Thursday, April 28, 2011

Strange Things You Find in the Woods!

When we are Up North, we love to wander through the woods.  I am always fascinated by what I find!  Coming home from dinner one night, (if you haven't tried the "Potato Burger" at the Bluffs on Black Lake, you are missing out!) we decided to wander down a 2 track.  This at the prompting of our eldest son who has just gotten his drivers permit and will look for any excuse to spend some extra time behind the wheel.  A couple of miles off the main road was where we spotted this red caboose!!  Complete with tracks to rest upon!  Someone seems to be using it as a hunting cabin.  BRILLIANT!  But just how did they get it there???

Mark and I took a quad ride on one of the warmer mornings we had.  We will frequently pull off, park and explore some trail that leads to a hunting cabin or food plot.  I love coming across an abandoned cabin and concocting a story based on what I find when I peek through the windows.  However, the following structure stumped me!  I can't imagine what it was used for.  It's not a buck pole.  And it wasn't in a location that appeared to make it useful for anything other than an interesting photo.

This sits amongst some other appliances not far off a main paved road.  It appears that this section of woods is where people get rid of their old appliances when they don't have the motivation to drive them five miles to the dump.  I find it amusing that their kitchen renovation covered several decades!

Here is the updated oven/cook stove.  Nothing but large appliances, and one coffee cup still sitting on top!  (Okay, it was on it's side, and I sat it upright, but it was still on top of the stove!)  Why the mug?

The tub sits alone, deeper into the woods, on the side of an old logging trail.  It really must have taken some effort to get it out there.  It's in a pretty spot.  I always wanted an old tub on legs.  I think it would be kinda fun to take a bath there!  Wonder if the loggers did...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Let me share with you a north woods delicacy.  Forget the Easter ham, forget the cheesy taters, give me deep fried chicken wings cooked outside with some hot sauce and three cheese ranch and some good company around the campfire.  Ohhh the smell! 
The smell of wings in the deep fryer fills the air!
It really is an event, as it is a process that takes time and is best shared.  While the oil heats and you begin the first batch of potatoes, it's a good time for conversation!  All while you anticipate the feast to come.  
I don't need a fancy buffet.  This will suit me just fine.

Finger lickin' good!
The neighbors dog, Vlado, used to pick the bones out of the campfire.  I learned not to worry that he would choke after the third bach of wings!

This is how we do it...

Ya have to find a good box to shake it up with the season salt!

A fine "Up North" tradition started many years ago with good friends.  THIS is gourmet!  By the way, keep your fingers away from the kid's mouths, you might lose one!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Small Town

  I was born in Massachusetts, in a small town.  My parents grew up there and were high school sweethearts.  When I was 10, we moved away.  My dad's job transferred him first to N.Y. and then to Michigan.  I finished out high school in a very transient community.  Everyone was from somewhere else.  I yearned for a sense of belonging.  I longed for a sense of pride in where I was from, because I never felt I was from anywhere.  I liked to hear my dads stories of growing up in a big family in a small town.  They knew everyone
  About a year ago, I got a message in my facebook inbox.  I had recently posted on the fan page of the same small town my parents grew up in.  The message was from a childhood friend that, if I were to hazard a guess, I haven't seen in perhaps 35 years.  Our parents had been close friends and their families knew each other.  And then, (it gets better!) he sent photos!!    What a gift he gave with those photos.  A link to childhood.
  Funny, we live in an urban community.  But it's where my husband grew up.  However,  we still long for a small town.  I guess that's why we bought property where we did, far away from the city. (Hoping one day to call it home!) Maybe it's the mindset I long for.  Or the slow pace.  The sense of community.  Maybe I romanticize it too much.  That small town my parents grew up in isn't small anymore.   I guess no matter where you live, it's the relationships you build that make it home.   I have good friends that make my big town feel a little cozier.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Cracklin' fire
Neath' a canopy of trees

Big bright moon
Shining in between the leaves

Pitch black sky
'Cept a smathering of stars
Break out the bubbly
And the cuban cigars
Breathe in deep
All that smoky cedar wood
This is nature at its finest
Life has never been so good!
Blogger friend Debby kindly let me post her poem which I thought summed up most of our campfires so well!  Check out her blog...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Just a Boy

I was reminded of this poem today.  When I was expecting my first (a boy) my sister copied a poem found at Durgin Park in Boston.  I have it packed away...somewhere!  I managed to find it online.
Just a Boy
Get to understand the lad,
He's not eager to be bad.
If the right he always knew,
He would be as old as you.
Were he now exceedingly wise,
He'd be just about your size.
When he does things that annoy,
Don't forget he's just a boy.

Could he know and understand,
He would need no guiding hand.
But he's young and hasn't learned,
How life's corners must be turned.
Doesn't know from day to day,
There is more to life but play.
More to face than selfish joy,
Don't forget he's just a boy.

Being just a boy he'll do much,
You will not want him to.
He'll be careless in his ways,
Having his disobedient days.
Willful, wild and headstrong too,
He'll need guidance, kind and true.
Things of value he'll destroy,
But reflect - he's just a boy.

Just a boy and Me.
 Just a boy who needs a friend,
Patient, kindly to the end.
Needs a father who will show him,
The things he wants to know.
Take him with you when you walk,
Listen when he wants to talk.
His companionship enjoy -
Don't forget he's just a boy

~author unknown

Monday, April 4, 2011

Swedish Bread

  I'm making Swedish bread.  It was one of my grandmother's recipes.  We aren't Swedish, but Gram was known far and wide for her Swedish coffee bread.  It is spoken of in hushed tones and with reverence.  Not all family members have made it successfully, creating questions.  Was the recipe obtained from the original source?  Was there something left out?  Why did hers turn out, and mine didn't?  Government documents are handled with less care!
  As a child, I remember my grandmother being a very busy woman!  She was the mother to seven sons, the youngest being only four years older than me.  She also worked nights as a nurse in a hospital for the mentally ill.  She earned the title "General" and wore it proudly.  But when we were kids, she didn't have a lot of extra time for me.  She was still busy raising her family, and doing it on her own after my grandfather passed.  When she did have time, we had already moved away.  I always wished we lived closer, like the other cousins did.  And as an adult, I wondered if they knew how lucky they were to have her so close by.
  My grandmother would make a yearly "Great Lakes Tour".  I remember her doing this several years in a row when I was newly married.  She would visit family in the Cleveland area, come through Michigan, then off to see relatives in upstate NY.  I loved that she would always spend a night or two with me!  We would sit up late at night (usually with Kahlua and milk!) and she would tell me stories.  She would tell me of her courtship with my grandfather.  Visiting an aunts farm and sleeping in the summer kitchen.  She'd tell me about raising her family.  I can picture her sitting on our chair in the corner, and our dog (a Boxer named Newt) climbing up on Grams lap for some love!  She was a dog person!!  And I would keep asking questions until the wee hours of the morning!  I loved hearing of her life.  I made time for her, and she for me. 
   I was fortunate because I got to know her as an adult.  Something most people don't have the opportunity to do with a grandparent.  I got to know her far more intimately than I did as a child.  And when she came to visit, she taught me how to make Swedish Coffee Bread.  She would make it at holidays, and give it away, taking orders from all over the country.  It's with sweet memories of late night conversations that I make bread for Easter morning.

Gram and I (1990)

That's My King: Do You Know Him?

Definately a favorite.  Especially at Easter! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

 "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of the singing of birds is come, 
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; 
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, 
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell." 


4th of July several years ago.  Just a little bonfire on the beach!
    I love spring.  It's not that I love this muddy season where you have to wipe the dogs paws every time you let him in the house, I love the anticipation that comes with spring.  Kinda like the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, only with the 4th of July being the highlight!
  We will head north in a few weeks, bringing with us everything that we cleaned out of the camper last deer season.  (Deer season:  Christmas with guns!)  Fresh sheets, beach towels, supplies I can leave up there without worrying that they will freeze.  And I'll clean the camper,  (I think I keep it cleaner than my house!)  to make it ready for the summer season.
  Easter is always fun in the north woods.  It's like the "Kick Off" for the "Up North" camping season.  We have a fifth wheel that we keep up there.  I can't complain at all!  It's bigger than a lot of NYC apartments.  With all the comforts of home.  Still, it does present a challenge for the "Easter Bunny".  While there are a lot of nooks and crannies to hide a basket, one doesn't want to attract unwelcome visitors.  I HATE mice!  The Easter Bunny, (always up for a challenge) one year hid the baskets IN THEIR BUNKS!  Under their covers no less!!  I thought they'd never find them.  We still talk of the best hiding place ever.  Who'd have thought?
  We'll take out the quads.  Check the trails for any downed branches winter storms may have caused.  Confirm that every one's deer blind is still standing.  Peek in the windows of hunting cabins since they are virtually abandoned this time of year.  Start collecting wood for our summer campfire stash...and then a little extra for the week Pa comes to visit.  (He makes a white man's fire!)  We'll spend time surveying the marina.  It doesn't officially open up until Memorial Day weekend, and for a time, it belongs to us!  We'll walk the beach looking for chunks of shipwreck still finding their way to the shores of the Great Lakes, a reminder of when ships were made of the timber found in the nearby forests.  We'll pop in on the neighbors.  Permanent residents and the seasonal folks who have managed to escape the city for the holiday.  Find out how everyone fared through the winter.
   In a few weeks, I will have my family all to myself.  Planning our summer adventures!  Evenings around a campfire with nothing but good conversation to amuse us!  So, while everyone heads south for spring break, we'll head for the quiet of the north woods!