the details

Iron Horse details WAVphoto

Iron Horse details WAVphoto

Years ago I was given a gift. The giver presented it to me saying,
“you’re such a visual person, I thought you’d like this.” I liked her
sentiments more and those words have stuck with me over ten years.

It’s true. I am a visual person. I used to think everyone saw what I saw
until I began using a camera. I still scratch my head in wonder when
people ask, ‘how did you see that?’ (With all respect & love in my heart,
‘how did you NOT see that’?)

I see the way light plays with objects creating dark shadows.
I notice shape and texture. The details speak to me.

The details.

Iron Horse details WAVphoto

I recently visited The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The details were incredible from the moment the valet greeted & escorted me to
the check-in desk where I was welcomed by a friendly smile and a
freshly poured signature cocktail. Yes. The details are not overlooked.

My husband was due to meet me at the bar after his flight arrived in
Milwaukee. He arrived as the long-awaited sun came out on a warm
spring afternoon. I kindly asked our fantastic waitress if the outdoor bar
was open. “The Yard” was not open yet for the season – but sensing
our desire to enjoy a drink outside she promptly gathered our beverages, escorted us outside and secured two stools. Perfect. She checked on
us & as the wind picked up, re-established our place inside.

We walked through the set of a magazine photo shoot next – kidding,
it just seemed like it. The restaurant, Smyth, ready for dining had oil lamps
lit in Mason jars…everywhere. It was magical, comfortable, inviting.

Iron Horse lobby details WAVphoto

Iron Horse lobby details
WAVphoto

The Iron Horse Hotel is a 100 year old warehouse transformed into a luxury boutique hotel. A fusion of ‘industrial-era form and modern day function’
(from Iron Horse website). ‘Iron Horse’ is a term used for old trains and
part of the charm remains as the hotel is on active train tracks. In each guest room there’s a package of ear plugs in case the noise of the train is disturbing.
(it wasn’t).

The room was a mix of texture – leather headboard, iron art, exposed glass shower wall and cream city brick. I had the most comfortable pillow I’ve ever slept on. If you’ve come to town for a business meeting or arrived on your Harley – the Iron Horse Hotel seems to accommodate all. (including dogs) Details.

Breakfast in the Smyth didn’t disappoint at all. Service was prompt, friendly, great coffee and food. Back to arousal of my senses with details. The coffee was served in the most perfect, white mug. The interior designer knew what they were doing as the little details all got along including the hammered stems on the silverware, the photographs on the walls, the nails on the cushioned chairs.

Iron Horse library details WAVphoto

Iron Horse library details
WAVphoto

It was early on Sunday morning when we walked into the Library. I would have spent the entire day there if possible. The leather couches surround a coffee table that almost asks to rest your feet on it. A fireplace tucked into a corner pleads a longer stay. A peek out the long windows reveals the train tracks and, yes, the cars passing below. The library is host to the most beautiful photographic images of Route 66 made by Thomas Ferderbar, a local artist. Each was framed beautifully.

Iron Horse details Tom Ferderbar photographs of Route 66 WAVphoto

Iron Horse details
Tom Ferderbar photographs of Route 66
WAVphoto

I later found out about the “Book Now” program where guests are
welcomed & encouraged to leave books in their room or in the library
upon departure. The books are donated to the Literary Services of
Wisconsin program for those learning to read.

I am a visual person. I notice the details.
All my senses were alive at the Iron Horse Hotel. Green apples
in a bowl, industrial gears on the side table, the rope swing in
front of the giant flag, the perfect smell, a combination of leather,
wood and fresh.

The sign of a great place to me is the desire to return.
To linger among the details.
I’ve been told I’m a visual person.

 

The Iron Horse Hotel
IronHorseHotel.com
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

 

tradition

WAVphoto
It takes an endless amount of history
to make even a little tradition.
-Henry James

I dropped an envelope into the mailbox the other day.
That envelope carried almost 70 years of history inside.

The envelope contained my son’s signed contract for a summer job at a camp. Not just any camp, at “The Greatest Camp in the Universe.”
Poko MacCready Camp where the sun is always shining…
Poko MacCready Camp
After turning into the camp road, winding down the rutted driveway, a glimpse of the pond between the trees, it takes only a few moments to allow the memories to fill every part of my soul as I step into the parking lot and smell the pines. Immediately refreshed.

I wonder if that’s how my dad felt when he first arrived at Camp Poko Moonshine so many years ago. My dad and his brother worked summers at camp leading hikes in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York State. Fresh air and sunshine in their blood, Adirondack mud on their shoes.
Magic.
Poko photo

Over the years, my brother, cousins and I have participated at Poko MacCready as campers and counselors. My cousins favored the horses, I loved the swim dock. It was the best opportunity to learn what you’re capable of – lessons sometimes realized years later. Planted so deeply was a sense of family and belonging.
MacCready 1973
Soon I was packing hiking boots, t-shirts and bug spray and dropping my own kids off at Poko MacCready. It always feels like home to walk the path again. Nostalgia consumes me when I enter the dining hall with the huge stone fireplace knowing my dad had spent time right there. How could he have known he was starting a tradition? My cousin and I have become friends, hiking in the Adirondack Mountains together, our fair share of gratitude, mud on our shoes and balsam scent in our lungs. My son and my cousin’s son will become third generation counselors this summer. The envelope is in the mailbox!

Honoring my dad who would have celebrated his 84th birthday today.
WAVphoto

http://www.pokomac.com
Celebrating its 110th season this summer!

passion

WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn
‘the things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling’
~fabienne frederickson

I know a young man who has passion.
Passion in how he learns, the quantity of knowledge he has, his joy in sharing his gift with the world.

This young man is a drummer who was born with rhythm coursing through his veins and always a steady heartbeat, barely able to contain his drumming fingers…always at the dinner table, frequently on a drum set.

I know this drummer. I gave birth to him.

‘Passionate’ is the perfect description of his enthusiasm of all things percussion. As a barely two year old trying to configure a drum set using a coffee can, tape, paper plates & a barbecue skewer, frustration mounting as the high-hat cymbals wouldn’t open & close like he saw in a Beatles video.

Shortly after, a December holiday brought an entire drum set–and at his birthday party only 3 weeks later he shared his drumming passion with the world. Ok…maybe to most of his first grade class and all the neighbors.

What I admired about his performance was he didn’t know if he was a great drummer or an ok drummer. He just wanted to play. And he played along with the Beatles music and he started the party.

WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

So this passion continues and gets deeper (as does his song selection) over the years to include all genres of music. It’s a pleasure to watch the evolution of his style and skill as he proceeds through each phase. I am grateful that heavy-metal was relatively short lived and that jazz is in the heavy rotation.

When I see passion in a young person, it’s not forced. It’s an inner drive, strength, motivation. An athlete on the practice field before the team, the artist who has filled every page of the sketchbook before the semester begins, the mountain climber who has studied the map well before the hike. The drummer who is on the stage for every performance that involves music: the pit musical, the symphonic & orchestra concerts, the student showcase, marching band & jazz bands. And then playing through his selections for hours at a time on his set in the basement. Without applause. Drumming is the blood that keeps him alive.WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

Where does it come from? I’d like to take a little credit – for the 9 months I carried him I taught step aerobics to a perfect 8 count…

…but that doesn’t explain why, on one of the coldest days in winter, he packed up his set (breaking down drums, stands, cymbals, amps), loaded the pieces into his car – unloaded them at school, set up the drum set, rocked the stage for his Tri-M (music honor society) recital, then took the whole kit apart, in the car, home & back into the basement. It was well below zero degrees F. I know because I was ‘helping’ him get it packed into his car at the school, when everyone else was gone. The janitor was already cleaning the hallway outside the room. There was no applause, just frostbite. Frostbite and passion.

book club

A book club isn’t about the books.
Sure, sure. We read, we gather, we discuss.wavphotobooks.jpg

We’ve been known to open a bottle of wine.

Things that really happen at our book club? Sharing ideas, challenging our own view of the world, listening to each other’s stories–the struggles, the celebrations and everything in between, laughing that kind of wet-your-pants, tears-streaming-from-your-eyes, can’t-stand-up laughter, and crying when no words are needed – only hugs, and bonds of friendship begin to take hold.
Oh yes, and we eat.

All this doesn’t happen in one night, but over time.
Except for the eating part. That part happens each time.

I was in a book club and even after moving across the country, joined that group on a trip to celebrate our 100th book. Oprah started a wonderful trend both in getting people to read and in creating a special gathering to share thoughts. After I moved, I missed my girlfriends and book group and started to ask people I met about book clubs…”are you in one?” The responses I heard were across the board–some groups had a waiting list for entry (I was amazed), one woman told me she gets stressed-out a week prior to her meeting – each member was required to write a book report and present it to the group (no…no, thank you). Many groups limited their selections to one genre – historical fiction is very popular.

I was on my own — until I wasn’t. I met some interesting women and invited them. The requirements: you must be smart, fun and like to read. Pretty simple. Any one of us could invite others…most of us kept coming back. We share hosting in our homes and everyone brings “something small to nibble on” (but that’s it’s own story). And there’s wine.

Over the years the confines of book group expanded from just once a month to gathering as friends. We’ve celebrated graduations (not only the kids’), art shows, holiday sweaters, teen agers doing well and the home team winning it all. We’ve shared in sympathy the struggles of losing a parent. Together we learned new things like how thrilling it is to launch a potato into a crisp Fall evening, that watching a baseball game played in football weather can create lasting memories and that when magic happens on ice we share “good curling” and celebrate with the opponent.

Book club isn’t really about the books for me.

It’s about people who touch my soul and make me a better person.

I honor and celebrate one of those special people today. Ali came to book club highly recommended (and rightfully so!) with a wonderful sense of humor and a Scottish accent which made everything she said even more endearing. One Valentine’s Day, Ali shared with us her love and expertise of curling, coaching us onto (and off of) the ice. Her enthusiasm for hunting down the perfect prop for a high school drama performance was contagious. She helped us all learn a little more when she studied for and passed her USA citizenship test. Every time I color my hair at home I hear her voice in her beautiful accent, “you’re doing yourself a box job“. It always brings a smile to my face, and yet, a tug on my heart. Ali would smile all the time which just made her even more beautiful as a woman.

One year ago tonight we gathered again at book club. Everyone intuitively brought chocolate. Our hugs were longer, tears flowing gently. I have no idea what the book was. It didn’t matter. We were all numb. Ali’s struggle ended in the early morning hours, one year ago today.

Our book club gathered at her funeral. There were no words.
It wasn’t about the books.

Today I will celebrate all the good things that Ali brought into my world as I mourn the loss of a beautiful person. I will remember the happiness she brought wherever she went. I will remind her children of how much she talked about them and how proud she is of each of them as they find their way in the world. I know they miss her and I can’t imagine the void. For her husband, we will be there to share memories and try to help fill the empty day.

Good Curling, Ali~
xo

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dream

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Live the magic
Have faith in simplicity
Always dare to dream.
(Posted at the Field of Dreams movie set, Iowa)

Iowa.
In a cornfield in the middle of the United States.
I had a magical experience there.

“People will come….they’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom”

I think everyone knows about the 25 year old movie ‘Field of Dreams’ starring Kevin Costner, a corn field and a famous line,
build it, he will come
Its a great story about baseball, passion & dreams.

I couldn’t fathom exactly why I went to Iowa. Except to watch magic unfold right before my eyes on a beautiful October day. We turned down yet another country road in between even more cornfields and quickly approached THE field, THE house with THE white picket fence, with THE red barn in the background. It was not a movie set that was removed when the movie wrapped. It’s a pristine baseball field, acres of corn stalks and magic in the air.

movie set  for Field of Dreams movie WAVphoto

movie set for Field of Dreams movie
WAVphoto

“And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon”

Field of Dreams, Iowa

Field of Dreams, Iowa

“…they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters”

My friend knew to bring a glove, ball and a bat and ran onto the field ready to throw & catch and run…kids again! There was no way to capture or translate what happened next. We took the obvious photos: walking out from the cornstalk rows – just like in the movie. I chatted with other visitors, a family from the east in town for a wedding–the grandparents, parents and a baseball playing young man – I offered to take a family photo. Afterward, they reluctantly returned to their car. A young couple with a toddler were sitting on the bleachers…waiting.
Enjoying the day. Just waiting.

With energetic enthusiasm, my friend encouraged the young couple onto the field. The gal jumped up excited to have been called up. Her face lit up as she connected the bat to the ball and watched it sail past second base. By her skill you could tell it wasn’t the first hit of her life. You would have thought she hit a grand slam in a major ball park – I could tell it felt like home to her. In the outfield she ran down all the balls that were hit…chased them at top speed, smiling the whole time. Alive. Happy. She moved gracefully, as if she fielded grounders every day. I learned from her husband that she dearly missed her college softball team and he said they had just moved to Iowa to start their new life with big dreams.

The wedding family had backed out of the dusty parking space and were summoned to play. A dreamer who loves the game of baseball, pulled the car right back into the parking space after hearing the yelling, “come back-we need more players!” The young man ran to home plate – thrilled to have a chance to bat. He asked his dad to take a video of him running the bases. He ran fast and free, hardly touching the ground knowing all eyes were following him. Grandpa? Yes, he savored each moment watching his son and grandson hitting, running, laughing– playing baseball. I could see the shine in his eyes.
The magic had taken over.

It was a beautiful October day in a cornfield in Iowa.

“It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again…. people will come… people will most definitely come”

72WAVphoto self 1898

Live the magic~ have faith in simplicity~always dare to dream