Archive for the ‘Upper Michigan’ Category

In Negaunee.

I should have been patient and set the scene for these pieces with some street and building shots, but I started to play with a few close-ups and the next thing I knew…


So, I’ll show you the street next time. This was the rear yard of a resale shop connected with the community theatre. Had I worked for days, I couldn’t have set up finer groupings.  Treasures. Everywhere you looked: treasures.


What’s this?


If I remember correctly, part of an old street lamp.



Lastly, a close-up of the guys from the larger picture above. I swear they are in a pub and singing. Singing what, you ask? 

One, two and three Jolly Coachmen, sat in an English Tavern. And they decided, and they decided, and they decided…to have another flagon!”

Yet another look at the U.P.

I don’t generally post variations on the same picture, but I am so delighted by (and more than just a little in love with) this building that I could not do a “one and done.”





I keep thinking that if I could just stand on the roof, I would see all of Paris at my feet.

Ishpeming. There weren’t any signs that said we COULDN’T be there…



Study the window carefully and you’ll find Karen, wheelwoman for the getaway Subaru.


Why, pray tell, would we be on Full Alert for a rapid getaway in such an obviously deserted place?

cement closeup1

Good question, Grasshopper. Answer:  This a fully-operational business and, even though it was a Sunday morning, there was plenty of noisy action going on in other buildings. Thank goodness that Subaru offers a “Cloak of Invisibility” package and Karen had opted for that over the kayak racks.

Delight can be in the details. With that in mind, I packed my “nifty 50” for our adventure at camp and was not disappointed.




This next one reminds me of the simple abstract Buddha symbol used by Shambhala Press:



And, of course, no deer camp would be complete without these:


I didn’t bring my big camera out in the fields, so I will have to rely on memories of the endless purple and gold waves of wildflowers, clouds of orange butterflies, vast tracts of raspberries and the perfumes of both summer woods and deep black muddy swamps. No electricity or Wi-Fi at camp, but gas-power, a generator, a pump and some big honking batteries. As I settled into my bunk on Saturday night, I was roughing it, yes, but the Messrs. iPod and Kindle (with additional support provided by my Argentinian friend, Sr. Malbec ) meant I could drift off to sleep listening to Dave Brubeck and reading Elmore Leonard and reflecting that moments of genuine bone-deep happiness can come in the most unexpected places.

Wabi Sabi goes to Deer Camp for a weekend adventure.

Dawn on Friday found me heading straight north from Green Bay on a series of  highways identified only by their cryptic numbers on my rumpled map. At the border crossing, a sleepy sentinel was distracted and I seized the opportunity to enter the U.P. quietly.

birdPassing through Iron Mountain, I kept the car at a reasonable speed in order to call no attention to my Wisconsin plates. Then, it was a straight run for Sagola.  Once there, luggage was quickly transferred to a black SUV and purchases such as “ice, ” “gasoline,” and a mysterious bag of “egg rolls” were made. Money was exchanged with strangers who spoke “English.” I could understand most of what they were saying since I was raised among people who spoke this peculiar dialect and am actually bilingual…though my accent has grown rusty with disuse.

As our Detroit-Irish host pointed out, there would be no need to blindfold us on the way into camp.






Without a guide, we’d never be able to find our way in or out again.

Didn’t think we were done with the U.P., did you? This is the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Marquette, Michigan and it is located a few short blocks from friend Karen’s house.  Built in 1914 by the Diocese of Marquette, it has been abandoned for nearly 50 years. The property belongs to a private owner now and is falling apart. Workers from the Veteran’s Home across the street use the orphanage parking lot as their smoking lounge. Pigeons own the interior. (Pigeon portraits tomorrow.) Horror tales about the building abound and claims of supernatural sightings are many. To quote my sainted Irish mother, the place is “going to hell in a hand basket.”


A couple of things: that violent fuchsia/pink-red is not a result of my mucking about with color. That’s for real. In fact, I even toned it way down in a couple of shots.


Two: I can always be persuaded to sneak inside forbidden territory or slip around “No Trespassing” signs but I didn’t venture farther than the porch at this place. At least one balcony has collapsed. And, I’m glad we didn’t go inside. Karen’s husband told us later that the orphanage houses a lovely collection of bats as well.


Finally,  I normally take great joy in documenting old factories, mine shafts, broken glass and aging doors. This time…not so much. I didn’t like the whole feeling about the place, or at least the ornate face that is presented to the street. I was more comfortable with the utilitarian backside of the building. That I can show you next time.


Well…I do sort of like that last picture. Squint a lot and it could be the backdrop for an opera.

Not opera, but fun fact for the day: did you know that “Anatomy of a Murder” was filmed in the U.P and used the court house in Marquette for the trial scenes? I love both the movie and the novel, written by Robert Traver (John Voelker) and I prize my collection of Traver first editions, all inscribed to me by the author. I never met the man, but years ago was fortunate enough to meet his neighbor who kindly schlepped my books over and had them signed.

Ishpeming. Same abandoned mine. Different shaft.