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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

 


What's On:
Making the trek

Magnetic North: Polar Bearing-up

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Magnetic North_Finalcut_20140117.mp312.45 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North, where Mother Nature showed her Mommy Dearest face to us through the holidays and beyond.
 
It came to be called the Polar Vortex. A bracing name for being held in the grip of incessant snowy days at temperatures well below zero. Bringing all the attendant woes along with it.
 
My little part of the world got off easy. At first.
 
The pre-Christmas snow dumped a skinny 18 inches on the farm. But since the wind blew for three days and nights, I shoveled and blew those 18 inches multiple times in order to carry grain, water and hay to my critters.
 
The path to the barn was the toughest.
 
Since the expanse of yard is wide open to the south, the direction of the lake effect snow and wind, the 300-foot-long path drifted over time and again. And although goats are one of the two domesticated creatures on earth who can go feral and survive nicely, thank you - the other being cats - I feel compelled to make that trek at least once daily with vittles for them.
 
Their hay is stored in one side of my two-car garage, right outside my back door. Last year it was stored in the barn, so when I sprained my ankle doing chores in February, I merely opened the door between the goat stable and hay storage area and told them: “You’re on your own!” A fine solution.
 
At first. Come summer, the once towering hay bales had been trampled to a thick floor, the barn loft and its contents invaded and strewn about.
 
But it wasn’t all bad.
 
I finally found the Fisher-Price castle and purple dragon my sweet husband had “put away” in the loft 10 years before the birth of my grandchildren - they are now 8 and 12. And the hay mat covering the barn floor gave the youth group from my church a dandy project last fall.
Then there was the Polar Vortex. I could be wrong, but it seemed as though we had snow for weeks, even during the plunge into the nether regions below zero. So much for “too cold to snow.”
 
And so much for Christmas day plans.
 
 A friend and I visited the Maple Hill cemetery that day with the intention of putting beautiful wreaths on our husbands’ resting places. (Why is it so icky to say the word “graves?”)
 
It was the first Christmas without them for both of us. So being with them in some way seemed quite fitting.
 
We brought snowshoes. Ladders would have really helped.
 
The one plowed road into the cemetery and past the little white Maple Hill Church over looking the harbor had 4-foot-high sides. Those walls of snow were hard-packed enough for me to wedge the toes of my snowshoes in and clamber up and over them. Only 10 or so feet to Paul’s grave marker. Ten or so feet in 23-oot-deep snow.
 
What was supposed to be a sweet story turned quickly into a contender for winner of World’s Funniest Videos.
 
Suffice it to say that I got my wreath on the metal rod sticking up over Paul’s plot.  And while doing it I had the very real sensation of far-off chuckling. What we do for love!
 
The week leading up to New Year’s Day found our county sinking farther and farther down into the minuses. Highs were laughably reported in minus double digits. Snowbirds cruelly telephoned to see if we were OK. Give me a break! We know why they called!
 
My troubles of 2014 began Jan. 1 when I turned into a new ‘ driveway to welcome them to the ‘hood with fresh-layed eggs and a stollen I’d baked. Into the ditch I went. Lucky for me they were home. And super nice. We got to know each other well as I waited for the tow truck. But by the time I pulled out of their driveway I’d already missed a New Year’s Day party so headed home to feed the critters.
 
That’s when I found I had no water.
 
No water. And four 5-gallon buckets to fill twice a day. Not to mention MY needs.
 
Ah, but all that snow, you say. My daughter in California told me that it was so lucky I had - by this time - several feet of snow I could harvest and melt for anything I needed.
 
I won’t repeat what I said to her. But fact is that a spaghetti pot full of snow melts down to just over an inch of water. And there is always “stuff” in that water.
 
Again, luck was on my side, though. The former owner of this place tapped an artesian spring, routed it into our lower level into a huge tile and blessed all future occupants with emergency water backup.
 
And so, in the 48 hours it took me to find the rogue pipe - the one to the outside spigot that SOMEONE had removed the pink fuzzy insulation from - I did just fine.
 
Until the sink drain plugged up.
 
Now city folks get snarly when a drain clogs. But up here, in winter, after a few cosmic ha-has and with a nifty grey-water line given to freezing, one goes right from irritated to panic.
 
At first.
 
Finding all other drains open and draining well, I grabbed the tools of my trade - drain opener poison and a 2-yard long plumber’s snake and went to work. The poison proved worthless, so to the snake.
 
And voila! With only a few easy twists in the drain, the snake opened the clog! I patted myself on the back and yodeled a victory cry.
 
Then I perceived a wet sensation around my slipped feet. Water, poison water, yet, was pooling on the floor.
 
Again, that chuckling somewhere around me came. And with it a reminder of what Paul always told me: “You’ll be fine. You can fix anything.”
 
Well, I tried. I got all the parts, spend lots of quality time on my back upside down, head in a place where garbage and other creepy stuff dwells - Josh Grobin in the background helped - to no avail. At last, I did what my mother always told me: “Get someone who knows what they’re doing!”
 
Meanwhile, the snow continued. The path to the barn drifted and, eventually, the drifts sucked the power going to the electric fence right into their greedy depths.
 
The goats, all five, stood OUTSIDE the fence looking over the drifts at me. I stood at the back deck, new bale of hay on the sled. And I did the only sane thing. I bleated at them. “Come and get it!”
 
Shocked, they looked at each other and didn’t move.
 
“Come to me...” I bleated....”Or else!”
 
And so they did. Their path was serpentine, not straight. But then, they’re goats. And for over a week now, even though snowing every day has ceased and the daytime highs are actually in the positive double digits, I continue to put the hay by the woodshed just a few feet from the back door and the goats come to me.
 
Why didn’t I think of this decades ago?
 
The real proof that our deep freeze has abated came in the way folks would say hello and goodbye then and now. “How ya doing” and “Have a good one” became “Man, this is really somethin’ isn’t it?“ and “Stay warm.”
 
And the snowbirds don’t call to gloat, I mean, commiserate, so often.
 
In all, there is a sort of smugness that descends on us after nature gives us a going over and we are still standing, water running, drains draining, critters surviving. A hilarity at a sunny day showing up all the dust and dog hair. A catch in the throat at the Day-Glo peach and rose sunset over the harbor.
We have been in the whirlpool, the vortex, the roller coaster on its way down thrall and thrill of winter. And don’t we just love it?


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 5

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LSPTrafficking5_Finalcut_20140117.mp311.83 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part five of a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 4

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LSPTrafficking4_Finalcut_20140116.mp310.47 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part four of a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 3

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LSPTrafficking3_Finalcut2_20140115.mp315.55 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part three a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 2

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LSPTrafficking2_Finalcut_20140114.mp312.68 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part two a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 2

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LSPTrafficking2_Finalcut_20140114.mp312.68 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part two a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 1

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LSPTrafficking1_Finalcut_20140113.mp39.49 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we begin a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and its surrounding area.


 
Dogs prepare to hit the trail of the 2014 Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race.

The 2014 Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race is Underway!

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2014 Gichigami Express Start FINAL.mp312.39 MB

The 2014 Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race is currently underway.  WTIP’s Cathy Quinn made a trip to Grand Portage on Saturday morning to watch the start of the race and to visit with a few of the folks involved with this year’s event.  Cathy first spoke with the President of the Gichigami Express, Jack Stone about trail conditions after receiving 8 inches of new snow on Friday.


 
The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: "A thoroughfare for tar sands crude oil shipping?"

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Finalcut_LSP 26_20131209.mp35.97 MB

Coal. Iron ore. Grain. Limestone. Cement. Salt. Wood pulp. Wind turbine components. Steel coil. All of these commodities and more, at one point or another, have made their way out of the Duluth-Superior port and onto the open waters of Lake Superior aboard ships. In a few years, another commodity could possibly be added to that list. Calumet Specialty Product Partners, a petroleum refiner located in Superior, Wisconsin, has been moving forward with the first steps of a process to construct a crude oil loading dock in the port. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we speak with Lyman Welch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, about the potential for shipping tar sands oil on the Great Lakes.


 
Wooly Bear Caterpillar

Magnetic North: All hail the Wooly Bear

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Finalcut_MagNorth_20131207.mp36.44 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North, where my faith in the wooly bear caterpillar has turned to rock solid belief.
 
Some months back I found a solid black wooly bear caterpillar on the chicken coop steps.  Reporting this stunning news in my radio commentary brought the usual comments -all denying that caterpillar colors do not a winter foretell. Well, you scoffers, let’s have a little respect for the little guy now!
 
Remember that bone-splitting cold snap last month, huh? And now? Now, as we are caught with our mukluks still in mothballs? Mother Nature dumped an inch of snow an hour on us in some spots along the shore. My personal best  - drift-wise - was only 18 inches. But that was before my snow plower pushed close to 3 feet of compacted snow up against both garage doors. Love the clean driveway. Just wish I could get the car out. Hint. Hint.
 
But am I bitter? Heavens no.
 
I love snow and cold. It’s just that being of a certain age, I am fed up with those downer warnings on the radio about how I should conduct myself when faced with 2 feet of snow and 5-degree weather. You know the drill:
 
Cold air in one’s lungs mixed with excess muscle exertion is the prime cause of heart failure among middle-aged and older adults.
 
Translation: Geezers, save your breath to cool your soup and get some nice neighbor kid to wield that shovel.
 
Well, my chickens and ducks and goats and geese need food and water and reassurances that, all evidence to the contrary, death is not imminent. Not for them. Not for this kid.
 
I do love winter, though. Everything looks so fresh. Clean-sheet fresh and new. The evergreen trees seem to march forward out of the forest, standing guard over their bare naked brethren until their leaves come back from the dry cleaners or wherever they’ve gone.
 
My mallard ducks, the ones who choose to stay the winter once the pond freezes, are true winter warriors. The small flock of nine - six drakes and three females - move around the house, choosing the least windy locale, preferably close to the heated water trough and the round blue plastic kiddy sled mounded high with chicken scratch.
 
One drake is a holdover from two summers back, an outcast really. He wintered in the chicken coop where he was fed well and kept warm but his plumage got dull and frowsy.
 
No wonder the wild birds chased him off last spring. And even though, living outside on the pond, he got just as handsome as the other drakes, still they kept him at a distance.  Night after night, throughout the summer and fall he parked himself outside the coop, not wanting in, but not welcome with the wild flock wherever they got to. Then the cold and snow came.
 
Being a compulsive fixer, especially of critters, whether they need fixing or not, I tried for three cold nights to catch him. In the process, I named him Marty, after the old movie starring Ernest Borgnine, about a homely guy who pines for love and spends his life pretty much alone.
 
Well, Marty proved mighty sprightly, even taking to the air at times to avoid my clumsy grasping. Eventually, after landing face-first in a pile of snow, I gave Marty a piece of my so-called mind and gave up the effort.
 
Then lo, one starry night, Marty was not alone.
 
The smallest female mallard in the wild bunch sat next to him in the snow by the steps of the coop. He gave me that sideways, “Yo! Wassup?!” duck look as I shone the flashlight beam at him and his sweetie. She averted her eyes shyly and snuggled a titch closer to her new best friend. They’ve been an item now for a good week. Right through the blizzard.
 
Although in the worst of it, they took to shacking up on the deck between the house and garage. In the way of all outcasts, old Marty has grown some serious survival chops. And it looks like at least one of the wild bunch appreciates that. Plus, his plumage does fairly glow after his summer in the sun.
 
Time compresses in these deep winter depths. Time to really notice the critters, let alone water and feed them. I’ve hardly finished the morning chores before tuck-in time looms. Just when I have less time, everything takes more of it.
 
Water buckets stand in the back hall thawing. They never completely do, so a mound of ugly ice blocks is forming by the wood shed. And, instead of a simple push of a door or gate. I need a shovel most days to get into the goat corral and coop.
 
And even though I do love the long nights inside, after the two dogs have their last run, I put them in and wander into the dark again. If it’s a clear night, I’ll take the kick sled and do a few loops down the driveway or around the snowblown paths. Most times, I end up in the side of the garage where my three geese and retired chickens are housed in luxury amidst dozens of bales of sweet-smelling new hay.
 
Sitting on an old lawn chair, I wait for the geese come over, taking little nibbles on my shoelaces and at last allowing me to pick them up, one at a time, to be warmed and fussed over. Oh, they protest, but in less than a minute, a long gray neck lays languidly over one of my shoulders and one of them settles on my lap.
 
Imagine a goose down pillow that makes soft murmuring sounds - call me crazy, but I feel like one of the blessed of this life to be allowed this delight. I forget the shoveling, the wall of snow blocking my car, the doomsayers on the radio. And I bless the all-black wooly bear for giving us such a wonderful early Christmas gift.