Friday, August 19, 2022

Going Back to School - Camping post #5

   The Iron County Museum is a complex of historic buildings just outside of Iron River, Michigan. We first toured it four years ago when we were camping at the nearby State Park. In the middle of July, on our yearly camping trip to the area this year, we visited the museum once again.

In a future post, I will share the other exhibits throughout the grounds, but today I’m only going to share the one-room schoolhouse.

The Pioneer Baumgartner school was built in 1896. Like many school buildings of the time, it was named for the person on whose land it was built. The Pioneer school was moved from its initial location to the museum grounds and restored in 1988.

I’ve been fascinated by one-room schoolhouses for two years. That was when I started writing my latest novel which has one of those schools as its main character.   

The schoolhouse in my book was built of brick around 1860 in a town that is in a vague location. I wanted it to be in northern Illinois or Indiana because that location would fit with the rest of the story. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any record of brick schoolhouses that far north and west in that time period. Ah, such is the quandary of the novelist! 

My goal is to finish writing this novel in the next week or so. Send me a message if you want to be one of the first to read the rough draft. 

In the meantime, best wishes to all students, teachers, bus drivers, and others who will be returning to modern schools in the next few weeks.

 The Iron County Historical Museum website:

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Pictured Rocks part 2 - Camping Post #4

   Just because I am retired, does not mean I need to fill my every minute all summer long. Someone should have told me that in May.

We took our yearly camping trip to the UP from July 17th through the 23rd. I worked one day the following week and three and a half days the next week. The week after that, which was last week, Hubby and I went camping again. Add to that the fact that our internet was out for three days during that time, and – well – I am so far behind on blogging. At this point, I can’t remember much of that first camping trip. Maybe you don’t want to hear about it anyway, right?

But two weeks ago, I promised more pictures of Pictured Rocks. So here they are. 

Just as the boat turned around to head back to the dock, this fog rolled in out of nowhere.

And then, just like that, it was gone. 

The good thing about posting the first batch two weeks ago is that you might not remember having seen some of these.

Of course, I took 300 pictures on that two-hour cruise on Lake Superior that day, so I hope I didn’t repeat any.

Such cool colored rocks.

Except for the pictures where I played with the settings on my camera and really made the colors pop!

The Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse was built in 1868 but was put out of service in 1913, having been replaced by the new range lights across the channel in Munising.

Last, these lucky kayakers who get to see the rocks up close and personal. Maybe. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Second Commandment

          Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:8, King James Version)

What is this commandment all about? According to Luther’s Small Catechism, it means this: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice satanic arts, lie, or deceive using God's name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

That explanation says a lot, a lot more than we want to think about. And why is that? Because, once again, this is a commandment many of us break all the time!

I’m just going to keep it simple, though, and focus on one point in all of that.

We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself. Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. (James 3:9-10, New Century Version)

Don’t swear. Don’t use the name of God or of Jesus Christ as an expletive. Don’t throw any of the names of God into your general conversation. (You know the conversations I’m referring to; we’ve all heard them in movies or even at work.) Use His names only in thanks, praise and prayer.  

And I always take this commandment a step further. Don’t use the other words which used to be banned from TV and radio. Just don’t do it. (And, again, you know which ones I mean.)

Sure, believers agree that we shouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain, but what do all those other “bad” words have to do with it?

Here’s what those words in our daily language are doing to us as a society. Just like all the sex and violence we see in movies and on the internet, those words are desensitizing us. We are getting to the point where we don’t even flinch when we see certain things or hear certain things. And after that? Well, we lose our human-ness, our kind and gentle spirits. We become monsters tearing at living flesh.

Sorry if that sounds dramatic, but using profanity (even though it slips out of my mouth sometimes) just should not be an acceptable way to talk.

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23, New King James Version)

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Third Commandment

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8, King James Version)

The third commandment in the good old King James Version. But let me tell you what else God had to say about this law in Exodus chapter 20, verses 9 through 11, in the New International Version.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Over the last two months, I’ve been writing about the ten commandments, starting with the last seven of them. Commandments four through ten should be easy for anyone to understand, believer or non-believer. They are all about how you should love your neighbor more than yourself. That you shouldn’t do anything to harm them, but should instead help them in any way you can. The kind of stuff where if everyone was obeying them, we wouldn’t have all the crap going on that makes the evening news. Killings, cheating, stealing, people talking smack about each other. We could live in peace.

Now, however, it’s time to circle back to the first three commandments. The ones we should keep to demonstrate our love for the one Triune God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation (Genesis 2:3, New Living Translation)

Honestly, I’m pretty sure that God didn’t really need to rest after creating everything in the heavens and on the earth. He is God and He can just keep going like the Energizer Bunny. But He sure deserves to rest.  

But really, because He is such a loving Father, I think this commandment is for us as well for Him.

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. (Exodus 35:2, New International Version)

We aren’t God, so we need to rest periodically, one day a week. Take a day for yourself, to put all your troubles aside. As a believer, you should attend church that day or spend time in some sort worship and praise to your Creator. Study your Bible. Pray and thank God for all He has given you. As a child of God, you should be more than happy to spend your day off remembering your Lord and Savior.

If you aren’t a believer, you still need to give yourself a break. God didn’t create us to go on and on; He knows we need a day off.

And as a side note – something that isn’t really about the third commandment, but which God does want us to do – we are to work those other days of the week.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17, New International Version)

Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. (Proverbs 12:14, NIV)

Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. (Romans 12:11, New Century Version)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Pictured Rocks part 1 – Camping post #3

   Whenever I go anywhere, I always take too many pictures. Thank goodness for digital photography. When I was a kid, I’d always get yelled at by mom when we’d bring home the developed pictures from the drug store and she’d see all the photos I took of such random stuff. When I was younger, it was because she had to pay for them, but even when I had my own money, she’d still chide me for the waste.  

Anyway, it didn’t stop me and I think I’ve more than made up for it in my adulthood. 

Which is why I just couldn’t post, at one time, all the pictures I took of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from the boat ride we took the Wednesday afternoon we were camping in Michigan.

The boat we rode.  

And lucky people riding in their kayaks.

I’d tell you the names of all these rock formations, but those are manmade names.

Some things are too awesome for mere human names.

Names are for people, like these two clowns.

This is as far as our cruise ship went. Next time that I share pictures of our yearly camping trip to the UP, I’ll post the pictures from the return ride.

About Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore -

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Tenth Commandment

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s. (Exodus 20:17, King James Version)

Sometimes the ninth and tenth commandments are combined, or sometimes people just don’t see the difference between the two. Here it is: the previous one deals with coveting another person’s things, while this one covers the living people and animals that other people have.

Luther’s Small Catechism describes this commandment this way: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

Few of us have servants which we are worried about someone hiring away from us. And coveting our spouses seems to be covered in the sixth commandment. Some of us do own livestock or at least have chickens pecking around our yard providing us with eggs to eat.

In general, though, we live in different times. But, as with everything else written in the Bible, the words remain true for us today.

My mom once told a story about a beautiful, white, long-haired kitten she had as a young girl. Because it wasn’t suitable as a barn cat, Mom wanted it for a pet. She didn’t have it very long when some distant relative from the city came for a visit and saw the cat. He talked my grandpa into giving it to him. My mom says she hid the cat under the covers at the end of her bed, but they found it and took it away. Mom was understandably heartbroken. But on Grandpa’s behalf, it was the depression and there was no room in the budget for any animal on the farm which couldn’t pull its weight.   

I remember seeing a movie years ago with a similar plot-line and even an episode of the Waltons, involving a calf.

Working class families of previous generations, from Biblical times through the depression of the 1930s, had a hard time justifying having a pet around the house. They were more prone to fight to keep any human or animal labor and to covet their neighbors' workers and livestock. 

Today, we are blessed to have the easy life we do. And with that, many of us have pets that we love and would do anything for. And as long as we are taking proper care of our cats, dogs, and other household critters, no one should want to take them away from us.

Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others. (Philippians 2:4, New Century Version)

 Assignment time! If you know of someone who has a pet that they love, but that they are struggling to keep for whatever reason, lend a hand – offer to walk their dog if they can’t get out themselves or buy them some pet food. If you don’t know anyone in that situation, volunteer at your local humane society. Do it not only for the animals, but for the many people involved in their care. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Start at the Beginning - Camping Post #2

   Sometimes I tend to jump around when I am chronicling one of our trips. This time, though, I’m going to make it easy on myself and start writing about our recent camping trip at the beginning, at Alpha.

Alpha, Michigan, is the third smallest incorporated village in the state of Michigan, with a population of 126. The Alpha post office was established on December 15, 1913, and the community was incorporated as a village in 1914. The first census on file for Alpha listed a population of 818 in 1920. It has steadily declined every year since.

Alpha sits in the lower half of Iron County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As the county’s name suggests, iron ore mining was what started the development of the area in the late 1880s.

The George F. Porter School was built in 1914. Two single-story wings were added to the school in 1920 and 1929.

I found information on the internet regarding the name of the school in two different places. I first ran across one reference stating that George F. Porter was one of the major shareholders at the time, but it didn’t say shareholder of what. Another source stated that Mr. George F. Porter of Chicago had made a donation of 1,000 books to the Alpha school Library, more than doubling the number of books it housed, but it didn’t say what year that was.

The school building has sadly deteriorated greatly since I was here last in 2018.

That same year, however, the Alpha Michigan Brewing Company was established in the former bus garage on the east end of Porter School. 


On the other end of the school is the Village Hall, which was also built in 1914. 

There’s also a post office.

And a community center. I couldn’t tell if it was really being used or not.

Also, of note, but not photographed, were a bakery on the edge of town and what is reported to be the oldest traffic circle in Michigan. Circling back to the Alpha Brewing Company. One of their mottos is that “All our brews are craft brewed on the Circle”. They also claim to be the smallest village in America with a brewery!

And, yes, when they were open later in the week, we returned to try a brew and make a purchase.