Author Archives: Kathy

Blessings to all

Yesterday, unexpectedly, several online friends sent notes, emails, Facebook messages.

“Where are you?  When are you coming back to blogging?  We miss you.  Are you surviving the winter?”

My heart lurched in appreciation for friends who reappeared out of the woodwork of the Internet with such kindness and concern.

I am rich in what really matters, it seems.  Caring friends and family who send snippets of love.

Yet my heart simultaneously sank.  May I share why?

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Shoveling four feet of snow off our wood pile & other deep winter photos

The snowy forest at night

The snowy forest at night

Even though this long winter continues to snow and blow and freeze and fuss, I still think an icy snowfall sparkles beautifully.

This morning, captured under the glow of our deck light, heavy wet snow dressed the woods in grandeur yet again.

The woods before dawn illuminated by our deck light

The woods before dawn illuminated by our deck light

After many mostly photography-less weeks, I reached for the Canon Rebel and lost myself attempting to capture this view, and that view, and how about this one?

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Blank check & best friends

A blank check could take one back to Nicaragua...

A blank check could take one back to Nicaragua…

The title which begs to be used is:  Blank checks are a girl’s best friend.

However, that would be totally misleading.

(Not that I’ve hesitated misleading you before…big grin…)

I have two stories to tell you this deliciously melting 42 degree (5.5 C) February afternoon.  Heavens, we haven’t seen 42 degrees since autumn, I swear it.  We’re now experiencing three blessed mid-winter days of slippery slidey icicle-melting delight before the weather turns ugly at week’s end.  At least that’s what those blizzard-forecasters are mumbling beneath their radar breath.

Heck, you should have seen us attempting to shovel four feet of snow off our woodpile this weekend!  You should have witnessed us buried in snow attempting to load the wood room.  It wasn’t pretty.

So, instead, I’ll tell you a funny happening.

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Fire burns family building on Main Street in Yale, Michigan

Calm, peaceful Main Street in Yale, MI, in 2009.  My dad sits on that bench waiting for me with a cappuccino.

Calm, peaceful Main Street in Yale, MI, in 2009. My dad sits on that bench waiting for me with a cappuccino.

Last Tuesday morning, just before Barry and I drove to Marquette for a lovely pre-Valentines Day weekend getaway, my mom emailed.

The Dodge Garage building, owned by my mother,  in my hometown of Yale in the Thumb of Michigan, was burning.

By the grace of God and maybe twenty-one fire departments, this proved to be the only building to burn beyond recognition on Yale’s Main Street on this cold winter day last week.

What else could have burned to the ground, to no longer exist except in memory?  The Wash House, next door, owned by my brother, Scot, could have incinerated.  Although it’s been badly damaged on one wall, I suspect (and insurance willing) that someday folks will once again wash and dry clothes in the laundromat.

The Yale Expositor, our dear weekly newspaper, could have disappeared from its old building.  It could be no more.  The owners (one of whom I babysat years and years ago in another lifetime) worked ceaselessly to save historical books and microfilm.

And further down the street, right at the corner, our family’s pharmacy still stands strong.  Owned now by my brother, Scot, it still survives to fill prescriptions for those in pain, in ill-health, in need of medication.  It still survives as a place where one can buy greeting cards, or Ladies Home Journal, or a gift for Grandma’s birthday.

Other buildings, on the other side of the Dodge Garage, could have ignited, just like that, never to be seen again, never to be visited, shopped, enjoyed.

Even better than the survival of all these old buildings is that no one was injured or killed in that massive blaze that brought tears to the faces of many.  Thank goodness.  No lives were lost.

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Who’s Singin’ the Cabin Fever Blues?

White.  Winter.  World.

White. Winter. World.

It’s so easy to get—ah choo!–a very bad case of–ah choo!–you know what I’m going to say don’t you?–a very bad case of Cabin Fever at this time of year.

It doesn’t matter if you live in a cabin like we do.

Doesn’t matter if you dwell in one of those fancy apartments in a fancy city.  Doesn’t matter if you’re milkin’ cows down on the farm.  Or driving through those suburbs on expressways wishing you lived down south.

In Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, (add your northern state here or maybe your southern state, the way things are going this year) you probably have 1) a teeny tiny bout with Cabin Fever or 2) a burgeoning case of the blues or 3) you’re ready to shoot six holes in your freezer, thanks, Jimmy Buffett.

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Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go (after a quick blog)

At my place of work

At my place of work

This morning, awake at 5:45 a.m., after stoking the wood stove, igniting the gas beneath the tea kettle, pouring a pink glass of grapefruit juice, I turned on the Kindle Fire to check email.

There, sitting so innocently in the in-box, appeared a note from John.  He misses me in the Internet world, he says.  You and your prose are missed.  I sigh from my heart and would have wiped away a stray tear–except it’s still too early.  I’m missed.

The part of self that always longs for acknowledgment wants to jump up and down beside a snowbank in delight.  Someone misses my writing.  Someone loves me.  Hallelujah!

The part of self that doesn’t care about acknowledgment raises its eyebrows at the inner child but doesn’t chastise her.  I’ve been learning so much in the last five to six years about honoring all parts of the self.  Until then, it’s hard to honor all parts of the other person.

But, jeeezsh, John, it’s only been a week since I wrote here at Lake Superior Spirit.  That’s not long, is it?

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Burn, baby, burn

I.  Stoking the wood stove hour after hour comforts me.  The repetition feels soothing, logs clinking upon logs, flame burning, heat rising.

II. Writing sentence after sentence burns the same way inside me.  Joy builds with each unexpected word.  Delight tingles when two opposing ideas reconcile. I am stunned silent before the power of words, and always grateful for this craft, this stoking, this amazing possibility of tinder and flame.

Stump, maul

Stump, maul

III.  Photography takes my spirit by surprise.  I never think about taking pictures.  Days and weeks and sometimes months pass without interest in capturing sight, curve, flash, energy.  Photography inhabits my body sometimes, takes over, grabs the camera, insists upon expression.  It’s not me.  I’m its servant.  When it lights its match, I’m putty in its power.  People glimpse me with a camera in hand and think its me.  They see joy and think its mine.  They don’t know I’m simply the log burning itself to ash in those moments.

IV.  Another hour, another log.  Burn, my child, burn.  You’re not losing anything.  We’re gaining your precious heat.

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Winner!

Neon fish in the aquarium at Joey's

Neon fish in the aquarium at Joey’s

Last night we dined at Joey’s Seafood Restaurant in Houghton.  As we ordered our fish tacos & jambalaya & tilapia a fella offered us a sealed envelope.  Upon paying, we must present the envelope to our waitress and see what we won.  10% off?  20%?  50%  Oh-my-goodness, how about 100%?

Jeanette, our Scottish-born waitress, says she’s missed us since our last visit at Joey’s.  Where have we been?  We asked her what days she worked.  We divined how we might have missed one another.  Tomorrow was her birthday, she confessed, and told us how she’d spend the day.  I shouldn’t tell you–but it involved casinos.

I wanted to say–Jeannette, you give us a winner and I’ll pray for a winner for you.

But I didn’t.

Later, she reverentially opened the envelope to determine our winnings.

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Survival

Lately, oh so lately, I’ve been able to sit with my own uncomfortable inner places much longer without turning away.

Because of this, I can stay with a good friend on the telephone for 78 minutes and resonate with her pain.  I will not shirk or abandon her.  I will stay with her in that dark underworld of suffering and regret and perhaps eventual grudging acceptance without turning too quickly toward the positive, the optimism, the la-de-da where it all feels okey-dokey.

Oh how I’ve sometimes turned toward optimism way too quickly in my life, grabbing hold of it like a snowshoe, begging it to keep me safe and navigating through deep drifts.

Others embrace the negative too quickly, resisting, fighting fervently against the way the present moment refuses to meet their expectations, digging their boots deep in snowbanks, paralyzing all ability to propel forward.

Lately, oh so lately, I just allow it all to exist, you and you and you, pain and joy and delight and death, negative and positive, the whole compost of it, the whole turning of the seasons.

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The terrible weight of “should”

Should

Should

Many of us live our wild & precious lives burdened down under a heavy weight of “should”.

Instead of celebrating who we are–can there ever be a more perfect you?–we second-guess and third-guess and quadruple-guess our actions.  We think ourselves crazy with expectations.  We focus on what doesn’t seem to work in our lives, judging ourselves unworthy.  We monitor our every thought, feeling, sentence and paragraph and conjure how we might succeed in becoming the perfect person, the should-less being, the enlightened one.

Worse yet, we often peer for approval from friends, from relatives, from society. We want them to declare us acceptable.  So many of us ache to be liked and fear saying something–anything–to upset the apple cart.

Yet we do.  We upset the cart and apples spill everywhere, no matter how nice we attempt to be.

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