Michigan

A Whirlwind

Last Wednesday, Erin arrived to spend a few days in Michigan.  It was great to see her --- but, WOW!  What a whirlwind!  (Because we had QUITE An Agenda for this visit.)

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We spent some time at the beach (specifically . . . Oval Beach . . . one of the most beautiful stretches of Lake Michigan shoreline in southern Michigan).  We were there, officially, to scope out wedding photography locations.  But the day was beautiful - warm and sunny - so we took some time to play.  (The water was icy -- far too cold to wade in, but the sand was nice and warm.)

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We accomplished MUCH in the way of wedding planning, meeting at the venue to decide details, menu, photography, and flowers.  (Here's where the ceremony will take place.)

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And Erin said "yes to the dress." (But not one of these "lace monstrosities."  Erin has never "done lace," and nothing about that changed when it came time for her to choose a dress.)

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Both Erin and I needed to fortify ourselves frequently -- as the "wedding industry" is pretty disgusting -- and SO over the top.  (Just sayin.)

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We also did a lot of non-wedding shopping so Erin will have a good working-wardrobe for her summer internship at . . . 

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(She'll be doing technical writing and software documentation for LinkedIn in California beginning next week.)

There was still plenty of time for relaxing and eating and drinking; watching hockey with Tom; spending time with Poppy.  It was a great couple of days -- very productive and kind of exhausting, but fun.

Before we knew it . . . 

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she was gone.  (With a big suitcase that arrived Empty and departed Full Of Stuff.)

Definitely a whirlwind -- but the kind of whirlwind I welcome any time.

 

 


On Inspiration

Last week, I went on a gallery hop/field trip to the lakeshore "twin cities" of Douglas and Saugatuck -- Michigan's Art Coast (about an hour from Kalamazoo).

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You know . . . it was one of those things that sounded GREAT when I signed up to go.  But then I got busy.  And last week was pretty jammed.  And I was kind of regretting committing to spending a whole day away in the middle of an already busy week.  (Does this ever happen to anyone else?  Or is it just me that does this kind of thing?)

Anyway.

I got up and dragged myself over to the meeting point for the trip.  And . . .

It ended up being a really awesome day.  Once the bus pulled away (and they put a mimosa in my hand . . . ), I just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed a day near the Lake Michigan shore -- with good company, excellent food, and really cool art.

And it turned out to be a bit of Just What I Needed.

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You see, lately I seem to be a bit . . . uninspired.  About what to draw, what to paint, what to knit, what to plant.  Pretty much everything that requires my creativity.  Usually, I'm bursting with ideas and things I want to try.  Lately, I've been . . . well.  More undecided.  Particular.  Definitely on "pause."  It's not that I'm ambivalent or uninterested.  I definitely want to continue making and creating.  I'm just not quite sure . . . what.

Although it's actually been kind of frustrating for me, I've come to think that it's maybe just a phase in my own personal creative development.  And, eventually, I'll find my way again.  (And maybe an even better way!)  But.  For now, let's just go with frustrating.

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So on this trip, I was able to wander through several galleries and, in a very relaxed way, just let other people's creativity wash over me.

Shapes.  Colors.  Patterns.

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Genres far outside the ones I practice.

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Observing how others . . . find harmony and balance.

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Or play with shadow and light.

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Or tap into a sense of  joy and whimsy and fun.

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It was a good day for me.  A day to kind of . . . fill up my tank again.  

(So glad I got on the bus.)

#the100dayproject

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


On the Trail

Last week, I met my friend Cheri to walk the Kal-Haven Trail.  We were looking forward to catching up with each other -- but we were also in search of trillium.  We'd heard they were already in bloom (a couple of weeks early this year) -- and we didn't want to miss them.  

Our timing was perfect!

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The hillsides along the trail were covered with trillium.

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It was sort of magical.

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There were lots of other early-spring wildflowers in bloom along the trail -- and redbuds floating above.

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It also turned out to be a great day for spotting Michigan morel mushrooms!

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I'm always leery of picking morels when I think I see them -- because I'm never certain . . . Is it a morel?  Or will I die if I eat it?  So I tend to just leave them be.  My friend, Cheri, though?  She's an experienced morel-hunter!  Now . . . I know what I'm looking for.

And we found a bunch  - right there on the trail.  Enough for tasty hors d'oeuvres before dinner.

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Catching up with a friend.  Awesome wildflowers.  And morels.

All in all . . .  a great day on the trail!

 


Running to the Beach

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Michigan.  Chilly . . . but sunny -- and the warmest it's been in a few weeks.

A great day . . . to run to the beach!

Seriously.

Saturday was the Kal-Haven Trail Run -- a 33.5 mile run on the Kal-Haven Trail, a rail-trail from Kalamazoo to South Haven (a Lake Michigan shore town).  Tom was part of a 6-person relay run along the trail.  (He ran the 3rd - and longest - leg of the run -- 8.08 miles.)

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I didn't run -- but I did serve as Cheerleader and Driver.  It's great fun -- especially when the weather is decent.  Because the trail used to be a railway, there are LOTS of places where the trail crosses the road -- so you can drive along, stopping every so often to cheer and encourage your teammates as they run by.

It took just under 4 1/2 hours for Tom's team to complete the course, ending in South Haven - where we all celebrated with Mexican food and beer.

 And then, a walk along the pier out to the South Haven lighthouse.

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The weather was perfect.  A bit windy and cold out at the lake, but really quite pleasant.

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A trip to the beach is always a good idea.  Even when you have to run all the way there!

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How was YOUR weekend?

 


Fall Interlude I

For obvious reasons, I didn't get up north to our cottage much this summer.  (Like . . . only twice.  And that was early in the season.)  Luckily, fall is a great time to head north -- when the days are still pretty summer-y, but fall is in the air.

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In the fall here in Michigan, we often have foggy mornings . . . 

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but the fog usually burns of as soon as the sun rises, revealing those sparkling blue skies from my earlier photos.

It's been great to have this week up here.  I've had plenty of time for reading and thinking and writing and knitting.  The dogs love it, too!  We've had time for swims in the lake and walks in the woods.  And campfires.  Everyone loves campfires.

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Just so you don't think it's all fun and games up here in the fall . . . we're also up here to bring in the boat and the docks for the season (because you don't want to be stuck doing that once the water starts getting really cold!) (ask us how we know. . . ).  And Tom has started a major project:  replacing most of the 102 steps leading down to the lake.  (Yeah.  He isn't creating a "yard-Jenga" game here.)

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We'll be heading home tomorrow -- but we'll be back soon.  I'm going to treat myself to several more fall interludes this year.  (And Tom, y'know. . . those stairs!)

 


A Catchy Town (I Mean . . . Tune)

When I was a kid, I used to "collect" Towns With Catchy Names.  Names that are fun to say -- and just kind of roll off your tongue.  Chattanooga.  Tallahassee.  Timbuktu.  Walla Walla, Washington.  Tuscaloosa.  Minnehaha.  Kalamazoo.

The kind of name . . . you know . . . that might end up in song lyrics.

(Never imagined that I'd end up living in one of them!  But.  Here I am.)

Kalamazoo

Anyway.  This week, Carole asks us for for Ten Songs About Where We Live.  Lucky for me . . . Kalamazoo - one of those catchy-name towns - has been plugging into song lyrics forever!

My favorite?

1 - Gotta Get Away by The Black Keys.

  

2 - Another favorite is Kalamazoo by the Ben Folds Five.  (They performed this during their appearance at the Gilmore Piano Festival a couple of years ago.  As you might imagine, it was a big hit with the home crowd.)

 

3 - This one is quite popular with the home crowd, too.  Kalamazoo by Primus.  (They've performed this one live in Kalamazoo, a couple of times apparently.  I wasn't there - but you can imagine it was a bit hit.)

 

4 - Marylou by Bob Seger.  (Not one of his most popular -- but . . . Kalamazoo.)

 

5 - Down on the Corner by Creedence Clearwater Revival.  (Twangin' out a rhythm on his Kalamazoo.  You bet!)

 

6 - While not about Kalamazoo, this song just embodies the whole Up North/Lake Thing in Michigan.  So, yeah.  It's about about where I live!  All Summer Long by Kid Rock.

 

7.  And, of course.  Especially in Michigan by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  (The link is a "tease."  If you want to hear the whole song, click here.)  (And Carole?  This link should include images that look a bit familiar to you now. . . as it was filmed in Ludington!)

 

8.  Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave.  (Because The Lakes RULE . . . here in Michigan.)

 

9.  Greetings from Michigan . . . an entire album by Sufjan Stevens . . . honoring Michigan.  (This tune, Romulus - a Detroit suburb - has nothing to do with Kalamazoo.  But Michigan.  And nice.)

 

10.  And, of course, no Kalamazoo list could be complete without this one. . .  (yeah, I know) . . . I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.  (Trust me.  I know.  I live here.  I've heard this WAY too many times . . . )

  

How about YOU?  What are the best songs about where you live?

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Click here to see what everyone else is singing today.

 

 

 

 

 


Tribute Ten

Last week, Tom and I hosted some Very Special Guests.

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Yep. 

Carole and Dale.

Right here in Kalamazoo!

Carole isn't back home quite yet . . . so there is no Ten on Tuesday today.  But I decided to Ten on Tuesday anyway . . . in her honor.

A Tribute Ten . . . With Carole On Her Vacation:

1 - We laughed a LOT.  (Tom and Dale both know so many jokes.  So. Many.)

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2 - We went Up North.

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3 - Where some of us fished.  While others of us sat around and talked and maybe knit a few rows here and there.

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4.  We swam.  Or, again, some of us swam.  While others of us worked on our tans.  (And sometimes chased duck families away.)

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5.  We played games.  Tom and I introduced Carole and Dale to Pass the Pigs -- and let's just say that . . . Carole ran the table.  (She even rolled the elusive Leaning Jowler!)

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6.  We visited the Lake Michigan beach.  And, yep.  It looks just like the ocean.  Without the salt.

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7.  We did a pub crawl, Kalamazoo-style.  Someone was the Designated Driver.  (Guess who?)

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8.  We listened to live music.  

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9.  And more live music.

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10.  And generally had a great time wherever we went!

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So much fun!

Thanks for visiting Kalamazoo, Carole and Dale!

 

 

 


On the Trail

Six weeks ago . . . when Tom agreed to be on a relay team for a run in early April . . . I'm sure he never truly anticipated snow.  Or below-freezing temperatures.

Oh, he knew it COULD happen.  (Because spring is a fickle beast.)  But, really?  What were the chances????

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Yep.  There you have it!

Snow.

Ice.

And . . . totally committed to running this thing!

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The Kal-Haven Trail Run is a 33.5 mile race along the Kal-Haven Trail - a rail trail that links Kalamazoo with South Haven.  Some people run the whole thing on their own, but most people choose to split the course up and run it as a relay.  Here's Tom, above, just about to overtake the woman in orange neon near the end of his 8-mile stretch.  Tom ran as part of a 6-person co-ed team -- with friends of ours from the gym.

I was f-f-f-freezing just watching and taking pictures.  (Good thing I had my Stopover sweater!  Never thought I'd still be wearing it . . . in APRIL.)

After the race . . . best part!  Mexican food (and margaritas!) in South Haven.

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And then out to the beach . . . 

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for a walk on the pier.  (Where it was so freakin' cold!!!)

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(But it was sunny.)

Great day to be on the trail... despite the weather!

 


Rambling in the Face of It

I'm sure many of you are aware that Kalamazoo is the latest (in a way too long line-up*) of cities-in-the-news because Senseless Gun Violence.  

Today, as I write this post . . . well.  Let's just say I'm rambling, and not really sure where it's going to go.  Because This Is My Town, Damnit.  And I'm still processing.

But I'm going to start here.  With a BB.

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One day last spring, I was out walking my dogs -- and I got shot in the leg with a BB.  (That very BB.  I saved it.)  It hurt like hell.  But, mostly, I was shocked.  It could have been just kids playing around, an errant BB ricocheting off a tree.  But I couldn't quite get over the feeling of . . . being shot AT.  Like . . . on purpose.  Someone with pretty good aim . . . considered me (or maybe my dogs) a target.  I limped home that day, and called the police.  They were nice -- but it was already too late for them to do anything.  (And apparently they don't run ballistics on BB pellets.)

I was really angy about my BB incident.  I mean . . . I was just out walking.  In my neighborhood.  Where I feel safe.  And where I should never be shot at.  

Because, you see, the Social Contract is in place.  Organized society depends on - and is invested with - the right to secure mutual protection and welfare.  In other words, I can walk the streets . . . and you won't shoot me.

I'm not trying to compare the my own silly little BB incident to the carnage here in my city on Saturday night.  Not even close.  But I am saying that random shootings - like we've had FAR TOO MANY OF - are a disruption of the Social Contract.

People should be able to load their children into the van . . . 

Or shop for cars in a dealer's lot . . . 

Or go out for dinner after seeing a show . . . 

(Or go to school.  Or to a movie.  Or a Christmas party.  I'm sure you get my drift.)

WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING SHOT AT!!!

Because these are NORMAL, every day activities.

Things we all do.

Every day.

And we should be able to do them . . . without thought.  Without pause.  Without fear.

Because that's the Social Contract.

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(I so thank all of you who contacted me via text, email, and Facebook yesterday.  It meant so much.  XO.)

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*  According to the Washington Post, the Kalamazoo shootings on Saturday night represented the 42nd "mass shooting" this year.  It's only February, folks.  That means . . . mass shootings have happened in the US in 2016 (so far) at pretty close to . . . well . . . once per day.  This. Is. Appalling.