Pebble

 

Our travels took us to Sault Ste. Marie, where we found ourselves on another misty water experience: sailing through the Soo Locks.  In case you haven’t noticed, Michigan has a way of changing the spelling of a place. Mackinac; Mackinaw. Sault; Soo.

Anyway, we rode the locks, and it was fascinating. Mostly, because Jeff was fascinating. his pride in Michigan was deep. True, he’d lived here all his life, but I’ve been here 18 years and I don’t know the detailed history of towns, cities, parks, farms. He did, and he was happy to share that.

Jeff would fill in little parts that weren’t mentioned over tour radios. Folks who overheard would end up gravitating towards him, asking questions and being questioned in return. By the time we were done with whatever it was we were doing, we’d know a lot about a person. Where they were from, where they were going, what they did for a living, who their favorite NASCAR driver was.

At Tahquamenon Falls, Jeff explained the water’s amber hue, the impact of logging and impressively mentioned Longfellow. On the sunniest day of our journey, we stood overlooking the falls having unintentionally timed this stop a breath past peak fall color. As wonderfully as the cheap camera pictures came out, they don’t do it justice. I was posing at the rail of a scenic pier when a stranger offered to take our picture together. As strange as it seems, this might be the only picture of Jeff and I together on our honeymoon. I haven’t come across any others, yet.

Our second to last stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes. We thought about renting a Jeep to drive ourselves around the dunes, but decided a half-hour of driving time wasn’t that exciting. Instead, we opted for the guided tandem open-car tour. We learned about the environmental and erosion problems facing the area. Coming down from a huge mound of hilly sand, the tour glided to rest beside the lapping shore of Lake Michigan.

I was surprised by the number of tourists in our group who quickly shed their shoes in order to wade in. I didn’t. I did, however, dip my fingers into the chilly water, bringing up a small stone memento. Later, Jeff chided me for that, siting erosion. “It’s just one little pebble,” I argued. ‘Yes,” he said matter-of-factly, “but, if everyone who ever went there took a rock from the beach, that’d be millions of missing rocks!”

Then he launched another Jeff-ism:

“Nothing is ever a just pebble.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Lock Engineering: animation

Animated Falls:  Tahquamenon

Bonus Photos:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-tahquamenon-falls-jakorte

 

On The Island

The island wasn’t crowded, either, which made sense seeing as we had taken a near empty ferry.

No lines anywhere, meant we cruised through more childhood forbidden purchases:

A small bit of fudge – Jeff wasn’t fond of sweets

Our first Mr. and Mrs. Christmas ornament was a two-some of Teddy Bears popping out of a chimney. We waited while it was customized with our names and the year, 2001.

At a Native American gallery shop, we had a hard time deciding which of two items would go home with us. Rather than choose between 2 favorites, as kids are often required, we took both; a beautiful feathered peace pipe for our marriage, and a decorative hatchet to remind us to bury it, when needed. Sadly, the peace pipe did not survive the later addition of a Jack Russell puppy to our lives. The hatchet has hung everywhere we’ve lived together, and everywhere I’ve been alone after being together.

As we wandered by an old-fashioned photo station, the kind where you could dress up old-time, we smiled widely at each other. Without having uttered a single word, Jeff held the door open for me. The photographer chose wedding appropriate garb including a bridal bouquet, and suggested the Marriage Certificate mat for our photo. We asked our real wedding certificate signers for repeats, then framed and hung our treasure; proof of having conquered another former family vacation forbidden.

Our last-open-weekend-of-the-season dollars, gave us a deal on almost everything.

The two exceptions were the cost of breakfast. Jeff’s eyes opened wide in astonishment as he told me the extra egg he had ordered cost $2.00. “For an egg!” he exclaimed, quickly followed by reasoning. “Of course, I bet it probably cost a lot to get that egg out here…”.

The other exception was the carriage barker who called out a $30.00 dollar per person rate, which we politely declined. When cajoled and asked why, Jeff responded honestly, that seemed like a lot of money. The price was brought down to $15.00 per person, to which we nodded in agreement.

After Jeff handed over $30.00 cash, it was determined there had been a miscommunication. Not $15 per person, but $50 for carriage ride. Sure, it was only $20 more, but the man’s attitude was accusatory. Mentioning that he needed to make money, he said he could do it for $30, but we’d only get half the ride. We decided to forgo the experience. It was getting late, anyway, so we headed to the dock.

We never made it up to The Grand Hotel, but we did spend the full 35 minutes waiting for the ferry trying to decide if we should purchase a gorgeous era-true refurbished aqua bicycle built for two for just $110.00. The main problem was trying to figure a way to get it home. The Neon wasn’t going to be accommodating. We’d need a bike rack, but we’d have to drive somewhere for that, which wouldn’t work for the obvious reason that we’d have to take the bike with us, and … it wouldn’t fit in the Neon.

After going in circles, we logically left it there. To be honest, I cannot imagine us ever riding it. Picturing what that would look like, makes me giggle now. I still wish I’d taken a picture of it.

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-22-all-the-dreams-we-ever-had-carried-us-along-jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Link:

Daisy Bell: Bicycle Built for Two

Bonus Photo:

2016-11-22-honeymoon-old-time-photo-bonus-jakorte

Almost All

Almost all the weather was damp and almost all of our pictures were misty.

We drove through the Houghton Lake cabins of Jeff’s happy childhood vacations, stopped in a local souvenir shop where we bought a greeting card with a beautiful dream catcher which would months later become Jeff’s first and only tattoo. A 5 inch round over his heart with a turquoise shell, 3 feathers, intricate weave patterns and shadowing, it was impressive.

We visited Hartwick Pines near Grayling, and led ourselves on a self-guided tour. I tried to take a picture of the beautiful leave-covered ground beneath one massive tree, but it turned out murky. Jeff took one of me next to the huge red wheels of a logging wagon. If you look closely, you can see I am holding an almost all point-perfect yellow maple leaf.

We stopped to see Paul Bunyan and his blue ox at Castle Rock, but the attraction was closed and it was raining anyway. Jeff was disappointed because he had wanted to go into the souvenir shop that was forbidden as a kid. I’m thinking now of all the places we went in my childhood and how kitsch shops were totally off limits. I rolled down my window, clicked a photo to document that we had been there, and then we moved on.

My first Mackinac Bridge crossing occurred in the rain. As a passenger, I should say, because Jeff was concerned about the weather.  On the approach, I leaned out the window to grab a few shots while being pelted with windy drops. I can see myself in the side mirror wearing one of my favorite sweaters ever. It’s one we picked up at Birch Run.

I’m not sure what that yellow ticket looking thing is under the wiper on the passenger side. Maybe a parking pass? Could be this picture was taken on the way back over the bridge?  Did I mention this trip was almost all rainy? In any case, we made it over.

The ferry trip journey was very uncrowded, and if we’d thought about it, predictably chilly. We huddled together to stay warm, held hands and laughed our way through the inclement weather.

That’s just how it was with us.

Almost all, we held hands and just enjoyed the ride.

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-15-almost-all-perfect-trip-jakorte

Bonus Pictures:

2016-11-15-almost-all-bonus-pictures-2-jakorte

 

 

2016-11-15-almost-all-bonus-pictures-1-jakorte

Grafted (3 Chicks with Sticks)

We double tooled and took a short trek to Chapel Street.

The explanation and demonstration made sense. Using the tools on-hand made sense.

I like sense. I like adaptation, too.

Teams spread down the sidewalks searching for X marks and O marks, and root-bagged trees that weren’t rejectedly rolled into the street.

There we were; three chicks with sticks staring at an off-center X over a shallow-welled median with a spade and a square, a spade and a rake, a spade and a pick-ax, a tree and a plan.

Fresh from a mini tutorial, feeling feisty, we set about it.

We measured and consulted, measured some more, got a rhythm going.

After a while, there two piles of dirt, a pile of skimmed grass, and a hole.

The hole wasn’t exactly round. We fixed that.

The hole was a little too deep. We fixed that.

The ball was a little too heavy for advised two rollers, so we used three to get it going and in.

We eyeball straightened our charge (assumed a tulip tree by the botanical tag “tulipifera”) from three directions.

Lacking a knife to break the binds, we waited, short-shoveling handfuls of soft soil in and around to perfect stance while assuring our homeowner we were enjoying ourselves, and it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.

Root bag ripped, unrecyclables corralled, wires de-bent, we ran into a problem. Everything was fine, until exposure. Then, suddenly, it might be all wrong, or it might still be right.

Lopsided, rooted more heavily on one side than the other, not knowing which three-fingers-below measure was true.

There were two knuckles; one previously hidden in burlap garb, angled slight degrees from the one we had been focused on.

Stem straight, angled roots uneven in a way that wouldn’t promote stability. Rocking the sapling in favor of rooting, the stem was oddly askew.

That’s when we learned something new. The tree and the root were established together post graft. Combining the best of both, strong roots, tall tree, for immediate success and future longevity.

Consultants called. Though our true root was a slight inch higher than preferred, no retraction was required. Adaptation meant lightly packed stability soil up a little higher, and cautiously tamping air-pocket caverns where water could possibly pool and encourage rot.

We raised our berm a little higher, for better protection, and watered away from the roots. When we were finished, it passed muster, earning a blue sleeve of advertorial protection.

And that was it; about three hours later, including stand-up breakfast pastries and coffee, finding the right Zone assignment, name tags, gift bags, tool toting, street scouring, instruction, demonstration and the command to go to it. We’d done what we’d set out to do, added our imprint as one group of three in a group of One Brick Volunteers planting one tree among 120 goaled.

My best guess is that it took nearly 200 people from many different community groups, instructors teaching, volunteers planting, and forestry-minded reviewing to reach that goal.

While that might seem impressive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 500,000 trees lost during a three decade Dutch Elm blight from 1950-1980.

Since 1989, The Greening of Detroit has orchestrated placement and replacement of 85,000 trees. Mathematically, that’s still a significant environmental shortage.

There are still at least dozen upcoming The Greening of Detroit events, and there’s room for you, too.

It all adds up. Make a difference in Detroit.

Quote for the Week:

It doesn’t have to be one or the other  04 14 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links: 

The Greening of Detroit: http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/get-involved/volunteer/

Urban Forests: https://www.americanforests.org/conservation-programs/urban-forests/

Top 22 benefits of trees: https://www.treepeople.org/resources/tree-benefits

On Twitter:

#OneBrickDetroit    @GreeningDetroit    #SocialForestry

Staying

Backward, usually, I am.

It’s pretty much always been that way; out of prescribed order, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not.

I was denied a promotion to a job I was already covering at JC Penney. I was informed there was a new rule just coming into effect requiring a college education for any management position, including assistants.

For a long time, I’ve wondered if Mr. Doucet was in cahoots with my father on this. He didn’t seem all that surprised when I returned from my requested interview complaining, and very disappointed. My re-matriculation to the University of Massachusetts resulted in a college degree, and a position at B. Altman & Co. in New York City. When I announced my acceptance of the management-level job offered, my father nodded and said, “Aren’t you glad you went back to school? I owe Mr. Doucet a debt of gratitude,”

I’ve stumbled across confirmation in the form of an interesting article: “Staying is Settling: Why You Need To Move At Least 5 Times In Your Life.”

I’ve always believed staying is settling. I’ve moved more than that just in my present state. Michigan: 8

Who knew my dream-chasing instability would translate so nicely into achievement?

With that in mind, I direct this note to all; everyone from everywhere I’ve ever landed or launched:

If you thought I was going, I’m not.

If you thought I was coming back, I’m not.

I bought a condo.

I’m staying.

 

Quote for the Week:

dream chasing instability fondest achievements

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Move 5 Times: http://elitedaily.com/life/staying-settling-need-move-5-times-life/751829/

Quotes About Settling: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/settling

When Not To Follow Advice: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-worst-career-advice-do-what-you-love/

Evolution, Part 4: Horchata + Quakers

Dinner was another adventure. Taqueria Mi Pueblo on Dix greeted us with a huge cement chicken (rooster, whatever) silhouetted against a summer blue sky. We had an adventurous group at our end of the long table. Gorditas, Tostadas, Gringas, Rellenos were all ordered with enthusiasm. I don’t think anyone ordered the same meal. I also discovered a new treat. Actually, I overheard it requested by a young lady as her beverage, so I asked about it. The best way I can describe the taste would be liquefied, drinkable rice pudding. Perfectly spiced, watery, yet creamy, Horchata is rice milk made by steeping white rice for 24 hours, adding vanilla, nutmeg and lime, among other variations. I checked the recipe. It’s labor intensive due to straining, but still easy enough to conquer on a snow bound winter day. In Michigan, we save stuff like this anticipating days when we’ll need something to prevent all the cold whiteness from freezing our brains.

Three more surprises came along. First, our meal was paid for by our youth group hosts and hostesses. Next a sweet surprise (and yummy) piece of Tres Leches arrived with fanfare, requested by my sweet friend. The third surprise was the hat. Actually, it was a sombrero: a big, heavy, red velvet, silver embellished festivity designed for someone with a much bigger head than mine. Truth is almost everyone’s head is bigger than mine, except for most children. Truth. Most of my hat buying most occurs in their kiddie section of department stores. In any case, the singing waitresses and the cake triggered additional surprise among my day-long companions. “How did we not know it was your birthday?” one asked. The fault there was mine. I did not advertise my predicament. Ok, predicament may not be the correct term to use for the routine occurrence of growing older. It was a mindful choice for me to be there on that particular day. It’s how I chose to spend it; doing something that I love – volunteering.

Post dinner, back at Cass, we headed back into the warehouse for Wednesday Praise. We weren’t the first to arrive and we weren’t the last, either. But, we were required to split up, taking seats wherever we found one. I found one at the end of a row or two of boisterously happy strangers. Their joking and laughter was contagious, even throughout the message. The Ambassadors entertained in a way that defies entertainment. Their inspiration was contagious; their song choices uplifting and inspirational. A few 1960’s songs even took on a different meaning for me that afternoon. Something amazing happens when mainstream is turned into praise. “You’ve Got a Friend” was one in particular. There was a brief introduction of the many groups that had volunteered that day. Again, I was surprised, but this time it was to learn that I was sitting with visiting, volunteering Quakers. Proving, once again, stereotypes are rarely ever accurate.

The end of praise left me teary. Not surprising really.

Regular days are exercises in emotional containment.

Special days stretch the limits.

That’s when everything changed….

 

Quote of the Week:

 stereotypes all roosters crow at daybreak taqueria rooster july 23 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Mexican Cuisine: http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/mexicanfoodglossary/

Defining Praise: http://www.wadetaylor.org/William/2014/2PraiseinEverydayLifebyWilliamTaylor.pdf

Quakers – introduced with a bit of Humor: http://quakerinfo.org/index

 

 

Evolution, Part 2: Work + Welcome

Maybe angry isn’t exact; anger is a flash. This was more of a deep resentful annoyance over unaccountability and team members who chose not to participate. Had I been in charge, I would have required everyone contribute to the outcome. Admittedly, this stands as solid evidence as to why I shouldn’t ever be in charge.

There was work to be done. Retrospectively, I can attribute unintentional engagement; works in progress. Still, the split bothered me.  Eventually, even the committed became distracted by their uncommitted peers, gathering in small groups around a pool table, a punching bag, and a ping-pong table. The pool players played with others outside our group. There was a proper punching bag technique demonstration by two also outside our group. As for the teens playing ping-pong without paddles, tosses became wilder, volleys less controlled, and soon the game bore no resemblance to a game, at all.  This make-it-up-as-you-go-along ball flinging frenzy didn’t sit well with me. Despite the interpretation, this wasn’t intentional downtime.

At least not being in charge leant me some perspective. If someone lacks a volunteer heart, no amount of pushing will mold it into one. I was honestly just let down; bummed. Unfortunately that disappointment turned into high-energy annoyance when one of the players laughed loudly and shouted, “Is this what being homeless is like?”

I understand youth are youth. I also understand the weak correlation. No paddles, doing without, making the best of things, finding another way to play. I don’t understand how those words left anyone’s mouth while in the presence of more than one homeless unfortunate. I don’t understand the lack of impress; how do you not know where you are and why you are there? No one else seemed to notice or react. Without discussion or direction it is probable that ignorance and impropriety would remain ignorance and impropriety.

Loosely congealed, we wandered into the lunch line. I didn’t completely understand. Due to short shifts, I had never been fed as a Cass volunteer. I had never stood on a lunch line. I conjured up the expectation of cold sandwiches and chips. I imagined meeting and eating with other volunteers. What I imagined was segregation. I never even considered sharing the same meal in the same space with the women and children and men standing patiently between gaps in volunteers, waiting for the gift of a good, solid meal for themselves or their children. I never expected to feel as if I were unworthy of receiving. I knew I was as welcome as anyone. I also knew I had a granola bar in my pocket that would hold me.

I thought of stepping out; stepping away with a lavatory excuse. I labored with this until it was my turn to follow through. At that point, there was no way to bow-out without having to explain. Instead of creating a fuss, I accepted a plate, requesting smaller portions than were offered to those before me, skipping items. The only beverage offered was fruit punch. Allergy wise, my history with fruit punch isn’t positive, so I made do with chewing ice, and eating slowly to match the cadence of my table mates. I still didn’t eat slowly enough to avoid sitting with an empty plate, hands folded. I occasionally made what I thought might be a friendly or cute comment with not much response. Mostly, I was just awkward, caught between age groups, layers of unexpected feelings and thirst.

Really, I just wanted to work.

Quote for the Week:

Expecting to be treated differently than others better than or worse than

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Conquer Frustration: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/conquer-frustration/

Not Everybody Should Lead: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/01/23/why-youre-not-a-leader/

Statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_the_United_States