love, Michigan

Wes Leonard

Wes Leonard scored the final basket in the final game of the regular season and then he died.

The score was tied going into overtime. The Fennville Blackhawks had won 19 out of 19 games. A perfect season hung in the balance, and then Wes scored 4 points for the win.

That was in 2011.

This past Friday afternoon the hub and I drove to Hope College in Holland, Michigan to attend the 6th Annual Wes Leonard Heart Team Never Forgotten Game:  Fennville vs. Saugatuck.

img_4074

img_4075

At halftime Wes’ former teammates lined up mid-court.

img_4076

And presented a portable AED machine to representatives from 20 High Schools.

img_4081

The hub, blurry in my haste to snap a pic before he sat down, was one of them.

img_4082

Before the game we were taught how to use the device and instructed in the importance of maintaining fresh batteries.  Wes’ school had a device the night he died but the battery was dead.

At the end of the game the fans from both schools – rivals – chanted Wes-ley Leo-nard, just as they have at the end of every game these past six years.

I love this family and this community – who have come together to get life saving information, legislation and devices into every Michigan school.

wes-leonard-heart-1024x731

Since Holland is about a 3 hour drive, we spent the night.

img_4085

In the morning, as we walked into town in search of the perfect cafe miel – and it was perfect – we came upon this sculpture.  Which is another reason I love this town.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

If you didn’t watch the video, scroll back up and watch it.  With a hanky.

Standard
Food, Michigan

Michigander

The hub, my shingles and I went up north for a long weekend.

Yep, shingles.

Woke up Wednesday morning with a raised rash on the back of my neck. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it.  Thought maybe I brushed against a poison ivy leaf when I was picking raspberries.  But it wasn’t itchy.

The hub noticed it while I was making dinner, said it was pretty red. It was starting to itch a little.

I wouldn’t normally go to Urgent Care for a red, mildly-itchy rash, but I had been pretty tired and a little off for a couple of days and we were heading out of town in the morning.

I didn’t want to take something contagious with me.

The doc said it was shingles and that it isn’t contagious. I could, however, give chicken pox to anyone who hasn’t had them, but only if they come in direct contact with the rash.

So I packed the antiviral he prescribed, some Benadryl, in case it got really itchy and Motrin in case it started to hurt. Doc said he’d give me Norco if it got real bad.

Norco if it gets real bad?

God, I hope not.

I’ve heard stories, I’ve seen fear-mongering commercials.

We headed north Thursday morning as scheduled. First stop: Harbor Springs.

We walked the pier at twilight. Felt like a date.

Next morning we snubbed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and went into town in search of something good. No offense to the lovely, hospitable hotel.

img_3073

High atop a hill sat Small Batch at the Cupola, with its welcoming porch.

img_3067

Oh. Linen tablecloths. This is going to be expensive.

img_3064

But the little cow creamer was cute.

img_3065

img_3069

Flash-fried spinach is my new favorite thing.

The hub ordered a Hansel and Gretel Waffle – gingerbread waffle topped with a maple and peach syrup and a cinnamon cream. He gave me a bite. Oh. My.

hansel-and-gretel

I had to snag this photo from their Facebook page to show you because his didn’t last long enough…

After breakfast we headed to Mackinac Island, taking the long, coast-hugging way so we could see the property on which my sister’s retirement dream house will soon be built; the final resting place for her ashes.

img_3080

Men arrived and began clearing trees.

img_3083

img_3081

Arriving at the Island never loses its thrill.

img_3089

You (meaning me) can’t visit Mackinac Island without saying “hi” to John.

img_3087

John is the extraordinary father of my delightful niece, Mary.

img_3088

He’s also the Senior Vice President of the Grand Hotel. If you don’t know the Grand, click here. It’s quite special. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start you’ve been there before.

One of these days I’m going to interview John and tell you all about him. In the meantime, this is his bike.

img_3086

It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Many who visit Mackinac Island never venture beyond the town, except to rent bikes and ride around the entire perimeter of the island.

I prefer the interior.

img_3099

I like to hike to Arch Rock.

img_3111

And check out the view.

img_3106

img_3092

If you know anything about Mackinac Island, you know there are NO motorized vehicles (except an ambulance).

img_3136

img_3132

It’s all horses, feet and bicycles.

After lunch we strolled along the boardwalk, strolled past John’s house.

img_3150

Browsed some shops. Bought some fudge.

img_3170

And caught the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. That’s the Mighty Mac in the distance.

The hub wanted to show me something so we took another short detour on the way back to Harbor Springs.

img_3194

In a beautiful park-like setting behind a Catholic church in the middle of nowhere waits a magnificent bronze sculpture.

img_3184

img_3182

It weighs 7 tons and is 28 feet tall from head to toe.

img_3189

Truly a site to behold. Love the glow of the late-day sun on the tip of the cross.

Back in Harbor Springs we prowled the streets looking for somewhere not-fancy for dinner.

img_3209

There was a bar on the corner, down by the water, with a note taped to its door: “Friday Fish Fry $10.99.”

As we stood inside waiting to be seated, the hostess asked if we were there for the fish.  The hub nodded. “I’ll save you one,” she said, “there are only 3 left.”

In the morning I took my complimentary envelope of oatmeal to go as we checked out of the hotel and went forth.

img_3222

Early morning coffee in Charlevoix.

img_3241

Lunch in Leland.

img_3252

img_3255

I make friends with beagles wherever I go.

img_3248

This is Bella. And her mom.

img_3269

You (meaning me) can’t be on the Leelanau Peninsula without stopping at Karl’s aka Brisling Pottery.

IMG_3237 (1).jpg

Who am I to disobey?

img_3238

img_3240

img_3239

img_3279

img_3281

Treasures in tow, we headed to the hub’s favorite Leelanau wineries.

I lost a round of miniature golf. Only because I’m sick.

And then over to the Mission Peninsula to check into our B & B.

Dinner was pizza at a picnic table at the old State Hospital grounds.

img_3289

img_3295

img_3292

Those are pickled pears julienned on that pizza. A little tangy and very tasty.

img_3287

Yes, we did go back for breakfast the next day. I mean, look at that stuff.

img_3297

img_3300

Rain Man.

The final day of our get-away began with fruit, yogurt, peach and lavender jam on english muffins, pleasant conversation and a goodbye to our B & B hosts.

It was another weather-blessed day so why not head to the tip of the peninsula, to the lighthouse and climb to the top?

img_3324

On no-more-than-four-inch steps.

While I climbed and took photos, the hub struck up an over-the-fence conversation with a stranger. It was all about fishing Lake Charlevoix.

img_3330

Hey, why not stop at a couple more wineries on the way back down the peninsula?

img_3387

The vines were pregnant, ready to deliver.

img_3334

Harvest is this week.

img_3333

With the warm weather we’ve had, Chateau Chantal says 2016 is going to be a very good year. Keep that in mind when you buy Michigan wine.

img_3392

I can’t have any because I seem to have developed an allergy to sulfites.

But you go ahead. I’m going back to the Pleasanton Bakery. Yes, I did already have breakfast. So what?

img_3414

Pleasanton Bakery chocolate almond croissant + Higher Grounds brew of the day = good.

Some coffee shops charge $5 for a cafe miel and I pay it. But at Higher Grounds I buy a $2.75 cup of their daily brew and add the honey, cinnamon and cream myself. And it’s really good.

img_3411

img_3429

As you know from a recent post, I love it when old things are re-purposed. That’s why I love the old State Hospital. The old asylum.

img_3397

I wonder what this building will be.

img_3395

The hub isn’t going to read this post. He’s going to think it’s way too long. But he wanted to show me one more thing as we headed home.

img_3460

He ignored the “Private Property, No Tresspassing” signs like he owned the place and drove me through the woods and onto the grounds of the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club. He’s been there fly fishing a couple of times with my brother-in-law, Mike. He’s going back again in a couple of weeks. He wanted to show me and that’s okay. I like show and tell.

Stopping for lunch in Clare on the way home is kind of a tradition. A tradition we haven’t kept in several years. Lunch at Bob’s Broasted Chicken in the Saturday Evening Post Bar.

Back when the rooster was white, you could feed a family of four for $20.

Now that he has a new paint job, it’s $14 for 2.

img_3464

This photo-bombing patron ought to be in church.

I don’t know if it was the broasted chicken or all the ground we covered, but the rest of the ride home was kinda’ rough.

Might have been a little too much fun for an old gray mare with shingles.

Rainy day today.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Food, Jesus, Michigan

Sparkle and Roar & a February Fix

Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.

“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.

“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.

“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”

“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”

“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”

True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town.  They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.

“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”

“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.

In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.

The walk of shame.

“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”

“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”

img_2918

img_2949

img_2924

And we were.

I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.

The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.

After I made my movie,  I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting

Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.

So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.

We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.

I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.

If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”

But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.

In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.

After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.

electric-hero-door

lunch-with-legends

lunch with legends

img_2969

Can you identify all four?

After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.

She returned with a story:

Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”

Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”

Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”

Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”

Restroom fell quiet for a minute.

All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.

img_2972

img_2904

img_2905

The pier at sunset on Saturday.

Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.

I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.

But I couldn’t think of anything.

It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

img_2884

img_2902

img_2900

That’s my lemongrass, rose, holy basil iced tea third seat from the left.

But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.

We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.

grand-river-tall

It wasn’t.

We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.

sparrow-steph

repurposed2

repurposed

I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.

I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.

And good.

There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.

If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.

Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.

Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.

Life is good.

P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan:

The Electric Cheetah

Madcap Coffee Company

Snug Harbor

Electric Hero

Hearthstone

The Sparrows Coffee, Tea & Newstand

Wolfgang’s

 

itsparklesmorethantwinkles

 

 

Standard
Michigan

Pea Green & Still

Elkl Rapids marina storm

My mom said the air suddenly became very still that humid June evening as she stood at the kitchen window washing the dinner dishes. The air became still and the sky turned green, like pea soup.

In that split second she heard what sounded like a freight train barrelling through as she watched my dad throw grandma to the ground, laying on top of her until the storm passed.

There were downed trees and power lines everywhere in the aftermath, blocking the roads, making my dad’s search for grandpa difficult. Making the trip to the hospital difficult.

The tornado carried grandpa a mile and then just dropped him.

116 people died. Grandpa walked with a limp.

Now, when the sirens go off, I look for the stillness. I look for that pea green sky. I listen for that freight train. And I stay close to the basement.

You can read more about that epic, historic, F5 storm here.

And speaking of tornadoes: Let Go of the Dang Door!

#1953Flinttornado

Standard
Jesus, Light, Michigan, Stories from the Island

Sunny, Semi-Serene September

I last visited Mackinac Island on a cold and mostly cloudy weekend in October 2014.

DSC_7787

If you know anything about the island, you know that cars are not permitted there. It’s all walking, bicycles and horse-drawn taxis.

IMG_1307

The island bustles with tourists and clip-clopping horses all summer long. But by late October it is a quiet retreat. A beautiful, quiet retreat. This view from my balcony, with the lone worker heading to his early-morning post, captures the autumn serenity.

DSC_7816

The nights in October are serene, too.

DSC_7590

Gone are the late-night bar hoppers, catching the last ferry back to the mainland. Nothing left but the peaceful glow of quiet streets.

DSC_7607

Excitement was high on that last trip as my daughter, two of her friends and I boarded the ferry to the island.

IMG_0710

Excitement was high as we checked into the Grand Hotel.

DSC_7648

DSC_7488

DSC_7487

DSC_7486

DSC_7483

And excitement was high when we returned, as we contemplated all that God had done.

Back then I shared a little something my daughter wrote in the afterglow.

DSC_7474

I’m sharing it again:

Shelby and Lesley and I weren’t the only ones on the island this past weekend. We brought women with us. Women who deserved to be blessed. Women who needed to know how God felt about them and who He created them to be. Women who had stories to tell, stories that would allow us to learn from each other.

We brought former prostitutes and addicts. We brought women who used to work the streets, and women who currently go out and minister to those who still do.

Really, my mom brought them. She planned the whole retreat and listened when God told her who to invite. Perhaps I don’t know all the factors that were taken into consideration when she chose the hotel on the island as our location, but I don’t think any of us thought about the significance of crossing over water to get to an island until Brenda did.

Brenda was one of the women who came with us. When she shared her story last night, we found out she had been gang-raped at the age of fourteen, an incident that propelled her into prostitution, promiscuity, and drug use until she eventually surrendered her life to Jesus.

During introductions on the first morning Brenda said “I know that God brought us across the water to cleanse us from everything that happened over there. When we go back, it’s going to be over.”

I got chills. And I am just so thankful for everything that this weekend was, and a God who brings His children across the water.

I revisited the island this morning for two reasons:

1. WordPress prompted me to do so.

2. I am planning to return with another group of women. Hopefully in sunny, semi-serene September.

Standard
Jesus, Light, Michigan

It’s All in Your Perspective

Final conversation from True Detective, which I’ve never seen, season 1 finale. Thanks to Brad Jersak:

Marty: “Didn’t you tell me one time, dinner once, maybe, about how you used to … you used to make up stories about the stars?”
Rust: “Yeah, that was in Alaska, under the night skies.”
Marty: “Yeah, you used to lay there and look up, at the stars?”
Rust: “Yeah, I think you remember how I never watched the TV until I was 17, so there wasn’t much to do up there but walk around, explore, and…”
Marty: “And look up at the stars and make up stories. Like what?”
Rust: “I tell you Marty I been up in that room looking out those windows every night here just thinking, it’s just one story. The oldest.”
Marty: “What’s that?”
Rust: “Light versus dark.”
Marty: “Well, I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.”
Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that.”
Rust insists that Marty help him leave the hospital, Marty agrees. As they head to the car, Rust makes one final point to his former partner.
Rust: “You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing.”
Marty: “How’s that?”
Rust: “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

Amen, the Light’s winning. Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on.

I came upon the same sentiment on a stroll through Traverse City.

IMG_0097

Darkness isn’t everything.

#perspectiveinthecity

Speaking of perspective, you should read this: Love Wins When We Let God Be God, if you haven’t already.  It’s pretty brill.

Standard