Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Sharing the light

On this last night the Jewish Hanukkah I wanted to share an image:

I borrowed it (with permission) from Daily Musings at A Day in the Life.

I share it with hope that we can all become more tolerant. I believe that all religions are variations on the same theme and that we are not so very different.

Let this year be the year we begin to objectively listen to each other.


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Release

Contemplating this past week.


It’s been a long and reflective week, beginning Saturday morning when I woke to hear the news that former President Bush had died. My first response was a deep sadness for his family, particularly for his children. My second thought was joy that he was reunited with his beloved Barbara and daughter Robin.

I guess that’s typical, the intertwining of sadness with joy during times like this, the emotions washing up and even overlapping as you maneuver your way through the tasks that must be done to celebrate a life.

Being retired I was able to watch the last journey of the President’s body from lying in state at our Capital to the beautiful ceremony at the National Cathedral and then his flight to Texas and the train ride to his library and final resting place in Houston.

A bit of joyful color in the bleak winter landscape.

And I watched his children and their spouses as they stood time after time watching the transfer of the coffin, on and off planes and the train, into and out of buildings, up and down stairs, all the while being watched by an entire world. Showing their grief or holding it in. Probably exhausted and moving on adrenaline. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, to have such a prolonged and public goodbye.

I’m glad they had a private time together when they said their last goodbye at the library. And I hope today, the day after all the ceremony is done, I hope today they are spending time with each other quietly remembering, laughingly remembering, wistfully remembering.

Looking for simple beauty.

This holiday season will be the first without their parents. To lose booth of them within the same year is so hard. So much change in such a short time, celebrations will never be the same. This year, for sure, will have sad undertones.

But there’s that sneaky joy that will infiltrate too. At times when they least expect it they’ll hear Barbara or George’s voice, telling a story, singing a silly song, laughing at an old joke. They’ll see them in the food they prepare, family favorites or maybe not, if broccoli is on the menu.

But I like broccoli mama!

And little by little, over the months and years there will be more joy and less sad. And best of all, while the sadness recedes, their parents, grandparents, great grandparents will never be far away.

Today as I watch a gentle snow fall and listen to Christmas music I realize that it’s the same for all of us during the holidays. The losses are always there, but the love is always there too.

Let the light shine on you.

My wish for the Bush family is that they spend these precious days together in privacy and peace, certain of the gratefulness of their nation and of the love they will always share within their family. I wish for them a release from the tension and pressure of such a long and public goodbye.

Let your joy show through.

And I wish, for all of you, peaceful holidays too.

Live in the moment.


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Make a joyful noise

Tuesday night our community band kicked off the holiday season by making a joyful noise.

Last minute instructions before the show begins.

This year we did it with help from talented high school students who sang like angels. There’s something special about young voices raised in song above the music of a band. They brought a remarkable level of joy to the show, raised the bar, and made band members smile.

A little help from our elf.

I think our audience was smiling too, especially when all the little kids came up to ring bells in an invitation for Santa to arrive.

Santa, of course, makes everyone smile, and we enjoyed playing the classic Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson under his baton.

Here we go!

It was even more special this year as the choir sang the carols and the audience joined in. I actually stopped playing somewhere in the middle, just to listen, because I was so enthralled by the glorious sound.

If you ever need reassurance that there is promise in this world, attend a musical event that includes students. These young people are so talented, so sincere, and their joy of music is infectious.

Elves sorting out elf duties prior to the concert.

Check out your local community and I bet you’ll find a Christmas concert near you. Support the arts in your town and hear some beautiful music. You’ll smile, the artists will smile and everyone’s heart will be warmed. And there’s nothing better than a warm heart on a cold winter evening.

Thanks to all of you that came out to our concert. It was magical, and we are so appreciative of your applause, whistles, cheers and of course for the standing ovation at the end.

It was our holiday gift to you, but we feel like we received something special too.

Santa takes a break in his busy schedule.


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I could use a bit of heat, light and holiday spirit

It’s been almost a week since I posted last. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it and all of you. Ideas for posts have slipped through my mind. Bits and pieces of stuff most instantly forgotten.

Fleeting morning light.

I’m distracted and I don’t know why. Could be that it keeps snowing and it’s cold. Could be that we haven’t had more than a few hours of sun in over a week. Maybe it’s the 7 day forecast which shows more snow coming.

And did I mention the cold?

Winter arrived early.

I have no plans for Christmas other than to take the dog for a walk somewhere fun. Unless it snows. Or maybe because it snows. She likes snow.

Me? I don’t think I like snow all that much any more. I remember as a kid having fun building snow forts and sledding down hills and ice skating on the lake. But these days I hurry the dog along on her walks and when she’s outside doing her business.

Quit being a drama queen mama, it’s not that bad.

It’s cold.

Why is it that when you’re traveling and it’s cold it’s fine, it’s part of the adventure. But when you’re home and scraping ice and snow off the windshield in the early dark morning it’s just about too much to bear?

Sometimes snow, sometimes fog. Sometimes both.

Alabama calls me.

But I’m trying to be a responsible adult and I have commitments here in Michigan that I need and want to honor. The most pressing of those being the Christmas concert I’m playing tonight at a local high school. I made a commitment at the beginning of the season to play a certain number of concerts. The dates were provided at the start.

To bolt for warmer temperatures now would be wrong.

Katie says she likes the cold and I should get over it. Katie doesn’t scrape the windows of a car whenever she wants to go to the park.

Can we go play now?

Maybe I should work on my Christmas cards to lift my holiday spirits. On the other hand so far we’ve received only three cards, one from our stock broker, one from Katie’s kennel, and one from an exceptionally organized friend.

It’s possible I’m not the only holiday spirit deprived, disorganized and distracted person out there.

Holiday spirit from another year.

If you need a holiday boost and you’re local, stop by the Clarkston high school tonight about 7 and hum along to some music in a warm auditorium.

I promise any snow you see there will be fake, but the holiday spirit will be real.

Happy Holidays!


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The reason it’s called the Copper Country

When I left you last you were exploring Calumet, a town built on copper mining money. So just how big were the mining operations, you ask?

These mining buildings have stood at the base of the mountain for more than a century.

Well, the reminders of those days dot the landscape everywhere in the Keweenaw Peninsula. When I lived there, a few decades ago, I got used to seeing historical stone buildings crumbling.

Once a part of a huge complex of buildings.

But I really didn’t see them as I scurried to and fro in my life. On the weekends I’d head out to Lake Superior or the mountains to take pictures but rarely stopped to consider the sad beauty of a world left behind.

Mostly it was all a curiosity to me. Like this stamping equipment. I never stopped to figure out what they were. I guess I considered them sculpture.

Imagine the noise these made when they were in operation! They’re right in the middle of a small group of houses.

These days there’s a sign posted there to explain some of it. They were used to crush rock in order to extradite the copper.

A reminder of what once was.

And then there’s the Quincy Mine. Called “Old Reliable,” it operated from 1846 to 1945.

Quincy # 2 was a reliable producer.

When I lived in Hancock, the Quincy mine shaft was just up the mountain from my house. I never explored it, there could have been deep holes hiding under the overgrown brush, the site was littered with mining equipment and sharp edges. Roofs were falling in. Walls were rusted or collapsing.

Early morning light shines on yesterday’s equipment.

It’s not that way anymore. Now it’s a tourist attraction complete with guided tours.

Still photogenic after all these years.

Though it was closed for the season, we were able to explore the grounds in safety this week on a pretty morning with the sun just coming up. There’s a beautiful building that housed the hoist that glowed in the morning light.

I always loved this building and I’m so glad it’s been saved.

There are a couple of old railway cars waiting for that next load of copper…

This might need a little work to haul anything away these days.

…and several walls of outbuildings that show the beautiful masonry.

Look at those corner stones!

I was thrilled to be able to wander the grounds without fear of falling into a mine shaft.

Looking back through history.

And to do it on the one day in the entire week with sunshine was doubly wonderful.

I loved that the sun was filling this empty building and glowing right out this side!

There are buildings and equipment everywhere. This dredge has been sitting stuck on the bottom of the canal for decades. It looked just like this when I lived there in the late 70s.

Sometimes it seems like nothing has changed at all.

And life is still hard way up north on the peninsula surrounded by Lake Superior.

More than 30 years ago I lived in the upstairs flat. Two of the four rooms didn’t have electricity. I think of it fondly.

Still.

There’s something magical about this place, something hard to explain, hard to put a finger on.

Magic in the morning.

The addictive combination of history and natural beauty gets into a person’s blood.

And it doesn’t ever let go.

Quincy stands tall.


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Historic Calumet

Come along with us and we’ll take you on a quick trip through Calumet Michigan. What? You say you’ve never heard of Calumet? You didn’t know that at one time, long ago, it was on the short list of cities to be named as the capital for the new state of Michigan?

Downtown Calumet in 2018.

Well, let’s take a tour and I’ll explain more.

Back at the turn of the century (no, not the new century just 18 years old, but the century beginning one hundred and eighteen years ago) Calumet was a mining mecca and making big bucks. In 1900 there were just over 4600 people living in the village, copper was king, and the living was good. At least for some.

The Calumet Theatre was opulent, and still is today.

The opera house, city hall and today’s police department all housed in this historic structure.

The theater has been restored, and you can take a self guided tour for $4.00.

From the balcony, a hint of the beautiful interior.

Aside from theater, Calument also had (and still has)many bars. One of the most famous is Shutie’s. It’s been there a long, long time.

The old fire station reflected in Shutie’s window.

Inside you’ll find the original wooden bar, a giant and beautiful stained glass fixture hanging above, and a mirror that reflects a huge mural painted in recent years that stretches along the opposite wall.

Just think of all the people who have bellied up to the bar here over the years.

We stopped in to warm our toes and fingers with a drink. For old times sake.

Warming up for our next adventure!

Today there are just about 700 people living in the village, a steady decline in population over the years as mining activity dried up and people left to find work. Tourism is a main source of income now, but still the area struggles.

Only the pigeons live here now.

So much has been lost to disrepair.

These were once fancy apartments.

Still, much has been preserved too.

The park service works out of this building now. Beautiful stonework from the 1900s.

I have several images of the archeticture in Calumet to share, but I’m in a hotel with slow and unreliable internet. So I’ll save those for another post. We’ll be traveling tomorrow, on our way home. But when I can I’ll show you remnants of the copper mining industry itself.

And yes, you’ll get to see a few (or more) images of today’s trip up the Keweenaw Peninsula and Lake Superior too.

Eventually.

The old fire house.


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Happy Thanksgiving

Katie would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, even if you’re not here in the States. She says everyone has something to be thankful for and it doesn’t have to be a holiday in order to feel grateful.

She says she’s grateful for all of you that put up with and even enjoy her rants. And she says don’t tell her folks, but she’s thankful for them too. Even though they sent her off to camp for this particular holiday.

I’m grateful for all of you! And that mama takes me on walks.

She does, however, add that she has a long memory and doesn’t forget anything, so when they get back home she expects special princess-like treatment and if that is not forthcoming there will be a price to pay.

She expects mama to be caught up on sleep by then which would be a good thing, because once the sheltie-girl is in the house all sleep bets are off.

Enjoy your turkey day everybody, from Katie-girl and her people.

Katie-girl, our little princess