Category Archives: environmental
I was grocery shopping recently and had a craving for a childhood snack — graham crackers with frosting on them. I purchased the box of crackers and grabbed what I thought was standard chocolate frosting. Imagine my delight when I popped open that little container and discovered chocolate mint — double yum!
That got me to thinking about some of the simple things from my childhood that kids today don’t have the opportunity to experience. Back when I was a child life was more simple. Summer was spent playing outside. There weren’t any arranged play-dates set up by parents, we weren’t in day care centers, and our parents did not have us participating in scheduled activities.
We got up in the morning and walked or rode our bike to a friend’s house, rang the doorbell and asked if they could come out and play. When was the last time a child did that? Today’s children probably wouldn’t know how. We didn’t have video games, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other technology that kids today rely on. So what did we do with our time? We had fun!
A field behind the house could be trampled down into “rooms” in which we could roll out our baby carriages and play house. We would lay on our backs and look at the clouds, making determinations on what they looked like. We played Ring-Around-The-Rosie, Duck-Duck-Goose, Mother May I, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag, Kick-the-Can, and hide-and-go-seek.
We only had three TV channels, and cartoons were a Saturday morning specialty. Every kid sat in front of the TV watching their favorites. Between Saturdays we had our comic books to read. My girlfriend and I would put our comic books into the saddle baskets of our bikes, then read our comic books as we rode our bikes down the street no-handed….and we weren’t even wearing helmets!
We would sit on the porch playing jacks. At one time I was able to handle pick-ups of 20 jacks at a time. We played a lot. Do kids play jacks anymore? Are they even available to purchase? Ours were tiny metal jacks with a small red ball. What about hula hoops and pogo sticks? With a swing of the hips your hula hoop could be forced up to the neck or down to the knees and back to the waste. Regular jump rope, Chinese jump rope, and hop scotch kept us busy.
I lived in a small town. We would ride our bikes downtown and go to the library and the dime store. I did a lot of reading. Nancy Drew was my favorite, and so was Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie as I got older. We bought pop in glass bottles out of a vending machine. Everyone chewed Bazooka bubble gum, and we all loved the little tiny comics that came inside. Gum wrappers were used to make chains…what we did with those chains I don’t remember.
We looked for 4-leaf clovers. Flower petals were pulled off one-by-one saying “he loves me, he loves me not.” Dandelions were held under the chin to see if your chin shone yellow, but I don’t remember why. If we found a dandelion gone to seed, a “wisher,” we were thrilled….but our father wasn’t if he saw us blowing those seeds out into the lawn.
Back then most people did not have air conditioning. Windows were open, fans were used. One strong childhood summer memory does not involve me but my father. He would mow the lawn and then afterward watch the ball game on TV. One of my favorite scents and sounds of summer is the combination of fresh mowed grass and a baseball ball game on the TV or radio.
What are some of your childhood memories? No matter how old or young you are, if you are an adult I am sure things have changed since your childhood. Do you have childhood cravings? Do you wish your children and/or grandchildren could experience life as it once was, not as it is now?
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.
Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires. There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day. With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately.
I arrived at 8:30 am. It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails. I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond. This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk. I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.
The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph. Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.
I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden. I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains. I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.
The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden. Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult. They are quick little guys! Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden. I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden. What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.
There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit. It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects. I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden. Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland. Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden. Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.
By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory. One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages. If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food. I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water. There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck. Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.
The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House. Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph. On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants. The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety. I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents. Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!
I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all. Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs. The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.
I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather. If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas. The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area. I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.
I had such big plans, a long list of things to accomplish around the house and in the yard. Things to organize, things to sell, things to clean. I had deadlines that have passed. I do have things crossed off, but the list is long and never ending.
Now I look at my list, at my yard, my house, stacks of paperwork to do, cupboards, drawers, closets and rooms to clean out and organize, things to sell or donate, and find myself frustrated at what I have not yet accomplished. I want it over and done, neat and organized, manageable without me feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I’m sinking in a mucky hole and I can’t make the climb back out.
Now don’t get me wrong, small accomplishments give me great pleasure. Unfortunately I frequently get a project partially done then get swung in another direction and don’t quite complete the task, so it is there dangling like a carrot in front of a horse, and I can’t quite reach it. Part of the problem is I am feeling overstretched with what I need to accomplish, but what do I give up? What do I let slide? What am I overlooking or letting slide that I shouldn’t? What if I’m doing it wrong?
The idea of letting things slide and not get completed does not formulate well in my brain. I want balance, harmony, peace. My life is out of sink. I need downtime to relax and rejuvenate, but don’t feel like I should do that when I have other things to get done. I need to get things organized in my life to bring it balance. At the same time on those occasions when I “screw off” and get away from the house, even for a few hours, I feel rejuvenated again. It is a battle of the brain, which way to go.
Then I wonder, how did I do things before? Why is it a few years ago I could find time to scrapbook, write, read, attend festivals and events, go out for the day shooting photos, go places, do things. Why am I not fitting those things into my life on a regular, weekly basis now like I did then? Is my failure to go out and do those things causing me to falter in the other areas? But if I spend time out doing things, then I’ll never get things done here.
Self-analysis can be enlightening and frustrating, it can help one reach a resolution to an issue or it can make one feel they will never accomplish their goals. In my case, I’m still sinking in that muck. If I want to get out I have to figure out how to balance my life. I have to push myself harder to get things done. I have to make a point of doing things I enjoy such as going to places where I can take pictures, attending events, or something so simple as sitting on my front porch and reading a book for an hour. I haven’t even visited my favorite spots in probably close to a year. I used to visit them all the time.
I have to get the balance back into my life. Balance brings harmony. Harmony brings the sun and dries up the muck. Hopefully it is soon!
This came as a surprise. For the most part this is not something I experience. I have adjusted to living on my own and consider myself happy in my current lifestyle. I don’t know if it was the depression of days upon days of gloomy skies and rain, being overly tired from a month that was exceptionally busy and had me feeling overwhelmed, or the fact that I came down with a horrendous head-cold. Whatever it was, from out of the shadows loneliness attacked.
In reflecting back I think it was a huge melting pot of all those various factors. It was rainy, wet, gloomy and cold. Not my kind of weather at all. Too many days of drizzly skies compounded the fact that my lawn was getting way too long and between the rain, a trip out of town for a memorial service, and my mower being buried in a shed where it was difficult for me to access, I was frustrated with not being able to get the lawn done. Then the neighbor mowed his lawn and it made mine look just that much worse. I don’t like having bad “curb appeal,” but I had and still have a negative “curb appeal” going.
I have been attending physical therapy three times a week, buried at work, and between the two have been more tired than normal. I have crashed on the couch quite often in the evenings instead of getting things done. That added to my frustration as my “to-do” list is impossible to complete and lack of energy aggravated me further.
Suddenly I came down with a massive head cold. I couldn’t breath, my nose was runny, and I had the chills. As I lay in my bed shivering the loneliness enveloped me. For thirty-four years whenever I was sick and had the chills Ron would wrap himself around me and the combination of body heat and human touch would help me to relax and go to sleep. Now he is gone and I was alone and couldn’t sleep. That is when it hit.
Ron always handled the yard work and now it is mine to do. I’m frustrated over not having it done the way I want it. Landscaping Ron was going to tear out and re-do didn’t get done and it needs to be changed. The grass isn’t mowed and trimmed the way it should be. There are things left in the drive, yard and garage from Ron’s scrapping days that I simply want gone. It has me feeling overwhelmed, angry with myself for not being as fast and efficient at getting it done as he was. Irritated at the mess I have to deal with.
Weekends were almost always spent together. Ron and I would get up, have breakfast together and the conversation was always “What are we going to do today?” Festivals, special events, arts and craft shows, or just going somewhere to shoot pictures. Photography was a constant part of our lives. Now I lack motivation. My weekends are just me. No one to have breakfast with, plan my day with, or go places with. Just me doing whatever I want, alone. On the weekends when I do get out of the house and go somewhere I feel much better, but self-motivation is difficult.
Boy, does this sound like a major pity-party or what! The fact of it is, I am alone. I have to figure out how to juggle the yard work and get it done. I have to eat alone, plan my own weekends, get out and be active by myself. When I’m sick and have chills, that’s the way it goes. I’m alone and I have to deal with it. That is life. That is reality. Pity-Party over.
So am I lonely or was I just having a moment? Probably a combination of both. I don’t feel loneliness on a day-to-day basis. I have enjoyed adjusting to life on my own. If someone asked I would tell them I am happy with my life and it would be true. Will I continue to have moments when loneliness hits me? Most likely. Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone? Not really. I would prefer to someday find someone who has similar interests and with whom I can share my days and a home with. Until that time arrives I shall continue as I am and I shall be happy, because happy is the best way to be.
I deal with a multitude of people every day, some who are almost always late, some who are on time, and some who arrive early. Events that recently occurred in my private life got me to thinking about time.
Why is it some people are notoriously late for everything? Is it their upbringing? Are they disorganized and can’t seem to gather themselves together to arrive in a timely manner? Do they think their time more valuable than others and allow themselves to become distracted? Is it simply an inbred trait they are born with?
I think it is all of the above. Each person is unique and anyone that is habitually late may have any of the above factors playing into it, or a combination of several. What does this do the the person who is habitually on time and going somewhere with a person who is habitually late? It drives them crazy! If you are an “on time” person and have to deal with an “always late” person on a regular basis, you have to learn to accept the fact that they are operating on their own time and not sweat the small stuff.
I was later told of a family arriving late at an event in which I was the center of attention. One couple and their four children arrived late for my wedding and followed my father and me down the aisle during the processional.
I know one couple where the woman was notoriously late for everything, including her own wedding. The couple was scheduled for a simple ceremony at the courthouse and all other weddings had been performed. Lucky for them the Judge agreed to go ahead and perform theirs, even though they were beyond the appointed time.
How is it some people are always on time, meaning on the dot or 10-15 minutes early? Have they been trained to be timely? Is it a birth trait? Are they by nature a courteous, considerate individual who value the time of others as much as their own?
Again, it can be one or all of the above. Each person is unique and their life experiences affect their habits. I consider on-time people reliable. You can count on them to be where they say they are going to be when they say they will be there. Do they ever run late? Of course, everyone does from time-to-time. The difference is that it the exception, not the rule.
I am generally an on time person to slightly early person depending on what it is I am doing. I work extremely close to home and generally arrive on-the-dot for that. Other activities such as meetings I tend to arrive about 10 minutes in advance. When did I develop this habit? When I was a child. In grade school I was at the building on the playground long before the bell rang to go in. In Junior High (middle school) I was generally at the school about 15-30 minutes in advance, by high school I was there about an hour in advance, hanging with a group of other early arrivals. We had authorization to enter the library through the librarians door prior to it officially being opened. When I went back to college as an adult I was at the school at least 30 minutes prior to the start of class. By arriving at work 10 minutes prior to my work day it was once commented on how early I was. No, not early, on time!
So what constitutes early? Early is well ahead of schedule. These are times when the “on time” person gets way ahead of themselves. It can throw a monkey wrench into the process, even if they are meeting up with a timely person, but it can also be fun. Just roll with the punches and enjoy the toss up in the routine. This happened to me twice in the past few months, both times with the same person. One positive thing can be said, when an “on time” person uses their brain to rely on, they are generally ahead of schedule, not late. So how early were they?
The first time was when we had plans to go to dinner and were meeting at my house. I gave them a time of 6:45 pm, which would allow me to leave work at 6:00, get home and do the normal “arrive home” things of bringing in the mail, putting away my lunch containers, then change my clothes, touch up make-up, etc. So how did this go? When I was approaching my driveway at 6:15 their car was also signaling to turn into my drive. They were 30 minutes early! The greeting was even funnier. They exited their vehicle and said “are you late?” and I responded “No, you’re early.”
Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff. They waited in my living room while I did what I needed to to get ready. We left the house and were driving down the road when they commented that I was right on how long it would take me to get ready…it was 6:45! Of course I was right, I’m an “on time” person.
Now when does early become “way ahead of themselves?” That happens when they forget to check the calendar for what day you are getting together. I had my day mapped out. I knew what day they were coming over and the night before planned to do some standard tidying of the house — make sure the dishwasher is unloaded and no dishes are in the sink, vacuum, check the bathroom and wipe down the mirror — the typical stuff to make a house look presentable. So how did that go?
I left work about 15 minutes late, so arrived home around 6:20. I threw my jacket over a chair and flipped through the mail. Made a phone call regarding some repair work being done and left a message. I was about to go run upstairs and take off my work clothes and throw on a pair of jeans and a top when my doorbell rang.
I opened the door to find my friend standing on the porch. Weather permitting I generally leave the door open when I know they are coming over, but I had it closed. Their greeting to me was “Did you forget?” I responded that no, they are early — as in 24 hours early! Oops!
So what happened? The evening proceeded as originally planned just a day early. The walls didn’t cave in because my house hadn’t been tidied up. I laughed after they left and wondered how early they will be the next time around. They get too far out there and I might not be home. At the same time, we live in such a planned/scheduled society, that a little twist to the plans now and then keeps life fun and spontaneous.
So what does all this mean? If you are always late, think about its affect on others around you. If you are normally on time, it is wonderful that you are conscientious and considerate. If you are early, as in well ahead of yourself, you are the type of person that keeps others on the edge of their seat and forces life to be spontaneous.
Life is a Melting Pot of personalities and habits. Whatever kind of person you are dealing with, go with the flow. Enjoy and have fun regardless of their arrival time.
Today (September 23, 2016) was my 56th Birthday. It occurred to me the other day that as of this birthday I am no longer just in my mid-50’s, I am now pushing 60. Isn’t it funny how the mind perceives certain things and twists them in your brain. Seriously, am I now at 56 different than I was at 55? I tend to say that I refuse to get old, and that age is a matter of staying active and thinking young, so why does the number give me a negative feeling?
Maybe it is because I became a widow at age 55. I never expected that to happen. My husband was only 64 when he passed. I didn’t expect to become a widow until I was in my 80’s, yet here I am in the situation about 30 years earlier than anticipated.
I recently found my first gray hair. I thought I had something stuck in my hair and tried to pull it out, only to discover it was attached! Then I saw two more on the other side of my face. I thought about pulling all of them out, but then realized if I did that every time I saw a gray hair I would eventually render myself bald. I must accept that I am now going gray, hopefully at a very slow pace.
Perhaps it is because my eyes tend to get dry now. I am frequently switching out of my contacts and into glasses because my eyes become dry and irritated. I had always assumed I would continue wearing my contacts 18 hours a day well into my 70s or 80s. Obviously that is not going according to plan, to the extent that I am contemplating getting a second set of glasses rather than contacts the next time around.
It could be that my obstructed mobility due to needing an ankle fusion is making me feel ancient. I do have the ankle fusion scheduled in November and hopefully will have a quick and easy recovery followed by better mobility.
Because of the painful condition of my ankle I have not accomplished as much as I had hoped since my husband’s passing. The ankle simply can’t handle the extended time to do yard work, cleaning the basement and miscellaneous other activities that require me to be on my feet.
So, now that I am over the hill and rolling down it toward 60 I need to keep a positive focus and concentrate on fully utilizing the young gene. My hair can turn gray…there are people that purposely put grey in their hair for accent. I can gradually switch over to glasses if needed, after all young people wear fun and trendy glasses all the time. I will regain mobility after my ankle fusion and should be back to normal by late next spring. Most importantly, I refuse to grow old. Old is a state of mind, and my mind is not going there.
I am by nature a fairly easy going person, except when you challenge what I think is right, at which point I can become very obstinate. This is the case with an article I just submitted to our local paper, The Times Herald. St. Clair County has an “unofficial” yearly event called Float Down, which will take place this Sunday.
This is an event where people disembark from Lakeside Beach in Port Huron using rafts, floats, etc. and take with them beverages, snacks, and more for the 7 mile float down the St. Clair River to Chrysler Beach in Marysville. This is an all-day event, the river is rapid, and even though the event is “unofficial” shipping traffic is generally slowed and/or stopped for several hours that day for safety reasons and the Coast Guard is on hand to carry out any necessary rescues.
There are over 5,000+ participants in the float down, and it grows larger and larger every year. In my opinion the participation increases because of the publicity it gets…not so much the positive publicity, but the negative. The U.S. Coast Guard encourages people not to participate because it is a safety risk. The officials of Marysville where the float ends keep trying to make it difficult for people to exit at their city by closing down roads and making it difficult for people got get picked up and exit the area quickly after floating. Last year because they closed the road where people exit some floaters were stranded near a local restaurant until 10:00 pm.
This is where my good-natured, always balanced Libra personality takes a turn and I become obstinate. I am an opinion columnist for our local paper so I just submitted a column about the negative attitude of the City of Marysville’s mayor. I said I hope all 5,000+ float all the way to Chrysler Beach just because of the mayor’s attitude. I think the City’s negative attitude is why the float down has grown so large in the past few years. Who doesn’t want to participate in an event that has a bit of controversy and provides a unique chance at one day of fun per year? I know I do. I may be babysitting my granddaughter this year so my daughter can float, but in a future year I will participate in a float down. The Mayor of Marysville’s attitude has guaranteed that!
The same feeling can be triggered by different stimuli in different people. It can be a memory, likes, holidays, smells, or just a date on a calendar. What is your trigger indicator for spring?
Michigan is known for temperamental weather. It can be 70 degrees today and 40 tomorrow, so is temperature a good indication of spring? Here in Michigan you may be hunting Easter eggs under snow. Is it spring when the weather is consistently above 60 degrees? Is it spring when the tulips have bloomed but are then covered in snow? Can we rely on the weather to tell us it is spring?
Maybe your trigger that spring has arrived is when the daffodils or tulips bloom. Could it be newborn birds chirping in a nest, or a tiny bunny hopping across the front lawn? Spring is a time of rebirth. What about the smell of lilacs blooming on a tree? The smell of a fresh cut lawn? Scent is a very real trigger for memories. Has what indicated spring to you as a child changed now that you have become an adult?
What about Easter? It arrives with easter egg hunts, bunnies, spring dresses and special worship services. Does the arrival of Easter mean spring has arrived? The problem with Easter is it arrives anywhere from late March to sometime in April. Easter is a mental trigger for many that spring has arrived, but should it be? The weather doesn’t adjust itself to Easter’s arrival, so not a true indicator of spring.
Has spring arrived when a trip through the store includes displays of seed packets, seedlings, soil, mulch, rakes, shovels, and other items needed for gardening. What about the season opening of the local farmer’s market selling flowers and plants? Do these items trigger the feeling that spring has arrived?
The trigger indicators that spring has arrived are different for every person. They are brought on by things we have experienced in our lifetime that instills in us that degree of freshness, newness, that spring evokes in all of us. For me, one of the number one triggers that spring has arrived is when the shipping resumes on the St. Clair River. The vibration of ships as they go up and down the river, the sight of their lights at night as they pass by, the sound of fog horns in the morning. For me, shipping season means spring has arrived. What triggers the arrival of spring for you?
I was sitting at my desk this morning when I looked up to see a young squirrel hopping across my front yard and up onto a raised bed surrounding our tree. He then perched on the wall for a moment, turning his head looking around before he scampered up the tree and onto a bottom limb, Mr. Squirrel then sat on the limb, facing the road, watching traffic go by.
What was his reason for going to the tree and stopping first on the wall and then sitting on the branch? What was the purpose of this observation? Was he looking for someone, meaning another squirrel? Was he contemplating the safety of venturing out and crossing the road? Was he just enjoying the morning view, something to do for a moment?
After a few minutes he scampered back down the tree and without hesitation hopped off the raised flower bed, onto the lawn and ran back from the direction in which he had originally come. What was his next destination? Why was he going there?
We will never know what was going on in that squirrel’s mind. What his purpose or goals were at the moment. In our hectic, fast-paced world it is relaxing to contemplate for a moment what is going on in the mind of an animal that appears to take action that in some form or another had a purpose, we just don’t know what that purpose was.
What is going on in this country? Why over the past 20 years has there been an increase in violence among young people? Why does there seem to be an increase in racial profiling? Why after fighting so long for equal rights are women now using sex to promote themselves and products? I find it disturbing that we seem to have taken a giant step backwards in this country in many ways.
If you look back 30-50 years youth were not gunning each other down. While there may have been fights, young people were not going into schools armed with guns and killing fellow classmates and teachers. We did not have the drive-by shootings and gang violence we have today. You could walk into a McDonalds, shopping mall, and most importantly, a church or school and not have to be concerned about the possibility of a gunman coming in and opening fire. Today no where is safe, even those locations designed for children. Children are innocent, they do not see color, they are not violent, and yet they are growing up to be. Their beliefs are shaped by the people around them, the adults they watch and learn from, and they are learning to be violent and racially discriminatory.
What I find very disturbing is the number of incidents in which police officers act violently against citizens, especially those of a non-white race. The officers seem unable to maintain control of a situation, there have been many shootings lately of unarmed persons, including teens. Then Grand Juries refuse to indict those officers and this serves to fuel further anger and violent acts. The fact that the majority of those incidents involve white officers and people of African American descent ads fuel to the fire. There are other acts of violence based on race, the most recent being the fraternity in Oklahoma caught on video degrading those of black heritage. Why all these years after Rosa Parks sat on a bus, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech, and numerous other acts to equalize the rights of blacks in this country are we experiencing so much racial violence?
We seem to have taken a turn backwards, we are no longer a country in which people are achieving equality. In the 60’s and 70’s women battled for equal rights in the workforce, they changed the way they dressed to allow themselves to fit into a “mans world” and achieved great things. Women can now obtain positions that were once considered exclusively for men — women now serve in congress, they work as attorneys, judges, doctors, police officers, airline pilots and serve in the military. The accomplishments have allowed women to once again display their feminine side while maintaining power. However it seems to have fallen overboard and we have gone from showing a feminine side to using sex to sell anything and everything on TV, in the radio, on the internet. Why are women allowing themselves to be degraded in this way after so many fought against it?
The United States is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and religions. It is a country developed on Christian beliefs, but willing to accept those of all different religions. Its founding fathers were white, but established guidelines so people of all nationalities could immigrate legally and become citizens. We have overcome sexual inequality. We have taken great strides in overcoming racial inequality, but still have farther to go. This country has accomplished great things, but is now on the decline. What we have become is not a county that is accepting of other peoples and beliefs, but a county that is allowing itself to be destroyed by allowing those standards and beliefs to be eliminated under the guise of acceptance. The morals, beliefs, and religion that this country was built on is what has held it together for centuries, but if those standards are not re-established this country will fail.
As I sat down this morning and looked out my window I had the contrast of a tree in my front yard that is still full of leaves, and they haven’t even changed color, but the trees across the street are bare of any leaves at all. Then I have shrubs with snow on them, and a neighbor across the street running his large snow blower in his drive.
The contrast of these items shouldn’t come as a surprise — I live in Michigan. We have a saying here, if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes, it will change. However where I live, in the thumb just south of Port Huron, I am not used to snow on the ground until January or February. We still wear spring jackets in November, people ride their motorcycles, we haven’t found our ice scrapers yet. I am not a winter person, I took these photos standing inside my house, through the screen.
An arctic blast has moved across the country, dumping cold and snow everywhere. Buffalo, New York has taken a major hit. Given what is going on elsewhere, I really can’t complain about what I am dealing with here in the thumb….well, yes I can. I’m still not happy, just recognize it isn’t as bad as it could be. There is snow coming down as I write this.
In April I wrote Wild Weather Past and Present because we were also having strange weather this past spring. If you didn’t get a chance to read it then, check it out. It shows that bizzare weather has been going on for hundreds of years. The advantage is we now have homes with furnaces, cars with heaters, snow blowers, plow trucks, and tons of modern conveniences that our forefathers did not have when dealing with wild and bizzare weather.
Stay Warm. I am trying to look on the positive side: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go.
After an 11-day vacation my husband and I arrived back home the evening of August 17th and I am still working on getting back into the swing of things. Our trip was within our own state, but to an area that was very different from where we live.
We began with a two-night stay in Boyne Falls, Michigan for a memorial service. We have a motor home and had booked into a campground there that is located on a country road. What we found, luckily after we had left the motor home at the camp and were driving only our car, is that the GPS does not distinguish between good country roads and seasonal, 2-track roads. We also discovered that it is possible for a GPS to get confused because after taking us down an assortment of roads it took us back down the same roads we had just come from. So much for a GPS being able to navigate from Boyne Falls to Boyne City — it couldn’t even find our campground!
Our next destination was Iron Mountain, located in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Our drive from Boyne Falls to Iron Mountain was uneventful, unless you count orange barrels on the Mackinac Bridge an event. Of course all Michiganders know that summer is “orange barrel season” and why should a bridge be any different? What we found during our stay in the UP is that although we were in the same state, the environment and way of life is very different.
Iron Mountain is on the south side of the UP very close to Wisconsin and about midway across. It is home to one of the world’s largest ski jumps, and if you drive to the war memorial there it will take you up to where the jump is located for a beautiful view of the area. We enjoyed a tour of the Iron Mine in Vulcan, where they take you approximately 425 feet below the earth’s surface into the mine. Mining has not been conducted there for years but it is interesting to learn the conditions under which they worked and the tools used to drill in the mine.
Our main objective of the trip was to photograph waterfalls, lighthouses and nature. We were disappointed that although we passed several Moose Crossing signs the moose were not being cooperative and we never saw one. We did see several deer, wild turkeys, and what we believe were a couple coyotes. We found that while some waterfalls are well known and have a lot of visitors, others are secluded, hard to find, and require driving down narrow county dirt roads that are only slightly wider than a car width and you will only find the waterfall if you are lucky because they are not well marked.
Driving down county roads can be interesting. We came across lumbering areas where we stopped to take photographs, and discovered that semi-trucks coming at you on those narrow dirt roads drive at a pretty good rate of speed. Don’t forget to roll up your window because you will be engulfed in a smog of dirt after they pass. Much of the UP is National Forest, so you are driving those narrow dirt roads with huge trees on both sides. We commented on how beautiful they must be during the fall color season.
Part of the UP is Eastern Time and the other portion is Central Time, and as we drove to our various locations we were constantly bouncing from one time zone to the other. The solution, leave your wrist watch on Eastern, set the microwave on Central, and your cell phone will automatically change for whatever time zone you are in. Although this did not have a massive impact on our vacation plans, you do have to keep that in mind when considering the hours a place is open or when you make reservations.
Two of the lighthouses we visited are private and can only be seen by tour. We luckily stumbled upon them at the correct time to take part in the tours and learn about life at those locations. The job of lighthouse keeper was a lonely existence for both the keeper and his family, as they were often in places that were located out and away from other civilization. Climbing a lighthouse that is part of a home is an easier, shorter climb for a great view. By the time you begin your climb up the spiral staircase to the lantern room you are already on the second floor of the home and only have a bit farther to go.
I have given you a few details on our trip, but the question you may have is why did I say it is “Same But Different?” Because it is. I live in Michigan’s lower peninsula in the thumb just south of Port Huron. When you cross from the “mitten” into the UP in some ways you take a step back in time and into a small town existence. A “big city” has a Walmart and a KMart, and some fast food establishments, there aren’t many big cities in the UP, Iron Mountain, Marquette, Munising and St. Ignace are those that come to mind immediately. The rest of the UP has small towns, no fast food, and the towns have long stretches of roadway between them. Of course you can always find a restaurant serving pasties wherever you travel, something you will not find in lower Michigan. A pastie is meat and potato with maybe a couple other veggies in a crust. They were carried by miners down into the mines to eat for their lunches.
We traveled Highway 2 several times and it is a long road of forest and very few cars. You spend a lot of time driving in the Ottawa National Forest or the Hiawatha National Forest. The UP does not have “rest stops” like we are familiar with where you have a nice modern building, vending machines and bathrooms. When you travel in the upper peninsula there are Roadside Parks with picnic tables and the bathroom facilities are actually outhouse toilets. Did you want to wash your hands? If fussy about that you better carry some hand sanitizer. We noted that most vehicles on the road are clean without any with damage from accidents or rust. When living in an area where you have to drive for miles between cities without any other cars, homes or businesses between having a well maintained vehicle is a must. While there are miles and miles of desolate area there is no litter. Here in the lower peninsula you find litter everywhere, but not in the UP. We never once saw so much as a gum wrapper on the ground – clean and natural as it should be. Uppers take pride in their environment and it shows.
We will definitely go back to the UP for another vacation. It was relaxing, has great photo ops, nature, and requires a lot more time to explore than we allowed. If you want to go somewhere that is the “Same But Different” take a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
It isn’t that I miss them, and I really don’t care if they never return, but I am curious. We moved into our home ten years ago, and for the past nine summers as soon as it got warm the spiders took over the front porch. At dusk they would suddenly appear, building webs, sitting on the siding of the house, lurking on the ceiling of the porch. Then come morning they would be gone, leaving only their webs to show of their prior nights invasion until they reappeared again that evening.
I am not favorable to spiders so it took some adjusting to the fact that if you arrived home after dusk you were walking up onto a porch with lots of spiders on it. If we forgot to turn on the porch light and came home after dark it was worse because then you couldn’t see where they were. One night that happened and I was first to the front door. When I opened the screen door I felt a web go across my head. I hurried into the house, flipped on the lights, was doing the wild karate hair shuffle with my hands while saying to my husband, Ron, “Is there a spider in my hair?”.
Being a typical man, he remains on the front porch, looking around and says “There are a lot of spiders out here.”
“I don’t care what is on the porch, is there one in my hair!”
Ron enters the house calmly, looks at my hair and replies “no.”
Whew! That moment of panic when I didn’t know if I was wearing one of the darn things ended with one simple word.
This summer is strange. There are no spiders on our front porch. They should certainly be there by now, and after all these years I assumed they were permanent residents. So here we are in our tenth summer in the house and I am wondering what happened to the spiders. Did the bitter cold winter freeze them out? Will they suddenly realize summer has arrived and do a late invasion? Will we be given a summer of reprieve and then be invaded again next year? Only time will tell, but for now I am happy that I can walk across my front porch in the dark, or sit on it reading until dusk, without having to worry about whether a spider is happily building its web above my head or across my front door. I must admit, as adverse as I am to spiders, I continue to look at my front porch every day and wonder “Where have all the spiders gone?”