Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yurting in the Porkies

Just about a year ago I had a great adventure with my son Erik and his fiance` Linda. I drove the six hours in winter weather to Houghton, MI to meet up with them, then we headed for Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, our largest state park at 60,000 acres! Large as it is, in the summer it is very popular with backpackers and gets busy so I looked forward to a quiet winter experience.

We arrived just as darkness was coloring the snow that midnight blue color it gets before it appears bright again in the starlight. Stars! I'm not sure I've ever seen so many. We joked about the slow moving "stars" that must be UFOs but we decided they were satellites or some other explainable phenomenon. Erik and Linda had been to the yurts before and Linda had a map, so we trudged on for three hours by snowshoe until we arrived at the Little Union River Yurt, our home away from home. What a home it was! So comfy with it's all wood frame interior, bunkbeds, and tiny woodstove. Erik got a fire going and Linda opened a bottle of wine, so we were in business for the first night.

We had everything we needed right nearby: wood for the fire, an axe, the Little Union River just down the hill, a pit toilet not far down the trail, and of course the comfort of the yurt, complete with windows to enjoy the view. So the next morning we got busy splitting wood, purifying water from the River, and getting ready for a little exploring in the area. We got our snowshoes on and decided to follow the river for a while. What a perfect late winter day to be outside! When we got back I stuck a bottle of Ballatore in the snow to chill, (we were celebrating Erik's new job!) and went inside to relax and make an entry in the Little Union Yurt Visitor Journal while Erik and Linda relaxed in the warm sun. At the end of the weekend we made the long trek back to the Ranger Station and the car, said goodbye to the yurt, goodbye to the river, good bye to the trails and Lake Superior.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to my brother Mark!!

Happy day to a guy who loves an adventure, and isn't afraid to get dirty as long as there is a hot shower at the end of the trail! You make a great hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking partner and I'm game any time. I may be a better kayaker but I'll NEVER beat you in golf! You are smart, you love your family and have many good friends, and we always have a good time with you! I love you , bro! p.s. I can't resist, just one friendly poke: You don't like to carry a camera and take pics, but you like to be included in them, so here's a nice example of how you pull it off...

Happy Birthday to my brother Mike!!

I made you a collage for your birthday. It illustrates some of who you are. I know you love your family and friends, but beyond that you are fun loving, smart, and considerate. You enjoy relaxing with music, a drink, and a good cigar. You love to golf, you like sunny climes, and you have a sense of humor I can appreciate! I love you, Mike.

Happy Birthday, Mike and Mark!!

I love this picture of you guys with our dad so many years ago. He was a handsome dude. So are you guys. There were older girls in school who wanted to be my friend just for a chance to see you!

Mike and Deb

Mark and Mary

Monday, February 9, 2009

Guest Post

by Alisa Waldman Wrobel

I first read this post on Alisa's blog, "JUST ME" and it really hit home for me. Alisa and I grew up in the same neighborhood but about a dozen years apart. By the time Alisa and my younger brothers were playing outside together I was finishing high school. She captured the essence of Oak Park so well I asked for her permission to republish her story on my blog. So here it is...

I don't think it is presumptuous to say that for we kids who grew up on the block of Moritz between Oak Park Blvd. and Northfield, the city of Oak Park, Michigan was the center of everything. For a city of about 36,000, it was a bustling place with a small downtown consisting of a couple of strip malls, a large bowling alley, several restaurants mostly in the fast-food and diner genres, and neat, ranch-style houses with clipped lawns and mature trees. It had five elementary, two middle, and one high school, which served about 1,500 students a year. There was a sizable municipal area which provided wholesome entertainment and learning opportunities for the myriad children who took advantage of the extra-curricular activties offered at the community center, the ice-skating rink, the library. There was an 18-hole miniature golf course and a dozen tennis courts - hardly ever a wait. In the winter, crowds of mitten- and scarf-clad children hiked their sleds up to the top of the steep hill - the Oak Park Hill - located at the perimeter of the Oak Park park, only to hop on, speed down and fly off with glee at the bottom of the hill where the repeating action of the sleds would form an ice-ramp. Children lay in the snow wet and laughing, then get up and do it again. But as soon as Memorial Day rolled around, the main attraction became the Oak Park Pool. The Oak Park Pool was large with something for everyone. Three- and five-foot areas dominated the bulk of the pool, but there was also a terrific 12-foot diving tank which boasted three diving boards: low, medium, and scary high. If you got in trouble for splashing you might get five minutes under the big clock in front of the lifeguard office and have to watch wistfully while your friends still played. Every 45 minutes of splashing, diving and cannonballs were followed by a 15-minute adult swim in which all of the children jammed the grassy area, drying on towels or lining up for Sno-Cones and popcorn at the concession stand. We burned off the calories immediately by jumping back into the cold water as soon as those lifeguards’ whistles blew! For us, days at the pool - warm salty snacks, sugar-laden icy drinks, the joy of hot-weather abandon - were the embodiment of summer. Every July 4 there was a long parade that went from the bowling alley at 9 Mile Road and Coolidge all the way up Oak Park Blvd., ending at the park where there were games, food, and visits with everyone you missed from school. Any kid could decorate his bike and join in the parade. That night, after bar-b-ques, we would gather at the high school for a fireworks show which lingered late into the night amid the oohs and aahs from enchanted children and adults alike. There were so many kids on our block. One house had a family of five girls, but mostly there were just one or two kids per family. Some of us went to temple, some to church, but it didn’t make a difference which holidays were celebrated – we never even thought to ask. Usually all you had to do was drift outside and there was someone to play with. If no one was outside, you just rang their doorbell and asked if they could come out – we never thought to use the phone to make plans. Sometimes the whole group of us would coordinate a large reenactment of our favorite TV shows; “Lost in Space” and “Gilligan’s Island” were the favorites, with the girls all clamoring to be Judy and Ginger, the boys Don or the Professor. We spent time at the large Catholic school field down the block climbing on the monkey bars and smacking balls on the fine, tawny dirt of the baseball field. Looking back at those days, it’s as though we all moved together, en masse. We grew to be a part of each other, whether we knew it or not. We were not all best friends, we didn’t get along one hundred percent of the time, but it was the natural thing to do to hop on our bikes and ride around together, lay on the grass and talk, throw a ball back and forth, shoot some baskets. In the midst of the hum of lawnmowers, scrapes of shovels, blooms of new lilacs, fall of leaves, our days began and ended on the block. Our world was our families and each other. Like always, time has passed; we have gone our separate ways. We have all grown and now we inhabit our own blocks. I long for my daughter to be able to drift outside and fall into step with the neighbor kids, but it’s just not the same. The kids are inside playing video games, punching computer keys, watching Nickelodeon. When they are outside, it is under the watchful eye of parents who know that these days things are different, that the idea of sending your kids outside to do their own thing has become dangerous. My subdivision has a little park with no hill and no pool. Although I delight in the sounds and laughter of the children as they bounce balls, build snow forts, rollerblade up and down the street, I miss the days of Oak Park and Moritz. Posted by Alisa at 5:26 AM Labels: copy cat post, glorious days, oak park

Some of the gang in front of our house on Moritz

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Moment in Time

This is one of my favorite photos of my sons. It was one of those perfect moments in time that cannot be duplicated. We were playing at the Petoskey State Park beach in mid May 1987, when the sunshine told us it was spring but the sharp bite in the breeze put a tear in Jim's eye and told us it was not quite yet summer. We laughed a lot and we soaked up the sun. At this moment Erik, 3 1/2, and Jim 2 1/2, had come down the slide together, laughing all the way. I took the photo as they stopped at the bottom of the slide. Now this perfect moment lives on in an image. I love that about photography. It's anything but a perfect photo with the harsh shadows and oversaturation of color, but it's the image that lives in my memory of that perfect moment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Remember Summer?

Girly Girl Part III

"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” -Coco Chanel