Monday, March 28, 2022

Snap a Picture. Make Your Own

 First-time guests at Carlton Gardens sometimes ask: Do you make all this? Sure, we have a team of elves who work 7 days a week while we’re closed. Actually, we do make some items, and our theme posted on various signs is: “Snap a picture. Make your own.” That goes for everything we sell but especially our own items which are easy to make.

In the last several days I’ve been rummaging through John’s throw-away wood, experimenting with my paint-pens on new and old designs.

John makes “pickets” from recycled wood and metal to stand among perennials. These are priced at $39/ea., but he’d prefer customers make their own.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Picking up Pieces from 2021

The biggest news from 2021 was the publication of my book, "Fired at 57: My Fight for Justice in Christian Academia." It was my first self-published book (through Amazon's free Kindle Direct Publishing) which I could not have done without the help of a former editor at Baker Publishing. I just got a notice yesterday that KDP had again sent my monthly royalty directly into my bank account. It's never enough to even have a nice dinner out on the town, but it's fun to see it accumulate. I named the administrators in the book and was warned that they'd sue me. I would like to defend my case before a jury, but after more than a year, nothing. Self-publishing means you're on your own for marketing. Kayla helped out with filming Tiktok videos (3 minutes or less). Here's the first one I did for Fired at 57 and two for other books.

Friday, January 21, 2022

A year ago, John and I had gotten the first of our Covid shots in the arm, 3 each, and will be eager for a 4th shot, should that be deemed advisable. I also had cataract surgery on both eyes, right eye for distance, left for reading. I couldn't be more pleased. In fact, John commented as I drove the entire way to Texas and back two weeks ago that he was relieved I'd had the surgery. We hiked in the Hill Country again as we had last year, this year staying at The Antlers in Kingsland---a nice place, but have already reserved a nicer spot very close by for next year.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

This online journal is primarily posted for our own benefit, kick-starting memories of years gone by. I note that it's been well over a year since I posted. Here I begin with our trip in March to the Texas Hill country where we hiked and then drove down to Laredo to pick up product for the store. Sister Kathy and Ginny were also in the area at that time, and Kathy snapped the picture of John and me on top of Enchanted Rock, always very windy for the hike up that massive rock.

Because of the pandemic, we traveled South only once this past year. On most winter days we were at our little shop repairing or making new items. Here is a creation John built and I painted for a tiny shop out back, "the bird house," which John constructed this past spring, featuring all styles of houses for our feathered friends. 
We love life on the river as this photo of John clearly indicates.

At the end of September we took our annual trip to northern Wisconsin, always visiting the farm where I have so many wonderful memories

Tank, beloved grand-dog is with us 
much of the time at the shop. Customers love her.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Year of the Plague

In 1722, Daniel Defoe wrote “A Journal of the Plague Year.” I should have thought of that. I’m months behind on this online journal, and it’s not just because it’s been a plague year, although we did forgo our yearly biking trip in March to the Biloxi area. Since then, though, we’ve been very busy at the shop getting a lot done during the Michigan shutdown mid March and April. Here are some pictures that will remind us of this plague year. Our trip to Florida in February was a little different. We stayed at a beautiful big cabin in Suwannee River State Park again, but then headed to Fort Myers to spend a little time with sister Kathy and Ginny who were staying for a week on Sanibel Island. Then up to Wilmington, NC as we have done in the past to spend time with our good friend Alex, for nearly 6 years our business partner at the shop. In late March we had a big flood. I took a selfie while in my kayak and a pic of John next to the house. We spend more than a week with our vehicle parked up on dry ground while paddling into our island home. Basically, a good time. There's a photo of me lying out in the sun (after the flood) almost lost among our river-rat clothes line, one of John hiking our secret sand-dune trail in Leelanau County, another eating out at Clifford Lake Inn, and along the Lake Michigan channel in Muskegon city park---in all three cases seriously social distancing. John did a lot of work at the shop while we were shut down, but since May we've been partially or fully open, as we are now. Grand-dog Tank has been with us most of the time, and we get a lot of positive comments about how nice things look.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A Grand Time in San Antonio

We left Grand Rapids Wednesday morning 5:30 a.m. to beat the predicted storms in Arkansas and Texas, stayed south of Little Rock that night and arrived at the Historic Crockett Hotel in San Antonio 4 pm the next day. A Long 2 days for both of us, though I took the wheel since John hates highway driving---1382 miles. I had made the 2-day reservation with Alma, a very nice woman at the desk, and she surprised us with a wonderful upgrade suite instead of a regular room. What a treat that was after such a long drive. Here is John at our table on the Riverwalk, and the lights shimmering in the breeze, 79 degrees. Below I'm with my horse at the Crockett, and then some wonderful pictures in a museum we visited. We love everything Mexico, including Day of the Dead art.


Sunday, January 05, 2020

Looking Back on 2019

John and I are always remarking how the days and weeks just seem to fly by--never enough time to do all the things we want to do. This past year was the wettest year on record for Grand Rapids, and that curtailed many of our plans for biking and hiking, and we've been in flood stage on the River for the past few days, though we've been able to drive into our house while a lot of the neighbors had to park out on higher ground. We had great family times over the past few weeks: Christmas Day hiking with Carlton, Kayla and Ariel; Christmas Eve with Franny, John's 104-year-old mother, who was quite lucid and funny, even singing Christmas carols in her creaky voice; also a good time the other night with John's 3 younger sibs. Below he's kidding with Mary, the baby of the family.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Back to the Home Place

I had forgotten how long it was since I posted. This blog is primarily a record in pictures for John and  me---our travels and fun around town, and I wish I had posted and could check back on August and September to find out what was going on in our lives. We made our usual visits to Petoskey and Leelanau County and we rambled around our own Kent County and adjoining counties with our MI county map atlas, but mostly we've hung around Carlton Gardens and endured a very rainy summer. Last weekend we went through the Upper Peninsula and on to Wisconsin enjoying beautiful colors and wonderful weather along the way. I always get goosebumps when I'm heading into Spooner and then further west especially when I actually arrive on the land. Those first 18 years of my life on that 200-acre farm hold incredible memories. Here are some pictures I snapped as I wandered around.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

July 4, 2019

A lot has happened since I last added to this semi-private picture journal. Last night we were out with our 2 daughters and their husbands for a fine dinner at Bostwick Lake Inn. Carlton has been working nearly full-time since late spring at the John Ball Zoo, plus keeping his dozen rentals in shape and coaching kids teams, which means we have our wonderful granddag Tank at Carlton Gardens nearly every day. Customers love her. Here we are at the Hollyhock Lane parade, the longest continuous July 4th parade in the city, also the earliest in the morning.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mothers Day 2019

We've had a busy spring trying to get Carlton Gardens going after a long winter that still doesn't seem to be over. But yesterday was the busiest day we've had since last spring, having gone through a summer and fall of road construction. Despite the cold weather, we moved from our little condo downtown back to the River in Comstock Park---only a 7 mile move, but lots of things to take with us. Indeed, it was a busy day: early church, back to condo, filling vehicle with stuff, up to the house, unloading, starting a wash, then to visit Mom, out to dinner with Carlton, a walk with him and Tank, then 15 miles south for a 5 pm dinner at Kayla's, all the while in the midst of our move. A great day, and a great time with our dear mother who will be 104 in less than 2 months. Here she is about to burst into laughter over something John has just said.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Back to Biloxi with our Bikes

Our room was ready when we arrived at noon on Sunday, and we were out biking as soon as we unpacked. We always stay at the same family-friendly Quality Inn overlooking the Gulf--and away from Casinos. Yesterday we drove over to nearby Ocean Springs and hiked at Gulf Shores National Seashore, wooded with nice trails. Then onto Twelve Oaks, a hard-to-find secret paradise. These pics offer a flavor--Live Oaks some 400 years old, a house that began as a black church a century ago, and parasite ferns living on the oak limbs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Back to work at the Shop

After a wonderful road trip (including great weather) to north Florida and on to North Carolina, we returned on Sunday and got right back into the groove of our 40-hour work week at Carlton Gardens. Only one customer dropped by today, interrupting our tasks in the basement. John is repairing and re-painting a totem pole; I'm doing the same with our large sign that desperately needs to be made new again after 23 years. When those jobs are done, we have dozens more, sometimes delayed due to snow as this picture of me a few weeks ago indicates.

hiking at Suwannee River State Park, FL

Beaufort, South Carolina

Saturday, January 12, 2019

More Pics from Big Bend

Our favorite restaurant just outside the border of the Park in Terlingua, great food and friendly dogs. Below a pic of me stopping to rest while hiking at Grapevine Hills and a selfie at Cattail Falls.