Unexpected inspiration


Wet glasses on a log

OK, dear blog readers, inspiration hath struck like lightning in the rain.  I am tingling with the sense of new possibilities, new directions, new visions.

Would you like to tingle, too?  For those who haven’t already–pick up a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC.  (Don’t react all ho-hum like I did and think, yeah, right, just another inspiring book that will rock your socks for five minutes before you shelve it and continue on to your usual predictable behavior and responses for the rest of your life.)

I am not going to provide a book review about this marvelous creation because that would be, well, expected.  Instead I am going to tell you what is exciting me.

First, let’s set the stage.  Here is something that happened last night, after a magic day of reading BIG MAGIC.  Barry and I visited the Vertin Gallery in Calumet with friends Deb and Chuck (after a short hike at the Paavola Wetlands and before dinner at the Michigan House).

The Vertin Gallery sells all sorts of eclectic items like ancient strollers, modern art and everything imaginable.  It’s a consignment shop where folks attempt to lure other folks into purchasing items, with sellers hoping an unknown visitor will fall head-over-heels in love with, say, rickety old theater seats.  (These things do happen, reader.)

We strolled through the shop and I noted big books of artists like Gauguin, marveling that such artists existed.  Thinking how little I know of art and artists.  Thinking–wouldn’t it be nice to buy that clunky coffee-table book and simply leaf through it because, well, just because it’s new and different and unexpected and you might learn something?

But what do we often do when these thoughts visit us?  Our minds come up with reasons why this simply won’t DO.  My mind said:  Oh, no, too expensive.  (Even though the books were 1/2 price.)  Oh, no, you don’t even LIKE art that much.  (What do you mean?)  Oh, no, I’m a minimalist, I hate to buy THINGS.  (Boring, boring, boring, you’re so darn predictable!)

So we continued on to dinner, sans Gauguin.

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32 years and out (as a politician)!

Standing by the Mouth of the Huron River

Yet another township treasurer

I know you blog readers may think I’m totally flaky at times–one minute writing a blog a day, the next minute quitting for almost a year.  One time posting quiet meditative nature photos and the next time babbling on about politics or Smart Phones.  (Oh, wait a minute, I haven’t written that one yet.)

One friend (using that kind of behavior as evidence) once accused me of never sticking with anything.

She was only looking at one aspect of this personality, tut tut.  Some things I have stuck with for half a lifetime.  For example.  Married (just a second!, must pull out the calculator of Life for accurate reporting) for almost 38 years.  Lived in this Little House in the Big Woods for 33 years.  Worked at our little K-6 school in one of the farthest remote corners of the U.P. since 1988.

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Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , | 54 Comments

Whoooo you votin’ for?


Selecting a U.S. Presidential Candidate, 2016

I am doing something totally inadvisable.

Writing about politics.

There is no way you can win when you support your candidate.  Two fifths of the populace will arise in support: Yay, man, you are so right!

Two fifths of the population will hang you to crucify along with Jesus.

Another fifth will tell you why you’re nuts, inadvisable, or downright stupid, or they’ll yawn and deplore politics as something Neanderthal, something unworthy of debate.

You end up feeling less than whole, no matter who you support.

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Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Quiet spring meditation in the woods


It sometimes takes a long time–a truly long time–maybe even years, or decades, or a lifetime–for one to learn how to truly become quiet in the woods.

So quiet, so still, that there is no difference between you and the landscape, between you and nature.

Until you realize fully that you are nature itself in your stillness, in your activity, in your very essence.

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Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Passenger pigeons, Show & Tell and my dad

As some of you may know my dad died on January 11th.  Exactly three months ago today. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had invaded his bones and I wrote this love-letter blog back in 2013 after learning his prognosis.  I did not share his news with blog readers–he would not have wanted that–but it was Father’s Day, after all.  It was good to be able to shower love on him publicly, telling him what he meant to me while he was still alive to hear it.

I read most of this blog at his funeral in January.  The funeral proved a sad and wonderful tribute to his life, with several of us telling stories and crying and laughing and sharing so much.

Nineteen of us had gathered in downstate Michigan on Christmas Eve with him and my mom.  Even though he was weak and unable to walk on his own anymore–it was a very challenging time of little sleep, pain, and the decision to place him in the hospital and nursing home–Christmas Eve shined as an amazing “Grand Finale”.  Dad told jokes from his chair at the center of the action, keeping us in stitches as we celebrated life.

Less than three weeks later he was gone.  We miss him awfully, but no one would have wanted him to continue in such rough shape.

Today I would like to share one of my husband Barry’s columns from the March 2nd L’Anse Sentinel newspaper with you.  Please read on to learn about Passenger pigeons, Show & Tell and my beloved dad.  (Passenger pigeons? you ask with raised eyebrows.  Keep reading:  it will all make sense soon!)

I hope you enjoy Barry’s column and learn a little about an amazing bird that once thrived in our country.


sheldon family

Our wonderful Christmas Eve “Grand Finale”. Please note passenger pigeon photo hanging over fireplace to the left.

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Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Icicles, Mist, and the Road Less Traveled


When mist rises from ice-melting rivers and streams, magic ensues.


When ice dresses branches and twigs, the world is transformed for an instant, an hour, a brief respite.


Winter yawns, thinking it might stretch out another month or two here in the Upper Peninsula.


Everything sparkles and winks in the morning sun, secretly laughing at Old Man Winter’s plan to outstay his welcome.


I pause for five minutes on the way to Marquette already dreaming of steaming hot coffee, grilled potatoes, maybe a scrambled egg.  In the distance a train rumbles, blowing its horn.

There’s much in the world we can despair on some mornings as our thoughts fuss about politics, health, loved ones, terrorism or other ills.

Sometimes taking five minutes to pull off onto *the road less traveled* makes all the difference.  To detour from our daily rut, our 9-5 of everyday chores and worries and wonderings. Five minutes to breathe in beauty, icicles (even in April) and bird song clears away the clutter of our thoughts and feelings.

Then we hop back into the car refreshed ready to drive into the next moment.

When was the last time you took the road less traveled, for five minutes or a day?



Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

The sideways tame chipmunk caper

My guy, talkin' bout my guy

My guy, talkin’ bout my guy

Dear Reader, so much has happened since we last communicated, ‘way back in June of 2015.  Had I been blogging in August you would have met our tame chipmunk, a very sweet and sassy fellow who took over our hearts.

Since you and I are now reacquainted, you must meet Chippy.  In all the years we’ve lived in the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we’ve never met a tame chipmunk.

This guy initially crept forward to snatch the proffered sunflower seeds, slowly, slowly,then less cautiously, then–nibble, nibble, nibble.  GULP!

The next day he ran forward and up my knee.  Oh yum! he said, Can I have some more?  He stuffed his mouth to the brim.  Five seeds, twenty seeds, forty seeds.  He’d run up and down our legs, our arms, anywhere a stray sunflower seed roosted.  Then off he’d leap toward the garden–hello, goodbye, see you tomorrow!

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Posted in April, 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments