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Rumilluminations September 2010
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, September 01 2010 - 9:11 pm

September 30, 2010                              Valparaiso, IN

It seems as if some families take out all their frustrations on the outside world while being sweet as pie to those at home, while others put on a good face to the world and take out everything on their nearest and supposedly dearest.

As part of my attempt to be congruent at all levels, I am trying to learn to respond appropriately to whatever is going on right in the moment.

The trouble is, I'm just not always bright enough to figure out what is going on in the moment.  (Or, to put it more reasonably - hey, I'm not God.  I don't know what the hell all your motives are.)

It takes me a while to sort things through in my mind, maybe talk something over with a friend if I can at least perceive that there was something going on that perhaps called for a response!

What we subject ourselves to in the way of conscience-lashing is sometimes laughable if only we knew it.

But I'd rather have the attitude of a Bill Maher than a Christian martyr.

I believe in the triune God, the Laugh, the Chortle and the Chuckle!  All indulged in by men of good will, of course.


September 29, 2010                            Valparaiso, IN

Interesting.  We tried to play poetry read by Garrison Keillor to my mom to entertain her why she lay on her side to alleviate pressure wounds caused by too much sitting.

It didn't work.  She lay in silence on one side for over an hour this morning and napped, but when we tried entertaining her with a CD while she lay on her other side she rebelled.  She hurt, she couldn't hear the poetry, couldn't follow it verbally even if we tried to turn it up.

I heard a little of Keillor's introduction, though.

He commented that a writer's greatest fear is of his work fading into oblivion - of what he has worked so hard on going unappreciated and unseen.

That's funny.  Oblivion isn't my fear.  It's my assumption!

September 28, 2010                           Valparaiso, IN

These TV shows about hoarders are inspiring me to organize and get rid of stuff.

Last night I organized my sewing supplies that haven't been tidied up for at least a couple of years, and today I got rid of some really nice clothes that I just never wear.  Either they don't fit or they are too nice.  I just have to bite the bullet and admit that I don't have much occasion to dress up anymore.  Not that I am inclined to don pantyhose and heels anyway.

One thing I gave up that caused me a little pang was a comforter I made twenty years ago out of wool, corduroys, and three, yes three layers of batting.  I bound it with velveteen (or cordulour, I forget which) and it still looks pretty new.  The wonders of wool!

I made this comforter because my husband and I used to have a series of blankets that slid this way and that.  Every night was a tug of war.  My idea in making my giganto was that it was big enough to cover us both easily and would be the only layer (five in one) above the sheet, thus covering us more effectively.

The only problem was that it was so heavy it bent down my toes, and once it got off center, would be pulled by gravity towards one side of the bed or the other.  There was still some tug-of-war between my husband and me, but order was easily restored and there was no blame.  It was all gravity's fault.

I slept under this bed covering for twenty-odd years, through the last years of my marriage, my divorcehood, and up to the present until last year.  My now partner has never liked it.  (He didn't like it ten years ago, either, but he didn't get his way.  I was too attached to it and the work it represented to get ride of it.  It stayed in my bed faithfully longer than the (few) men in my life did!  (ha, ha.))

Finally, though, after another dozen years of use and one winter in a trunk, it has been passed on.

Now I am back under normal bedding with covers that slip and slide.  My present partner doesn't steal the covers, he tosses them (onto me.)  This is definitely preferable to being uncovered and cold.

And I have to admit, it is kind of nice lying in bed and feeling foot-loose and toes-light!

I just hope some big hulk of a guy with toes like baseball bats can use it to keep himself warm this winter.

It's pretty big.  Maybe some hoarder can use it to cover up her mess!            

September 27, 2010                            Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday being Sunday, I was going to preach at myself, but I forgot.

The most basic form of denial.

But when I remembered I was going to quote the I Ching, I figured any day is okay for preaching that.  (Do Buddhists have any particular holy day of the week? I don't remember hearing of it.  Well, isn't that great for their economy!)

Anyway, having become a person I don't find particularly attractive (always complaining about my impossible mother) I remembered a line from the I Ching:

"In difficult times, be strong within and sparing of words."

Good advice.  Too late!

Oh, and wait until you hear the latest sterling example of my mother's orneriness!

...Just kidding.

September 26, 2010                             Valparaiso, IN

Our neighborhood is getting lots of new sidewalks.  This is a really good thing, because many of the old ones were hazards.

There is a new hazard we should watch out for, though.

Linden seeds.  Basswood seeds.

The linden tree is really a beautiful tree and its downfacing blossoms, while not showy, are very fragrant.  I first noticed this at night, so maybe they attract night-flying insects.

They produce really small hard spherical seeds which I haven't much paid much attention to before, either.  But this year I have.  Twice now I have almost fallen from sliding on linden seeds.  When my son, his wife, and my partner went on a short walk one evening, we all slipped and slid.

My theory is that the new sidewalks are smoother than the old ones.  Instead of getting caught in the rough surface of the cement, the seeds act more like billiard balls rolling on a smooth plane.  Consequence - more instability for those above.

The new sidewalks also slant down to the street for handicap access.  This is wonderful for bikers and skateboarders as well as people limited to wheel chairs.  Unfortunately the slope magnifies the treachery of the unfortunate fruit of the linden, which has, in my lifetime, gone from beneath notice to dangerous evil underfoot!

If I had linden trees, I think I might sweep my brand new sidewalks.  People would just chalk it up along with hopscotch (ha, ha) to being new-sidewalk proud!

September 25, 2010                              Valparaiso, IN

I love spell check.

It is hilarious.  I'm reading a book write now (ha, ha, Freudian slip!) in which there is a pretty little house with "white shears" in the window.  The book is supposed to be (and is!) funny, but not that way!  (Well, on second thought, I'll take my laughs where I can get them.  Maybe it is a whole new level and complexity of humor.)

Of course, we who read (not reed, though reeds and tree pulp are biologically related) newspapers are regaled all the time with inappropriate homonyms, like teem and team (ponds don't team with algae although, I admit, teams sometimes teem.)

Sometimes a stake might be a steak, if you are a petty gambler who has run out of doe (er, dough!)

Bach's Partitas aren't party boxes or partitioned jewelry boxes.

You are unlikely to confuse lox and locks, I suppose, but spell-check won't catch it if you do!

Oh, I no, now I'm just getting two silly.  Whoo wood ever make those kinds of looser errors?

Not spell check, never spill chick!

September 24, 2010                              Valparaiso, IN

I love the way people say, oh so-and-so lost her job as a something-or-other-that-takes-a master's-degree and she hasn't worked for four months.  She should just take what she could get - whatever!  She should get a job in a coffee shop!

These people are not being realistic.  If you have a master's degree and have had a truly well-paying job, you most likely cannot get a job in a coffee shop!

For one thing, coffee shops like young people to work there.  In fact, it seems most businesses have a preponderance of younger people interfacing with the public.  This seems smart on the face of it (ha, ha.)

Give the unemployed a break.  So what if it only took a month for you to get a job - back in nineteen fifty?

Times are really hard now for all kinds of people - especially those who are of working age (especially those over fifty).  Instead of being down on them for not working, think back with fondness on the times which made it easy to find and keep your lousy, boring, backbreaking job!

September 23, 2010                         Valparaiso, IN

Gee, if cleanliness is next to Godliness, what is next to cleanliness?

How come some people seem to think they have crossed over into Godliness, so they don't have to worry about cleanliness?

Where do people who don't believe in God rank cleanliness?  Next to scientificliness?

Or do they (we) prefer teeming liveliness?

Decisions, decisions - is it off to the cathedral or to the bubblebath?

Or to the swamp?

September 22, 2010                        Valparaiso, IN

It seems to me that there is a phenomenon of second daughters caring for older parents.

I never thought of birth order when I realized in high school that I would probably be the one to care for my parents at home.

It has long been recognized that women are more likely to take on this role than their brothers.

Maybe it was the movie Like Water for Chocolate that made me, unconsciously, start mulling over the subject.

In my partner's family it is the second daughter who has Mom living with her.

A friend of mine, when our children were young, seemed to be consciously or otherwise grooming her second daughter to stay close to home.

I'm not saying that this is a negative or positive thing, and there are certainly rewards to being in this position (as I am.)

I'm wondering if there is a pattern here.

September 20, 2010                               Valparaiso, IN

I was thinking the other day about words and their backwards meanings.  I mean literally, like the old standbys, God/dog and live/evil.

In a way some of them seem like opposites.  You could get a lot more un-Godlike than a dog, but that is a pretty opposite pair.  In practical terms, evil seems most anti-life.

I started playing with other word combinations like this.  Maybe golf isn't the opposite of flog.  But if you are the ball (and not the person flogging himself around the gold course) you might rather be golfing.  And note: most golfers don't flog themselves around a golf course.  They take a cart, or flog their caddies around the holes!

A walk certainly is closer to the opposite of a claw than a synonym of it.

Even more humorous than the contemplation of words forwards and backwards is the consideration of words that don't have a backwards counterpart.

We have brows, but we don't have worbs.  Why not?  We have the word "word."  Worb is only slightly different, but as far as I know, nothing is a worb.  That's too bad - it has a great sound!

Oops!  Gotta go - more later!

September 18, 2010                             Valparaiso, IN

My partner and I were talking this morning about what people will fight for, in the context of talking about war.  He said that something has to resonate or grab them, something like the idea of "freedom."

Something exploded in my brain:  Yes, Americans love the idea of "freedom."

They fight for it, they chant about it, and it is all about the idea of freedom.

Most Americans are not free, in my opinion, and I can't really say that I think it is a matter of choice.

Many of us grow up in small communities in which social pressure can be quite high.  We belong to religious organizations that effectively dictate what is proper behavior to their congregants.

And the conflict between what everyone else says is right and their own needs tears people up.

It is no wonder so many of our population are able to deny other people basic freedoms, like the right to marry the adult of their choice, or make a wage similar to others with the same skill set.  They themselves do not feel free at all.

Our citizens go into other places in the world to fight for freedoms that they themselves do not enjoy.

You might say that this is their choice, but I wonder.  I was surprised to see on a map compiled from data from the IRS how small the range of motion (change or residence) was between many sparsely populated counties in the country.

According to my random samplings of counties, a person in very-small-town-America is not likely to move from their home to a place 2/3 of the way across the country.

Similarly, a person who grows up in a certain religion or religious sect, without being exposed to other options, tends to stay put.  All to often the power of the social comfort zone seems to outweigh freedom to create comfort within the self.

So, Americans willing to fight for the idea of freedom, how about availing yourselves of a little true freedom?

And start by vacationing in another part of the country, away from your safe corner of the state!

If you need to move someday, you won't feel so much like you are falling off the edge of the earth!

September 16, 2010                           Valparaiso, IN

Thirty-seven years ago today I married right here in Valpo.  I would much rather have eloped but, given the fact that my fiancee was a preacher's son, that would have been too inconsiderate.

I just realized that my son, a product of that wedlock and due to visit today, is coming on what used to be my anniversary!

Well, what do you know.  I'm glad that my marriage is over, and I am glad my son and daughter-in-law are coming.

It is kind of funny that we have white wild clematis climbing over every shrub in front of the house!  It would be a perfect plant for an anniversary celebration - if there were an anniversary!

It is rainy today, the way it was the day I married.  I'm enjoying the thought that the rain won't damage my trellised mountain of wild white clematis, the way it would melt snow!

September 15, 2010                             Valparaiso, IN

Oops!  It is 9:30 at night and I forgot to mow the rest of the lawn.

It is amazing what I can forget these days.  If I am supposed to do something which I need info for, and the information is not delivered, I will forget to do what I promised.  At least, until the needed data is delivered.  Then I go, "Oh, yeah!..."

If you know I don't want to do something, don't try to influence me to do it anyway.  I will forget.

My father used to say, "I have a good forgetter."

I don't want to get in the habit of saying this, because I don't want to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I believe in thinking positively.

On the other hand, sometimes the ability to forget is positively wonderful!

What was the point of all this?  Don't make me say it!

I forget!

September 14, 2010                           Valparaiso, IN

Last night we watched shows about hoarders on A & E.  You could say we were hoarding hoarders!

It made me look around my house.  Have I already reached the first stage of hoardom?  Don't answer that!

The negative example of others inspired me to take steps.  The bottom shelf of my medicine cabinet has been teetering on the edge of spillage for months now.

This morning was the time!

I resolved to toss out at least six items.  I was sure I could manage to throw away half a dozen of the melange of sunscreens, moisturizers, foundations and combinations thereof, and I did.  I threw away four items that were almost gone - a Britewite which was almost gone anyway, a Neutrogena tinted sunscreen (most Neutrogena products are awesome, but not this one! - it darkened in patches within a couple of hours), an old tinted moisturizer and an unopened but yucky-looking sample of something.

Two items I managed to use up - another tinted sunscreen that was so old I couldn't believe I was putting it on my face and some Aveeno moisturizer.

Ta-da!  The other four items I removed from the first shelf of my medicine cabinet I have put 1) by my bed (where it was before I removed it to clean up my bedroom for my sister) and 2)distributed between overnight cases and a handbag.

I'm hoping to be inspired to get rid of more stuff next week.

Here's a possible approach to your hoarding:  If you have a tendency to collect a lot of different things, allow yourself only two or three more than you really need.  (For instance, everybody needs several T-shirts, right?  Three aren't enough, right?  If you disagree, don't tell me!  Get rid of your own stuff!)

If you don't collect many things but still have too much stuff, limit yourself to up to three collections.  Narrowly defined!  Not collections of glass, metal, and dried vegetation;  only vases and serving spoons and flowers.

And have at least three rooms free of all major collections!

(If you only have three rooms, don't collect. Or collect cubic yards of air.)

Ha, ha, ha, ha!  I love to collect mundane rules for living!  At least the clutter remains in my head!

Er, except, what about my website?  And maybe our heads are the worst things to clutter!  (Sherlock Holmes would say so.)

Damn the end of summer!  It leads to all kinds of self-doubt!

One thing I've learned about hoarders from the TV show, though:  hoarders should learn to doubt themselves!

September 12, 2010                            Valparaiso, IN

Today we were ordering Kindle from Amazon (oh, I am so excited!) when we heard a knock at the front door.

There were two nice-looking women, and I immediately thought, "Jehovah's Witnesses."  There were two more women approaching the neighbor's door when I opened mine.

I said, "Hello," and waited.  They had a very soft approach.  The spokeswoman of the two remarked upon the beauty of the day and complimented me on the smell of the wild clematis growing all around.

Then she said they were going around offering encouragement, (literally with Bible in hand!) and I said I didn't need any.  She asked me where I got encouragement and I answered, "From within."  On and on and round about we went.  When they finally departed, knowing all about what I believe (or more accurately, don't) I still did not know what denomination of Biblical study they were from.

There have been times I have refused to talk at all, telling people that I had my own church.  Well, I don't any more, so I couldn't get off the hook that easily this time.

My partner said, "Wouldn't it be funny if we went around trying to tell people about evolution?"  We would say, "I'm not trying to make a monkey out of you.  On second thought, I am!"

I told my son about J's joke, and he said there was a guy someplace in Idaho who was going door to door, The Origin of Species in hand.  You can see him on Utube, reportedly.

I think I'll try to see him right now.

September 11, 2010                           Valparaiso, IN

I hear there was a Gallup Poll taken in 2004, in which 45% of Americans were of the opinion that God created man just the way we are in our present form ten thousand years ago.

In the face of all the scientific research that has been done in the last decades showing how complicated the evolution of man has been, that belief is downright scary.

Well, no population can stay at the peak of world power forever, I guess.

If 45% percent of our population is comprised of creationists, our downfall will be fast and precipitous.

Let's hope we can work up enough downward momentum to land right back in the Garden of Eden, where ignorance is bliss!

September 10, 2010                                Valparaiso, IN

When I was growing up, my father quoted my grandfather as saying that you couldn't be honest and be a businessman.  My dad was an academic, his brother was an engineer (and ultimately, I think) a businessman, another brother was an engineer who worked for NASA.

The legal profession was not even to be considered, because both my parents had some Quaker background, and from what I could gather, Quakers did not believe in litigation.  Maybe not all Friends feel that way, but they are certainly not alone in the population for considering the legal profession to be a little unsavory.

There was no frowning upon Bible study in my house, though.  I think I could have read the Bible all day long, spending my days poring over the much-pored-over text that has had people obsessed with it for centuries.

I am coming to view all such limiting prejudices and obsessions the same way I view conspiracy theories.  What a waste!  How many people have died because the minds that could have been working on cures were funded to attend seminaries instead of scientific or medical institutions?

How slow has our research into real life, such as the antecedents of human life, been because the money for people to make a vocation of learning about our human history just wasn't there?

Of my three sisters and I, I have probably wasted my work time the most.  Low-level work is what I have mostly done.

I'm truly sorry about that.  So here I am, an elder, telling you young people, "Don't do what I have done!" just like the whore in the song.

Only don't think in terms of criminal behavior, for goodness' sake.

Think in terms of not frittering away your time - the time before and after you have children.

What might I have done way back then?  I might have gotten some professional help.  Maybe they couldn't have helped me.  If the money isn't there, the jobs aren't there, and people have to survive.

But - I really wish I had put more energy into trying.

Hm.  Did I say I refuse to have regrets?  I'm sure I have in the past.

Well, I guess it is just a discipline I will have to work at a little more.  Because it may be too late to find a discovery vocation at my age!

September 9, 2010                                    Valparaiso, IN

A couple of days ago we watched a BBC miniseries called Desperate Romantics that had a decent (or indecent, depending on your point of view) amount of nudity.

One of the featured females had the biggest breasts I've ever seen bouncing around on or off the world of film.

I enjoyed watching - even women love the sight of human breasts, I think - after all, we as well as males are designed to see them originally as a food supply.

That thought, and my memories of nursing my own babies, led me to shake my head ruefully at the entertainment world.

What is the ratio of images of breast as object of sexual desire to the breast as mammary gland, I wonder?

Looking back over the TV shows I have watched, and movies I have seen, I can't believe that it is much less than a million to one.

Seriously.  How often have you seen a movie with even implied suckling of young, as compared to the breast in a sexual setting?

I rest my case.

This is decidedly odd. 

September 8, 2010                              Valparaiso, IN

Are you called Grumpa instead of Grandpa?

If life begins at forty, does it begin again at eighty, and you act your age?

I believe that growing old is worse than I could possibly imagine, because some old people behave worse than I possibly could imagine.

I know someone that hates that whole generation - the ones now ninetyish.  (Boy, that would make a great sitcom- Ninetysomething!)

He says that generation is the PIA generation!  I'm inclined to agree.  The "greatest generation" is the GPIA generation!

Want to defend your generation?  Feel free to respond!  I'll publish your comments, if you wish!

September 6, 2010                                Valparaiso, IN

Why isn't Labor Day called Laborer Day?  Just because "laborer" is harder to say?

Well, in the eyes of a laborer, "er" should not seem such hard work. 

Ha!  Labor day is not for writers. 

They never write on Labor Day, anyway.  I bet.

I'm just jesting today.  Or not.

An assassin is a double ass!

It is apparent we adults don't need a parent.

I propose a toast:  To the labor of others!


September 5, 2010                                Valparaiso, IN

Travels with Jester - August 21, 2010:  A less-than-felicitous motel arrangement left us thirsting for a night of camping, but we didn't hasten to the next park on our map.  We enjoyed our Lake Michigan tour so much we decided to stop at some lakeshore cities.

We chose Ludington for breakfast on the basis of hunger-timing, and this was my favorite breakfast spot of the trip.  My vegetable omelet had healthy-sized pieces of broccoli and potato among other veggies instead of 1/4 inch minced stuff measured out by the teaspoon.  Very satisfying.  Just take the main drag west from highway 31 towards the Lake and keep watch of the right side of the street.  They've been open for business in Ludington for decades.  Eat there and you will know why!

The houses along this road are some of the biggest Victorian mansions I have seen along a main street anywhere in the Midwest.  We asked one of the waitresses where all the money came from, and she gave the one-word reply, "Lumber."

Our next stop was the famous Holland, MI which I would love to visit at tulip time.  It was a beautiful clean city which is supposed to be one of the happiest in the country.  Well worth looking into as a residence, but its homogeneous population may be the reason why it is so happy.  If Denmark, an almost entirely Lutheran country, is the happiest because of monoculture, maybe I would opt for a little more tension and visual and cultural interest!  Still, a lovely city.  We may live there yet!

The first State Park we stopped at was Van Buren State Park.  Luckily, they had spaces open for "local sales" even though it was a Saturday.  We "checked in" at about 12:30 - time enough to swim on the beach which includes a great dune open for climbing and running down.  It was an easy climb because the copious rain of the night before kept the sand firmer than dune sand usually is.

A Park Ranger came by and invited us to a nature walk.  We went, and it was interesting to hear the emphasis he put on ecology and the evolution of tree populations.  It was also interesting to see 20-foot sassafras trees with black 12- and 14-inch in diameter trunks!  All the better to provide protective coloration for the black squirrels we saw.

I never realized that sassafrass grew to be regular trees.  I had always seen them small and shrubby.

We also saw flowerlike fungus bases for some kind of puffball mushrooms.  This time the ranger learned something!

All through our trip, the State Parks were eerily quiet at night.  In my youth people would play loud radios and generally yuk it up into the night.  Not this time.  Not in Michigan.  If you ever despair of what our civilization is coming to, go camping in a Michigan State Park.  Not just civilized - downright genteel!

Van Buren Park was the exception.  It was peaceful, but we could hear conversations carried on well after dark.  No complaints from me, though.  We managed to fall asleep just fine!

September 4, 2010                                       Valparaiso, IN

Travels with Jester - I forgot to tell you about a walk we took at the Trapp Farm land while we were in Beulah.  It is part of the Trust For Public Lands holdings in Michigan, and comprises some woodland and some meadow.

We were barely out of the car before we saw some interesting birds.  I couldn't tell what kind of warblers they were, but they were hanging out with chickadees!  That was surprising to me because most of the vegetation we saw seemed to be deciduous, and I associate chickadees with coniferous trees.  I assumed the proximity of these birds with one another was accidental until we encountered the group farther in the park, and they were still together.

Upon reading my bird guide, I discovered this particular interspecies grouping is not uncommonly encountered.  Those birds and the meadow, with its spectacular flowers and butterflies, made this a special walk!

Another interesting feature was a narrow boardwalk, which makes me suspect that at some times of the year this is marshland.  Another great birdwatching venue come Spring!

September 3, 2010

More rain last night - a good long hard one with thunder and lightning the like of which I have never experienced anywhere but in the Midwest.

The receptionist at the dentist's office had a woolen sweater on, reminding me that soon it will be time to break out all the winter clothing.  Brrr and Grrr!

Travels With Jester - Thursday the 19th of August found us in Wilderness State Park again.  I was astounded to see when we walked around the campground that the lake was not four feet from our campsite of half a week before.  It was much farther from the lake!

Our campground this time was farther from the water, and the weather was so peaceful and the lake so quiet that we couldn't even hear it from the tent!

It was so quiet, in fact, that when I had a coughing fit at some point during the night I felt guilty for disturbing the utter peace of that very populated temporary community!

In the morning I spoke with some people in the bathroom who were wielding hairdryers and thanking God for electricity.  We started talking about the competition for campsites on the busy weekends in Michigan.  One young(er) woman said that as we were speaking her husband was poised on the Internet waiting to pounce on a reservation should a campsite become available for the weekend.

Just what I want to do on vacation at the beach!

Anyway, now you are warned that the sooner you can plan the better if you are planning a late summer jaunt to Michigan!  Of course, I myself seem to be allergic to all planning and rely on luck and my credit card.

Soon after, we left the park heading south.

We decided to pass through Charlevoix, because on the way north it looked like a fun touristy kind of place and I thought I had seen The Cycling Salamander, another outlet for Pat Denison's work.  When we hit Charlevoix,though, the rain was coming down pretty hard.  We didn't see the gallery, so we just kept on going.

Turns out the Cycling Salamander is outside Charlevoix, so when we saw it we turned in.  The only thing I had remembered correctly about its location was the side of the road it was on!  It is a nice little gallery with a hodgepodge of objects that defies simple characterization as to either quality or style.  It did feature some large tiles created by the Denisons.  The owner mentioned sculpture in the main house, but we were too hungry to linger.

At around lunchtime we found ourselves in Traverse City and parked in a lot which turned out to be the back lot of a restaurant.  Well, all right, we'll eat there!  It had a nutty sign out back, and the waitress was good fun.  I had my only deep fried dish of the trip, pollock, and it was good!  Two humungous pieces was more than I cared to eat, though.  For the price we paid, it was a very generous meal.

A little farther on we stopped at Interlochen Camp for the Arts.  Interlochen is the largest State Park campground in Michigan with about 450 sites, but we decided not to spend the night because of the likelihood of rain.

We found a roadside motel a little further on near Benzonia.  It advertised great prices, cleanliness, and free coffee so we didn't bother to check the room.

Jester's New Law of Motel Lodging Acceptance:  Do not take a room in some random motel without seeing the room!  If you can smell anything once you are there, don't take it!  What seems like minor smoke will mean major congestion!   Or, in this case, what seems like smelly cleaning agents will end up practically asphyxiating one of your party!

This motel experience ended up being like the smoky first night.  The next morning we wanted out!

At first Jos thought he might linger long enough to make coffee for the road.  No coffee!

Note to hoteliers:  If we are so uncomfortable in lodgings that we are falling all over ourselves to get out before six a.m., we will forget to leave a tip.  The fight for survival leaves no mental space for social niceties!  It is too bad your housekeepers have to suffer.  (Besides the permanent detriment to their health working around all that toxic cigarette smoke and all those deadly cleaning agents! and blah blah blah)

September 2, 2010                          Valparaiso, IN

Well, the rain did come early this morning - a fine steady drizzle that has been coming down for hours now.  Just what we needed!

Travels with Jester - Rain came down the morning we left Taquamenon State Park, too.  Did I mention that?  Luckily, not before we broke camp.  In sunshine, we took time for an early morning hike to some ancient white pines along a trail that needs work.  Volunteers, turn out!  Michigan State, use some of your stimulus funds to help define your trails!

On the trail we heard voices off to one side that hushed, then resumed as we passed.  Illegal campers?  Drug users?  One thing I couldn't help noticing on this trip was the presence of biohazard hypodermic needle boxes in some of the bathrooms. All three I saw had been forced open or had obvious evidence of an attempt to do so.

Anyway, we went on our white pine hike, and as we went it clouded over and we got rained on.  Luckily we were close to the Upper Taquamenon Falls and could change into dry clothes in the bathroom there.

If you want to see the white pines without the hike, they are a short way off the highway that runs through the park.

August 18, 2010   Since the bridge was out between Grand Marais and Munising, we took the highways the long way round and drove into the wharf of the Pictured Rocks cruise line just before ten o'clock!  Perfect timing!

We plunked down our cash for a tour of the rocks from the water, figuring we would see more of the sights that way than we ever could from the cliffs above.

The rocks were colorful and varied.  The reds, oranges and yellows from iron, the white from calcium, the black from manganese, and the blues and greens from copper created landscapes, even vertical stripes, and everything in between.

There were other wonders, too, like the roots of a pine that still created a bridge between the pillar it was growing on and the main mass of land, long after the rock arch that had originally supported it had crumbled away in the wind and rain!

The pilot of our cruise boat went impossibly far into a cave-like opening into the shore.  In bad weather they would not have risked it, I'm sure.  This feat provided us with a little frisson of drama and fear that otherwise would have been missing on these very calm waters.

Since we were the last ones aboard, we spent a good part of the tour at the lower level.  Finally, though, I couldn't resist the temptation to see more and enjoy the air on the upper deck.  I spent most of my time standing on the upper deck.

Not cheap at $34 for an adult, it was still the high point and climax of our trip, as far as I'm concerned.

From here on in, our vacation was southward and eastward toward home.  We decided to head back to Wilderness State Park to avoid a hurried last dash on our return journey.

We were sad to leave the Yoopee, but the lower peninsula has many attractions, as well!


September 1, 2010                            Valparaiso, IN

Too late in the day to give my travel report from what is now two weeks ago.  I'm too world-weary and fatigue-giddy!

Don't ask me why.  Just ordinary stuff.

I'm beginning to really enjoy the wild clematis that I have been battling all summer (well, more like skirmishing against.)

I put up one triangular tepee-style trellis for the clematis, and now it has no shape but mountainous!  In addition the wild vine has climbed all over several other shrubs and is beginning to pop into bloom and smell really good.

My mountain of wild clematis makes a much nicer backdrop to our reddish rose than miscellaneous undergrowth would.  It has already got some white four-petaled flowers, but soon it really should be more white than green!

We are in a two-week drought now (at least.)  I hope it doesn't make this incipient floral bonanza dry up.

All around the neighborhood lawns are turning brown.  I don't know if this is due to denial, complacence, water-saving from economic motives or conservation motives, but I hope it rains soon.

Of course, our lawn is no exception - what there is left of it.  I have persuaded myself that I will be delighted to put something in the bare spots that will use less water.  Irises or groundcover or something else that does not have to be mowed.  I'm sure weeding is easier than mowing.  But if that is true, why don't I do it?

Maybe it's just easier to put off!


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