Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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It’s my birthday!

Katie here. Mama said it was OK for me to hijack her blog cause it’s not every day that it’s my birthday. I know I get spoiled every day, but that’s not the same thing. That’s just what’s due me as a princess.

Obviously.

We got sunshine!

But today, Saturday December 15, is my birthday! I am now a big mature girl of 12. Mama says I am too old for cake and ice cream and presents and that I should be happy to just go to my park for a birthday walk.

Does she think I’m going to buy that?

Whatcha mean no presents mama!

Well…going to a park for a walk is my most favorite thing to do. But geeze, mama already took me to two different parks this week. So she’s going to have to up the ante a bunch to make it a special enough walk to qualify as my birthday adventure.

Do I get an extra treat for standing up here?

The pictures I’m posting today are from our two walks. One was last Tuesday when we had our one day of sun. Mama said we shouldn’t waste it and we hurried right over to my park.

It was extra cold that day so I was very very happy. I trotted around that park like I was a puppy! I love it when it’s cold out. Mama? Not so much.

Yep, the pond’s frozen. Must be winter now.

She was wearing about 50 thousand layers and she was still cold, but she let me sniff wherever I wanted and we stopped to take a lot of pictures (of course).

Mama says it’s very hard to take a selfie with a sheltie. I personally think it’s very hard to take a selfie with a mama.

What’s that over there mama?!

Then on Thursday we woke to new snow all over my yard and mama said we shouldn’t waste that either, so she bundled me up in the car early in the morning before it all melted.

Are you going to make me sit in front of a bunch of stuff again today mama?

I was scared. Usually when we go somewhere in the morning I end up at the vet or the groomer or camp. But this time we ended up at a new park!

There was a nice wide path that had been mowed and it moved through the woods which were covered in the new, wet and sticky snow. It was beautiful!

It was hilly too, mama said we did the equivalent of 6 flights of stairs!

But not as beautiful as me!

I don’t know what I’m getting for my birthday, but mama got a new camera for an early Christmas present and Thursday was her first time taking pictures with it. Of course most of them were of me.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Personally I don’t think she needed a new camera to take pictures of beautiful me. I look good no matter what camera she uses. I can’t help myself.

Which way should we go mama?

But anyway. We had a great time walking through the snow even though the sun didn’t shine until we got home. Mama says that figures. I don’t know what that means but I hope it means we get to go out again soon.

Come ON mama! You are sooooo slow!

Like today, for the promised birthday adventure. Maybe even without the silly camera.

A princess can only hope!

Happy Birthday to ME!


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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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North into snow country

If you’ve been complaining about the unseasonably cold weather, and you don’t like the snow you’ve received so early in the season, well, maybe you should skip this post.

Not so conducive to a picnic.

Because my husband and I are further north than normal. And my goodness there’s a bunch of snow up here.

And it’s cold too.

Hiking to Miners Falls, only half a mile but it felt longer.

Did I mention cold and windy? Perfect for a short trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

We spent our first night at Mackinaw City, at the tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula, just before the 5 mile long bridge that connects the two parts of our state.

The Mighty Mac bridge that connects the two parts of Michigan.

This morning we took a quick tour around town. Most everything is closed until next spring. It was sort of lonely. And really really cold, just 18 degrees (that’s -7.77 C).

The marina was protected from the wind.

The sky was so interesting, with a row of puffy clouds hanging right above the Straights…

That’s Mackinaw Island over there on the left, a pretty place to visit when it’s warmer.

…but both east and west of where we stood were ominous clouds, some dropping what looked like snow. That didn’t bode well for our drive west.

Looks like we’re going to get a little snow.

We headed over the bridge and started the long trek across the Upper Peninsula. We traveled along the shores of Lake Michigan for awhile, then headed north and drove along the shore of Lake Superior. Lots of boring grey skies on both sides of the Peninsula.

So we stopped to take a break in Munising, the home of Pictured Rocks, a beautiful park that celebrates cliffs and waterfalls in this wild part of our state.

Lucky for us there’s a parking lot not 800 feet from Munising Falls located right in town.

A beautiful waterfall and so easy to get to even on a snowy winter day.

Also lucky for us no one else was there so we got to enjoy the beauty of the frozen waterfall all by ourselves.

Then we got brave and decided we’d drive out to Miners Falls, even though we weren’t sure the roads would be plowed. And some of them were not.

But since a few other people had driven on the road beyond the point that the county kept them open, we decided to go for it. I won’t lie, this made me very nervous and I was grateful we didn’t meet anyone going the other way, so we could drive right down the middle of the road in the tracks of the car (or more likely the truck) that had gone before.

I made my husband stop in the middle of the road so I could take this picture.

Once again we saw no one out there. The woods were simply stunning.

The view out toward Lake Superior.

Out half a mile, then down multiple flights of stairs that hadn’t been cleared. But it was worth it.

Miners Falls was amazingly beautiful.

Definitely worth it, don’t you think?

Going up was easier than going down.

And then, after getting back to the car a bit tired and wet, instead of heading back to town my husband headed further out on the unmaintained road to go see Miners Castle, a rock formation out at the lake.

Nope, nobody out there but us.

Granted I had never been there and I had always wanted to see it, but I was stressing that the road wasn’t plowed and no one was out there and I was having flashbacks of being on this exact road in 1979 with a college friend when the water pump in my Chevette died. That was an adventure, and it had been a warm fall day with no snow!

But that’s another story.

Anyway…we got to the Miners Castle visitor center (which was of course closed) and waded through more snow out to the platform to see it. It, too, was beautiful.

Pretty amazing color for what was turning into a colorless afternoon.

And then we walked all the way down through fencing that reminded me of the security at the Atlanta airport, to see the formation from close up.

Have your boarding pass and ID ready please.

It was all fun, though I could no longer feel my toes. But it was beginning to seriously snow, and we had 3 hours to our destination on a good day.

So we headed back toward civilization, and crept over to Houghton, averaging about 40 miles per hour through increasing snow and decreasing visibility.

The road back into town.

Tomorrow we will explore a bit around here. Both of us used to live here, different years and different reasons, and we look forward to seeing what’s changed. I moved away 43 years ago. Lots will probably be different. But Lake Superior will always be Lake Superior and I look forward to seeing more of it again.

I just hope all the roads are plowed.

Also hope to not run into any bears!