One of the first things I usually do after waking up, rolling out of bed, and making the morning coffee is to check my e-mail. Most often, I don’t find more than one or two messages that have “come in” during the wee hours sitting in my “In” box.
Every now and then, however, I’m greeted with some note that piques my interest and gets my sleepy brain active.
Just such an item was awaiting me earlier this week, and it was one that not only piqued my interest and perked my brain up, but informed me of something I was never aware of—that I’m a genuine person!
Believe it or not, the writer of this message, sounding almost desperate, stated his/her need of my previously unrealized genuineness! I had to read the thing through more than a few times to make complete sense out of it—what exactly he/she was getting at.
I never really could put the whole thing together, other than I can use my talents to do something for the “less privileged.” That’s a pretty worthwhile and decent thing to do, I would think.
Despite its nebulous and vague content, the message has left me thrilled to be considered genuine, and one who can be called in, a la Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes, to help solve some dilemma or problem.
And the best part of all of this? The sender requests only my genuineness!
And so, at this writing, I haven’t acted upon this rather strange request. Perhaps I’m too busy prancing about, gloating over my new-found image of being a genuine guy.
Because I’m so genuine, I’ll share the e-mail message with you, dear readers, and ask what you would do. In the meantime, I wish you all the best for a wonderful day in your endeavors in being genuine, too!
“I am in need of your genuineness in utilising my resources for the less privileged. email back so i could provide you with more details of my intentions. Katy. Ed (Mrs)CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail communication and any attachments may contain proprietary and privileged information for the use of the designated recipients named above. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.” (E-mail received from ANTHONY.ALSUP@CHAMP-TECH.com August 18, 2016)
Writing this from the cottage (JollyYet) porch this morning, I’m visited by my friends the hummingbirds, who can’t decide which of the two feeders to patronize, and so keep zooming back and forth betwixt the two.
Off to my right, about thirty feet away, are the two “regular” bird feeders (which are going to need refilling today), where a hungry rose-breasted grosbeak picks and pecks away at the remaining grains and seeds. A couple of hopeful chipmunks are on point below, awaiting the sloppy habits of the birds above, knowing that they’ll be rewarded soon.
The lake, for a mid-week Wednesday morning, is unusually noisy and busy. Already a fast ski boat has passed by below, a talented skier in tow shouting instructions over the din of the motor. Another large and loud one slowly made its way into my atmosphere a short while ago, blasting some equally loud and annoying hip-hop/rap “tune” through its massive speakers mounted on the overhead tow bar. Please…
But, nothing is forever. Like the boats and skiers and noise that show up but eventually go away, so is our summer life at this wonderful, old resort tucked away under the giant oaks and maples and dogwoods.
On such a morning as this (and there have been quite a few this summer), I realize how much this place has meant to me the seventeen summers we’ve been coming up here. And I’m finally realizing that there are but a few weeks remaining in our role as summer “lakers.”
As I wrote in an earlier post, this is to be our last summer taking a cottage. We began discussing this about a year ago and agreed that we’d do it one more summer, especially since Carolyn would be retired from a long career in the hair dressing business and could spend more time here during the summer weeks. And now those weeks are winding down to when we have to close up and be out of here: September 17. Our reasons for giving it up are many, and I will share those in a future post very soon.
We’re having some company over the Labor Day weekend, which is always a very busy time here, and it should be lots of fun, although we’ll be pulling the pier out then (for the last time!) and we’ll be seriously getting things packed up and taken home or into the dumpster. We’re hoping that whoever will be occupying this place after us would like to have the various futons and other items we are happy to leave here for them. We shall see.
And so, the morning edges along with wonderful breezes and pleasant temperatures. I am here until early Saturday morning, when I’m heading home for a few days to attend our grandson’s first football game and, of course, take care of mowing, etc.
Carolyn left for home yesterday, allowing me to be here by myself to work on my writing for the remainder of the week. And that’s how I’ll be spending the rest of my morning here on the porch of JollyYet, my fine, feathered friends close by, and the waters calm and quiet out in front once more.
For the last two summers right about this same time, we have done something special with our two grandsons, kind of a last-of-summer vacation thing.
Last year it was a day trip over to Dearborn, Michigan, to visit the Henry Ford Museum and adjoining Greenfield Village. The four of us enjoyed every minute of that day, and we still often mention that we’d like to return and see all the other things that we didn’t have time to get to. And I’m sure that we will do so sometime down the road.
This year, since we’re both home from the cottage for a few days, we thought it would be neat to take the three-hour drive over to Dyersville, Iowa, home of the Field of Dreams–the farm where the movie was filmed in 1988.
What would make this trip all the more special is that we had taken the boys’ dad—our son—there back in the early 90s when he wasn’t much older than they are now. Playing catch on that magical field with my son all those years ago was, indeed, special, and to do the same with my grandsons seemed like a pretty good thing to do!
As always, we had kept an eye on the weather forecast because it would be rather pointless to set off all that way if rain was imminent. But fortune smiled on us and the day dawned overcast, promising to be in the high 80s by afternoon. Leaving by 7:30 would allow us to reach the place out in the Iowa cornfields by late morning, before the heat became too stifling.
And so, with the wheelie cooler chock full of bottles of water and snacks, we hit the road and enjoyed the countryside, with the flatness of home giving way to the rolling terrain of northwest Illinois, our journey taking us over US-20 past Rockford, Freeport, Stockton, Galena, and over the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa. Dyersville and the Field of Dreams is just a short drive onward from there, and we had no trouble locating the charming place once more, even after so many years.
Jackson and Matthew spent most of the trip there watching the movie on a laptop. For Jackson it was the first time he’d seen it, and we all agreed that it was a good thing he had so the site would mean more to him.
If you build it, he will come…
Of course, I’ve seen the movie countless times over the years, and never fail to get caught up in the story and its homage to baseball and the role it plays in so many lives, generation after generation. I would think that even non-baseball fans would find something intriguing in the tale that starred Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones.
The movie was based on the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Interestingly, I read this book for the first time this summer, and knowing we were going to be visiting the movie site, I wanted to compare the original story with the film’s treatment of it.
To say that it had many diversions and changes would be a vast understatement. Although I usually prefer the original work, in this case I tend to lean toward the Hollywood version—grudgingly, of course! Not sure about some of the “additional” characters the author included in the original, and I think the story worked fine without most of them. But that’s merely my opinion, mind you.
Go the distance…
The hour or so we were there, playing catch, batting with other kids and adults there for perhaps the same reasons, was just enough and well timed. After a brief snack break on a picnic table under some beautiful tall pines near the old farmhouse, the heat had begun to rise, the boys were sweaty and dusty, and Carolyn and I were hot and ready to get back into the air-conditioned comfort of the Equinox.
A quick visit to the gift shack to check things out, and then we were ready to pull out of the place and begin our trip back home to Illinois. And, of course, it was about that time when we were all ready for some lunch. Our plan was to stop for a nice sit-down meal (no drive-thru, fast-food adventures this trip!) and enjoy the cool atmosphere and some good food somewhere around Galena.
As it turned out, we continued through the Galena area and on to the small town of Stockton about an hour away. To our delight, right there on our route in the small town was an attractive log building named JJ & Freddie’s. The service was friendly and attentive, the food was good,
the draft beer I enjoyed was quite refreshing, and the air conditioning was superb! Each of us was fully contented at this point.
Re-fueled and refreshed now, we were back on the road to home and I even managed a nice nap as Carolyn got us home in good shape around 4:30. The hot afternoon couldn’t diminish the wonderful morning’s fun and smiles we’d all shared on our little trek over to the magical Field of Dreams.
It was a busy week, with many miles logged out to Cambridge Springs and Meadville, Pennsylvania (361 miles one way), for our most current genealogy research trip to continue discovering more about my ancestors. And, as an added bonus, we stayed two nights at a 130-year-old Victorian inn and met some very nice and wonderful folks along the way.
We spent two days at the Crawford County Historical Society of Meadville and the Cambridge Springs Heritage Society and Museum respectively. We “hit the mother lode,” as Carolyn says, locating obituaries, wedding announcements, and other documentation of my ancestors.
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better result. Many thanks to Joann in Meadville and Rose Smith in Cambridge Springs for spending so much time with us and guiding us to that “mother lode!”
Now, back to that Victorian inn…
The Riverside Inn and Hotel came about because of the mineral springs that had been discovered in 1860 by a Dr. John H. Gray, who owned a large farm along French Creek. Considered to be healthful and possess curative powers, these springs opened up new vistas for the small community as the Riverside Inn and Hotel was developed as, perhaps, the first health spa of its kind.
The Riverside flourished for years, accommodating wealthy patrons during this “mineral water boom” of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The small rural community became a busy resort.
Several other large and grand hotels sprouted in Cambridge Springs, but the Riverside Inn and Hotel is the lone survivor. After the burning of the other remaining one, the Rider Hotel, in 1935, and the decline of the belief in the healing powers of the mineral springs, the tourist trade faded.
The Riverside has managed to live on, however, keeping alive its traditions. A change of ownership in the 80s allowed for major restoration, helping to return the Riverside Inn and Hotel to its original splendor.
Carolyn and I truly enjoyed the quiet, country atmosphere and wonderful food in the beautiful Concord Room for breakfasts and dinners. It’s definitely a step way back in time: No elevator, no TV or phone in the room, and very limited Wi-Fi. What it did have was excellent charm.
Not sure why I wrote that sentence quite that way. Maybe I’m in a Shakespearian kind of mood at this writing. Then again, perhaps not. Regardless, it does make me pause when I realize that this summer is speeding way too fast.
Seems as though we were just in the midst of opening up the cottage and getting things pretty much settled and eagerly awaiting those wondrous lazy days of another season up there in Michigan on the magical waters.
Yes, friends and other guests arrived, and somehow the time slipped right on by without us really noticing. Pontoon boat cruises came and went and came and went again. We floated off the pier and out in the deep, delighting in the cool water, and the time crept right on past without us realizing.
Along the way, a few cold nights brought out the heater and an extra blanket on the bed–but only a few! Mornings on the porch welcomed the new day and the warming sun as it skirted around from the east and finally settled in and made us glad to be there once more.
And now the heart of summer has arrived and the shadows have begun to take on their different slants and angles—ever so slightly—as days wear on into night.
July is done. August sets in now with a robust sense of power and heat, bridging things between the early summer days and the new autumn that is yet to come. Thoughts begin to turn to closing things down for the season and putting it all away for another year.
It’s a bittersweet time starting now as we’ve decided that this will be our final summer to do any of this. Much thought and back-and-forth contemplation has gone into our decision. Renting the cottage year after year since summer 2000 has been wonderful, but new horizons beckon.
Travel and other off-the-beaten-path adventures await! An Alaska cruise a year from now and a journey to New Orleans and south Florida in February and March of 2017 are in the works. Cottage and lake life will not be part of things after this season.
And now that summer 2016 is wheeling right on by, we begin to sort things out in our minds to make the final month “up there” the best one yet. We will enjoy the remaining pontoon rides and the “soaks” in the lake and the splendid hours on the porch, watching it all go by. We will laugh and smile and enjoy the wonders surrounding our little summer place and make a few more memories before it’s all over.
Last week I mentioned that I’ve been doing more reading than writing, and though I should probably feel guilty, I really don’t. I guess it’s because I don’t always have much to say, but I always have the desire to read. And so my mornings usually are given over to reading in the peace and quiet of the cottage on Magician Lake.
Although I enjoy fiction, my tastes have really turned more toward non-fiction, specifically biographies and history. I like to keep a pattern of alternating between the various types, following a biography with a good thriller or mystery.
So far this summer, these are the books and authors I’ve finished and enjoyed, in one way or another:
Stealing America-(Dinesh D’Souza) – An intriguing work that explains a lot of things about the current state of the Democrat Party.
The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball-(Charles Fountain) – For baseball fans who enjoy the history of the game, and for a White Sox fan such as I, this is a wonderful book that provides so much background of the circumstances that helped create the most notorious scandal in the history of Major League Baseball, the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
Sycamore Row-(John Grisham) – Another fine legal tale from Grisham that is a sequel to his first successful novel A Time to Kill. The main character, Jake Brigance, is once again caught up in a very strange case that keeps one turning the pages to see how the whole thing will turn out.
The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart-(Tom Smoot) – I bought this book on our trip to Fort Myers, Florida, where we visited the Edison-Ford Estate in March. It was a fascinating work that explained how Edison came to Fort Myers in the first place and his love of the community, making this his winter home for many years.
Papa: Hemingway in Key West-(James McLendon) – This is another book I picked up on our recent Florida trip, specifically in Key West. Hemingway’s life and times in Key West and how the “Papa” myth grew is explained in this nice little book. Makes one want to dash on down for a cold drink at Sloppy Joe’s!
Night-(Elie Wiesel) – This very small—but extremely powerful—book has rested on my home bookshelves for quite a long time, with my having every intention to sit down and read it. Ironically, when I packed this in with the other books to take up to the cottage, I had no idea that the author would pass away shortly thereafter. This is Elie Wiesel’s recounting of the horror that came to his family and other Jews during the tragic Hitler years, before any kind of help in the form of liberation eventually materialized. It is the story of perseverance in the face of hopelessness and inhumanity. Rest in peace, Elie Wiesel! Your story shall not be forgotten, nor any of those people who suffered.
Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty-(Charles Leerhsen) – Another biography and baseball book about one of the game’s greatest players, yet historically misunderstood. The book enlightened me as to the misconceptions I have always held about Ty Cobb, who was cast as a racist and overall mean person on and off the field. Leerhsen provides clear evidence that just the opposite was actually the true picture of Cobb.
The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindberg, and the Epic Age of Flight-(Winston Groom) – The author has interwoven the stories of these three Americans who showed uncommon courage and never backed down from the challenges they faced in the world of aviation. It seems as though when faced with daunting adversity, each of these Americans ratcheted up his inner fortitude and met the challenges head on.
There are still several weeks remaining, and I do plan to devote much of that time to my writing. But there are still more books to read and enjoy as well.
What's next to read?
Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training-(Charles Fountain) Yep, another baseball book, but what can I say? There’s always room for books about baseball in the good, old summertime! Can’t wait to get to it. :-)
What are some of your favorite summer reads this year?
It rained sometime in the pre-dawn hours. I heard its pleasant patter on the roof above my head upstairs as I was about to get up to put the coffee on. I pulled the covers back over me and lay there and enjoyed the sound.
Now, a couple of hours later, it’s gray, a slight breeze ruffles the wind chimes out here on the screened porch, and all is quiet on the lake and surrounding land. No wave runners or zealous ski boats are churning things up this morning as the “reality” of mid-week settles in.
Coffee cup filled now, it’s time for me to get to “work.” My trusty MacBook has waited patiently these past few days for me to be inspired enough to fire it up and catch up on my writing. Instead, my mornings have been given over to reading rather than the creation of my own words, and all of the noise and excitement of the 4th of July weekend wasn’t too conducive for getting any kind of writing going, either.
This morning is different, though. My current “read”–The Aviators–rests inside and will stay inside until I’m finished with this post and some work on the novel. Later, we’re heading away from the lake for lunch and a visit to an Outlet Mall in Michigan City. With the change in the weather, I suppose it’s a good day for that, too.
With some company arriving this coming weekend, I guess getting this sort of weather out of the way now is a good thing, and, besides, it is that inspiration for me to start up the MacBook and get back to writing! Let’s hope so…
In my next post, I will share my thoughts about all of those books I’ve read rather than spend time writing. Which causes me to wonder: When did/do all of the good and famous authors find time to read and get their writing done?