Things Change

Why do things have to change?  And why, sometimes, do they have to change so drastically?  Good questions with not-so-simple answers.

Take how we travelled as kids.  If you’re anywhere near my age, I’m sure you remember standing in the front seat (or inbetween the front seats) as your family car hurtled down the highway, your Mom holding you by the middle as you held your balance there and everybody laughed.  Or maybe you took your afternoon nap in the same car up on the “back dash”–that open space behind and above the back seat where the back window met the trunk of the car–where you were bathed in warm sunlight and fell asleep to the music coming from the rear speakers that were right by your ear.  Now, in the society of today’s world, the parents who let their children ride in a car like that would be called negligent, careless and irresponsible parents who don’t deserve to have children at all since they obviously don’t know how to take proper care of them in a vehicle.  Interesting, don’t you think?

What about something a friend of mine recently told me?  A local community had a fireworks show in the local city park on the Fourth of July–something that hadn’t been done in a long time and everyone was excited about seeing it again–only to afterwards be told by the local city officials that it won’t be happening at all anymore because “some people felt it was too loud”.  Well, what do they think is going to happen with fireworks??  And, to top it off, it was a handful of people who complained about the noise level.  What about the other ninety-five percent who enjoyed it and had no problem with the noise level?  After all, we are talking about a highly unusual event, this having fireworks on the Fourth of July business.  It just shows how we as a society have developed a habit of bowing needlessly to the wishes of a few which turns trivial matters into huge issues.

So what brings this discussion on?  Well, my family and I attended a local parade in our community that is held every year around this time of July.  Remember the parades you attended as a child?  Lots to see and hear, especially when it comes to all of the police cars, ambulances and fire trucks with all of their flashing lights and periodic blasts of horns and sirens.  Only now–at least in the surrounding communities where we are–you only see the flashing lights.  No horns.  No sirens.  I’m not sorry to say that in my mind, hearing the horns and sirens coming from way down the street is what made a parade back in the day!  What’s up with that?!  Our boys even made the international honk-your-horn signal that kids give to semi-truck drivers and the firefighter in the passenger seat who saw them shook his head, apparently unable to fulfill their urgent request (and mine).  It’s a parade!!  You’re supposed to do that!  What has our society come to?  The firetrucks can’t even activate their sirens or horns in a parade anymore!  So sad.

I suppose the next step will be that we won’t be able to drive 4X4 vehicles anymore due to their being too brutal on Mother Earth.  Surely there’s a small handful of people out there who don’t like them and are determined to see their extinction from our society.  At the rate things are going, they’ll get their way and we’ll have to revert back to snowshoes in the winter.  Hey!  That may not be such a bad idea after all…..

So what are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to hear from you!

Of Bridges And Hornets

Allow me to pick up where I left off….

At the back corner of Delaney’s property, the ground sloped in a gradual hill down to a very old truss bridge (probably a couple hundred yards from the corner of the yard).  I’m sure you are familiar with the type of bridge that I’m talking about.  However, in case you aren’t, stop for a minute and envision what one of these bridges looks like to an eight-year-old kid.  This isn’t the exact bridge, but here’s what it probably looked like:

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Here’s what I saw in my eight-year-old mind:

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That was one spooky bridge for me to look at, let me tell you.  We could get to their house two different ways and that bridge was one of them.  I believe Dad drove it only once (maybe he had the same epiphany as I did about what that bridge really was).

They eventually moved into a newer house that wasn’t anywhere near that truss bridge.  But long before they did that, my brother and I were invited to spend the night during one of our trips out there as a family–somewhere around ages nine or ten for me.  As it happened, that invitation spawned an event with Delaney’s Dad that was….well, memorable, to say the least.

What had seemed to be such a great idea at first was quickly turning into a foreboding sense of abandonment the closer the time came for my parents to leave.  Once they were gone, my senses were on high alert.  We got ready for bed and made our way to the bedroom.  Delaney and Aaron shared a bedroom upstairs, so my brother and I bedded down on the floor of their room, which happened to be directly in front of the staircase to the livingroom below.  As the room got darker with night setting in, Delaney thought it would be a great idea to tell a story about wasps and hornets.  I don’t remember what the story was that he told, but I distinctly remember the mental picture it left in my brain.  Now, we all know what a normal hornet looks like, right?  But that’s not what I saw as Delaney unfolded his tale of terror.  Here’s what I saw:

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Do you see the stingers on those things??  And they were all coming after me!  I just knew it!  So I started crying.  Light child-like sobs to start, but then it turned into vehement, gut-wrenching wails (at least in my innocent eight-year-old mind).  The problem was, as soon as I had started this retaliated response to Delaney’s story, his Dad had yelled up from the livingroom below that whatever shenanigans were going on had better come to a stop pronto.  Which meant that there was even more reason for me to cry harder (and also fueled the fire for Delaney to press on with his story).  Which brought another boisterous boom from the nether regions below us to stop whatever was making one of us cry.  Which made me cry even more, which then brought Delaney’s Dad to the foot of the stairs to yell up with finality that one more time would mean at least one someone is getting a beating on the behind.

I’ve never been one to be able to talk and cry at the same time, but it was eventually made known what was going on, with an extremely urgent request at the end of it all by yours truly that Mom & Dad need to come get me–now.  My brother wasn’t really bothered by this (that I can remember), but since they were coming for me, he said that he’d go back too (nice of him to do that).

I don’t remember anything after that.  Probably blocked it out, along with a request that any further efforts to spend more time with them be heretofore and forthwith nipped in the bud.

I guess it worked….

Swinging From The Rafters

There was a family during my childhood that my parents would periodically get together with.  They had two boys about the same ages as my brother and I, Delaney being the older one, Aaron the younger.  I remember it being a healthy drive to their place–between an hour to two hours worth–so that’s probably why I only remember being at their place a handful of times at most.  They more or less lived in the country on a large piece of property that sat on the corner of two converging roads.  They had a huge barn on this property with all kinds of yard around it for us kids to play on.

I would definitely say that Delaney influenced me more than I influenced him.  As an example, when we eight years old or so, we had just finished playing in the sprinkler outside.  Delaney got an idea and talked me into going along with it.  So he’s the reason that he and I streaked naked across the backyard of their house in full view of the adults inside because, according to Delaney at the interrogation afterwards, “we had to hang our bathing suits outside to dry”.  That influence would also affect our younger brothers (mostly his).

As I was saying, they had an absolutely huge barn.  It had a massively thick rope tied from the topmost rafter, which towered above our little heads, and it hung with a big knot on the other end just above the barn floor.  But were we satisfied with just being able to swing around on the barn floor on that rope?  Nope.  Besides, there was old farm equipment scattered hither and yon (with straw all over the floor to help camouflage anything else that might be hiding there), so we escalated the excitement and climbed to the loft that was ten feet above the floor so that we could swing above all that meandering mass of rusted metal.  Great idea until you’re the next one to swing out over that huge expanse of space with all the old farm equipment lying below like a pool of crocodiles with gaping jaws just waiting to seize an unwary and careless eight-year-old kid.  It was even worse when I found myself swinging back to the loft and Delaney decided to push me back out just before I let go of the rope.  He only did that to me once or twice before I put a stop to it (the pull of one older brother to another).

So when the younger brothers would do it, Delaney would attempt the same thing with them.  (Even though older brothers like to torment their younger ones, I knew even at that age that what he was doing to my younger brother wasn’t smart at all on his part–even jumping well passed the line into “stupid”–so I remember eventually telling him to stop doing that to my brother as well.  Aaron, however, was fair game.)  We’d watch Delaney push Aaron back out over the crocodiles and listen to him yell and scream at Delaney while his legs flailed around, trying to get another grip on the rope, all the while unleashing unveiled threats of how horrible life was going to be for Delaney after their mother found out about what he was doing.  It always seemed like no matter how convinced Aaron was that he wouldn’t be swinging on the rope, Delaney would find a way to persuade him to do it “just once”.  That never seemed to work in Aaron’s favor.

Next time I’ll tell you about the bridge and the insects…..

The Coffee Snob Returns

Do you remember me mentioning a while back that I have a “Coffee Snob” in my life?  If you don’t, I’ll gladly remind you right now that it’s my brother.  No worries…he wears that title with pride.

As you already know, I and my family are vacationing at a campground just outside of Mackinaw City in Northern Michigan.  It’s been absolutely beautiful having Lake Huron just down the way from us with an incredible view of the Mackinac Bridge which connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.  As you can imagine, nothing is more relaxing on a vacation like this than going down by the water’s edge with your chair and your coffee and watching the morning unfold before you!

Well, we met my brother at the half-way point (he lives close by) to take delivery of a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans.  (He has a friend of his that roasts his own and does a fantastic job with it!)  We had originally thought that we would bring a coffee grinder and have this coffee every morning, but at the last minute decided that we would use up the year-old coffee that we already had in the camper and save this new bag for home.  Nice idea at the time, but in hindsight, it was regrettable to say the least.

Then the Coffee Snob found out about it.

My being a “coffee simpleton” in his exotic coffee-press / pour-over / get-your-secret-beans world, I have now been accused of letting perfectly good coffee age and lose some of the nuances of its flavor (being freshly roasted and all; really, it’s not even an accusation–that’s what freshly roasted coffee does when it has no preservatives in it).  And what makes it worse is the fact that we are meeting up with him on the way back down to get another bag of a different kind of freshly roasted bean.  So we very easily could have gone through this first bag and thoroughly enjoyed our morning coffee instead of drinking in what is apparently known in coffee snob circles as “compost” and “swill”.  I threw a scripture at him about knowing the good I ought to do and yet not doing it; he threw one right back at me, something about “woe to those who call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (that last part being communicated to me in all caps; I detect a subtle message in there, but it’s kind of faint).

So we totally missed exceptional coffee by the water’s edge while we got away from it all.  And, instead, we drank year-old coffee (already ground) and didn’t even finish it up.  Say, I think I just got an idea for a Christmas present for him….

Big Appetite

Well, I promised I’d give a “live” report from our Northern Michigan destination of Mill Creek campground.  It needs to be quick because of WIFI limitations, so this will be a quick read.

A few years ago, a new restaurant opened up in Mackinaw City, and today was the first time any of us ate there.  Decent food, but it was more for the idea of what the restaurant itself represents than it was for how good the food was.  What kind of food are we talking about? Take a look at our boys in these pictures to get that answer, and I’ll catch up with you next time with an intriguing report of life up here in the “North Country”!

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