Recent Posts

Saturday, July 11, 2015

GERIATRIC DIY


THIS JUST IN: Unsubstantiated reports have surfaced regarding the whereabouts of an elderly grandmother, active Facebook member, popular Boomer Pie blogger and avid photographer who goes by the name of Mar-Ce. She’s been missing from FB for months and has been mostly unaccounted for and forgotten in real life as well. Her absence has gone unnoticed, until recently. Her lack of regular FB status updates aroused concern by none other than the Facebook Administration itself……who this week posted an urgent alert to her FB page announcing that she has not posted in 53 days.

Anonymous sources have just leaked shocking news concerning Mar-Ce’s whereabouts. Their story purports to shed light on her sudden and odd disappearance.

According to sources, Mar-Ce and her husband Jack, have been holed up on the Gulf Coast of Florida rehabbing a condo they bought this summer.  They are safe but hot, sweaty and nearing exhaustion. Rehabbing a condo in the savage Florida heat, at their age, has friends shaking their heads in disbelief.  Have they gone mad?  

“They’re crazy old loons….to be doing all that work by themselves,” opined one source.

According to sources, Mar-Ce wanted a big, challenging project to keep them busy, now that they’re both retired. Though the couple is advanced in years, friends say Jack is super handy and Mar-Ce is creative and fun with a flair for interior design. A DIY project would seem to be right up their alley.

The couple has been relentlessly cleaning, priming and painting all the ceilings, all the walls, the doors, woodwork and even all the furniture that came with the condo. A tragedy nearly ensued when the popcorn ceiling in the guest bathroom unexpectedly caved in. No one was injured but Jack had to replaster the entire ceiling.

In another bizarre incident, sources divulge that after hand-painting over 2000 individual slats (TWO THOUSAND!) in multi sets of louvered doors, Mar-Ce went berserk. Fueled by paint fumes, she had a semi-gloss meltdown and ripped out the last remaining set of louvered doors, threw them in the grass and stomped them to pieces. Neighbors could hear her screaming: “No more louvers! No more louvers!”

No more louvers!!!

“That’s just CRAZY!  They’re way too old to be working that hard,” says an un-named source.

The couple spent weeks installing all new toilets by themselves, new sinks, new light fixtures, ceiling fans, new faucets, new window treatments. That takes a whole lot of time. But apparently the worst part is cleaning all the OPF in the place.

OPF?  Other People’s Filth.  Records indicate the condo was previously owned by a trio of aging hippies who were ill and had not taken care of the place. Mar-Ce had to bleach and sanitize and scrub down everything….three times over.  They say she used so much bleach that it went to her head. Literally. It’s been disclosed that now Mar-Ce no longer has to go to the hairdresser to get her hair dyed blonde. Her hair follicles sucked up all the bleach....permanently.

“She always was a ditzy blonde. And now she’s even ditzier,” jokes another friend. 

Evidence suggests that the couple has not yet finished refurbishing the condo. They are now working on  renovating the kitchen. A neighbor describes the kitchen as bad-ass ugly and seriously outdated.  As in….the 70s called. They want their Harvest Gold back.  The couple will replace all the old Harvest Gold appliances with stainless steel ones. None of the old appliances work. The kitchen is useless except for water from the sink. It’s reported that Mar-Ce has resorted to hand-crafting artisan sandwiches for meals all this time. There is talk of her opening a gourmet sandwich shop, once the condo rehab is complete.


Further information has surfaced that the couple has been extra busy painting the kitchen ceiling and all the walls. They'll refinish all the original dingy brown cabinets in fresh, bright white paint and add snazzy, chrome hardware. Jack’s also building a pantry, renovating the laundry room. Necessary chores include reworking the plumbing and electrical, installing a modern, new faucet and a new garbage disposal. It all takes up lots of time. They’ve got a few more weeks of work on the kitchen but things are slowly taking shape.

Jack assembles cabinets.
And yet, sources claim the project is still not complete.  There’s a charming, enclosed private courtyard off the kitchen that Mar-Ce intends to landscape, hand lay brick pavers, plant flowers and add some comfy outdoor chairs. That will take more time to finish.

Finally, there’s an inviting screened-in porch off the living room…..just waiting to be hosed down, cleaned up, painted and decked out with island style furniture. They haven’t had time to get to the porch yet.

A local realtor claims there’s a wild rumor that HGTV has approached the aging couple about doing a series.

“Geriatric DIY,”  a friend snorts with laughter.

The elderly couple has declined any personal interviews. But neighbors say the couple has been working non-stop from sun-up to sundown for months…..only taking off on Sundays to relax with their daughter and grandchildren, who live nearby. Mar-Ce has been incommunicado for weeks. Nobody’s heard from her at all. Friends hope the couple doesn’t hurt themselves with all the strenuous physical labor.

Word is that Jack slipped and fell flat on his side on the kitchen tile. Thankfully, he didn’t break any bones. Mar-Ce is nearing total exhaustion. She injured her shoulder from over-exerting herself with all that painting and cleaning. Neighbors often mistake her for a construction worker since she’s always in her grungy work clothes. Yet they still keep plugging away. They want to get all the work done and the condo all spruced up so that when they return in the winter, they can just relax and enjoy themselves in their golden years.

"If they haven’t killed themselves before then,” scoffs a friend. “What a couple of wacky old coots! Doing ALL this back breaking hard work……at their age!! Good grief. What are they thinking?”

 “Well, you gotta admit they’re spunky old goats,” says another friend. “Not many people their age would be physically able to tackle such difficult home improvement challenges by themselves.”

Eyewitness sightings confirm that the couple’s condo has a bright, open, beachy bungalow vibe with lots of natural light. It’s in a friendly community on a pretty lake. The swimming pool area and the lushly landscaped grounds resemble a tropical resort. There’s an active clubhouse for parties along with a fun gazebo that overlooks the lake, for “happy hours”. So if Mar-Ce and Jack ever get ALL the work done, they’ll be sipping margaritas in their sunny, sleek, freshly revived, winter get-away.

Several un-named friends poke each other and muse: “Wonder if they’ll invite us to come and visit for a few weeks next winter? They’re such a sweet, old couple.”






 

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MY MOTHER'S HOUSE



Today, I took a trip back in time. Back 86 years to be precise. I didn't need a time machine. All I needed was a house key....and a real estate agent. With the help of those two components, I was instantly transported into another era....back to an unseen period of my ancestral family history. It turns out that the enchanting, old house that once belonged to my maternal grandmother and grandfather and lived in by them along with my own mother and her five brothers and sisters....86 years ago.....is up for sale.

My grandparents....John and Cecelia Grotenrath....built the charming Tudor style home in 1928.  At the time the house was built, the area consisted mostly of fields and vast forested plots. It was an up and coming, desirable new neighborhood. Today, the house is nestled on a pleasant, tree-shaded, quiet street in a modest-income, residential neighborhood.

Over the years, I've walked by this house many times. I always wanted to take a peek inside but the opportunity never arose. The yard usually seemed well tended but we never saw any evidence that people actually lived there. Today, the house is vacant, abandoned. The elderly seller has moved away. Yet, even now, 86 years since it was built....the house remains fascinating from the outside. Red brick construction with Tudor style architecture, decorative half timbering, gracefully arched windows and a steeply pitched roof give it the look of a quaint English cottage. A colossal oak tree, planted by my grandparents, towers over the front yard.

The realtor unlocked the heavy, solid mahogany front door. The very same front door that my grandparents excitedly opened when they first crossed the threshold 86 years ago. My husband and I stepped inside. Suddenly, we found ourselves catapulted backward into the year 1928. Incredibly, the interior is almost exactly as it would have looked nearly a century ago. I could not believe my eyes! What an astonishing time warp!  After ALL these years and a multitude of owners....it was painfully obvious that very little updating, remodeling or maintenance had been done to the house. The house seemed exactly the way it might have looked when my mother and her family lived there.

Sadly, the once beautiful home is in distress and disrepair. It's literally falling apart. Decades of encrusted grime, gaping holes, peeling plaster, rotting wood, ancient plumbing and dangerous electrical wiring reveal a home in wretched demise. It has not been well cared for....perhaps not well loved. All the walls look like they had not been painted in fifty years....maybe longer. Surprisingly, the kitchen and bathrooms retain many of the original cabinets and fixtures. I shined my flashlight up toward the ceiling, behind the doors and into the corners. Even the cobwebs looked one hundred years old. It was surreal.

My grandmother had wonderful design sensibilities as did my grandfather. Together, they must have spent an extraordinary amount of time designing this house so many years ago. Amazingly the magnificent, original architectural features....chosen by my grandparents....still remain.

Gently curving cove ceilings give height to the interior rooms. Dramatic, multi-paned arched windows highlight the staircase landing. Handsome etched glass doors framed in beautiful mahogany wood, stand tall and stately throughout the entire home. Not a single glass panel was broken in any of the doors. The narrow-planked, maple wood floors glow with a golden patina from nearly a century of wear. Classic French doors lead out from the dining room to the back yard. The extra-wide mahogany staircase radiates a classic refinement with its shapely, hand-tooled spindles....not a single spindle missing or broken.  As I gazed at the lovely staircase, I noticed how the deep mahogany color had faded in sections on each step....delineating where countless footsteps had trudged up and down every day for 86 years.

In my mind's eye, I visualized my mother (who is now 93 years old) as a vivacious young girl along with her fun-loving siblings....racing down the stairs every morning to eat breakfast before walking the short distance to their elementary school. In the spacious living room, the original wood-burning fireplace still remains....surrounded by a simple yet gracious mantle. I envisioned the family on cold winter nights, huddled around the hearth, telling stories or listening to the radio. I pictured my young aunts and uncles playing hide and seek in the cubby-hole storage spaces that line the lower walls of the upstairs bedrooms. I imagined my grandmother's pretty dinner plates in the custom-made niches off the dining room.

This was a well-built house. Sturdy. Structurally sound. A thoughtfully planned home....with loving attention to detail and constructed with solid, top quality materials. It was hardly a mansion. Yet it was a home of distinction for the times. It even has sizable clothes closets! Back then, most ordinary homes were not outfitted with built-in closets. A needless extravagance. I'm guessing this house must have cost my grandparents a small fortune back in 1928, especially factoring in all the wonderful decorative details. They were not a rich couple. They were not flamboyant or pretentious. They were staunch and determined and always hard-working. Growing up, my grandmother led a harsh and often sorrow-filled childhood. By the time they moved into their new home, my grandfather had become a successful businessman. My feisty grandmother was 37 years old and a devoted mother of six rambunctious children. My own mother was about 7 years old. They were a boisterous, happy family living in the home of their dreams. Two years after they settled into the house, the Great Depression devastated the entire country. I recall my mother telling me that she had only two dresses to wear to school for an entire year. Her mother sewed them for her. Yet somehow, my grandparents managed to financially hold on to their beautiful home.

My mother and her siblings (my aunts and uncles) grew up in this charming house during their formative years. They attended grade school and high school in this house. They did chores together. They played together. When my mother was eight, she fell on the bank of a nearby creek and severely gashed open an artery in her arm. Blood splattered everywhere. My uncle, Len, who was with her, raced home through the fields and got help. He actually saved her life. The three sisters towel-dried dishes together in the kitchen every evening after dinner while they shared secrets and giggled over silly girl talk. This morning as I stood inside the now dingy, forlorn inner halls of the silent house, I listened carefully. But the walls were not talking.

It's sad to see the deterioration of this once lively home. I don't know how long it's been in disrepair. I'm sure many other families lived wonderful lives here also. But it's hard to fathom the dismal lack of upkeep and non-refurbishment over the decades. The reasons will remain stories forever left untold. Yet on the positive side, it's astounding and heartwarming to discover how many original features of the home have survived intact. The sense of my ancestors' presence here is resoundingly evident.

Since the house was for sale, my husband and I considered purchasing it as an investment and to preserve a piece of family history. It was about to go into foreclosure. No doubt, my grandparents are turning over in their graves! The asking price was up for bids. With the help of a designer and contractors, we figured we could rehab the house back to its original glory; updated with modern elegance and state of the art conveniences. We'd either resell it, rent it out or possibly move into it ourselves after a while. However, the decaying structure needs monumental reconstruction. New roof, all new wiring, new walls, new ceilings, new kitchen, new baths, new plumbing, central air-conditioning ductwork installed throughout, structural reinforcement and on and on. Nothing is up to code. After plunking down hard cash to buy the place, we estimated it would cost several hundred thousand dollars more to completely renovate the house to where we could feel it was safe to live in as well as be aesthetically pleasing. Basically, we would have had to update by almost an entire century. Unfortunately, the current and future market value of the existing neighborhood does not warrant anywhere near such a lavish investment. We prudently passed on the deal with no regrets. However, I am thrilled to the moon and back that I had this wondrous and unexpected opportunity to see and touch and savor a rare glimpse into my family's living history. For me, it was a fleeting but poignant, sentimental journey back almost 100 years, to my mother's childhood home.....remarkably still frozen in time.
My mother's childhood home. Photo taken 10 years ago with my son, daughter and myself.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, June 12, 2014

HAVE YOU HAD YOUR MAMMOGRAM TODAY?






I had a Mammogram today. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. There is certainly no humor in breast cancer itself and I have no intention of making light of serious illness. Yet after undergoing this very quick procedure to screen for breast cancer, I found myself curiously visualizing the comical absurdities of the entire experience. If you've ever had a mammogram, I suspect you may have felt the same emotions.

Spoiler Alert….if you’ve never had a mammogram, PLEASE remember, I am only joking. Do not let my macabre humor dissuade you from getting this vital, life-saving test.   

Having said that…. this is a test only a man could love...but not for himself. And it's got to be a test only a man could have invented. First off….it’s downright medieval. It’s humiliating. It’s bombastic. Here’s how it works. A woman, already nervous, stressed and worried about the possible results….enters the exam area. She is told to undress and wrap her upper body in a hospital gown the size of a cocktail napkin. Launch humiliation process now.  In my case, being the robust woman that I am…..I grabbed 2 gowns…..one for each side. Luckily, the technician was pleasant, friendly and had a good sense of humor. 

Upon entering the testing room, you will observe an enormous steel contraption that resembles the “rack” from ye olde, gruesome, medieval torture chambers. Yes, it’s a tad off-putting but mentally go to your happy place. As the technician was working to lift and position my duo body parts on the shiny, cold metal rack/slab, I could tell she needed assistance. Suddenly, she pulled out a red whistle and blew a shrill, ear-splitting SOS call. Immediately a giant construction crane crashed into the room, operated by two hefty women in hard hats, orange vests and aviator sunglasses who looked liked they had just made a quick and dirty break from a prison work squad on the interstate. In seconds, the crane hoisted my endomorphic upper anatomy onto the slab. The giant vise machine roared into motion and cranked downward. Lower and lower and lower. I was squeezed, squished, compressed and flattened to the steel slab like an overcooked, mammary pancake. There was no escape. Then I was told:  “Hold your breath, hon.”  Photos were taken. Then more photos. Finally I was allowed to breathe again. Then the test was over. My gown was tossed back to me. The construction gals slapped me on the back, laughed raunchily and disappeared. Presumably back to their cell blocks. The technician smiled sweetly and said I was free to go.

I survived the ordeal without injury except to my pride along with occasional nightmares of construction cranes. I recommend mammograms to women because they've been proven to save countless lives. BUT for the love of God, in this uber techno, super sophisticated society, why have they not come up with a more civilized, kinder, gentler, super, pin-point accurate way to check women for breast cancer?  There has got to be a better, less sadistic way. Would a man EVER subject himself to a similar test for prostate cancer? I submit the answer is: Never! 

 
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 9, 2014

IMPERFECT MOTHERS

 

As the mother of two grown children, I often wish I had lived in the moment more often when my kids were little, cherubic and carefree.  I wish I had invested more of my busy time in their play time and foolish childhood pleasures than always trying to keep them busy....always worrying about them, making sure they didn't get hurt and trying to turn them into responsible adults---perhaps way too early. Like many harried, working moms, I allowed time to slip away. I was distracted, stressed and I sometimes forgot to balance life, to seize the innocent childhood moments of my own children. Many more times I should have tossed my bulging briefcase aside and plopped down beside my kids and taken precious time to listen to them and to laugh out loud at their wildly precocious juvenile antics, their priceless utterances out of the mouths of babe and their sweet, childhood wonderment.

Luckily for my husband and me...and perhaps without our slightest assistance.... our two children have evolved into amazing, wonderful, beautiful, accomplished adults with children of their own.  And there it is....our saving grace.  Our chance for a do over.  Our grandchildren. We have been reprieved from a life of "if only".  Every chance we get, we plop down with our grands and savor every juicy moment with them.

It's Mother's Day this Sunday and I can't help but compare my own, now very elderly mother to my sweet, adorable grandkids. With severe short term memory loss, my 93 year old mom cannot remember much of anything....except anecdotes from decades ago. Yet I can carry on delicious, long, happy conversations with her even now. Nearly all of her current everyday life exists "in the moment"  which she can't remember 5 minutes after the fact. But it's still a beautiful thing because she has forgotten any past sorrows or heartaches or unhappiness. Her memory has selectively erased all the negative cacophony in her life. She appreciates even the slightest kindness and gets excited as a child when we tell her about an upcoming fun event.  Of course, she won't remember. But when the event happens....she's just as thrilled as the first time she heard about it. Everything is "new" to her.

Living in the moment....like myself, my mother was not always able to enjoy that blissful luxury of being open and mindful and carefree all that much when she was raising six rambunctious children in the era before microwaves. But now she resides "in the moment" all the time. When you think about it.....not a bad way to spend the day.  Happy Mother's Day to all the imperfect mothers out there. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, April 13, 2014

CRAZY SPRING ON THE BEACH


 
A spring stroll along Lake Michigan. It's April and it's still bone-chilling cold! But the snow has melted along the wide, soft, sandy beach and there's not another soul in sight. We have the entire shore to ourselves. Out in the big blue water, it appears as if hundreds of small islands have popped up over the winter. Closer inspection reveals they are not islands at all. They are icebergs! During the wild and wicked winter of 2014...one of the coldest winters on record....all of the five great lakes froze 95 percent over. Now the ice pack is breaking up and forming millions of iceberg colonies which accumulate along the shoreline. "Spring break" takes on a whole new meaning along this chilly beach coastline.

The icebergs are gritty and sharp edged. They have broken off from massive hulks of the frozen lake. The Lake Michigan bergs are not in as pristine condition as their ancient arctic iceberg counterparts. Some of the lake icebergs retain their white frosty color but many of them are encrusted with brown sand as they scrape the bottom of the lake near the shoreline. They resemble the jagged tops of volcanoes jutting up from the lake depths. Still, it's mesmerizing to watch as the mammoth blobs of ice gracefully bob up and down in the big lake waters like giant polar bears doing a back float.

My companion and I are fascinated. Bundled up in warm winter parkas, sporting gloves and scarves, we stand on the deserted beach and gaze out into the lake at this incredible spring phenomenon. The icebergs stretch as far as the eye can see. Suddenly a thick fog slides across the cove. We are shrouded in an eerie mist. We can barely see each other. Then the fog passes as quickly as it came and a sliver of sunlight glints through the clouds. In another few months, throngs of sunbathers will be relaxing on this very beach. But for now...it's just us and the icebergs.

The large masses in background are not islands. They're icebergs out in L. Michigan.
Shrouded in fog.

Finally thawing out. Nearly all of L. Michigan froze during winter 2014.
View from above. Those are not giant rocks. They are icebergs.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BARRICADES


Many of us witnessed on TV the recent spectacle of thousands of honorable American veterans tearing down metal barricades in Washington D.C. and heaving them into a scrap pile in front of the White House. They did it because they wanted access to the open-air war memorials which were closed because of the Government Shutdown. The vets and their supporters removed those barricades because they felt the government had no right to block the entrance to hollowed ground consecrated by their own sacrifices and the bloodshed of their fellow veterans who fought and died for our beloved country. My husband and I were with them in spirit. We actually would have been there in person for our very first protest since the sixties but we heard about it too late.

The veterans' barricade incident got me thinking about how human beings construct their own mental barriers...psychological barricades....and how these can be even more impenetrable than any 20 ton concrete abutment used to thwart terrorists from ramming a federal building.

We create psychological barricades in our minds to keep us emotionally safe. We build mental defense mechanisms out of FEAR. I think that the greatest commonality among all humans is fear. We tell ourselves that we're afraid of certain individuals or groups or beliefs or nationalities or political organizations because they will harm us....physically or emotionally or financially or spiritually. Of course, we all have a right to be afraid at times. It's a healthy, intelligent, natural instinct. However, I think that in some circumstances, we are not really afraid of each other. We're afraid of ourselves.

We're afraid we cannot stand up to the challenge of those who are not simpatico to our way of thinking. So we establish internal barricades. Many of us have self-limiting beliefs that we will feel more secure, more comfortable, even happier if we can hide behind psychological walls. Squirreled away behind our self-imposed, internal walls, we don't have to deal with specific people, conflicting emotions or difficult situations. It's a means to avoid rejection and conflict. It's a way to maintain control of our own lives, to make ourselves less vulnerable and to avoid taking risks. By barricading ourselves psychologically from the real world, it's not that we are keeping others out. We are actually burying ourselves....from experiencing life to the fullest. An emotional barricade prevents us from effective communication, reasonable discussion and open mindedness. 

To me, psychological barricades are what lie at the heart of most conflicts, resentments and hatreds. They are the stumbling blocks, the logjams, the emotional fortifications that stop us from reaching out, from carefully listening and from acknowledging others because we are afraid. We fear taking the risk.

Of course, we will never always agree with everybody. But wouldn't it be to our advantage if we tried to understand another point of view?  Listening is a lost art. We scream. We yell. We express our anger with vitriolic name calling and lies. We are indignant. Arrogant. We are rude. Obnoxious. And these are just the jackasses on Capitol Hill.  Oops....there I go name-calling.

Ironically, we often build the biggest psychological barricades to shut out or protect ourselves from our very own families.....people who are our loved ones....our blood kin. Typically family members either create outrageous drama because they demand to be in control or they hold back and won't voice an opinion because they don't want conflict. I'm not sure which is worse. Most families probably consist of both the control freaks and the "whatevers". I wish all relationships could be happy. But as Shakespeare may have said: "Life doth lack perfection."  Resentments build. Lies overcome truth. Egos erupt. We all know some people who get a perverse satisfaction from being negative and miserable. They seem to wallow in their unhappiness. Misery truly loves company. And try as hard as we might, sometimes the psychological barricades of others are too rigid and fraught with misconceptions to reach an understanding. So we move on. Over all these years, I've learned the importance of breaking down my own emotional barricades. I'll admit, a few still remain to be sledge-hammered down. I'm working on it. But I know how significant the power of communication is in resolving most conflicts. Not just talking "words" but effective LISTENING. Understanding. Compassion. Compromise. Knowing when to choose our battles and knowing when to concede. Obviously, the best outcome is when everybody wins. But that doesn't always happen. And sadly relationships dissolve. Families disintegrate and countries run amuck. All because of barricades.

The American people (and the entire world for that matter) witness the unimaginable chaos in the United States Congress, the lack of true and skillful leadership on the part of all the elected officials in Washington, D.C., including the president in my opinion. And we wonder HOW can they behave so irresponsibly? How can they be so incompetent? How can they be so unyielding, so contemptuous of each other, so egotistical, so unwilling to communicate? Maybe we only have to look at ourselves to understand.

            #######################################



Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 12, 2013

YOOPERS AND PASTIES AND A GREAT BIG LAKE.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. U.P. MI

They say be careful what you wish for. We longed for peace and quiet. We ended up with a generous dose of it and something even better. Recently, my husband and I went on a summer sojourne to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.....to get away from it all. If you know anything about the U.P....you'll know that it's ruggedly remote, surrounded by thick forests and three of the five great lakes and inhabited by very few people....mostly fierce, independent folk who proudly call themselves "yoopers" and seem to enjoy hard living and even harsher winters. Yoopers refer to us wimps who live in the lower peninsula, below the Mackinack Bridge, as "trolls". Many yoopers would like to secede from Michigan and form their own country....which they'd call "Superior". They probably wouldn't allow us trolls back across the Bridge.

We'd driven across the U.P. several times before....which is in itself, not exactly a walk in the park....considering the wide peninsula grips the farthest north edges of Michigan and runs horizontally from Wisconsin to Canada with a bit of Minnesota border (Duluth), tossed in for good measure. It takes a good, solid day to traverse from east coast to west coast of the Upper Peninsula on long, winding, monotonous, two lane roads where you see nothing but trees and sky and a smattering of quirky eateries with names like "Bear Trap Bar" (which happens to be a memorable place to eat.)

To me the U.P. is like hopping in a time capsule and heading back to the 1950s. No flashy, upscale hotels, fancy restaurants or glitzy shopping districts. Mostly two lane roads; lots of bears, moose and rustic simplicity. All spring and summer long, millions of flies (black fly, deer fly, stable fly) dive-bomb tourists and natives alike. With teeth sharp as razor blades, these flying killer machines inflict vicious bites and welts that could make even Wrestlemania-type bruisers scream for mercy. Obviously I don't work for the U.P. Chamber of Commerce. But hold on....there's positive news to come.

Admittedly, we were rather harsh on the U.P. during some previous, quick, drive-by visits. As much as we enjoy on-the-grid civilization, we decided to give the U.P. another chance. Oh so glad we did! On previous visits, we had glimpsed some of it's startling, raw beauty and knew there was more to the U.P. besides killer flies and pasties.(beef and potato stew wrapped up in pastry like a burrito.)  We said a boatload of prayers that the horrid swarms of flies would not be present.

Our prayers were answered tenfold. No flies. Alleluia! No flies! Instead we discovered dozens of scenic lighthouses, cool, cascading waterfalls, pristine primevil forests and the breathtaking Lake Superior shoreline. The largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Superior makes you want to weep in pure, joyful gratitude for the privilege of standing on its glorious craggy, rocky coastline; walking along its abundant, sandy, isolated beaches, viewing the magical vistas of sheer cliffs and high dunes, being astonished at the clarity of its Caribbean-like blue and green waters and understanding the vastness, grandeur and awesome power this enormous, wild and unpredictable lake commands of anyone who dares enter its waters.

We found our peace and quiet. Solitude. Relaxation. Daily picnics overlooking the mighty Lake. Simple food. Amazing coastal panoramas. We did miles of hiking and exploring. No crowds. Often we were the only two people in the woods or on the shoreline for as far as the eye could see. But more than that, for me, I was inspired by the care free nature of the enduring people who live there year round in bone-chilling winters and short-lived summers. I was awed by Lake Superior's spectacular, world class vistas. I was humbled by the lush, reverential, verdant forests carpeted in millions of giant, wild ferns, birch trees and sturdy hard woods....so deep and dense that one could become lost for a long time.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not a place I would like to live permanently. Too severe. Too rustic. Too isolated. But to visit the U.P. every so often, renews my sense of spirituality, frees me from the madness of the outside world and embraces me with coveted peace and quiet. Priceless.

I snapped 500 photos of our trip to U.P.  Here are just a few to inspire you to visit this incredible northern region of pure Michigan

Silver River Falls, Keweenaw Peninsula (U.P.)

Copper Harbor Lighthouse at most northern tip of Michigan on Lake Superior.

Primevil forest tree roots have a life of their own.

Wrecked boat...Casualty of Lake Superior's fury.

Drift wood floats along pink sand beach.

Isolated beaches lure a lone black bird.

Scarlet cliffs of Grand Sable Dunes.

Grand Sable Cliffs loom over Lake Superior.
Majestic "Pictured Rocks" glow at sunset.

You can walk for miles and miles and never see another soul. Lake Superior.

Munising Falls

Lone Sailboat plies the vast waters of Lake Superior.

 Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is enchanting in a sunset glow.






Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 29, 2013

VAMPIRES IN THE SHEETS


Be careful where you spend the night.

Travelers beware! If you're not careful, an innocent stay in a hotel/motel room, in any big city or any small town....could turn into a horror-filled, fright night straight out of a hair-raising Dracula tale. Vampire parasites. Blood sucking monsters. Malevolent creatures lusting for human blood. Ghastly red welts all over your body. And that's just while you're curled up in bed....under those pasty white motel sheets.

The fearsome culprits? Vampire Bedbugs! From the dank caves of our ancient ancestors to posh modern hotel rooms...this common parasitic insect has returned from a long hibernation to prey upon mankind with a blood-thirsty vengeance. What you don't see, can hurt you.

No doubt you've heard about the bedbug bedlam infesting hotels (upscale and otherwise), motels, apartment buildings, movie theaters, college dorms, airplanes, buses, office buildings, public libraries and hospitals. They've even been found at.....the Mall. (Cue high pitched screams)....in your favorite clothing stores. Noooooo!

Resurgence of the vicious vermin is partly due to an increase of international travel and the ban of DDT ....a chemical that virtually wiped out most bed bugs by the 1950s. An effective, highly toxic insecticide, DDT nearly  eradicated U.S. bedbugs back in the 1940s. But because of it's controversial components, DDT is banned for use in the United States. As a result, the insidious little bedbugs are scrambling back to their blood sucking glory days faster than a pack of crazed fans rushing the stage at a Justin Beiber concert.

For travelers, the bugs creep into luggage and backpacks and hitch-hike home with unsuspecting victims. Once bed bugs infest your home, they are notoriously difficult to remove. There has been such a rampant surge of bed bug infestations across the United States and around the world in recent years, that dogs are now being used to detect them. Bed-bug-busting canines are specially trained to sniff out infestations. Apparently the dogs can be highly effective.

Worst bed bug cities? In July 2013, Terminex issued its annual list of cities experiencing the largest increase in bed bug calls. Sacramento, CA, Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio were the unfortunate front runners. From New York to Los Angeles, Detroit to Denver and in thousands of places in between, bed bugs are stalking us. In 2012, Orkin pest control company said it did more business in Chicago than any other major city. According to Orkin, Chicago had the inglorious distinction of having the most treatments for bed bug infestations. I'm going to a reunion near Chicago very soon and staying at a hotel. I wonder if I should bring a bed-bug-buster dog with me.

My husband and I travel often and frequently stay at hotels and motels. I try not to get panicky about the blood-thirsty little monsters. But as a cautionary measure, once we're inside our room, before we even unpack, we ALWAYS pull up the mattress and inspect for brown, tell-tale, bed bug spots on the box spring, the top mattress, the sheets and pillowcases.  We never put our luggage on the floor. We try to keep our suitcases closed after we use them. So far, in all our limited inspections, we have not seen any bedbugs or their eggs. Yuck, I'm getting grossed out even as I write this. For the safety of those who travel: heed fair warning in your hotel room. The vampire bugs are waiting for you. Beware. Sleep tight and don't let the.....well, you know....


Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 31, 2013

Who Screwed Up the Travel Channel?

Sometimes on a rainy day, I like to sit and ponder the deeper meanings of life. 

  • Who screwed up the Travel Channel? Why are there no "travel" shows on the Travel Channel? Slimey poker games and other silly non-travel fluff have replaced interesting and colorful travel programs for years now. And whatever happened to Samantha Brown? I always enjoyed her perky travel get-aways.
  •  When it's pouring rain outside, why don't my outdoor potted plants get wet? It can be raining more furious than a monsoon in Mexico and yet my container flowers remain dry as a Baptist revival in southern Georgia. As a result, I have to hand-water the potted plants sometimes as much as twice a day....even on a wet, soppy, rainy afternoon.
  •  And speaking of flowers. Why do my neighbor's flowers across the street ALWAYS look bigger, healthier and more colorful than mine? We both planted similar type flowers the very same week. But after two weeks, hers are huge and mine are....wishing they could join the garden party across the street.
  • Why don't I ever win a beauty make-over? Could it be I'm already too beautiful...or is it because my name is never submitted?
  • Why does my husband, after unloading groceries into the car, push the shopping cart half mile back to inside the store, in the snow and yet NEVER unload our dishwasher in the morning?
  •  Why am I the only nitwit who cannot figure out Pinterest?
  • Why am I so jealous of that female voice on our GPS (who sounds exactly like  former news anchor Connie Chung)...that I insist my husband turn down the volume when he's driving? Seriously!  What is wrong with me?
  •  Why can't I figure out how to secure my own grandson safely into his car seat when he can strap himself into it in less than a minute?
  • Why does my bucket list have a hole in it? No wonder I haven't accomplished anything.
  • Why does the thought of a D.Q Peanut Buster Parfait torment me all summer long?
  •  If 60 is the new 40....is an afternoon nap the new foreplay?









Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, March 23, 2013

LIFE IS LIKE A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets
 to the end...the faster it goes.


As our own lives roll on, is it time for a change? Or are we too set in our ways? Do we fear change? Some people dread change. Others find it a challenge.  Personally, I embrace change. I always have. My husband and I have been married for over 41 years. During that time, we've lived in over 20 different homes in multiple cities. I have packed, unpacked, set up and dismantled households countless number of times. And that doesn't include the hundreds of times, I've rearranged furniture...just for the fun of it. I am a glutton for change. I thoroughly enjoy it. I get bored with the humdrum staleness of things. I seek something new and different by way of big or little challenges.

Change is scary. No doubt about it. Even for me. I've made many career moves....all by choice. My entrepreneurial spirit has led me to discover new things about myself. It's given me confidence to spread my wings, take calculated risks and make life-changing choices...mostly to benefit my family. It's frightening to leave behind safe, secure employment and leap into the unknown. But I never wanted to just "put in my time" at a boring job until retirement. Occasionally, along the way, I made some wrong turns. But I learned from my mistakes and used them as opportunities to redirect and reinvent myself. I truly believe if you don't stretch yourself, you will never ever reach your true potential.


You can make life changes all on your own. But it helps significantly if you have a positive sounding board. I've had support and encouragement from my husband. Even though he is very conservative, he was always willing to go along with my wild schemes and creative dreams. In the end, things worked out. Sometimes not in the way I expected but still a positive experience. I never wanted to go through life wondering..."What if I'd done that..." 

On the other hand, I don't equate change with "thrill seeking". I don't free fall out of airplanes. I don't even like flying in airplanes all that much. I don't bungee jump off sky-high bridges over raging rivers. I have never zipped-lined above the treetops of an Amazon jungle. I am thinking of learning how to paddle board this summer but even that gives me some trepidation.

Changing things about your life does not necessarily involve daredevil, death-defying pursuits. I know some people who have lived in the same home, on the same street, in the same town for their entire lives. They are some of the happiest people, you'd ever want to meet. Why? Because they did not remain stagnant. They faced complicated changes and challenges in their own way and emotionally moved on with no resentments.They survived and thrived without fanfare. They learned that the secret to changing oneself inwardly or outwardly is to give of yourself to others. As a result, they changed lives for the better without ever having to leave home. 

Yet some folks have wallowed in their status quo or "stagnant quo" and paid a hefty, lifetime price of discontent and unhappiness for not moving forward. Why? Because they are afraid. Fear is the greatest obstacle to transforming our lives. Think of all we could do if we weren't afraid. Fear is the monster wall of resistance that keeps people stuck in unhappy situations. Fear keeps us from exploring and discovering options that could better our lives and the lives of our families. Transition is not always about moving to a different town or redefining a career. Transition or change is adjusting and accepting new possibilities. Conquering negative fears produces positive changes. Overcoming "analysis paralysis" leads to amazing transformations.

Lately, I've been mindful of the spiritual and healing powers of an "open heart". We all know certain people who have closed off their heart to others for a long time. As a result, their imprisoned heart is encrusted with rust and hardened from years of negativity and decay. They have not allowed love to flow from their own heart and they have shut off any chance of love from those around them, to penetrate their closed heart. They are steeped in misery and blame others for their unhappiness.

For me, change is about moving forward. Nobody's perfect, especially me. I'm an imperfect, intense, exasperating, impatient, annoying, old woman who likes to buy houses and move around a lot. But even in my own life, I've come full circle and moved back to the city of my birth. My husband and I both like the community where we live and maybe we'll stay put for a "change". I do believe we can redeem ourselves through positive changes, kindness, humility and forgiveness. I cannot force others to change. But I can create a loving change of heart within myself if I'm willing to overcome my fears. I am deeply grateful beyond measure for all my blessings and my "blisters'. Like that dwindling roll of toilet paper, my life is spinning faster to the end. I try not to look backwards. I'm not going that way.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Killing Thanksgiving



I'm mad as hell. Somebody stole my turkey day and it will never be the same again. Every year in November, untold numbers of turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving feasts around the U.S.A. But this year, malevolent forces were out to kill the very holiday itself. Not with a gun. Not with a hatchet. Not with some explosive device. The killing weapons of choice? CREDIT CARDS!

I am not a fan of Black Friday. BUT when it's moved up to Thursday...as in Thanksgiving Day, Thursday...well that just makes my blood boil.

Have we become a nation of the most ridiculous, conspicuous consumer FOOLS on earth? The invasion of Black Friday into Black Thursday is a perfect example of how easily American consumers can be sucked in by giant retailers into thinking they're getting a good deal. Yes, I realize that we are a consumer driven society but why are we so easily snookered by giant retailers? For the love of God...the Good Will Store was having a Black Thursday sale on Thanksgiving Day.....the Good Will!  So....maybe you could buy somebody's worn, musty, dusty, old tweed jacket for $1 instead of $2.00?

Thanksgiving is the one holiday of the year that is slightly less consumer driven than most. Family, feasting, fun and football on TV or a rollicking, ragtag game of football outdoors with the more agile members of your family clan. The Thanksgiving tradition I've always enjoyed is steeped in homespun, happy times centered around gratitude and appreciation for the blessings we have and for the people we love. All that and plenty of turkey and all the trimmings are symbolic of this special day out of the year set aside for thankfulness and pleasant family togetherness.

NOT ANY MORE! This year, the historic and noble feast of Thanksgiving Day was unceremoniously bull-dozed aside by pure, unadulterated greed. Greed on the part of retailers, many of which opened early on Thanksgiving morning. Insanity...on the part of frenzied mobs of shoppers who are lured like cattle to a slaughter-house of bargains. It's merchandising madness gone terribly awry. Frantic, deal hungry shoppers play right into the avaricious hands of lustful merchants who gleefully ring up sales with the swipe of millions of credit cards as fast as a thief can pick your pocket.

I don't begrudge retailers making money. They can cram in as many customers into their stores with as many clever discounts and cheesy marketing tactics as humanly possible. I used to be a marketing maven...so believe me I know all about wild and crazy ad campaigns. HOWEVER, I just hate it when businesses invade our family Thanksgiving celebration and turn respectable dinner companions into ravenous shopping sharks who jump in the car and fiendishly race after a good deal, turkey leg still in hand....on Thanksgiving Day.  Like deer in the headlights, Americans are easy targets for these modern-day Scrooges of the retail industry.

I'm sadly afraid that it won't be too many more years down the road, that Thanksgiving Day will be a mere footnote in American history....replaced by "Happy Retailer Day". The iconic Thanksgiving American holiday will be killed off by rapacious retailers who prey on naive, bargain-smitten shoppers. I like a deal as much as the next person, but I'm not going to risk my life for one.

I know perfectly lovely people who have made a tradition of Black Friday shopping. Most days, they appear to be completely normal, sane individuals. But on Black Shopping weekend, they degenerate into crazed bargain demons. They salivate with excitement over the thrill of a deal at 3 a.m. Camp out in the bone-chilling cold and wait in line for hours. All for the inglorious degradation of getting clobbered senseless by a flat screen TV sailing through the air.

I wonder how the early Pilgrims would react if they could see the hoards of pushy, vicious, desperate, ferocious bargain fanatics trample over their grandmothers to get a deal on a Kindle or a 15 piece Rachel Ray cookware set. Life in the rugged wilderness near Plymouth Rock might actually look tame compared to the near savagery of Black Thursday and Black Friday. Those intrepid Pilgrims might just high tail it back to England if they ever caught a glimpse of screeching, screwball shoppers diving head first into the bottom of a giant bargain bin at Walmart to snag the last Hello Kitty toaster.

I guess I just don't appreciate all this depraved, wacky kind of shopping fun. So I'll just help myself to some left-over turkey stuffing and fervently hope that Thanksgiving Day will still be on the calendar next year before it's totally killed off.

And they call this "fun" ??

Oh, the insanity of it all!






Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DO YOU PINTEREST?



Do you Pin? As in Pinterest? For the unenlightened, Pinterest is the darling social networking site of 2012. It's a virtual pin board. It allows members to organize and share anything that interests them by "pinning" images on a theme board. Sort of like a digital scrapbook. People have become so addicted to Pinterest they call it, pinsanity. A lot of stuff on Pinterest is aspirational. Wishful thinking. Collage displays of travel spots you dream of visiting someday or clothes you'd really love to wear when you lose that extra 30 lbs. Recipes are popular on Pinterest too. My friends who unabashedly adore Pinterest, admit that it's often more fun to look at mouth-watering food pictures than get up, walk to the kitchen and actually cook...in real time.

In the United States, females make up 82 percent of Pinterest users. But outside of the U.S., Pinterest members tend to be mostly male....57 percent men in United Kingdom, 79 percent men in Japan and 74 percent men in France. Hmmm...I wonder what the trendy Pinterest themes are in Paris?

Honestly, I don't have much interest in Pinterest. I was invited to join by friends and so I did. But I just couldn't get hooked on it. It involves a LOT of time. Facebook is my social media drug of choice. I don't fault anyone who uses Pinterest but I often wonder how they find the time to peruse all the stuff that's on it.

Frankly, Pinterest gives me an inferiority complex. Like I need another one. There are all these millions of women on Pinterest every day, who display photos of how they make their own candles from scratch, whip up 12 layer cakes, boil their own cutesy soap in the shape of reindeer, plan extravagant menus fit for royalty, redesign the interior of a cruise ship, work up chic decorating ideas for a mansion most of us could never afford to own, and cleverly clip garden shrubs into topiaries that resemble each member of their family.

Me? I'm just lucky to drive to the Post Office, buy stamps and not have an accident on the way home.





Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Buck Stops Here...Literally!




 THE BUCK STOPS HERE

This might be sad to hear
But I’m not fond of deer.
They may strut with grace
And have a cute, cuddly face

But they don’t know their place
When they debase
My garden space.
It’s a disgrace.

They devour every flower
And for good measure
They smile with pleasure
Noshing on my blooming treasure.

I yell, I plead, I shoo them away
But to my dismay
They won’t stray from my garden buffet.
It’s their favorite hang-out cafĂ©.

I'm not fooled by their bambi looks
Those doey eyes out of story books.
They steal my plants in broad daylight
Or sneak around in the dead of night.

Spring, summer and fall
They have a culinary ball.
Even during snowy winter
They eat my evergreens down to a splinter.

Now listen up, you hungry beasts
I’m tired of providing your daily feasts.
You just finished off my beautiful mums
And you’re still coming back for tasty crumbs.

I’ve had it up to here, you pesky deer
Enough is enough, so you’d better stay clear
Of my precious garden plot.
Trot back to your own forest lot.

Oh I know, we’ve invaded your territory
But boo hoo on that old sob story.
I don’t shoot at you or sling arrows your way
I don’t even eat your meat, I dare say.

So do me a favor if you please
Return to the woods with big oak trees,
Ticks and fleas and lyme disease
And leave my flowers to the birds and bees.

Now if you abide by this humble truce,
You will not replace our Christmas goose.
But if you don’t stop your nibbling ways
Then it’s roasted venison for the holidays!
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 25, 2012

You Might Be Too Old to Tricker Treat if....

Years ago, when I was a mere youngster...I loved Halloween. Decked out in homemade costumes and with paper grocery sacks to hold our loot...my friends and I raced door to door along the darkened sidewalks, for Halloween treats. Our bounty consisted mostly of crappy hard candy, pieces of candy corn, rotten apples, worthless pennies and the occasional razor blade. For the record, I loathe candy corn. Every once in a while we hit pay dirt at one of the "good" houses and were rewarded with a decent sized chocolate bar.

We always knew where the "good" houses were and we paid them multi visits. Back then, Halloween was a night of frightful, frivolous, innocent fun with my rambunctious young pals and usually nobody got hurt. Even more amazing...nobody got texted, sexted, Ipodded, emailed, cell phoned or tweeted. Somehow we all survived.

Today, Halloween is the most popular and most lucrative commercial holiday next to Christmas! Billions...with a B...spent on costumes, candy and party paraphanalia. You never know what kind of freaks, crazies and weirdos will be prowling your neighborhood disguised as Lady Gaga, Spiderman, Angry Birds, vampires, pirates and Obama or Romney clones. Like we need more of those guys. There are giant stores dedicated solely to the sale of Halloween costumes. If you can't find a costume in a store, you can order one online...often priced at well over $100 each. What happened to going "toga" in a household sheet? 

A few years ago, we lived in a lovely burb of Atlanta that was a very family oriented community. Nearly every single family in this town owns at least one golf cart...whether they play golf or not. On Halloween night, thousands and I do mean thousands of young tricker-treaters are chauffered door to door on golf carts driven by their parents or by themselves. None of the kids walk. They all hitch a ride on the family golf cart to collect their Halloween goodies. Even better, they all use GPSs and cell phones to alert friends to the "good" houses. And they can speed there twice as fast on a golf cart. Why oh why, did I have to grow up in the dark ages!

These days, Halloween is as much a huge hoopla for adults as it is for children. BUT we all know there are a few folks out there who simply should not be out on neighborhood streets trolling for treats on Halloween or any time of year. If you're not sure if this applies to you, read further....

YOU KNOW YOU'RE TOO OLD 
TO TRICKER TREAT IF....
  • You think chocolate is over-rated. But a nice bottle of vodka would be appreciated.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • You like to run over kids on your Hoverround. 
  • You only eat high fiber candy.                                                                                                 
  • Kids point at you and scream, "Yikes, scary witch mask"...and you're not wearing one.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • On the doorstep you yell: "Tricker...." and forget the rest of it.                     
  • You're the only tricker treater in the group with a hip replacement.                                                                                          
  • You consider it a good night if your Depends don't leak and you don't drop the battery to your hearing aid.                                                                                                                    
  • You're confident you can fight off candy thieves with your oxygen tank.                                                                                                         
  • You're the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood using a walker.              
  • Little kids run away from you screaming...and you just stepped out to get the mail.
  • After the 4th house, you realize you'd rather be back home watching Antiques Roadshow.                                                                              
All in jest, of course, dear readers. But hey, forget the lousy candy. Instead, drop by my house on Halloween for flaming dacquiries and pumpkin vodka shots. Bring your golf carts but don't run over the mailbox.

Peace, love, Happy Halloween, man. Ya that's vodka in my water bottle. Far Out.

                    Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 22, 2012

Outside My Autumn Window



This morning, as I do every morning...I fling open the kitchen curtains and glance out across our front yard. It's Fall here in Michigan and most of the leaves on the trees have dropped off, rendering the bare, brown branches into eerie skeletal formations...just in time for Halloween. One stately maple tree defiantly hangs on to its brilliant coat of fiery crimson-red leaves, glimmering in the morning rays of sun like thousands of dazzling rubies. Through the window, I cast a quick look at our colorful, little garden patch by the front door to see how many flowers the rabbits and deer munched down during the night. Our autumn garden is ablaze with cheery yellow, deep purple and lush gold mums. A veritable midnight buffet for the deer and rabbits that inhabit the woods behind our house. So far, not too much damage done by the woodsy critters.

Our green front lawn is encrusted in a smattering of fallen leaves that literally sparkle with a resplendant sheen as shafts of sunlight bounce off the dew-moist foliage. My eyes drift across the street toward our community pond. I have an unfettered view now that most of the leaves have fallen. The periwinkle blue water shimmers in the morning light. A low ridge of ripples float across the tranquil water as a family of ducks paddles silently about. From the short distance of my kitchen window, I can see mirrored in the calm pond water...the perfectly clear reflections of the sky, puffy white clouds and neighboring homes. It's as if they've resettled in the pond. Our gentle little pond exudes a blissful stillness...an untroubled beauty and thought-provoking serenity.

In the brief few minutes that I've taken to explore the morning from my front window, I am once again mesmerized and inspired by the simple grace and majestic dignity of nature. It's going to be a beautiful autumn day.







Sphere: Related Content
Related Posts with Thumbnails