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Thank-you for coming to visit! I'll share with you the daily ins and outs of my life, my little family, special fur and feather kids, and humor that I find in daily life. I hope you come back often!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Trip to Mikado

Welcome to Willow Winds! Let me introduce you to my brother Jay, (Jim to all but his sisters and Mom), and his wonderful wife, my other "sister" Cheryl. They make their home in Mikado, MI, in the middle of the National Forest. If you haven't read past postings, Jay is a naturalist, and teaches Native American skills. He has traveled all over the United States, including Alaska, teaching these lost skills to Native Americans themselves, and also those who aren't. Among the things he specializes in are brain tanning, building canoes the original, traditional way, birch basketry, and foremost, is known for his cabin back in the forest that he built over the last 5 years, just as our ancestors did, with no modern tools, from cutting the trees and stripping the bark, to hauling, forming, and building. He has been featured in many publications, on T.V., and his work can also be seen in movies. Cheryl is a trooper. She gave in to his yearning to do this, moved north with him and the kids, and started life from scratch. Neither would trade this way of living for anything, and I am proud to say they are my family.

This is their home, which was nothing to brag about when they bought it. In need of total renovation, it's now the cozy little retreat they dreamed of.

These are some of the birch bark baskets Jay is working on. I wish I had gotten a picture of a finished one, the carvings on them are beautiful.

This is the room I sleep in while visiting. It's soooo homey!


Cheryl, freezing outside while waiting for me to leave!

This little tree and scarecrow sit outside the front door. Soon he will come down and the tree will be covered in lights. Cheryl herself is very creative and quite the seamstress.

I love this shop! It's my favorite. Everything she sells here is made of honey or bees wax. I get the only shampoo that has ever worked on my hair here.

This mural was painted by a local, who never took an art course. It's amazing!

This is just a sampling of the many products made at this little shop.

Woodpeckers are bountiful at my brothers, and love the bear grease put out for them.

These little squirrels love to hog the bird feeder.

Aren't they just the cutest!?

This hand built arbor and the heart shaped pond were built for my nephew's wedding. They were married under the arbor.

I love this old chicken coup, now a storage shed, in their back yard.

Let's take a walk to the cabin! Nestled on his property in the National Forest, it sits almost a 1/4 mile back from the house. The quiet and peace felt back here are amazing. You can actually hear the snow fall. I am in awe of the beauty. Imagine walking this path at night, with no lights to guide the way. Did that! We went of a night walk. We left the cabin, and I was totally blind. Jay and Cheryl helped my out of the cabin since I couldn't see the steps. I couldn't see a thing, so Jay told me to let my eyes adjust, and to use only my sense of touch using my feet to guide me on the trail. I was a little freaked at first, but then it became an adventure. When I brushed against a tree, he told me it was o.k., it was just the tree nudging me back on to the path. It was an awesome feeling when we made it back to the house, and I realized I did something I thought could never be done. I tackled nature and won!

My brother and my sister Marti built this outhouse. Classy isn't it!?

This is the front porch of the cabin, the perfect spot to sit when the weather is nice.

and the front of the cabin from the property.

The mirror on the dresser was brought here by my husbands ancestors from Germany, it's over 100 years old. The pitcher and bowl were a find from the "Mikado Mall" or St. Vincent's. It was only 3.00! Perfect for the cabin, Cheryl grabbed it right up!

A view out the picture window shows where the wildlife frequent. Deer, turkey, grouse, snowshoe rabbits, and a multitude of birds can be seen from this window throughout the day. I scared the turkey's that were out front when I came around the corner, and the deer weren't out when I took this picture, They're kind of in hiding right now because of hunting season. Can't say I blame them!

This desk was donated by Jay and Cheryl's new daughter- in -law, it was built in the 1800's and was her great grand-mothers.

This mantel is behind the wood burning stove, lined with antiques and some of Jays creations.

The kitchenette, authentic ironware, and a shelf built in for essentials.

A view of the bed, with a loft for sleeping above. It's complete with a buffalo hide which he tanned.

This jacket was tanned the way it was originally done, with no chemicals and using the deers brain to do the actual tanning. His skills and creations have been used in movies such as The Indian in the Cupboard, Thunderheart, Dances With Wolves, to name some, and he also created a coat using his skins for Wayne Newton.

And this dress he made for my niece, about 20 years ago.

Inside his workshop, is where the creativity takes hold. This is a canoe Jay is presently working on, no modern techniques are used. It's done the exact way our Native Americans did. His work is precise, and beautiful!

He carves into the birch, making the designs on the sides of the canoe. Here is a close-up of his work. Beautiful!

This bear was shot by Jay when he went up North on a hunting expedition.

So I hope you can see what fascinates me about visiting Jay and Cheryl's. I look forward to my next visit, during Thanksgiving break!