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Prime Time | Evan Hazard: You thought she had only one?

During my mid-December trip to the clinic in St. Paul, Stuart and Carol had company in their Minneapolis place, so I stayed at Natalie’s. She had planned a cross-country skiing weekend in the Arrowhead with Ely friends, and the weather cooperated. Since she was to leave early Friday, I drove down Thursday so we could touch base. As usual, she typed out clear directions about feeding the cats.

Cats, plural? You knew about “Marzipan,” the spayed tortoiseshell (“Threescore and Ten,” Sept. 15 and Dec. 8, ’09). She is the indoor cat, 9 years old, a shy creature I saw only now and then. Natalie rescued Marzipan, initially a “starved, parasite-ridden little mite” from a roadside ditch in Wisconsin.

“After having eaten almost non-stop for 3 days, she weighed just 6 ounces.”

Lots of vet work: “At her current weight, the price per ounce puts her value at about $14,000. She is priceless to me, of course.”

Slate-gray “Wicket,” the outdoor cat, is about 7. In ’09, he visited Elaine and me often, and was always hungry. Natalie eventually tracked down Wicket’s person, but Natalie provides most of his care. He cannot be an indoor cat because he marks the furniture in the same way many dogs and male cats mark territories. Nonetheless, this compassionate woman has built a heated two-story cat-house (?) on her back stoop, with a heated water supply, and feeds him twice a day out there. Unlike Marzipan, Wicket (no longer thin) is friends with many people and loves to be picked up and petted.

I got to Natalie’s just before she walked home Thursday from the Hiawatha Light Rail station, and we supped on a can of good soup plus stuff from her fridge. She worked from home until noon Friday and was off before 1 p.m., planning to lunch en route. I had a light lunch from the fridge, because supper would be at Stuart and Carol’s, along with Carol’s cousin whom I’d met at granddaughter Anna’s wedding. Fancy meat balls plus rhubarb pie.

My usual modus operandi when in town is to try a place for lunch, box half for next evening’s supper, lunch somewhere else next day, box half, and so on. However, “slop weather” (wet snow plus freezing rain and sleet) was predicted for Friday evening through Saturday, so I stayed in Nat’s cozy home and left the Prius (av. 49.0 mpg in 220 miles from Bemidji Thursday) in her garage. I’d heard the prediction on Classical MPR in Bemidji, so bought a smoked whitefish at my usual pit-stop at Morey’s in Motley. Weather wasn’t as bad as it might have been, but I stayed inside.

Sunday I went to a UMC church in “Nordeast” where Sarah, whom Elaine and I had known at Bemidji United Methodist Church some years ago, is pastor. Sarah didn’t preach, but rather presided over the service, which was mostly the children’s Christmas pageant. This is the first one I’ve seen where adults, aside from a “conductor,” were involved. One man had a non-speaking role, moving a suitably six-pointed “star of Bethlehem” on cue, and the others were two adults or teenagers you couldn’t see because they were inside the donkey suit, fore and aft. The donkey’s speaking role was simple: “Follow that star” once or twice. The conductor was the most energetic Sunday School mistress I’ve seen, and the show was great.

Bemidji UMCers will be pleased that Sarah remains the most energetic UMC pastor I know, and seems beloved by her congregation. After coffee downstairs, I took her to the buffet at “The Holy Land,” a Middle Eastern café and deli on Central Avenue (Central may have the largest collection of diverse ethnic restaurants in town). Elaine and I had eaten there a couple of times, and it did not disappoint.

Monday, before my appointment, I lunched early at the Dominguez Family Restaurant. Last month I wrote that they didn’t have a wide choice of burritos. That was at supper. Lunch menu has several, and mine was excellent. Got to the clinic easily this time, and am now the proud owner of a “splint,” the plastic device that they had built from the mold they made of my lower teeth last time. Wear it at night and when I can during the day, and mostly forget it is there.

Supped on whitefish Monday evening; Natalie got home after 9 p.m. Tuesday she went to work downtown, and we supped afterward (she drove) at Gardens of Salonika, a Greek restaurant not far from Surdyk’s. Different from It’s Greek to Me on Lake Street, but equally good. Lunch plus groceries at Emily’s Lebanese Deli again Wednesday noon and relatively easy drive home.  As I left Highway 10 at Motley to cross the Crow Wing River, four swans flew north overhead. Minutes later, as I turned north onto Highway 64, five flew southeast. May have been the same group with one addition.


EVAN HAZARD, a retired BSU biology professor, also writes “Northland Stargazing” the fourth Friday of each month.