Shirley Thompson

North Shore Update

Moving Up

I am, as of June 10th, a new resident of the Two Harbors area. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon how you feel about it after reading this.

I fell in love with the North Shore on my very first visit to the area a few years ago.  Since that time I have returned many times for vacations and long weekends to recharge my internal batteries.  The people along the North Shore are all ways friendly and helpful.  The only rude people I have ever encountered were “tourists.”  I mentioned this fact to my husband upon my return from one of my vacations and he pointed out to me that I was a tourist.  That statement floored me, I never considered myself a tourist to the area.  I should point out at this juncture that my husband is disabled with MS and spends his days in a motorized wheelchair.  It is difficult for him to travel and my trips were a form of R & R.  It isn’t easy being a care giver and to also work full-time. 

It became apparent, to my husband at least, that I was no longer happy in my full time career.  I was part of the management team of a large company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and for the last two years I had discovered that I was no longer “in sync” with the established management style.  I actually had the audacity to believe that the employees were important and that their ideas and opinions should be considered; silly me.   How naïve I was. I actually believed that employees would accept change if they felt that they were a part of it by sharing their ideas and concerns.  I didn’t realize that to be a manager you had to be a total jerk.  I thought it was rude to just tell people to do something and if they questioned it to tell them to “just do it.”  I really believed that you owed them a reason and a willingness to listen to them. Since I had no intentions of becoming a permanent member of the “jerk squad” I decided it was time to leave.  Good thing I did. Three weeks after I left the company was sold to a competing company and most of the managers fled like rats on a sinking ship.  My only regret was that I wasn’t there to hold the door open and give them a swift kick in the “you know what” as they fled out the door. I would have been nice as I dealt them their swift kick and would have told them to “have a nice day.” Oh, and to those that had given me a “hard time” about moving and becoming a “Minnn-eeee-sooo-tan,” I would have added, “am I proud to now be a “Minnn-eeee-sooo-tan? Ya, you betcha!”

Fate stepped in and played a major role in our move to the Two Harbors area.  In July of 2004 my first book was accepted for publication.  It will, by no means, become a best seller nor will I be appearing on “Oprah.” I had no intentions, at this time, of giving up my “day job.”  My husband had other ideas and convinced me that my happiness and health were more important than some “job.”  I was skeptical and frightened to consider retiring 10 years early but he convinced me.  One part that fate played into our hands was that a developer was about to build a home up on the Encampment Ridge area that he wanted to be handicap accessible.  This to me seemed to be an omen and we bought the small lot and began the building process.  I set up my early retirement to be effective in July of 2005 and, for the first time, felt that this was what we were supposed to be doing.  I am now unemployed.  It may only be a matter of time before you see me foraging along the side of the road like the local deer population.  Hopefully, I will have more sense than to dart out in front of moving vehicles.  Then again, I don’t know how desperate I may get.

My husband has never been to the North Shore and his only concept of the area was from all the photographs that I would take and bring home for him to look at.  In fact, he never saw our home being built, just photographs of it during the building process.  He put a lot of faith and trust in me to get it right.

A month before the house was to be completed I traveled up for a weekend visit bringing with me my youngest son Eric and his best friend Tim.  Eric is the youngest of our four boys but is closer to 30 than I would like to admit.  He is with the Wisconsin State Correctional/Prison system.  I should point out here that he is a corrections officer, not an inmate, just in case you were wondering.  Anyway, we arrived on a Friday evening and the boys decided to relax in the hotel pool.  Now, we all know that men are always boys at heart and while in the pool, fooling around, he somehow managed to sprain his thumb.  He tried to point out his injury to me but considering the circumstances in which it happened I had absolutely no sympathy for him.  It is important, at this point, for me to inform you that I raised four boys and turned them into civilized human beings.  Most of you will agree that this was, by no means, an easy task to accomplish.  How I did that has amused and entertained my friends, colleagues, and co-workers, through the stories I have imparted to them over the years.  All of my boys are well over six feet in height and I measure in at less than five feet five inches.  How did I accomplish this feat? My sons like to boast that if they would send me to Iraq the war would be over in less than six months.  This is certainly true.  I have definite opinions and ideas on how that could be accomplished.  My sons like to point out that I am unique in my opinions and sense of humor. My husband expands upon that by saying that no one, in their right mind, would come up with some of the things I come up with. Please tell me that I am not the only mother out there who embarrasses her children; I consider it “pay back” time.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to the story at hand.  As I said, I had no sympathy for my son’s whining about his thumb.  He sprained it, he deserved it.  We headed up the coast so that I could show the boys some of my favorites places.  We eventually ended up at the “Trading Post” in Grand Marais.   By this time my son’s complaining finally got through to me and I grabbed his hand and looked at his thumb.  I will admit that it was three times the size that it should be. 

“We’ll need to put ice on it when we get back to the hotel,” I told him.

We went into the “Trading Post” to browse and purchase items.  I came out of the store to notice that Eric was down by the water watching the broken ice float up and down upon the water in the harbor.  I had a “mother’s moment” and thought; “ice, cold water, this will do just fine.” 

I hurried over to my son and told him, “Stick your thumb in the lake.”

He turned to look at me and I repeated, “Stick your thumb in the lake; it will bring the swelling down.”

He crouched down, stuck his thumb in the water and immediately pulled it out again. 

“It’s cold!” he said.

“Duh,” was my reply?  “It’s Lake Superior, it is always cold and there is ice floating on top of the water, so obviously its cold.  That is the whole idea.  Now, you need to keep your thumb in the water for 20 seconds or more.  So, put your thumb back in and count to 20.”

The thumb went back in the water.  Eric counted so fast that his thumb was back out of the water in less than two seconds.

“That isn’t long enough, you couldn’t have possibly counted all the way to 20,” I said.

“Yes I did,” he replied.

“Do it again, and keep it in the water and count, normally, to 20,” I said.

Again, the thumb went in the water and he again counted so fast you couldn’t understand him and the thumb was back out in less than three seconds this time.

Well, by this time I had enough.  I told him, “put that thumb back in the water and don’t pull it out until I tell you to.  I’ll do the counting this time and if that thumb comes out before I get to 20 I’ll stick your head in the lake!” 

By this time a small group of people were finding our antics amusing and interesting and had gathered around us to find out what the outcome of this saga would be.  My son stuck his thumb back in the water and I began counting.  He contorted his face into so many different grimaces that I kept loosing my place and had to start over. His facial contortions had the children in the crowd giggling and the parents chuckling.  When I finally reached 20 he jerked his thumb out of the water and began jumping around, flaying his arms, and saying words that the little children in the mingling crowd should not have been subjected to.  I apologized to the parents but it seemed that they were more interested in the strange antics, gyrations, and arm swinging that my son was engaging in to pay any attention to the fact that their young children were being subjected to language that was inappropriate for their delicate little ears.  I will admit that the dancing gyrations that my son was pursuing were quite entertaining to watch.  It looked like a weird rendition of the “Chicken Dance.”

It was at this time that Tim had come out of the store and had wandered over to see what all the commotion was about. 

Eric took the opportunity to fill him in. “My Mom just tried to kill me,” he whined.

“Cool,” Tim responded, “and I missed it?” 

Before the boys could come to blows I got them back into my truck to head back to Two Harbors. 

We were a few miles down the road when my son finally took a good look at his now numb thumb.”  “Hey,” he exclaimed, “it isn’t swollen anymore, and it doesn’t hurt!”

My reply was simple and something I had said countless times to him and his siblings in the last three decades, “Mom is all ways right.”

If you are interested in hearing more from me, just let the editor know.  I’ll be happy to supply you with a regular or semi-regular account of my first year here on the North Shore and other exploits of mine.  It should be interesting.  It isn’t that I don’t understand the concept of “shoveling” snow, after all we did get a lot of it in Northwest Wisconsin; it’s just that, in my opinion, if Mother Nature put it there she can darn well remove it.

My first book will be released this September.  Watch the paper for the announcement.  Who knows, maybe one of the local establishments will allow me to sign some books for you.

Keep your eyes open for a maroon Yukon Denali.  You can’t miss it; the truck has a weird contraption attached to the back to allow me to haul a big electric wheelchair.  Give me a honk or a wave or stop to chat.  The nice thing about living up here is that you wave using all five fingers of your hand.  In Wisconsin, where I came from, most of the locals usually waved with only one finger. If, of course, you don’t care for my writing style, I’m quite familiar with the one finger wave. It is so nice to be on the North Shore, I love it so far.

Our move up here was by no means accomplished without problems.  It was a disaster.  I’ve keep my friends informed of our exploits via emails that I call “North Shore Update.”  They are finding them highly amusing.  The emails were not meant to be amusing, this stuff really happened.  In looking back on those updates I have to admit it did sound funny but at the time I certainly didn’t think it was. 

Oh, one more thing, if any of you run into Donny, my construction guy, at the local True Value, would you mention that Shirley Thompson is still waiting for her mailbox to be put up?  Oh, and if my mail carrier reads this, if you run into Donny, please feel free to add your endorsement in getting that mailbox up. I would like to add a notation here to my mail carrier.  When I say “run into” I mean as in meeting him and not using your vehicle as a weapon of mass destruction. Thanks, I appreciate it.