Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All About Me

The creator of the blog Notes from the Buffer Zone has given me the Liebster Award.  Thank you!  I get to share 10 random things about myself and pass the award on to another lesser-known blog. So, before we get to me, please let me direct your attention to the mother-daughter duo at the blog Write Click.  They have a homey-yet-adventurous tone to their blog, and their photos are lovely.  Go take a peek and enjoy.

And now ten things you may not know about me:

1. Whenever I see the quotation "What would you do if you knew you would not fail?" my reply without hesitation is write a children's picture book.  A good one.  The best picture books are masterpieces of art and literature.  I love picture books and I love reading to small children, and I would love to be part of a child's introduction to the magic of books.

2. I wrote several poems that were published in a highly-regarded national children's magazine.  Someone drew illustrations to go along with my poems.  Even though this happened years ago, it is still quite thrilling to me.  

3. I have a master's degree in library science, but I graduated the semester before my school taught their first internet-related course.  I had on-the-job training for web searching.  A bunch of us librarians attended a workshop, and as we learned how to navigate Netscape, one of the older women in my group said "Well, this is certainly interesting, but I don't think the internet is for me.  I have better things to do with my time than sitting around pointing and clicking." She comes to mind as I sit around, pointing and clicking my days away.  I wonder if she is still working as a librarian? I myself am not.  I took time off when my kids were little and the profession changed when I wasn't looking.  I am not sure I fit into it any more.

4. I am envious of Beverly Cleary because she got to be a librarian in the days of old-fashioned bound indexes and card catalogs.

5. My dream career is that of Ursula Nordstrom's.

6. I am currently a freelance proofreader.  (Don't judge me by typos and errors in my blog!  I do proofread it, but I miss things from time to time, and it drives me crazy when I find the errors later!)

7. When I was a child my parents and grandparents gardened extensively and shopped at the farmer's market.  We ate fresh local food all summer long and preserved produce for eating all winter long.  One grandmother baked exclusively from scratch, and the other grandma darned our socks and knit slippers for us.  When my parents decided to put an addition on our house, my dad poured the cement, built the frame, and did all the masonry, including building a gorgeous fireplace and an entire wall made of stone.  Sometimes I am puzzled that current locavore and DIY lifestyles get sensationalized as if they are brand new phenomena.  

8. There are very few meals that make both of my children happy, but no one complains when I make a casserole that includes a can of cream of mushroom soup in the recipe.  I can serve my kids fresh vegetables and in-season fruit and try not to use processed foods, but some days I just want everyone to sit down and eat without complaining, and that's when I get out the can opener.

9.  You know those jokes about kids being picked last in gym class?  That was me.  I was picked last.  Every single time.  I was a terrible athlete!

10.  I was born with a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.  Even though I was periodically symptomatic during my childhood, it went undiagnosed until I was in my early 20s because any time I complained to an adult about my rapid heart beat, they would say "Your heart is beating fast?  That's normal when you exercise!"  The day I got the letter from the doctor telling me there was something wrong with my heart, I had two thoughts:  1) I am going to die, and 2) I need to call everyone from my high school gym class who made fun of me for needing to sit down in the middle of vigorous exercise. The delay in my diagnosis was probably a good thing, because in my childhood, treatments and cures involved medications with side effects and/or invasive (possibly open-heart) procedures, but right around the time I was diagnosed doctors were perfecting a much less invasive technique.  I was successfully treated in an outpatient procedure when I was 26 years old. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keweenaw Peninsula

The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northern-most part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It is usually referred to as the Keweenaw by locals.  A peninsula on a peninsula--is there a word for that?

Michigan Technological University is in the Keweenaw, about 30 miles south of the tip of the peninsula.  There are jokes about road signs saying "The end of the world: 4 miles.  Michigan Tech: 5 miles."   We didn't see such a sign,  but then again we didn't see very much besides trees on our drive north through the Keweenaw to get to Houghton-Hancock, where the university is.  The area reminded us of Duluth, Minnesota, with it's very steep hills and lift bridge.

Here is the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, connecting Houghton and Hancock:

Houghton as it looks from the bridge:

And Hancock:

And Portage Lake, which is really a wide river (or maybe it's a canal) which separates the two cities:

My son had a college visit at Tech on our trip.  It's a great school, and if he chooses to go there, I would be happy for him, but wow, it's far away and hard to get to!  He does not like hot weather, so the long winters there would be perfect for him.  

We drove to Copper Harbor the day after the college visit.  The highway goes through the woods with trees crowding close.  It doesn't feel like a state highway.

This must be breathtakingly brilliant in the autumn when fall colors are at their peak.  

Copper Harbor is supposed to be very scenic, as is the Brockway Mountain Drive, but we had nothing but fog the day we visited.  Fog is picturesque in its own way, but it looks the same everywhere, you know?

Lake Fanny Hooe

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Copper Harbor. Lake Superior is in the fog.

On the Brockway Mountain Drive--in the fog
We visited several beaches and saw one waterfall.  There are many waterfalls in the Keweenaw, but we saved waterfall hikes for later in our trip, in a different part of the UP.

On our final day in the Keweenaw, we participated in a local celebration in Calumet:  Pastyfest!  Pasties are strictly a U.P. thing in Michigan.  If you go looking for a pasty in the lower peninsula, no one will know what the heck you're talking about.

Note the "Welcome to Pastyfest" sign in the background.

We were tickled to stumble upon a celebration honoring a meat pastry!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lighthouses of the Upper Peninsula

Some lighthouses of the U.P.

Seul Choix, Lake Michigan:

Manistique East Breakwater, Lake Michigan:

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, Lake Superior (in the fog):

Au Sable Point Lighthouse, Lake Superior (in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore):

Whitefish Point Lighthouse, Lake Superior (Whitefish Point is the most treacherous part of the Great Lakes, and the lake here is a shipwreck graveyard):

Point Iroquois Light Station, Lake Superior:

Posted in the order we visited them over the course of a week.  I love lighthouses, but the children refused to get out of the car at the last one.  They had had enough.

(The woman working at Seul Choix told us the lighthouse is haunted, and that people's cameras mysteriously won't work when they are there.  My camera worked the entire time, as did my husband's, but we both have photos taken in the stairway of the tower that came out inexplicably foggy.  I'm thinking there must be some weird pocket of air there.  Or a ghost.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I live in Michigan, a place that is instantly recognizable and easy to find on a map or globe.  I was born here, and I've lived here most of my life.  Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, and is comprised of two peninsulas: the Lower Peninsula, shaped like a mitten (something I was very proud of when I was a child!), and the Upper Peninsula.  The Upper Peninsula is always referred to as the U.P.  That's not pronounced as the word "up", but as two separate letters.  The Lower Peninsula is not commonly referred to as the Lower Peninsula, at least not by those of us who live here.  We just say we live in Michigan, or sometimes the Mitten, but the residents of the U.P.  (also known as "Yoopers") are proud to distinguish their part of the state as being the U.P.  I think they refer to the rest of the state as "downstate", and they might even call the residents of the Mitten "trolls", because we live under the bridge (the bridge being the Mackinac Bridge).

The Upper Peninsula is a world of its own, much less populated and developed than the Lower Peninsula, and full of natural wonder. Even though I've lived in Michigan all these years, I never traveled in the U.P., and my husband, also a life-long Michigander, hadn't either.   We decided we needed to remedy that this year, and so we did.

Going to the U.P.  means driving over the Straits of Mackinac on the beautiful Mackinac Bridge

with views of Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east.  You can see Mackinac Island there in Lake Huron:

We headed west immediately after crossing the bridge, towards Manistique.  Our route took us over the Cut River Bridge, which looks ordinary from the top, but is quite beautiful if you get out and inspect the underside:

You can walk under the bridge through this charming tunnel:

And in the tunnel under the bridge you will find this door:

The name on the door says "T. Troll."
After a LOT of stairs going down, you can walk out to Lake Michigan:

When we were done admiring the lake and throwing rocks into it, we continued west to our destination that day--Palms Book State Park:

home of Kitch-iti-kipi, a 45-foot-deep freshwater spring:

There is a self-operated glass-bottom raft:

that goes back and forth across the spring when you turn the wheel:

and you can gaze in wonder at the beauty of the depths below:

The billowing sand in the photo directly above shows where water enters the spring.  The early people in this area called this spring Mirror of Heaven.  It truly is a wonder to behold.

Our journey continues...stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Little Flag

I stitched this little flag for a friend of mine.  You can read all about it here.