Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dancing and Dipping...

It was a marvelous, magical evening in the Undred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea this Saturday past. Two of our nephews were coming up to camp, and brought some girlfriends and other buddies. The nephews enjoy coming up here to hunt, camp, and just get away from their daily stress. Steve and Edward are both brothers and friends, and a couple of wonderful young men as well. Whenever they come up, they always think to invite us along, no matter the events. When some of your family are also your friends, it makes for a great relationship!

Steven Claus

This weekend adventure saw Edward flying solo, and Steve with his girlfriend, Tiffany, and her BFF Casey with hubby Dave. What a fun crew to hang with! We declined the invite to go tubing down the river, but did meet up with them for dinner. Rosie's Place is an unassuming Northern Michigan eatery of the finest kind. Knotty Pine walls with mirrors that proclaim the bestest ever NASCAR drivers, and the obligatory beer posters complete the decor. The service is only moderately slow, but always friendly, and the food is quite tasty. One of the many reason reasons why we enjoy Rosie's is their typical "Up North" portion control of the foods. In other words, if you don't take home some for another complete meal, the portions are way too small! Any wonder why I'm so overweight then?

Rosie's is well known for making a great pizza, and walloping huge wet burritos, but this night was Prime Rib night! Oh yeah... nothing like a huge hunk of cow on my plate to me smile! As we tuck into our food, amidst some pitchers of beer, and laughter about the day's adventures, it was a very enjoyable time. And then the magic begun...

Edward Ho Ho Ho!
There is a Dance Stage at one end of the room, complte with a DJ setup. Happily it wasn't Karaoke Knight (for which we were extremely grateful), but it time to trip the light fantastic for a bit. At first Mr DJ played some Hip Hop stuff, and Tiffany and Casey stumbled a bit thru a couple of songs. Mr. DJ, however, wisely switched to some more Classic Rock., and I got up to join the girls. So yup, me and two beautiful babes on the Dance Floor, how awesome is that? Mr DJ even has special effects and a light show to make the mood more conducive to moving your bod. And the aforementioned spin master had the very good sense to not blast our ears as if we were at a concert. Sure Rock is meant to be played loud, but I don't need my ears to bleed afterward.

After the three of stumbles thru some more songs, and some more beer, we took a short break, to drink more beer. *chuckle* Then the magic truly was kicked up a notch as the music became perfect for some nice slow dancing... I grab Barb by the hand and she begins to protest that she doesn't know how... pwah! Hey, I'm Old School, and you'll be just fine my dear... and she was! We must have been on that floor for another hour or so... not really sure who else was, or wasn't with us... just Barb and I, bodies next to each other, swaying in the breeze, or I would gently guide her thru a few easy and fun steps... just looking into her eyes, and my heart melting all over again.. yes, this *is* magic my friends!

But soon enuff we both have to pay homage to our bladders, and then drink more beer... well, time to wrap up a lovely evening with old, and new friends, and homewards we head. When we get there, Barb announces that she is gonna get us some towels, and we're going swimming! It was well past dark, and quite warm and balmy out, so how could I resist? So quickly down to our beach, shuck off the clothes, (well completely off for me, Barb stayed in skivvies n bra) and into the warm, inviting water. Just as we start to splash a bit, and feel like teenagers at the prom, I spot some headlights coming down our drive! Ack! "Barb, headlights!!" I blurt out as I try to scramble back towards to shore in a soon to be thwarted attempt to get my clothes. "It's ok, it's the nephews and their friends" she quickly retorts. "You'll be fine. Besides, you're Old School, remember?" this as she smiles and starts to laugh a bit.

I breathe a sigh of relief, then decide what the heck? There's no Moon out, and we are having fun after all. Sure enough, soon there a splashing party of naked and mostly naked bodies in the water, all enjoying themselves merrily. So I guess you say that we all truly bared ourselves to each other that festive night, and what a way to do it! After some more merriment, Barb and I wade back to shore, and towel off to redress. The kids weren't too far behind, and they even invited us to stay and (can you guess?) drink more beer with them. As much fun as that sounded, we knew it was time for Mom & Dad to go upstairs, and let the kids play by themselves *chuckle*

So yes, another late Summer's eve of magic, with family and friends, love and laughter. These are the events that bring such joy to us all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Steak Fry, and Fruit Flies...

Yes, it's true, a Steak Fry at the local fairgrounds, and a plethora of fruit flies in your kitchen, can mean only one thing. Those hot, hoomid, sweltering "daze" of Summer is coming to an end. Oh sure, Old Man Summer still has us in his sweaty grip, but make no mistake. Those fingers are getting more and more arthritic by the day.

It's now August up here in Northern Michigan, and the days still deepen into a long evening that only truly becomes night well past 10:00pm. But August also heralds the arrival of a certain local fair, and Onekama Days has the best Steak Fry ever! My beloved wife and I make this annual trek to the Fairgrounds with my brother, and enjoy some of the best cow ever served. Yes, we truly are Meatatarians!

The Onekama (go ahead, try and pronounce it, I dare ya) Lions are well known for this celebration of carnivorous catering. The proceeds go to the local Lion's Club (which does a wonderful job of supporting the community), and you see people from all over. And all kinds of people. Oh yes... our local village has many different local characters, and they *all* come to dine together this evening! From the table of Mohawk Hairdo's (Dad and Mom, all the kids) to the local gentry, and even the few Northern Michigan Dufus  that you just can't believe are really out of jail. Yet, here we all sit, behind a paper plate, merrily sawing into a quite tender steak, with plastic knives and forks.

The steak is roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island, and you can barely squeeze your baked potato (roughly the size of Delaware) next to it. Oh sure you also get a cuppa salad and a roll, even dessert if you wish. But here, for this evening, it's all about the steak! As we happily masticate our meat, we all agree that it must have come from a very happy cow. A cow that was proud to give it's life for such a noble endeavor as helping our Onekama (no, it's not One Comma) Lion's to raise muchly needed dollars for their various projects. In this time of a depressed economy, every organization is feeling the pinch. Most people are cutting back on their donations to charities, just like the governments have cut back on their services. But this magical evening, people come from far and wide, all to help a local charity, and (mostly) to eat a really good steak, at a really good price!

Ahhh.. with our paper plates polished off, and in the trash, we bid a fond adieu to the Onekama (ok, it's pronounced Oh-neck-a-ma) Lion's and drop my brother off at his apartment. Homeward we go, and home we arrive. I saunter (well, after all that steak, I really waddle, but who's to say?) over to the fridge to capture a cold beer, and that's when it hits me. Look at all those fracking Fruit Flies! Blech.

Aye yup, another sure sign of this August month... the bountiful blighters breed like bodacious bunnies in heat! Sigh. There's just *nothing* you can do! Maybe if we had central air conditioning we could keep them at bay, but like most true Northern Michiganders, we only permit one AC unit in our bedroom. Which means those tiny harbingers of doom and disease can simply flit thru the screens and invade our kitchens like a horde of ravenous porn stars in search of lube and a flat surface! Oh gawd, they are just disgusting. (No, I mean the fruit flies now) No matter how clean you keep the place, they just always overpopulate, every end of Summer. And they will claim your kitchen as their very own, until just before LadyBug Season.

Oh sure you can make sure there are NO dirty dishes, glasses, cups, or forks on the counter, and still they will find a way to permeate your favorite room. You even move the kitchen trash container out to the deck so the ugly little blighters will filthily procreate out there. Until you want to sit out and enjoy the sunset. Yuck.

But, ok. There you have it, don't you? You just figure out how to deal with them. It's just another annual event, much like steak night in Onekama (you do know how to pronounce it now, don't you?). And really, you realize that, it's alright. Sometimes Life gives you steak, and sometimes you get fruit flies. But really, it's just good to be alive, and be in a position that allows you to be thankful for both. Oh sure you really, really hate those little blighters, but in the end, are they really so terrible? They'll go away in a bit, and hey, you just had a great steak!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fantastic Falcons Fly Forever

What? Another boring High School Reunion, that serves only to remind you of the people you didn't like, and still don't care for? Nope! Quite the opposite in fact. Yup, I just went to a very fun and festive picnic, where a few of us from the very old days got together and had a terrific time!

Yes, that's me in my finery on the left...
As usual (at least for me) it starts with a rather lengthy journey, by car, to drive down and across my state for a bit over four hours, to meet up with this gang. I'm not really sure how we all found each other (lo these many years later) on FaceBook, but I have a sneaking suspicion that our dear Faye was behind it. They do refer to it as "FayeBook" after all *chuckle*.

So downstate I go, check into the hotel, and then Faye picks me up to continue on to the picnic. The picnic was at Stony Creek Metro Park, and we had a beautiful spot on the lake. This was mostly due to Faye, who camped out at our spot since the wee hours, and refused to let anyone else in! She even had signs made up, and organized the event. Yup, our dear Faye is a mover and shaker for sure!

Upon entering the park, I was rather amazed at all the various signs for many different functions! Guess the last Saturday in July is a busy time there. But she expertly guided us to the correct picnic site (after expertly guiding us to every red light on the roads to there), and voila! Tables of food that would have impressed visiting Royalty, and a Margaritaville table as well! Plus, with a 100ft extension cord going to the bathroom, we had a blender, and a music box. (Thanx to Mark & Sarah!) On the right is Jerry and his bride Debbie, better folk you will never meet!

As soon as I clamber out of her large-as-a-living-room-sized van, I am greeted by a bevy of beautiful women, and hugs all around. Oh yes, it's good to be the Jamie :) Some of the group I had seen recently, some I hadn't seen for a few decades. My gawd, are we getting old or what? But no matter what our bodies tell us, we all feel quite young and energized on this fine day.

I was put in charge of grilling the hot dogs, so naturally I had to have a beer first ;)  And get caught up with some folks. But after Faye nearly had an apoplectic fit at some unsuspecting driver which had the nerve to run over one of her signs, I wisely decide to start the fire and get the dogs a roasting.

So yes, the food... what a glorious spread! The gals really outdid themselves this time. We had at least three tables laden with a banquet, along with the Margaritas, and plenty of beer all around. In other words, we had a great time! We all kinda milled around, swapping stories, and laughing along with each other. Really, rather amazing as some of us didn't  hang out together back in the day. And some brought their kids along, which was a wonderful surprise. All the little, and some not so little, ones enjoyed themselves as Mom, or Dad, was busy with the other so-called adults.

So here we are, some 35 years or so later, around a picnic table, sometimes huddled under umbrellas, and just enjoying being with those people. I doubt that any of us back then would have predicted such a thing. Some of the gang didn't stray far from home, and settled down, post college (or not college) and entered the time honored tradition of having families. Some of us went afar, looking for our fortunes across this vast land.  Yet here we all were, for just one afternoon, together after all the years and miles. Together after all the anguish, and the triumphs. Content and happy to merely enjoy being with such select company, and share stories. Yes, the stories were all what you might expect to hear. But they were stories of a real, identifiable, person, not just words in a sentence to be discarded after reading. Sure we shared our pain as we felt appropriate, but mostly we shared our joy, and our love. I think that honestly sharing love, can be even more of a challenge than sharing the pain, but this group was well up to the task. These are the afternoons that make a rather mundane day become so brilliant! This day was one to be enjoyed by us, and just for our time together, to be loved by each other.