, it hopscotches over Mars. On December 6, the moon passes in front of—or, in astronomical terms, “occults”—Neptune, but this will happen during daylight hours in many places so the occult won’t be visible for most viewers. That evening as soon as it’s dark, train a telescope on the sky just past the bright glow of the moon’s lit limb to find magnitude 7.8 Neptune amid a sea of stars.

Aldebaran is the brightest star in Taurus the Bull and denotes the “bull’s eye.” It’s a variable star with an approximate magnitude of 0.85, lying 60 light-years from Earth. It has its name, which is Arabic for “follower,” because it trails behind the Pleiades in the sky. As the moon waxes large on December 12, it will float in front of the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, where, in midevening, it occults the bright star Aldebaran. The moon will pass over Aldebaran during the next hour, before spitting it back out on the opposite side. The moon occulted Aldebaran back in October, but that was after midnight, so this earlier event means more people can take a look.

On December 12, look for the hazy patch of stars not far from the moon that sometimes looks like a tiny dipper. This cluster is the Pleiades, one of the best space objects to look at through binoculars. Its wide expanse makes it hard to fit into one field of view in a telescope, so train your binoculars on this star cluster and watch what looks like just a handful of stars resolve into tens more. You might even spot the wispy dust of nebula that surrounds these stars. In fact, 3,000 stars lie in the Pleiades star cluster, which spans 13 light-years and is at a distance of 444 light-years from us; however most of its stars are too dim to see with binoculars.

Before sunrise on December 22, the moon will be close to Jupiter in the southeast. You may also spy some Ursid meteors streaking across the sky on this morning.

The Geminid meteors are normally the best meteor shower of December, but this year the peak of the shower coincides with the full moon, which will wash out the event. The “Long Night Moon” reaches peak fullness at 0:06 UTC on December 14, or 4:06 P.M. PST on December 13.

Categories: Member Feeds

Not the Best News for Winter Lovers

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 11:02pm

We all know climate change isn’t good and for people who love winter it’s even worse.

From the MN Department of Natural Resources

Nature Sightings – Winter is Changing!

If you grew up in Minnesota, what childhood memories do you have of winter?  Did you ever ice skate on a frozen pond or ice fish on a lake?  Do you remember snow days, when school was cancelled but all of the neighborhood kids would be outside all day long building snow forts and sledding on the mountains of piled-up snow left by snowplows? Have you noticed that the cold and snowy winters that define us as Minnesotans seem to be on the decline?

Indeed, one of the leading symptoms of climate change in Minnesota has been rising winter and overnight minimum temperatures.  Winter temperatures have been rising twice as fast as the average annual temperatures, and ten times faster than summer!  So what does this mean for the future of cold, snowy winters here?

State climatologists have observed our Minnesota winters changing.  The cold season is shrinking, even while major snow events seem to be increasing. So we are having a shorter winter period with heavier snowfall. Climate change trends and models indicate our extreme cold winters will continue to rapidly decline beyond the year 2025, and with the much warmer winter temperatures, the frequency of heavy snow fall will also begin to decline.

With this understanding of changing winters in Minnesota, it is interesting to wonder what winter memories our great grandchildren will have as Minnesotans continue to adapt to a changing climate.

Categories: Member Feeds

Holiday Hints

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:08pm

Holiday hints from the Minnesota Department of Commerce!

‘tis the season… to brighten your holidays with LED lights that save energy & money
SAINT PAUL – Are you still stringing the same old incandescent decorative lights for the holidays?

The Minnesota Commerce Department advises that you can save money this year and for many holiday seasons to come by replacing outdated, energy-hogging lights with high-efficiency, long-lasting light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

When shopping for new holiday lights, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to ensure that the product meets strict federal energy efficiency guidelines. ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting, as well as appliances and electronics, use less energy than their older, inefficient counterparts.

ENERGY STAR-qualified LED decorative lights are an economical choice because they use 75 percent less power than conventional lights and they can last up to 10 times longer.

Other advantages of LEDs include:

Safety. LEDs are cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.

Durable. LEDs do not have moving parts, filaments or glass, so they are much more resilient and shock-resistant than other light strings.

Wide range of choices. LEDs are available in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths.

Up-to-date features. LEDs offer the latest features and functions such as dimming and color shifting.

The cost of buying and operating LED C-9 lights for 10 holiday seasons is about $18 compared with $122 for incandescent C-9 bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Saver. Using timers or dimmers can save even more energy.

Watch for rebates to help defray the cost of LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting products. Many electric utilities offer rebates for LEDs. (Visit to learn about utility rebates or contact your utility directly.)  Learn more about decorative LEDs at the ENERGY STAR website.

Finally: Be sure to recycle your old holiday lights. The Recycling Association of Minnesota provides a guide to recycling locations in Minnesota.

Categories: Member Feeds

How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest

Visit Cook County - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:32am
How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest Have you ever harvested your own Christmas tree from the forest? If you are someone who likes to choose your own adventure and drink hot chocolate from a thermos while wearing a festive flannel – Christmas tree hunting is for you! For as little as $5 you can embark on a memory filled adventure out into the forest to find the perfect Balsam fir tree.

What you’ll need to make your outing successful:

  1. Permit. You’ll need to obtain a Christmas tree permit from the US Forest Service. It is $5 and can be picked up from any forest service office. Pro tip: pick up a map of the Superior National Forest. It can be purchased at the same time as your permit or from a local outfitter. Not only will it guide you through the backroads and identify the US Forest Service boundaries but is also a handy companion for year round navigation.
  2. Balsam Fir Forest. The Superior National Forest is filled with perfect trees dreaming of brightening up your home this holiday but you’ll need to know what you are looking for. Only certain types of trees can be harvested for Christmas. Balsam fir trees are the preferred species because they smell wonderful, are ideal for displaying ornaments and grow back rapidly so it keeps the forest healthy. Pro tip: bring a tape measure. You cannot return the tree to the forest if it is too big for your living space so it is important to know what you can accommodate.
  3. Saw. A folding handsaw or a chainsaw are the ideal tools for the job but any kind of cutting device or axe will be sufficient.  Pro tip: look for tree of six inches or less in diameter and cut near the base of the tree at a slight angle. This will help determine the direction that the tree will fall.
  4. Rope. You’ll need something to secure your prized tree to the roof of your car. Similar to tying a canoe to the roof of your vehicle, you’ll need rope or locking straps to attach. Pro tip: bringing a blanket or tarp wrap the tree to protect it during travel will ensure the majority of needles stay intact as well as keep the roof of your vehicle scratch free.
  5. Winter clothing. It is not allowed to harvest a tree within 200 feet of a road or trail so you will have to venture into the woods to get your tree. Therefore, wearing appropriate winter clothing is a must. Besides you would never want to miss an opportunity for an impromptu snowball fight with your loved ones, would you?  Pro tip: bringing a sled along to help pull the carefully selected tree out of the woods.

Learn more about the types of trees you can harvest and the nitty gritty details from these resources:

Permit locations in Cook County MN: 

  • Gunflint Ranger District -

    2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604 |  PHONE:

    (218) 387-1750  |


  • Tofte Ranger District - 7355 West Hwy 61, Tofte, MN 55615 | PHONE: (218) 663-8060 | Email:

Happy hunting!

The post How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

Categories: Member Feeds

Fiber Guild Sale & the Holiday Art Underground

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 6:48am

Carol Keskitalo took this beautiful shot of an early winter morning the other day. Enjoy!

The holiday season is well underway in Grand Marais this weekend. Look forward to the Holiday Art Underground Show, the Northwoods Fiber Guild’s Holiday Open House & Sale, and the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra’s Christmas Concert, to name a few. And, of course, there’s plenty of music.

First up is the Holiday Art Underground Sneak Peak at the Betsy Bowen Studio & Galleries on Friday night from 4-7:30 p.m. It’s the opening reception for the show and features live music with Rod & Caribou as well as refreshments and the chance to get a first look at the art.

Tom McCann puts the final touches on his painting, “Wisdom of the Dragon,” which will be at the Holiday Art Underground Show.

Kelly Dupre made a series of handprinted flags for the Holiday Underground show.

More than 30 local and regional artists exhibit in this show, which is always fun to see. Work includes woodcut and linoleum prints, paintings, photographs, fiber art, pottery, glass, jewelry and more. The gallery will be open for extended hours on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Holiday Art Underground Show continues through Dec. 23.

Saturday begins with the Northwoods Fiber Guild’s Holiday Open House and Sale at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

When the doors open at 9 a.m., visitors will find the Founders Hall packed with handcrafted scarves, shawls, mittens and sweaters, felted hats and bags, knit socks and handmade paper books — in short, all things fiber are featured at this event.

The Northwoods Fiber Guild’s Holiday Open House & Sale features a wide variety of handcrafted work.

The Holiday Open House and Sale runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and also features a hands-on craft activity for every age, demonstrations, a tree filled with handmade ornaments  as well as lots of refreshments, including tasty holiday treats made by guild members. This is always a popular community event, and everyone is invited.

Across the street, the Congregational Church hosts Santa’s Workshop, where Scout elves will assist little shoppers in choosing and wrapping presents, before rejoining parents, who will have a true surprise under the Christmas tree. No gift in the child area costs more than $2. There will be a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. Shopping is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All invited.

And a few blocks away, the Evangelical Free Church will hold a Craft Fair fr0m 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A Bistro-style lunch, which is a fundraiser for the church’s youth group, will be served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

KIm Nelson is one of the vendors at the Evangelical Free Church Craft Fair on Saturday.

Vendors at the Craft Fair include Terry Lewis, John Moos, Hana Senty, Mary Jo Flack, Kim Nelson, Sharon Hendrickson, and Amanda VanHornweder Carlson.

On Saturday night, the Lutsen Fire Department hosts its annual Fireman’s Ball at Caribou Highlands, with music by the Evergreen Grass Band. Cocktail hour is at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the village chalet at the resort. Contact James Coleman for tickets.

Then on Sunday and Monday, the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra will perform a Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. each night at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Bill Beckstrand is the musical director for the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra.

The Christmas Concert is an honored holiday tradition in Grand Marais. The 75-member Chorale and Orchestra, directed by Bill Beckstrand, will perform seasonal works by celebrated composers. This year’s program includes selections from Benjamin Britton’s “Ceremony of Carols” and Handel’s “Messiah,” as well as orchestral pieces featuring harp and oboe. Guest artist Janell Lemire, harpist for the  Duluth Superior Orchestra, the Lake Superior Orchestra, and the UMD Festival Orchestra, will be a featured performer. Highly recommended. Go early to get a good seat. Freewill donations accepted.

Also on Sunday, Dave and Amy Freeman will screen their film, “Bear Witness: A Year in the Wilderness,” at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts at 5 p.m.

Dave & Amy Freeman’s film, “Bear Witness” will be screened at the ACA on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The film captures the year the couple spent in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They will be available for questions after the screening. All invited.

Also this weekend, guests on WTIP’s The Roadhouse include Duluth News-Tribune columnist Bob King, who wrote “Night Sky With the Naked Eye,” Scandinavian cookbook author Beatrice Ojakangas and the Plucked Up String Band. The show airs from 5-7 p.m. on Friday.

Knife River will celebrate the holiday season again this year with Julebyan or Christmas village. Sponsored by the Knife River Recreation Council, the village features fun events for the family, food, crafts and Christmas festivities.

Julebyen will be held in Knife River on Saturday and Sunday.

Julebyen (pronounced YOOL-eh-BE-en) will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more info, click here.

In Duluth, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a production of the Duluth Playhouse, opens at the Depot Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 18. For tickets to this holiday production, visit

The Tweed Museum of Art is exhibiting selections from its Permanent Collection, including work by Jim Denomie.

“A Beautiful Hero” by Jim Denomie.

Denomie had a one-man show at the Johnson Heritage Post a few years ago.

The Thunder Bay Art Gallery opens an exhibit by Elizabeth Buset entitled “Swine” Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) with an artist talk set for early February.

“Marxist Pig,” oil, by Elizabeth Buset.

Nadia Kurd, who curated the show, writes: “In her solo exhibition, artist Elizabeth Buset examines the symbolic meaning of (swine) and the social implications of consumerist culture in North America. (Her) large-scale realist paintings and installation challenges the viewer to consider their lifestyles and daily habits that, much like the subject matter, can often be contradictory and sometimes self-defeating. For Buset, the exhibition presents an uncomfortable “acknowledgement of guilt and melancholy that ensues. It is the realization that my personal legacy will not be the art I make, but the garbage I generate and the resources I knowingly deplete.” The discomfort presented in the exhibition not only lingers throughout, but fundamentally compels audiences to question and rethink their everyday actions.” The exhibition continues through March 5.


 Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery will celebrate its Two-Year Anniversary/Holiday Party from 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Refreshments will be served and Gordon Thorne will play. All invited.

The Minnesota Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be performed at the DECC in Duluth at 7 p.m. Dec. 9-10 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 11. For tickets, see

The Minnesota Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be performed at the DECC next weekend.

Layne Kennedy will hold his 9th Annual College Bowl sale Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon at 4209 Garfield Ave. He will be featuring his hand-turned bowls.

This bowl by Layne Kennedy was crafted from birch found on the Gunflint Trail.

For more info about the sale, contact Kennedy at

The Grand Marais Playhouse is holding the Curry Cook-Off and Broadway Musical Showcase again this year. The event is a fundraiser for the Playhouse and will be held Dec. 17. If you would like to contribute a curry dish or sing a Broadway musical number, contact the Playhouse at (218) 387-1284 or The Playhouse is also looking musicians to accompany the singers, and dance numbers are welcome.

In Other Art News:

 Both Neil Sherman and Betsy Bowen will be exhibiting their work in St. Paul this weekend.

Sherman will have paintings in an exhibit at the Grand Hill Gallery, 333 Grand Ave., as part of the exhibit entitled “Selected Works.” Richard Abrahamson and Joshua Cunningham will also be exhibiting work. The opening reception is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

“Summer on Rose Lake” by Neil Sherman.

Bowen will be exhibiting her woodcuts, books and cards at the Grand Hand Gallery, 619 Grand Ave.,  in St. Paul Dec. 2-3.

Betsy Bowen will show her work at the Grand Hand Gallery this weekend.

Sivertson Gallery has received new work by collage artist Michael Sweere.

“Along the Cascade Trail,” collage, by Michael Sweere.

Here’s the music for this week:

Thursday, Dec. 1:

  • Boyd Blomberg, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Lovesick and Lonesome, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 2:

  • Gordon Thorne, Bluefin Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Jim Miller, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 2:

  • Gene Lafond and Amy Grillo, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Plucked Up String Band, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • SplinterTones, Grandma Ray’s, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 4:

  • Borealis Chorale and Orchestra Annual Christmas Concert, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 5:

  • Borealis Chorale and Orchestra Annual Christmas Concert, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 6:

  • Pete Kavanaugh, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.


We found quite a variety of photos this week. Let’s start with waves.

Whew! Waves!  by Thomas Spence.


Waves at Dawn by Christian Dalbec.


Photo by Sierra Parsons.

And when the storm calmed down, the fishermen ventured out.

Photo by Christian Dalbec.

There were serene wintery moments …

Winter Creek by Thomas Spence.


Early Winter Landscape by Paul Pluswik.


A Whole New Day by Kristofer Bowman.

David Johnson has been taking some great wildlife shots. Here’s one of an otter who seems to like to get a view.

Harbor Master by David Johnson.

And here is an eagle protecting its catch:

“An Immature Baldy gets a Warning” by David Johnson.

And this classic shot: (Notice the double bands on this eagle. Johnson said he has seen it in past years.)

“Slow Turns” by David Johnson.

And here’s the snow/rain part of this post. Mike Ryden posted these two photos this week. The first one was taken last Saturday.

The High Falls at Grand Portage State Park looked like this on Saturday, Dec. 26.

The High Falls looked like this, three days later, after three inches of rain.

The High Falls at Grand Portage State Park on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Want to hear them roar? Click here.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

P.S. Putting this blog together every week is a joy and my contribution to the arts scene on the North Shore.  If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation to support it. Thank you!

Categories: Member Feeds

City Council Meeting 11-30-17

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 11:03pm
We had another City Council meeting tonight... It is the third to the last meeting that we will have this year.

We started with the Roll Call where everyone was present except for Councilor Benson, who was out of town.

I then opened up the Public Comment period, but no one spoke so we moved right along.

The Consent Agenda was composed of the usual three items, approving the meeting agenda, the previous meeting's minutes, and the City's bills. There were no concerns about the Consent Agenda, so there was a motion and it was approved unanimously.

The first thing on the agenda was Cook County Soil and Water.  They had two presentations for us.

The first was that they have been testing water quality for three years at strategic locations along the shore so they can have some baseline numbers for water quality. They are the first group on Lake Superior that is formally taking these measurements! There are 5 spots, East Bay, right off shore of the water plant, the marina, the harbor in front of the Trading Post, and in front of the rec park boat launch.

What are they gathering? E. Coli numbers, temperature, clarity, Chlorophyll, phosphorus, chloride, Nitrogens, different solids in the water, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, PH

The site by the East Bay sewer plant had the lowest E. Coli number, which means the treatment plant is doing its job. The marina had the highest pollution numbers, which isn't a big surprise. They will continue doing these monitoring activities for another 2 years so that they can have a solid baseline.

Their second presentation was a historical trip through the City's stormwater management plans and other associated information. There was a plan in 2001, another plan in 2007, and an update in 2009.

Most of these plans addressed the perceived stormwater concerns at each time. Soil and Water brought up the new concerns and future concerns for the City:
The Municipal Parking Lot's issues,
how development changes our area's hydrology (i.e. more paved area causes more run-off, more infrastructure limits the lakeward flow of water, etc),
a changing understanding of what is acceptable with stormwater runoff,

They proposed that it is time for a new stormwater management plan and there is some funding available.

This management plan would have:
modeling of precipitation events,
a stormwater inventory which would include checking culvert size and placement,
answer the question of "Where is the water coming from and where is it going?"
identify necessary projects to mitigate stormwater problems,
costs of these projects and scheduling,
and assessment of projects' effectiveness.

Our watershed is not typical, instead of having a steep slope and a nice flat plain before the lake we have a water break at the top of the hill and then a steep hill leading right down to the lake... This makes the development of our stormwater management plan more difficult, but necessary.

They shared with us that there is a lot of grant monies that are available for such a plan: we can likely leverage $25,000 of City resources in order to get $188,000 in total grant funding. We are a Tier 1 Priority area, which moves us up the queue of grant funding...

They want to know if the City would like to commit to up to $25,000 so that we can capitalize on this opportunity. Since the City has had this conversation several times at this point over several years and the stormwater issues faced by the City are coming to the forefront we committed to investing $25,000 in the instance that we would be able to apply for and secure the additional funds, which would allow us to complete the study and to complete a few of the projects that the plan calls for. This was concluded as a situation where the City can actually be money ahead by ending up with both an up to date plan and with a good start on the projects that were identified by the plan. In the end we voted to commit the funds in the instance that we can secure the other funding.

Next, we had Dave Tersteeg of the Parks Department come and give us an update on the performance of the Rec. Park in order to give us some perspective on our budgeting process for 2017, mainly to make sure that we were writing somewhat accurate numbers into the budget and that we would be able to distribute the monies into the appropriate locations. Tersteeg's report basically showed the facts that the Rec. Park has consistently, over the past 10 years, increased its revenues in spite of the recession and the Park Board has adopted new, more innovative approaches to increasing revenues. This all was to help the Council understand what to expect next year. Part of the reason for this conversation was to support the next item on the agenda, which was...

The Financial Report provided by the City's Kim Dunsmoor had a number of different items, one of which related to the Rec. Park. It was the Finance Director's suggestion that the City officially create an assigned fund for the Park Department and to fund that account at an amount that is roughly equivalent to half of the year's operational expenses. The Council had been talking about this action for several years and was really pleased to see the suggestion supported by the Finance Director.

The next item on the Finance Report was concerning the Golf Course. The Golf Course hasn't made money for the last 12 years. It has been something that the City has financed consistently with General Fund monies for the past 12 years. This raises certain issues with the Golf Course itself, but the request from the Finance Director was to have the Council move the Golf Course account from an enterprise fund for the City to the General Fund. This move would more accurately reflect the nature of the Golf Course since enterprise funds are supposed to make money. The City also moved all of the City's other enterprises into the General Fund several years ago, so it made sense to consolidate them in the same place. The Council thought that this made sense, so the vote was taken and it was done.

The final item on the Finance Report was concerning the Library's restricted accounts. The Library has two restricted accounts, one that is composed of several gifts made to the Library and the other that is composed of a generous bequest by the Hazel Matthews estate that happened quite some time ago. The request was that the Council move to combine these accounts into one restricted account since the covenants that govern both of these accounts are exactly the same. I asked several questions about whether the Library Director was asked about this and whether this would change the way that the Library was able to use this money. The answers to these questions did not pose any concerns and the Council voted to combine the accounts.

Following that, the Council heard the second reading of the ordinance that we would like to opt out of the state restrictions on "Granny Pods" imposed by the state earlier this year. This passed unanimously.

The final thing that the Council heard was the recommendation from the City Personnel Committee to hire the new Assistant Library Director who will start around the beginning of the year. I have to confirm the name, but the selection has been made from a pool of very well qualified applicants. There were 5 interviews and three very good candidates. The Committee felt very lucky to have to make this very difficult decision.

Then on to Councilor Updates:

Councilor Moody had a question about whether sledding at the golf course is going to be allowed this year on the golf course. There has been some confusion about whether or not that is allowed.

Councilor Kennedy reported on the County's efforts to establish a Parks and Trails commission which is calling for one City representative either Council or staff on the commission. We need to have a conversation about who that person should be. Just about all of the Councilors present showed interest, but there was some discussion about Councilor Mills since he is on the Park Board here in the City.

The PUC's rate increases were approved. 2% for electric fund, 2% for water fund, 3% for sewer fund to reflect increases in purchase rates etc.

Greater MN Parks and Trails Commission is up for renewal in membership in this group to continue advocating for development of trail infrastructure in greater MN, including the Gitchi Gammi Trail.

My report was composed of a summary of my experience at the latest meeting in Beaver Bay concerning the sexual exploitation of young people in MN. We heard a presentation from a young woman who was actually exploited and trafficked within the State and her experience being exploited. She made it really clear that the people that are doing the exploiting most of the time study and know human psychology and are able to identify those that are vulnerable almost immediately...
The conversation will certainly continue, but will focus on trying to find ways that we can meet the needs of the young people in our community and thus remove the access or appeal of the exploiters.  There is a lot of stuff here and it isn't easy to tap into.

The other meeting was a North House Board meeting where they discussed the continued growth of the organization, future planning, the 20th anniversary, accommodating the new (but now postponed) overtime and labor rules, a new staff handbook, etc. It was overall a very positive meeting with a great deal of good information.

I couldn't remember the last item on my list during the meeting, but I remember it now... I will share it in another post because I think that it warrants its own post...

That was it! We were done and adjourned the meeting a little after 8.

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know!

Categories: Member Feeds

Chance of Sunshine

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 5:30pm
There’s a chance we’ll see the sun this weekend. Then again there’s a chance we won’t. Thu 29° 23° Fri 30° 23° Sat 29° 23° Sun 35° 23° Mon 36° 28° Tue 33° 19° Wed
Categories: Member Feeds

<p>11/30/16 - Reporting on ice out

Sawbill Newsletter - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 11:45am

11/30/16 - Reporting on ice out status is usually a spring job, but this fall the weather keeps us guessing. Warm temps and lots of rain have caused an interesting phenomenon on the lake. The ice is still there, but there is now an inch or more of water floating on top of it. This causes a strange appearance of open water that doesn't have any waves, regardless of how windy it gets. -Clare

Bill snapped this photo showing the strange occurrence of Sawbill lake simultaneously frozen and open.

Categories: Member Feeds

Mr. Sun

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 10:43pm

I had to find a picture with blue skies because I have forgotten what they look like. Another 1/4 of an inch of rain today and no sunshine. Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, shine your light on me.

Categories: Member Feeds

Rain and more Rain

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 9:30pm

It’s been raining off and on since early this morning. The temperature was in the high 30’s and 40’s all day so it was too warm for snow. Up the trail we received over a half of an inch of rain while closer to town they received over an inch. The rivers are running like it’s springtime and the majority of the snow has been eaten away. It’s suppose to cool off this week which should result in snow flurries  which would be a little more normal for this time of the year.

Categories: Member Feeds

I Love the Enthusiasm

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 11/27/2016 - 11:35am

Ok, don’t spoil this by watching the video from the beginning, well you could, but I want to suggest you start at 3:36 into the video. This guy is so enthusiastic about skipping rocks on ice, I love it! This could easily be done on a number of lakes on the Gunflint Trail(or anywhere) before the snow piles up. Believe me, I have done it and it is super fun. And I’ve thrown the really big ones on top of the ice to try to break it. You can have a ton of fun with a frozen sheet of ice!

Categories: Member Feeds

Fireworks in Grand Marais

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 11:16pm

In the summertime we have fireworks in Grand Marais for the 4th of July and again in August for Fisherman’s Picnic. The days of summer are long and it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks until around 10:00pm. Last night we had a parade, the lighting of the town Christmas tree and fireworks. What was the difference between last night’s fireworks and the fireworks in the summer? About 5 hours!  Just as beautiful.

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Never Tire of the Pines

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 9:42pm

Sometimes I wish the entire Gunflint Trail had trees as majestic as these pines, but then these ones wouldn’t be as special.

Gunflint Pines

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Welcome to the Winter Wonderland

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 4:43pm

Things have changed a little since we last spoke. After a seemingly endless string of days in mid-40s, a week ago Thursday, just before midnight, it started to snow.

And snow.

And snow.

By the time the weather system had passed us by on Saturday morning, we had almost 11″ of fluffy snow. By the time Monday morning rolled around there was a thin layer, about 1″, of ice completely covering Round Lake. Talk about Insta-winter!

The thing is, the winter weather hasn’t let up since. On Tuesday and Wednesday, another 5″ of snow accumulated and all day today, fluffy (and un-forecasted) snowflakes drifted down lazily to earth to freshen up the already very wintery scene. As much as winter clobbered us with its arrival this year, after such a long fall, the change in season was very welcome.

We’re steadily marching towards the shortest day of the year, but there are plenty of sights in this new winter wonderland to keep us distracted from the fading daylight. The songbirds (and squirrels) are back at the feeders, each morning we find a new set of wolf tracks zigzagging through the resort, and the otters have been busy slipping and sliding across the beaver pond near the Gunflint Trail.

Now that it actually looks like winter, it’s a little easier to thinking about things like winter camping and ice fishing. Dare we say, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . ?

If you’re hoping to spend some of your holiday season at Tuscarora, you can check out cabin availability and give us a call at 218-388-2221 to book.  Because the Lodge will be closed for renovations over Christmas and New Year’s, we have limited availability over the holidays this year and the cabins we do have available are booking up fast. Consider yourself warned!

As the snow accumulates outside we’re hunkering down, knuckling down on the Lodge bathroom renovation, and preparing for the busy holiday season ahead.

Not to add to the commercialism over this retail-centric weekend, but if you’re looking for Boundary Waters/Tuscarora presents for some of the paddlers on your gift list, look no further than the Gift Shop Mini-Mart we just launched on our website. You’ll find BWCA stocking stuffers like stickers and patches, as well as slightly larger items like coffee mugs for under the tree. Happy shopping and thanks for supporting small businesses!

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<p>11/25/16 - The lake has officially

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 9:58am

11/25/16 - The lake has officially frozen over here at Sawbill. As of two days ago, there was a skiff of ice covering all that we could see from the landing. We've had a bit more snow though, and day time temps are hovering around 34, with nights in the high-20s. So while we are impatiently waxing our skis, conditions are not yet safe for lake travel. -Clare

The first delicate ice on south Sawbill.

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Happy Thanksgiving All!

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 10:31pm

From our house to yours, we’re wishing you all the best this Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for you!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 4:32am

Sparky Stensaas caught this friendly cow moose in the Zak-Sim Bog earlier this week.

Look forward to a busy weekend in Cook County.

It kicks off on Friday with lots of activities in shops and galleries, including a visit by both Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Santa visits Stone Harbor Wildnerness Supply with his sled dogs from 2-4 p.m. Friday and 2-5 p.m. Saturday.

And Mrs. Claus holds court at Sivertson Gallery on Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.

Mrs. Claus (Cindy Hansen) visits Sivertson Gallery on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday night, the city celebrates the start of the holiday season with the Oh Ole Night Parade, tree lighting and fireworks. The parade (which goes around the block twice) highlights the Scandinavian heritage of the community and everyone is invited to join in. It starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday on Wisconsin St. The parade ends at Harbor Park where a tree lighting ceremony, carol singing and fireworks are planned.

Then at 8:30 p.m., the New Standards brings their holiday tour to Papa Charlie’s. This is the 10th anniversary of the event. The New Standards are a Minneapolis-based jazz trio, and they bring lots of friends and fellow musicians with them.

The New Standards Holiday Show is at Papa Charlie’s on Friday night.

This is always a great show — for its music, quirky comedy and joyful exuberance. To see a clip from a previous show, click here. For tickets, click here.

On Saturday, the Hovland Town Hall opens its doors for the Hovland Arts Festival Holiday Sale. The event, which is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features a wide variety of arts and crafts by local artists. Artwork includes woodturned bowls, wood carving, paintings, photography, beadwork, pottery, jewelry, fiber art, handcrafted candles and more.

Beadpainter Jo Wood is one of the artists who will be at the Hovland Arts Festival this Saturday.

Refreshments, including baked treats, will be available. All invited.

Also this weekend, Last Chance Studio and Gallery in Lutsen will host the 11th annual Holiday Market Nov. 25-27. All weekend they will  be collecting money and food donations for the local food shelf. The holiday party also includes ornament making as a fund-raising activity for the Cook County Community Fund.

On Saturday, there will be plein air painting demo by Kristin Blomberg starting at 3 p.m., a bronze sculpture pour at 4 p.m. by Tom Christiansen and caroling and the annual tree lighting ceremony. at 5 p.m.

Plein air painter, Kristin Blomberg, will give a painting demo at Last Chance Gallery at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Holiday art and refreshments will be available all weekend. The gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. All invited.

In Grand Marais, the annual Community Center Holiday Bazaar will be held at the Community Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.The Girl Scouts will be there with their beautiful poinsettias and a number of local artisans and crafters will be there, too, including Hana Senty (Hands of Harvest). Senty features handmade soaps, homemade jams and pickles as well as baked goods. Look for her fruit cake this year. And Alyce’s will be cooking up a delicious lunch.

On Saturday night, the Grand Marais Playhouse presents Todd Oliver & Friends, a nationally recognized comedian/ventriloquist/musician featuring “Irving,” America’s favorite real talking dog, as well as other characters.

Todd Oliver and Friends will be in performance at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Todd Oliver and Irving were awarded and received “Best Comedy Variety Performance” and “Best Dinner Show” at the Branson All American Entertainment Awards. He has also appeared on national television shows, including the Today Show. Tickets are $18 for adults, $8 for students under 18. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

In Duluth, the new exhibit at the Tweed Museum of Art,Un-Typing Casta,” an exploration of the Latinx stereotypes by Maria Cristina Tavera, has piqued interest.

Artwork from the exhibit “Un-Typing Casta” by Maria Christina Tavera.

Tavera was at the opening reception and was interviewed about her work on  Ennyman’s Territory, a weekly blog by Ed Newman. Check it out here.


 Holiday Art Underground at Betsy Bowen Gallery and Artist Studios, featuring new work by more than 40 local and regional artists, opens next weekend. The Sneak Peak opening reception is from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. Extended hours on Saturday are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit continues through Dec. 24.

The Northwoods Fiber Guild Holiday Sale will be held at the Grand Marais Art Colony on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sale features a wide variety of fiber work by guild members as well as homemade holiday treats. All invited.

The Borealis Chorale and Orchestra Community Christmas Concert will be held at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Sunday, Dec. 4, and Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. This year’s program includes selections from Benjamin Britton’s Ceremony of Carols and Handel’s Messiah, as well as orchestral pieces featuring harp and oboe. Guest artist Janell LeMire, harpist for Duluth Superior Orchestra, Lake Superior Orchestra, and UMD Festival Orchestra, will be a featured performer. There is no admission fee. However, freewill donations are accepted. The concert is presented in partnership with the North Shore Music Association.

In Other Art News:

Neil Sherman will have work in an exhibit at the Grand Hill Gallery in St. Paul (333 Grand Ave.) The exhibit opens Dec. 1.

“Laundry Day,” oil,  by Neil Sherman.

Sherman writes: I think everyone should do their laundry at a laundromat at least once a month. Think of it as an interesting vacation: you’ll see different people (and their clothes), be mesmerized by following your red shirt centripetally dancing in the giant barrel drier and take in your surroundings at a place you wouldn’t normal think of taking in. I can tell you more about this painting and the laundromats in Grand Marais on Dec. 1 at the the opening.”

Travis Novitsky has published a book. Entitled “The Night Sky: Adventures and Stories from a Decade of Adventures after Dark,” the book features a great selection of his night photographs as well as commentary.

Travis Novitsky‘s new book can be previewed and ordered online.

 To preview the book and order, click here.

Bronze sculptor, John Books, a Thunder Bay transplant who now lives in Grand Marais, is exhibiting his work at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery through Jan. 8.

John Books’ exhibit “Oxen of the Sun” continues at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. (Photo by Jennifer Schulz.)

Several Grand Marais residents have gone up to see the show and report that it is quite fabulous. (Need we remind you that passports or passport cards are required?)

Meanwhile, here’s the music for the week in Cook County:

Friday, Nov. 25:

  • Pushing Chain, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • The New Standards Holiday Show, Papa Charlie’s, 8:30 p.m.
  • Oversize Load, Grandma Ray’s, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 26:

  • Matt Trost and Laurel Clark, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Dat Dere Jazz, Grandma Ray’s, 6 p.m.
  • Eric Frost, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, Log Cabin Concert, 7 p.m.
  • Mysterious Ways, Gun Flint Taern, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 27:

  • Brothers in Arms, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 28:

  • Open Mic Night, Grandma Ray’s, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 29:

  • Briand Morrison, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.


We found lots of cool wave shots this week, as well as wonderful wildlife photos. Let’s start with:

Wild turkeys!

Thanksgiving turkeys by Marilyn Rau.

And this lovely shot of swans.

“Comin’ in hot” by Angie Botner.

And an owl…

“The moment you feel you are being watched” by Ken Hupila.

And a Great Blue Heron… Lou Pignolet, who lives in Hovland (and will be at the Hovland Arts Festival this weekend with his wood-turned bowls), said he found this heron hunkered down in the snow after the storm. At some point, it walked out from under its cover and flew south … hopefully to warmer climes.

“Oops: Great Blue Heron” by Lou Pignolet.

And, how about this amazing shot by David Johnson?

An eagle’s lunch by David Johnson.


For a change of mood, here’s a lovely shot of first snows in Grand Marais.

“Seasons change and so do we,” by Don Davison.

And here’s another wonderful “first snows”  by Paul Sundberg.

“The Cascades” by Paul Sundberg.

Early ice forms on the breakwall…

“Sawtooth Ice” by Todd Mestad.

It all started here — with a big nor’easter.

Photo by Sierra Parsons.


Lake Superior at Tettegouche by John Gregor.


Lighthouse craziness by Margie Crain.

And last, but not least, a wave statement.

Photo by Ryan Laplante.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

P.S. Putting this blog together every week is my contribution to the arts scene on the North Shore.  If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation to support it. Thank you!

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Heavy Wet Snow

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 8:58pm

It snowed again today and it was perfect snow for building a snowman, if you didn’t want the snowman to last too long. With the temperature in the 30’s it was heavy wet snow. Abby and a friend found out it wasn’t good snow for sledding down a hill. One very slow trip down and the snow was packed into a slush, not very slippery to say the least. It wasn’t fun snow to shovel either. It’s the back breaking kind of snow where you barely need any in your shovel and you can’t lift it off of the ground. But it’s snow and it’s pretty and there will be more of it.

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Lack of Light

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:06pm

It’s that time of the year when the days just keeping getting shorter and shorter. It’s amazing how quickly the sun starts going down in the afternoon. The sun sets around 4:27 pm and doesn’t rise until around 7:23 am for just over 9 hours of daylight. The daylight gets shorter by around 2 minutes each day this time of year and by the solstice we’ll have just 8 hours and 32 minutes of daylight.

It’s not my favorite time of the year since I’m a light lover. I love the sunshine and a brightly lit room. The electric company loves me because I tend to have every light possible on inside of my house.

The good news is as quickly as the days got shorter they will get longer once again. It’s just one more month and things will turn around.

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