November 15, 2017

My Ankles are Showing


I turned on the radio the moment a well-known “fashion guru” stated that Capri pants are essentially an abomination. What? A quick judgement of these pants worn by literally everyone I know. Perhaps he never wore these gifts of god, their cooling comfort embracing of the calf – I could live in them, and do during warm weather. Does this mean I am a little off in my fashion sense? Well, yes, and no.

Reminiscing about my (many) faux pas … which in one case was an embarrassing, fashion wise, social situation. It began with an active day out in public oblivious to the length of my pants. No one said a thing –  not even those near and dear friends who joined me on this fun day.

When festivities were over I went home, still oblivious, and glanced in the hallway mirror, my focus immediately gravitated to my pants, which were easily two inches above my shoe tops. I groaned as recounting the numerous gatherings I participated in and could only hope (and pray) that observers enjoyed a chuckle over me and my goofy pants.

Capri pants would have solved the day.

Seriously, to be so pre-occupied over high-water pants is sad, of so little value and importance in the scheme of life. So what if I wore high-waters - they were comfortable. 

Running over finish line with cousins
On a hiking trip, I saw an older woman walking the trail wearing even higher high-water pants.  Smiling, I thought how cute she was and felt a kinship.  Why I focused so much time in how fashion-challenged I had been … and yet found high-waters charming on another … is a mystery. Seeing her and experiencing a comradery made me feel better.  Not cool - but better.

I suppose I have learned to embrace my nerdiness and loudly protest the “expert” fashion guru as he so arrogantly maligned Capri’s. For me, they are perfect to wear for a rainy, windy day along the shores of Lake Superior … or anywhere for that matter. So there!



September 17, 2017

I Had a Friend

My friend - I'll call her "Molly" - and I go back to the early 70s, but I knew of her for much longer through chance meetings with both her and her husband, "Paul". An articulate woman, she elevated me with her attention and interest in me, my family and writing goals. She always had a smile and a kind word, a hug, an encouraging nod.

Molly was older by a generation, married with children, an author and an active writer. The couple frequently drove to my office - "just stopped by to chat", they would say.

Molly and I attended writing workshops together, and once, she invited me to a party held at the home of a local writing legend - a tall Victorian house expansively decorated for Christmas, even the scents announced the holiday. Bookshelves lined the dark wood walls and were filled with leather-bound tomes. The atmosphere was scholarly and quiet with occasional bursts of laughter, the striking of a match to light pipes - no cigarettes there - and men with corduroy jackets with, yes, leather patches on the elbows. People milled around visiting, not sitting and relaxing in the leather chairs which filled the rooms of the home. She openly and happily introduced me to her friends: published authors, photographers, the hostess - a well-known teacher. Molly shared with these "celebrities" my personal writing goals ... while I stood feeling inadequate yet pleased with her praise and confidence in me.

I once confided to her that I wanted to write a book about my musings and she encouraged me to set up my own publishing company, which I did and even had a graphic artist create a logo - free. The book completed and self-published led to a desire to write another one - a story from the diary of my grandmother living in the woods during a very difficult upper peninsula winter. Eager to share this second book with Molly, and, as it had been over a year since we had contact, I emailed her and Paul. He answered that she was in a nursing facility.

I was let into her unit by her nurse - what? why would the place be locked up, I ruminated as she led me to my friend's room where she cheerfully announced my presence. Molly was sitting in a chair looking out the window and slowly turned around and stood up. Her face was blank as she seemed to be reaching into her memories for who I was - then it seemed to click and she lit up. "Connie, it is so good of you to visit," she excitedly exclaimed as we hugged. I experienced denial, big time, but had to finally realize that my good and dear friend had dementia. She talked, disjointedly, with an occasional recognition of who I was. I held out my second book for her and she stood and held me telling me how proud she was of me. Then faded into jumbled recollections.

I felt shock and the betrayal of dementia - the memory robber. Our old familiar and warm relationship ended that day, or perhaps changed as I will continue visiting and holding her hand, talking to her of old times and friends. I'll always hold Molly closely in my heart and embellish my memories of our times together. I cherish and hold onto her words about how proud she was of me when I gave her my book. I find comfort that perhaps it touched in her a hidden memory of who I was, who she was, and who we were together. You would have liked her.

Dementia stinks!



September 10, 2017

My Life as an Olympian

I deeply believe, to a point, that hidden memories can sometimes be crucial to good mental health. Perhaps the brain shuts down to protect you from the good, bad and ugly. Or, maybe not. 

When a memory erupts through our consciousness - a period of quiet focus follows with either pain, delight, tears or a smile.

As a child, my dream was to be an Olympian – I ran barefoot through the school yard … fast. I entered races, ran the track at the local community college, and was tireless. But, alas, a “true” Olympic caliber runner would be able to circle me at least twice and still easily beat my time, but I could dream. No one could take away my dream, except for me.

Years passed with an occasional heart tug at how quickly my goal of the Olympics was extinguished, perhaps through lack of support, environmental or monetary issues, or my own abilities. But, I did think about what my life would have been like as an Olympian and figuratively kicked myself for not working more diligently toward that goal. In reality, it was unattainable as my body was not of the lucky "fast twitch" type, but in my heart I was on the starting line.

One day I shared this regret with one of my daughters. I'm sure I admonished her to grab hold of life and she could do anything she set her heart on, yada yada yada. She blurted out, rather defensively if I remember, that I had been an Olympian.

Huh?

In the flash of a nano-second, the memory surfaced - sharp, clear, real - I had been an Olympian.

For my entire tomboy life, I was deeply in love with fast-pitch softball, living and breathing the sport, even having the honor of being voted the "Most Valuable Player" multiple times.

One day I arrived home to a mailed invitation - I was selected to compete on a softball team in the Mid-Michigan Olympics. Of course, I did compete, played shortstop - my favorite position - and don't remember if we won or lost ... another deep memory hidden. Nevertheless, I was an Olympian, not in running as I thought but achieved my dream. 

It is a mystery to me exactly why my memory shut down on that particularly exciting achievement, and not just for a short time but for years. Memory sure is a puzzle, isn't it? What memories could you be hiding?

August 22, 2017

Eclipse - Some Thoughts

The Solar Eclipse 2017 was yesterday and although we were not located in its direct path, excitement over this event was extreme throughout Michigan and in our house. Two of my brothers and a good friend live on opposite sides of the United States and were in the "Path of Totality" - how wonderful is that? I planned to walk during the eclipse and convinced my daughter that it would help her remember the moment of the eclipse if she joined me - which she was more than happy to do. Sans NASA approved glasses, we assured each other we'd not look directly at the sun.
Waiting for the Eclipse

I shared with her my thoughts that when an event as pure as an eclipse occurs it is as if a new beginning for each of us has occurred. We have a clean slate from that day forward to: make changes, start a new path, try something different.  As in New Years where we make resolutions/goals, or a birthday when you might reevaluate your path - we can view these events as a start to change or an embracing of  current life choices. I shared that I felt a newness or adventure in myself and hope she will be open to ruminate what these events mean for her.

I've been exploring Art Journaling and purchased two notebooks for this purpose the evening before. Eclipse Morning I met at a favorite coffee shop with two friends, one of whom is an artist, who told me about a class being held at her gallery this Saturday on, wait for it ... creating an ART JOURNAL! - and in the timeline of the Eclipse. I signed up immediately. Although art is not, most definitely not, my gift or talent, I've always carried a predilection or desire to be an artist of sorts. So, trying something new, different, challenging seemed the ticket to post-Eclipse direction. I look forward to learning about this method of expression and also have some ideas of my own.

  • using quotes which I've collected from movies, books, other media
  • adding pictures cut from magazines or old photos
  • embellishing the pages by writing short thoughts about it
  • discovering techniques for adding color
  • exploring my abilities as an art journal-er

I shot this picture with my iPhone 7 on our 2017 Eclipse walk after my daughter showed me the unique shadows from the sun/moon effect - and explained why they occurred. The scattered and numerous moon beam shadows were everywhere ... surreal. I call them moon bubbles ... what a celestial gift.




 

August 15, 2017

Blogger's Block

I'm at a bump in the road with Blogger’s Block – an uncomfortable condition where ideas, thoughts, and even words are struggling to be placed on “paper”. I researched Writer’s Block and learned that a change of environment might help - so am visiting a new coffee shop where my large white cup is holding a bold, black brew, and am listening to contemporary folk music … my large table (a great find) is clean and free of distractions. Two professors are sharing the other end talking about their upcoming classes but find this as white noise in the background. A Garmin can passively lead us to our destination – but I’m now in the writing driver’s seat with no GPS, on my own, literally. So am brainstorming various thoughts to help loosen up my grey matter and my fingers to see if that breaks the chains of this oppressive block.

I take every possible opportunity to drive the roads less traveled.
Often great adventure is around corners: hidden gems, undiscovered shops, stunning scenery. To balance out the good, occasionally we have found ourselves hopelessly lost. My husband and I would calmly chat as if we knew exactly where we were and try to end this little adventure of the lost, attempting to distract our brood by telling stories or sharing, what my husband and I think are leg-slapper jokes.

I own nice cameras but prefer to take pictures with my iPhone 7. I’ve taken photography classes, belong to two photo clubs, and yet, my realm of comfort lies with my mobile phone. Having “experts” share how they photograph scenery, sports, flowers, nature, landscapes … the hours spent looking for a perfect shot … the F-stop, aperture, shutter speed, sun and moon conditions …. blah blah blah! I have spent countless wasted hours silently comparing my (lack of) expertise to these photographers. My level of interest went down as I knew I’d never measure up or to be taken seriously as a photographer/blogger. Not being a passive woman and to distance myself from comparisons, I plan to leave these clubs and begin a comfort with myself taking “good enough” shots with my iPhone, occasionally shooting with a camera. All are synced to my iPad for easy editing, posting, and developing. For my emotional health - the right choice.
I read books about people who love books, bibliophiles, women's true adventure stories, and the stories behind recipes in cookbooks. My collection of these genres is ever-expanding. Give me a comfy chair, coffee, and allow me to vicariously live another's life for an hour in the comfort of my home, bookstore, or coffee shop. Through my reading adventures, I discovered a town in England where bookstores are around every corner. Sixpence House by Paul Collins takes place in the Welsh countryside in the village of Hay-on-Wye, a Town of Books, boasting forty bookstores. In Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife by Ann Linnea, I kayak around Lake Superior with her during a summer of cold, wind, rain and sleet. I sit transfixed on the edge of my figurative kayak imagining her battle with heavy winds while safe shore is unreachable in this frigid, people eating lake. A Year By the Sea by Joan Anderson is inspirational in a strange way as she takes a year away from family living by herself in Cape Cod. Although I’m not planning to take a year away from my husband, I love reading about the insights and freedom she experiences in this daring move.

Cooking is not (yet) my gift. Owning a plethora of cookbooks and food magazines, I think like a cook but without the expertise or desire to create these recipes. I’d like to train myself to take a chance and am inspired to when finishing my “Where Women Create” magazine. In my head, my kitchen is magical and I find myself planning new designs for this very tiny, galley room. I’m blocked by previous cooking experiences with crockpot liver stew, putting orange juice on All Bran for breakfast, mushy meats … but, there is always hope. One of my favorite movies, Julie & Julia, has Julie Powell cooking each and every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year’s time. Julie began documenting this experience in a blog, which led me to begin blogging. So, in a way, I am a cook.

I save fun words and unique sentences. I enjoy the spiciness of what others have written to me over the years … and I save these gems – and clip your unique way of speaking and writing. Yes, I am a plagiarist of you as you are blindly creative, and your word treasures feed my muse … are at times fun and blog worthy.

July 28, 2017

Panic Around My Birth

Looking up from my bassinet into the mask-covered faces of white-clothed people I saw concern blanketing their eyes as my bed was moved into a lone room where I would gurgle at the sickly green walls and single lit bulb most of the day. The door opened to crying noises as a person with a funny hat entered my solitary room holding up a long skinny shiny “toy”. She fooled me as it caused a sharp pain in my thigh making me wet myself. A masked woman with kind but worried eyes would visit me frequently. She seemed to know who I was, picked me up with her soft and gentle hands, and sat carefully in a moving chair. The lady would pull a couple of bottles from her shirt and offer them to me. Eagerly sucking away the hungry tummy pain I tasted the fear-laced nourishment while searching this kind person's eyes for an explanation.

July 18, 1953 was a day of comfortable temperatures ranging from 60-82 degrees in Marquette, Michigan, and was a day of panic in the community. A celebration of a new baby coincided with a massive polio epidemic.

("Poliomyelitis is an acute infectious disease caused by the poliovirus and characterized by fever, motor paralysis, and atrophy of skeletal muscles often with permanent disability and deformity and marked by inflammation of nerve cells in the anterior gray matter in each lateral half of the spinal cord - called also infantile paralysis." Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

"Paralytic poliomyelitis, or polio, held a reign of terror over this nation for decades. But unless you were born before 1955, polio may seem to be just another ephemeral disease that has been nonexistent for years. Those born before 1955 remember having a great fear of this horrible disease which crippled thousands of once-active and healthy persons. This disease had no cure and no identified causes, which made it all the more terrifying." (Fear of Polio in the 1950s © 1997, Beth Sokol)

Beth Sokol continues and references Jane Smith's, Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc, 1990, p. 34) "When polio struck, movie theaters were shut, camps and schools were closed, drinking fountains were abandoned, draft inductions suspended, and nonessential meetings were canceled until the epidemic appeared to be over for the time being."

Over the years I grew into a tomboy who delighted in the creepy crawly, presenting my slimy treasures to mom - the kind lady with the bottles. She had an abject fear of anything wiggly and especially rodents. I often wondered if she looked back to the terror of my birth and did it cross her mind that she wanted to put me back. 

But, I am thankful our family can celebrate birthdays relatively healthy because of the sacrifices of countless people. Medical research needs to continue, funding is crucial in a plethora of diseases and conditions.

I’ve fairly recently been diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome (“SHOW-grins”), “a systemic autoimmune disease affecting the entire body. Along with symptoms of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas.” (Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation)

It can take over 3 years to diagnose Sjögren’s which affects mainly women. It took 10 years for my diagnosis – I had two doctors who dismissed my symptoms … but was lucky to “flare” in front of my new primary doctor who sent me to the University of Michigan Hospital where a diagnosis of this autoimmune disease was confirmed. Unlike polio, many people have never heard of Sjögren’s, which may affect over 4 million Americans.

My rheumatologist tells me that I am one of the lucky ones – so far. I’ll hold this close and be comforted in her assessment. And as everything … so it goes!

June 27, 2017

Vision Board Workshop

An evening set aside to create vision boards - I looked forward to this activity, my third annual one, and spent a couple hours shopping for the perfect color board (poster vs thicker), placing one in my basket only to go back to the selection and replace it with another, more than once. Finally choosing a gray/blue slightly thick board. Satisfying because feel color matters in the long run to my end goal.

Arriving in the intimate office space I claimed my seat, one in which I didn't have to turn my head often, and looked around at this new meeting place. A plethora of magazines were scattered on all available surfaces, glue sticks and scissors stuck out of a plastic box on the work space; treats and wine were enticingly set out in a smaller office across the hall.

The leader began the vision board experience with an exercise of guided imagery, having us close our eyes, breathe, and visualize comfort places. Soft music played in the background during this portion of our evening.

I'd  spent hours clipping quotes, pictures and anything that grabbed my attention from my own reading materials and had them neatly secured in a plastic binder. I also journal my goals each year and check off what I was able to complete or accomplish ... a little OCD but fun to look at on future occasions. 

I was the oldest woman by a good ten years but settled into the activity fairly comfortable in that we were all working toward the same end. I had taken a picture of my current goals and looked at it for a bit before sorting my clippings into use or not use piles. This technique works for me and after completing the process a clear idea was formulated. Grabbing a glue stick I worked effortlessly and with direction while sipping on sweet wine. Unfamiliar rock-type music played in the background with some women singing the lyrics, accentuating our age difference, others silently focused, sharing intimate thoughts, with an occasional bout of laughter filling the air. It was a good night. 

If you are not familiar with vision boards they are:

  • Boards you create with magazine pictures, sayings, quotes, anything that speaks to you.
  • You can either paste or use double-sided tape to secure these clippings onto small, medium or large poster boards.
  • The vision aspect of these workshops is to create a dream scape of what you either intend to accomplish or wish to do for the year, or longer if you wish.
  • At the end of the workshop, each person is asked to share their board and what in them was significant to them.
  • More often than not, what is created surprises the "artist" and is usually an encouragement.
  • These boards ideally, when completed, should be set up in an area of your home to view and keep you on task.
  • Also, in my experience with vision board workshops, treats, wine, and music are integral parts to make you feel relaxed and cared for.

I am pleased with my 2017 vision board - and recommend this creative process for those stuck in a rut, wanting a little more direction, or plainly for the fun of a small gathering with similar-minded people.





June 21, 2017

Slip Sliding Away


The breeze was almost wicked as my husband, daughter and I rounded the top of the sandy trail in the Leelanau Peninsula. Leaning over the bluff I looked into the cold arms of Lake Michigan – grabbing my daughter's arm, said: "Let's go, it's not that far down." 

We laughed on our descent – hop, skip, and sliding down the dune. My delight in the adventure turned quickly to concern as the top of the hill was receding with each sandy step. The bluff was at a 60-degree angle and presented a 400 foot drop. But we continued to the bottom with Lake Michigan lapping at our toes.

The top of the dune where my husband was waiting was hidden due to a large sandy protrusion – “Crap” I sighed loudly to my daughter. What had I gotten us into? Wandering worriedly as the waves lapped our feet, crap seemed like a good word to use, again, as I envisioned an embarrassing helicopter rescue. 

I was a couple decades older than my last successful trip down the Log Slide in Grand Marais, Michigan, where I flew down the dune and easily climbed back up to my mother’s smiling face. But now, the 60s taunted me, yet thought I was in pretty decent shape. So with my pride on the line and desperately aching to prove this climb would not defeat my daughter and I, up we went. 

Step by agonizing step. 

My energy gave out after only about ten minutes into the climb forcing me to stop, a lot. The bluff was at such a steep angle that to sit or stand would surely cause a tumble onto the rocks below. I rested and breathed delicate pieces of sand into my flared nostrils, my pounding heart ripping at my chest.

Up a few steps, down some, up again and sliding backwards. The climb was the most extreme exercise of any I have ever engaged in and I was frankly scared and thinking about how my daughter was doing, my husband at the top, and that helicopter rescue.

My daughter was obviously concerned as she carefully followed my sunken steps and took charge of the sand-wheel, if you will. "Breathe from deep in your lungs mom, and let it out; walk in my footsteps."

She took the lead and leapfrogged me up the brown sugar sand dune as my energy resources continually were exhausted. We had no choice but to continue - she positioned herself next to me and pushed my butt to keep me going. Butt push, steps, descending some, upward momentum, butt push, progress.

The summit was visible. My worried husband was standing next to a man and woman shouted words of encouragement, which were difficult to hear due to the wind, the beating pulse in our ears, and our one focus to finish. As we reached the final agonizing leg of this intense upward climb, the stranger kindly lowered his backpack as a handhold as there was nothing in our paths to grasp. I ungracefully lunged over the lip of the dune … crawling on my stomach I grabbed his foot and held on with gratitude. This stranger did not pull away but stood patiently – all three of them appeared proud – my husband smiled, “I knew you could do it.”

As a group we descended to the parking lot. My legs wobbled and were spent but found myself beaming with pride of my daughter and the manner in which she took charge, fully giving of herself to get me to the top of this sand dune. I was touched by the support of these beautiful people.

The couple, who were in their 60s, had shared with my husband, as we were struggling up the dune, that I was an inspiration to them. The husband and wife told him that my taking on this dune challenge helped them realize that they, too, could also take on adventures. It was absolutely humbling to realize that my not so smart decision would affect this couple in a positive way – to get them to think beyond their age and see that some of their own limitations were in their minds. 

Was the climb worth it? The jury is out on that one. (We found out later that if we had only walked around the bottom of the dune a short distance there was a firm path leading back to the top. What can I say?)

June 16, 2017

Rainy Days with Meryl Streep

I sprawled out in our orange room on a rainy afternoon, my body half on and half off the white IKEA sofa, a pillow behind my back and one on my lap for my opportunist cat who jumps on and presents his royal ear for a good scratching.

A delicious mug of Kona coffee is a treat in itself and keeps me company as I watch Julie and Julia for the fourth time. This is one of my most favorite movies … portraying a melancholic woman, Julie, who works in New York fielding insurance calls after 911 - and is an unpublished writer. Julie feels less accomplished than all her socialite 30-year-old friends, one of whom “even blogs”. She whines about this to her husband as they watch Julia Child’s The French Chef. Her husband, distractedly annoyed with her mood, gently encourages her to start her own blog. She sits straight up on the couch and after some excited discussion wonders what she could blog about. Julie loves cooking, adores Julia Child, and decides that the blog will be daily posts focused on a year of cooking through her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie’s husband helps her select a blog site and assists with set-up, she chooses the blog’s name, writes her introductory entry, clicks the post button, then waits.

Julie and Julia arrived in theaters in 2009 - I was first in line. A large bag of popcorn in my hand, a hot cup of coffee, of course; my seat secured … stage center. I was captured, enraptured and became Julie’s silent and secret apprentice. I laughed and became weepy when, after all these years, it hit me that Julia Child was dead, not realizing until that movie moment how much I missed her. Meryl Streep melded into Julia and was amazing – becoming Julia to me and I held that close to my heart to bring me out of a threatening sob.

Julia and her husband, Paul, had moved to France for his work and the couple ate often at French restaurants. She loses the ability to communicate with words but rather happily moaned when she ate food – cooked in real butter, a lot of butter. “I feel I am French” she exclaims brightly when walking through town with her husband. Paul proudly proclaims to friends, “Julia brings out the best in a pole cat” acknowledging her zest for life, love of the French - and the food.

Julia is me in that when I eat an exquisite meal, I moan and exclaim through the whole meal how wonderful it is, that “it’s the best meal I’ve ever eaten”!

Julie is me, was me, seeming to parallel my journey. I thought of myself as a writer … wrote the family periodical The Olsen Chronicles, penned stories, kept diaries and journals - but felt a void in my life’s direction. I was close to tears for most of the movie in 2009 as I morphed into these women and embraced the love and support they received from friends and family.

As the movie progressed thoughts were formulating and terminated in a decision to begin my own blog. I love watching cooking shows, and, in particular, The Barefoot Contessa … so because of my own tomboy existence chose The Barefoot Norwegian as my blog’s name. It would be a blog of positivity and would be about my experiences traveling through Michigan and my coffee shop musings. I virtually hugged Julia, Julie, and Meryl, for reigniting my writing spark.

Tears again pricked at my eyes as I sat on the couch finally allowing the grief of Julia Child’s death go, feeling comforted in knowing I still had Meryl Streep who helped redirect my life, giving me purpose during a period of my life when I needed it.

Under the Tuscan Sun is another most favorite movie … um, does this mean an Italian Villa in my future?

And, so it goes, spontaneously and unpredictably exciting…

May 5, 2017

From Social Media to Book

Floods in our parent's basement was a regular and messy occurrence during heavy storms. The water would easily reach calf level always resulting in damage. The family cedar chest held pictures and videos which we frantically laid around the house to dry and perhaps to save. A hard back book was found in the midst of the cedar chest treasures after my father's death in 1980 ... it was a previously unknown diary written by my maternal grandmother in 1938 during a period of her life when she lived with four of her children and husband in the woods in a cabin in Marquette, Michigan. This was a winter to be remembered with the heavy snow and rain around the country throughout the year. New England was hit by a category 3 hurricane, one of the worst since 1869, on September 21, 1938, destroying the home of Katharine Hepburn. Edna Olsen wrote about her experience with the winter blizzard of 1938 - equally hard and violent - in this book.  

I played with the idea of creating something lasting out of this diary: a children's book; printing out pages from the diary and sending to family; allowing it to rest and be forgotten. I kept these ideas in my heart and thoughts for many years, never forgetting.  

In 2016, I was in a class led by a life coach ... my "take" from this was a decision to have focused goals for the next year - ones that would take my full attention until completion. I played with an idea of putting Edna's diary on Facebook, page by page, date corresponding to the date in the book, and to post to all my Facebook family, including "friends". My biggest concern was: would my "friends" enjoy seeing these personal posts from an era so long removed from our memories? I thought - yes, maybe.  

My steps in preparation for this endeavor began at the end of 2016, and included:
  • Typing Edna's written words, verbatim and including her punctuation, in a Word document.
  • Deciding to put on social media's Facebook - believing this was one of the best ways to reach people, family and friends.
  • Receiving permission to "post" diary from Edna's daughter.
  • Searching my photo library for pictures to use to compliment the writing of the day.
  • Editing these pictures for clarity and presentation.
  • Inserting selected pictures into the diary entry.
  • Posted author’s poem the eve of New Year’s in preparation for the diary.
  • Began Facebook with a short synopsis on the first of January, 2017 as written in the diary.
  • Daily posts coinciding with day of month author wrote in diary. 
  • Allowed for all to see these posts. 
  • At the end of each of Edna's entry, wrote a little explanation, idea, or posed a question.
  • As time progressed, I collected comments and drew more by asking for memories.
  • Continued daily posts making sure they were written in the morning for continuity of those who followed and posted.
  • Near the conclusion of the diary began cutting and pasting posts, including friend and family comments, and inserted that day’s photo into a Word document. 
  • Made decision to center all pictures in document to give it an aesthetic appearance. 
  • Edited comments for redundancy, deleting a few, tightening up the person’s punctuation for readability trying to preserve the essence of who this Facebook person is.
Continued editing and sharpening project.The idea of creating a book out of this Facebook document occurred to me around this time. Previously, I was considering sending family the link to the Word document - but a book would give friends and family a hands-on experience and memory of Edna Olsen's diary and posts from many people. My next steps when this decision was set in
stone were:
  • Contacted the Michigan State University library for information on self publishing: formatting, size, font, cover art.
  • Saved full document on 3 sites (computer, thumb drive, passport). 
  • Met with MSU Espresso Book Machine Coordinator to share intent and set up appointment with cover designer. 
  • Brought thumb drive to appointment. 
  • Worked on-site with coordinator to format for 6 x 9 book, spacing, setting up font, paragraph breaks, picture sizes and pagination. 
  • With the coordinator's expertise designed and prepared a cover for book – front, binder, back; selected pictures to include on cover and wrote a synopsis of book. 
  • Included my logo "Barefoot Norwegian Publishing" on back cover. 
  • Selected the number of books to start with by estimating those who I thought would be interested in receiving a copy. 
  • Signed copyright page for 100 copies. 
  • Coordinator created one copy of the book for me to review, edit and/or change. 
  • Took this prototype home and scoured for any errors and submitted to coordinator. 
  • Received corrected book and cover documents from coordinator via email. 
  • Reviewed and approved. 
  • Printing of books begun and completed.
  • To make mailing less expensive purchased book mailing envelopes and invoice book from an office store rather than the Post Office.
  • Took envelope with book to Post Office for mailing amount.
  • Contacted family for interest in receiving book, wrote out invoice, included within pages of book to receive book rate
  • As orders came in, each book was mailed. 
Diary of a Cabin Dweller


March 3, 2017

Eating Roads in Hometown USA

In the beginning there were roads, and they were good.

As a family historian and story-sharer, if you will, eating roads had been a story etched into our lore and a fun one to share.  No one as of yet has come close to believing me, thinking I am as full of hot air as Garrison Keillor is in his elaborate tales of his beloved home in Minnesota.  As a child of a storytelling family, separating fact from fiction has been my pursuit, and, knowing how children adopt memories from stories, a thrilling search for the truth.  It is true that our family ate roads in our hometown of Marquette in the 1950's.
Marquette road in background Donald
and his sister, Janice Olsen

I have enchanting recollections of eating the road in front of our home on Baraga Avenue.  This memory includes the tarry smell, the gooey pebbly consistency as a piece was picked up and rolled in a ball, along with the rubbery warm taste in my mouth.  My older siblings and several relatives, being of a more advanced age, obviously ate more roads than I chewed up.  A relative shared her memory of roads that would bubble up in the summertime heat, picking that substance up, chewing it because it was like bubble gum with rocks.  She contacted Marquette's retired road commissioner, Johnny Depetro, asking if he knew anything about the composition of the roads in Marquette during the 1950's.

Depetro wrote back, saying, "The street and block on West Baraga Avenue you are talking about was made of a macadam material named after a Scottish engineer J.L. McAdam (1756-1836).  The material consisted of small broken stones used in making roads, especially such stones mixed with tar or asphalt.  Some of the streets paved in the late 1940's and 1950's in Marquette that have not been reconstructed still have macadam material in them and have held together for many years or far longer than expected.  But is no longer being produced, due to the expense.  So, as the older streets are reconstructed, they are repaved by a new asphalt material that is much cheaper to make, but does not have the life span that macadam had.  This is called progress.  It was not uncommon for kids seeing that warm loose gooey tar on the top of the road to make a little tar ball to chew.  Not eaten or swallowed, but usually done because of an 'I double dare you to make a tar ball' and that is how we get to remember some of the fun things we would do, as young kids."

So, as confirmed above by Johnny Depetro, in the beginning there were roads, and they were good.

What kind of materials did you find to eat in your younger days that evokes a wary eye when you talk about it?

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