Entries to Win Afghan


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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Green Mansions

 
A few years ago, I came across a copy of a book at a rummage sale that I'd been wanting to re-read. The book is Green Mansions, by William Henry Hudson, published in 1904. Although he was an ornithologist and naturalist, and wrote many books, he is perhaps best remembered for this work. It was required reading in one of my high school English classes.

Green Mansions
And that brings me to why I wanted to read it again. It's certainly not my kind of book. Not then, not now. However, all I could remember from so long ago was the basic plot and that I found it strangely disturbing. There are only a few books that have ever left me with that kind of feeling. As an adult, I finally figured out that the stories that confused and troubled me this way were ones where I identified with more than one of the main characters.

Ever since I realized this, I'd been looking for a copy of Green Mansions. Found this one for a dollar!

I'm going to digress a minute to talk about the book itself. This is a Heritage Club reprint (1937) of a special book club edition. The Limited Edition Club was a subscription service created in 1929 by George Macy with only 1500 copies of each book printed. The Heritage Club offered more affordable reprints. The originals had stunning artwork, by famous artists. This book was illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias.

Green Mansions
Anyway, I wanted to find out if I would still react the same way to this book that I did as a young teenager. The answer is "no." Not at all. In fact, I had to force myself to finish the book.

I think back then I saw myself both as the explorer who wanted to search out the unknown parts of the jungle (not really the point of the first person protagonist- but I was too naive to "get it."), and as Rima the almost magical girl of the forest who could communicate with the animals, appear and disappear almost mystically, and who had no people, was unique. I think I somehow guessed that the story could not end well, but didn't understand why.

The style is flowery and romantic. Very much the style around 1900, but not so much a century later. It's the kind of book I can't really stand any more, where we hear every nuance of thought and emotion.

Even so, it will probably end up on my best books of the year list (that I haven't shared for a few years), because now it's disturbing for different reasons. It's all about lost love, and love that can never be fulfilled, and the death of innocence, and tragedies of non-acceptance. Classic literature is usually good for a reason, no matter the writing style.

It can be read online for free, at several sites that carry books that are out of copyright.

See Best Books of 2013
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Manistee National Forest- Challenge Hike #11

 
Today there were nine hikers. Several of our regulars had other commitments, but we've added some new faces as we've gotten farther north so the group size stays about the same.

group of hikers

Warning- there are a lot of pictures in this post. Enjoy or skip, as you wish. It just seemed like there was good variety in today's experiences.

I'm always looking for the miniature scenes. Is this a condo for tiny elves?

mushrooms on log

Everyone who hikes the section through Udell Hills has to find This Is It. The outfits change with the seasons.

This is it

It was nice to have a picnic table for a break midway (and a latrine). Sara, Kevin and Ed shown here.

group of hikers at picnic table

Cedar Creek is a lovely little stream that meanders until it flows into the Manistee River.

Cedar Creek

Right in the middle of the second half is a 3 mile roadwalk that we haven't been able to find an alternate route around. I just get a kick out of it. The two roads are Michigan Avenue and Chicago Avenue. Seems rather pretentious for two ordinary dirt roads.

dirt road corner

Fall colors are just starting, but in a few places they were lovely.

fall colors

The trail crosses the road to Blacksmith Bayou campground.

blacksmith Bayou

I had forgotten what a pretty piece of trail this final section of we did today is. Because of that roadwalk, I don't do this piece very often. Most of it is on benched trail high above the marshy edges of the Manistee River.

trail on bluff

Then it drops down on a set of long switchbacks almost to river level. The willows were starting to look autumnal as well.

willows

At last we reached and crossed the Manistee River. Our cars were just on the other side.

Manistee River

11.2 miles today. It was pretty hot- high seventies, but also cloudy so it wasn't brutal. By the time we finished it had started to cool down a little.

The joke of the day? For me it's this picture. I was going to make some sort of comment about the new polypore replacing the old, but clearly, instead I've caught a grinning shark coming around the edge of a reef.

smiling polypore.

Just a great day.

North Country Trail, Manistee County. Skocelas Road to Highbridge. 11.2 miles



See Challenge Hike #10
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

I'll Take a Slice of That Please!

 
Coming home from work this morning there was one slice of a feature that was so compelling I stopped at a place I could see it better. I had to lie down in the wet grass to get a picture with no wires across the face. And the focus isn't great.

rising crescent moon

I took more photos when I got home, with a tripod, but by then the moon was high enough that the orange color was about gone. It only takes five minutes to make all the difference!

rising crescent moon

By the way, if you want to remember which "direction" the moon phase is headed, try "right rising, left leaving." This means when the crescent is on the right side the moon is waxing (heading toward full). When the crescent is on the left, like this one, the moon is waning (heading toward new or dark).

And, it ended up that I did take a picture yesterday, after I did the blog post game. The sunset was peaceful in pastels. Nothing gaudy, but beautiful in its own way.

sunset

In other news, little Steve turned 43 today. I called him. He's celebrating by having the flu, poor guy! But we did have a nice talk.

See My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon for a waxing crescent moon
See My Little Squirt is 39
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Friday, September 15, 2017

The Old File Folder Game

 
As it turned out, I didn't take any pictures today. Just busy. But I do have full internet and computer back. That sure is quality, but not much of a picture.

So, I just asked for numbers from friends on Facebook to match to files on my external hard drive. 42 got me in Family 2012 pictures. 2 selected pictures taken by me. Finally, 3 brought me to this gem. Actually, this is a really good picture of Omer, doing one of the things he likes best. Enjoying Christmas!

man in Santa hat

He's currently off on a road trip visiting friends.

Me? I'm off to work for the night. Feeling totally neutral about it. Not tired, stressed, or happy, It just is what it is.

See Om Says 12 for a similar post where he chose the number
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Couldn't Put it Down

 
There aren't too many books I read any more that I find compelling. I still love to read, but now that I'm "really" a writer, I've also become a critic. That has it's drawbacks.

After I finished the previous blog post, I thought I'd read myself to sleep with the book by Judy Updike, Broken for His Glory. Ha! Stayed up most of the night reading and then had to go to work half asleep in the morning. As soon as I got home from work, did I take a nap? Heck, no. I finished that book.

Broken for His Glory

To be truthful, I'm a little too close to the story to be totally objective. Judy and I grew up in the same church. I remember the folds of land at her farm, the roads and houses. I know most of the people in the book. That said, these events happened after my mom died in 1995, and I haven't been back to that village more than a couple of times since then.

Judy's uncle Harlan was our pastor until I was 10. He had a dry sense of humor that I was just beginning to appreciate at that age, but he was always gentle and caring. Her aunt Rachael filled many roles (as pastor's wives often did) but I remember her most clearly as the leader of Junior Church. Thinking back from an adult perspective, I've realized what a gift she had, because the church was small and all the kids from preschool to 5th or 6th grade were thrown together for about 40 minutes. She handled them all with skill, and learning occurred despite the huge age range.

This picture was in 1958, the year they left our church.

Harlan and Rachael Clayton

They later came back to the area and were good friends with my mother in retirement years. Here they are again in 1983.

Harlan and Rachael Clayton

I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures of Judy's parents. Her dad was quiet and probably avoided pictures (at least at church), but her mom, Dorothy, was a Sunday School teacher, and VBS teacher. She taught 5th grade SS for so long that it was just a given that you had Mrs. Updike in 5th grade.

Judy was ahead of me in school. But we both played field hockey. Even though this was long before Title IX, because New York required physical education, there were at least some interscholastic sports for girls. That doesn't mean we got any respect. Haha. I just went through all the yearbooks from my highschool years, and the best field hockey (any girls' sport) got was an unlabeled snapshot or two. I loved field hockey. I called it blood and guts for girls.

field hockey 1964

But Judy loved it more. She went on to play in college, and then she became a phys ed teacher and field hockey coach.

As I said in the previous blog post, we weren't close friends. I suspect we were both too busy being shy and trying to figure out where small, extremely independent girls fit into the world back then. But I apparently worked up the courage to ask her to sign my yearbook. I was such an outlier on the fringes of the social world that it was a major accomplishment for me to make such a request. I was always afraid people would say "no," (some did) or write something unkind.

I haven't seen Judy since around 1965. But Facebook is great for some things, and we've reconnected. As it turns out, as adults we've enjoyed a lot of the same kinds of activities.

Judy Updike

Anyway, enough of the reminiscing. My familiarity with the people and places may be the reason I found the book so compelling. Nevertheless, this is a book that is sure to resonate with anyone who has found themselves at the end of their physical and emotional strength while caring for the needs of people they love. Beginning with a critical and eventually fatal injury of her oldest brother, through the deaths of her uncle, mother, father and aunt, over only 17 months, Judy shares honestly how these events took her to the end of her own strength. Her faith was tested in ways she never expected. Yet God always upheld her. She learned that the roller coaster of emotions is a separate "thing" from faith- not everyone gets that.

Her smile? Pictures I see of Judy now show an even bigger one than back then. Mine too, I hope. God is good.

If this stage of life is heavy on your heart, or looming in your near future, I highly recommend Broken for His Glory. It can be ordered from Higher Ground Productions, 771 Turk Hill Road, Fairport, NY 14450

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I've Got Mail!

 
How often, these days, does one get anything good via snail mail? Most of it goes directly to the recycle bin, right? But I just got some really nice things. One of the envelopes came yesterday, but I was already so overwhelmed with the quality from other activities, I'll share it today.

items that came in the mail

I'll explain these clockwise, from the top. The first is a postcard from a lady I don't know at all. She read my most recent newspaper column, about Camp Martin Johnson, and Martin Gustave Johnson who donated the land, and felt compelled to write to me about it. I get a lot of general (almost 100% good) feedback about the monthly column, but less about specific topics. My last article must have resonated with a lot of people. This is the third specific response to it.

On the right is a card from my wonderful sister-in-law, Loretta. If you can't read the words, it says "You make me smile for so many reasons." Inside she wrote me a nice note. Well, shucks, Loretta... I don't know that I really have that effect on people, but you sure make me smile for thinking so!

At the bottom is a bookmark that Loretta enclosed. Hey! If you know that I'm working on fixing up a little trailer like that, and that its "name" is Rollin' in the Sonshine, you will appreciate how much I love that bookmark.

And, appropriately, on the left is a new book to put it in. This was written by a childhood semi-friend, Judy Updike. I have to qualify our relationship that way because we weren't quite the same age, and that can be a huge barrier to friendship in school. And we were both shy. Yes, I was painfully shy. I know she's also an introvert, so we never had much of a chance at becoming friends. But we both played some wicked field hockey. She went on to teach phys ed. We grew up in the same church. In fact, her mother was my 5th grade Sunday School teacher. Facebook brought us "together" again after 50 years or so.

I recently learned that she has written Broken for His Glory about her experiences and spiritual growth through a year of painful family losses. The book just came today, and I've managed to read 31 pages between the Tuesday madhouse of practices and meetings after work. Of course, I know the people she's writing about which makes it very real to me, but it's honest and will resonate with anyone who's experienced sudden life-changing losses (which is most of us, eh?)

Anyway, I'm going to stop writing this, so I can get back to reading that!

See More Ukulele News for Loretta and me both smiling
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Monday, September 11, 2017

A Good Day at the Office

 
Who cares if it's Monday? It was a really good day at the office-- the North Country Trail Association office, that is.

Here's a quilt that hangs on the office wall. It's one that was made for the auction a few years ago to raise money for land protection. Notice the seven states in the squares around the edges.

North Country Trail Quilt

I went down to meet with the Park Service staff in the morning. It was all good. We're still smiling afterwards. Superintendent Mark Weaver on the right and Trail Manager Chris Loudenslager on the left.

North Country Trail National Park Service staff

After lunch, I met with our new Executive Director, Andrea Ketchmark, on the left. She's only new in that role; she's been with the organization for several years, and just is a natural fit for the job. Other staff members Amelia, Allison and Tarin.

North Country Trail staff

The pictures are pretty funny. It looks like the two offices are divided by gender. Actually David, the development guy, was on the phone so he didn't come out for the photo and Matt, the map guy, works from home. The NPS are currently all guys, but it's not a sexist group!

Finally, I've showed you these before, but I'm posting them again, because it's been 4 years. These murals were painted by local high school kids, and are mounted on the outside of the building. Top to bottom on the blog are left to right on the wall, so the hiker "moves" eastward along the trail.

North Country Trail mural

North Country Trail mural

North Country Trail mural

It was an awesome day discussing what some of my future involvement with the trail will be.

In other amazing news, I heard from Tony Reznicek. He's "Mr. Michigan Plants," in charge of the University of Michigan Herbarium. I sent him the plant I thought was Picris hieracioides, Ox Tongue, only because it is alien and this is far from where it's been recorded before. That might be a somewhat big deal. Anyway... he emailed me. I DID key it out correctly, and he did remember me. My specimen is going in the Herbarium.

This has been a top-of-the-line quality day. I think I'm worn out!

See North Country Trail Murals
See Ox Tongue
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Manistee National Forest Challenge Hike #10

 
Twelve of us hiked today. We did 9.5 miles on the section that was, for a long time, mine to maintain. It was fun to see it again.

hikers

The section begins with a stroll down an old rail bed that goes through a bottomland hardwood swamp. It's a beautiful place, often terrible with mosquitoes, but the water was pretty much gone today, and no bugs.

hikers

The first hints of fall are showing up.

colored leaves

We stopped to take a break at the deck on the end of the boardwalk. This was one of the first projects our chapter did.

hikers taking a break

While we all sat there we were semi-aggressively charged by this insect- over an inch long. We were all a bit wary. It kept facing off with us and would then just hover in place or sort of dance around. This brought on a round of bee sting stories.

Imagine my surprise when bugguide.net identified this as a hover fly. Looks and acts aggressive, but totally harmless. Called the Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. In fact, it's sometimes called the Good News Bee because of how it approaches and faces off... supposedly bringing good news. In folk lore it will bring good luck if you can get it to perch on a finger.

yellow jacket hover fly

This is an area that had a terrible blowdown about 10 years ago. It's grown up so much that it no longer looks open. Amazing how the forest can recover. Those are almost all oaks that have resprouted from the old stumps.

young forest

The hike ended just north of the Little Manistee River.

Little Manistee River

Nice weather and a great all-round day.

North Country Trail, Lake, Mason and Manistee Counties, Michigan, Freesoil TH north to Skocelas Road. 9.5 miles

See Challenge Hike #9
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