In My Own Backyard

Being a new resident of Michigan my husband and I have spent the summer exploring many of the small towns on the western side of the lower peninsula.  We have discovered some beautiful art galleries, unique antique stores and loved the beaches and lighthouses all along Michigan Lake.

It has been interesting to me to discover that many of my new friends who have lived in Michigan for years have never visited many of these places.

Funny how we will spend time and money to visit far away places while often ignoring what is in our own back yard.

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day and we wanted to get out and enjoy the day.  We wondered “Is there anything near our new home town that we have not bothered to check out?”

Yes – In a town just 20 miles from us we found a castle and some interesting history.

On the outside it looks like a castle from a fairy tale.  On closer inspection we discovered it was built in 1922 by writer James Oliver Curwood as a writing studio.  Overlooking the Shiawassee River Curwood composed many of his novels here.  The castle was not meant to be a home.  This was  Curwood’s “man-cave.”

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It was easy to see why Curwood built his castle here by the river.  It is a beautiful, peaceful place.  After visiting the castle, we enjoyed the walk by the river and shared the view with some friendly ducks.

This writer who was ranked among the top-ten best sellers in the United States during the early 1920’s was born in Oswosso Michigan.  His novels and short stories and the movie scripts based on his writings made him a millionaire.

Curwood loved the wilds of Canada and was an enthusiastic hunter for many years collecting trophies which he hung in his castle.   Spared by a bear he had shot and wounded, but not killed, he became an advocate of environmental conservation and education.  Shortly before his death in 1927 he was appointed to the Michigan Conservation Commission.

His books were based on his experiences in Canada.  Hundreds of movies have been based on or inspired by Curwood’s stories, including the 1934 movie “The Trail Beyond,” which starred John Wayne.

Only four years after he finished building his castle, he died of blood poisoning.  At the time of his death, he was the highest paid writer in the world according to the Curwood Castle’s curator.

The City of Owosso celebrates Curwood’s birth each year with a festival.  The event is a weekend long celebration centered around Curwood Castle.   They also hold a writing contest for young authors.

All summer we have traveled 50 to 200 miles to see the sights of western Michigan while totally ignoring this beautiful spot and this bit of history right in our own back yard.

I wonder, do you also travel far from home to visit historical and/or beautiful places while driving right by treasures in your own back yard?

 

 

Not Following the Guidelines

I love to write.  For years I have kept a journal.  My entries range from routine, boring comments about the weather to reflections of my feelings during a battle with cancer.

A few years ago I entered the world of blogging.  Really having no idea how to have a successful blog, I have read other blogs, articles and books on the subject.

Most have said that you need to “find” your audience, to write for them.  A lot recommended that your blog stick to one idea or theme.  Reading other blogs I have seen many seem to follow that pattern.

  • Blogs writing about travel
  • Blogs writing about mental health
  • Blogs writing about raising children
  • Blogs writing about the Bible

I started out thinking my blog would be sharing stories from the years I was a pastor’s wife.  There were stories that were funny and others that I thought might be inspiring.  I named my blog Grandma’s Ramblings because I also wanted to share stories of my beautiful grandchildren.

But after writing a blog since late 2014 it seems my blogs are all over the place.  My husband and I love to take road trips and I enjoy sharing pictures of those trips.  A Christian who loves Bible studies I also share thoughts from my devotions.  An history nut I love to research and share stories about our country’s history.  Then my family gives me much to write about.  From one blog to another I often have no idea where I am going until I start writing.  I just have this need to write.

Being concerned that I seem to have no “theme” I went back to the tag line I made when I started this blog.

Stories of a lifetime to make you laugh, cry and hopefully walk away encouraged!

That really has been my purpose – just to give someone a good laugh, maybe a challenging thought or words that might encourage.

My idea of success?  It’s encouraging to see the number of those following my blog increasing, but the real success I find is when someone comments that I did make them laugh, cry or be encouraged.

So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – and we will see where it all leads.

For those of you who follow my blog – thank you.  For those of you who have shared comments, thanks for your encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Blog or Not to Blog

I started my blog in 2014 but I was hit and miss – some months not posting at all and never any consistency to my posts until the past few months.

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Throughout my life I have loved to write.  I was a guest columnist for the local newspaper a few years ago and I also submitted a few articles in contests where I either won or was given honorary mention.  As a pastor’s wife I also wrote curriculum for Sunday School classes and children’s’ programs.

For years I have kept a journal writing about local events, family outings and life experiences.  When I had cancer I found writing really was a blessing.

So in 2014 I started a blog.  In my description of the purpose of my blog I wrote:

Stories of a lifetime to make you laugh, cry and hopefully walk away encouraged!

That was my purpose.  I never wanted my blog to be so popular I could attract sponsors.  I certainly applaud those who have been able to do that.  But at my age I just truly wanted to write to make others laugh, cry, be challenged or encouraged.

I kept starting and stopping on the blog because I thought

Who do I think I am that my writing would be of benefit to others?

Of course, by not being consistent I did not attract too many followers.  But moving to another state last fall seemed to shake me out of my lethargy – not only in writing but in other areas of my life where I seemed to have lost my enthusiasm.  It has done the same for my husband as he has returned to his love of painting.

As I have been more consistent I have gained more followers.  Still, I look at some of the blogs that I love and recommend and see the followers they have and I begin to wonder again.

Why am I doing this?  Do I really think I am helping anyone?

But every time I think I will stop blogging I get a comment from someone saying how much my post made them laugh and gave them a good day.  Or, how it encouraged them and was just what they needed.

So I ask myself again.

Why am I doing this?  Am I just wanting to collect a lot of followers?  To consider myself a big success in the blogging world?

Or

Do I really just want to encourage someone, make someone laugh?

Is it all that important that I reach thousands – or that I help two or three?

So I have decided to continue and to be more consistent in my posts.  And whether my followers grow or not, I will take joy in knowing I have helped someone.