All posts by Melissa Ewing

I am a graduate student at Wayne State University's School of Information Sciences. I am working toward my Master's in Library Science and my Archival Administration certificate.

Winter in Michigan

An Imayo Poem

I read an article on the Writer’s Digest website about Imayo poems today and was inspired to write my own. They consist of 4 lines that have 12 syllables each. Each line has a separation between the 7th and 8th syllables.

 Winter in Michigan
Rain then snow and topped with ice – children home from school
Much too cold to play outside – feels twenty below
Cocoa and video games – books and art supplies
Entire house is littered – piles two feet deep

State of the Blog

Remember Spring? I ‘member.

I am in the process of finding a favorite layout for this blog so expect change to be constant. In the meantime, I am pushing myself to get in the habit of letting myself have fun with writing. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, yet I never let myself do it. Everything else seems more important, but as I am nearing the start of my 48th year on this water covered hunk of star orbiting rock we call Earth, I aim to change all that. So let’s see if I can make it from now until May 15th when I go on vacation without missing any days of blogging. Even if each one is only this long.

Cadillac, MI

In October 2018 I took a couple of trips to Cadillac, MI. They were part of a personal field trip for my American Environmental History class at Western Michigan University. I attempted the trip the weekend of the 19th with my family but we were snowed out on the second day so I went back alone the following weekend. This post is based on the PowerPoint I submitted as my final project.

Cadillac, MI started out as a lumber town, but due to the foresight of its founders, instead of being deserted when the bulk of the trees were gone, it transformed into a lasting city.
This area was once populated by Native Americans who used the products of the land for subsidence living. This marker (located on Lake Mitchell) is the first of 33 markers along a trail that was once a main transportation route for Indigenous peoples. There is evidence that this trail saw continuous use starting as long ago as 600-700 BC. Now the trail is cut up by private property and it is advised to drive along the road where the markers are instead of trying to hike the trail itself.
Cadillac was founded in 1872 as Clam Lake by George A. Mitchell. George’s father (U.S. Senator William Mitchell) was an investor in the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad (G.R. & I.). The railroad was persuaded to relocate their Grand Rapids to the Straits of Mackinac tracks slightly and go north of the lakes instead of between them. This gave George the opportunity to buy most of the land in the area for timber harvesting and to reserve the lakes for timber storage.
These are just a fraction of the tools and images related to the timber industry that are on display at the Wexford County Historical Society Museum.
Michigan logging wheels helped eliminate the need for icy ground and extended the lumbering season. These are located at the Mitchell State Park Campground. The lakes that were once an important resources for the lumber industry are now important to tourists and private homeowners.
Cadillac reached a point were the timber was getting hard to harvest. Horses were unable to go down hills because the large loads would drive over them, so better technology was created. The Shay Locomotive was designed to be able to run well on the uneven, temporary tracks laid down by lumber companies.
After the pine was gone, a foundry and the ability to cut hardwoods for furniture building in places like Grand Rapids kept the town going. This is now marked with a Michigan historical marker. It is very cool, but is surrounded by private property and difficult to get to. There is no parking and I walked from a shopping center about a block away with no sidewalk.
The Sweet Shop has been in business over 50 years and Horizon Books was founded in Traverse City in 1961.
To the west of Cadillac is the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This forest is here because after the Civil War the U.S. government gave stumpy former timber land to former soldiers. When the land failed to be productive for farming the soldiers gave up and the land defaulted back to the government.
The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center showcases the past and present of hunting, fishing, and trapping in Northern Lower Michigan. There is information about Native American practices all the way up to modern rules.
Of course lumbering wasn’t the only thing that changed in the Cadillac area, fishing is another industry that changed greatly. From the poster: “…lore has it that anglers could catch three fish with one cast. Early accounts tell of grayling that ‘lay like cordwood in the Au Sable’.” Logging was the major cause of their extinction but invasive trout and overfishing played parts. Where fishing used to be easy and supplied without human input…
…now fishing in the area is no longer able to thrive without human management. The Harrietta State Fish Hatchery is one of Michigan’s six state fish hatcheries. The original facilities were built in 1901 making this the oldest operating state hatchery. 1.2 million fish, including rainbow and brown trout, are raised here each year. Because they are grown in a feedlot type environment their waste must be dealt with in sludge ponds instead of nourishing water systems, and oxygen (AKA “Fish Gas”) must be pumped into their water.
Part of the old structures at Harrietta State Fish Hatchery. These are across the road from the newer facilities.
More of the remains of the 1901 Fish Hatchery. Second photo was shot from the bridge.
Cadillac is a lovely place to spend a holiday. Even on a fall day with storms quickly approaching you can appreciate what made George A. Mitchell want to build something lasting here.
One of the many tourist attractions in Cadillac is a monument to a KISS concert played at Cadillac High School in 1975. The short version of the story is that the football coaches used KISS music to energize the players, the players won a conference, and KISS came to play for the school. There is a four stop route you can follow to see the important stops on their visit, but the weather was getting ominous so I wanted to get to my hotel room.
Whatever happened to George A. Mitchell? Well, for a man who had a lot of foresight when it came to founding a town, he didn’t have much for self-preservation. One night he was taking his horse buggy through the main street of town. The main street was still full of hard to remove stumps and his buggy was going too fast. A wheel hit a stump and he was thrown from the carriage and hit his head on another stump. He died from the injury.


Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau. (n.d.). Old Indian Trail – Cadillac to Traverse City. Retrieved from Explore Cadillac

Michigan DNR. (2018, October 19). Displays for Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Museum. Cadillac, MI, USA.

Michigan DNR. (2018, October 27). Displays for Harrietta Fish Hatchery Self-Guided Tours. Harrietta, MI, USA.

U.S.D.A. (2018, October 27). Display for Huron-Manistee National Forest Baldwin/White Cloud District. Baldwin, Michigan, USA.

Wexford County Historical Society Museum Volunteer. (2018, October 19). Notes From My Visit. Cadillac, MI, USA.

2019 Open for Business

Photo of desk with lamp, writing reference books, Steve Hogarth books, writing utensils, and paper clip holder.
Resources are Ready for 2019

With each new calendar year and each new school year I evaluate what’s going on in my life and what direction I want it to go. I always come back to writing. I decide I will push through whatever else is going on with my life and make my writing dreams come true; and then I get caught up in my schoolwork and taking care of my family and home and promptly forget I had decided to make my writing a priority.

This year I have a reason to do better. My husband started graduate school this month and I still have three semesters of part-time classes to get through before my bachelor’s is finished. Because my husband is a graduate student now, he no longer gets pell or other government grants and his student aid refund was much lower than we expected. Graduate students are of course encouraged NOT to hold a job while going to school so they can concentrate on their studies, so he hadn’t been looking one. (His employment as a student research assistant ended this week.) I have a part-time student job as well as my student aid, but it is not going to get us through summer. So, time to bring in some more cash if possible.

If you know anyone who needs a freelance writer. I can write on a variety of topics and my starting rate is $.10 per word. I have worked in libraries for over 15 years so I know how to research. For the last five years I have been taking classes which require a number of papers. I received an A on all of them (I would be happy to provide samples). My real world experience in libraries and restaurants required me to write employee handbooks and technical manuals so I am also comfortable with that type of writing. Creative fiction and non-fiction are favorites of mine and I will showcase samples in the near future.

Good luck getting your dreams and goals off the ground in 2019!

Pastime Paradise

I was working alone today and decided to play some music on my phone while I changed filenames on our outdated Mac. I have access to a great service through my public library called Hoopla. I was browsing and saw they had Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life. I remember seeing this album cover at a neighbor’s house back when I was in Junior High. I was captivated with the artwork and wanted to listen to it, but could not. So I borrowed it today and started to listen. I was amazed when song eight (“Pastime Paradise”) started because I hear that music almost daily on my son’s mp3 player. It’s the music to “Amish Paradise” by “Weird Al” Yankovic, which I know is a parody of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise.” I am still amazed that I went without hearing the song or most of the songs on this album for most of my life.

In a funny twist, I am taking a creative writing class and we are are currently studying how to do close reading of prose and poetry and one of our assignments is to change the words of someone else’s poem but keep the rhythm.

This is the kind of cool surprise I like from life.

Summer Goals


I have a handful of goals to tackle this summer.

  1. Clear clutter
  2. Deep clean all rooms
  3. Learn how to use a schedule better
  4. Write more
  5. Read more
  6. Have fun with my family

I have never been great with goals. I have had dreams that I hoped would come true someday, but never figured out how to break those dreams down into goals. I took a Family Resource Management class last semester and learned so much more from it than I expected to. It has given me some tools to make my dreams come true. I wish I had a class like it in high school.

While number 6 might seem silly, it is necessary for me to make this a goal because I can get so wrapped up in the day-to-day cleaning necessary to run a household that I forget to stop working and have fun. If I don’t force myself to stop and take breaks I will work sunup to sundown on my days off and not do anything fun. That’s no way to spend any part of the year.

Let’s all remember to make room for fun this summer.

Spring? Winter? Summer? What Time of the Year is it?

Spring semester is winding down. Even though we are still getting snow in this part of the country; summer vacation starts in two weeks. It’s surreal to be sitting under the heat vent and planning for summer.

It is also surreal to be planning for life after school. I am going to try to finish next year before I reach the maximum amount I can borrow from the Department of Education. It is going to be a hard semester, but I have my husband in my corner and will seek out help caring for my son as needed. I have never been good at asking for help, always wanting to be a superwoman instead, but I am going to try growing up and asking for help before I get in over my head and start panicking.

I also am going to make reading and writing for pleasure, and listening to music each day habits. If they are habits I will be more likely to de-stress with them even when my final year of school gets crazy and I feel like I don’t have the time to do anything fun.


Children and Play

I just read an article about the importance of play in helping kids find tomorrow’s jobs. Kids that play more often are better prepared for employment. Helping my son get a good job someday was not one of the reasons I decided to home school him, but play was. Schools are different than they were when I was a child. I had at least 3 recess periods in elementary school, my son had one. One 25 minute recess after his 25 minute lunch. The rest of the day filled with preparing for tests. He was lucky enough to have art and music at that school. I had hoped to continue with those classes, but the school and our family have had a lot of issues since we took him out of his homeroom during Christmas break. We have not made contact with one another about continuing the classes, but I may fix that next week. I often give people too much time to return my inquiries.

Home schooling has not been totally free and easy, but we are getting into the groove of it a little more each week. I am lucky enough to be able to do this right now because my husband and I went back to school and have student aid and student jobs that allow us to make our own hours. When we are done with school I don’t know if we will be able to keep home schooling our child, but I want to.

First Parenting Fail of 2018

Today I feel like the world’s worst parent. I know I’m not, but I feel like it. I signed my son up for an art class and I knew today was the first day, but I didn’t get myself out of bed to take him. I had a reminder on my phone, but since I turned the sound off I never heard it. I have been feeling under the weather for a couple weeks, convinced I am just a step away from getting a full-on illness, but it never quite comes. I have been sleeping an insane amount.

I think the answer is to get into a new rhythm of getting up at the same time every day, but with working in the afternoons this semester and not having to get up to get my son to public schools on time it’s hard. It’s like after decades of sleep deprivation my body has said, “Yes, this is what you were supposed to do a lifetime ago! Sleep, sleep!” When will it be enough? How much recovery time do I need?

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