When I was standing on top of this building years ago, who could have imagined that some day it would cease to exist?     Over eleven years ago on a Tuesday afternoon, I was standing outside my classroom when I heard the sad, almost unbelievable news of the demise of the World Trade Center.   I immediately made my mind up that I would never ever look at a video or even a photograph of either tower falling, and to this day I have not.
The designer of the World Trade Center was noted architect Minuro Yamasaki who died in 1986.   Mr. Yamasaki is interred in a small cemetery on a dirt road in rural Oakland County - Lakeville Cemetery - presumably because his daughter lives nearby.   This WTC trivia fact is courtesy of Gary Molnar.
On Sunday I went to Church at St Casimir's in Posen where they were singing hymns in Polish.   It was the weekend of their 58th annual Potato Festival.   After church I went to the breakfast at the VFW Hall.   The pancakes, Polish sausage, and potato pancakes were delicious beyond description.   Both on Saturday afternoon and on Monday morning I biked the 25.4 miles around Grand Lake - about 9 miles of it on US 23.   The expression, "a country mile" is no exaggeration.   It's a psychological thing that makes a mile seem longer, but the riding was fun anyway.
The fall wildflowers were blooming, and the fringed gentians were especially beautiful, in blue.   Think I'll do the same trip next year.
P.S. - I did do the same vacation in 2010, with a pal, and it was wonderful.   I've already made my reservation for 2011.
P.P.S. - Because I was beginning at a new school, I cancelled the 2011 trip.   Taking off the first Friday and Monday of the school year at a new school would have been too difficult.
On the way home from England we enjoyed three days of tourism in Paris.   Some of the places we vistited were:   The Louvre, the top of the Eiffel Tower, and the Château de Versailles.   For me, however, getting to Paris was more of an adventure than being there.   It was in the late afternoon and we were in the border town of Folkestone waiting for the ferry across the English Channel to France.   At boarding time we had to go through customs.   All was going well until my turn came and the customs agents said, "I'm sorry, but you'll have to come with us."   I thought it must be some random search, but it wasn't.   It turned out that the junky suitcase I was using had come unlatched enough for a few things to fall out when they were transferring our luggage from the train to the ferry.   What had fallen out was a book with my name in it, and my new "gun."   So to my concern, and the concern of the chaperones, I had to wait while they made sure it wasn't a real gun.   Now any fool could have looked at it and seen that there wasn't even a hole in the barrel for a bullet to travel through, but no, they had to send it to a lab to have it checked.   And where did they send it?   Back to London, to Scotland Yard!   They sent my lousy little starter pistol to Scotland Yard.   Not only did I have to wait for them to send it there; I had to wait for Scotland Yard to send it back once they checked it out (which probably took all of 15 seconds.)   Meanwhile, my chaperones deemed that I could get to Paris by myself alright enough, and left me with a ferry ticket and a train ticket.
By the time I got my gun back, the next ferry wasn't until something like 8:00 pm.   In France I discovered that there was no train going directly to Paris the rest of that day, and I would have to take a train to Amiens and transfer there.   Of course, nobody was speaking English in Amiens.   I can still picture the dark platform in Amiens where I was sitting all by myself after midnight, waiting for the train to Paris.   Once in Paris, I had to take a cab to the address I had written on a piece of paper.   I know that Ms. D'Angelo and the other chaperones must have been sweating real bullets until they saw me arrive.   Actually, I was pretty proud of myself for getting around on my two years of high school French.   The worst part was that next semester my French teacher made me describe the whole adventure to the French class en Français!
The trip to France with Theresa was really supposed to be our honeymoon, but we took it in 1995 with our 18-month-old Nicholas in tow, and Nathaniel well under construction.   The airline tickets that we had purchased at an auction to benefit the Traveler's Aid Society had a black-out for the summer months (when we were to be married.)   So we saved the tickets for later.   Once Theresa contacted British Airways about getting our tickets she found out that we could have gone in August if we had just asked.   So we did go in August, just two years later.   Theresa, bless her, planned out the whole 19-day vacation.   There was a huge thunderstorm right when we were to leave Metro Airport, and our jet had already left the gate, so we sat on the runway for over an hour while Nicholas ran up and down the aisles.
Theresa's best friend, Amy Dulgerian, her husband Jim (on a one-year work assignment), and their children, Alex and Dan, were living in the little town of Chantilly, north of Paris.   We stayed with Amy and Jim for a couple days in that town known for its lace curtains. While there, we went swimming at the local pool, and visited the Château, and the massive Living Museum of the Horse.   We also took a bus trip to Senlis and there we visited the creepy Musée de la Vénerie (hunting museum.)
One time we drove for miles down a winding one lane blacktop road, following a big flat-bed truck.   All of a sudden, the truck stops in the middle of the road and a crane starts loading freshly cut logs onto it.   We decided turning around was not a good alternative so we watched.   Finding an alternate route would probably have taken more time than waiting for the truck to be fully loaded.   On another occasion, after a long day, Theresa declared that we were eating at the next restaurant we came to.   We ended up having a five-course meal at a gorgeous country inn, L'Auberge de L'Atre.   In his high-chair Nick provided the entertainment for the other diners.   It was also the first and last time he ate pearl onions.   Besides dense forest, the Morvan was rich with huge rocks.   There, we visited the Abbey Pierre qui Vire (rock that turns.) Behind the Abbey was a long path that ran along both sides of a stream.   With Nick in the carrier on my back, we set off on what we thought would be a short hike.   After we crossed the stream we got lost and kept walking farther expecting the abbey to come into view.   It was really hot, pregnant Theresa was exhausted, and my knees were burning up from the extra load of Nick on my back.   Finally we came on a driveway that looked like entrance to the Abbey, but our hearts sank when we didn't see our car in that driveway.   We were totally lost at the entrance to a park by a lake.   We asked some locals how we could get back to the Abbey.   They said we had walked over a ridge, and there was no shortcut to walking back the way we had come.   I guess they felt sorry for us and offered to drive us back.   By car, the way back was even farther - I estimated that the drive had to have been at least five miles around to where we had started.   To fit us in their little car, this couple had to leave their two teenagers swimming at the lake and then drive back for them.   Whenever people say that the French don't like Americans, I just figure they are just repeating what they have heard in the media.   The French people we encountered were nice to us.   Since we were off the beaten path on this trip, almost all of the tourists we encountered were also French.
It was difficult to say goodbye to Broad Meadows.   I found myself wishing that Theresa and I could stay and live at that home.   Before we had left the Stockbridge area of Massachusetts, I had fallen in love with it.     Some things we enjoyed doing in Western Massachusetts included:   touring the Norman Rockwell Museum, hearing a concert at Tanglewood and walking its grounds, dining in Lenox and dining in Chesterwood, where, at the Back Porch restaurant, I tasted the most heavenly crab cakes that I have yet to encounter.   We enjoyed the mountains and Bish Bash waterfalls, the Berkshire Botanical Gardens, and shopping in West Stockbridge, particularly at a certain stained glass market.   Driving around, we saw the vista from the top of Graylock Mountain (part of the Appalachian Trail), viewed the exquisite collection at the Clark Museum, and had lunch in Williamstown.   There, in the student bookstore, I bought the purple Williams College shorts that I still wear every morning when I do my sit-ups and push-ups.   We hated to leave Stockbridge, but the rest of our Honeymoon was to transpire on Cape Cod, so that's where we headed.
On Cape Cod, we again stayed at a bed-and-breakfast, but this time a much more modern one.   It was located on a tidal basin.   I had heard of those, but I didn't know what they were.   Then I saw the huge lake behind our place empty out, and the boats were all left sitting right on the dirt.   Later on, the lake slowly filled up again.   This went on every day.   It seemed so strange.   Our stay on Cape Cod was mostly about swimming, shopping, and dining on seafood.   We especially enjoyed swimming in the little fresh water ponds.   It was at one of those ponds that I learned one of life's great lessons - you don't, even for one second, lay your car keys down in the trunk of your car, especially on a Sunday, especially when you are miles from any store or gas station.   I had to hitch hike to a gas station, and call an emergency locksmith to get us back into our rental car.   Never a dull moment!   Before we left Cape Cod, we took a ride on the Cape Cod Railway, and we visited Ann Philo (now Ann Boucher, watercolor artist), who was best friends with my sister, Lex, when they were teenagers.   After eleven enjoyable days, we headed back down the narrow road, past the cranberry bogs and away from Cape Cod.   Having a couple of hours to kill before we needed to be at Logan Airport, we stopped in the town of Plymouth, looked at some big old rock, and looked in some stores, too.   We took a peek into a furniture shop, but the style of the pieces didn't much interest us.   As I turned to leave, a little bookstand sitting on a dresser caught my eye.   It held a bunch of black books.   I took a closer look, and couldn't believe my eyes.   There sat a complete set of Journeys through Bookland, the same wonderful books from which my father used to read to Alexis and me when we were young.   All ten volumes were in excellent condition.   I asked the store owner if the books were for sale, but she didn't know.   She said they were just a prop, and belonged to the owner of the adjoining book store, who wasn't around.   She was watching both stores.   I got his card, and called him the minute we got home.   He sold me all ten books over the phone for only $75.   Over the years, my sons, Nick and Nate have enjoyed hearing many of the stories contained in those books.   I am hoping that someday they will read to their children from those very books.
Our residence was not spared the effects of this storm, either.   It was 10:30 at night, and we were tired when we arrived home on July 9th.   After the 5½-hour drive, we just wanted to get right to sleep, but we couldn't.   Upon opening the front door, we were greeted with the strong smell of mildew.   I instantly knew what that meant - the large braided rug on the basement floor had been wet, and wet for a long time.   We were up until 2:00 AM, cleaning the basement floor, and I had to drag an extremely heavy, soaking and mildew-y rug up the basement stairs and out to the dumpster.   Water had come in through our basement window and sat on our basement floor for a week.   Many of the 9" square floor tiles were curled up at the edges and loose.   The 715 square foot floor had to be re-tiled.   Over the next half year, I removed over one thousand tiles.   Some popped right off, but others had to be chiseled off in little pieces.
Now for the bright side of the story.   FEMA made grants available to those with damage from the tornados.   Theresa applied for, and got us a $1400 grant, bless her heart.   That was enough for us to buy tile and pay for someone to install it.   You will never hear me bad-mouth FEMA!   The tile installer we used was the husband of Nancy Sheridan, a girl who grew up right next door to me on Hildale.
Once I discovered Posen on the other side of Grand Lake, I planned my fall trips to camp for the second weekend in September when that nearby Polish town would hold its annual Potato Festival.   Sometimes I would attend St. Casimir Church where they sing some of the hymns in Polish.   At the festival there would be plenty of good food - pirogues and potato pancakes, of course.   The first time Theresa came to Posen with me, I reluctantly let her drag me onto the dance floor at the Colleseum and teach me how to Polka surrounded by dozens of people who came out of the womb doing Polkas.   Though I was feeling way too self-conscious, it was fun.   For the last 15 years we've usually spent a week in camp once or twice during the summer vacation time frame.   I didn't go up to camp last year, and I really missed both the camp and the wildflowers.
Camp Chick was governed by a task force, and all you had to do to be a member of that group was love the camp.   I fell in love with the camp on my first trip there, and joined the task force soon thereafter.   The task force was a great group of people who knew how to party.   Pictured are John Laycock, Sue Webb, Me, Atilla and Sharon Paltelky, Peter Conti, and seated, Theresa, and Sandy Nelson.   Others not pictured include Dick and Barbara Rogers, Nancy and Chuck Case, and another couple that I know I am forgetting.   Sadly, Dick and Peter are now deceased.
Tish took this photograph of me on placid Lake Esau.   I'm wearing my Over the Rainbow shirt that I bought on Yorkville in Toronto.   Notice that there are no jet skis or personal watercraft churning up the water.   That is the normal state of affairs on this tranquil lake.   Much of the lake's shore line is undeveloped; the road doesn't even go all the way around it on the Lake Huron side.   On Lake Esau, you are more likily to hear the sound of a loon than of a boat motor.   Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?   The camp has canoes, row boats and paddle boats.   It takes a long time, but I have rowed around the entire lake on occasion.   The wind can be deceptive if it is blowing out from shore.   The surface will look pretty still, but coming back it will seem as though you are rowing as hard as you can just to stay in place.
The Camp has two clearings:  the softball field, and the area around the dining lodge.   The rest of the camp is carved out of the forest with trees pressing in on all sides.   It is difficult to describe how good it feels just to be in the Camp.   There are a variety of cabins to rent - some old, some newer, some with facilities, some without.   It doesn't matter which I stay in, I always have a great time at Camp.   This photograph shows St. Andrew's Chapel where my sons, Nick and Nate, were baptized on a beautiful September Saturday many years ago.   We were happy to trade stained glass windows for birch trees, chipmunks, and the abundance of quiet beauty and inspiration provided by nature.   I wish I were sitting in that Chapel right now.
My Godchild, Clare, and her dad, Tom, fishing on Lake Esau.   The shoreline visible in this photo is typical of the whole lake.   There are some cottages, but there are lots of undeveloped stretches, too.   The Camp, itself, has a long shoreline, including a sandy beach.   Every spring during work week, a long L-shaped platform dock is put out in the water, and out past it, in deep water, a floating raft is anchored.   It is fun to dive off of the raft, and swim between the two platforms.   Past the beach is the Camp's fire pit for bonfires.
Nick and Nate using the footwash for other purposes.
The "Keep Out Trail" is a long private trail that leads to a deserted stretch of the shore of Lake Huron. The people staying at Camp have permission from the property owner to walk that trail any time.   It is a rare day at Camp that I don't walk it several times.   I often take my mountain bike to camp and ride the trail, too.   I like to be up north when the thimbleberries are ripe.   Any walk through the woods is a treat when you can just reach over and grab the tart raspberry-like thimbleberries off the plants and pop them in your mouth like candy.   When our family goes to camp, we usually make a long list of all the animals we see up north.   Some of the lists have included turtles, all sorts of frogs, skunks, eagles, deer, racoons, large woodpeckers, chipmunks, snakes, loons, herons, bunnies, all sorts of spiders and insects, fish, and farm and domestic animals, too.   One time we were sitting by the front windows in our cabin looking at Lake Esau and eating turkey sandwiches for lunch.   Along the path in front of our cabin walked a parade of six wild turkeys!   I ran outside with my camera but they kept walking faster and faster (as they are wont to do) and I only got a picture of them fading into the woods.
Theresa's first trip to Camp was for "work week" where volunteers would get the place ready for the coming season.   We just went for the (Memorial Day) weekend - it was the year before we were married.   In those days I was taking I-75 north to M-33 north, and then cutting across through Fairview (the wild turkey capital of Michigan) to M-65.   We got a late start after Theresa got out of work, and it was after 9:00 pm when we rolled through Rose City.   As I drove up the big hill heading north out of town, all of a sudden there was this loud bang-bang-bang from my car.   At first I thought it was a tire, but that would have just been one bang.   I pulled over and opened the hood.   I immediately saw a spark plug wire hanging down with a glowing red spark plug core at its end.   I was pretty lucky that it hadn't come in contact with any hoses, because it certainly would have melted through.   I drove back to town, engine banging all the way.   We found out that they roll up the sidewalks at 9:00 o'clock in Rose City.   Nothing was open but the gas station.   All the locals hanging out at the station were advising us, but there was no where to buy a spark plug.   One guy offered to go home and bring back his tool box, which he did.   In his box he found a lawn mower spark plug. I tried it, and it fit.   Now the only problem was that in taking the old core off of the spark plug wire, I had pulled the clamp off the wire.   I had to trim the wire and re-attach the clamp.   It only took about ten minutes, but it was the most miserable ten minutes I could imagine.   Every mosquito in three counties had come to dine on me while I was trying to concentrate on that tricky operation.   Once we finally got on our way, the car ran fine, but it wasn't until after midnight that we made it into Camp.   I was thinking to myself that Theresa was thinking to herself, "What did I get myself into?"
My little one, Nate, who loves animals of all sizes.
As a child, I was fascinated with trains, and I recall that Detroit was laced with train tracks and they all got used in those days.   When my dad and I were driving, he knew not to speed up to beat a train because I wanted to get caught by every one.   My favorite memory, faint though it is, is of driving in the car underneath elevated railroad tracks on West Jefferson just west of downtown.   Delray (where our family business was) was a fantastic place to watch trains.   My own sons and I spent many an hour on Dearborn Avenue watching trains when the boys were young.   You could get locked into a triangle by the trains, and I liked that feeling.   Our family business was itself in a triangle of tracks, with one of the rail sets crossing our driveway and running down the side of the property.   When trains used this track, the boxcars would be a mere four feet from the side or our cinder block office building.   The rails were in bad shape and you could hear and feel a big clunk as each axel rolled over a bad spot next to our building.   More to come.
Nick standing near Dearborn Avenue in Delray.
Oologah Resevoir, Carlsbad Caverns, Ciudad Juarez, switchblades, painting and plastering, cockroaches, walls with glass, how old was I? 14?
I should mention that our guide told me that it was "OK" to climb up on the ancient aqueduct for a picture with the Meditteranean in the background.   He probably meant that it was unlikely that there was anyone around to enforce the sign, but he didn't have to invite me twice.   And speaking of climbing, why didn't Peter O'Toole just take the cable car to the top of Masada like I did - it would have been so much easier.