the hyphens that define my life

Michigan March 7, 2014

You can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the girl.

As if this trip to my sister’s memorial service isn’t emotional enough, I didn’t anticipate the flood of emotion from recognizing city sign markers driving into town, under an hour away from my grandparents home. It has been an easy 20 years since I’ve visited central Michigan, Branch Township, where I spent weeks of my childhood summers at my grandparents’ home, eighty acres in the Manistee National Forest.

My grandfather drove a yellow Scout. Whenever we went to Reed City, Big Rapids, Irons, Baldwin, White Cloud or Ludington, we didn’t take the main roads and highways. My grandfather drove dirt roads, typically named some-number Mile Road, or two tracks, stopping along the way so my grandmother could harvest some anti-itch orange flower she’d boil and make ice cubes or shake chokecherries or crabapples out of the tree so she’d make into jam, or so he could catch a snapping turtle to make into soup. I kid you not you uneducated city folk. A trip to town was always an adventure.

It was the 70’s and my grandparents were into their CB and police scanner. We all had CD handles. Did you?

Breaker one-nine, breaker one-nine (somehow it was always channel 19). What were our CB handles? I know my cousins will piece it together for me tomorrow. There was Buckeye Ike and Buckeye Rambler. My mom’s was Katydid, I think. I can’t remember either of my sister’s CB handles. My brother was Kingfisher (uh huh, sure) and all I can say about my CB handle is that I’m consistent, Aggravation. Right? No shit.


Pine trees, walks in the woods, ferns, deer, bluegill and bass fishing, Troutorama, Blue Moon and Mint Chip ice cream, sand dunes, French fries in coon fat, playing cards, sun tea, snowmobiles, tractor rides, ATVs, mopeds, wild blueberries, sassafras, wintergreen, mushroom hunting, jam, pie, fish fry, homemade noodles, boating on the lake, building forts, 2 miles to check the mail, two tracks, deer blinds, salt licks, outhouses, main house, cabin, hammocks, chipmunks, which way: the front way or the back way, quilts, crochet, knit, old typewriter, Harlequin romance novels, cookbooks, jam, the ladder to the basement, then the back porch, lake house, slide shows, cousins, aunts, uncles, family.

The last time I was here, not counting funerals, on purely social accounts, was when I was 21, maybe 22. I took a month and drove across country, National Park hopping and camping, mostly by myself, with the exception of 4 days at the start with a friend. That was 23 years ago. Some things never change. Michigan may have changed, but not in my heart.


Hot Newbies July 1, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 8:52 am
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Door-to-shore, thirty-two miles east of our house, is Lake Coeur D’Alene. A comparable distance to our go-to beaches in Southern California, Newport Beach or Salt Creek Beach.  Spokane, in addition to the Spokane River, is centrally located to 20 some odd lakes.  Where do newbies like us go to cool off in this heat wave? As SoCal transplants, we are programmed to think about parking and crowds.  Our summer plan is to visit as many of the lakes as possible to figure out which one suits us best.  We decided to start with Lake Coeur D’Alene.

Beaches stretch the California coastline, lake beaches don’t always exist, or aren’t accessible without a boat.  If you ask a local, they tell you to just grab a chair and claim a spot.  But where?  We packed our chairs, towels, sunblock and feedbags, loaded into the car and headed east to the lake to find our spot.  We didn’t leave the house until 11:30, being programmed as we are, we thought we would be hard-pressed to find a beach, let alone a spot to call our own.

We seriously need to deprogram.  By following Lakeshore Drive, we easily found a few public beaches scattered between spectacular houses with private beaches.    We opted for Jewett House Public Beach and staked our claim on the rocky beach.  Jewett House is a city owned 1900’s home, right on the lake, that is available to rent for events. We parked less than a block away, for free. Though the beach had plenty of people, we easily found a spot at the water’s edge.

The boys were bemoaning the fact that they didn’t have their boogie boards.  Apparently they missed the lesson on lakes to learn that lakes only have boat wake waves, no waves like the ocean.  Their reaction was priceless.  They had no idea what they were supposed to do at the lake.  Understanding that the lake was fresh water, not chlorinated or saltwater, boggled their minds as well.  Vince is a SoCal boy and knows the ocean well.  Me, I was raised going to Nickelplate Beach in Huron, Ohio on Lake Erie. I also spent some of my summers at my aunt and uncle’s lake house on Bass Lake near Baldwin, Michigan. It was the 70’s so “freshwater” in Lake Erie at that time is debatable but I know lakes.

The sun was crispy hot, the water at Lake Coeur D’Alene was clear and cold, but tolerable.  Some locals told us they don’t bother getting in the water until late July or August when it warms up.  Our kids stayed in the lake all day. They quickly learned that in a lake, you toss a football, play monkey in the middle, swim to the buoy and back, skip stones and just cool off. Who needs a boogie board?

It turned out that I was the one at a loss what to do.  My normal beach routine is to read, swim, flip, read, swim, flip to perfect my rotisserie tan.  In all the morning hoopla, I forgot to pack my book.   Dummy!!  I haven’t read a book cover to cover in weeks.  Weeks!  I survived our beach day by jumping in the lake.  Vince swam to the buoy a few times and managed to take a nap.  Our only issue was that our spray on sunblock, that everyone used was expired.  The sun was intense and we fried…except in the spots where we later applied the suntan lotion.  We are all a striped mess.

Our first lake beach trip was a success, but we all agreed on one thing, we need a boat.



My Daily Blog: T-2 Family Ties June 17, 2013

My husband’s family is from Bellingham Washington.  I don’t know all of the details, forgive me if I unintentionally misrepresent the family, this is the story I’ve been told, or at least what I can remember this morning:

Back in…, I don’t know when, long ago in a land far, far away, two Ivecivic-Bakulic brothers left Croatia for America, one was my husband’s great-grandfather. They landed in Bellingham Washington.  Croatians are natural fisherman as the Dalmatian Islands in the Adriatic Sea off the Croatian coast provide stunning scenery and incredible fishing. Bellingham Washington is at the very tippy top of the U.S. providing access to bountiful fishing in U.S. and Canadian waters.

After the two brothers land in Bellingham, one stayed, and shortened and Americanized the last name to Bakulich.  The other brother takes the Ivecivic last name, then and changes it to Ivich and moves to Ciudad Obregon Mexico. Eventually parts of the Washington contingent moved to San Pedro California, for the temperate climate, great fishing and similar landscape to Croatia.  The Bakulich family now extends from Washington to Mexico.

My husband grew up in San Pedro and always wanted a fishing boat.  My husband remembers his father pulling him aside and telling him, ‘I have a surprise’.  My husband responded, ‘You bought a fishing boat?’ ‘No,’ his father replied, ‘I bought a bowling alley.’  What?  Needless to say my husband is a really good bowler!

Now the third and fourth Bakulich generation moves to Washington.  Not moving to Bellingham, though we did visit there once and considered moving there years ago, the timing and the vibe weren’t right for us.  Fishing is on our to-do list in Spokane.

My husband grew up fishing on the Pacific Ocean. My childhood summers were spent fishing in lakes in Ohio and Michigan. Between the two of us, we will – well, we should – be able to teach our kids something about fishing.  We have taken then kids fishing in California with no luck, except for that one time at the trout farm but that doesn’t really count.

One definite rule once they actually do catch some fish,  they have to clean what they catch. Nothing like chopping of fish heads, managing fish guts and scraping scales to appreciate fishing.   Eating what they catch will be fun too. The older boys will eat what they are given, our youngest is very picky…yet he ate a raw oyster not long ago…so there is hope.  We have hope there is fish to catch, clean and eat in Washington.

In addition to my husband’s family history, my family has migrated to Seattle in recent years.  My mom and stepdad transplanted from California almost 10 years ago.  My  sister moved from Michigan to Seattle 2-3 years ago.  Though Seattle is a 4.5 hour drive from Spokane (or a 50 minute flight my husband likes to point out), Seattle is a closer commute than what we currently have in California.

Washington knows our families that have come before us.  Washington has treated them well.  Though Spokane is new to us, we have Washington in our blood, like family.

Editor’s note:  I’m no longer aloud to go out drinking then write a blog post.  I forgot to hashtag!  I love hashtags and thought about my missing hashtags all day.