Monday, December 31, 2012

Plenty of snow means lots of skiing.

   There's plenty of opportunity both locally and up north to please the cross country ski crowd. Thanks to all the snow we've received and the cold temperatures that have been with us, it looks like it may be staying around for sometime.
   If you are new to Nordic or cross country skiing take some well worn advice and try before you buy. Locally, at Independence Oaks County Park or Kensington Metropark, ski equipment can be rented.
   At Independence Oaks on Saturdays through mid February, ski lessons will be available. If you head north, take advantage of the many "package deals" offered, especially around the Gaylord area.
   These packages include lodging, usually a couple of meals and all the skiing you can cram in for a couple of days.
   You can get in touch with the various outfitters and resorts offering these programs at Constant, up-to-date weather and ski conditions are also on this site.
   We may as well face the fact that winter is here and will be with us for the net several months. Don't hibernate. Get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.
   Cross country skiing and ski walking are great activities to help stay in shape, improve your mood and help you enjoy winter even a little bit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Slow skiers enjoy outdoors more

   Bob Frye, owner of Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon is an outspoken advocate for cross country skiing.
   It seems natural because after all, that's Frye's business. But it's more than business with Frye. He speaks from the heart and is enthusiastic about the sport whether talking to newcomers or seasoned veterans.
   I had a conversation with him recently and happened to mention that I didn't know how to ski properly. That at best I didn't ski but shuffled and was very slow, bringing up the rear most of the time.
   "You shouldn't worry about being slow," Frye began. "You'll get more out of being outdoors, seeing the scenery and the experience than someone who is flying," he said.
   His point or points are well taken. Don't be concerned with being the best skier on the trails. And forget about speed. This isn't a race or a contest. Enjoy the moment.
   I have in the past couple of years. First, I learned how to dress properly, using layers instead of one heavy garment.
   Next, I took a lesson. That helped me use my poles more efficiently, learn to turn, slow down, stop, and negotiate hills usually without falling.
   Once you get some of the basics under your belt, you feel more comfortable on the trails, and that translates to more enjoyment.
   Learn more about cross country skiing locally at Huron-Clinton Metroparks (810) 227-2757, Independence Oaks (248) 625-0877, or Cross Country Ski Headquarters, (800) 832-2663.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas-still rushing?

   Now that Christmas is over the after-the-holidays sales begin. Returns for the wrong size or color received as gifts will be another high priority chore bringing that many more people to malls and retailers.
   I would expect shoppers to be out in numbers returning, exchanging or cashing in. So much for the crowds and all the rush.
   Personally, I received a lot more than I gave. Isn't that the way it usually goes? But if you're one who donated time, merchandise or money to a worthwhile charity or person needing a hand, your giving will bring you more than you'll ever know.
   It won't be in the form of nicely wrapped gifts or the newest in gadgets. No, it will be more personal like inner satisfaction and peace, and knowing you did something, however small it may seem, for someone in need.
   That's a great feeling to have and one to be experienced not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
   A pro athlete interviewed recently said that on awakening each day he tries to think about something positive he can do during the day for a stranger, always with the thought of making life a little easier.
   Whether he reaches that goal or not isn't important. The importance comes from the mere fact of thinking of others and trying to do something in a positive way for them.
   That can't help but make it a better day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The night before the night before!

   I'm writing this Sunday evening in order to have it ready to go by tomorrow, Christmas Eve. Time could become scarce around home with a lot of last minute chores to get out of the way.
   We have come up with our own traditions for Christmas over the yeas.  Even though three of our four children live out of the country, we still maintain them.
   Christmas Eve day I try to help my wife in the kitchen with the menial things like chopping and keeping ahead with dish washing.
   She's a great cook and pretty particular about how things are done. That's why she prefers doing it by herself.
   She'll make the best cheese ball in the world-actually several as she gives some away- great meatballs,  
and a couple of dips.
   Usually we are in church for the 11p.m. service. We like to go then because of the carolling and the way the church looks decorated, with just candle light.
    Returning home, we have our snacks then it's time for Santa to come. Finally, we are off to bed. These days we can sleep in with no little ones to wake us up early.
   Christmas day is a leisure time beginning with homemade breakfast pie, homemade coffee cake and lots of flavored coffee.
   When grandson Josh arrives, it's time to see what Santa left. Later, we'll have a traditional dinner to put a final touch to a wonderful day.
   Even though our small grandchildren aren't here, we maintain the same traditions. Should they come for Christmas, not much would change other than getting up earlier.
   With all the changes in our present day and time, it's nice to form traditions within families that last. Even our kids take some of ours and some of their own to start their own traditions.
   Whatever your preference, be sure and include all of the family. It's a great time of the year for everyone to be close.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Relieve shoulder pain with Rotator Reliever

   A little over a year ago I had surgery to fix a badly torn rotator cuff. There wasn't much left to fix so surgery didn't work. Rather, it left me in pain most of the time and limited use of my right arm.
   Aggressive physical therapy helped get some range of motion back. In the meantime I had 4 more surgeries; 3 to clean out the infection that came about right after the initial surgery, then a fourth to clean scar tissue out and manually manipulate my shoulder.
   This operation seemed to help by giving me back some range. However, that was short lived. And the pain was still there. The next step would be a reverse shoulder replacement.
   Since I haven't had a lot of success with surgeries having suffered infections with the last three I decided to live with what I have.
   A few months ago I was introduced to Mike Carroll, M.D. Carroll has a family practice in Traverse City and is himself a person who has had shoulder pain and limited use.
   He's come up with a program that involves simple, light exercises that take about 5 minutes a day. The program is based on twirling a wighted ball through 4 different positions. The balls are numbered 1-4 so you can't go wrong.
   Each ball is twirled thirty five times in one direction, then thirty five in the opposite. Repeat this for 10 days then move up to he next ball until all have been used. The entire exercise plan takes 45 days.
   I'm at day sixteen and am beginning to notice differences. I don't have near the pain except if I reach a certain way and that is even getting better. And I think the muscles are beginning to get stronger.
   That's all according to the programs design to concentrate and work on the muscles around the shoulder joint.
   If you experience shoulder pain to the extent I have which hasn't allowed me to shoot a bow or my shotgun, then visit for more information or call Mike Carroll at (231) 392-6705.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do we need automatic guns?

   The question a lot of people are asking since the school shootings in Newton, Connecticut is why are automatic guns-particularly long guns-legal in this country?
   The military and police are about the only groups that would have a need for them. I(This is pursuant to conversations I have heard.) I agree.
   Hunters need a bolt action or pump to shoot game. One good friend, Tom Lounsberry who resides on a farm in the thumb area often hunts with a single shot shotgun. He can empty a spent round a reload quicker than many can rack another round in the the gun's clip.
   But the other side of the argument is if autos or semi autos are deemed illegal, that's just one step in outlawing all guns. Give them an inch and they'll take a yard is the conclusion of gun rights advocates.
   The NRA, always a proponent of about any firearm that comes down the road has been silent on this issue since the shootings occurred.
   They plan to hold a news conference December 21 to announce their position. In the past those announcements have always brought with them, frustration and anger on both the right to bear arms side as well as the opposition.
   It's time to fish or cut bait as the saying goes. I don't think we can have it both ways. They are either legal or not.
   Many stores are pulling them off shelves and gun racks. Some are refusing to sell them anymore. Indeed, these next few days and weeks are going to be telling regarding the second amendment and gun owners rights.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holidays not so much with school shooting

   Even though we live a long distance from Connecticut the senseless shooting at the elementary school has had an affect on us.
   I'm a little more somber. I keep thinking of those little children, scared and huddled alone in a classroom. It's just breathtaking but not in a good way.
   You wonder who will be the idiot to do something to top this latest tragedy. Hopefully that person won't surface. But there's already speculation by some that this kind of thing puts ideas in the wrong peoples heads.
   What was the reason for such brutality? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent future incidents of this nature?
   No one knows the answer to these and other questions. The one person that would know is dead. As far as what can be done to prevent future incidents, it sounds like this school had done everything it could to have a safe environment.
   Sometimes, no matter what the safeguards are, people figure out a way to get by them. If you pray, now would be a good time to remember those little children and their families. Especially in this most holy of seasons.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lake Gogebic-First Ice fishing vacation school

   To begin the new year, veteran walleye angler Mark Martin has put together three ice fishing schools. For years he's held one school only on Saginaw Bay.
   The first school, Jan., 6-9 will be held in the U.P. out of Bergland on Lake Gogebic. This can be a touchy lake to fish.
   That's largely in part due it's size and the great supply of food sources for the fish. We fished it last winter and caught  fish not too far from shore and the Timbers Resort.
   The Timbers is ideal for this kind of gathering because it's situated on the shore of the lake making it easy to run back in for something that may have been left behind or for other reasons.
   Keep your snowmobile right outside your cabin and you're good to go at any time. Another reason for liking the Timbers is the owner Tim Long and his wife are great hosts.
   Tim has been a former walleye angler fishing competitively and guides on the lake. He's a great source for information and technique.
   For more information visit Check out the Timbers Resort at

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ice Fishing Vacation Schools-soon open

   My ice fishing gear is kind of spread out in the garage. Some is on a shelf, some stacked in a corner, and the small stuff is waiting to be sorted out and put into containers-someplace!
   Though it sound disorganized-and it is-I still prefer things to be organized and in a proper place for everything. I feel that way but seldom get to see the end of the road as far as putting everything in it's place goes.
   It's the result of too much accumulated over the years. That and saving equipment for children in the family who will probably never use any of it.
   What reminded me to get the ice fishing stuff nailed down was remembering that veteran walleye professional Mark Martin and his Ice Fishing Vacation Schools will be starting up right after the New Year.
   The first one is on Lake Gogebic in the U.P., followed by Cadillac then Saginaw Bay. There's plenty of opportunity to fish and learn for those interested in improving their skills.
   Besides getting an education on some of the finer points of ice fishing, there is new equipment to both see and try, but best of all is the camaraderie experienced at these outings.
   For more information on the schools as well as how to register visit 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bird feeding-Great winter activity

   Already there have been more birds at our feeders than have shown up in several months. And the snow hasn't hit the ground yet.
   For some reason, a good snow attracts birds to backyard feeders. If there is a snowstorm, more than a few show up.
   They must think it's the time to stock up on whatever food is available because of the storm. Whatever the reason, they are a joy to watch, especially with the whit of the snow as a backdrop.
   Of course, Mr. and Mrs. squirrel need to put in their two cents worth. They come hopping along the snow, alert to everything around them, but keyed in on the feeder that has attracted birds.
   Our two sunflower feeders are somewhat squirrel proof. But what feeder is totally anti squirrel? Ours allows for the weight of birds on the perches, to feed as much as they want.
   But the weight of a bushy tail pulls the feeder down so it covers up the feeding holes, thereby frustrating squirrels.
   Some will hang around trying to figure a way around the closed off feeding holes. Eventually they get to where they can knock the feeder off it's hook and onto the ground.
   Once on the ground and not swinging about, the squirrel can feed with hardly any problem. It's at this point that some take it a step further and chew the feeder until they cut through the plastic, making a sizable hole, all the better to eat through.
   Sunflower seeds, the oiler variety, have been our choice for many years and never fail to attract all sorts and colors of birds. Give bird feeding a try. It's a pleasure and joy to be inside a warm house watching these feathered creatures hanging out, enjoying a quick meal.
   For more information about birds, feeding, and other topics visit 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shopping done? That's today's question

   Everywhere you go people are asking the same thing. Is your shopping done? Mine hasn't started but thanks to my wife, most of it is covered.
   This Sunday's column has to do with some suggestions as gifts for those that enjoy the outdoors. One thought about gifts is don't get too carried away with things like long guns, rods and reels or bows.
   Most people have a definite idea as to what they are looking for in these areas. And if they don't know what they would like, it's a good bet that they would prefer to go and personally see what's available.
   What is appealing to one person won't move the needle for another. It's like beauty, all in the eye of the beholder.
   Stay safe with things like ice fishing jigs, hard or soft baits for soft water fishing, perhaps a fanny pack that can be used in conjunction with hunting, a good pair of gloves or mitts, and maybe a flannel or chamois shirt for cold weather use.
   Now all you have to do is get out to a sporting goods store and see what's available. And if nothing else works, get a gift certificate. You can't go wrong. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SAD affects many this time of year

   If you feel yourself tired all the time, sitting in front of the TV with the remote in your hand, and nearly living in your bedroom, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as SAD. It's an appropriate description because sad describes your mood day in and day out.
   I'm not a doctor so if you are having any of these symptoms, by all means, consult with your doctor. It could be something else entirely.
   In my case, usually around the middle of December right through May, I get in that strange world where I don't feel like doing anything. As my dad used to say, "I could care less if school kept on not."
   The solution for me, after many years, has been a combination of medicine, counselling and exercise.
   In any event, staying active, whether you walk, use a treadmill, or ride a stationary bike, the important thing is to keep moving and stay active.
   Another thing to consider is finding a hobby then practicing it. Go to the library not only to check a book out, but read a newspaper while you're there from another town or city. Grab a magazine, then find a quiet corner, a comfortable chair and read for awhile without distractions.
   Sportsmen could tie flies, make baits or lures, build a rod, clean guns, organize equipment or build something like an ammo box. Don't know how to tie flies, take a class. Go to trout for a TU chapter nearby that offers instruction.
   Recently, I joined Oakland County Cross Fit. Cross fit is a form of exercise done under the direction and observation of a qualified trainer, that exercises different muscles each day.
   Each day the workout is posted. No matter what that program calls for, workouts can and are tailored to the individual.
   In my case I've had both knees replaced and a not so successful shoulder operation that has left me weaker on one side.
   Another thing to consider is the lack of sunshine providing vitamin D. On those days when there is sun, get outdoors for an hour or so to absorb some of those healthy rays. An alternative is to buy a lamp with a bulb that simulates being outdoors in the sun. They're available almost anywhere.
   Some things I can't do without difficulty or pain so other excercises are substituted for me. For more information on cross fit visit

Monday, December 3, 2012

Get outdoors-rthe weather is great!

   Yes, in case you haven't noticed, we are in a period of unseasonably warm weather here in southeast Michigan.
   The ski resorts don't care for it nor do the sporting goods stores that have bought and received new shipments of the latest in ice fishing equipment.
   But for the rest of us, we've gotten a few days respite from the bitter cold and snow to allow for that final yard clean up, or to hang the outside Christmas decorations.
   I even mowed my lawn a couple days ago and will rake it soon, so long as the weather holds up. At the same time, I'll get my ice fishing stuff where it will be handy. Same goes for the cross country skis and related equipment.
   Just after the first of the year, it will be time to head to Lake Gogebic and the first of three stops on Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation School schedule.
   Martin, who resides near Muskegon is a professional walleye fisherman. When not fishing tournaments or otherwise engaged in the work of spreading the word about walleye fishing and endorsing his sponsors at the many fishing shows over the winter, he's about educating people in the sport of fishing.
   For more information on Martin's schools visit Now get out and rake those leaves before the snow flies.