Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 35

Alna's Quilt

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 35– Alna’s Quilt

Leaving Maine, I had called ahead to reserve a room at a recommended quaint Bed & Breakfast, just inside Connecticut, hosted by Andy and Jen Trapunto.

Checking in, an air of confusion swirled around the inn with Andy and Jen also tending to an onslaught of several unannounced groups of Andy’s relatives inquiring about accommodations for the week. The root of this commotion was Andy’s grandmother, Alna, who resided in an attached addition to the inn, and her upcoming 100th birthday festivities.

Earlier attempts, by Andy and Jen, to host a large family gathering to celebrate her birthday failed logistically by previous commitments and distance, so Andy arranged a small end-of-week gathering, for Alna’s birthday, with just his and Jen’s parents.

This state of confusion was initiated when a growing number of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. decided on a spur of the moment that Alna’s birthday was too big a deal to brush aside, but forgot to make Andy aware of their change of plans. With no advanced notice, there weren’t enough rooms available, and now Andy feverishly worked the phones finding extra rooms at nearby inns.

Over the next two days, all the family members gathered at Andy and Jen’s for several meetings to work out a new game plan for the party and with numerous introductions and “what do you think” discussions, I found myself drawn into their fold.  The relatives, a composite of different ages, professions, and life styles, brought with them the friendships, the laughing, the reminiscing, as well as the bickering, and disagreements typical of all families. I felt at home.

With accommodations and coordination of the party worked through, the months-ago-idea of everyone chipping in to purchase just one “from the family” gift seemed a lost cause. With over 30 family members present, trying to decide on “one” gift, grew into an evening of escalating, sometimes tense, fruitless suggestions.

Off to the side, near where I sat, Cindy Lou, a 10 year old great-grand daughter, quietly raised her hand. Caught off guard by the cuteness of this polite gesture, everyone fell silent and turned her way.

Bringing to light that the blanket Alna uses for her frequent naps, around the inn, is old and tattered, her suggestion was simple, “We could make her a new one”. Everyone maintained their silence, pondering whether this was just outright silly or a brilliant idea. It was Andy who broke the silence. He sided with brilliance.

Jen quickly elaborated, that plenty of scrap material was on hand for a wonderful free-form patch-work quilt. Batting and whole-cloth’s for top and back are still stored in the attic from bygone quilting bee’s. Several members of the family have done quite a bit of sewing over the years and this would be an excellent opportunity for the younger members of the family to learn the art of quilting appliqué. We can all be involved, even if just contributing a stitch or two, you can still help by measuring, cutting, preparing meals, and general errands during the quilt’s construction.

One by one, everyone embraced the idea.

Over the next four days, while it was impossible to keep the making of the quilt a secret from Alna, the  reason for the quilt certainly was. Even Alna’s few offers, between naps, to help sew on a few designs, added to the fullness of the project. It was completed just hours before the party.

After the cake and ice cream, it was only fitting that Cindy Lou carry the quilt over to Alna.

I took this picture after Alna sat in her favorite cushioned chair and they gently covered her with her new quilt.

Just before she drifted into her nap, she looked up, with tearful eyes, and to everyone gathered around, she said. “Thank you, I couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful gift, and every time I run my fingers over this quilt, I will feel this week of togetherness and the love of everyone in this family”.

She closed her eyes for a second then added “Oh, by the way, would someone stop in the room later and give me a nudge, I don’t want to miss my before-bedtime nip of Sherry”.

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis.

Opening Art Reception, Saturday, March 15th, 2014, 5:00 to 8:00 P.M., at Ukazoo Book Store, Towson, MD 21204

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 34

Canoe Ride

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 34-”Canoe Ride”

Stopping in South Berwick, for the fourth of my four stops in Maine, I checked into the Academy Street Inn. Eyeing a sign-up Brochure in the parlor I penciled in my name for a three-day, middle of the week, camp-out/canoe excursion at a nearby lake, along with several other guests.

To compact the amount of vehicles used for the trip, I shared a ride with a couple and their two children, Ross and Ava. During the in-route conversation, I was informed that besides enjoying a camping adventure with the kids, they were also revisiting the place they first met 14 years ago. Ross, their son, was especially excited because he wanted to use his newly acquired rod & reel, originally owned by his great-grandfather, now handed down to him from his dad.

At the lake, I set up my tent near their site and we did a buddy thing with meals and chores.

Posted on several trees around the camp sites were the recreational do’s and don’ts. All the usual, lifejackets, no alcohol, etc. but down at the bottom in large bold letters:


Lake is Home to

“Big Moe”

Very Large, Dangerous, Elusive Fish

Extremely Fond of Cheeseburgers

Do Not keep any in your boat

After, ironically, having cheeseburgers for lunch, I overheard Ross and his sister jokingly plotting to take a leftover cheeseburger on the canoe ride to try and catch “Big Moe”. Once cleanup was completed and the group prepared to take the canoes out, Dad took a well worn ukulele he had used to serenade Mom during their first date. Out on the lake, their canoe leisurely drifting, Dad was now lost in his singing, and Ross, with a surprised Ava peering over his shoulder, hooked up his fishing line with a cheeseburger he had secretly pocketed and cast it into the water.

Glancing over from my canoe, I saw Ross’s fishing line tug.

I quickly grabbed the camera and took this picture as the line pulled taut and up came “Big Moe”.

With Ross, struggling to hang on to the rod, Ava turned around and franticly started yelling to get dad and mom’s attention. The bow of the canoe started to tip up and out of the water as “Big Moe” kept pulling down on the line trying to free himself. Not wanting to lose his prized father-to-son fishing rod, Ross resisted his mom and dad’s pleas to release the rod & reel. As everyone started to slide down in a ‘Titanic’ moment, and the curved rocker at the stern inched below the water’s surface, Ross had no choice, he let the rod go. In that instant, “Big Moe” and the fishing rod disappeared beneath the surface and the canoe, tension released, arched forward and down, slapping the lakes surface with a jolt. Shaken and wet from the spray of water, miraculously, everyone remained in the canoe.

That evening, with the rest of the group turned in for the night, I heard two distinct noises while sitting on the pier watching the stars.

The first noise was Ross wandering out to the pier. Sad about losing his rod & reel, he couldn’t sleep. While we recounted the day’s adventure, the second noise occurred. In the water, a splashing sound. Directly in front of us, with hook, rod, and reel still attached, was “Big Moe”.

Big sorrowful eyes begged us to take the hook out. Having the longer reach, I carefully removed the hook. At the same time, Ross used a nearby pole to bring the rod close enough to the pier for him to retrieve. With that accomplished, “Big Moe” lowered himself slightly into the water and back up again to suggest a thank you. Then he remained, patiently waiting. It was Ross that figured it out.

Quickly running back to the campsite, he quietly got two leftover cheeseburgers from the cooler and returning, did a gentle toss of each to a very appreciative “Big Moe”.

Another thank-you dip and submerging, out of sight, “Big Moe” swam away.

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis.

Opening Art Reception, Saturday, March 15th, 2014, 5:00 to 8:00 P.M., at Ukazoo Book Store, Towson, MD

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 26

Basketball Plant

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 26: Basketball Plant


From Chicago, I meandered North for two days before arriving at a Bed & Breakfast in St. Ignace, Michigan overlooking Lake Huron.

As I stepped onto the porch of the B&B I noticed two basketballs and my initial thought was the innkeepers had children. Walking into the lobby/living room I noticed several more basketballs, some resting on chairs and a velveteen couch. My second thought, Basketball fanatics I supposed, and at that thought, I heard a loud trump on the wall coming from the opposite room.

Before I had a chance to ponder the source of the noise, innkeepers, Carmela and Jordan walked in and after extending a warm greeting, showed me to my room. True to form, in the room were two more basketballs for which Carmela apologized and removed without any forthcoming explanation.

At breakfast, eyeing another basketball in the corner of the dining room, curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask about all the basketballs. Carmela, anticipating the request, fixed a cup of coffee and sat down to relate the following story:


“Three years ago at a small garden shop in Chamberlain, South Dakota, Jordan and I bought a small unusual plant tucked away on a shelf, out of sunlight, and wilting very badly. Once back at our place, we re-potted the plant, watered it, and placing it in full sun at a living room window, it immediately revived. Like magic, the rejuvenated plant grew and several days later developed a center stem that started to form a bud. As the bud opened to flower, to our amazement, a basketball, we also noticed two hands started to emerge from the soil.

Four days later, with the basketball reaching regulation size and us attending to an issue in another room, we heard the sound of glass breaking. Quickly we ran in to find the plant, minus a basketball, the front window with a large hole, and the ball resting on the front lawn.

Mystified, we fixed the window and by week’s end, after another basketball bloomed, we happened to be in the room when the plant arched back and tossed the basketball just over the outstretched hands and through the front window again.

Well, we couldn’t let this happen a third time, so Jordan moved the plant to an adjacent wall. Five days later we witnessed the same scenario but this time the outstretched hands managed to block the shot and it flew backwards onto the coffee table knocking over a vase of flowers.

Relocating the plant to a sparsely decorated spare room, Jordan, with a sense of wry humor, decided to mount a basket to the wall, purchased a whistle, taped a foul line on the floor, and named the plant Julius and the hands, Larry. The only drawback has been, even with giving away all the basketballs friends, guests, and schools would accept, they still keep accumulating.”


By weeks end, Jordan, now attuned to that window of opportunity when the basketball might be thrown, made me aware a shot was on the verge and offered a chair to watch. I took this picture just as Julius arched back for the throw. I watched as the ball sailed towards the basket, hit the rim, and rolled around twice before dropping in for the score. Larry, just missing blocking the ball by less than an inch, snapped his fingers in mock frustration and then semi-relaxed with the anticipation of another future chance.

This morning while leaving, Carmela and Jordan bid me farewell and not surprisingly, offered me a basketball or two, or four. I willingly took two, promising I would give them to my grand-kids when I arrived at Ukazoo.


Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.

New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis .


Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 23



Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 23: “The Dancer’s”


After I left Sheridan, Wyoming, my next stop was Steele, North Dakota. The drive, over 550 miles took 11 hours, which included a couple of rest-stops and one traffic tie-up that involved removing a dump truck that veered into a ditch to avoid hitting a deer.

Both driver and deer, were all right.

Inching towards midnight on extended dark stretches of empty highway, I stopped into a dimly lit two pump gas station just before they closed. At the register, to pay for gas and a few snacks, I asked, “I’m close to Steele, right?” With all the enthusiasm a “Doing a double shift, I’ve been here too long” clerk could muster, all I received was a half nod of confirmation.

Having called ahead for reservations at a Bed and Breakfast, and aware of my late arrival time, I found a note with directions to my room, signed “see you in the morning”.

At breakfast, I met the hosts, Leo and Denise, and their daughter, Lyn. The instant friendship that developed with this family and several other people I met as the week progressed, took on an uncanny familiarity of close friends in Baltimore.

The following day, making a scenic stop, I encountered several artists engaged in a Plein-air painting class. As with Leo and Denise, friendships easily formed and I was informed of a small art show they were hosting that evening. Being a fellow artist, I looked forward to attending.

Wonderful people, engaging art, and throughout the evening the sense of déjà vu.

The following day, while replenishing art materials at a local craft store, I met Matt and Larine, and again it was that familiarity of friends I’ve known for years. Amid laughs and exchanging stories, they insisted I come to a Halloween/Karaoke party they and several of their friends were sponsoring at a local pub. With Matt having an extra costume that only needed a few adjustments to fit me, I willingly joined them to meet a great group of friends sporting for an impressive array of costumes, marvelous singing, and still that continued sense of déjà vu swirling around.

Not catching my breath, the next evening was Leo’s birthday, at least it was a few days ago, and this was their first chance to celebrate. Becoming, now, good friends, they asked if I would care to join them and several guests at a VA hall, featuring a top notch Blues/Rock band. Of course!

At the Hall, as friends traded past birthday stories and their birthday dates, it was learned that mine was just around the corner and I was just eight days younger than Leo. With the Birthday cake candles, a now faint puff of smoke and a chorus of Happy Birthday for Leo sung, the band started up.

At first, Leo seemed content to sit and listen to the music and trade stories of youthful adventures but with the pleas from Denise he finally gave in joined Denise on the Dance floor.

As the band launched into a very funky extended set of blues tunes, I took this picture as Leo and Denise got into some serious dancing and by the end of the night the only way to now stop Leo from dancing was the band ending their night of playing.

I had a great, yet again, strangely familiar time, and even got in a fair amount of dancing myself.

Today while departing, I gave a sigh, as the past few days have reminded me of friends back home I’ve missed and how good it will be to see them again, once I get to Ukazoo.


Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening

Journey to Ukazoo-Slide 17


Eight Birds

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide 17: Eight Birds


After several stops in large metropolitan areas, I could sense the anticipation of a few days of peace and quiet as I checked into a Bed & Breakfast in Yreka, California. The innkeeper, after going through the normal b&b cadence, offered one final note, you might want to reframe from feeding the birds. “Nothing major, but one particular bird, we named Cliff, seems to be rather persistent in wanting more”.

The following morning after breakfast, armed with a good mystery book, cup of tea, and my last few favorite store bought cookies, I made my way to the front porch. Couldn’t have been 10 minutes into my reading when a very unique bird, whom I had to assume was Cliff, landed on the railing. He took to staring at me and my cookies. I remembered the innkeepers warning, but it was just one bird. I gave in and held out my last cookie. With one quick motion he took it from my hand and flew off. I smiled, seemed like no harm done.

Later that evening after dinner and a trip to a store to replenish my cookie supply, I returned to the porch to finish off a couple more chapters. Couldn’t have been five minutes when Cliff returned to the railing. Only this time he was back with a friend, and with that same intent stare to me and my cookies, I gave in. Well, with a little less of a smile, it was just the two of them.

The next day, I again went to the porch and I took the cookies just in case Cliff and his friend returned. They did, but he also brought two additional friends. With a weaker smile, I offered each a cookie. That included the two I had put aside for myself. Oh well, it was only four of them.

That evening, with a slight chill in the air, I retired to my room with the book and a very comfortable soft chair next to a window. Within five minutes I heard a soft tapping on the glass, and slightly startled, there outside the window was Cliff, and with two more friends, now bringing the total to six,  and all with those same intent stares.

My smile stretched thin, and the innkeepers warning now echoing in my head, still, I gave in. Opening the window, the same scenario played out, take the cookies and fly.

Returning to the book, I stayed up very late wanting to finish it since I would be leaving tomorrow. As the morning light filtered into the room and I worked reluctantly to open my eyes, I detected a rustling sound at the foot of the bed. I slowly lifted my head and peeked over the sheets, and remembering I forgot to close the window, I now found eight birds sitting, patiently waiting for me to wake up and offer them a cookie.

I reached over to the nightstand where I had left my camera and peering back over the edge of the sheets I took this picture.

Now making myself decent, I walked to the dresser, got what happened to be my last eight cookies and explained that this was it, no more, besides, I would be leaving today. Just as before and without any hint of understanding, they took the cookies and flew off.

A few hours later as I was bringing my bags out for departure, I noticed sitting on my windshield a coupon for my favorite brand of cookies. I looked around and across the road, I saw Cliff sitting on a fence post. With coupon in hand and the sheer silliness of this cookie episode playing in my head, my smile returned. I tipped my hat to Cliff, as a thank you and goodbye, and he gave a slight nod in return, spread his wings, and flew away. Onward to Ukazoo.


Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.



Journey to Ukazoo-Slide Eight

The Letter

Journey to Ukazoo

Slide Eight: The Letter

 Stopped in Waurika, Oklahoma, and found a wonderful rustic looking Bed & Breakfast. Later in the day as I returned to the inn after a walk I found several of the guests conversing in the Dining area. Much of the conversation centered around trying to find a fourth for Pinochle, and not just any Pinochle but Double Deck Partners. Without hesitation I jumped at the opportunity.

Chad, Mitchell, and Trey, as my partner sat down in the dining area to begin playing and it was during our game that John, a rather quiet but slightly emotional owner of the B & B opened a letter from his wife. She had, several days ago, gone to visit and help out a sick friend of theirs. John proceeded to read about his wife’s stay and how during the caring for their friend “she gave thought to what it would be like to fall in love with him and continue to stay even after he had regained his health”. That, upon her decision to stay, she would ask you to “box up and mail all my belongings” and would you “send the checkbook as I would need money to buy fancy new shoes and clothes” and also “have someone bring over the cat too”. The page concluded with “These were some of numerous thoughts that went through my head”.

Reading this created several outbursts of, “oh me’s” “What did I do wrong” and “How could she’s”. I took this picture after John had dropped the letter and he started into the “should I end my life” phase of moaning. Janet, a frequent guest who was sitting nearby, was concerned enough to pick up the dropped letter and looking closely saw that two pages were pressed so close together you thought it was just one sheet. Janet took it upon herself to separate the pages, calm John down, and insist that he read the second page his wife had written that started out with the sentence “but that didn’t happen, couldn’t and wouldn’t happen” and went on about how she found a “reaffirmation of love for John….”.

After the major drama of the letter had subsided and we went back to our game, John regained his composure, relaxed with a glass (or three) of wine, retired to the kitchen to bake a batch of chocolate chips cookies to share, and took requests for drinks. I asked if per chance he had a bottle of a local brewed root beer. He did.

Double Deck Pinochle, exceptional Pinochle players, home baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, local brand of bottled Root Beer. I would have to say that this was one of those-’It doesn’t get any better than this” moments.

Art notes:

All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt

Postings of Journey to Ukazoo Slides are every Monday.

Likes, Shares, and Comments are welcome.