Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cozy is as Cozy Does

After giving up on the B&B around 1994, I decided one person in a nine-room house was rather impractical, and started looking for something that better fit my needs. And sure enough, less than four blocks from the B&B I found this Munchkin-sized house that was perfect for me. It came with a double lot. The total pirce? $10,000. I took it and lived here until I left the Great North Woods for Chicago.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Early Snow

Winter can come early in the Great North Woods, as it did in 2000. The full winter, sometimes bringing 350 inches of snow, lay did many changes for the world and for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In the Blink of an Eye

A photograph is an instant of time caught on film. Here are two instants, separated by a mere 60 years, offered as proof of just how fleeting time can be, and how much it can take from us in the blink of an eye. One second, it is 1936 I am hamming it up with my cousins "Fat" and Jack in the back yard of my aunt and uncle's house in Rockford, Illinois, and the next, Jack and I stand in the kitchen of my bed and breakfast in Pence, Wisconsin on October 13, 1995. Too fast! Too Fast!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Sammy came to me in the 1970s in Los Angeles,a stray as most of my dogs have been, and she was still with me (here with, friend Karl,an unnamed kitten and an unnamed B&B guest,in 1992). She died that same year, while I was on a trip to Los Angeles. I still miss her.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Before Linus

Going through my photos...I'm beginning to run low...I came across this one, taken probably around 1938 or '39. What I'm doing here, I haven't a clue...which sort of sets the tone for the rest of my life. I'm sure it wasn't a security blanket. I never had one, nor did I have invisible friends. Those came later.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blond Moment

I've more or less given up on trying to keep these photos in chronological order, so here's a photo that clearly asks the question: "What the Devil was I thinking?" Shortly after moving to L.A. in 1966 I decided I wanted to be a blond and tried it for about three months, just long enough to get it out of my system. If it's true that blonds have more fun, I didn't notice.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I've often used the metaphor of life being like a roller coaster ride. But unlike fiding a roller coaster, once the trip is over, you can't get back on again. Perhaps I was thinking of that when this photo was taken at 6 Flags Wisconsin around 1992. I'm certainly looking a bit pensive.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sneaking Up

There are few areas that can beat the Great North Woods for beauty. Little Girl's Point (apparently named for an indian maiden who stood on the bluffs behind me looking out over Lake Superior for her love to return) was one of my favorite spots. However, while the forests are eternal, time sneaks up on people, as I am beginning, here (in theearly 90's), to recognize. Puttin' on a little weight there, too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Days of When

For those were the Days of When, when we were all young and all close friends and assumed it would always be so, as we were in this day at my parents' cottage around 1960. And except for Del Barker (L.) with whom I've lost touch, the rest of us...Norm, me, Franklin, and Tom, though unable to hold on to our youth, have remained friends for more than 40 years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Whither Time?

See this picture? Me with Effie Foulis and Ken Swanson on graduation day? It was taken last week. Or maybe it was the week before. Really, it was! I remember it like it was yesterday. June, 1958? Don't be ridiculous! Let me go check the mirror.

...................never mind.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My "Second Mom"

The photo from the early 70s may be blurry, but my memories of Aunt Thyra are not. Most people are blessed to have one mother who loved them. I stiill think of Aunt Thyra as my second mother, because she always treated me like one of her own. She died in 1976, tearing yet another piece out of my heart.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Uncle Bob Redux

I don't think I've put this one up before, but I was thinking of my dear friend, Uncle Bob, who died last year on his 90th birthday. Here we are in my halcyon (in retrospect) L.A. days, in front of the Hollywood hills house we shared for a time (1966-1967). There have been many houses in my life, but only one Uncle Bob.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

North Woods Life

Life in the Great North Woods isn't easy for gays and lesbians--what few there are are generally not only locked tightly in their closet but have bricked up the door from the inside. But Ray established a network of straight friends through AA, and we had a few parties at the B&B. I'm here at one of them with Val, one of Ray's best friends.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where the Heart Lies

I don't know exactly why, when I go through the photos of my life, I keep being drawn to certain times and certain people and above all, certain themes. The single major theme of my life, I am sure, is love and the people with whom I shared it. Thus the above, of Ray and I taken in 1985. And 23 years later, I still get the same feelings when I look at it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

College Days Redux...that old gang of mine

Have I ever mentioned I rather enjoyed college? There is nothing else quite like it and the experiences it offers, the friendships it creates, the warmth and comfort of belonging, of being a part of something outside one's self. And while sad to say I can't recall the names of everyone in this photo (I'm top center, naturally), the fact that we shared some part of our lives for a brief period will remain with me forever.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Timeskipping Again

Thinking of my Grandpa Margason and his wife Ann, and foud this college graduation photo. Grandpa and Ann...his second wife...were married just before I was born, but I never called her "Grandma"...she wouldn't have it. Two people in a photograph, and you have no idea of who they are. Yet they had lived a lifetime, and volumes of thoughts and memories lie are associated with them. Every human being has a story. There simply is not time to tell them all. Pity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Man of Many Hats

Unable to count on steady income from the bed & breakfast, I took a job as manager of the local natural food store around 1989 (interior shot, me; exterior shot with co-op board member Karl Overholt). While I loved the job, co-ops boards of directors are notorious for infighting among the members, and the manager is always the target in the battle for control. I didn't last three years.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Rustic Life

The Great North Woods is a beautiful place for anyone who loves the outdoors. Endless frests, rivers, waterfalls, lakes. I'd take my canoe down to the Gile Flowage, about 2 miles from my house and paddle out to one of the many small islands. Often, there would be no one else in sight, on land or water. But beauty only goes so far.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Once a Sailor....

Another skip-back-in-time here to the 60's at my folks' cabin on Lake Koshkonong. Dad took this one of mom and me about to go for a spin. Once again, my mantra: "And then is now...."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Where Winter is Winter

Having moved back to Chicago two years ago, I am bemused by the fact that five inches of snow is considered a major event. Here I am with Bozo (about whom I will one day write a blog) about three blocks out onto Lake Superior on a typical North Woods winter's day.

Friday, January 11, 2008


There is no more beautiful word in the English language than "We"...especially when referring to one's self and a romantic partner. Ray was the last person with whom I could truly use the word. I miss it more than I can possibly say.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

There's no denying the beauty of the Great North Woods. Lake of the Clouds, in Michigan's U.P., was about 50 miles from Pence. 700 feet above...but less than half a mile from...Lake Superior, it overlooks 48,000 acres of virgin forest, and was one of my favorite spots to show guests. Here I am with one, circa 1987.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Days of Hope

I'd moved to Pence alone: Ray's alcoholism having broken us up yet again. But, ever the optimist, I thougt perhaps that in a new place, away from the bars and lifestyle lures of L.A., we might be able to make it. So we reunited in 1984, my first summer in Pence. And so we were together again: me, Ray, and Sammy. I hoped it would be forever this time. I was, of course, wrong.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lord of the Manor 2

Renovating a big, old house was neither easy nor fun, but was probably worth it for the experience. Would I do it again? Uh, let me see...NO! (This is the dining room of the B&B, though mostly meals were served in the dining area off the kitchen.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Gourmet Chef

One of the downisdes (and there are many) of having a Bed & Breakfast is the necessity to prepare breakfast for from 1 to 12 people---not easy for someone who can burn water. But I managed

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Martha Stewart Moment

Thanksgiving 1985 at the now-year-old Bed and Breakfast with guests who had become friends. The picture was taken looking from the guest dining area through the kitchen pass-through. And no, I did not prepare the turkey all lby myself.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Time on Film

It is 1984, my first spring in Pence, Wisconsin. I am, here, 50 years old. Behind me is my just-purchased 100-year-old house, and beside me is my best friend Russ Hogan, here 51. We have, at this point, known one another 33 years. So much time caught up in one photo.

Friday, January 4, 2008

One Reason I Left L.A.....

One of the reasons I left L.A. was to get as far away from riots and earthquakes and landslides and smog as I could get. I think my move to northern Wsiconsin achieved that goal.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Befores and Afters

Had I looked before I leapt into buying an abandoned old house in Pence, Wisconsin with dreams of opening a bed and breakfast, and realized the work involved,I undoubtedly would not have done it. But I did, and the two shots above have me standing in the living room looking into the dining room, taken about six months apart. And I did it all with han absolute minimum of outside help. I'm proud of that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A New World, A New Life

After 18 years in Los Angeles, I made one of my sea-change moves, buying a 9-room abandoned house in Pence, Wisconsin, with the intention of opening a bed and breakfast. That the realtor laughingly referred to it as "the Pence Palace" should have given me a clue, but didn't. I arrived on January 21, 1984 to 3 feet of snow and -19 degree temps, and things sort of started going downhill from there.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

A new year, huh? Well, okay...I'll pick 1943.