Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I wonder if she was trying to reach "ludicrous speed."

An approximation, using an old picture of downtown Ashland from January and some stuff I found on the interweb, of the old lady I saw power-walking down Main Street today in a purple velour jogging suit and hair so helmet-like it looked like she'd just walked off the set of Spaceballs.

The people in my neighborhood.

Takes a licking, keeps on ticking. (For now.)

So remember how my camera took a tumble at Brighton Beach, fell on some big vindictive rocks and splashed ever-so-slightly into a small puddle (of DOOM!)? And it started going the "white screen of death" thing whenever I'd turn it on?

Well, these symptoms have, most mysteriously...disappeared. A few days after the splash, I brought it with me to town just to try it out, and it worked fine when I was out taking the Fort Fakey/Pamida Beach pictures. I'm not sure if this is a temporary reprieve, or if it really did magically fix itself--but for now, since it's working again, the new camera hunt goes on the back burner once again.

Anyway, here's some pictures from the fateful weekend in question. I was over in Duluth/Superior...our first stop was UWS, where we discovered they're filling the student senate with 80s television superstars.
Gary Coleman?  How cool is that???

We were going to write-in "Screech."

Later that evening at Shannon's swinging new apartment, we feasted on a fine array of tacos cream tacos?
I'm told it's delicious.
I'm told they're "delicious."

Later, while trying to create an homage to Laverne & Shirley by Shannon's front door, something peculiar happened. I'm not sure if they just stepped into a swirling vortex of confusion in the space/time continuum, or if Joe just got zapped by a shrink ray...but why does Travis look like a GIANT???
We were going for a "Laverne & Shirley" vibe...

Though we continued our research into Travis' sudden gigantism well into the evening, we came to no iron-clad conclusions.
Giant Travis with bananas.

The following afternoon, prior to our screening of
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters with my brother Whitey, we made that ill-starred trip over to Brighton Beach (on the northeast side of Duluth)...
Looking back down the shoreline toward Duluth.

Red lined rock.

Practicing for high heels?


Like a modern day Sacajawea.

Just about the last picture the camera took.
And that's the last picture I took before the "white screen of death" came to roost...well, before the miraculous revival, anyway.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Down by the bay, revisited.

The same day I visited Fakey Fort last week, I wandered down by Pamida Beach and took a few pictures before the ice went out. (And what with our utterly spring-like temperatures over the past few days, now it's pretty much all gone, except for some piddling leftover snowbanks down by Sandbar.)

Dock next to old dock.
The water is really low this year--I've heard it's a foot shallower than last year at this point. I could easily walk out to the end of the dock on the pilings beside it, only a few puddles to dodge. I can't remember it ever being this low as a kid--in my memory, the middle of those pilings were always at least partially submerged.

Lighthouse in the distance.

Oredock through the little dock.




Lousy hooligans.
Some hooligans tossed one of the picnic tables off the dock, and now as the ice is melting, the table's sinking into the lake. Lousy hooligans.

No lifeguard on duty.
Maybe if there'd been a lifeguard on duty, it would've dissuaded the hooligans.

Unlucky rabbit's foot.
Unlucky rabbit's foot.

Mossy bricks.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fort Dubious.

Looking toward the Oredock.
The City of Ashland is planning on demolishing/removing the fort out by Pamida, referred to in the Asbach household lo these many years (if something built in the mid-1980s even qualifies
for a "lo these many years" referencing) as "Fort Pamida," "Fort What's-Its-Name," "Y'know, that fake fort by the beach," and "Fort Fakey."

Normally, I'm all about preservation, but oh my god I can't wait for this eyesore to go away.

1. It's not historical--it's not even a replica of something that ever stood on that spot. It's just...there. It's like somebody found a grant for a big pile of lumber and said, "Eureka! Let's put up a fort of dubious origins and further confuse the tourists who think the opposite side of the bay is Canada, and that the Oredock is where they store the apples from Bayfield!"

2. It looks like hell. The wood they used to built it was never properly weathersealed, so it's structurally unsound, and on top of that no one's been maintaining the interior grounds (basically, a flat stretch of lawn with a flagpole) for what appears to be quite some time.

Hole in the gate.
(Through the hole through the front gate.)

Thru a crack in the bendy wall.
(Through a hole in the bendy wall.)

Sign of life?
(Left by the voyageurs, perhaps?)

I'm not saying the fort was a terrible idea--under the right circumstances, maybe it could have taken off as a tourist hotspot. (Say, if it was beside the visitor's center out by County G--maybe there, it would've gotten more traffic?) But even then, it was always a stretch to wait on that happening--it was always just an empty set of walls. Short of some massive surge in the public's interest in voyageur crap, it was never gonna be the Disneyworld of the Northland.

After some brainstorming, the City's planning on trying to sell the fort in a lottery, providing that "more than one person is interested," which is a nice idea--sure, chances are it'd wind up as firewood or something, but wouldn't it be cool to set this baby up in your backyard? Y'know, in case your marauding neighbors try to attack? Of course, you'd probably want to shore up those walls, first...
Structurally sound?  Not so much.

Walking over from the beach parking lot.

More fun than it probably should be.

The Duluth News-Tribune has an interactive map of a bunch of restaurants in Duluth/St. Louis County and how they scored on their health inspections in the past year.

My favorite so far: "Soda guns and holders in bar area need to be kept free of slime and mold and must be cleaned nightly."

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Today my camera fell into a puddle (albeit a very shallow puddle, and only for about one or two seconds)...a puddle made amongst a dip in some big rocks. Bad clunk. Water and hard, hard rocks--way to go, Mary!

After drying it off, it worked for the next five minutes or so...then the "white screen of death" descended. Bad. Big bad.

Tonight, I got it working again for a few minutes at a the pictures on the memory card uploaded to the computer, so they're safe. But the white screen of death keeps returning.

The good news: the intervals between turning the camera on, and the white screen of death coming, are getting longer. Which leads me to believe it's possible this will resolve itself (maybe something got wet inside, and needs to dry out?).

Bad news: in my experience, once something like this happens to a digital camera, it's never quite the same.

Camera shopping time?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hell hath no fury like a 10 year-old scorned.

I have my suspicions that this may have been written as a joke...but I can't be 100% sure.

Kidding...or was I?

1. "Mega-mad" = so 1980s it

2. I love that I spelled "poop" like "soup."

3. I also love that I signed my full name to a runaway note I was leaving for my immediate family. Just in case, y'know, they got me confused with some other Mary in the house.

4. Were the multitudinous Xs and Os written purely out of habit...or, were they a masterstroke of sarcastic brilliance? We may never know.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter.

Easter, 1989.

(Easter egg hunt at Prentice Park in Ashland, 1989.)

Every time my brother Dewey & his buddy Scott Morland saw this bunny, they'd laugh and laugh and laugh. "He looks like he got kicked in the NUTS!!!"

And I love how in this picture, it kinda looks like all the kids are laughing at the bunny. That loser.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white Easter.

And, thanks to the foot of snow we've gotten since early yesterday morning, I'll get my wish. (Not.)

Easter eggs.

Mother Nature was a smidge late with the April Fool's joke, I guess.

Deer tracks.





For some reason, this reminded me of this line from Better Off Dead:
"This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Baby Girl Ashbach."

Busting up the bassinette.

"The year you were born, I was still working at Penney's on my 'first tour of duty,' three days a week, for $3.65 an hour. Dad was as Lake Superior District Power Company in the big office building on Ellis Avenue, doing payroll. We were still living in our mobile home in the woods (before the house was built). Dewey was 3 1/2 years old, and he went to Grandma Vera & Grandpa Skip's every day (Great Grandma Fannie lived in the upstairs apartment at their house). Dewey said he'd 'rather have a puppy than a new baby in the house.'

The winter you were born was extra-cold. We had tons of snow -- the roof was leaking in January because of too much snow, and the furnace kept quitting -- it was in the wall in one of the little bedrooms in our trailer, and we could hear it rattling away in the other end of the house!

I was still using the portable Hoover washer in the kitchen, and had no dryer. Dad sold the car we had -- a black Pontiac Trans Am with a big eagle decal painted on the hood, and ordered a new Camaro. It arrived right after you were born, and we used that car for years. Dad also bought a used tractor that winter, and a used riding lawnmower. So he got 'toys' at a regular pace. I just wanted a decent washer, but that had to wait at least another year, after you were one.

I looked very 'due' in January -- some customers at Penneys were saying, 'Are you always pregnant? How many kids do you have already?'

On April 2nd, I worked all day. Uncle Charlie's appendix burst, and he had emergency surgery at Memorial Medical Center. No insurance!

On Tuesday, April 3rd, I had a day 'off.' I burned trash in the outdoor burning barrel, washed clothes -- with the portable Hoover again -- and made a roast for supper. Dewey wet his pants (again) -- I changed them out on the doorstep...I don't know why. Dad went right after work at 4:30 to meet with an insurance man for the racetrack and didn't get home until 7:30 -- Dewey and I ate alone. Then I ironed clothes, and then at 9:30 we went to Grandma Vera and Grandpa Skip's as I was feeling 'crampy.' We bundled Dewey up & sat there until 10:30 -- gotta see the 'news, weather & sports'!

Your dad and I left and rode around for a little while and looked at stuff. There were lots of northern lights that night, a beautiful, starry night. Then we went to MMC -- Dad had to practically drag me there. Dad stayed in the hallway -- Dr. Krehr delivered you, and only had 1 hour of delivery! You were born at 11:50 P.M. I found out later that you and Todd C. would be the last of the babies Dr. Krehr would deliver, because he delivered a baby in December and the mother died (no one monitored her well enough), and that kind of ended his career.

When they told Dewey the big news the next morning, he told Grandpa Skip he was 'too busy watching TV.'

I was up and in the shower at 4:00 A.M. Uncle Charlie was down the hall from me, and he kept calling me up and complaining about everything. Dad called from home -- he was giving Dewey a bath, and he was so loud I could hear him on the kitchen phone Dad was on, and Dewey was all the way at the other end of the trailer out there.

They were adding on to MMC then -- jackhammers were going all day, adding to Uncle Charlie's anguish. Grandma Vera and Grandpa Skip don't come 'all the way' out to see us (note: they lived 10 blocks down the same street the hospital's on).

A lady from Mellen came in to have a baby, and she had party friends from the bars who all came in at once, smuggling beer in their pockets.

We went home from the hospital on Saturday, April 7th. It was a cloudy, dreary day. Dewey was all full of hugs & kisses -- barely got settled and Grandma Vera & Grandpa Skip came out. Dad went to town for a 'ride' later.

Grandma Rosie was making kolaches to send to Uncle Charlie at the hospital, and the next day, Sunday, she needed someone to 'haul the bakery' out to Charlie. So, guilt-ridden Jane 'offered' to take it to him. I never did figure out why no one else could do it. I walked in the front of MMC and the lady at the desk asked me if I was there to deliver a baby.

A little later in the month, Great Grandma Fannie went to visit her 'baby sister' Laura in Bloomer. She was 98. She washed all of her floors on her hands & knees while she was there.

One day in late May we went to Gibson's (now Pamida) to buy some garbage cans for the racetrack. And that's the day we forgot you in the basket when we went out of the store!

On June 13th I got away alone for the first time, to a Mary Kay cosmetic party at Aunt Tracy's. 2 1/2 months!

I tried to go back to work at Penneys in June. I took you & Dewey to 'Teacher Tots Daycare' -- Dewey HATED it. You just slept in the windup swing all day, in a big bonnet. Dewey whined to Grandma Vera and she scolded me about making Dewey go to daycare. Eventually, I gave up Penneys three days a week and cut it to Thursday nights and Saturdays, when Dad would be home. Grandma Vera tried to watch you both, but it was 'too much' for her.

I quit the part-time work at Penneys on November 19th -- then my boss called me back two more times to do windows! So, I've actually gone back there to work, like, five times since the 1960s!

Dewey could make you laugh out loud at four months. Great Aunt Aggie said she didn't think you heard very well, as you slept through all the noise when we had family gatherings. Dr. Hamp checked your ears, and ah-HA! You needed tubes. You had your first surgery on December 28, 1979 and you could suddenly hear our grandfather clock -- you acted like you had never heard it before!

This is probably more than you bargained for..."

--My mom, April 2, 2007.

So they've been spelling my name wrong...

(So people have been spelling my name wrong since...the day I was born, I guess.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Out with the new, in with the old.

More treasures from the family vault.

Grandpa Andrew, feeding a bird.
My Grandpa Andrew (mom's dad), feeding a bird. (1970)

Jane, her cousin Anna Lu, and Uncle Tom.
My mom, her cousin Anna Lu, and my uncle Tom. Plus, some chickens. And a puppy. (1946)

Swinging off the rope on the barn. (1960s)

Uncle Frank.
Uncle Frank (Grandpa Andrew's brother) at Moquah Days, 1988.

I love how crazy Tracy looks in this picture. She looks like she's running at the camera with a knife! haha (1963)

"The glory of the uniform."
My mother in her full Ondossagon High School Marching Band regalia. (1963)

Bosom buddies.
My mom being manhandled by my crazy aunt Charlene at her wedding. (1970)

Uncle Tom with headphones.
The jam session must've been awesome. (Uncle Tom, 1968)

A little demonic looking.
My mother, looking demonic. (1947)

Christmas at the ol' Asbach place.
My cousins Jill & Jay partyin' down with Great Grandma Fannie at the ol' Asbach place on Beaser Avenue. (1969)

Moquah School, 1951.

Moquah School, 1951. My mom was in the first grade, and my uncle Tom was in the 4th. (It burned down a few years after this.)

First communion.
My aunts Tracy & Betsy's first communion, 1960.

Getting the camera fixed.
My mom at the drug store in Ashland--the clerk was fiddling with her camera, trying to fix it. I guess it worked! haha (1975)

Grandpa Andrew, snowmobilin'. (1967)

A Deverell family portrait, 1972.
My dad's sister Judy with her husband Bob and my cousins Jill & Jay. (1972)

Grandpa Andrew feeding Daisy the deer.
Grandpa Andrew feeding Daisy the deer. (1969)

"Vote for Pedro."
And last but certainly not least: I'm not sure exactly who this is, but it's one of my dad's cousin Larry's kids, and I'm pretty sure his favorite animal is the liger.