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.”

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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.

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lunch with legends

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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Food, Michigan

I’m Sorry but That Place is Toast

I was pleased to be seated in a cute, cozy little room with a sunny window…

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Let me explain.

A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughter and my friend to Wolfgang’s for breakfast.  We stood outside in a long line for forty-five minutes (me on my gimpy foot) and waited.  And we didn’t mind, because the food is amazing.  The total bill for the three of us, including a generous tip, was $35.

Money well spent.

If you are ever on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, eat there.

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The hub is away fishing today, so as a consolation prize, I took my daughter out to breakfast.  She enjoyed her eggs benedict and her pumpkin latte.  And that was good.

My pumpkin latte, when it finally arrived, arrived lukewarm.  My way-over-priced omelet was not at all special.  It wasn’t made with golden eggs.  The eggs weren’t even organic.  And it was NOWHERE NEAR as imaginative, balanced or flavorful as the $7 Dewey I had at Wolfgang’s.

And not to go on about it, but you would think a restaurant named Toast would have amazing toast.  It doesn’t.

I hate to be the kind of person who complains about prices, especially to my guest, but once outside the restaurant, I was.

“Mom, this is Birmingham.”

I understand snob appeal.  I understand paying extra for real estate.  But I don’t understand, and have not yet swallowed, being charged $44 for a prosaic omelet and a lukewarm latte.  No matter how cute and cozy the room.

So I’ve taken Toast off the breakfast table.

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Michigan

Beach & Coffee

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Cafe miel at Madcap – a very pleasant start to a Sunday.

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90 degrees – everyone and their brother was at the beach.

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A refreshing spray on the Grand Haven pier.

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Monday morning cafe miel, this time at Rowster. Delicious.

Rowster - another hip, minimalist coffee shop. It's what we do.

Rowster – another hip, minimalist coffee shop. It’s what we do.

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The beloved blue bridge – pedestrian gateway to relaxation and rejuvenation.

Labor Day weekend in western Michigan – Coffee, beach and some great meals.

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