Monday, February 28, 2011

Cabin Fever

  Half way between Rogers City and Cheboygan, we own a piece of property.  It's our own little slice of heaven.  Lately my thoughts have been drifting there.  It's where some of the most memorable campfire musings have come from!  I think my lack of concentration is due mainly to cabin fever!  As I sit at the keyboard, I feel a chill, so let me grab a cup of coffee and then I'll show you around camp...
  We purchased "Our Neck of the Woods" about 8 years ago, at just about the peak of the real estate market, but I digress.  For Michigan suburban/city dwellers, we were fulfilling the dream!  A place "Up North".  Cabin in the woods/cottage on the lake.  A place to get away!  Originally, I'm from the Boston area.  This is the equivalent to buying a place on the Cape...maybe more like Maine!  I couldn't imagine the appeal of "Up North", when I first married my Michigan man.  Over the years, we would plan camping trips, holding up our hands to illustrate to others where our next destination would be. 
   I quickly fell in love!  I fell in love with the history of old logging towns, the sight of the freighters on the lake.  I fell in love with old hunting camps and the tall tales that are told there!  I fell in love with towering pines and the fresh smell of the air when you get out of the car you've been in after a 4 hour drive.  But the things I love the most are the memories I've made with my family.  Away from the distractions of home, and it's just us.  All together.  Many life lessons have been pondered during a casual walk on the beach or in a hunting blind.  (There's a lot of time to talk and ponder in a hunting blind!) 
  4th of July, waiting until 10:30 when it's finally dark enough to shoot off fire works.  Spending the whole day on the beach doing nothing, and being exhausted from it!  Lugging firewood down for a beach bonfire.  Waiting till 7:30 when the harbor master leaves so we can jump from the docks!  Ice cream at the Big Dipper.  Taking out the "ghanue", (not an undertaking to be made light of!)  Having the motor on the boat die in the middle of Lake Huron!  (we can chuckle about this now!)  Sneaking down gated roads with the quad.  We've created so many memories there with our kids.  I know this place is special to them too. 

My boys picked them for me!  No flower shop can compare!

Totally satisfying.
  My mom and dad are planning their trip "Up North" with us again this summer.  Although they have left the Great Lakes State, I don't think they could bear to miss a summer in "Our Neck of the Woods".  Oh am I looking forward to Summer.  Right now, my coffee cup is empty and the porch steps need to be shoveled...
Perfect way to end the day.   :)
Couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


   My husband and I have been married for 21 years!  And for the first time, we've purchased a T.V.!!   Our first television was one my husband had purchased in the Army, a few years before we were married.  When we were just starting out, we didn't have a pot to...well, you know how it goes!  Sacrifice is a mild term used to describe what we did in order for me to stay home and raise our 3 boys.  I will NEVER regret that!!  In fact, for a few years, we didn't even have a t.v.  But I spent a lot of time playing with my kids!  Days at the park.  Learning to swim at the city pool.  Bike rides pulling a 3 year old in a used bike trailer.  I had traded in my roller blades when I had the boys!  Oh, we got creative with our entertainment!  Campfires in the backyard, learning the fine art of perfecting a s'more.  Library days!  We knew every free field trip in town!  We had one car.  It was a 4 door but only 2 worked.  I'm not looking for a pat on the back.  I know so many of you have done the same!  My point is, knowing the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT. 

New TV...Oh my word!!!!

Old TV.  Very utilitarian!  It served it's purpose!
  Early on we took a financial planning class at church.  The difference between needs and wants was the biggest thing I learned.  When I learned to differentiate between a need and a want, I found I didn't really miss the wants.  I had learned what's really important!  Oh, did I do a lot of growing up when my family was young.  And I am all the better for it. 
  I wasn't even that excited about the t.v.  Our last hand me down had finally bit the dust.  The kids were given a small flat screen for their room, but since they already had a hand me down up there, they decided that we should all save up for a bigger one to put in the living room.  We returned the small t.v. and put the gift card in a jar.  The kids shoveled snow and did odd jobs around the neighborhood.  Whenever we had a little extra in the paycheck, it went into the jar!  Super Bowl Sunday was our goal...but it wasn't meant to be.  That's okay.  "Visa" is a four letter word in this house.  Last week we trekked on down to our local big box store.  We heaved 55 inches of LED onto a flat bed.  While standing in line to pay (cash!) a woman walked by and commented , "Nice t.v.!  Lucky!!"  Really?  Cause it wasn't a huge deal to me.  Yeah, it's a fun perk, but I'd rather walk up to the library with my kids, or sit by the fire.  And luck?  Nope.  Sacrifice!  It makes the "perks" a little sweeter.

Monday, February 21, 2011


  It's so good to feel excited about something.  And even better to have someone to share that excitement with!  Ideas, creativity, passion, and the promise of being rewarded for our efforts are what fuels this glorious, free market economy we live in!!  (I had better stop myself now, as I've promised myself this blog was to be therapeutic and cathartic, not political!  lol!)
  I got a call this morning from one of my dearest and oldest (the friendship, not Julie) friends.  Julie is an amazing graphic artist.  She has always been creative and talented.  We connected in our 9th grade Art class.  (Wow!  What year was that?  Okay, so maybe we are getting old!)  But she has just recently found her true medium.  She is so amazing at it and is loving it so much.
   When we spoke this morning, it was Julie that was inspiring and motivating me to get going with my own projects.   We spent the next hour bouncing ideas off each other and brainstorming.  We've even scheduled a "studio day".  I love it!  I can't wait!!  Listening to good music, spending the day creating and sharing from the heart with a  friend.  It's like campfire/porch time put to work!!!

btw, some examples of Julie's work to come!  She's working on my business cards and other promotional material.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Campfire Worthy Discussion!

  I woke up this morning, got my oldest off to school.  Made breakfast for myself and my husband.  Started the younger two on some independant school work.  Brewed a cup of coffee and headed off to the computer to check emails and fb.  The following is what I stumbled into!  (Unintentionally!!)
  A friend posted the following...
"If you want to perceive
And understand objectively,
Just don't allow yourself
To be confused by people.
Detach from whatever you
...Find inside or outside yourself.
Detach from religion,
Tradition, and society,
And only then will you
Attain liberation.
When you are not
Entangled in things,
You pass through
Freely to autonomy."

- Linji (d. 867)
I then felt compelled to reply...
 "Pretty. But I prefer to adhere to a classical philosophy

We are a reasoning creation. It is this thought process that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom. However even an animal makes "decisions" (instinct, and not a conscious perception) based on cues from the outside. they operate in packs or social groups. It is something within us all (human beings) to find rational grounds or motives. If you get rid of all outside influences, then it's not objective, it's subjective. Your understanding is just that, yours. Very hard to live in a civil society with all of us running around playing by our own rules.

All that said, we must be grounded in faith, otherwise it is subjective and we are our own Gods. You may think there is nothing wrong with murder if someone cut you off in a parking lot. While I think there is. Who is right? It is subjective unless we have a foundation in which to base our values. If we have that moral code, we are free to self govern, rather than be governed. There is liberty in law. We then use rhetoric to express what we have discovered based on logic and reasoning."

WOW!!! That was fun!!!! My coffee was extra strong and black this morning!! Thanks for helping to get me going this morning Rubin!!!
:) Enjoy the day. Hope the sun is shining where you are!

Monday, February 14, 2011

There You Are!

  No discussion of campfire/porch/patio time would be complete without bringing up Lena!  I've always had just a few close girlfriends.  Yes, there are lots of friends through church, and friends through kids sports, organizations, etc.  But, very few girlfriends that you can totally let down your guard with.  Someone who gives just as much to the friendship as they take.  A friend that you can sit and chat with, without having it feel like work, or that it's forced.  There is a comfort in having a similar history, knowing they won't judge, but support and guide.  Where laughter is easy and flows as freely as the bottle of wine that is being shared!  Although our friendship has only developed over the past 5 years or so, it feels as if we've been friends for so much longer. 
  Years ago, I had a friend that fit that description.  Life happens, and the friendship faded away.  But I really did mourn that loss for a long time.  No denying, my husband is great and is truly my best friend!  But a girl needs a friend she can "cackle" with!!
  Many a summer evening has been spent on Lena's patio, or in my breezeway, "cackling" (as my kids refer to it!) into the wee hours of the morning.  Therapy sessions!!  No topic goes untouched!
  I am fortunate to have other girlfriends that fit this description, but it was Lena who shared with me this...
"Some people walk into a room and say, 'Here I am!' While others walk into a room and say, 'There you are!' "

Lena, Kris, Me!

Grab a chair! Sit by the fire (or on the porch, as the case may be!!)...

   Last summer I mentioned to my friend Holly and her husband Rob, that I would like to start a blog.  "Porches I Have Been To" or "Campfire Musings".  I had just spent the weekend with them at their house in Muskegon.  We were new friends and we were just getting to know each other.  There is no better way to get to know someone than to spend a weekend in their home!  You get to see them when they first wake up, how they are around their kids, their daily routine.  The even funnier thing was, I had only met them in person once before...and dressed in clown no less!!  They were on their honeymoon and stopped into the pizza place where I am the clown on kids night.  It was a slow night, and we started to chat.  (despite Rob's clown phobia!!)  We found we had much in common and began to correspond.
   Fast forward to my Summer getaway last August at their place.  They live a stones throw from "The Big Lake" (those of you not in the know, that's Lake Michigan).  After a dip to cool off from the current heat wave that had hit, we spent the next few hours on the porch, talking politics, religion, parenting, marriage, (you get the idea!) over some very good Bells beer, late into the night.  And so the rest of the weekend went on with that same vibe.  When the world slows down, and you have nowhere to go but the porch with good friends, the background music is a distant radio and the creak of an old screen door.  Or gathered around a campfire, the smell of woodsmoke on your clothes as you watch sparks fly against a black sky.  It's therapy for the soul!  (I know they've done their share of counseling there!!) These are the times when we share from the heart. 
  Sooo... this is how a blog comes to be!  I now consider Holly and Rob very dear friends.  Thanks for a great weekend guys!  And remember, "What happens on the porch, stays on the porch!"
(Rob, Holly and front of...the front porch!!  I know, it's not August.)