Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in Michigan

January 31st, 2016

“Everyone deserves a defense. Everyone matters.” James B. Donovan

This weekend I decided to catch up on rental movies. On my way to the video store I was cold, so it seemed fitting to rent “Bridge of Spies” that was set during the Cold War. If you pay to rent this film, you won’t be disappointed.

In Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg once again masterfully goes to the historical drama with a righteous man’s theme. This time insurance lawyer James B. Donovan is recruited by his firm to defend an accused Soviet spy, Rudolf Able (Mark Rylance), in order to show the world the American justice system is democratic. Donovan becomes instrumental in unofficially negotiating on behalf of the US government in East Berlin. The deal is nearly jeopardized by Donovan’s childlike humanity.

The story is “inspired by true events” with the outline of the exchange of Able for U-2 downed pilot Gary Powers historically accurate. As usual, Spielberg recreates the times with the atmosphere, cars, and film noir aspect of a spy thriller in the figurative and literal Cold War. He once said, “I always wanted to tell the stories that really interested me in my personal life which are stories about things that actually happened.” He does just that and does it well.

Tom Hanks is solid and believable as the fish-out-of-water insurance lawyer, with a large spoonful of patriotic American sugar as Donovan trumpets about the importance of the constitution over the lynch-mob mentality of the general public. Alan Alda, great to see again on the big screen, channels his best exasperation as Donovan’s boss, looking for a clean and quick conviction. But it’s Mark Rylance who stands out as the shining star of the film. His salubrious and calm turn as the cornered spy just reeks of class. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, but they didn’t show him justice.

The cinematography is superb with some gorgeous tracking shots and framed scenes. Most outstanding of all is the scene depicting the traumatic construction of the Berlin wall with long tracking shots in greys and blues delivering a truly breathtaking piece of cinema. They captured the dreary shades that I saw in 1987 East Berlin perfectly.

The only issue I had was the soundtrack. Music is used sparingly and surprisingly ineffectively by composer Thomas Newman. Mr. Newman’s work isn’t bad, but his soundtrack was unremarkable, and doesn’t give certain scenes that little extra punch we expect during the climax of Spielberg movies. This is the first Spielberg film in 30 years in which he didn’t use John Williams, and it’s too bad.

“Bridge of Spies” is more about smart people in conversation with each other, knowing that if they made the wrong decision it was going to be the end of the world, than it is about entertainment.

It’s easy for me to recommend to anyone who missed it at the theaters. It’s gripping from beginning to end. I sat silent save for the odd laugh where some appropriate humor is weaved into the story.

PS: Can you believe they still have a video store in Ironwood? Didn’t those disappear years ago everywhere else? No Redbox here. LOL




Friday Funnies

January 29th, 2016

Mike and his pregnant wife live on a farm in a rural area in the western U.P. No running water, no electricity, etc. One night, Mikes’ wife goes into labor. He calls the doctor who rushed next door and begins to deliver the baby.

“What d’ya want me to do, doctor?” “Hold the lantern, Mike. Here it comes!” the doctor delivered the child and holds it up for the proud father to see. “Mike, you’re the proud father of a fine strapping boy.” “Saints be praised, I…” Before Mike can finish the doctor interrupts, “Wait a minute. Hold the lantern, Mike.” Soon the doctor delivered another child. “You’ve a full set now, Mike. A beautiful baby daughter.”

“Thanks be to…” Again the doctor interrupts him, “Hold the lantern, Mike, Hold the lantern!” Soon the doctor delivered a third child. The doctor held up the baby for Mike’s inspection. “Doctor,” asked Mike, “Do you think it’s the light that’s attracting them?”


At an auction in Marquette a wealthy Canadian announced that he had lost his wallet containing $10,000 and would give a reward of $100 to the person who found it. From the back of the hall a Yooper voice shouted, “I’ll give $150!”


A customer ordered some coffee in an Escanaba cafe. The waitress arrived with the coffee and placed it on the table. After a few moments, the customer called for the waitress “Excuse me,” he said, “there’s dirt in my coffee.” “That’s not surprising,” replied the waitress, “It was ground only half an hour ago.”

The Icicles of Cold Attitudes

January 27th, 2016

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

After just a few weeks of winter, I can see how it could be easy to develop an attitude if I’m not careful. It doesn’t take much for any of us with the dreary days, the constant cold and battling snow cloths and shoveling the driveway, and drip…drip…we form those icicle attitudes. Sometimes we can become cranky and a bit out of sorts with our family and anyone who we come in contact with that will listen to us as we kick the snow off our boots. LOL

What do you do during uncomfortable times like these? When you get stuck at the end of your driveway because the plow just went by? Do you automatically go into icicle attitude mode? When we’re in icicle mode who wants to be around us? I try to remember that no one else can fix my wintery attitude. We can only do that ourselves. It’s not always easy simply because the weight of the ice constantly bearing down on us.

However, we have hope for a spring thaw in the midst of our winter. I’ve found that the simplest way to start working on adjusting a winter attitude to spring is to take a step back, be still and remember who God is. God is great and worthy to be praised! Hallelujah!!

Ironwood visitors cernter 5


Friday Funnies

January 22nd, 2016

Michigan: The United States first line of defense from the Canadians. So how do they do it? With really amusing city and state laws. For instance:

* A woman isn’t allowed to cut her own hair without her husband’s permission.

* There is a 10 cent bounty for each rat’s head brought into a town office.

* It is legal for a robber to file a law suit, if he or she got hurt in your house.

* You may not swear in front of women and children in the state of Michigan.

* Any person over the age of 12 may have a license for a handgun as long as he/she has not been convicted of a felony. I know a man at work that bought his first gun on layaway … at age 13!!!

Clawson: There is a law that makes it legal for a farmer to sleep with his pigs, cows, horses, goats, and chickens.

Grand Haven: No person shall throw an abandoned hoop skirt into any street or on any sidewalk, under penalty of a five- dollar fine for each offense.

Harper Woods: It is illegal to paint sparrows to sell them as parakeets.

Rochester: All bathing suits must have been inspected by the head of police.

Soo: Smoking while in bed is illegal. Those crazy, smokin’ Yoopers, eh?

Wayland: Anyone can keep their cow on Main Street downtown at a cost of 3 cents per day.

Are You Winterized?

January 20th, 2016

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (or hot or cold)  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phillipians 4:11-13

Mt. Zion

Mt. Zion

Snow pants, warm boots and show shoes and I'm winterized for a hike

Snow pants, warm boots and show shoes and I’m winterized for a hike

Mt. Zion

Mt. Zion

Heavy winter hat covering ears, nose and mouth against the cold

Heavy winter hat covering ears, nose and mouth against the cold

Growing up in Ohio, Michigan and North Dakota I learned the meaning of cold and winter. Of course, I didn’t truly understand it until I grew up and moved to Florida. Now that I’m back in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this winter, I can barely stand the cold when the temperatures drop below zero. When I was young it was normal to wear several layers of clothing and be bundled up so much you couldn’t move, see Dad dig out driveways of snow, scrape ice off the car, and do all the other things that go along with snow, ice, and winter.

In our spiritual lives, we all have “winters” too and we have to winterize for them in order to face them like we have to face a -22F day. When winter comes to west Michigan it’s a long stretch of bleak and dreary days. It really is a winter trial. Just like the season, our spiritual “winters” can leave us discouraged, lonely, and depressed.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some ways we can winterize and guard ourselves against the winter blahs.

When we are going through trials and hardships, we sometimes tend to let our guard down and it’s so easy for worldly influences to take over in our lives. It seeps through the cracks around the doors and windows just like cold winter air. It may be the influence of unbelievers, music, or worldly thinking. It can work overtime on us as we deal with daily stresses.

We’ve got to dig out the caulk and weather stripping and block those cracks and holes. Using God’s Word is the best way to do this. If we have it in our hearts, it can help stop the winter air of the world from seeping into our lives.

Sunday in Michigan

January 17th, 2016

Indianhead Mountain Resort overlooks the Ottawa National Forest, an area known for its natural beauty and wildlife. The family friendly ski resort in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula offers 220 acres of terrain served by nine lifts and tows. One trail, Voyagers’ Highway, is over 40 acres in area, larger than many Midwest ski areas. Combined with sister property, Blackjack Resort, they offer 52 trails, 11 lifts and restaurants over 390 acres with downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing or snowshoeing to choose from. http://www.indianheadmtn.com/

I decided to snowshoe close to home given the artic “feels like” temperature of -19 F. Indianhead Resort seemed the perfect choice. They have a total of 55 inches of snow, 22 inches of that has been new snow over the past 7 days just waiting for avid outdoors sports enthusiasts to enjoy.

Their health club offers visitors use of a pool, hot tub, sauna, fitness area and racquetball courts. Weather permitting, Indianhead also offers guided moonlight snowshoeing and bon fires on Saturday nights.

jacuzzi pool

When snowshoeing the following are some thoughts to keep in mind: remember to lift those knees, and shorten your stride. Snowshoes aren’t designed to completely float above the snow, so you actually sink a little bit with each step. That’s not so terrible. However, if hiking in deep Upper Peninsula light, fluffy snow, you find yourself sinking much deeper! Today’s learned lesson was to rent a larger size snowshoe for this situation to improve my floatation. Also tread lightly and pace myself.

I enjoyed the natural, unspoiled beauty at Indianhead, however this hike was intense. I wasn’t expecting to earn my pool time by breaking the trail in snow up to my knees. Nonetheless, snowshoeing is a fun winter fitness option that can change in intensity from a slow walk to a much more intense activity by using poles, going uphill, or by going through deeper and softer snow.

I’m learning. One step at a time. Why not get out and try it for yourself? There’s plenty of snow for us all to enjoy!

PS: Sunday morning temperature in Ironwood -11, feels like -29. The average yearly snowfall in this area is 204 inches.

Friday Funnies

January 15th, 2016

Snow. Snow. And more snow. Time for silly snow jokes.

Q: What do you get from sitting on the snow too long? A: Polaroids!

Q: What’s an ig? A: A snow house without a loo!

Q: What do snowmen eat for lunch ? A: Icebergers !

Q:. Where does a snowman keep his money? A: In a snow bank.

Q: What do snowmen eat for breakfast? A: Frosted Flakes.

Q: What do you call a snowman with a six pack? A: An abdominal snowman.

Q: What do you call a snowman that tells tall tales? A: A snow-fake!

Q: What do you call an old snowman? A: Water!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire? A: Frostbite

Q: How does a Snowman get to work? A: By icicle.

The Newness of Snow

January 13th, 2016

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

“It’s below freezing outside?!” I muttered to myself as I glanced at my weather app while getting ready for work yesterday. I guess growing up in North Dakota, you might assume that I would be used to cold weather. A winter type of girl. In reality, winter is something I have never looked forward to. And the reason I moved to Florida.

I swear, it seems like all the life and energy of the summer dwindles away as birds fly south, snowbirds head to Florida and insects tuck themselves away. The days become shorter, and even the bright sun doesn’t seem as bright or as warm hiding behind clouds. Instead, with every second you stay outside you grow colder and colder.

But yesterday after work something else crossed my mind. As I stepped outside I quickly noticed a fresh thick covering of snow on EVERYTHING. There really isn’t anything like the fresh snow fall, which leaves everything in its path covered with fluffy pure white, free from any dirt or debris. Immediately, my mood shifted from one of coldness to one of awe for what God can do with any situation. Even when you can see your breath INSIDE your car.

While winter in the North Country is not warm like the summer months, or have the same characteristics, God makes it special and wonderful in its own way. The same way He does with all of us. God makes all things anew, clean and beautiful in His, and our, sight.

Today, remember where you came from, and how God has changed and improved your life. And keep warm my northern friends.

Sunday in Michigan

January 10th, 2016

I can still remember that day. If you asked me, I thought the world was coming to a bitter cold end. Well, at least my world. It was a very humid and hot summer afternoon when I left West Palm Beach for Marquette. Not unusual for February in south Florida. It was quite a coincidence actually; since this was the type of severe winter weather I should have to been used to since growing up in North Dakota. After all here I was on my way to work in Munising. In February. During a record-breaking blizzard. And now, I’m in Ironwood watching both the snow and temperature drop while I type.

It was a mere two months ago when I told my friends and family I would be returning to Ironwood for the worst winter months. At first, some of them didn’t believe me. I admit to thinking, “What kind of sick joke is this God?” But, after a few days everyone realized I was serious.

Joke, or God’s perfect plan, I’m delighting in seeing how the snow is totally covering all the dirt and grime and making everything untainted and white. The landscape is utterly breathtaking, transformed and even thrilling.  Those who live in southern Florida probably have little idea of what I am describing, but I hope that you try. (Head over to the notoriously cold Town Center Mall without a jacket)

Snow seldom falls in Florida.  The mean temperature of Orlando in the winter time is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, thus they should never see snow. However, snow occasionally does come to the “Happiest Place on Earth” when the temperature drops low enough. Everything in the south stops when a flake drops slowly from the sky. Not so much in the Upper Peninsula.

This winter, I get the chance to watch the snow when it falls and blankets the ground and streets. I mean REALLY see the snow, up close and personal. And I’m going to try to remember to give thanks for this wonderful gift of winter bringing sub-zero temperatures and icy winds along with it. The dark, frigid days make it tough to stay positive as I curl up on the couch watching rental movies.

So please, let me encourage you that even in our most stressful moments, a fresh, fluffy snowfall maintains an almost supernatural power to calm us down — mind, body and soul. It’s magical.



Ironwood visitors cernter 1 Ironwood visitors cernter 4

Friday Funnies

January 8th, 2016

I’ve been wanting to try out my new snowshoes, so I decided that this week was the time. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch goes the snow under my feet in the forest near my home in Ironwood as it packs under my snowshoes. I’ve only hit a couple trails so far, but I’m already in love with the sport of snowshoeing!

I’m not alone in my love for snowshoeing. Its popularity has soared in the last decade, yet it’s not for everyone.

In fact, I’ve heard the following story about a local man: One day Jim was sick and tired of winter so he tied his snow shoes on the top of his car and drove south. When he got to Chicago he pulled over and asked if anyone knew what was on top of his car. Someone said, “Aren’t they snow shoes?”

“Youbetcha,” he replied and got back in his car then drove further south. Finally he got to Boynton Beach, Florida and pulled into a gas station. Pointing to the roof of his car, he asked, “Do you know what these are?” And Billy Bob said, “No sir.” “Thank god”, the man said “I think I’ll make this town my home.”

Later that week he had a flat tire and went back to the gas station. “I don’t see Billy Bob anywhere, do you know where he is?”

The station attendant replied, “The last time I saw Billy he was headed north with a surfboard tied to the roof of his car.”


January 6th, 2016

Epiphany is a season of making known. It’s a Christian festival on January 6 to honor the arrival of the three wise men to Bethlehem to make known the arrival of the Lord. It’s also the day many of us take down Christmas trees, but that’s another story.

The coming of Jesus was first made known today to the wise men, and therefore all Gentiles. In thinking about this, I’m reminded of hearing someone claim that if Jesus came today and did signs and wonders in their presence that they would not question or doubt Him, but that they would believe immediately.  I had a pastor who said that if Jesus came today, He would be broadcast over the radio and television and internet, and would reach many more people than He ever reached wandering from town to town in Israel.

Both views makes the false assumption that Jesus doesn’t come today. That Jesus came 2000 years ago, and that once He ascended into heaven He was no longer making Himself known to people on earth.

But that’s just not true. Epiphany still continues today.  It continues through the Word proclaimed in pulpits and on TV screens.  It continues through Baptism and Holy Communion. And it continues through one neighbor loving and helping another.

The message of Jesus continues today because He’s still present among us, working in us and through us to give hope of salvation and eternal life. Epiphany is about making Jesus known to people for the first time.  To those who don’t know Jesus yet, they are still in Epiphany, learning who Jesus is and why He came.

Bring this Epiphany joy to others: help them to know that Jesus has come to save them from sin and death with grace and mercy.  Make the love of Jesus known to those around you.


Sunday in Michigan

January 3rd, 2016

Imagine snuggling up in a blanket and listening to the sleigh bells ring as you ride a horse-drawn sleigh through a wonderland of snow. Sound like your cup of tea? Me, too, giddy up!

One of the most delightful experiences I expect to have this winter was on the Barber Road Stables Sleigh Ride. I was able to sit back and relax as the antique horse drawn sleigh glided over a trail on a peaceful, quiet journey through snow-covered pine trees. http://www.barberroadstables.com

Offering year-round sleigh rides for over ten years, Bob and Jo at Barber Road Stables provide a spectacular old-fashioned experience in the Bessemer area woods. You can hop aboard an antique handcrafted two-person sleigh or 10-person 1800’s surrey pulled by a team of black Percheron mares named Laverne & Shirley.

No matter the season, a journey over quiet country roads on a two horse open sleigh or wagon is sure to be enchanting. What a wonderful way to spend some time outdoors!

Percheron Lavern and Shirley

Laverne and Shirley

005 006 008 009 015 (2)

Dog Stryker led the way

Dog Stryker led the way

Owners Bob and Jo with Laverne

Owners Bob and Jo with Laverne

Me and friend Joe

Me and friend Joe

Friday Funnies

January 1st, 2016


‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.

The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste at the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales there arose such a number! When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).

I’d remember the marvelous meals I’d prepared; the gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,

The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese and the way I’d never said, ‘No thank you, please.’

As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt and prepared once again to do battle with dirt –

I said to myself, as I only can ‘you can’t spend a winter disguised as a man!’

So – away with the last of the sour cream dip, get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip

Every last bit of food that I like must be banished ‘Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won’t have a cookie – not even a lick. I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.

I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie, I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore. But isn’t that what January is for? Unable to giggle, no longer a riot. Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!



Ahh, yes, the ever popular New Year’s diet resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. Here’s another fun ones for Fido:

New Year’s Resolutions for the family dog:

I will not bark each time I see or hear a dog on TV.

I will not steal underwear belonging to my mistress and then dance all over the back yard with it.

I will not chew red crayons or pens, because my master will think that I am hemorrhaging.

I will not roll my toys behind the fridge.

I must shake the rainwater out of my coat BEFORE I enter the house.

Happy New Year!!!


Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.