Michigan

Clever Planet

The clever chef at Small Batch in Harbor Springs dropped tiny Peruvian peppers onto my flash fried kale and made it look like Christmas.  Delicious.

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A considerate shop owner in Boyne City placed pillows on a sofa of straw.  Rest for the weary.

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A creative bookseller in Traverse City provides water and age-appropriate reading material for the four-legged passersby. Delightful.

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Creative planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food, Michigan

Fully Caffeinated

Friday morning we headed out on our annual Mother/Daughter Road Trip. If you recall from years past, you know they are all about coffee, food and beaches.

This year it was more coffee, food and shopping, with a little bit of beach.

First stop:  Saugatuck

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Why have I never thought to turn a rusty old propane tank into a jack-o-lantern?

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After perusing many a posted menu, we decided on Grow for lunch.

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The waiter was attentive, the food and the vibe were just right.

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Tasty little potatoes, Michigan made sausage, a delightful dipping sauce and carrot pancakes.  Oh, and fresh lavender lemonade.

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Most of the patrons were dining al fresco, but we liked the calm inside. You don’t get much complete silence these days and I loved it, though my daughter would have preferred a bit of mellow folk music.  Are you listening Grow?

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Lunch, shopping and then a really fun, really fast dune ride.

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Those aren’t trees, they’re the very tops of trees.  Cottonwoods – the only tree that can survive being buried in 100 feet of sand.

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Singapore, Michigan – a fledgling resort town –  is completely buried under the dunes.  There’s a school, a church, a hotel under there.  In the 70’s the very top of a 3 story building was still visible.  Not anymore.

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The buggy driver said the area was a vast pine forest until the trees were harvested to help rebuild Chicago after The Great Fire in 1871. With the trees gone, there was no root system to hold the top soil in place.  Sand from Lake Michigan blew in and buried everything.  Only the cottonwoods survived.

A 1959 Michigan State University project to plant grass in order to stabilize the dunes is gradually bringing top soil back.  The aim is to restore the land to forest.

And that concludes your dune education. Unless you want to read about the Sand Dune that Swallowed a Boy.

After the thrill ride we drove thirty minutes up the coast to Holland.

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Dinner was at Butch’s Dry Dock, as seen while shopping across the street.

Neither of us snapped a picture of our ultra flavorful Campanelle with basil cream, zucchini, summer squash, tomato and goat feta paired with a glass of Terra Di Briganti Falanghina, Campania, IT 2015 because the lighting wasn’t suitable, but take my word for it, it was beautiful. And delicious. We were very happy.

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In the morning we grabbed a miel to go and walked several blocks to the Farmers Market.

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It was a perfect Farmers Market morning – crisp, sunny, 46-degrees-but-with-a-hot-cup-of-coffee-in-hand.

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And the colors were beautiful.

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When I was in Holland last January, there was only one downtown coffee shop, now there are two hip newcomers.

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Look at how cute this place is.

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Of all the coffee joints in all the towns in all the world, The 205 is our new favorite.  Definitely the winner of the trip.

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Kombucha and sparkling cascara on tap.

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And complimentary honey cookies.

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They even have a cool floral mural.

After a morning of farmers market strolling, shopping and coffee bar hopping, we headed further north to Grand Haven.

I’ve taken you there before.

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It’s still a very tasty sandwich.

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And it’s still a beautiful [board] walk to the beach.  My phone tells me we walked over 8 miles that day. I believe it.

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The aged, crumbling pier is being restored, so no walk out to the lighthouse this time.

We took a nap upon checking into our hotel in Grand Rapids and then immediately started researching places for dinner.

One of the highlights of staying in downtown GR is walking across the blue bridge to dinner.

But our feet were tired so, even though it was only 1.2 miles away, we drove to the trendy new Downtown Market for pizza. It has greenhouses on the roof.

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For dessert we were going to have a pour over for two and creme brulee at a fancy restaurant near the hotel, but then we noticed the flavor choices at Love’s.

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I chose a half scoop of cardamom orange blossom and a half scoop of chocolate coconut curry. Individually they were very good. Combined they became a delightful couple.  My daughter chose a half scoop of basil and a half scoop of roasted strawberry balsamic. The basil was really good alone (she let me taste it) but the strawberry/balsamic wasn’t quite right. Combining the strawberry with the basil, my daughter assured me, made it much better. Really good.

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We love Loves.

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Feet somewhat recovered, we took the beloved walk across the beloved bridge to listen to a bit of street music. Two young women on a street corner killing Riptide by Vance Joy.

A homeless man asked me if I smoked dope.

Do I look like I smoke dope?

I laughed.

“Look into my eyes,” he said, as he stared into mine.

“You don’t believe me?”

I wanted to tell him how old I am.  But I suppose old people smoke dope.

First order of business Sunday morning was Madcap for another miel.

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As I drank my heart began to transform into a Michigan Mitten.

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My daughter staging a photo of her pour over. She hates everything about this pic but it’s my blog.

From Madcap we walked back across the river to try the brand spanking new Rower’s Club.

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Love the table.

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Miel to go.

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Last stop: Wolfgang’s. Of course.

Reflecting back we decided we’ll spend more time in Holland next year, where there is food and coffee yet to be tried.

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We ❤ Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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life

Rookies

Remember Remember the Titans? I love that movie.

Remember when Coach Boone said, “You’re overcooking my grits?”  Cracked me up. Being a northerner, I had never heard that expression.

But now I utter it sometimes.

Like I did on Saturday evening when the hub and I went to the lake for a little after dinner fishing/reading.

Sitting in his SUV waiting for our turn to launch we witnessed all manner of buffoonery.

There was the guy who had his jet ski tied to the dock while he was off doing who knows what.

When he finally returned it took him forever to load it onto his trailer.

After he finally pulled it out of the water he stopped broadside across 3 of the four launching lanes to do who knows what.

Are you kidding me!?

I got out of the truck.

“Excuse me, the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You can’t block the launch lanes. You have to pull up and tie down there.”

Two docks were taken up an awfully long time by guys who don’t know how to load a boat unto a trailer.

One guy finally got his boat out and then stopped broadside across three lanes.

I got out of the truck.

“Sir,” I tried to say nicely, recognizing that he was probably stressed by now, “the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You have to pull ahead to tie down so you don’t block the launch lanes.”

Blank stare.

The guy in the truck pulled ahead the WRONG WAY while his buddy followed on foot behind him.

“Sir! You’re going the wrong way. Look at the arrows on the pavement.”

Like I said, buffoonery.

The guy at the other dock left his boat and returned with a battery.

That’s when I said it.

“He’s going to tie up a dock while he does boat repairs? He’s overcooking my grits.”

“Why doesn’t he beach his boat to change the battery?,” I asked, kinda’ LOUDLY, with the window rolled down, hoping he’d hear me.

Once a lane finally opened up the hub, a seasoned professional, had his boat launched in less than 2 minutes.  I pulled ahead and parked the trailer while he beached the boat and waited for me.  He’s a good boating citizen.

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As we pulled away from the docks I remarked, “The downside of the upswing in the economy is that the launch is now flooded with first-time boat owners.”

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“So you should retire and hang out at the boat launch all day.  You could make a boatload of money launching newbies in the morning and pulling them out in the evening.  You could fish in between.”

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He liked that idea.

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Who can stay annoyed when the late evening sun is glistening?

“Or at least teach them basic boat launching techniques and etiquette.”

“The problem,” he said, “is they tie the boat to the dock and then try to back the trailer in under it.  And it doesn’t work well that way.”

Did you hear that rookies?

  1. Beach your boat next to the launch (proper etiquette so others can launch while you go get your trailer).
  2. Back your trailer into the water.
  3. Drive your boat up onto the trailer (this technique makes it so much easier and quicker to get your boat on straight.
  4. Now pull your boat the rest of the way forward with the winch.
  5. Get in your truck, drive it out of the water PAST THE LAUNCHING LANES, to the designated tie down area.

Before I have to get out of my truck.

Deep breath.

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The hub had fishing to do.

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While I was serenaded by the bells of St. Mary’s Seminary (see it behind the trees?)

Please, for the love of God and my grits, float this sage advice to the boaters and jet-skiers in your life.

Especially if they live around here.

 

 

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family, Food

Plymouth

The old Wilcox house was built in 1903 by William Markham, inventor of the BB Gun and co-founder of the Daisy Air Rifle Company.

In 1911, George and Harriet Wilcox purchased the Victorian house, which sits proudly and elegantly downtown, right across from Kellogg Park.

Somewhere along the way it was converted into four separate apartments – two upper and two lower. If I remember correctly.

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My dad moved into the apartment in the front, street level, after he and my mom divorced.

It suited him because he was elegant, too.

The furnishings were simple – bought on a newly divorced budget – but pleasingly graceful and stylish.

I loved visiting him there. I loved sitting on a bench in the park across the street discussing philosophy and the deep things of life, the giant fountain bubbling next to us.

We both liked to walk, and it was on one of those walking days that I had my first caper.

We left his apartment and paused on the porch while he locked his door.

“I didn’t used to lock my door,” he said, “until I came home one afternoon and found a stoned and scruffy young man sleeping on my sofa.”

It happened during one of the town’s annual events – the Fall Festival or Art in the Park.

Door locked we headed out into the beautiful morning. We walked all through town and around town and landed at a Steak and Seafood Restaurant in time for a late lunch.

It was the first fancy restaurant I had been to with my dad. Just the two of us. I felt grown up.

He was having the Whitefish so I ordered it too.

Whitefish with a white wine and caper sauce.

“Watch out for all the little pin bones,” He warned.

It was my first whitefish and my first taste of capers.

And it was delicious.

I always think about that apartment, that porch, that story of the young man sleeping on my dad’s sofa and that special meal whenever I open a jar of those little pickled flower buds to make a sauce of my own.

 

 

 

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church nonsense

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

I’ve been too knackered to read or write anything these past two weeks.  I won’t go into the details but it has to do with my mom falling and injuring her hip (CT scan next week), both of my dogs having a nasty bout of diarrhea (clean-up in aisle 2), and me working just about ’round the clock to prepare for a presentation.

Profound exhaustion.

But then last night I went to the newly renovated Strand Theater in the newly rejuvenated Pontiac to see Phillip Phillips. Just Phillip, Dave Eggars, a guitar, a cello and a voice. In an intimate setting.

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It was outstanding.

Brian Vander Ark opened with skills of his own.

So today I had enough rejuvenation of my own to read a little something and I read this:

“Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.”

I was only three paragraphs into the article and I was exhausted again.

Because I’m tired of statements like that one.

Untrue overstatements to support a point.

Correct, the phrase “personal relationship” is not found in the Bible (lots of phrases to which Christians adhere are not found in the Bible), but that doesn’t mean the whole Biblical witness runs contrary to it.

When God rebuked Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12 He said, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face…”

In Exodus 33, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Isaiah wrote, “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend...” and in another place, he wrote “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” [emphasis added]

God said of David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

John referred to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  When Peter, learning how he would die, looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

And there was Job who, after a long personal discourse with God said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

A quick survey of the whole biblical witness (and these are just the first few that come to mind)  reveals that God had many unique, personal relationships.

Oh, oh, oh I just thought of more: Jesus revealing Himself personally to Mary at the tomb and then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas personally with a personalized revelation tailored to his specific need to believe…

We know from Scripture that He made promises to individuals as well as to nations.

He still does.  He still has unique, personal relationships with individuals AND He has corporate relationships with nations and with the church at large.

Things are rarely one or the other when it comes to the way we practice religion.  They’re almost always a little bit of both.

Which is why dogma wears me out.

#knackered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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love, the friends

Local Color

We had hoped to get up north for a color tour. But then the beagle was diagnosed. So I’m settling for the color in my neighborhood. I captured a bit of it on our walk today.

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I’ve been letting the beagle choose our route.

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Today she wanted to take the path along the woods.

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Which leads to an abandoned school.

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Hey, Be…

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…Let’s get home before it rains.

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She was unconcerned.

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The sky let loose as soon as we walked through the door.

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When the rain stopped it was Maxy’s turn.

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Good boy.

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Yep, buddy, I think that was thunder.

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I like the way the muted reds and yellows match my brick. Still waiting for my hazel to turn a brilliant  yellow.

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And I love how the trees in my backyard are a gnarly mess.

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It’s not the Tahquamenon Falls, but it’ll do.

 

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