Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Bob: Deep Deep Wilderness

My daughter Carolan works at times in Glacier National Park and at times in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (known as "The Bob"). The entire Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex--3 adjacent defined wilderness areas, comprises 1,535,352 acres--which I calculate to be about 2,344 square miles of wilderness. If you add to this total Glacier National Park (about 1,544 square miles), you have wilderness or near wilderness of about 3,888 square miles. For some perspective, the state of Rhode Island covers about 1,214 square miles; Delaware is 2,490 square miles. In reality, the protected ecosystem, including a portion of Canada and state and national forest lands surrounding the Bob and Glacier, have about 16,000 square miles--what is known as the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem." Compare this to the state of Massachusetts, which covers 10,555 square miles. So this wilderness or near wilderness covers more territory than Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts combined. This is a big, wild country! Don't get lost there, O Carolan!
Big Salmon Lake in "The Bob"--Wikipedia

Irish Broadcast of an Olympic Sailing Event?

My old Notre Dame/Innsbruck friend Tim sent me a link to an Irish TV broadcast of an Olympic sailing event. Anyway, it looks like a TV broadcast, but I haven't seen sports commentary like this on my television! Try clicking here:  Crazy Irish Broadcast of Olympic Sailing

It is laugh-out-loud hilarious (and a little naughty) and can be found at this link:>

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grandson Changes My Name--and Carolan's!

My grandson Colin, just turned two years old, has been calling me "Brrr" for some time now. My guess is that "Brrr" comes from "beard." At first he pronounced this name with a strange trilled and growled "r" sound. Now the "r" sounds more American-like. Colin calls me this all the time. That is my new name.

Colin calls Linda "Nana," even though we never used that word with him. I guess it was his version of "Grandma" or Gramma." Colin calls both grandmas "Nana"--again, all the time, consistently.

The strangest name Colin has is for his Aunt Carolan. There is no way I know to transcribe it, other than possibly "rrrrrrrrrrrr." The name begins with a trilled "r" sound, evolves into a growled or almost gargled "r" sound, a sound that doesn't exist in American English. Finally, it finishes, usually, with the trilled "r." It is a long, strange name, and Colin is fairly consistent with its use.

Colin has a few other unusual names. The dog "Sandy" is called something like "andy." And I can't quite figure out how he refers to himself. It often uses the vowels present in "Colin," but not the consonants. Sometimes I can't figure out what he is saying, but I recognize it as his name.

Colin can say Aunt Emily's name very well ("Em"); same with Anne Marie's daughter Ella--he says it perfectly, with relish. He also says "Mama" and "Dadda" just perfectly. He calls his paternal Grampa "Bumpa," a name that Ken Kleppel himself uses (possibly from his German heritage).

My favorite pronunciation from Colin, besides "rrrrrrrrrrr," is his way of saying "vanilla." I can't transcribe it. He seems to have the vowels right, but there are some consonant there that I can't quite figure out.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Perfect Day on Lake Erie

Yesterday was hot in Northeast Ohio so we decided to head for the Big Lake. We arrived at Mentor Headlands around 4:30 PM and there were hundreds--probably thousands-- of people there already. The huge sandy beech, about a mile long and a 100 yards wide, could easily accommodate everyone. The Lake was calm, the only ruffles created by the many jet skis and boats out on the water. The sky was blue and cloudless. The air temperature near the lake was about 85 degrees and the sand was scalding hot. We set up right near the wild east end of the beach, next to the sand dunes.

I had to get into that water right away. The water at first felt chilly, though it was said to be 75 degrees. But soon I was in and swimming around, as was Linda. In the next few hours we were in and out of the water several times. There were lots of families around; there was a large group of teenagers, maybe a high school graduation class. As far as you could see there were people, both on the beach and in the water. More than I've seen in years. Around 6:30 we had a little supper--sandwiches, grapes, a peach, and a pop. Around 7:30 we made our last foray into the water. I put my eyes right at water level and looked in all directions. I thought, this is one of the most perfect moments of my life (The German line from Goethe's Faust entered my mind: "Verweile doch, du bist so schoen!" Please stay! Thou art so beautiful!").

After leaving the water and sitting back in our chairs, Linda noticed that Colin, our 2-year-old grandson., was coming with his parents, Julia and Ed. When he saw us, he began to run. He actually ran right past Linda, whom he calls "Nana," and to me, whom he calls "Brrr." For some reason, I have become his favorite lately. Colin started collecting lucky stones, the rounded milky quartz peculiar to the Chagrin and Grand River watersheds. He knew to give them to me; he knows I like lucky stones.

Soon the sun was beginning to set, this orange-red ball sinking into Lake Erie.The time of the sunset was strikingly early, about 8:13--summer is about over. Though we didn't see the "green flash," we did see one of the most beautiful Lake Erie sunsets ever. The picture below was taken 4 years ago at the same spot. And that's what sunset looked like last night--the perfect day on Lake Erie.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Twenty Years A-Growing" by Maurice O'Sullivan

I just finished reading a fine book by Maurice O'Sullivan caled "Twenty years A-Growing"--in Irish-Gaelic "Fiche bliain ag fás." O'Sullivan's name in Irish is Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Heck, this fellow could be a relative, for I am as much a Sullivan as I am a Coughlin. I plan on reading this book in Irish this coming year, as soon as I can get hold of an Irish-language copy.

The book was published in both Irish and English in 1932, and it is a classic of modern Irish literature. The main focus of the book is O'Sullivan's growing up on the Great Blasket Island, two kilometers off the Dingle Peninsula, in Ireland's County Kerry. The island was inhabited until 1953, and was an outpost of the Irish language when the language was quickly declining throughout Ireland. There is still a small Gaeltacht, Irish-speaking area, on the Dingle Peninsula.

O'Sullivan was born on Great Blasket on February 19, 1904, but his mother died when he was 6 months old, and he was moved to the mainland, to Dingle town, and was raised there by relatives until he was about school-age. By that time, Muiris (Maurice) could only speak English. So around age 5 (Wikipedia says 7) he was brought back to the Great Blasket to live with his grandfather and other relatives. He picked up beautiful Irish very quickly, as little children do.

This is a very well-told story and O'Sullivan was a great storyteller (an old Irish tradition, to be sure!).Storytelling is one of the things you do if you don't have radio, television, the Internet, electricity, telephones, and the like; of course the Blasket Islanders had none of these when Maurice returns to the island around 1910. Amazingly (to us of the year 2012), life seems very lively on the island for the 200 or so inhabitants. There always seems to be music, dancing, visiting, storytelling, celebrating, and the like going on--not to mention the hard work of fishing, collecting peat for fires, working with the lambs and cows and chickens, and tending the gardens in the village. The community life hardly seems to lack for anything, from the perspective of young Maurice.

By the time Maurice is twenty (around 1934), the community does seem to be in decline. Some people have moved to America (particularly Springfield, Massachusetts); others have moved to the mainland--Dingle town (about a day's walk and a scary boat ride from the island); still others have gone to Dublin, which feels like a different world when Maurice describes his first visit. Dublin has trains, street lights, large buildings, and more people than Maurice O'Sullivan had seen in his entire life. He goes there to join the national police force, and after his training, gets a posting to the area called Connemara, in western County Galway, where a different dialect of Irish is spoken. In 1950, at age 46, O'Sullivan drowned off the Connemara coast while swimming. Thankfully, he left us with this wonderful book.

A view of Great Blasket Island (Wikipedia)
Ruins of Marice O'Sullivan's house on Great Blasket (Wikipedia)

I located a short Youtube video of the Great Blasket (keep in mind that the inhabitants in 1910 traveled to and from the mainland via small "currachs," not via power boat!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Colin's 2nd Birthday

Colin on his 2nd birthday, with Nana Linda

Quinn, Colin, Skipper, Darby

Julia and Colin

Emily and Brian

Colin with his new toy

Kleppel family,with new member Jackie (middle)

Colin with Auntie Em

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Believe in the Sun . . . (A Prayer for Sarah Dean)

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when feeling it not. 
I believe in God even when God is silent.

(Composed by a Holocaust victim)

This prayer came to mind as family and friends, including my 
daughter Carolan, gathered today for the funeral of Sarah Dean 
in Crested Butte, Colorado. It is hard to offer Sarah's family 
and friends any comfort today.

The Lord of Silence will bring some consolation, will bring some 
light, into this terrible darkness.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Few Photos from Lake McDonald, Glacier NP

Bob swimming in chilly Lake McDonald

Carolan and Bob by Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Carolan on her 27th birrthday, Apgar Village Inn, Glacier NP

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Hail, Holy Queen" A Prayer for Those in Deep Sorrow. Mourning Sarah Dean.

Today my daughter Carolan asked me to say the prayer "Hail, Holy Queen" for her--over the phone, as she drove from Portland, Oregon, to Kalispell, Montana. She had just found out that her great friend from the Montana Conservation Corps, Sarah Dean, had been suddenly killed Saturday, August 11th, in a collision near Gunnison, Colorado.

Sarah had been living in Crested Butte, Colorado, and we got to meet her last summer when we visited Carolan in Crested Butte and Salida. I felt a special link to Sarah through her mother, who was a student at St. Mary's College around the time I was a student at neighboring Notre Dame. My heart breaks for Sarah's mother and father, back near St. Louis, and her grandparents, who had lived in Crested Butte. And for her brother, her brokenhearted friends throughout the country, in Americorps, the Montana Conservation Corps, and all her friends in Crested Butte.

The "Hail, Holy Queen" (called "Salve Regina" in Latin) is not a prayer for modern sensibilities, it would seem. It is a prayer edged with despair and a deep sense of loss, a sense of exile, spoken from the "vale of tears." Here are the words of the prayer we said at the end of every rosary (which we said every night when I was a child):

Hail, Holy Queen,
Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

Sarah's funeral and burial will be at the Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in Crested Butte this Friday, August 17th. She will be buried in one of the world's most beautiful spots, a place where Sarah's heart danced.

Here is the official obit:

Sarah Elizabeth Dean
July 20, 1982 - August 11, 2012

Sarah Elizabeth Dean was born in Gunnison, Colorado on July 20, 1982 to Jim and Barbara Dean. She was a glowing bundle of light, love and joy (and feisty spirit) from the moment she entered the world. Sarah died in a tragic car accident outside of Gunnison on August 11, 2012 while headed to her favorite place -- the great outdoors -- to go camping in Lake City with her beloved friend, Jill McCord, and pooches they so loved, Dozer and Koocha. Dozer, the fun-loving St. Bernard, and loving companion of Tyler Hammer, joined Sarah in the eternal outdoors and sunshine.

Sarah loved life to the fullest and loved all things Crested Butte where she spent a good portion of her young life with her grandparents, Jim and Sue Dean, or Granny and Pa as they were known to Sarah. Sarah and family (Mom, Dad and brother Jimmy) moved to Arkansas in the early 80's and this is where she would stay until she graduated from Fayetteville High School. Sarah attended college at the University of Arkansas and eventually got a degree in Classical Studies after years of enjoying life, travels, outdoors and returning to where her heart was -- Gunnison County. While in CB Sarah did as all locals did, worked too many jobs (Town of Mt. CB, Acme Liquor, Wine House, CBMR, CB Community School, etc. etc.) and was an avid outdoor woman who hiked, camped, skied, fished, and played as much as possible in the beautiful lands. Sarah loved gardening and cooking, putting love and light in everything she did. In 2010 Sarah did a stint with the Montana Conservation Corps as a crew leader and absolutely loved her time in Bob Marshall Wilderness area. Simply put -- Sarah enjoyed every minute she got to spend outside, whether for work or play.

Sarah is survived by a world that so loved her, as she gave freely and openly of her love to all she came into contact with. Sarah will be deeply missed by her grandparents, Bill and Mary Jane Duensing of Kansas City, Missouri; grandparents, Jim and Sue Dean, now of Cheyenne, Wyoming but formerly of Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado; parents Jim and Barbara Dean of University City, Missouri; brother Jimmy Dean and his loving wife, Lindsey and the apple of Sarah's eye, niece, Eliza of Dayton, Ohio; her companion and boyfriend, Tyler Hammer of Crested Butte; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins from every corner of the United States. There will be an empty place in the hearts of all who knew Sarah, but rest assured she will look over all she loved and shine down from the heavens until we meet her on the other side.

Pallbearers are Jimmy Dean, John Dean, Paul Dean, Tyler Hammer, Tyler Dean and Ericka Smith.

Memorials in Sarah's honor can be made to: Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte and Crested Butte Land Trust.

Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, August 17th at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in Crested Butte with graveside burial to follow at Crested Butte Cemetery (camp chairs welcomed for seating.) There will be a reception to follow at the church Parish House.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Catherine L Wirsing andf Fred Prince: 2 Notable Euclid Deaths

My friend John Wirsing lost his mother this past week, Catherine L. Wirsing. I first met "Wheels" (John's loving nickname for his mother) around 1966. Mrs. Wirsing was a wonderful person, with a keen memory and sharp mind right to the end of her life (96 years). Her husband Arthur died almost 50 years ago, yet Mrs. Wirsing made a good life for herself and her 5 children despite this huge loss. They were wonderful parents, as can be discerned from the quality of their children--Tom, Mary, Jane, Donna, and John. Catherine Wirsing was the grandmother of 22 and great grandmother of 35. One of her granddaughters, Katie, babysat for my children on occasion. Catherine Wirsing will be missed by her friends and family. As they say in Ireland, "The like of her will not be seen again!"

In today's Plain Dealer is the obituary of another important person from Euclid, Ohio: Fred J. Prince. I didn't know Mr. Prince, but I was a classmate of his son Tom at St. Joseph High School and an admirer of his son Ken while at St. Joe's. It is my understanding that Tom Prince is a scientist at Cal Tech. While at St. Joe's from 1962 to 1966, he was one of the brightest academic and athletic stars. If I remember correctly, Tom was a straight A student for his high school career--and he absolutely aced the SAT's. As a runner, he was among the fastest 440 yard dashers of his high school era. The same was true for his older brother Ken. I once saw a 220 yard dash on St. Joe's cinder track where Ken Prince ran the race in 21.9 seconds--and lost! He lost by a nose to Clinton Jones, an outstanding athlete from Cathedral Latin. Mr Fred J. Prince and his wife Diana must have been excellent parents to raise the likes of Tom and Ken.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Most Beautiful Lake in the World?

Everyone knows my love for Lake Erie. But check out Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park! This is a webcam photo, taken the morning of August 2, 2012.