fabrics nov/dec 2008


I had fun this summer. I took a trip on the Schooner Madeline, the boat where I am a volunteer crew member. I was on the boat for a week and traveled with eight others. We carpooled to Detour, on the east end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the eastern up-per part of the state nearly touches Ontario, Canada . There we relieved the previous crew, they taking our cars back home.

Our first day of travel, we motored through the St. Mary’s River to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (pronounced Soo Saint Marie). The fun of this day’s trip was that we were in the same channel as many of the big lake liners hauling iron ore, calcite and such up and down the river. We felt so small. 

The next day we took the boat through the “Soo” Locks. That was really exciting. We were being raised from Lake Huron to Lake Superior, the boat rising twenty-eight feet in about fifteen minutes. These locks were developed when the iron ore being mined in Upper Michigan’s Marquette area needed to be transported via the Great Lakes.

We then headed for White-fish Point (the area where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down). Once around the point it was fog for the next six hours.

No wonder they call it the shipwreck coast. The destination that day was Grand Marais, a small town that is known for its abundance of agates.

We arrived just before a big storm front came through bringing much wind and waves which we were happy to miss. We stayed in that harbor for the next two days waiting for the storm to subside. It was cold, but there was much to see. Keep in mind that we were on foot for all our sightseeing. We walked to the Grand Sable Falls, visited the pickle barrel house, walked the beach and checked out all the restaurants.

Munising was our next port of call. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is between Grand Marais and Munising. Even though it was a rainy, overcast day, we enjoyed seeing the famous Pictured Rocks. These rock cliffs are layers of sandstone and limestone where the wind and waves have sculpted them into shapes and caves. The minerals, iron, copper and other deposits have seeped onto the rocks adding to the shapes and colors. They go on for almost forty miles broken only by several beaches, and a few rivers and falls emerging from them. Wet and weary, we arrived in Munising, grateful to be at our destination.

Now that we were in port, our mission was to make real the history of schooners on the Great Lakes, for a youth seafarer group. So we set up learning stations on the boat and told stories and some history of the 1850’s schooners on the Great Lakes.

The following day the Maritime Festival opened and after a morning of tour guiding (sharing history and showing people the boat), the Madeline again changed crews for their next leg and I headed home.

Palma (July ’08) “I had a fine summer. To see a Utube set of photos from this trip go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nirIJET71hI It’s leg #2.”



A Family Mystery

Part II

So, who is John Johnson whose birth certificate I had? My dad’s name was George, so was this a brother? Did he die at a young age so I did not know him?

I went to other members of my family with my question. My older brother Bob said he also did not know a John Johnson. We talked and could not remember our aunts and uncles ever mentioned the name John Johnson. As we talked however, Bob did state that some time ago a lady who was doing a family history had asked him, “Who is John Johnson?”

At the time, Bob had denied that there was ever a John Johnson in our family. The more we talked, the more I remembered, too. A long time ago when someone had said, “…John Johnson …” to my dad! I think I must have been four or five years old at the time. The incident didn’t mean much then. On the other hand, it’s odd I recalled it!

The date of birth on the Record of Birth was listed as May 22, 1892. Now, that sounds like it was close to, or the same as my dad’s birthday. Brother Bob had a copy of dad’s obituary and sure enough, it listed dad’s birthday as May 22, 1892!

Brother Bob called the Register of Deeds in Bessemer, Michigan and asked was more than one son born to Christ and Cenia Johnson on May 22, 1892.

The clerk answered, “No, there was not!”

Then Brother asked, “Was there a George Johnson (father) born on or near that date?”

The answer came, “No, there was a George Johnson born a few years later, but to different parents!”

Le (Oct.’08) adds, “Our younger brothers, Paul and Jimmy, couldn’t shed much light on the subject, but Brother Bob and I said we’d keep them informed.”



Since my husband and I still work, we have a special approach to opening our holiday greetings. I open the cards with the daily mail and read them. (I also tape the return address in side the cards.) Next, I put the cards at Hubby’s place at the dining table. He sits down to read them at his convenience. After reading, he puts them by the “card tree”. Later, I put them on the tree — one of those wire photo holders which is a stand with twelve wires fanned out with pincers at the ends to hold the cards. Then, on Christmas Eve we have a little toddy and sit by the Christmas tree. One by one we go through the cards together and re-read them, each of us taking one and reading it aloud to the other.

We also started another little tradition. When we entertain people for dinner during holidays, we ask them to randomly bring a dozen of their cards. (We don’t tell them why).

Then over dinner we take turns reading a card sentiment. We ask each couple to tell a little bit about the person (or family) who wrote the card. For example, the reader might tell how he knows them or a funny story.

We find this is a nice way to discover more about our friends and it also expands the spirit of Christmas love.

Georgene (Oct.’08) adds, “Traditions are fun to share. People are so very clever and are pleased when I steal their idea so I try to return the favor!”



Maybe you have not heard of a “pencil tree.” It is a “fake” tree that stands about six feet tall. It is very slim with the biggest section being at the very bottom of the tree about

two and a half to three feet around. It is on a lovely stand that I don’t cover. It comes apart in three sections for storing. (It is green and ‘leafy’ and like other fake trees except it is so slim).

I first saw this type tree about four years ago. We were getting ready to go to Florida, and I was out for a bit of shopping when I saw the tree. It was after Christmas and I bought it on sale.

I am one for themes. I have themes throughout my home with the pictures and furnishings. The theme for my tree is Santa Claus. I have a Santa rag doll that someone made for me several years ago. He stands about twelve inches high and will pose anyway you want him. He sits in the center of the tree on one of the branches.

I hang my other Santas all over the tree. I like a certain kind of Santas — all the same size. Every year I go into a store like Wal-Mart or Meijers and check their Santas. If I find what I like, I will purchase three of the same design for the tree.

I also have a few glass bulbs on the tree. There is a bow at the top.

I absolutely love my tree. I discourage anyone from buying me Santas for my tree because I know exactly what I want. If someone sees one they think I will like they will tell me where they saw it so I can check it out.

It takes me about three hours to decorate the tree. I usually put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving so I will have a long time to enjoy it. I take it down New Year’s Day.

Patricia (date) adds, “The first year I put the tree up, I was concerned my cats would bother it — especially Mr. Gray because he is so curious. But believe it or not, he doesn’t bother it at all. In fact none of the cats do.”



Visiting The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

dedicated to Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda

Part III

Each day at the Lake Shrine began at 7:30AM with exercises in the temple courtyard. Paramahansa Yogananda, a great master of yoga to whom the entire garden and temple is dedicated, designed the motions we use. Their purpose is to awaken one’s inner source of energy.

As I followed the slow, graceful movements, I gazed on a three tiered fountain in the courtyard. Each layer resembles an opened lotus blossom. Continuing my morning ritual after exercise, I dipped my hand into the fountain’s water and moistened my face before entering the temple for sitting meditation. Sometimes as I sat, my body jerked as it does in those dreams where I catch myself falling. My body seemed to echo my consciousness on the edge of a deeper layer of being.

After meditation, those assembled silently walked to a quiet vegetarian breakfast of oatmeal and prunes. Yum! Two of my favorite things! Leaving the meal, I walked the innumerable stone steps down to the Lake Shrine to pray and meditate in the beauty of what had become “my” garden.

I strolled the perimeter of the lake pausing whenever I felt called, to be in the stillness. Just as the cupped hands of prayer, so is the bud of the lotus as it rises each morning from the murky water’s depth to open its petals and reveal its beautiful shining truth. An echo of Keats’ “Grecian Urn” came to me:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,— that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Ending prayer, I opened my eyes and across the lake I saw myself wearing a white button

front sweater. The vision was my child-self who sincerely believed in fairies and sensed the truth of invisible beauty and goodness.

In this vision I received the message: this is why the ripples of my past make me so uncomfortable. My true self cannot comprehend some of my earlier life choices which led to negative repercussions.

Liz/Moscar (Oct.’08) says, “One of my favorite old- time hymns is the one that begins I come to the garden alone … I love the swing of the melody; it’s like a barrel organ. I see a parallel between my feelings for the lake shrine retreat and the upsweep of joy when I hear/sing this song.


Firsts and lasts


long remembered.

James (Oct.’08) continues, “Can we forget our first day of school or the last on earth of a friend?”

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