In Memory Of

Today marks four months and three days since my sister, Dorothy, died in a car accident. Early this morning, my brother-in-law, Gary, sent an email out to all of our family, about a memorial for Dorothy that has just been completed. With his permission, I’m posting his email verbatim, along with many of the photos he also sent.

If I had spent a lifetime searching, I couldn’t have come up with a more fitting memorial for my sister.

Hi All….

Paul [Dorothy and Gary's son] and I had an incredible experience last night. After two weeks of talking and planning, we got a memorial tree for Dorothy planted at St. Philips church. The story behind the tree is the incredible part.

It is a Norway Maple that was cloned from the National Champion Norway Maple (biggest in size, age, etc.) in Empire, Michigan, just about 30 miles north of Frankfort. The Milarch Nursery, namely David Milarch and his sons Jared and Jake, started the Champion Tree Project about 12 years ago to perpetuate and sustain the genetic qualities of the largest and oldest surviving trees of each species. They take cuttings and buds from the Champion trees and send them out to agricultural labs for cellular propagation and starting. Then they get the small clones back and grow them carefully.

I can’t believe I was able to get one of these trees, especially since this one was the last of the original clones that started the project 12 years ago. My guess is that David wanted to see one of these original clones go to somewhere close so he could visit it and show his grandchildren over the years. He is quite an interesting person, third generation nurseryman, and co-founder of the Champion Tree Project International.

Anyway, this is an extraordinary tree for an extraordinary wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin. I think Dorothy would approve. She and I had heard David Milarch talk at Master Gardener functions in the past – that’s how we knew of the Project. See the web site at

So last night, we met David, his son Jake, and Jake’s wife Julie at St. Philips to plant the Norway Maple. We had to change the site we originally selected – it ended up being too close to the septic tanks for future root growth. The current site is about 30 feet below the back fence of the Memorial Garden where Dorothy is going to be buried on August 18th. It is a nice setting, as you can see, and is kitty-corner from another memorial tree, a Red Maple.

Pictures show the sequence from delivery, digging, setting, and watering in (which Paul did). We have to give the tree 20 gallons of water twice a week for 2 years, three to four times if a hot, dry summer. I also have to top-dress with compost and mulch.

I am getting a plaque made, and probably mounted on a rock for the base of the tree. Something like,

In memory of Dorothy D. Michalek.
This Norway Maple is a clone of the
Champion tree in Empire, Michigan,
part of the Champion Tree Project International

Love to you all,
Paul and Gary

Where else, Oh Best Beloved, have trees from the Champion Tree Project been used?

You’ll find them at the Pentagon Memorial and the World Trade Center, planted as living memorials for those lost in the terrorist attacts of 9/11.

I hope those families, too, find the thought of a tree that will live for hundreds of years, memorializing their lost ones, comforting.

We will always love you, Dorothy.

The Champion Norway Maple Arrives

The Champion Tree Project’s Norway Maple arrives, riding on a special flatbed trailer that protects it during transport. (Pictured: Jake Milarch and his wife, Julie.
Preparing the site for planting

The Milarchs (pictured from left to right: Julie, David and Jake) prepare the site for the Dorothy D. Michalek Memorial Norway Maple Champion Tree.

Placing the tree into its new site

Placing the tree into its new site. (Pictured from left to right: Julie, Jake and David Milarch)

Relief - the tree is safely in its new site!

Safely in! (pictured: David Milarch and Julie Milarch)

Champion Norway Maple in its new home

The Memorial Champion Norway Maple in its new site. (Pictured from left to right: Paul (Dorothy and Gary’s son), David Milarch and (behind the tree) Julie Milarch)

Paul waters in the memorial tree

Paul (Dorothy and Gary’s son) watering in the memorial tree.

Dorothy Michalek Memorial Tree

The Dorothy D. Michalek Memorial Champion Norway Maple (pictured from left to right: Gary Michalek (Dorothy’s husband), Jake Milarch, Paul Michalek (Dorothy and Gary’s son), David Milarch and Julie Milarch)


Psst - wanna play with me n' the wabbits?

Psst! I know where the bunnies are hiding! Wanna play hide and seek with me and my bunny friends?

Honest! I just wanna play!

Honest! Trust me! I wouldn’t hurt one teeny tiny whisker on those cute little bunnies, now would I?

Ready or not, here I am!

Ready or not, here I am! (sung in a growly sing-song)

Please please please come out and play!

Aw, c’mon! Please… Please… Please… come out and play, little bunnies! I know you’re in there!


Humpfh!! Dumb bunnies!

* * * * *

(My thanks to my next-door neighbors, Rudy the bunny hunter, and Rudy’s dad, Dan, who took the “please please please” photo that started this little bit of silliness.)


Missed It By That Much!

See the eagle - not!

See the bald eagle in the picture, Oh Best Beloved, beautifully framed against our blue sky?



Guess who has been trying for weeks to get a photo of one of the eagles that frequent the area? Guess who missed the shot of a lifetime because she didn’t have her camera with her out in the yard when one of the local bald eagles swooped over at no more than 50 feet from the ground, and then circled several times?

Dag nab it!

This was the nearest we’ve ever had one come to the house. The little sharp-shinned hawks and the Cooper’s hawks will swoop in on occasion and nab songbirds right from our birdfeeders, even snatching a mourning dove last month from the feeder which is less than ten feet from our house. We’ve had redtail hawks land on the clothesline poles, and claim the yard as theirs. Our neighbors even had a Canada Goose in their front yard last week, waddling about with that peculiar gait common to geese and drunken sailors.

But the eagles… ah, the eagles! Those we watch from a distance as they soar ten or more stories above us, riding the thermals as they hunt, magnificent flyers with a piercing cry that, once heard, is never forgotten.

We weren’t the only ones who saw the eagle: the bunnies have gone into hiding!

Brighten Up An Injured Teen’s Day

Tiffany, a 17-year-old senior from a small Wisconsin town, was struck by a drunk driver earlier this spring when she was out walking with a friend. She’s a fighter, and even managed to graduate with her class last week despite horrific injuries that left her at first only able to communicate by blinking.

She’s now at a special hospital in Colorado, working hard to gain enough function that she can talk, use a sip-and-puff system and perhaps even breath on her own without a ventilator.

If you have a moment, take the time to visit Tiffany Pohl’s blog today, and leave her a message wishing her the best. Her family reads her the messages every day, and says they really brighten up Tiff’s day! You’ll have to register your email address before leaving a message (it’s a protected blog on, but that just takes a minute and you won’t get spammed or bothered by doing so.

A Wee Wascally Wabbit!

Wee Baby Rabbit

Obviously, my two yard rabbits are not sisters…

This little dandelion chomper and four siblings were bouncing around the yard with Momma this evening.

Yep. Five baby rabbits.

They (including Momma and Papa Rabbit) have little fear of me. I have to watch where I’m going when out in the yard, so I don’t step on them. This, I keep telling them, is Not A Good Thing.

They should tremble down to the tips of their tiny paws when they see me! Why, I could very well turn into a Big Mean Rabbit Hunting Machine!

Have you ever heard a rabbit laugh?