Posted tagged ‘Travel’

NINE OF HIM WOULD’VE MADE A DOZEN

August 8, 2017

“Nine of him would have made a dozen!”  

What better way to describe a big brawny man!    Most especially it’s a term of appreciation to say that about a man who is helping you out on a particularly tough physical job – and is  more than adequate for the task.

It’s from a book I’m reading.     A western.

Everything is pointing me westward this month.   I finished a small grocery trip and pulled out of the parking lot,  looking for traffic, towards the west —

Sunset at Tom's 370

A surprising splash of color from the west  flowing down the street.

This book I’m reading is a twentieth century western, takes place in Montana,  and from what I’ve seen the West is still out there like that in Montana.    The author has a way with words that make me laugh right out loud or make some noise of delight once or twice on every page,  and it was actually his description of the mountains that made me think of my own trip westward in the last post I wrote.

I forgot to write it down in the last post,  but I think this little passage is worth thinking about.

The story is told from the point of view of a fourteen year old boy  one summer- and I think I nearly know what it’s like to feel like him, near as I could.    Going up farther into the mountains to count sheep for his ranger father,  he looked out the window one morning to see what kind of day it would be:

“First thing,  I made a beeline to the window.  . .  Roman Reef and all the peaks south beyond it stood in the sun, as if the little square of window had been made into a summer picture of the Alps.  It still floors me how the mountains are not the same any two days in a row,  as if hundreds of copies of those mountains exist and each dawn brings in a fresh one, of new color, new prominence of some feature over the others, a different wrapping of cloud or rinse of the sun for this day’s version.”

That’s what got me thinking about my upcoming journey, because I’ve driven this way many times in the past,  but I get up over into Wyoming, and I always gasp – right out loud,  and more than once, as I drive over each rise and see another glorious vista.  But each time I see these same mountain ranges,  they do seem to be a new, different,  more wonderful version of those mountains I thought I remembered.

And then, out again in the mountains by himself, the young man experiences those “twin feelings of aloneness and freedom . . .”    I’ve felt that too, out there.  I was where I shouldn’t have been, alone at least,   but alone I was for many hours,  somewhat lost for a while, and yet so free . . .  all by myself.

The book also described a perfect Montana Fourth of July,  picnic, square dancing,  and rodeo.   I can tell you I was tired by the end of all that activity!    It will be a little snapshot of a perfect Fourth of July for the young man in the story, and I’m glad to have shared his experience.    As he thinks over the day, the author says:  “It was a set of hours worth the price of the rest of your life.”

All in all,  it’s out West that I’ve known  one corner of this  immense planet and felt that great aloneness,   I’m a simple speck next to the infinite iterations of mountains and prairies.

Just a tiny little speck of life on a home planet that presents  endless scenes of majesty – and yet both are a reflection of the infinite power and glory of their Creator.

 

book

Travel West.  Think big!

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL MODE

August 7, 2017

Well,  I’ve been observing a lot.  I have a lot to write about . . . .

But it seems I’ve entered travel mode now.    That means I will be distracted (and scatterbrained)    and overly excited  (Wow!  I have 5,000 miles of road ahead of me!!!!)  and overly-dramatic  (I won’t know if I make it back home until I get back home)   and indecisive (what all should I be taking with me?)  and should I plan everything or just be spontaneous   (and trust there’ll be a hotel room available in the evening)?

Anyway,  I’ll try not to be absent from The Spruce Tunnel . . . .

First stop?

eclipse

Under that.   I know when,  I just don’t know where.   Yet.

Of course visiting Cooper is my main destination . . .   This is  just outside his front yard.    He calls it his “beautiful lake”  and I hear he has lots of plans for me.   In the lake.

Shaffer Summer 300

But I’m very much in need of some other mountains.  Not Cooper’s Sierras;    but these:

 

wy mt stretch

Mountains with wide open spaces!.  You have no idea of how much land you’re looking at,  not even when you’re driving there.

I’m supposed to “promise” that I won’t keep taking pictures while I’m driving.

I’ll be driving through some of my favorite towns too:

wyoming civilizaiton

Hubbie used to ask me why I keep taking so many photos as we would drive through the mountains.  He said they all look the same!     Well,  he’s a creature of the deep dark  northern forests.   He thinks trees look all different.

When  I was young my Mom used to “torture” me – and herself –  by asking the question:    “Which would you rather live near,  the mountains or the ocean?”     It was a game,  but we’d think so seriously and discuss our answers.   I was always unsettled by my final  answer,  because . . .  “neither” wasn’t an option.

Hubbie’s forests are very scary,  because you feel closed in tight by the trees.     Mom’s mountain preference made me feel closed in because you can’t see much horizon.   The ocean gives me claustrophobia  because it’s  a foreign environment  full of dangerous, unseen creatures and its powerful waves threaten to close in on you.

So. . .  what can I say?     I like seeing forests, mountains, and oceans,  but I spent my childhood  on the edge of the Illinois prairie.  You could look  out forever and see endless sky and endless horizon.     You stand tall on the solid ground.

If you have the choice to travel or not to travel,  choose travel!     Not the airplane kind,  skimming over everything,  but driving,   really getting into it,  living through all the scenery our country has to offer.

Maybe then you’d know how to answer my Mom’s question.

 

 

JUST LIKE ME – BUT NO MORE

April 12, 2017

Gloomy Cloud

Bit of a funk tonight.   It’s what I read in the news this morning.  Good things happened today;  happy things happened;   and something very beautiful (in nature)  happened —  but the funk returned.

Appropriately.

It’s Wednesday,  the day when we must keep on fighting to get over the rest of the “hump”  of this week, or of  these times.  Our hump being the alignment of advancing Islam with growing  Global Rule  . . . .

So here’s what I read this morning:

A lady,  just like me, just about my age.

She’s a tourist,  just like I am  sometimes.

She was alone, by herself,  far from home, as I am sometimes.

Stopped off to see an interesting building in a suburb,  just like I’ve done at times.    Sometimes I choose a hotel in a  nice suburb off an expressway.  A nice suburb.

The interesting building was known for its graffiti, which we now call “art work.”  So she took her camera out . . .     Just like I do sometimes.

She was busy taking pictures,  probably intent on choosing the right angle, the right composition,  the best lighting.     Just as I like to do.

And someone came up from behind her and stabbed her several times in the back and neck – he got her carotid artery.    She died – just about right away.

The attacker was a man who had recently come into that country – as a “refugee.”

She was an American in Paris,  in a nice suburb in Paris.

Could have been like any other American woman you know.   Don’t think you can tell your Mom to stay home and be safe,  not if she wants to travel.   Or your sister.  Or your daughter.

This woman was probably a nice, ordinary lady , and now she is no more.

The attacker has been arrested;  but  the story is not over:  there are millions more to take his place.

___________________________________________

Oh.    Would you like  a picture?   Here’s one that connects me with that American lady in Paris.   It’s a sign that is not too far from my home.

Advancing islam j

 (misspelling in the picture not mine.)

About an hour and a half away from my home.

I’m thinking,  I don’t even have to be a tourist.

DESTINATION – WHERE HIAWATHA LIVES

July 21, 2016

The Spruce Tunnel has reported many times that our Land,  this USA, is so empty.  One can drive for hours without seeing anyone, and many times during this past week I’ve been the only car in my lane for a half hour, sometimes  an hour at a time:

Hour W out cars

HIAWATHA’S LAND:

But it  is  beautiful in the Far Far North where Hiawatha lived (lives).

GG Driving Island  Sunlight through the forest,  Nature speaks deep within you with concepts of Beauty:   colors, pleasing proportions,  compositions, contrasts, harmony . . .  all the classic elements of Beauty, which testifies to its Creator.

GG Driving 2 400

Curve after curve,  Hiawatha’s forest views.

But of course he didn’t have a car to ride in!  So I went into the forest –

GG Forest floor 400

Ferns on the forest floor.    Easy walking, because ferns aren’t really thick underbrush.  They’re very soft when you walk through them.

GG Forest path and wild 400I found pathways.   I’ve walked miles along these pathways during this past week.   All the time I was thinking about Hiawatha’s small village,  one of many, many, maybe countless villages that existed throughout this Land.    Many millions of people lived in this Land, long before the Vikings and the Italian exploreres came to it.

I kept “seeing”  these villages:

BR new goods

And wondering who was “seeing” me:

BR coming

Hiawatha’s forest was not only a location, of course,  an “address” for his home;  it also gave to them everything needed to sustain life.

GG Forest Deer 400I drove by these deer one afternoon.   Probably descendants of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century deer that provided many necessities for Hiawatha and his people.

I couldn’t help taking a picture of this:

GG Forest Birch

We all know that the white birch  has bark that is stripped off to make canoes.  What I learned this time is that each strip of bark has five, six, or seven layers, and each thin layer is waterproof and very strong,  perfect for making  a lake or river canoe, among other things.

GG Canoes from Birch When I was a child I tried making a small toy boat with birch bark.  I also tried making “paper”  with the birch bark.   I failed.   I really didn’t know about the “layers”  in a strip of birch.

But it was important to know these things for Hiawatha because his land borders the Great Gitche Gumme,  and I walked many pathways to get to that Lake.

GG Forest Edge Path 400

If you could see across that Lake,  you would see the shores of Canada.

Gitche Gumme claims the land, in a constant tussle between land and water.

GG Forest Edgge Dropoff 400

The pathway along the edge seemed to be about a half mile long.  Finally,  I got to my destination,  the destination for this whole week-long, more-than-400-mile journey:

Black Rocks 400

It’s here.  This was my destination.    It’s an area called Black Rocks,  a singularly unromantic name for an outcropping of “rock”  that is estimated to be 1.3 billion years old.  This is some of the oldest known rocks on the surface of the earth.

On the shores of Gitche Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters

Yeah,  here is where I needed to be,  I thought.    These were the first waters I saw at the very beginning of my life . . .  and now,  with the end in view,   I needed to see these waters again.

Black Rocks into lake.

It was the end of land of the Far Far North in view, anyway.

Black Rocks far 400I climbed all around Black Rocks,  and finally looked for a place to sit.

Black Rocks Seat

And I did it.   I found a good rock ledge to sit on and I put my camera away, and then I began to . . .  well,  brood.   I divided my life into five-year segments . . . .

And, well . . .  with each and every scene from my memory huge wounds of negative emotions leapt out at me.    Private, powerful emotions.

It would have been tough that day . . .  it would have been a tough whole life . . .  but for one thing.     With each sudden emotional blow,  I asked myself,   “Well,  what did God want me to learn from this hardness?”     And why is it that each emotional “blow” I felt seemed really rather feeble in my memory?    And how is it that I’m not unhappy,  but indeed,  full of hope and joy and love for those whom I know?

“What did God want me to learn…?”    There was a lesson in each stage of my life.   I suppose.    But I wasn’t that broody, actually.   I probably was taught something during each stage, and then incorporated the learning into my assurance that God was in control.

And so I don’t need to know any “answers.”  I don’t need to come to any conclusions.

What I learned from my brief three hours of “brooding”  sitting on those rather hard rocks is that,  in a big way,  I’m not that baby,  that toddler, that child,   that adolescent,  that young adult . . .  anymore.

I am “me”  only in this Present Moment.  That’s all I ever can be:  Me  Now.     I am identified by what I am Now.

In a big way,   what matters is what kind of person I am Now.

Forgiveness  and Forgetfulness available for the past;   hope and healing available for the future.

That’s the way Gitche Manito works.   Ever Present- Ever Now.     What’s NOT to be joyful about?!

I think I actually did reach my “destination.”

Deo gratias.

 

(Next post:  Why Hiawatha knew this too.)

GITCHE GUMEE

July 12, 2016

Gitche Gumee.        For real.     It really exists.

gitch waters

In the days when American children and young adults were taught American literature,   the words “Gitche Gumee”  would be a familiar sound;   lovely, fetching, longing . . . .a song of roots and courage and duty;   a song of love for the land and union with the earth and its people.

I’ll be there soon.      Not in a boat,  but  h e r e –   looking out over  Gitche Gumee:

gitch 3 blue

I have many decades behind me,  and the “storms” of life have  “ruffled my feathers”  – as is true for all of us.   We’ve all had waves crashing against us.

gitch 5 waves

 

I need to sort things out.    I was born here,  long ago.     It’s possible that the very first sight my newborn eyes saw was this Great Lake, as my nurse carried me outdoors, into the car, into my Mother’s waiting arms.

I need to see this again.

I need to get strong and steady before the storm breaks over us all.

New Haven Lighthouse storm

 

I need to get in touch with myself,  see who I really am, see what “I’ve done and what I’ve left undone.”          Hopefully, I’ll gain wisdom like  Nokomis.

 

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O’er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.
  Fiercely the red sun descending
Burned his way along the heavens,
Set the sky on fire behind him,
As war-parties, when retreating,
Burn the prairies on their war-trail;

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Thanks for the words.

 

 

 

 

;

A SMALL ADVENTURE

May 3, 2016

Small.  Inconsequential, really.    But our lives can be a series of small “adventures” if we invest a little time and attention.    Here’s a “small adventure”  from my recent trip to Indiana.

So . . . how interested in baking powder are you?     Ha ha ha ha.     Me neither:  not much.

clabber can

My mother-in-law was looking in my kitchen cabinets one day  (looking for something, it was okay),  when she called out in surprise, “Oh, you buy Clabber Girl too!”    Our  mutual choice of the Clabber Girl brand was one of the few things she and I had in common  (other than her son).

She said her own mother always used Clabber Girl.   That would make it about a hundred and twenty year old tradition!

I had a six hour drive home from Indiana and about twelve hours to do it in.   And I discovered that Terre Haute had a Clabber Girl museum.  Indeed, it was the headquarters of Clabber Girl.     It was easy to find . . .

I told myself to be interested.   Kind of like a “forced field trip”  when you were in school and someone told you where to go.   I’m my own schoolteacher.

Found the factory!

SAMSUNG

This is the real deal:  a whole big factory for making baking powder.

Parking was a problem though.   They had a parking lot nearby —

SAMSUNG

—  but I didn’t know if I qualified as “approved.”      Might not be.    But I had my pedometer attached to my body,  so I didn’t mind racking up a few extra steps.   Eight city blocks worth!

SAMSUNG

I walked past several factory buildings along those blocks.

hulman name

Anton Hulman, Sr.   Founder.   The Hulman name is prominent around Terre Haute.   Of such details a successful game of Trivial Pursuit is made.    Or maybe Jeopardy. . . .

This is the entrance I wanted:

SAMSUNG

That was some bake shop inside!     Soups,  sandwiches,  and the most desirable baked goods!   And then the museum.

It was huge – and delightful – inside.  The exhibits were made with care, using actual  objects and furnishings from olden days.  And someone kept walking around with a tray of warm cookies,  made with  Clabber Girl baking soda,  of course.

Here’s part of an authentic Pig n Whistle:

SAMSUNG

Yep –  a tavern.   Looked inviting,  except for a photo of a “floozie” on the wall.  I’m not that kind of girl!     Apparently,  everyone knew what  a Pig n Whistle was:   the “boy”  employee had to go down to the basement periodically to bring up more whiskey in a pigskin container.   And to prove he was not taking a nip or two on the way up,  he had to keep whistling so his employer could hear that he was being honest!

A store –  with  ration coupons available:

SAMSUNG

My grandma shopped in a store like this.    Come to think of it,  my great-grandfather owned a store just like this –  although with more meat available.  He was a butcher.

Well . . . here.  Someone sent me an old newspaper clipping —

Vierela's Store.jpg

Interesting?   Well. . . . .        Well,  if you’re ever going to imagine what it was like to live a hundred years ago,   now’s the time,  while you’re in this museum.

Vehicles were prominent displays –

SAMSUNG

Baking powder –  right to your doorstep.

And a genuine Hansom Cab –

SAMSUNG

Sorry,  I’m not too mechanically inclined, and I can’t explain to you all the wonderful new technological  advances this cab represents –  gears and cranks and levers and lower center of gravity for increased stability . . .   but I remember that the driver rode on top – and he was the only one who could open that front door to let the passengers out.    It was the height of comfort and luxury.    I just can’t understand why.

But I can understand this one!!  —

 

SAMSUNG

Gorgeous!!!   Turns out Anton Hulman, Jr. bought the Indiana Speedway   from Eddie Rickenbacker   –  The World War One flying ace hero!

cl eddie in his plane

You know what the cross decals on his plane are for.     Western Civilization owes him a lot.

I think he’s sitting in the same car that I was standing in front of  —

cl eddie

He loved flying in planes and flying in  racing cars!

(And how about that NASCAR race this weekend at Talladega!!   One man said they ought to have had an air traffic controller there because there were so many cars flying airborne in a record number of crashes! —   So who would have guessed that I would have become interested in auto racing?!)

Well,  you get the idea of the museum.  It was soon time for me to find the Powder Room.

SAMSUNG

An actual “powder room”  !!      Museum exhibit?      Of course I tried the door and went in!

SAMSUNG

Gleaming shiny new —  not an antique!  I think I was glad.

It’s almost time to leave the museum,  but first we must pay some respects.

The Hulman family brought the Clabber Girl company through hard economic times that caused many other big businesses to fail.     No government bailouts then.  Through careful management they came through a couple national depressions and two world wars.

SAMSUNG

One of the Hulman young ladies was in the army, WWII.  They did their patriotic duty in every way possible —

SAMSUNG

Take time to consider this sign.   Everyone participated in the war effort.    It wasn’t fun,  but it was sacrifice for a bigger cause — and Americans thought their country was worth saving,  worth fighting for.

Hats off to you, old man. . .  Mr.  Hulman.

SAMSUNG

I left the museum and began the long walk back to my car,  out into the present-day world.

I won’t call it the modern world;    we are post-modern now.  We have left the greatness and bigness of the whole  modern world far behind.     We are not growing,  inventing,  solving problems,  living with confidence,   celebrating our greatness. . .

But once we celebrated —

SAMSUNG

A hundred years ago, America was great, growing, strong, optimistic,  individualistic, self-confident — and we came out by the thousands to celebrate the opening . . .  of a baking soda factory!!

 

“Into the Land of Destruction”

December 2, 2015

In the midst of our Christmas preparations,  that phrase,  “into the land of destruction”  that I quoted in yesterday’s posting,  got further clarification today,  regrettably.

SAMSUNG

We are preparing for a worthy remembrance of the coming of the Messiah as the Babe in Bethlehem,  who, as it turns out,  is this planet’s only Messiah who is able to effectively (and eventually)  destroy evil, wickedness, sin, and death that is rampant in our world — also known as “the land of destruction.”   

This “land” destroys our souls –  or it can.     The Messiah comes to destroy the Destroyer.

An act of terrorism is an evil act of destruction, straight from the heart of mankind’s enemy.    Already this afternoon,  there were tweets identifying today’s Destroyers in San Bernardino.

SAMSUNG

Not too far in time from this tweet came  a name:

SAMSUNG

As news spread,  fellow “Destroyers” — those who want to invoke in us pain and fear —  were celebrating the news:

SAMSUNG

Celebrating, that is,  and giving praise to their ancient desert warrior crescent-moon-god.

Invoking this crescent-moon-god to spread fear into the homes of the Crusaders.   Uh . . .  that would be us.

That would be Christendom, and all of us who though we may or may not be Catholic or even religiously christian,  still enjoy, by force of historic momentum,  all  the benefits  of once-Christan Europe.   Europe,  the New World,  and all the places where Catholic Christianity spread.

As much as anti-Catholic forces in the modern world wish to smear the reputation of the Church by inventing evidence for such things as “Hitler’s Pope,”    it would be much better to explore the close links between National Socialism and the anti-semitic Muslim world.  Closer to fact,  there is a “Hitler’s Mufti.”

hitler lus amin

Close ties.  Close cooperation.  Close planning.  Strategic operations linked.   Mutual material aid.    That photo would be Hitler and Amin Al-Husseini.

The Barack-Hussein person in our country,  his closely-held liberal media,  and anti-Catholics everywhere seem hard-pressed to find evidence of white, male, Christian perpetrators in today’s horrendous crime.    The Barack-Hussein person would like to blame Crusaders who are on “their high horse.”

The language is the same.  The sentiment is the same.

That’s all I ever want to write about this terrible event of Destruction today.

If I may,  I’d just suggest that we all begin to seriously heed the warning of Hilaire Belloc,  who saw all this coming in the early part of the 20th century.   Although he lived in a time of the rise of National Socialism,  he saw that the biggest threat to the West was the rise of militant Islam.  Once  again.   As in centuries past.

If we don’t take him seriously,  if we allow the Destroyers to sneak in with all the Syrian invaders –  as they boast that they are already doing! –   then we might as well join the Hashtag Crowd:

( h a s h t a g a m e r i c a _ b u r n i n g)

Get it?   Because they do.   And Ignorance is not going to lead to “bliss.”

It’s Advent.   Let’s prepare for the first phase of the coming of the Messiah, do Him honor,  and know He will come again to this “Land of Destruction”  and put an end to all that Destroys.

Christmas is serious business.

{Advent}

 

 

 

 

COMING BACK TO MYSELF

November 28, 2014

Well.    As I said in my last posting,  it was time to go home.

So I did.

And there was little opportunity to continue brooding:

driving rain

I left the constant spray of the ocean surf and spent the next 22 hours of driving through the constant spray of an apparently nationwide rainstorm.         Heavy downpours alternating with foggy drizzle;  poor visibility;  strong, cold winds;  wet, slippery roads;  fast traffic.   Strong thunderstorms and an F1 tornado escorted me through Georgia.    I  saw two pretty bad accidents in the Smokies,   arriving perhaps just minutes after they had happened.

And then,  about  three hours from home, late at night, I experienced a ten-minute episode of  a dangerous road game — I was the chosen target, two young men were the perpetrators  ( although if I had done what they were trying to get me to do,  I would have received the traffic  ticket — if I  survived.)

I was relieved to finally arrive in my own home state where it was somehow easier to drive in the bad weather.

It was good to see that some in my neighborhood had begun decorating their homes with Christmas lights.       And then, there was my own house – it was not dark, it had been decorated too!!

SAMSUNG

A BIG THANKS  to Son who wanted to surprise me in such a bright and cheerful way!!!!    He  couldn’t have known just how much that meant to me.   Something wonderful and cheery to get ready for….  some reason to get engaged again in the world around me.   The long drive home was over;  maybe the long period of dull brooding was over too.

I didn’t unpack the car that night,  but I began the next morning.

SAMSUNG

Now I know why I like the color yellow so much.    Right there is  the most color I’d seen for a long time!     Florida the Sunshine State?   I brought some home with me in my trunk –

SAMSUNG

Look  —   There are some lessons for us from my week or two of dull,  brooding introspection.      If your friend needs to do that for a while,  let him.  Let him!   Without advice or anxiety.  And if it happens to you, let it happen.    I learned something during this time.   Or I think I did.   I changed a little.   Or I think I did.    The death of someone near and dear to you will do that.   Or I think it should.

Second lesson is this:   Look again!    All the way home during that dark, rainy, dangerous road,  I had had those wonderful sunshiny bags of citrus with me, after all.   And I arrived at an unexpectedly cheerful home with the lights pointing me to Christmas!      Goodness,  cheer, hope, and God are never far  away.

One more lesson:  when I first came back to my emails,   I saw that many had wished me well after the death of my Mom, and many had been praying for my safe return.    That’s significant.    I had been supported.     Receive from others;  give to others.      We’re not in this life alone.      No one around us should be alone.

Deo gratias!

 

(And thanks for the time to brood.   I think I’m done.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT LIFE’S ENDINGS

November 19, 2014

 

I came down here to Florida to visit with my Mom.

cross and man

I wish I could show you many photos of my Mom, but even the pictures wouldn’t say it all, so I won’t post any right now.  Maybe later.  

Just picture a blonde, curly-haired little toddler with a happy, perky face.   She was described as a happy, loving, very kind child,  giving help or giving things to people to try to make them happy.  She’s frequently shown with puppies or kittens or her beloved big sister nearby.

I haven’t seen photos of her as a young girl or in high school, because she was the victim of a broken home.  Very broken up.  Not because of immorality,  but because of diseases and disabilites that were not understood in those days.   My Mom has been described by the people of her hometown as “neglected”  and “abandoned,”  and “malnourished.”   She used to tell me about the mornings in the Far Far North when she and her sister would wake up with their toes dark blue from the cold, and they would hurry to light a fire in the coal stove to warm up.    I’ve never heard any words of malice come out of my Mom’s mouth about these terrible years.

But that life  came to an end.

Now she becomes a young woman.   Picture my Mom as one of those glamorous Hollywood types, only with a softer, kinder gentler face.  Happy and good, like Deanna Durbin,  but without the singing ability.  Or perhaps a young and lovely Donna Reed.  My Mom understood acting, and she had a short modeling career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Then she moved on to Chicago to study art at the Chicago Art Institute.

Then that life, too,  came to an end.
My father came into the picture then.   He was a young Marine at the end of World War II and he was from her hometown.    I had forgotten, until my sister reminded me,  that he had been compared to a young and very handsome Frank Sinatra. 

Picture a cold, dark winter night in Downer’s Grove, Illinois.  My Dad in a tuxedo and a fashionable white wool scarf, changing a flat tire, in a snowstorm,  while my Mom and the two mothers and the minister wondered how much longer they should wait for “the groom” to arrive.  And then the minister went home.   Two hours later they had to get him up again to administer the wedding vows — only to find out that the marriage license had been signed in Cook County, not in DuPage County where they were.   A quick drive over to a very sleepy judge in Cook County — and I guess my Mom and Dad were legally married.

But that’s over now, and World War II ended,  and a couple years later I came into the world with a blast –   literally.    My 20 year old parents had a wild ride to the hospital where I was born.    The horn  on their old car got stuck and blared the entire 45 miles to the hospital.  I can’t imagine what was going through my Mom’s mind during that car ride.
I remember my Mom as a pretty, young professional “career woman,”  and arriving home at night, dressed in her beautiful city clothes, usually a pretty feminine blouse and soft swishy skirt,  or a lovely dress, high heels, and standing at the kitchen stove,  hurrying to make dinner for her family, and  then later – the best time of the day  — standing by me as I ate my “midnight snack” before going to bed.

She was a loving, kind, and gentle Mom to me.   Never an unkind word about anyone.    I never heard a judgment or a criticism.   She hit me once, though,  on the shoulder,  and I soooooo much deserved it.  I had talked back to her and you just never, ever talk back to your mother.     (Not even if your immature brain thinks it’s justified.)    Even that “hit”  was a firm and loving instruction from her.  She really, really did love me.

Now that phase of her life came to an end.   We moved from Chicago to the wilderness in the Far Far North.

She became a mother of two more daughters,  but just two short years later I left home,  and she became the person who answered my letters or   who talked on the phone with me. 

She (and my Dad)  raised their second family, lived in a few states, and ended up in Florida.  Mom is working for a small university,  but she is still wife and mother.    Working.   Knitting.  Quilting.  Reading.   Getting used to Florida.  Making friends.   Going to church.    And then my two “baby sisters”  had grown up and left home. 

That phase of her life came to an end.     And even my beautiful young parents eventually began growing old.

As it was happening,  their declining years seemed to be lasting a long time… a couple decades?   But the illnesses started, and the treatments —  the treatments that convinced me never to go to doctors.    Almost never.    I watched their health being managed downward into an irreversible spiral.  

The years of independent adulthood were over for my Mom.  Eventually, due to one treatment commonly given to women,  her brain was impaired, her thinking disrupted.

Her husband died and her life as a wife came to an end.

All these phases of my Mom’s life,  all those parts of her life were actually and really over and done with,  locked into an almost dormant memory.
The doctors called me recently and told me my Mom was sick, and it was “urgent”  that I come to Florida to see her. 

I didn’t know what to expect.   One nurse called and kindly “warned” me to expect a tiny, frail woman lying in bed.  Another called and said she was doing so much better on the new medicine.  Another phone call told me there is nothing more medical science can do.

I found her sitting up in a wheelchair, IV tubes,  oxygen tubes.   That’s all right;  I’d become used to seeing people like that in the years I worked in a hospital, in the years I saw Hubbie “attached” to things like that.  They are still the same person they are.   Mom was still Mom.

What I treasure the most, is that when Mom finally recognized me, her face lit up with a mother’s joy.  She was not only alert,  she was interested,  engaged in our conversation.  We talked about old times, and she laughed – she even giggled at one point.  She asked questions – or tried to, and then seemed to gather patience, resigning herself to just hearing me chatter on.   But she still made “comments”!

For two and a half hours we conversed. 

Then this last conversation, too, came to an end.   She became “sore” from sitting in one place so long.  Her throat hurt from the dry, cold oxygen running into her nose.    We laughed together and decided it was way past her bedtime.  

We looked forward to talking more the next morning, and seeing the old photographs I had brought with me.    The nurse came in . . . .

The next morning my sister and I met and made our plans to see Mom . . .  and while we were talking the phone rang.

Mom had passed away a few minutes ago.

No.    No.     No.     No. . . . .

No.

This last, elderly, physically debilitated phase of her life came to an end.

My sister and I talked — non-stop — for the next 15 1/2 hours.   Keeping Mom here, I guess.  Keeping her anchored in our lives.   Finding all the places in us where she had formed us    We know she lives on because of her faith in Jesus, and she is in the hands of the King.   But my sister and I live on here, hoping to find all the things Mom gave us;   hoping to stay true to all the things Mom made us to be.
 
What she was and the lives she had lived have all come to an end, and all we have in this present time are precious memories of it, in this present time.  The present is all any of us really have.

You know?   Until this present time comes to an end.

 

 

 

FUTURE UNCERTAIN – FLORIDA

November 19, 2014

I must be in Florida:

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The pretty blue car doesn’t usually get to park under palm trees.

I’ve arrived.   I can hear the surf pounding outside my window.

And I don’t know what the next few days will bring.

No one can know.    Where do we get the courage to step into those days ahead?

Bar wavy

All I can do is thank God for the safe drive down here,  and expect to have more things to thank Him for in the near future.

 

ATLANTA GAME DAY – THE DRIVING GAME

November 17, 2014

(A photomicrograph of Brownian Motion) –

Brownian colored

Remember studying Brownian motion in high school science?   It’s the fascinating discovery that particles dropped into a fluid seem to disperse evenly and orderly,  but under a microscope,  what is happening is totally random:  molecules clacking into other molecules, careening off in random directions, only to crash into other molecules.

brownian chart

Yeah, that’s driving straight through Atlanta on I-75.

Billiard balls come to mind too,  like you find yourself in the middle of some gigantic crazed game of billiards gone awry —  only you’re driving one of the brightly colored balls.

billiard balls

Your task is to drive through the north side of Atlanta, straight throught the city center, and come out on the south side.

The rules of the game are:

Keep your eye on the signs that say  “I-75 South”  –

Atlanta Signs

You find your lane from the six or eight or eight and a half lanes that are in front of you;  set your pace with the flow of traffic; and whoosh!

Atlanta lanes

Now you have to move over two lanes to the right,  through all that traffic…

Now three lanes to the left, through all those other cars….

Now get in that turning lane, way over there…

Then merge with three other lanes.

Atlanta close cars

You know you’re about halfway through the city when the lane changing pretty much stops, but the speed of the  lanes picks up to about 25 m.p.h. above the posted speed limit.   (Who is that 55m.p.h. posted limit for,  tricycles?)
Once you get used to the speed of Atlanta whizzing past,  you’ll notice your lane is now called  “Air Cargo.”    That’s all right.  Keep following the Air Cargo lane, and you’ll soon see a “show” —  50 feet above the road are all kinds of giant airplanes suspended above you,  ascending or descending in slow motion.

(Thanks to these photographers of Atlanta traffic.)     I would have taken some photos of my own,  but I couldn’t pry my hands off the steering wheel.

Good thing I’m not really “air cargo” because I’ve never actually seen the exit ramp for the airport.

About twenty minutes of driving later,  the traffic lightens up a bit,  and you can now  reduce your speed to the posted 70 m.p.h.    Which is good.  Because in the middle to the sourthern part of the state is where all the Georgia road patrol works.

I’m writing this . . . because I made it through.

 

THE LADY TRAVELS ON A SEE-SAW

November 15, 2014

75 see saw

That “lady” would be me — on a see-saw, a week and a half of extreme ups and downs, and now I find myself on the road again.

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This is where “the lady”  is writing from right now.   Everything on that hotel bed that I could want to unwind with after several hundred miles of driving.   TV,  Nook,  laptop, and knitting.

Two rooms to relax in.

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And I have a lot to think about.

I didn’t plan to travel this month.    As I pulled out of my driveway, all packed and ready to go,  I looked long and hard at my home, wishing it could hear me say “Bye, house”  —  wishing it would make sense to say good-bye to a house.     I’m going to miss being home. . . .but I have to make this sudden trip.   Yes, no.  Go, no go.  Like a see-saw.

Well,  I’m leaving the frozen Far North, where the nights will be 16 degrees this week,  and I’ll be staying here instead:

75 Tuckaway Beach n Scrub

Literally, staying there.    It’s Florida, and that’s where I stayed last time I was there.  I opened my door and – boom! —  that’s what I walked into.  My mind is still gearing up for winter. . . .

I haven’t blogged much lately because so much has been going on in my life;  good and bad, like  being on a see-saw.   (Although unlike that cartoon in the top picture, we called them teeter-totters at school and nobody liked the two-seaters anyway.)

I’m traveling because I got a call from my mother’s doctor.  He told me that she was very sick, and although he didn’t say it was an emergency, he called it “urgent.”    Mom is 88;  pneumonia and fluid build-up in the lungs is drawing me to her now,  no matter what it’s called.

The latest word is that she is doing much better.     See-saw.   But I’m going south anyway.

Just before I left, I came down with some sort of laryngitis.   The bane of schoolteachers.   I’m feeling a little sick, but the laryngitis is annoying.   Especially because  tonight I am staying here:

75 renfroRenfro Valley.  Home of the Saturday Night Barn Dances.   Home of the sound of Appalachian Gospel music — all over the radio.  It’s wonderful!!  But I can’t sing along now.

But it’s a serious “see-saw”  that I’m seeing on this trip.    Missing home lasted for about fifty miles.    Anything left undone at home will be all right.   All my minor personal stuff is just that:  “minor.”

It’s the major goods and bads, ups and downs, dangers versus signs of hope that give me the sensation of being on a see-saw too.

Just to name three issues:

1. Our country is staggering under the unsustainable weight of social programs and social regulations that the socialists multiply onto us, and we have an avowed and obvious marxist on our throne attempting to finish us off.    But is the good news that we are still “America”  and some people may bring us back to our Constitution?   So what now?  Are we “up” or “down”?

2.   In my Church,  we have a secularist, materialist utopian ideology that has taken control for the past fifty years, with an avowed and obvious marxist on the throne, apparently oblivious of the fact that he is “different”  from the teachings he is supposed to uphold.     But is the good news that no one can really change the teachings of the Church, and there have been unworthy  popes and bishops many times before – and they are NOT the Church itself?  So what now,   are we hopeful or not hopeful?

3.    One more issue:  I can’t decide whether it is ridiculously little because it’s about those old-fashioned little floppy discs that no one uses anymore;  or if this is a big issue because what came out in the news today is that our big   (n* uc*  clear  )  weapons that we have are run on computers that still use floppy discs.     So what now?  Is that okay because we don’t have many left anymore and Russia has far more than we do anyway?

I’m going to need both those rooms tonight to relax and think and sort things out.  And if my Mom gets better,  then I’m really going to enjoy visiting with her and taking a little vacation.

But I don’t know if I’m off that see-saw yet.

TUESDAY’S TRIBUTE – TO OUR PAST

September 16, 2014

It’s Tuesday,   time for a tribute to the hithertofore unimaginable,  but I think I’ll take a different tack today.

Rays from Cloud

I took this photo sometime this summer when I was on the road out West.   I took it because it was “pretty,”  but when I  saw it on my computer screen,  I really didn’t know what it meant.

The cloud was between two storms,  heavy rainstorms as only the Great Plains can give them to us.    It’s a heavy cloud at sunset, so is this a portend of the sun setting on us?  The ending of important things?

Or is that bright sunbeam a portent of things looking up?   God is “up there”  and in control,  and if we keep our minds on Him,  then all will be well through the coming night.

But for God  the human race is doomed.   Left to our own ways,  the default position of the human race is a self-seeking state of rebellion against all that is good.    We seek to have Power Over others for our own benefit.  We see to rule, but most of us are ruled.   We tyrannize but most succumb to tyranny.

This brings us to politics.

Historically speaking,  Christianity gave to us the possibility to break that pattern of relating to other people:   to dominate or be dominated.  Good Christian kings — and there were many — knew  they were subject to the same laws of God that everyone else is,  and we all must account for how we carried out our duties..

Both king and peasant stand before the same stern judge.

The Founding Fathers of America seemed to understand this,  that Christ is King over All.
Free S  nation's duty

The Founding Fathers had some concept of the dignity that Christianity offers to all men, and they knew that a government governs best under the laws of God, equally applied to both ruler and ruled, governor and governed.

The American colonists perceived that they were not being treated with dignity, and they were not safe under the tyranny of the court of King George III.

Geo III DC Occupier
The wisdom of the Founding Fathers together with the courage of the colonists created a new nation which, at the outset,  intended to throw off a foreign dictator and be guided by the principles of Christianity which keep a nation safe and strong.

Bar wavy

 

Historically speaking,  when  kings were bad (Christian in name only),  then the people were not safe, and the laws of the land were subverted for the needs of the king.   Heavier and heavier taxes are levied because a corrupt king is inefficient and wasteful.   Revenue is diverted away from the needs of the kingdom.  The people suffer, and often live in fear.

Kingly arrogance is costly.  Dishonesty is costly.    Corruption, bribery, and cronyism is costly.   Immorality is costly.  Ignorance is costly.  Etc.

To reject God is to pay a heavy price, both personally and publicly.

WHY WE TRAVEL: THE JEWELRY STORE MINE

August 16, 2014

Well, I guess that’s the “royal” we in “why we travel.”       Here is why I travel:    Because I enjoy exercising my sense of humor!    As I’ve written before,  I love hyperbole, irony, and absurdity.   They always surprise me when I come across them, as I did one day in the Far Far North.

I was walking down the main street of Marquette, acting like a tourist with lots of time  and no particular plan.   That’s when I saw this sign in front of a really nice jewelry store, diamond rings and things:

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As many of you know,  I’m a sucker for dinosaur-anything!    I’ve walked alone in the high desert out West for hours amongst the dinosaur fossils, and I’ve seen dinosaur eggs up close and personal.   So here was an invitation to walk among the dinosaur eggs again — in a jewelry store, absurdly.

And the jewelry store poster was also announcing a tour of its gold mine.     Inside!

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There was just a small display of dinosaur eggs.  Not too much information as to whose, and where and when.     But as I turned around —

SAMSUNGThere was the gold mine entrance!   How inviting is that!   

When I walked inside,  I had entered what looked and felt and sounded like a cave.  It  seemed like mining tunnels, cut into rock.  Part of me knew I was still inside a jewelry store,  but the fun part of me went exploring.

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There were displays of “gold” bricks — or maybe it was gold bricks.     Gold jewelry and gold coins.   Or maybe that was “gold” . . . .     And then there was this sample of Fool’s Gold,     You know:  iron pyrite that looks like gold;  it’s fooled even experienced miners in the past.   We kids in Illinois would find it stuck to the crushed rock that was used for landscaping,  but it was pretty common and not so special back then.

There was a display of the phenomena called luminescence:

SAMSUNGYou could play with the black light settings.    Which I did.

And there were genuine authentic artifacts and equipment and tools used by actual miners:

SAMSUNGI enjoyed the “realism”  it added to the tunnels.   Men really, really worked in deep tunnels with this equipment.   Men in my family being among them, although they were mining iron ore, not gold.   Still,  I enjoyed the attempt at realism.  

Maybe too much  “realism”  as I rounded a corner and nearly bumped into this man —

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Yep.  That’s a miner, looking at me.   I had to remember I was still inside a  “jewelry store.”     I’m real, not him!!   How fun!

I bought a few souvenirs and trinkets,  mostly of the mineral variety.      Here is some calcite:

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When the lady behind the jewelry counter took my money, gave me my receipt, she went over to a little treasure chest on the other side of the counter, and then, putting a handful of something in my bag,  said,  “Here is a little surprise for you to remember your visit here.”     That was nice to have a surprise waiting for me.

But a little kid – a lot smaller than me –  said,  ” I know what those are!   Those are  gold coins that are really chocolate candy!”   Well, there went my surprise.   But I’m an adult, after all.    What I did, though,  was remember the pleasure “gold coins that are really chocolate candy”  gave me when I was a child.  

It’s kids – and remembering what it feels like to be a kid – that made this such a fun gold mine in a jewelry store!

And that’s why I travel,  for the surprising fun of it all.

I wish for all of you Many Miles of  Fun Surprises too.

 

 

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – PREPARING FOR THE WAY HOME

August 14, 2014

It had to come eventually  —

K Lake good-bye

—   a  Good-bye to the beautiful blue waters of “Gitchi Gummi, by the shining Big-Sea Water” – or, as we know it today,  Lake Superior.   Au revoir:  I’ll be back again some day.   Two blog posts ago I wrote about walking right out into these blue waters.   Lake Superior has a way of grabbing on to a piece of you, and keeping it forever in her heart.

 I wanted to take something healthy with me on my long trip home.  While I’d be busy driving all day,  my body could be busy digesting some good nutrients.    I stopped here:

K Temaki outside

The sign says:

K Temaki Tea signTemaki & Tea.  But then so it wouldn’t sound too foreign, they added a “Smoothie King” franchise sign.   This was the place everyone told me about, the place that makes the best smoothies.

When you first walk in,  it doesn’t look much like a Japanese Tea House.  Maybe that’s because it’s right across the street from Northern Michigan University’s campus.  Tea houses are fun,  but when you’re a student,  there’s scarcely any time for that kind of fun.

Indeed,  upon walking in, the customer is presented with a fast-food type of menu:

K Menu offering

That was the style, but the contents of the menu were quite interesting.   Delicious salad combinations with fresh ingredients like I would use at home.   Although  I had come in for just a smoothie, I ordered a salad too.

K fruit smooth sign

And then a smoothie.  I chose the Carrot Kale, and I really made the right choice.  It tasted neither like kale nor like carrot, but a smooth blend of something mellow and pleasing.  It’s what you’d want your “nutrition”  to taste like!

As I waited for them to prepare my order,  I walked around, looking for a place to sit down.   There were tables and chairs, but also this inviting place, complete with fireplace:

K lounging area

Winters get very cold near Lake Superior.  I think I’d like to come back and try this out some winter.

As I continued wandering around,  much to my surprise, I found this area: 

K Japanese style

What a pleasant little surprise!    It really is a “Japanese Tea House” if you want it to be.   Unfortunately,  I wanted to head home,  I had no time for ceremony.

How was the food?    Very, very good.  The smoothie stayed surprisingly  icy for a couple  hundred miles.   That was nice because the sun was hot that day.   The salad was satisfyingly natural tasting with big chunky bits of things.  I eventually stopped using the small plastic fork and just reached in with my non-driving hand every once in a while for another bite.

Except — always keep in mind what you’ve ordered!   I finally reached into the salad deep enough and my fingers went into something very wet and pasty.  And very messy.   And light green.    I forgot there was going to be avocado in the salad;  and it was there,  several layers down,   nice and ripe and delicious.

Oh, well,  as I said,  I didn’t have time for “ceremony.”

I knew I had just one more quick stop on my way home. . . . a Jewelry Store Mine!

 

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – A FEAST FOR THE EYES

August 11, 2014

“Take time for a little sightseeing trip with me.”

Not much of a “culinary”  road trip if you’re expecting a lot of food.  Turns out I wasn’t hungry enough to visit all the restaurants I had planned to see, there’s only one more to show you,  but I found some other kinds of very nice feasting too:

And so here are the beautiful blue waters I promised you in the last posting.

Blue.    The color for our souls.    Heaven.   The Mantel of Mary, surrounding us.

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I walked way out in the “beautiful blue waters”  to see these colorful cliffs.

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They were a feast for the eyes.   All the colors,  the many blues,  the brownish reds of the cliffs, and all the greens.

In order to get out to the blue waters, you have to drive down an interesting road – one edged with huge rocks from the bottom of the Lake.
I rocky way Presq Isle rocks I parked the car, got out to take this photo of the  road I was on.    The rocks are put there to keep the road in place when strong icy winds blowing off of Lake Superior smash huge waves against the shoreline,   rearranging man’s best efforts, obliterating the roads in the winter storms.      But this road is needed,  so the rocks are there to protect it.

The road leads us to an important industrial structure.   Literally,  keeping our American industry going in its small way.  It’s an iron ore chute,  one edge leading from the iron ore trains, the other edge leading to the iron ore docks, and eventually the  ore boats.

I  Ore Chute over road

Here is a boat “at work.”   It’s steaming and smoking and ready to go as soon as it’s loaded.

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I did write at the beginning here that I  “walked way out in the beautiful waters.”   Here’s how you get to do that:

I Presq stairway to

No vertigo allowed!!!

Those stairs lead to a breakwater,  just inviting people to get out “into the “Lake.”    It’s from way out on the breakwater that I took those photos of the cliffs.
Along the way you can see down into the clear waters the  giant stones, smoothed by countless years of polishing by forces of water deep in the Lake.

I subsurface rocks

It looks like you can reach down and touch those smooth stones,  but the water is anywhere from  6 – 12 feet deep right there.

The water was pretty tranquil that day.   Some disturbance had produced interesting, almost “liquid”  waves.  Well,  you know . . .  waves are not “water”  but “disturbances, and usually a lot more sharp-looking than these.

I  Presq Beautiful Disturbance

They  were fascinating.  I looked far out into the Lake but couldn’t tell what had produced these.   I took so many photos of these waves but, well, they all look pretty much the same.

This object sent a rather whimsical thought into my head:I Presq screw

Along the breakwater there are these “screws.”   The breakwater is held in place by screws?   Well,  a guy might call them … bolts?   Lugnuts?   Pins?     Nice to know the breakwater is not going anyplace,  but if you keep watching the water,  it’s easy to trip over these things and land right in the water!     This screw-thing was at the end of the easy part of the breakwater.

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Here is the end of the breakwater with a tiny little lighthouse at the very end.    The rocks are just stacked together (no screws to hold them!)  and you can see way down,  8, 10, 12 feet into where the water starts.   I’ve been on these rocks many, many times.  They’re a lot of fun to climb, and it feels like an accomplishment to get to that little lighthouse.

But I had one more “eating place”  on my itinerary – and this was the day I could end my trip and start the long drive  from this Far Far North to my home in the Far North.

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The Long Road Home begins here.

 

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – SWEET BASIL

August 9, 2014

Well, the road trip went pretty well,  but the culinary part was difficult.    There was just not enough time or appetite in these last few days.     So — what do you do when you don’t feel like visiting too many restaurants?    You enjoy  the ones you do go to.   Like “Sweet Basil”  on Third Street in Marquette, a little city on the shores of Lake Superior.

SAMSUNG  It was a sunny, pretty day, and the outside of this little place looked charming and cozy.     Inside,  there was a very full menu board:

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I only caught part of it with my camera.    Imagine writing out that whole thing every day!!    I asked;  and, no,  they do not serve the same thing every day.   It just depends on what they feel like cooking.  It was easier to  look at the food than to read about the food:

SAMSUNG  I zeroed in on the quiche for a meal later   —

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— And some soup and some basil lemonade for the present time.    Lemonade — with basil in it.  What else?  I am in the “Sweet Basil.”

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The basil lemonade was very good  –  couldn’t taste much basil, which might be a good thing,   but the whole drink had a refreshing quality to it.   The vegetable beef soup was certainly homemade with thick chunks of beef and vegetables.  Almost like I make at home.

As I sat there eating and reading and eating, writing, reading, and eating . . ..  I looked down at the floor.   Hmmmm.     Old wooden floors.   A charming touch, maybe.    Or maybe just an old building.     I looked beyond the counter and into the kitchen.    Wooden floors.    Really well-used wooden floors.   But I didn’t mind.  It may not be squeaky clean back there,  but that’s because they were busy cooking up really good food in not much space.    I took that as a good sign.

 

SAMSUNG  I also had time to read the bulletin board.  It looked busy too, like a really well-used local information center.   All the notices were up to date and gave me a hint about the regular customers:   biking, swimming, art shows, dancing,  music, theater.     Kind of the “starving student” kind of life style.  We are not far from Northern Michigan University, and I know students need  a lot of good-tasting inexpensive food.     I know because I used to be one of them.

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I passed up a lot of “better” restaurants on my trip.     Restaurants that were clean and modern,  nice seats, waitresses,  attractive menus.     Like “nice restaurants”  in many cities.   But it was “local flavor”  that I was interested in that day, and there’s no better place for local flavor than these really small places that offer just plain good food.

 

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – ONLY IN THE FAR FAR NORTH

August 4, 2014

There is a culinary bonus to this Necessary Trip.     First you have to drive northward through beautiful northern roads, of course, like driving through giant park lands –

Pas Open Rd

And when you run out of land,  there is a Bridge to take you even  further North.   This is “the Bridge,”   the  Mighty Mac,  Big Mac,  the Mackinaw Bridge –

Pas On Bridge

Sparkling deep blue waters of the Straits,  looking out over the side —

Pas bridge side

—  not me, of course,  just my camera.   I was looking up !   —

Pas Bridge top lotsa time

The Bride is a real feat of human engineering.   Laying the foundation pillars in deep waters and getting the whole thing to stay up with suspension riggings.       It’s five miles long, so there’s plenty of time to do your sightseeing on the Bridge.

Coming off the Bridge, you’re in a different country, so to speak.   You’ve left the Far North and entered the Far Far North  —

Pas coming off

And the first thing you look for is — THIS –the first and (I think) best entry of the numerous pasty shops along the way, on US – 2.

Pas Sign

PASTIES!      Just so you’re sure,  a pasty is pronounced:  PAST – TEA.   (It’s not . . .  the other thing.)

“Suzy’s Pasties.”          It’s a cute little shop —

Pas Sign Shop

If you ever travel this way,   this is what it looks like;  you’ll want to stop here.

Inside is smoked fish,  jerkied fish,  northern berry jams and jellies, Mackinaw Island Fudge. . . and KETCHUP !

Pas Counter

Ketchup there on the counter –  an important accompaniment to pasties.   The main attraction —

pasties

Potatoes, some kind of beef,  onions,  should be rutabagaas in there, lots of salt and fats!,  packaged in a flaky delicious crust.   You can’t wait too long to break into the piping hot pasty and pour on the ketchup.   You can eat it with a fork or just pick up the whole thing in your hands and munch into it.    A picnic table works best,  but I can usually manage driving and eating a pasty at the same time.

In fact, once you have your pasty in hand,  it’s a beautiful drive along Lake Michigan —

Pas awayMmmmm –  munching a pasty next to a beautiful Lake shore.

And right here is the home of that little ‘gator that got away —   (Remember him a few posts ago?)     The Garlyn Zoo.    A roadside tourist zoo.

Pas zoo

But ‘gator wasn’t on the menu today.

Nothing else tastes quite like these pasties up here in the Far Far North.         I have my own recipe,  but I understand they have another way to get these little pasties into their shops:

Pas farming

And then, of course, for a more robust flavor,   they  work a little harder —

Pas Mining

Happy munching!!

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – A STORMY START

August 1, 2014

Well,  my “necessary road trip”  to the Far Far North has started off with a bang.    Literally.

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“Isolated thundershowers.”   “Scattered thunderstorms.”      Scattered right over us today.   That was the sky a few minutes after I left home.     I had to drive in that direction and then make a right turn, right into it

Pointing the camera overhead:

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Good-bye to the sun as the storm clouds moved in.

Then the radio station I was listening was interrupted by an emergency weather warning.   All I remember is the next city I was heading for was being warned of an approaching severe storm with 60 m.p.h. winds,   damaging hail, damage expected to automobiles and houses,  and heavy rains.

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Well, I kept going anyway, and I made that right turn, northward into the storm.       I didn’t blow off the road and I didn’t get any hail damage, but for the next hour I drove through a pretty impressive thunderstorm.    Traffic moved at about 50 m.p.h. on the interstate.

By the time the storm left us, I saw  this familiar sign –  Mackinaw Bridge!    I am heading to the Big Mac.

 

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Driving got to be fun again.    The trees got thicker and closer to the road, looking like we were all driving through a big park.    At one point I noticed my car dashboard said it was 75 degrees outside;   I was going 75 m.p.h.;  and I was driving along I-75.   Pretty cool.

The little town I’m staying in tonight has a sign that says:   45 degrees north latitude.  This spot is exactly half way between the equator and the north pole.     I found my motel, and as  I looked up from the  parking lot,  the sky looked down on us a little more benevolently.

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It will probably be a good driving day tomorrow.

As I said, this is a “necessary trip,”     and although some parts of it will be good and some parts will be . . . well, possibly … well, it’s unknown,   but I’m going to find some interesting things during this road trip, beginning with the “necessary”  eating along the way.  I checked ahead for what restaurants were available while I’m doing what I have to do, just to see what I should be bringing from home.  Much to my surprise,  the little city I’m going to has many, many locally-owned and very good-sounding restaurants!     Too many for my short little trip!

I won’t be blogging just about eating.   There were some issues I began to deal with and I want to keep going on them,  but — we all have to eat sometime too!

 

MEGA SHARK VS. MECHA SHARK

July 26, 2014

Yeah, some of you may know where I’m coming from with that title.  If so,  I’m embarrassed.   This was the BEST thing on television tonight; of all my 60 or 80 or 100, whatever, cable channels it was the only thing that interested me — maybe because —

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—  I’m heading for dangerous waters myself pretty soon.

Even though I’m NOT ready for travel so soon again, and even though I DON’T want to go to this particular event,   I find I am obliged to be on the road again, for a few days.  This time I must travel to the Far Far North.

Haven’t been there for a while, so I decided to read their local news, see what’s going on.

“GATOR ON THE LOOSE IN THE U.P. !!!”

That’s what I found.    Well, “Mega Shark”  had me primed for a science fiction type of headline like that.   Gators don’t live in the Far Far North, of course.     I clicked on the link to find out just where this “gator” was running loose  out in the wild:
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Right where I’m going.    Make a left turn, and then westward, to the red “pin.”

I love to stop along this route.    Beautiful US-2.   Beautiful Lake Michigan with shallow beaches and sandy shores…and apparently a ‘gator.

If you look at the ‘gator photo again, you’ll probably notice it’s a baby ‘gator.   Cute, but clever enough to escape from the little zoo up there along US-2.   Clever enough to hide in the vegetation along the shore.  Clever enough, probably, to find . . .  food.

Those of you who’ve read here before may know that my favorite kind of humor is hyperbole, followed closely by absurdity and irony.   I think this news story qualifies.

Well, back to my Saturday night movies.   “Megalodon versus Crocosaurus”  is coming on soon.

Maybe I’ll learn something.