Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wintpring or Springinter?: Photos from the Forest

Dear George, 
Weatherwise, Cincinnati is right on the edge.  We seem to be done with the snow and ice, and the temperatures at night drop below freezing only about half the time.  On the other hand, there aren’t many budding blossoms to be found.  We seem to be right at the juncture between winter and spring -- sort of a transitional period that might be called “springinter”, or maybe “wintpring”.  It makes me wonder why we get so rigid about dividing the year into four seasons anyway.  In southern India the Hindu calendar recognizes six seasons: Vasanta (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Varsha (Monsoon), Sharad (Autumn), Hemanta (Fall Winter), and Shishira (Winter).*  Cincinnati usually has six or seven distinct seasons, though the authorities have never formally recognized this.  I set off to Burnet Woods with my camera the other day to pinpoint just what season we’re in this week.  Here is what I found out. 

It’s just as I thought.  Half of these pictures could well have been taken in early January.  Despite the lack of snow, they are wintry as can be.  The other half, with their little spriglets of spring peeking out, could only have been taken after mid-March. Since full-fledged spring is imminent and winter is steadily backing away, I think “springinter” is the best name for our current circumstances.  I am posting this photographic evidence in the hope that a professional climatologist will come across it and take appropriate action.  In the meantime, we’ll wait patiently for the balmy breezes.   

*, “Ritu (Indian season)” 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sophie With Her Brothers

Sophie (middle), Mike (left), Duffy (right)

Dear George,
Donna drove down to Nashville to see Rebekah perform in Death of a Salesman last weekend, and Sophie came to stay with us.  As always, she brightened up our household, and neighbors on the street were glad to see her too.  All the dogs are showing signs of age.  Mike and Duffy turn 13 next month, and Sophie, who had the same parents (Sarah and Abraham), will join their age group in November.  Sophie’s had more frequent and longer walks over the years, so she’s more agile climbing the steps and she’s the only dog who can still jump into the bed.  She gets in first and picks a spot up near the humans’ pillows, while her brothers settle down near the end of the bed.  Katja observed that Sophie’s more interactive than Mike and Duffy are.  When Katja sits down on the couch, Sophie climbs up to join her and rests her head in Katja’s lap.  She’s the only dog who likes being together on the couch.  Three dogs in the bed take up a lot of space, and I retreated to the guest room while Sophie was here.  Remarkably, I fell right asleep, slept soundly through the night, and didn’t need to take a sleeping pill.  After thirteen years of struggling with insomnia, I think I’ve finally discovered what the problem is (i.e., insufficient space for the humans).  When Donna came back on Monday afternoon, Sophie was excited to see her.  In the meantime, she was a perfect guest and a beloved member of our family.

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (3-25): Very Cute! 
-Donna D (3-24): david, you are so sweet to do this blog entry.   Just so you know i picked up sophie on sunday afternoon, not monday.  oh well.... :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Marital Peeves

Dear George,
I was thinking it would be amusing to write about pet peeves.  I began by making a list of things that annoy me now and then in various public places (e.g., the drugstore, the fitness center).  However, it turned out that about 90% of my irritations are located inside the four walls of our household.  That’s not too surprising since that’s where I spend much of my time.  Also people experience many of their frustrations (and rewards) in their close relationships.   When you’re married for a long time, you’re bound to accumulate a bunch of irritations.  What I’ve learned in my married life is that the first thirty years are the most difficult.  After thirty, you’ve learned to sidestep major areas of conflict, and what’s left are petty annoyances.  I decided it would be sort of uncomely to write exclusively about my marital complaints, so I also asked Katja what her pet peeves were about me.  Neither one of us had any difficulty generating a list.  Here are some of my items.

  • Katja doesn’t sort the trash properly for recycling (e.g., leaves the caps on plastic bottles) 
  • She regularly turns on NPR the minute we get in the car
  • Our refrigerator is often overflowing and sometimes tomatoes and cucumbers get spoiled
  • Too many lights are on in the house at night
  • Katja turns up the heat when she’s chilly (instead of putting on a sweatshirt)
  • She puts chicken broth in the dogs’ dry food though the vet advised it was poor for their teeth
  • Katja has been known to throw my stuff away
  • When I ask how much things cost, Katja usually reduces the price by at least 25%
  • Katja puts New York Times in the trashmasher even though newspapers can’t be mashed
  • Why do we have a trashmasher anyway?

I would summarize my list in terms of three themes: (a) doing things “the right way” (e.g., recycling); (b) being economical (e.g., don’t turn the heat up); and (c) respecting boundaries (e.g., not throwing stuff away like my old Menominee matchbook collection).

I didn’t show Katja my list, but it didn’t matter since she predicted it all anyway.  Likewise, Katja’s list wasn’t a surprise to me.  Her items included:

  • Too bossy
  • Too many ultimatums
  • Too many instructions
  • Excessive time demands (e.g., we have to leave at exactly such and such a minute)
  • Money handling, spending (doesn’t like to spend money)
  • Entertainment (wish you would enjoy things more that we do)
  • Always wants to be in charge of the remote control
  • Doesn’t listen to me
  • Sloppy, leaves stuff all over
  • Doesn’t say he loves me often enough
  • Wants things done his way
  • Can’t find things

My items tend to be more concrete, while Katja’s are broader.  For example, I complain about broth in the dog food, and Katja complains about my being bossy and giving too many instructions.  It’s hard to say whether chicken broth or bossiness is a more important matter, but they’re both pretty important.  A lot of Katja’s peeves have to do with control issues (e.g., ultimatums, wants things his way).  Others have to do with money and finances; insufficient attention and affection; and disorganization (sloppy, can’t find things).

In some ways, our pet peeves dovetail.  Katja complains that I’m bossy, while I suggest she doesn’t do things “correctly” (i.e., the way I think they should be done).  Similarly, she thinks I’m too stingy, and I think she’s too extravagant.  These are potential areas of dissension in married life for most people, and they’ve always been with us. 

To see how much we agree or differ in our perceptions, I made up a two-item survey: (a) Who makes the decisions?; and (b) Who gets their way?  I used a 9-point (1 to 9) scale for each question, with 1 meaning “Katja always”, 5 meaning “Both equally”, and 9 meaning “David always”.  We each filled it out separately.  For “Who makes the decisions?”, Katja chose 6 (David makes the decisions slightly more often), and I chose 3 (Katja clearly more often).  For “Who gets their own way?”, Katja said 8 (David gets his way nearly always), and David said 2 (Katja gets her way nearly always).  These are basically opposite pictures.  You might wonder if one of us is more right than the other, but I think we experience our life together from different vantage points, and our contrary judgments accurately depict what’s going on.  That’s the thing about pet peeves.  They’re always in the eye of the beholder.

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (3-22):  morning, david!  bek and i are sitting on their patio drinking our morning coffee. :)  we just had such a fun time reading this blog!  Bekah said she would love it if you would do a blog about what you have learned from her  and she from you during your marriage.  including categories such as things about self, about life, and especially ways you've each made the other a better person.  Will you do that?   Yay!  Lookin forward to it!
-Gayle C-L (3-21): David.  When the book  Men are from Mars and Women from Venus was  written, evidently the author wasted a lot of time writing it  because it Looks to me like You got life beat!  :)   Lots of love   G

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In the Merry Month of March

Dear George,
Most years March is my seventh or eighth favorite month.  This year, though, it’s already moved up to number one.  That’s because March is such an abrupt transition from our dismally harsh winter.  In just a few days subzero temperatures have been replaced to highs in the 60s.  The thick layer of ice which covered our sidewalks and made dogwalking a hazard has completely evaporated.  Best of all Daylight Savings Time has arrived, providing daylight up till almost eight o’clock.  Now we actually can see ourselves surviving through 2015.  Here are some things about the month of March that are particularly noteworthy. 

March’s name:  March, of course, is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.  Martius (in Latin) was the first month of the early Roman calendar, and it was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare.  Many societies still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.  (12) (note: numbers in parentheses refer to sources at end)

The Vernal Equinox:  This year the Vernal Equinox will occur on March 20 in the Northern hemisphere.  This is the date upon which the day and the night are the same 12-hour length.  It also happens in some years on March 19 or March 21.  (6)  

March quotes:
March Calamities:
  • Mar. 6, 1836:  Fort Alamo fell to the Mexican troops. 
  • Mar. 12, 1928:  The Nazis invaded Austria. 
  • Mar. 15, 44 B.C.:  Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate chamber in Rome by Brutus and fellow conspirators. 
  • Mar. 16, 1968:  The My Lai Massacre occurred in Vietnam.
  • Mar. 24, 1989:  The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred off the coast of Alaska.
  • Mar. 25, 1911:  The Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire on Manhattan’s Lower East Side killed 123 young women and 23 men.
  • Mar. 27, 1964:  The biggest earthquake in recorded history (8.3 on the Richter scale) hit Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Mar. 28, 1979:  The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident occurred in Middletown, PA.   (7, 8) 
March could be called “Katja’s month”:  I never realized it before doing this research, but March has special significance for Katja.  This is because she has been a social worker who specialized in visual impairments, a former French teacher, a 1960’s (and beyond) feminist, a music lover, an aspiring poetess, and the daughter of a dietician.  Thus, it’s no surprise that March observances and holidays include:
  • National Professional Social Work Month
  • Workplace Eye Wellness Month
  • National Eye Donor Month
  • International Francophone Month
  • UN French Language Day (Mar. 20)
  • Women’s History Month
  • International Women’s Day (Mar. 8)
  • Music in our Schools Month
  • World Poetry Day (Mar. 21)
  • National Nutrition Month   (3, 12)
Saints Days in March:
  • Saint David’s Day in Wales (Mar. 1): Saint David, a 6th century teacher and ascetic who founded a Celtic monastic community in Wales, was recognized as a national patron saint during Welsh resistance to the Normans.  Every March 1 Welsh people make gingerbread figures of a Welshman riding a goat. 
  • Saint Patrick’s Day (Mar. 17): Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is credited with converting the pagan Irish to Christianity in the 5th century.  (12)
 Pi Day, March 14:  Pi, as we remember from high school geometry, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter (3.141592653...).  Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (since 3-14 are the first 3 digits of Pi).  This year is special because 3-14-15 are the first five digits of Pi.  If you happened to remember to celebrate at 9:26 and 53 seconds (AM or PM) on 3-14-15, those were supercalifragilistic Pi moments since they covered the 10 first digits of Pi (3141592653).  That won't happen again for 100 years.  (12)

Stupidest March Political Moment in Recorded History:  U.S. Senators who wrote Ayatollah Khomeini and other Iranian leaders on March 9, 2015, warning against negotiating with President Obama.  Signers included Tom Cotton (R, AK), Mitch McConnell (R, KY), John McCain (R, AZ), John Cornyn (R, TX), Marco Rubio (R, FL), Rand Paul (R, KY), Lindsey Graham (R, SC), Ted Cruz (R, TX), Rob Portman (R, OH), and 38 lesser known R’s.

"March Madness" Men's Div. 1 Basketball Champions:
  • 2014:  Connecticut def. Kentucky, 60-54
  • 2013: Louisville def. Michigan, 82-76
  • 2012: Kentucky def. Kansas, 67-59
  • 2011: Connecticut def. Butler, 53-41
  • 2010: Duke def. Butler, 61-59
  • 2009: North Carolina def. Michigan State, 89-72
  • 2008: Kansas def. Memphis, 75-68
  • 2007: Florida def. Ohio State, 84-75    (12)
 The Original March Madness: Long before the NCAA basketball tournament, “March madness” referred to crazy behavior during the breeding season of the European hare.  While hares are generally nocturnal animals, in the springtime they chase one another in broad daylight in a frenzy around fields and meadows.  Females can be seen striking males with their paws as they show that they’re not ready to mate or are testing the male’s persistence  When the female finally does get ready, she races around the countryside until only the fittest and most dominant male is left to trip the light fantastic.  Virtually all female hares become pregnant in March and April, giving birth to three or more infants after six weeks.  (12) 

Wildflowers that bloom in March in Southwest Ohio: Crocus, Pepper and Salt, Snow Drops, Spring Cress, White Trout Lily, Bloodroot, Marigold, Hairy Bittercress, Common Chickweed, String Beauty, Cut Leafed Toothwort, Rue Anemone, Ground Ivy, Purple Dead Nettle, Kidney-leafed Buttercup, Bird's-Eye Speedwell, Sessile Trillium, Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Violet.  (1, 11)

Menominee Michigan Weather in March:  Menominee typically gets about 10 inches of snow in March (the third snowiest month of the year); is sunny on 52% of its days; gets about 2.5 inches of rain (sixth rainiest month; June is highest); and has an average temperature of 30 degrees, an average high of 39, and an average low of 21.  (4)

Cincinnati Weather in March:  Cincinnati typically gets about 4.5 inches of snow in March (the fourth snowiest month of the year), has an average temperature of 42 degrees.  (4)

March in my childhood (1946-49): The ice on the Menominee River melts and breaks up in late March or early April.  My parents named it "Chinese Bells Day" because of the wonderful tinkling sounds.  We made our last snowmen of the year in March, and we started winding down on indoor fireplace fires.  I had to spend less time shoveling our 100-yard driveway.  Before the county blacktopped Riverside Boulevard, the melting ice and snow in March created deep muddy ruts on the road to our house, and we'd usually get several days off from school because the road was impassable.

March 2015 at our house on Ludlow Ave.:  Because of warmer temperatures and Daylight Savings Time, I walk the dogs a lot more.  Katja and Donna are talking about a trip abroad.  I was thrilled to return to line dancing and fitness center workouts after five weeks off for fractured ribs. We registered for spring quarter OLLI courses, including poetry writing and Life in Ancient Greece and Rome.  We cried at Cinderella.  The senior citizen sheepdogs, with a little help, are hanging in there.  All in all, life is good.

(1), “Early wildflowers of SW Ohio”; (2), “March”;
(3), “March”; (4), "Menominee, Michigan"; “Cincinnati, Ohio”; (5), “Brain Candy Quotations: Months”; 2015”;  (6), “March Fun Facts”; (7), “This Month in History: March”; (8), “This Month in History – March”; (9), "March 2015 Current Events"; (10), “March quotes”; (11), “Common Spring Wildflowers in Ohio”; (12)

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (3-16):  Fantastic!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Don't Worry About the Dogs

Dear George,
Our sheepdogs turn 13 next month.  That’s the equivalent of 91 in human years.  It’s hard to believe.  We’ve had a bleak and housebound winter, and I worry that Mike and Duffy are just going through one routine day after the next until they’ll suddenly no longer exist.  They get up at the same time each morning, go outside to do their business, eat the same breakfast, take the same pills, go for another little walk on the same stretch of sidewalk, take a nap, etc.  There doesn’t seem to be much variety or excitement in their lives.

Eating might be an example. Our human diet is much more rich and diverse than the dogs’.  E.g., oat bran cereal, cream cheese and lox, lentil soup, multi-grain bread, celery sticks, and, best of all, sixteen different varieties of Lean Cuisines.  The dogs only get two meals a day, and it’s always the same: 2 cups of lamb and rice pellets, one small scoop of canned meat mixed in (lamb and rice).  It looks unappetizing to me.  On the other hand, the dogs don’t seem to feel that way.  They approach their daily meals with feverish anticipation.  Every afternoon at 4:45 Duffy nuzzles me with his nose to remind me that it’s almost time for their 5:00 supper.  The dogs sit and watch avidly as Katja or I get their food ready.  Then they gobble it up with tremendous gusto.  It’s all eaten up in a matter of minutes.   Actually I don’t think I’ve been so excited by a meal in my entire life as the dogs are every single morning and afternoon.  Maybe eating isn’t a good example of monotony for the dogs.

We humans, of course, enjoy a lot more entertainment.  Katja and I often watch various TV shows that I’ve recorded with the DVR, e.g., Bates Motel, State of Affairs, Broadchurch, American Crimes, John Oliver.  There are car chases, shootouts, romantic interludes, cute babies, jet planes, sleuthing, and lots of jokes. The dogs, I’m sad to say, have no interest in TV.  When they were puppies, they paid attention when they heard dog barks, but they quickly discovered it was fake.  They apparently decided that TV is totally irrelevant to their lives, and they stopped watching altogether.  Instead of TV, they are interested in looking out the window.   Every time a person approaches their ears perk up, their muscles tense, and they stand to get a better look.  If it’s the mailman or if it’s person is accompanied by a dog, especially a pit bull or a chow, the dogs start leaping around and barking at the tops of their voices.  they seem to be protecting us from interlopers.  In any case, the dogs get more excited looking out the window than I ever do by watching TV.

I’ve also assumed that Katja and I have more rewarding social contacts than the dogs do.  We go places with friends, talk about events of the day, even read poems aloud.  The dogs aren’t devoid of social contact though.  Whenever I take them out on our street they have numerous social encounters.  Many passersby stop, comment on how wonderful the dogs are, and ask to pet them.  Mike and Duffy, in turn, sniff the people’s legs and nuzzle their trousers.  I can’t recall a single time that a stranger on the street has come up to say how terrific I am and proceeded to  rub my shoulders.  Actually I think the dogs get more attention and affection from strangers than the rest of us do (at least since we were babies). 

The dogs do sleep a lot during the day.  At first I interpreted this as another sign of their lives being dull.  Then it dawned on me that the dogs are wide awake when anything of interest to them is going on.  When the exciting things come to an end, they simply lie down and take a nap.  The consequence is that their waking lives are nearly always interesting. There’s a lot we could learn from this.  

After thinking it over, I guess I’ve been worrying too much about the quality of our dogs’ lives.  It may be true that their lives are restricted in human terms.  But, on the other hand, they’re not human beings.  They probably think our lives are sort of weird too, e.g., always reading the newspaper, doing Sudoku.  The dogs’ lives aren’t perfect, but they seem to experience more emotion and excitement than most human beings do.  Realizing that I’ve been under-estimating the dogs, it makes me wonder if it’s my own life that’s been monotonous lately.  That’s something else to worry about.   

G-mail Comments
Jennifer M (3-16):  This is a good entry.  :-)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Cedar River, Michigan

Cedar River, Mich. 

Dear George,
Some of our most memorable times in childhood occurred when our parents took us on family outings to Jean Worth’s hunting camp near Cedar River in Menominee County.  I don’t know exactly how large the Worth property was, but I think it was at least several hundred acres, and the camp cabin, constructed of huge logs, probably dated back to the late 1800’s.  The camp was right on the edge of the Cedar River, a 67-mile tributary which runs through the county and empties into Green Bay.  The property included the most primeval evergreen forest I’ve seen in the region.  Jean and Margaret Worth and their daughters, Dooley, Jean, and Ann, lived in Menominee, where Jean was the editor of the Herald-Leader, but they spent lots of leisure time at their Cedar River camp.  When we visited, it was usually along with other family friends, e.g., Worths, O’Hara’s, Caleys, Jacobsens, Burkes, Sargents, St. Peters, and many others.  The adults would socialize at the cabin, while the kids went off for adventures in the cedar forest.  My father brought our boy scout troop here for overnight camping, and later on dads in the group brought their teenage sons to camp for deer-hunting expeditions. These were exciting outings, even though none of us wound up with a deer.  After Katja and I were married, we’d drive up to Cedar River with my parents and have delicious burgers at Paddy’s Bar (now the Lighthouse Inn).  I’ve enjoyed compiling some of the history of Cedar River (see sources at end).  Here’s what I’ve learned.    

Cedar River (1911)

The village of Cedar River is located on M-35 along the Green Bay shore about 25 miles north of Menominee and 32 miles south of Escanaba.  Originally settled in 1850, it's the oldest settlement on the U.P.'s bay shore.  Its first name was Cedar Forks, referring to the point where the Cedar River emptied into Green Bay.  The town was also called Cedarville at one point, named after the great stands of cedar trees in the area.  The local post office opened on Feb. 27, 1852, with Edwin S. Briggs as the first postmaster.  A water-powered saw mill was built in 1854 on the Big Cedar River about 2 mines upriver from its mouth, and this is where the original settlement of Cedar Forks was located.  The Cedar River cemetery is still there today.  The mill was sold to Sylvester Lynn and Samuel Hamilton, but they abandoned it and built a new steam mill at the mouth of the river, today’s location of the village of Cedar River.  About 300 people lived in Cedar River when the lumber industry was at its peak in the 1890's.  The town’s name was changed to Cedar River on May 9, 1883.  

A Load of Supplies at Cedar River (1910)

Cedar River was a company town, and the lumber company, which Jesse Spalding acquired in 1862 and later sold to Samuel Crawford & Sons, owned most of the property.  The community included hotels, general stores, commercial fishing, and agriculture.  The company store was supposed to be the principal merchant, but an enterprising businessman named Jake Rosenberg set up a competing general store on the south side of town.  Lumber was processed at the sawmill, then shipped by schooner to Chicago.  Crawford & Sons cut 16 million feet of lumber and 14 million shingles in 1910, worth about $235,000.  The major harvest was of hemlock, tamarack, and white pine, but also included white cedar, basswood, elm, ash, maple, birch, and spruce.  In 1871 many of Cedar River's lumber camps were destroyed by the Peshtigo Fire.  The sawmill burned in 1912, was rebuilt, and burned again in 1920.  It wasn't replaced the second time around.  Remnants of the lumber mill can still be seen on the north side of the Cedar River.    

U.S. Lighthouse, Cedar River

The mouth of the Cedar River offered the best harbor on Green Bay's west coast, and in 1888 Congress appropriated $25,000 for the construction of a lighthouse there.  The lighthouse consisted of a 38-foot, white-painted wooden tower.  In addition, a two-story, six-room keeper's dwelling was constructed in 1890 on a one-acre property donated by Jesse Spalding.  Gustavus Umberham was in charge of the lighthouse from 1890 to 1901, and then Nelson Knudsen took over.  Though the lighthouse is long gone, the old lighthouse keeper's house remains to the south of the community.   

Churches on M-35, Cedar River

Early inhabitants hoped that Cedar River would get a railroad, but the lumber company chose to use a steam hauler instead for transporting logs.  As the forests became depleted and lumbering declined in the first decade of the 1900's, most of the residents eventually moved away.  Today only a couple dozen people are permanent residents of Cedar River.  Two churches still remain from Cedar River's lumbering days: the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart (1887) and the Mission Chapel (1889).  Today Cedar River serves as a popular fishing and vacation resort community.  The river is stocked with trout, and walleye, salmon, brown trout, and smallmouth bass are plentiful in the bay.  The Cedar River State Harbor offers seasonal slips, and the Cedar River State Forest Campground has sites for tents and small trailers.

Lighthouse Pub, Cedar River (formerly Paddy’s)

Katja and I usually stop for lunch in Cedar River when we visit Menominee.  The burgers are still great, and our visit brings back many happy memories.

"Cedar River,";
"Cedar River,";
"Cedar River, MI,";
"Heritage of the Route,";
"History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan,";
"Michigan Place Names,";
"Seeing the Light,"

G-mail Comments
-Barbara S-K (3-7):  I hope you are recuperating from your broken ribs.  Isn't it amazing how much damage a little sidewalk crack can cause?  Loved your article on Cedar River.  As the Sawyer cabin was 7 miles from Cedar River, we also spent a LOT of time there.  Whether drinking, eating, fishing or vittles from Anderson's "grocery" store, we called it our second "hometown."  Many good folks have passed through those doors over the years.  Up to her death, my mother loved the more recent "Cedar River Bridge Walk" on Labor Days…