Tag Archives: Arvon Township School

Apple snow

Apple trees behind our two-classroom school

Apple trees behind our two-classroom school

It's apple snow

It’s apple snow

Apples up above

Apples up above

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Somewhere under the rainbow and between pink roses

Somewhere under the rainbow...

Somewhere under the rainbow…

Hello, dear friends and readers.

Isn’t the rainbow photo truly lovely?

It’s a picture taken by Anne, our county treasurer, just after a recent rainstorm.  It’s the little K-6 elementary school where I work.  Perhaps our tiny school is the pot of gold under the rainbow, do you think?

I am glad Anne took and shared the photo.  She said “Do what you’d like with it!”

The second photo–of yours truly–was taken last month by my friend, Doris, in her rose bushes.  You remember this rose-colored story, don’t you?

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Day in My Life: Inside a two-room schoolhouse

Our little two-room school

Our little two-room school

Imagine you’re a six-year-old in 1911.  You live on a farm about a mile from the nearest neighbor.  It’s time for you to be educated, Ma says.  You’ve got new shoes–your first shoes ever–and you’ll walk with your big brother and sister down that dirt road, maybe three miles, and you’ll start school at a one-room or two-room school.

Your brother will help the other big kids stoke the wood stove that sits in the corner of the classroom.  You’ll eat your lunch out of a silver pail and make friends with perhaps the only other 1st grade student and you’ll play outside at recess even when it’s ten below zero (-23 C).  And you won’t freeze to death.  You’ll walk the three miles back home and do chores before supper.  Then you’ll start your homework.

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With tears streaming down my face…

It’s my daughter’s fault.

She ignited a memory this morning, a very cherished memory of our children’s elementary years.

As many of you know, we live in a small township with about 460 residents (down twenty folks since the 2000 census.)  Our elementary students attend a two-room public school.  The student count fluctuates over the years.  Back in the 1980′s and 90′s when our kids attended the count averaged about 28.  One year, for a very short time, we topped out at 41 students.  These days we teach between five and fifteen girls and boys.

Our two attended Arvon Township School where their mama (me!) had the fancy title of Business Manager.  That meant I did the books, paid the handful of employees and filled out countless state reports.  (As many of you know, I am still in this part-time position all these years later.)

One of the highlights of the school year for our students is a magnificent Christmas program where moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, friends and neighbors all turn out to listen to little Johnny or Melinda sing, act, read or play recorders.

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You can’t call that just a Bubble!


Let’s pretend we’re back in school and our teacher said, “Write a story about what you did today.”

This blog is the story of my day.  (Yes, yes, many blogs are stories about my day.  But this one has photographs to accompany many pauses along the way.  Patience, patience.  We shall get to the Bubble Story eventually.)

First, I woke up at 6:10.  No alarm clock.  Barry was putzing in the kitchen after he woke up sometime around 4:30 a.m.  The woodstove was already going.  Hallelujah!  That is usually my job.  The coffee was already brewed. 

Because of the Bubble Story, I switched around my hours at work at the school today.  Drove in on dark and slippery roads–very early.  Before the teachers arrived I was budgeting numbers.  Very exciting.  Truly.  I always feel like budgeting is the equivalent of putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  You get to make all the pieces fit!

Arvon Township School

You have to say hello to the fish in the aquarium as you go inside.  Do not feed them.  The kids feed them on the days when they are in school.  You feed them in the summertime and during vacations–but not today.  Today you just snap a picture as you go by.  You look at the bubbles in the aquarium.  You never imagine you will be writing a blog about bubbles before you return to the school at 6:30 p.m. for a board meeting in which you patiently explain how the jigsaw puzzle of budgeting fits together.

Hi, fish.

After work, I drove to town.  Slippery roads.  Don’t go faster than 45 mph.  Last week there were several accidents on local roads.  A woman just my age, from Ontonagon, died five miles south of L’Anse.  One must navigate these roads carefully at this time of year. 

I stopped by the “Head of the Bay” between L’Anse and Baraga to take a photo of Lake Superior for you. 

Keweenaw Bay

Look closer through the camera’s lens.  You will see where the ice ends and the open water starts.  Last year I called this no-man’s-land:  The Edge of the Known World.

The Edge of the Known World

Then I had lunch with faithful blog reader and friend, Susan D.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to show you of our lunch date.   We ate at the Lakeside Restaurant in Baraga.   We caught up on the last few weeks.  We re-connected.

Then I convinced her to please–pretty please!–come to the art gallery.  I had three photos to deliver to Gallery 325 for Friday night’s show.  The theme is Earth Air Fire Water.

You are invited.  Friday night.  7- 9 p.m.  315 McGillan Street in Baraga.

Karen's whimsical art

I gave Karen at the gallery my three photos. 

“No frames this time,” I said.

I have decided that I am a frame-less person and that my photos simply should not be framed.  They must be free!  Free photos with no harsh barriers, edges or limits.  Yep, that’s the thought this month, anyway.

Karen barely raised her eyebrow.  She showed me how they would have to hang my photos.    A little clip, an almost invisible heavy thread.

“Yep, perfect!” I agreed.

“What do you want to name your photos?” she asked.

Oh no!  One must name their photos?  No names came to mind.  I peered at the Bubble photo, which Karen liked.

“How about Bubble?”  I asked.

“You can’t call that just a Bubble!” Karen insisted.  “How about Spirit Bubble?  How about…?” (and then she suggested about three or four different alternatives.)

But, for some reason, Bubble stuck.  It had to be called Bubble.  Just like it didn’t want a frame. 

Susan agreed.  “It has to be Bubble,” she said.

Karen just shook her head at us. 

Bubble it was.

I will show you the three photos that will be in the show.  Click here (the last photo), here (the last photo–you can see what it looks like without the glare from my flash) and here (the underwater rock photo–second to the last)!  They are on metallic paper and really look cool.  I love mpix.com!  They do wonderful work in a very timely manner.  Do try them, if you want to have some of your photographs entered in your local art show.

Now I shall leave you with some Words of Wisdom, from the Bumper Sticker on Karen’s car:

Make every day a creative day!

The second blog you’ve all been waiting for…Meet my friend & blog-reader Susan from across the bay!

Susan D

Hello readers!  This is the second in a series of introductions.  Did you remember I promised (way back in August) to introduce you to some of the regular blog readers/commenters ?  The first one was Laurie Buchanan.  The second guest blog is written by my friend Susan–someone I actually know from our community–who lives across the Keweenaw Bay.  Please warmly welcome my dear friend.  I am still shaking my head that she shared our death story!!  (For any of you who are worried–we are both doing fine.  All that laughter healed us.)

It was a dark and stormy night. Really. Born in a blizzard on a Monday night, in Frankfort, Michigan, 60 ½ years ago, I’ve since lived in the following states, in this order: Lower Michigan, Florida, Connecticut, Florida, Virginia, Texas, California, and Upper Michigan.  No, I wasn’t a military brat; just the daughter of brilliant, zany parents (okay, Dad liked to drink) who liked to move a lot. I caught the gypsy-spirit and drinking genes, but managed to stay put at times for the sake of my twin daughters. Four years ago, I stuffed what fit into my car, sold the rest, bade farewell to CA, after 28 years, and arrived in the U.P. Why? One of my twins married a Yooper, who is never leaving the Yoop, and grandchildren appeared. 

My Double Blessings!

Finding employment poses problems in our otherwise lovely area. After a lifetime of working mainly in teaching and counseling, I found myself in a different social service position: clerking and stocking at Family Dollar. The stocking part was fun (I love organizing)! However, I’m no good at the register, and got hollered at for being too slow.

Here’s one of my life assessment tools: Observe how people treat clerks and wait staff. Based on whether or not they are kind to these hard-working folks, I sometimes eliminate friends and men from my life. Nothing brings out the true nature of humans more than the ways in which they interact with and treat so-called “peripheral people.” Conversely, the same can be said of how people treat their most significant others. Try using this barometer for gauging people’s authentic selves. It’s amazingly accurate!

Kathy and One Blessing

I’m getting to how I met Kathy, I promise. A position opened up at Arvon School, where Kathy is the Business Manager, and where my daughter was teaching, at the time. Thanks to her and to the lovely principal, I got the job. At first, Kathy thought I was quiet and reserved, and I thought that she looked quiet and reserved. HA – On both counts! If asked to pick one thing that birthed our friendship, I’d say it’s joy. Kathy’s very present during conversation and sharing. However, during our most serious of exchanges, we erupt in laughter over a turn of phrase or a facial expression, or nothing. Let me give you a sampling:

Some months ago, Kathy and I went on a short hike, followed by a fish dinner. Over the tasty fare, Kathy mentioned – with some hesitation – that she had the strangest sense that she might be dying. She spoke of unexplained body pain and a haunting sense that the end was near. My immediate reaction was acute relief. I’d been feeling the same way. Odd body pain in addition to  questions about being unexpectedly unemployed had me wondering if God was giving me time for “good-byes” and final amends-making. Neither Kathy nor I had uttered a word to anyone else about these thoughts. Perhaps five minutes passed as we shared our thoughts, including potential preparation plans for our families. Suddenly, laughter! Gut-wrenching guffaws echoed throughout the restaurant, punctuated by more serious talk, interrupted again by laughter. Laughter that continued on the drive home – slamming-on-the-brakes kind of laughter! Now, I ask you: Is there anything sweeter than this kind of friendship?

Kathy was delighted when I confessed to her that I often laugh at her blog posts. Her use of language is original and frequently tickles my funny bone. Both of my daughters also find Kathy funny and entertaining. I think a lot of you do, too!  Here is a good place to tell you how much I enjoy getting to know you all, through reading your comments to Kathy. What a wonderful on-line community of friends you’ve become to me!

What else do I want you to know about me?

Susan on our walk last June

-       I love football. Growing up in a rural part of Florida in the 50s and 60s, liking football was a requirement for residency. As a cheerleader, I learned the rudiments of the game when I discovered that guys really liked cute chicks who knew their football and wore short skirts. At the University of Florida, I was a Gators fan and remain one for life.

-       If you’ve ever seen the movie A Beautiful Mind, you’ve met my ex-husband, who is still the love of my life. He was a brilliant PhD chemist with bi-polar disorder. When our daughters were almost five, and a year after our divorce, he committed suicide. Those incredible daughters are the biggest blessings of my life!  And they look like their dad.

-       I gave up drinking 22 years ago and believe that alcoholism is a disease and is hereditary. I still smoke. Ouch. Don’t throw rotten tomatoes at me.

-       I don’t like Tupperware parties, candle parties, showers (bridal or baby), or phones.

-       I love fishing, swimming, hiking, gardening, cold snowy weather, book stores and hardware stores.

-       I am a poet, and I love to sing and strum my guitar.

-       I attract and get along well with teenagers. The more troubled, the better. What does that tell you about me?

Currently unemployed and seeking, I anticipate what’s next? At an age when slowing down ought to be on the horizon, food, shelter and staying close to family and my grandkids (one of each) top the list. Blessings, despite hardship and often in the forms of hardship, have followed me up to this point. Why would I expect anything less from this amazing life? Spending some time with you on this gorgeous autumn day has been delicious. Thank you for coming along. And, thank you, Kathy, for asking ….

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog…

…for a local public service announcement!  

Our very own Arvon Township School


 As some of you may know, I work for the Arvon Township School.  I work three mornings a week (one of my part-time jobs) as the Business Manager.  

Our little school is a K-6 elementary school.  In the 20+ years I’ve worked here, we’ve had between four and forty students.  Both of our kids attended through sixth grade and have lots of fond memories of days in this two-room schoolhouse.  

(It’s not technically a two room school.  There are two classrooms downstairs…but upstairs we feature a tiny gym and library, along with a storage room and my office.  In the basement students eat lunch in a small cafeteria.)   

This year–2010–is the school’s 100th year celebration. Yep, our centennial.  Hundreds of youth (dare I say more than a thousand?  No time to research this!) have attended the Arvon Township School since those early years. Up until the 1940′s it was also a high school. 

On July 11, 2010,  all former students, teachers and staff are invited to attend our Centennial Celebration.  Stop by from 2-5 p.m. to wander through the old school, remember days gone by, have a cup of coffee and some snacks.  

It was the school board who nudged me toward this Public Service Announcement.  They said, “Hey, we know you have a blog and wouldn’t it be great to perhaps locate some former students on the worldwide web?”  

Thus:  If any former Arvon Township School folks are reading this blog (or stumbling upon it after a search engine spree):  Please visit our school website  and send us an email with your current address.  We’ll send you a flyer and warmly invite you to visit your former school!  

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog…  

Another view of the old school