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I just enjoyed a lovely week in downstate Michigan with my parents.

Dad steadies the ladder to hang the new hummingbird feeder

Dad steadies the ladder to hang the new hummingbird feeder

This is the childhood home where my two brothers and I grew up in Yale, Michigan.  Yale lies about twenty-one miles from blue Lake Huron with its freighters blowing lonely fog horns in dark nights.

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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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When Death unexpectedly asks for the last dance…

Sunrise, sunset...

Sunrise, sunset…

How unexpectedly Death can knock on one’s door and steal away a loved one, a friend, a co-worker.

One minute you can be talking and laughing and joking and making fun of what’s right and not right in the world…and suddenly you’re not right in the world.  You’re gone.  You’ve fallen over at your desk, fifteen minutes passed out before someone finds you and hurries to breathe into your mouth, breathe once, breathe again, please breathe, please don’t die, please move, please laugh again…

As some of you know from my Facebook status–or calls, or email on that sad yesterday afternoon–Barry’s 47-year-old co-worker and friend at the Sentinel, Cathy, died somewhere between 2 and 3 p.m. from massive cardiac arrest at her desk.

Barry and she had laughed together yesterday morning, and planned and plotted, and shared as co-workers often do all during the beautiful bright February morning here in the Upper Peninsula.

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A non-apologetic manifesto about being weird.

Weird?  Not weird?

Weird? Not weird?

First, let’s get the definition straight.  If a person is weird, what the heck does that mean?

A Google search revealed these synonyms:  strange – odd – peculiar – quaint – uncanny – bizarre.

Now that we *almost* know the definition of weird, let’s explore this phenomenon further.

May I suggest that those who are not labeled weird by society do the following thing very well:  they fit in.  They eat the same as their peers, dress in the same clothes, act in appropriate ways, speak without being *too* strange or offensive, are friendly, polite and well-behaved, or at least act acceptably bitchy, raunchy and amusing.  They act “normal”.

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Post-election thoughts (Those five people are not your enemies.)

Reflections

1.  It’s over.

2.  When will the next election hoopla begin?

3.  Will our country be saved?

4.  Will our country be ruined?

5.  Will our country continue to plod along with some brilliant moves interspersed with awful decisions?

6.  Will all wars ever end?

7.  Why can’t we people get along?

8.  Let’s be grateful for what we have.

9.  Let’s vow not to attack the opposite viewpoint.

10.  Let’s vow to get more sleep on election night.

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When people die on Facebook

Death

Yesterday morning I woke up to discover the death of a Facebook friend.

We’ve been watching her die slowly on Facebook for the past several weeks.

She actually friended me about a month ago.  She was the daughter of my children’s babysitter when they were mere babes.  For a very short stint, we once worked together.

About five or ten years ago we had a significant encounter, one of those encounters of which I’ve lost all the particulars.  I know I had a dream about her.  We ran into one another outside the sauna of a local motel.  I shared the dream with her–not one detail can be recalled all these years later–and we bonded deeply for maybe twenty minutes.

Maybe I also shared the dream I had of her mother, our babysitter, before she died.  I dreamed of a Native American blanket wrapped around her basement.  A few weeks later she was unexpectedly dead.

I don’t recall what we talked about outside the sauna, but we talked, and we hugged and laughed and maybe cried, and then five years pass in the blink of an eyelash and she friended me on Facebook.

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We Interrupt your Regularly Scheduled Program to Bring you—another Kathy?

Hi, I’m Kathy (a Kathy, I should say).

I may not live on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but what I lack in geography I hope to make up for in name.

As regular readers of “Lake Superior Spirit” know, the Kathy we all love is attending a destination wedding in a yet-undisclosed location, and I’m a pathetic stand-in for that Kathy—the one we’d all prefer to be hearing from.

That Kathy—that real Kathy—the pioneering-in-the-wilderness Kathy—“suggested” I fill in for her while she was gone and seize the opportunity to hijack her audience for a few, glorious-for-me, (potentially) sad-for-you days. She thought I might share a bit about what’s goes on over at my blog, outline what we have in common, and suggest why my site might be the next-best blog to visit in her absence.

(Admittedly, it may not have happened exactly that way. But that’s the story we’re going with.)

Granted, a lot of you might be better suited for this gig. After all, I’m a relative new-comer to the little house in the Big Woods. Like you, however, once I visited “Lake Superior Spirit” a few months ago, I was sold. Like you, I love Kathy’s humor, her photography and spirituality—and, most recently, the peeks she’s been giving us at her past.

However, I’m supposed to be telling you about my own blog, giving you a place to go and posts to read in Kathy’s absence. I’m supposed to tell you what my blog and Kathy’s have in common (besides a “Kathy” as host) and tell you a bit about myself.

Essentially, I’m a writer, artist, and former university instructor, who lived in Vietnam during 2009 and Haiti in 2010, where my partner Sara directed earthquake recovery for a major international NGO.

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