The cottage my grandmother disliked

my grandmother enjoyed old things and was heartbroken when the old Cottage was torn down. It had been her home since coming from Lithuania. My aunt couldn’t wait to move into the new Cottage. My grandmother missed her old kitchen and so did I. She slept on the second floor among bats. These bats are not Louisville Sluggers. It is hard to understand grandmothers. Aside from her kitchen argument everything else about the new Cottage was much better. The bed  was sure softer . But to my grandmother  that first cabin  was her only true home . She never came to accept the new one .IMG_20171016_183930

My arch enemy

IMG_20171006_142505 what you see here is my archenemy. In the event you do not know I am 6 foot 10 inches high. My mode of travel on Lakes or Rivers is a rowboat. A dingy if possible. Canoes and I get along like Fire And Gasoline. I wouldn’t trust a canoe on Solid Ground. Being so tall is a detriment for taking a canoe anywhere. My back would not tolerate the strain. Plus I would have not made a great actor playing an Indian. My personal motto is ban the canoe.

When is a Township Hall not a Township Hall?

IMG_20171003_141759 the answer to this question is quite simple. This is the Sauble Township Hall on the Eastern shores of Big Bass Lake. But in the days when my dad was a child it was known as The Big Bass Lake School. My dad was not allowed to use English at home even though it was taught at school. My grandparents were Lithuanian as was half the population around the lake. This particular school was a one-room School consisting of six grades. Any teacher must have been frustrated by such a situation including having to deal with Lithuanian families that would not allow their children to speak English at home. Comments?

Dangerous ice

  • IMG_20170921_161359 it might have happened that this author never existed. The reason why was the ice on Big Bass Lake. My father was bringing a Christmas tree home across the Frozen Big Bass Lake. As he was walking across the icy surface the Ice broke and he fell into the lake. My dad was fortunate in that he was able to find the hole and climb out. Others aren’t as fortunate. How many people walk on  unsafe ice and lose their life?

My mother’s grandmother

this lady was Dorothy Lemming and she lived our family until her death  in  1964 .  She was known as grandma Buddie and  she spent  her early life  in Vaudeville .  My father and her  did not get along  as she had a tendency  to dominate .  My father had a hard time  putting up with that . But my three sisters  adored her .  I was more like my father  in this regard . Even though we called Wabash Indiana our home  strangely enough she is the only one buried there . IMG_20171118_184831

My Grandmother’s Pasti Recipe

My grandmother, Barbara Noreika, hailed from Lithuania and she and my grandfather established a farm in North Central Michigan in the early to mid 1900’s. Our family changed the name to Norris in the 1940’s to sound more American but my grandmother maintained the true family name. She was a superb cook in her little farmhouse kitchen that was mostly wood with an old fashioned stove. She had a circular table in that kitchen that we ate from. Her specialty was pasti which is a meat pie with a thick salted crust. It is an unsweetened pastry but full of great things to feast upon. For all you chef’s out there I have an unofficial recipe for this gourmet dish.

4 Cups of Flour
One-eighth Teaspoon of Salt
1.5 Cups of Lard in one-fourth inch cut cubes
8-10 Teaspoons of ice water
1 egg (beaten)

The Filling-
1 Cup coarsely chopped White Rutabaga
2 Cups finely diced boneless beef or steak
1 Cup coarsely chopped onions
2 Cups finely diced potatoes
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub together the flour and fat to make a coarse meal and then add in the 8-10 teaspoons of ice water all at once. If the dough crumbles add more ice water. Then refrigerate the dough for about one hour.

Then roll the dough into a circle about one-fourth inch thick and cut into six inch rounds. Re-roll.

As for the filling cut the ingredients into small pieces making sure to cook the meat and the potatoes together. Combine in a bowl and combine one fourth of the mixture into the center of the rolled out pasti. Moisten the pasti edges then fold in half making sure to crimp the edges to seal. Place the pasti on a buttered baking sheet and brush lightly with the egg wash. Make two slits in the pasti to allow steam to escape. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees until the pasti is golden brown.

For best results serve the pasti with Cole slaw and you are in for one tasty meal. If the pasti dough is made just right you will never forget this recipe of my grandmother’s. To be honest, I haven’t tasted pasti the way she made it since her death in the 1970’s. The Upper Penisula of Michigan has many pasti restaurants but none with her recipe. Bon apetite!

I should also let you know that when I was taking camping trips into the area with kids I would always be treated to this marvelous pasti at least once per trip. It was the best meal ever!

The Lake Michigan Recreational Area

Here I am atop the lookout tower at the Lake Michigan Recreational Area with a beautiful view of the Manistee National Forest behind me. In front of me is Lake Michigan in all its glory so you get the best of both worlds from this vista. Directly behind me and under me is a vast sand dune that reaches down into the bowels of this forest.

I had taken a boys club trip to this are and the kids were busy taking my picture while begging to take a swim on this rather hot day. We had brought inner tubes to enjoy a rather wavy day. The kids had a blast swimming and this is the time where we had laid our towels and other materials down and gone into the water. After about an hour of frolic we went back ashore only to find nothing of our equipment! We thought someone had ripped us off but unknown to us, the current of Lake Michigan was the culprit.

It had taken us downshore about a half mile without anyone noticing a thing. As we walked back on shore we found all our stuff right where we had left it. All that seemingly movement without us feeling a thing! Remarkable.

Big Bass Lake Over The Years- 1990′s- 5

The 1990’s saw three rather significant events take place in the Norris/Noreika family. First, in the early part of this decade my sisters, Treva and Kathy, along with myself set our parents ashes to rest (Adam and Treva) in the big swamp at the back part of the property near the phone lines. I knew that area would most likely never be develped due to the swampland and the phone lines in close proximity.

In 1992, some of the Norris family conducted a reunion bringing my two sisters and myself together, along with Aunt Beth, and my three neices, Sarah, Kristen, and Laura. We chose to quarter ourselves in Manistee at a motel and travel back and forth to the farm. We walked down to the beach and down the logging trail that led to the north side of our property. My neices also got to meet my Aunt Beth in person. Treva’s son, Bobby, also was on this reunion along with Treva and Bobby’s girl and boy friends.

The third event was the declining health of my Aunt Beth who eventually moved into Ludington and became a virtual recluse. I continued to call her weekly but her spirits declined along with her health. More on that in my next report.

Our cottage, as you see above, remains the same now except for a yellow coat of paint and massive changes in the rear with much earth moved to make way for a basement exit and several trees removed to make way for a docking area. That “new look” can be seen elsewhere at Big Bass Lake and Beyond.

Big Bass Lake Through The Years- 1950’s- 1

In the 1950’s, I was just a young boy when my family took me to our family farm in Michigan where my grandparents lived. In those days, Big Bass Lake Road was just a sandy byway and there was NO public landing as that area belonged to Frank Benish and his pier was located in that area.

Otto Bartlett ran the Big Bass Lake store and as a young boy I enjoyed Squirt, Big Bass Lake postcards, and comic books there. The Loon Lake Roller Rink was a special treat a couple of times each time we spent a week there in the summer.

Our farm then still had two cows and chickens. I remember my grandmother scattering seed while talking to her hens. My grandfather did not speak English well but he seemed friendly enough. He died in 1956. I remember just past the two room cottage and just above the pier on our property was an old school bus and my sisters and I often played there.

As a young boy I didn’t like the area away from the main house as black flies used to pester us, especially so walking on Noreika Road down to the beach. Then we had to walk down a hill covered with ferns and jump over a small portion of the quagmire swamp to get to the beach. Once there it wasn’t so bad.

Our driveway was quite long and I remember black flies driving me crazy there too going out to get the mail. Big Bass Lake wasn’t nearly as crowded with speed boats in those days and I remember Frank Benish providing my sisters and I a ride in his speed boat all around the lake.

On each trip there my grandmother made pasti which was a meat pie with a thick salty crust. The old cottage kiitchen was wonderful to be in as all meals were home made.

There was an old building on what I call the Haunted Island on the southwest corner that is now long gone. And, the Big Island at one time was a narrow land mass all the way to the island. In 1956 a bridge was constructed allowing boats to pass under it to save time from going all the way around the Big Island to get to the Big Bass Lake store.

From time to time I will continue this series and next time it will be the 1960’s that I cover.

The Angel Wings of Jennifer Boblitt


Over the last several years I have been afflicted with edema which has made travel difficult to say the least. Through Medicare I was introduced to a young lady who was an expert in compression wrapping and Jennifer treated each of my legs over the past several months.

Her dedication to duty has resulted in my legs being reduced nearly 50% in size. Now my legs must be maintained at that level through future wrappings.

I wanted to take the time to thank Jennifer for her compassion over these months and her skill in getting my legs back to almost normality again. The term angel wings describes her arms and hands with which she wrapped me three times a week for about three months. Thank you Jennifer. You are one precious soul!

Memories of Our Land and Big Bass Lake

Well, we’ve written over 1,350 posts over the past four years but now all of us are out of ammunition. There are just no more stories to tell so at this junction point in time, this will be the last post at Big Bass Lake and Beyond as the website moves into eternity on the Internet.

My grandparents purchased our family farm and forest in 1914 and it was sold by my Aunt Beth in 2002. Most of my memories come from the years 1950-1996. In that time many Boys Clubs of America trips were held there and even a few Marion YMCA trips. I utilized our wooded beachfront and entire forest for the kids. In all our property was 256 acres. And, I made full use of the Haunted Island on each trips with midnight excursions there.

I have vague memories of my grandfather but many great ones of my grandmother, Barbara Noreika. I remember cows being there one summer and chickens for the majority of the 1950’s. Prior to that pigs and horses were also kept on the farm.

All those stories can be found here on Big Bass Lake and Beyond with much, much more. But now it’s time to say good-bye to all our company! Thanks for all your comments and suggestions and thanks also for our guest writers. Big Bass Lake forever!