Archive forJuly, 2006

Steam on Lake Michigan

I’m sure if you look closely at this photo, you’ll see steam. It was so hot today! (90’s) We spent quite a bit of time in the water and at water’s edge. The lake’s really shallow in front of our place, and was so warm that it may has well have been bath water, but we survived the day and hopefully it’ll be cooler tomorrow.

Lake Michigan

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Saturday in the U.P.

Last night we had a severe storm hit this part of the U.P. (Upper Peninsula for non-Michiganders (and, yes, it’s Michigander NOT Michiganians – Michiganian is a new term that’s just shown up in the past few year years).

Yesterday was incredibly hot for this part of the country. It was in the mid-90’s with humidity as only Michigan can produce it. During the day we picked a few berries but most of the time we hunkered down inside in front of a fan since it was at least five degrees cooler inside than out. It was miserable. Late afternoon we headed to town in part because the truck was comfortably air conditioned. The Moose Club where we went for a fish dinner last night didn’t have A.C. (as is often the case up here), so we suffered through a hot dinner. When we got back home a major thunderstorm warning was out for the county. We got the edge of it and quite a bit of rain.

Today it’s much more comfortable.

We went to the beach to see if we could find a sandy area suitable for swimming. A few years back it was picture perfect here with a hard packed sand area that extended about 100 feet from the tree line. It was the best for swimming and enjoying the water that you could imagine. But the past six or seven years, with a drop in the Great Lakes levels, we’ve seen a major change. The beach is now weed infested and the edge of the water is mucky where some black alge stuff washes in. If we were here more often, we could probably clear away an area for swimming, but it’s hard physical work, and since we’re headed home Wednesday it hardly seems worth it. John is going to chop and mow some of the weeds this afternoon so we don’t lose any more ground, but it’s depressing.

Al Gore’s global warming predictions suggest that there’ll be a major melt that will raise water levels in the Great Lakes but we have seen the water table drop and it’s doubtful that in our life-time we’ll have the pretty beach we had ten years ago.

Even though tempertures are comfortable today, it’s muggy. Guess I’ll go read a book, or let the woodticks gnaw on me. Seems only right.

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Gettng Away

We’re heading up to our place in the U.P. The U.P. where it’s tranquil and lovely with mosquitoes at night that can carry you away and ticks that gnaw on you.

I’ve never quite figured out why we go north to this spot on Lake Michigan. It’s certainly not because of the accommodations. It’s just an old 1960’s vintage trailer. It’s not because of the beach, which has been non-existent the past couple of years due to low water levels. It’s not because of the wonderful fresh air smells because the trailer is old and musty. But nevertheless it is captivating. The view from our deck out to the water is lovely. The quiet is profound. We often go a week with no one around so it’s totally silent except for the wave and gull noises and the music that we make.

We have a swarm of humming birds that come out when we bring out the simple syrup and keep us entertained.

This should be raspberry season up there. We’ll crash through thickets to grab a few tiny berries but feel richly rewarded when we have enough for a dessert or addition to pancakes.

We look for wild flowers. Our nearest up-north neighbor, Helen, is an expert and presented us with a book where she’d carefully marked those we could expect to find. We try to be prepared by scouting out all those in the vicinity, and like successful pupils, we recite our discoveries when we see her.

The tempo of life up north is different. We don’t wear a watch, we get up whenever we feel like it, we eat when hungry. It’s a lazy life.

We could do the same thing at home. We could set on our deck and watch the water because at home we live on a lake. We would be more comfortable and this weekend cooler (it’s supposed to be in the mid-90’s), but we’re on our way north. And as the familiar landmarks indicate that we’re getting closer, we’re just a tad more relaxed.

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I had these great plans to keep up my blog while at Evart. But when I got there, the time was so limited and I was so over-worked, that it was impossible to keep it up. But now I’m home and I can reflect on this years’ 2006 Evart Funfest.

It wasn’t great. It was a lot of work, and little pleasure. Maybe other years’ high energy successes have set the bar unrealistically high, but I’m sure that’s not the whole story.

It just wasn’t as much fun as other years.

We understand there is an undulating flow of good times (the really highs) and low points. Not all years are equal. We don’t expect every one to be the best. But this was definitely the “lowest.” My daughter commented that it’s “burn out” but I don’t think that’s it. I really think it was caused by situations beyond our control.

I only hope that next year returns to the fun time we’ve enjoyed every other year previously.

So what was the difference? After analysis, it seems like it was the problems of our friends.

John and I have never felt better, nor been closer, but so many of our friends were suffering: health problems, deaths, traumas. There were festival political arguments where I hadn’t noticed them before. Lots of complaints and bickering.

The year that John lost both of his parents in a two month period from May-July, was horrid, but somehow this year was more disappointing. When his parents died, we anticipated that things would be bleak. We had our friends to pull us through it and the festival part of our lives didn’t suffer.

This year, we went into the festival optimistically anticipating the grand time we have always had, but it was different.

As I said, it wasn’t our pain or our misery. It was that of friends we care about: heart attacks and strokes, cancer, other illness, parents dieing. Horrible things to deal with. It seemed that every day it was a new challenge for them and ultimately for us. Yes, we probably take on more than we should with the workshops, the one-on-ones, the program, the website, etc. but that’s all stuff we know we can handle. We know we can produce good results in those areas, but we can’t fix health, deaths, pain and misery. So we suffered with our fiends.

And the heat made it all intollerable. We were miserable!

That’s not to say that there weren’t some wonderful fun experiences. Early in the week, there was a sweet jam with Marcille Wallis and Chuck, Chuck had a beautiful slow jam Wednesday night, there was the list reception, and the wonderful feeling when I realized Judi had written a fun tune with my name in the title. There were crowded classes, and inspiring one-on-ones. A great feeling of success in that area! There was my “new” brother, Jim, and his lovely wife, Louise coming to the festival Saturday night and the time we spent together. There was some fantastic music like the tunes played by Bill Robinson (I love his new one) . There was fun girl-time when we all chatted in the pool, and got better acquainted, but all in all it wasn’t what we had hoped for. It was a disappointment.

In the past, the wonderful times filled all the days and evenings. This time, those memorable experiences were fewer.

But we have the Midland Dulcimer Festival August 24-27. A popular concert planned for next Wednesday. In less than a week, we’re heading to the U.P. to pick raspberries and get away from it all.

And in just about a month and a half, we take off for Forida for six weeks to be with Mom. Life is great! No complaining. Who has it better than me? No one I know!!

Are we going to be depressed? Heavens no! Life’s too short. There’ll be a festival in 2007 and optimistically we’re expecting it to be better’n ever. Betcha’ it will be.

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Leisurely Pace

The fun at the festival is still at a manageable pace. It’ll get bumped up to a higher intensity by Thursday. These days are my favorite. I love the chats and the “sit-around” time. The music is less frantic and things are less chaotic. There’ll be time for high-energy, wear-you-out playing when the actual festival starts, but now’s a lazy period.

pre-festival jam in workshop leader rest area

Here’s a photo of a small jam taken before last night’s rain.

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At Evart

We’re here at the wonderful hammered dulcimer event, the ODPC Funfest. It’s our favorite destination. We love the folks, the music, the whole Evart experience.

Folks who have previously attended will be amazed at how the fairgrounds looks. It’s now surrounded by a very attractive white fence. There is an area across the street on Recreation Blvd. that has some new camping areas. The new restroom looks great (although we haven’t really checked it out.)

As far as the camping, there’s been a shift.. folks who want to stay cool when it’s hot, aren’t heading to Thompson Park. Instead they’re finding sites with 30 or 50 amp wiring so they can run their air conditioning units and most of those are in the main campground area. As someone said, if it gets “hot” we won’t see anyone around those units. They’ll all be inside.

Thompson Park is nearly empty. There are a few of the die-hards but it’s down to only a handful.

This is going to be a great festival. I can feel it!!

I need to take some photos, which I’ll post. Check back!

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We’re Here!

Feels like “home” when we get to the Funfest in Evart, MI. It’s the world’s largest hammered dulcimer festival. We arrived mid-afternoon and established our campsite. We haven’t put up the big canopy yet for the workshop leader rest area and only one other unit is located in Tent City, but the rest of the fairgrounds is surprisingly full.

I’ll be posting lots of photos of this haven. We love it here!

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This and That

Stuff continues to happen – good and bad.

Our Wednesday concert was great fun. We had 150 in the audience and 21 musicians, despite cool weather, showers and forecasts warning there’d be a major storm.

Our good friend, Wayne Conklin, is in the hospital with heart problems. It’s always sad and scarey when folks you care about have health problems. He’s one of my workshop leaders, so I’ll need to replace him, but more important is his health. I just want him well!!

Today our small group (Live Music) played for a wedding in Bay City. It was hot and storms were predicted. It dripped a few drops mid- day, and a bird “dumped” on John’s dulcimer, but things worked out and we did fine.

Wednesday, at our concert, I had an exciting experienced. My brother, Jim, showed up with his family. So what’s the big deal about a brother? Well, until a year ago, I didn’t know he existed. Under the main heading “Links” on the right side of this screen (there’s a link to “family”) you can read the wonderful, unbelievable story. Or go directly here:

“Family Matters”

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