Unorganized Territory

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Life in unorganized territory
Updated: 1 hour 9 min ago

A pat on the back for parents

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 8:54pm

It’s been a busy few weeks for the community, especially for our local schools as they wrap up the school year. It’s been an adventure as Brian Larsen and I struggle to remember when and where all the events are taking place. We’ve been juggling and rearranging schedules to try to be everywhere to get photos. And then, we have to find time to write it all up. It’s a tiring, but fun time of year.

I’ve been consoling myself that coming soon is the one week of the year that I do not write a column. You see this week before graduation is a bit of a cheat week for me.

I try really hard not to repeat myself in Unorganized Territory. I’ve written this column every week since October 9, 1999, so there have been times when similar ideas have been expressed. I’ve never intentionally run the exact same thoughts on the exact same topic.

But I’ve come close with the column I’ve written for parents of graduating seniors each year. It’s become a tradition to write this column which almost writes itself.

I write for the parents because the graduates of the Class of 2015 are far too busy to read a newspaper column. I know, they were almost too busy to get their senior photos and interview to us for our special Meet the Class of 2015 feature!

Last year’s graduates celebrating. The Class of 2015 will have its turn on Saturday, May 30. Congratulations all!

The members of the Class of 2015 are too excited to look to the News-Herald for sage advice. They are busy making travel and housing plans for college next fall or getting in shape for the physical training they will be met with when they enter the military. They are spending these final spring days with the dear friends to whom they will soon be saying tearful farewells.

It’s an amazing time for the Class of 2015 and they don’t need any more advice from caring community members.

It’s different for parents. It’s a bittersweet time for them. Parents are filled with relief that all those battles over homework and curfews are over. They are proud that their child has fulfilled the requirements of graduation and will make a dramatic entry in his or her cap and gown.

But there is also that looming goodbye—the one that every parent dreads from the time their son or daughter takes his or her first steps, shyly waves goodbye on the way to preschool, or gets behind the steering wheel for the first time. Graduation is a final rite of passage, one that comes all too soon.

It’s impossible that the tiny baby that changed your world could turn into an adult so quickly. It’s hard to believe how fast all those years of teacher conferences, spring concerts, sporting events, and last-minute grade concerns, flew by.

The last few months are the craziest, with the final chaos of invitations and open houses. I think the parents are the ones who need the pat on the back right now.

So, I hope they take a few minutes to sit down and read this column. They need a little time for themselves right now. They need a break between cleaning house for the party and figuring out where visiting relatives will sleep; between buying decorations and calculating how much cake will be eaten; between all the chaos that comes from planning for graduation.

Truly, it is good that there is a lot to do—it makes the fast-approaching farewell a bit easier for mom and dad. At least until the graduate packs up his or her belongings and leaves them to the empty nest.

For those parents, I’m ending with a longer-than-usual quote. I received it from my mom when my first “baby” graduated in 1997. I’ve shared this Erma Bombeck quote in Unorganized Territory several times now. It still makes me tear up when I read it, but I still find comfort in it.

I hope the parents of the Class of 2015 do too.

     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Children are like kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless – they crash – you add a longer tail – they hit the rooftop – you pluck them out of the spout – you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly!

…Finally they are airborne, but they need more string – you keep letting it out and with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy, because the kite becomes more distant and somehow you know that it won’t be long until that beautiful creature will snap the life line that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar – free and alone.

Erma Bombeck

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Where are we in May 2015?

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 11:58am

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

We had a number of guesses of where we were in April, including Devil’s Kettle, Kadunce River, and Cascade River. However, the correct location was below the Highway 61 bridge on the Cross River in Schroeder.

Try your luck! Take a look at the May photo. If you think you know where we were when we took this picture, send us your answer.

You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Whoever is drawn from the correct entries will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!

Answer to the May WHERE ARE WE? must be received
by June 16, 2015.

Send your entry to:
Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604

Drop it by our office at:

15 First Avenue West
Fax: 218-387-9500
Questions? 218-387-9100

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Mom’s selective memory

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 3:23pm

I’m a sucker for those goofy Internet quizzes that answer burning questions such as “What Disney princess are you?” or “What state should you live in?” After clicking to answer a variety of nonsensical questions or choosing which picture you like best from an odd assortment, these digital Rorschach tests supposedly give you great insight. They tell you what the theme song for your life should be or which character on the Golden Girls sitcom you most closely resemble or whether you are a girlygirl or a tomboy.

These little personality tests remind me of the quizzes that used to be found in magazines. Taking those were more work. You had to jot down your answers—a., b., c., or d.—and then add to get your score. Once you tallied the points for each a., b., or c., etc., you had the score that would answer the burning question.

Seventeen magazine had quizzes every month, giving readers the chance to find out if her soulmate was Davy Jones of The Monkees or David Cassidy of The Partridge Family. As I got older, I graduated to quizzes in Redbook or Cosmopolitan. Quizzes that asked important questions such as “What career should you have?” or “How compatible are you and your sweetheart?”

I guess I like the silly cyber quizzes because I grew up on those magazine questions. And they are fun conversation starters. A friend recently shared a quiz asking “How bad were you as a child?” It was interesting to see who was 20 percent, 50 percent and 70 percent “bad.”

I took that test with some trepidation. I knew I wasn’t a very good kid. I was surprised when the results said I was 40 percent “bad.”

My Mom has put up with a lot through the years, from her kids — and my goofy Dad!

That is when I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who saw the results on Facebook. When I saw the 40 percent, I stated that I didn’t agree. I thought I should have been much higher on the “bad” scale. Mom, bless her heart, has selective memory. She said I was a good kid.

She is partially right, I was a good kid in elementary school and even into junior high. I was terribly shy and wanted nothing more than to shrink into the background with a book. So, aside from being a poor math student, I was a very well-behaved child.

But when I hit high school, I think I was horrible. I look at some of the journals I kept from that era and apparently the only word in my vocabulary was stupid. School was stupid. Confirmation classes were stupid. My sister was stupid. Life was stupid.

And, unfortunately, as friends from high school know, I really did misbehave. I was part of the snotty teenage crowd that hid in the woods behind the school and smoked cigarettes. I skipped school and I smarted off in class. My best friend and I snuck out of our junior-senior banquet after dinner and before the speaker because we didn’t want to be bored. There’s more, but I don’t need to tell on myself.

But what is important, what is wonderful, is that my mom was—and is—able to overlook it all. When I brought home mid-quarter slips showing failing grades or was got caught misbehaving, she didn’t scream and holler. She didn’t lecture too much. She simply shook her head and gave me “the look.”

“The look” let me know she was disappointed in whatever I had done. But it also let me know that she saw past the bad behavior. It let me know that she knew I could—and would someday—do better. Thanks for the love and support and the selective memory, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!


A mother is not a
person to lean on, but a
person to make leaning

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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