Good morning all:

Weekly wisdom from deep within the north woods:

“Most of the stuff them people talk about on television, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.” ~ From our north woods everyman, Claire

Whiling away an evening with background music playing in the background and a book in the lap becomes the perfect opportunity to doze off a bit. Perfect that is, until the news kicks in or a political convention cuts in. So, here we have it, without lifting a finger we caught it all. In the quiet of the forest we heard all the hoopla emanating by the start-up of the political funny season by the conventions; the good, the bad, and the ugly, and their mostly pedestrian, nonsensical, and often crass moments. The ugliest most pathetic moment was a supposed vote — one with a predetermined outcome — designed to cool the white heat generated by two little words (or better; the lack thereof), “God” and “Jerusalem”.

Our president, whose soaring oratory had watercooler conversations abuzz in 2008, was ordinary at best—a stream of promises sounding ever more desperate and hollow; maybe even to his own ears. This time there was not even a smart turn-of-phrase to be appreciative of and smile over. Perhaps he was a tad-bit depressed realizing that former president Clinton, the master “speechifier”, was still the master.

My personal favorites were former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice; partially because hers were words of grace spoken from within (and I believe without the artificiality of a teleprompter). A week later I had the same feelings when I was gripped by the familiar words of the Pledge of Allegiance spoken with a new and resonating clarity by former congresswoman “Gabby” Gifford.

Anyway, that is now all history and the quiet along with my morning mug of coffee is oh so enjoyable. For this little while the political drums and the accompanying hum-drum aren’t even distant sounds. More near is this morning’s wind lowing through the trees and around the cabin as a reminder that summer’s end is nearing.

“A living lanyard” – is what brother Arty wrote me as he viewed a photo of me helping Paul with the building of his boathouse. I had a great week being “schlep-boy” to two master carpenters. Actually it was an absolute privilege being around Bob and Curt watching the building rise and take shape without one ‘hiccup’, without one issue, without any wrong turn. It was all done with only good humor and patient explanation as I proffered one dumb question after another.

I did have one issue though, one which forced me into an exercise regimen. My thumb locked up. What a horrible feeling to have no, none, zero, control over this digit. I’d push it down hard on the top of my leg, a tabletop, or with my other hand, all designed to force my fingers to spread out. Then, sproing, that thumb would snap back to the palm of my hand as soon as I lifted it.

Marcia dug around a variety of toy drawers and eventually raised a small rubber ball as a sign of success. A half hour of squeezing that little ball is what it took before I was once again able to will my thumb open and closed.

Fishing is Back – After a serious drought in the fish-catching department there has been a change. Marcia, she of last year’s 5-pound Lake Trout catch, had totally struck out. Tevita, who last year could have supplied every dinner with a meal of fish, caught nary a single one. Jason did catch a nice Northern Pike, but with young Marin at his side instituted the catch-‘n-release portion of the program.

Then comes Dennis-from-the Island who motored on by and mentioned that he’d just caught 7 (yes, Seven) very nice Smallmouth Bass. Then he proceeded to catch more. He has now scheduled a fish fry for some folk from across the lake. He gave Donn and Marlene enough for two dinners. Marcia was given three beauties – enough for two or three meals. And, best of all, he has invited all six of our gang for a fish fry on Monday evening. I know that the old expression says, “Sexy is back,” but, I am changing it to “Fishing is back.”

Marcia had so much renewed interest that two evenings ago, at her request, I completely rewound her reel with brand new braided fishing line. Yesterday she, Marlene, and Dennis on his fishing boat, complete with trolling motor and fish finder, casted for three hours. No one caught a thing. All had wild stories about very large Bass jumping out of the water all about them. My question is whether or not there was any old Indian weed on board.

A vintage beauty – I mentioned to Marlene and Donn that I had finally gotten the boats properly licensed in Canada. That reminded her of a cute aside. As many of you know, early this summer I purchased a small aluminum Sea Nymph fishing boat. It came with a vintage 1955 10hp Johnson Sea Horse engine. The whole rig runs like a top.

Now the cute aside; Donn and Marlene were heading back up to the cabin last week and stopped for gas. Next to them two elderly men in a pickup truck were also refueling. It was Marlene who noticed that one of the two outboard motors carefully wrapped in towels and lying in the back of the truck looked just like mine – down to the color scheme. “That wouldn’t be a 1955 10hp Sea Horse motor would it?” she asked. The guy responded in the affirmative. “Does it have a two-line fuel feed, she continued. “Why yes” the dumfounded guy answered – his mind probably whirring trying to figure how a woman would know all about old outboard motors, a blond at that.

Turns out he got that outboard engine from his father. It had been sitting in a garage for twenty years, and he spent $500 getting it restored. That little story made my evening – you just gotta love vintage beauties.

Animal Planet – Yesterday, as I arrived at the boathouse worksite for my first-shift schlep-boy duties, it was an excited Paul, Bob, and Curt who told me that an adult Bald Eagle had only moments before flown through the open yard, landed in the large tree on the edge of the property, and then took off again. Of course I missed it.

Unless you experience this it’s difficult to appreciate just how much fun an afternoon construction job coffee break can be. During one day’s afternoon break Paul demonstrated his smart-phone app which contains an extensive library of birds, their specifics, and, best of all, comes complete with audio tracks of their various calls. Envision four sweaty guys (and at least one with a locked thumb) sitting in a circle listening to Crow and Raven calls. Then the magic began to happen as some nearby crusty old Crows and Ravens started to curiously swoop by cawing and rasping trying to discover where exactly the femme-fatales of the Crow and Raven world were hiding. It was another wilderness experience that falls in the “you had to be there” category.

brothers Joop (left) & Pieter (right) -circa 1936

Last Tuesday it was my father’s youngest brother who celebrated his 97th birthday. He celebrated together with family members at an outdoor café in central Amsterdam, enjoying a perfect glass of red wine. I was there in spirit oom Joop. Love you!

Make it a great week everyone.



Archives – Saturday, May 29, 2004
This is Memorial Day weekend. Today the plans are in place. We have our foster puppy Shang who is desperately in need of a 2-mile walk (he whispered this as I got up). Then, along with Cathy and Marin we’ll head off to the local outdoor veggie market. This afternoon it is one of my favorite festivals, “Taste of Cincinnati”. We’ll be elbowing through the crowds as we sample little bits and pieces prepared by the chefs of 40 local restaurants. In the background will be music from 4 soundstages.

Lastly, it will be a visit to the graves of my parents at Springrove cemetery. A visit to have just a quiet moment along with a prayer of thanks for their presence in my life and their sacrifices. Maybe even a bit of a reflection that life is short and moves fast – vroom, vroom. That as the laps flash by we keep reaching for that checkered winner’s flag and a spot in the winner’s circle. I believe that Kirstin, Vince, Jason, Cathy, and now Adrianne, each in their own way, have figured out how to get into that circle. I only now just figured out that they are already there.

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