Monday, January 31, 2011

Bill Sherck visits Tuscarora

Our friend Bill Sherck came to visit us last week. I'm stealing his blog about it, because he tells a great story. In fact, he has a lot of great stories, and he also knows Don Shelby a little bit. (And that is a story I wish he could tell you in person.)

Our dads worked together in Toronto years ago, where, rumor has it, we used to play as little kids. I vaguely remember (or my dad just filled in the memory) an event with all the Control Data moms and kids, but I don't remember Bill because he was a newborn, and I was at least 6. It has been good to get reacquainted in these past 5 years, because now he can talk back. We really like him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jerry sings Tuscarora

We heard from our favorite Nashville singer/songwriter Jerry Vandiver, earlier this month.
I'd just like to point out that his songs have won many awards. Also notice that he wears his Tuscarora t-shirt to the recording studio.
In Nashville.
With the other big names in music....(see Misty Loggins on the right)

I've also included one of his original songs---inspired by Tuscarora.

Jerry writes: "I am honored in that I was able to have Bill Miller - a grammy winning Native American recording artist - play flute and chant in the song."

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to load a song onto this website. But I do know how to upload videos, so I added some photos, many of them I credit to Rachel Swenson, the beautiful eagle was taken by Tom Younger....some of the photos were from Tuscarora Lake, some from Tuscarora Outfitters, some were not. I just put them together as a tribute to the BWCAW and Jerry, and I didn't mean to break any rules. We think he's awesome!

Cheers to you, Jerry Vandiver!

Cold Enuff Fer Ya?

Seagull Guard Station Reported a -35 deg F early this morning.

It's January, it's cold. I can't really think of that much else to say about this weather.
Shelby has to wax her skis with the coldest kick wax. But sunny and wind-free -5 yesterday in the afternoon made for a very pleasant jaunt. Today we're going to a little sledding party.

Andy fills the bird feeders more often, and we are more careful about breaking stuff outside, like car latches and door handles . Other than that, we have warm parkas, and it's Minnesota. The sunny calm days are beautiful. So far so good, but cabin fever has been known to take about 30 seconds to set in, so you'd have to check with me later .

I've seen several versions of these--but I still get a kick out of them.


60 degrees F: Southern Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in Minnesota sunbathe.

50 F: New Yorkers try to turn on the heat. People in Minnesota plant gardens.

40 F: Italian & English cars won't start. People in Minnesota drive with the windows down.

32 F: Distilled water freezes. The water at Lake Bemidji in Minnesota starts getting cooler.

20 F: Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in Minnesota throw on a flannel shirt, buttons open.

15 F: New York City landlords finally turn up the heat. People in
Minnesota have the last cookout before it gets cold.

0 F: All the people in Miami die. Minnesotans close the windows.

10 below zero: Californians escape en masse to Mexico. Girl Scouts in Minnesota sell cookies door to door.(In fact, they're selling them right now!!)

25 below zero: Las Vegas disintegrates. People in Minnesota rummage
around the attic to find some winter coats.

40 below zero: Washington DC runs out of hot air. People in Minnesota let the dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Some Minnesotans are frustrated when they can't start their cars.

460 below zero (absolute zero on the Kelvin Scale): All atomic motion stops. People in Minnesota start saying . . . "Cold 'nuff for ya?"

500 below zero: Hell freezes over. In Minnesota, VIKINGS win the Super Bowl!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blueberry Zen

Early this morning in the dark, I shuffled around making Shelby's car breakfast-to-go. First I poured a little orange juice from concentrate, next to a multivitamin. How could she possibly get enough iron and folic acid in her day otherwise? I scooped out a couple of dollops from the over-sized Old Home Vanilla Yogurt tub, I broke some Georgia pecans Andy's mom sends every Christmas. I grabbed a handful of Craisins left over from summer---in the Sam's club bag that never expires, and then biggest chore was to pick out the sticks from the frozen blueberries.

This was the high point of my day so far.

I know exactly where that bag of frozen blueberries came from. If you want to know that particular secret spot, you'll have to come and pick with us next July. Our sessions are never more than an hour-I slip out of the office when I can--it's a luxury to live in the hotbed of the United States blueberry fields. The fires of five years ago? Exactly what a farmer would have done.

I've read about healthy foods, and I could definitely be more organic, there's so much information about nutritionally better foods taste better and the nasty pesticides on the potato skins: it overwhelms me, makes me feel a little inadequate as a mother. I cook when needed, but it's a task that takes away my energy. When I get off the phone from arguing with the Quetico parks reservation service, there is no zen in cooking supper, not for me. I admire the people who get the zen from that, I am envious of them, I've tried that persona on, and she is not me.

I have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's interesting, informative, Barbara Kingsolver is a fabulous writer, but you can have my book. 3/4 of the way through I started feeling very snarky towards her smugness about food, mostly guilty I suppose. I thought "I don't need this," and I solved it--I quit reading.

But today, I got the zen from picking the sticks out of the frozen blueberries. Maybe Shelby got a few more anti-oxidants today. Maybe, I've even taken care of my future grandchildren. I'll go ahead and stretch that image, because it makes me even happier.

And I've liked visiting my memories of picking blueberries. They make me feel lucky, they remind me that underneath the mounds of snow lie sleeping blueberry plants, waiting for warmth of July, waiting for Denali and me, and whoever wants to sneak out with us for an hour to pick them.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Foxes and skiing, designer bracelets and Denmark.

Today the Christmas tree comes down. Overdue, but Daniel has been sick on the couch and he's so nostalgic about the twinkle lights season that we had to let it linger. It was a good one, and I have time to write about it since I'm not yet ready to go outside into the deep freeze. It's a sunny blue morning, good view, lap dog, great coffee; I'm not complaining.

Since it is well below zero, Andy replenished the bird feeder. The kind and gentle little nuthatches, grosbeaks and chickadees just lost their turn. They were replaced by the big bully bluejays and squirrels who get first dibs. We have a fox that occasionally raids the bird feeder, and when I watch him it makes me miss Pepper, our childhood cat. Not that much however. When I went to college I came home allergic to Pepper, and now I can’t touch cats , unless they are especially appealing and worth the eye itching episode. I might take a chance on this fox, if he would let me cuddle. Do you suppose foxes have dander in their lovely coats?

Here's Jamie, staffer for part of the summer of 2007, and we’re hoping for the summer of 2011. Shelby gave her a few pointers, as she cross country skied. First time ever=yep, still speedier than me. Noah also came to hang with us, work, and to coach me through the final steps of the rubics cube puzzle. I keep it handy so I can show anybody, I'm so proud. Daniel says, “Yep, Mom, now you’ll be the only one on the Alzeimer’s ward who can complete the rubics cube.”

Our friend Kelly brought Torben and Tine from Denmark to Cabin 5. We were their exotic Tuscarora winter experience.They remind me how huge the world is-- we’re not at a time in our lives that we get to visit foreign countries, and when I meet the travelers, I crave that unique adventure sometimes.

We were doing our New Years' tradition---playing broomball, eating food, playing the name game with some families and people who were here. Regular noise. And these two were in a different world. I liked sitting with them sometimes, and watching the commotion. They were comfortable enough in the American culture, but we layered that with our traditional crowd--a familiar culture all our own. When people are functioning with a bunch of strangers in a different language, it's ironic that they always look a little dazed and learning disabled. I was envious of that experience--I happen to think it's the stuff of life--the sort of stimulating challenge=really living.

Do you know how goofy it is to try to play “Catch Phrase” in a different language? When there isn’t a translation for “Let the cat out of the bag” or other American idioms blurted as quickly and cryptically as possible? Woah. That was the funniest.

They were good sports about letting Shelby put stickers on their foreheads—Tine had to mingle and guess “Madonna”. Torben was George Bush. He was brilliant as sort of an amateur anthropological researcher—he could nail people in his insightful observations. I just was getting a kick out of sitting on the sidelines, listening to him, then every once in a while I’d interrupt ----OK, say it in German, now in French…….now Danish…….and Greenlandish (Greenlander? Greenlandese?). He could also speak Farose. I speak English and un poquito espanol. Nada mas of anything. And I did not know about the Faro Islands between Denmark and Iceland. Maybe they sometimes appeared dazed and learning disabled in my world, but I knew better. They were the smart ones.

They also brought with them some sort of Scandinavian tradition of rolling in the snow in the buff.. We did not join them in this escapade…I just cannot see…I just, well, I’m not sure why anyone would choose to do that without a sauna.

As they were preparing to leave, I asked them what they did in Denmark. I knew Tine sewed cool things from sealskin, but I wondered what else. Torben showed me a leather bracelet, sort of a rounded rope, simple, but nice I thought. He said he’d been wearing it for a year or so, in the garden, in the shower, to see how well the leather holds up. I liked his, so I offered to take him to the Tuscarora Trading Post and trade it for a sweatshirt. I am not so up on Scandinavian fashion. It turns out might just as well have asked Louis Vitton to trade a Tuscarora mug for a nice little shoulder bag. It was a very popular designer piece.

I think, for a brief moment, I was like a tourist in their world. As I stuck my foot in my mouth, and they laughed at me- I was dazed and learning disabled, and ---in that last hour, we might have become the kind of friends that last.

They sincerely invited us to visit Denmark. And maybe…..someday? Someday, I hope to make world travel a thing that works in my life, for my family. They were relaxed, and experts, and---well, we bonded. I’m glad for that. And if I ever get one of these , I know better than to remove the little ring that identified the designer bracelet as an original. Tine laughed at me, because…….well, to be honest, she recognized that it is the first thing I might have done.