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Showing posts from December, 2016

Observations with my Coffee

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I am enjoying a "quiet" morning at a coffeehouse - a 25 mile ride down a country road from my home. Uptown Coffee in Howell is comfy, relatable, relaxing, with just enough funky to send me  back to my own coffeehouse days. Prime spots for computer users is a table where your back is up against a wall, affording a bit of privacy. I have my favorites here as there are plenty of seats. I have discovered that privacy is not my goal as I find that a good cup of a hot beverage, the music, and atmosphere, tunes out gossip and idle chitchat. As I sit, write, and slurp coffee, conversations naturally drift around the room. Today, people watching is on my radar, with hopes to escape my block in writing. Typical of coffeehouses - people talk about everything, punctuating comments with a soft laugh, a loud hoot, even an occasional slap of delight on a table.  A young man with earphones sits at a small table making clacking key noises on his computer. Strangely, a huge box of

The North County Trail

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You know how the new year comes around encouraging and sometimes screaming at you to plan a challenge. So, you surround yourself with books, maps, papers and come up with lofty goals, at times fueled by the newness of the year. My husband and I did just that in January 2015. Ambitious to be sure. Attainable - we thought. Our decision was to walk portions of Michigan's North Country Trail. We went to outdoor symposiums plying backpackers with questions on these trails: what kind of pack, supplies, where to begin. We bought books from authors who walked the trail and wrote about their excursions...absorbing every word as gospel. Our starting point would be above Ohio, walking weekends and traveling up through our beautiful state. But life happens. In April, I developed a horrible cough, fever, and eventually "blew" my ribs out of place, the pain forcing me to the floor at work. Forget about training, I could not walk a corridor with comfort - let alone try trail walking

Sweet, Sweetwaters

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The pull of coffee houses and book stores is so strong - as if embedded in my very soul. Some of my best times are spent sitting in a chair, sipping a good and bold cup of black (gave up cream years ago, sigh) coffee from a mug with a large smooth handle. Today it is Sweetwaters in Ann Arbor where our car delivered us - and am drinking Midnight Blend  in a white ceramic mug. The fireplace (currently not lit due to the beautiful weather today) is at my left and my husband has claimed seat, also to my left. Life is good and comfortable. This community and coffee shop are vastly different from Howell's Uptown Coffee in that the room is larger with ducts, conduits, and pipes adorning the ceiling compared to Uptown's tall ceilings with gorgeous adornments. Ann Arbor is a college town and very evident through the discussions and activities around me. Conversations about medical school, classes, professors and life in Ann Arbor are sprinkled in the various corners of the room. The

Thankful after a Fire

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Beautiful November day - this has been a long and warmish autumn in Michigan, at least in most of the state. Weather so luscious, you can take your jacket off, walk through town, kick up the brittle, crunchy leaves, and feel thankful. Isn't that what this month is, in particular, all about? Being appreciative of what we have? I am thinking back to October of 2008. A disturbing phone call in the morning from our oldest daughter in Kalamazoo. There was a fire, she got out, she lost everything, her cat is dead. Apparently, a careless smoker tossed a butt into the dry leaves on his balcony - the apartment next to our daughter's place. Jessica was startled awake by the deep and acrid smell of smoke, disoriented, she grabbed her purse and ran down the stairs as the flames poured out of the rooms. She had NO time to consider taking other items as it was a life and death race to the safety of outdoors. My husband and I had a frantic one and a half drive to Kalamazoo not knowing muc

A Later Life Passion

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I am 3 of 7. My parents had seven children and were obviously very busy earning money to raise us to adulthood. Dad worked all his life, but was also saddled with heart disease - after he lost his most lucrative job following open heart surgery, he picked himself up and became a businessman. Still working hard all hours of the morning, afternoon and evening. I don't know when he discovered photography, but do know I was a late teen by then. Dad purchased a camera and gear and began frequenting a local camera shop on the search for good magazines and talk about taking pictures.    My sister was recalling a certain instance where my father insisted on taking her picture on the porch of our grandparent's home on Baraga Avenue in Marquette, Michigan, the day after his father died. She was, of course, asking him not to as she had been crying. But he told her something like - family and a record of family is very important and this picture would be part of her history. Anyo

Zeal, Zest and Zany

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How about thinking backwards for a little while? Thus, the Z-centric heading. Having a period of blogger-block, so thought - hey, change up my focus to include a reverse alphabet series of posts. For the Scrabble player, these easy four letter words, beginning with that oh so difficult "Z" are ones to memorize - Zeal, Zest and Zany. You never know when you might need the word, or rather in Scrabble, you will need one of these gems, eventually. The meanings are similar, can describe a lot of people, and speaks to my spirit. I have experienced wonderful zeal ( great energy and enthusiasm for a cause or aim ). My husband and I were privileged to adopt two older children from Russia in 1997. What zeal we had, even taking Russian language classes at the university, in anticipation of the adoption. Daily, I would sit on the front porch for three hours at a time studying and speaking Russian, learning Cyrillic seemed easy when it was preceded by this spectacular zeal. Our purp

Yonder

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I'd like to explore one of my least favorite Y words - "yonder". Why, pray tell, is this on my hit list? Explore in my mind for a minute as to the depth of this word. Yonder: "at or to that place; beyond farther, further, more at farther" and "being at a distance within view". Complicated and lots of work, eh? We would love to have things handed to us with the slightest amount of effort, or at the very least, easily obtained. Not happening.  I am at a place in life where learning new things is pleasurable and important to me. Yonder  is the key to finding things out. Yonder , sometimes very difficult to find, is the strategy in which you can find what you are striving or yearning to learn. Never simple - the "it" always seems to be yonder. What if you don't know how to find the it? You must search yonder, beyond farther.  I struggle with googling - not raised during the technology age. For instance, my husband and I tried to f

An Attempt to Organize

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I have slips of paper, including scraps of toilet paper (don't ask), with recipes scrawled, most in abbreviations. I go in the junk drawer - recipe; bathroom cabinet (don't ask) - recipe; mom's files - recipe; tax folder! - recipe. My refrigerator has a 2016 collection of these magnetically clipped to its poor bulging side, creating a chaotic and challenging time when trying to recall where a particular one is located. I dare say, most of us have these scattered papers in the nether areas of our homes. I also have an abundance of journals - so - aha moment (sorry Oprah, I've used this for years) - why don't I write these down in an 8 1/2 x 11" hardcover journal. Had to be easy to open and able to lay flat. So, avoiding or disregarding my homework scheduled for today, I searched and searched the house. It had to be perfect! Not too small, thus the larger paper size to hold an abundance of these gems. "Rattling around" in my daughter's room (shh)

Joy in Fish Town

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Michigan is full of surprising and delightful places hidden in the crevices of its hand prints. Our favorite activity is to travel back roads in this beautiful state - and through this have created places we feel at home in time and time again when we visit. We have many such "home" places: Ann Arbor, Saugatuck, Traverse City, Elberta, Howell, Marquette, Garden City, Milford, Plymouth are among some of these gems. Adding treasures to our car brings such a peace and hope - many in the form of photographs. We leave no trash behind and make the place sweeter and more pristine for future visits. I recently began my passion with photography and am delighted to witness events occur at the moment they do - with a click of the shutter, a memory has been captured. On a recent trip to the Leelanau Peninsula's Leland, or Fish Town, we were met with blue skies, freezing winds, crisp smells, and few tourists during our late April stroll through the streets and down to the whar

There's Something about Fall

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As I sit outside on my blue wicker chair on this beautiful autumn day “babysitting” our house cat, Moji,  as he’s sprawled on the porch enjoying the excitement of falling leaves  – I am melancholy. It is stunning outdoors and am perplexed as to where this mood comes from. Michigan has wonderful falls, although they are quite short. So many fun and entertaining activities to engage in – haunted houses, walking crispy paths on nature trails, making soup, decorating with orange (which I adore). Sounds of the sewing machine linger in the air as my daughter sews a special Halloween costume, with such passion and excitement, that I smile. Perhaps it’s the palpable brevity of the warm breezes, spectacular coloration, abundant activities to choose from, which brings out thoughtful sadness. The day will arrive when snow will sprinkle the ground with taunts – “you should have done this or that while the weather was perfect” it seems to declare. My melancholy is actually a positive as it

Wander into Wonder

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My “W” word  is Wander.  I  am a person  who needs, wants and has a drive to  wander : “to move around or go to different places usually without having  a particular purpose or direction” – thank you Merriam-Webster dictionary. We are budget wanderers – my fa mily and I – preferring the comfort of exploring Michigan’s many fingers, leaving our own hand-print on its mitten s .  I may be considered  restless , having to always be doing something, anything, rather than sitting back and relaxing. For years, I have struggled with this “restless” label thinking it was  a negative thing. Guilt over being “gone ag ain” has been tough  to explain away . Yes, we a re  “ gone again ”  a lot, my husband, children  and I, and enjoy  every m inute of our excursions . We’ll take off on our adventures at the drop of a hat  with the purpose of  wandering  - some time s  with no set destination except for a cool coffee shop, bakery, woods, walking or biking trail, cemetery.  I highly recommend