Star Date:  April 2018


Hello Dear Family & Friends!

"Aniin. Aaniish naa ezhiyaayin?"

(Hello.  How are you?  Ojibwa Nation)






I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

(Henry David Thoreau)


Simplicity.  Thoreau desired to experience life and it's meaning by living by the simplest terms possible; at Walden Pond. He lived off of the land. He built his own house. He hunted and fished his own food. He lived in solitude. Through these things, Thoreau experienced how life truly is meant to be lived.

He desired to live a mindfully rich life, rather than a monetarily rich life, and to do that he had to prove that living off of the most base means is not only possible, but worthwhile.

"Nature, to Thoreau was beautiful, rich, alive, and helpful. It provided him with all the aesthetic beauty and material goods that he could ever desire. From walking through the woods to taking his raft out, he spent all of his time outdoors, fully immersing himself in the natural world; for that was where he was truly alive. He pitied those who felt not the desire but the need for luxurious material goods.

He wrote "Walden" not to get others to follow in his footsteps and live a year in the woods; he was simply showing that it is important for one to follow their heart and find meaning in their lives.  Many people  "have found themselves trapped in life that is fruitful in works but barren in happiness and life."

And so we went into the woods and spent 2 weeks at the 'Shack', in Wisconsin's North Woods.  A remote, serene log cabin 10 miles from any town, without electricity or water.  Sounds bleak?  It was anything but!  Our trip home to organize a Memorial service for my dear Mom, LaVerne, was a logistical challenge.  When my good cousin, Mike, offered the use of our formerly owned family cabin, everything fell into place.  Walking through the door memories flooded my mind.  First the old 'Shack' then this newer log cabin 'Shack Jr.' were the pride and joy of my Dad and Mom. They turned this retreat and it's 40 acres, in the middle of thousands of acres of wild forest, into a loving place that accepted with open welcoming arms, anyone who made the long trip.

As a kid myself and brother Paul spent some of our most cherished childhood memories right on this spot.  This was a place where we all relaxed and blended into Nature.  This is Nature.  Sitting quietly outside the cabin, observing, one will most likely see deer, raccoon, chipmunks, birds of all sizes, including owls and bald eagles, butterflies, fox and possibly even a bear.  By the pond there are endless frogs croaking and turtles splashing.  Nights were full of coyotes and wolves howling to the moon. You don't have to go looking for Nature, Nature comes to you.

I was raised out in Nature, as were my kids; fishing, hiking, camping, exploring.  Perhaps the more time one spends in Nature the more flexible and adjusted we are when we return to this crazy outside world.  I know it has helped me to be flexible and more accepting as a World Nomad.  Time in Nature is a great way to clear your mind from the modern stress and clutter and connect.  Thoreau was definitely on to something.

As a child I remember sleeping in the old shack.  In the middle of the night a black bear decided to come up and start scratching and clawing the logs right near our heads. My Dad, my hero, sent him on his way. 

We went fishing at the Big Hole and brought fresh trout back to be cooked on the wood stove, along with fried potatoes and baked beans.  Maybe a cup of collected wild onion soup or a freshly baked Gami pie for dessert.  We collected water from a natural spring and picked fresh wild flowers to grace the 100 year old oak dining table.  This place was anything but luxurious but it had heart.  It was a hunting cabin and no women's touches were allowed.  Built by my Dad and Grandfather, Emil, it still has the original granite stone fireplace.  Sitting by the roaring fire in the old oak rocking chair, the bottom worn from years of rocking, I smiled and reflected on how thankful I was for a good childhood overflowing with love and for a life full of warm memories.  For a minute my Mom and Dad were sitting next to me enjoying the fire.  Some memories are eternal.

The circle of life complete, now I sat gazing into the blaze with a grandchild on my lap.  Life has been good.
Someday my children will be scattering my ashes around the world and on and on...  Give thanks and enjoy each day!

We lived each day of our adventure fully.  My daughter, Mariah and husband, Shane and two grandchildren Kayla and Kaimana; plus son, Kevin flew in from Hawaii.  We soaked in the beauty of that magic feeling "Nowhere to Go."  The North Woods in the summer are spectacular.  Autumn sees the trees turn into an artists pallet of colors and winter covers everything with up to 6 ft of snow.  We attended a colorful, powerful Native American Pow Wow, celebrating with the Chippewas of the Ojibwa Nation and visiting tribes.  We walked the streets of Hayward eating treats and seeing sites like the Fishing Hall of Fame, housed inside a 143 ft Musky.  We fished and hiked and explored the area along the shore of the Great Lake Superior, of course eating a traditional pasty for lunch, near the 52 ft high statue of Hiawatha.  We hiked and camped in beautiful Copper Falls State Park.  We visited and caught up with brother and Uncle Paul.  We retraced steps and found old remote fishing spots from memory.  We were tired and muddy at times but you couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces. Back at the Shack we sat around the campfire at night roasting marshmallows and talking under the blanket of stars.  Not a single light for miles.

Located in an authentic small town America, (500 miles north of Chicago in the Midwest) a trip into Mellen was like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting.  Besides a lovely well attended Memorial Service for my Mom we were lucky to be visiting over the 4th of July holidays.  There was a frog jumping contest, home baked pie social, 'rolly polly' dinner, a ride on the big fire truck, baseball games, a hula hoop and pie eating contest, talent show, street dance, a parade full of floats, tractors and marching bands and the ever exciting fire works display to top it off with a bang.  Yes, Norman, life is good in a small town!

Once my dear family returned to Hawaii I said farewell to brother Paul, cousins Mike and Carolyn, friends Renee, Pam and Kathy, my 101 year old Godmother, Theresa.  I was met by another good friend, Nancy from Lacrosse.  Together she drove along the western shore of  Lake Superior, to friends south.  Joe and lovely wife had a great place along a lake and welcomed us warmly with good food and family.  Nancy & I had fun catching up, stopping by for more pie at the Norske Nook plus a fun night and boat trip at my cousin Mike and Mary's delightful gentleman's farm. There I picked and ate green peas and raspberries from the bush until I burst. 

On to Lacrosse.  Lacrosse is a lovely spot along the Mississippi River and we enjoyed hiking and touring, going to local fairs, eating, meeting friends and eating.  Did I mention eating?  What fun we had.  Nancy organized a drop in party for neighbors and I met someone I hadn't seen in over 40 years.  My gracious host and good friend sent me on my way fat and happy.  Off I went into the unknown to join my dear husband Joseph somewhere in Asia.

Life is simple and essential in Wisconsin.  I had tasted the best it had to offer.  A fun trip down Memory Lane.  Now like a dream full of more warm memories.



And so it goes.........................................Next traveling over 10,000 miles from the forests of Northern Wisconsin to the jungles of Northern Sumatra. Until next month let's remember to, from this day forward, live our lives deliberately so when we come to die we don't discover that we had not truly lived.   We are glad you stopped by. Thanks for keeping in touch.  We love your emails.  Take care!



Love, Light & Laughter, 


xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph





Travel notes:

$1.00US = A lot more groceries in N Wisconsin than in Hawaii.

Wisconsin North Woods
Norske Nook  60 different types of homemade pies in Oseo & Rice Lake

Minneapolis MSP airport:  We flew in and out of here (250 miles from the Shack).  We missed having Joseph and daughter-in-law Laura there.  Maybe next time.

At the airport I met Adjovi from Togo at a little cafe.  We had an interesting conversation and made me miss Africa!




The 4 Seasons of the North Woods.
Beautiful Autumn.


A typical winter scene.


 A trip into Mellen was like walking
into a Norman Rockwell painting.


And what's a small town without gossip?
 I decided about age 17 I didn't care what
people thought of me.  It was a great day
in my life!








Our family at the 'Shack'.


The small pond behind the cabin.


White tail deer and spotted fawn.


Canadian geese passing through.


A frisky squirrel.


Heading out to the 'Big Hole' to catch


Sitting around the campfire, just laughing
and chillin.


Dinner in the log cabin.


Sitting in the old oak rocking chair, gazing
into the fire.


Taking a contemplative moment away from
her busy children.


The 'Mann Clan' fishing at
Potato River Falls.


"A River Runs Through It".  Kevin in
his element fly fishing.


Hiking and fishing in the North Woods.


"I caught one!"


Cruising on cousin Mike's boat.


Stopped by for fish and chips and a beer,
with cousin Mike, wife Mary and Tom.
In WI, there is a bar on every corner.

Wildflowers galore.


Fields of lupins in the forest.


My old haunt as a kid - serene Loon Lake.


A rare loon on Loon Lake.  Their cry sends
chills of excitement up my spine.


Turtles sunning.


Brownstone Falls.


Camping at Copper Falls State Park.


This funny little fellow was an active
 member of our campsite.



Cute little chipmunks are always showing
 up at a pic nic.


Grandkids, Kayla and Kaimana enjoying
the pond and counting frogs.


Kayla's winning frog.


Winners of the First Annual Shack frog
jumping contest.


"Hey clown!"


Mellen's 4th of July parade.


City Hall.  The population has dropped from
approx. 2000 when I was a child to about 800 now.


Truly small town America.


'Grannies' in the local Talent Show.


Riding on the fire truck, 55 years later!


Winner of the pie eating contest!  She actually
looked a little ill.


Mellen High School, my alma mater.  Built
in 1910, most kids go from Kindergarten
 through grade 12.  Wisconsin's education
is rated high in the Nation.


Enjoying time with favorite cousins Mike,
Mike and Rich.

The quiet streets of town.


This is a hint as to the annual winter


Gilman Park.  A beautiful log bench,
dedicated to my parents sits here.  It reads
"Live. Laugh. Love. In loving memory of
Pete and LaVerne".


What's 4th of July without sparklers?


The Grand Finale fireworks display.


We attended a colorful, powerful Native
American Pow Wow, celebrating with the
Chippewas of the Ojibwa Nation and
visiting tribes.


We spent a long time talking with this welcoming
couple from Odanah tribe.  They hand made their
attire.  The authentic regalia worn at the Pow Wow
was stunning.


A panorama of the Great Lake Superior.


The marina in front of the Chequamegan
Hotel in neighboring Ashland, Wi.


The Black Cat Saloon.


Historical murals line the streets.  This one
portraying life as a lumberjack.


Waitresses at the Malt Shop.


The Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, housed
inside a 143 ft Musky.  Note the person standing
 in it's mouth.


The 52 ft high statue of Hiawatha in
Hurley, Wi. 


Nancy & Nancy, along the shores of Lake
 Superior in Bayfield.


Hay bales in the field, a common sight in WI.


Friends Nancy and Doug, at Grand Dad's Bluff
Lookout above LaCrosse and the Mississippi River.


Sun sets on another great day in Wisconsin's
North Woods.





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