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.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Second Day at Big Bend

On our way to the Park yesterday we stopped at Langtry on route 90, where Judge Roy Bean (1825-1903) reigned supreme as saloon owner, lawyer, jury and judge. The tiny town has been restored and it's a fun quick visit.

We arrived yesterday early afternoon, were able to get into our cottage at 2 pm, took a nice hike, then to the dining room for our standard soup and salad---good food at a great price. We woke up to cold and cloudy so stayed in bed late, John reading aloud to me, Kingsolver's fantastic book, Lacuna and from The New Yorker, a very interesting article on Elizabeth Anderson, a feminist philosopher, also economist and jack-of-all-trades. She's at the University of Michigan and has essentially founded a new UM school of thought. Today we hiked to the Chimneys, 5-mile round trip, and had lunch with petroglyphs as a backdrop. We also explored the Sam Nail ranch, John standing by one of the largest trees that may have provided shade for the Nails. The ranch should be called the Sam & Nena Nail ranch; I've always had a soft spot for her. Both worked their fingers to the bone during the Depression years to make a hard-scrabble living in the Big Bend

Monday, January 07, 2019

Spending a Night in Del Rio

Left Laredo after packing our vehicle with more than $1200 worth of metal & glass yard art to transport to Grand Rapids and sell at our little shop. From there to Del Rio for a night before driving tomorrow to Big Bend National Park for our annual week of hiking. Here I am at Moore Park walking along the Devils River eating a cup of ice cream. Further down the path before we crossed the bridge to the other side John spotted a pair of birds. I've checked 3 different sites on the Internet but cannot identify them. Some birds look similar but nothing so beautiful as this pair.

My sister Jeannine, a big-time birder, just identified the bird as a great kiskadee. I am adding the online picture I had previously found (thinking it didn't match well enough), but a person (like Jeannine) is worth a thousand pictures!!


Two Wonderful Days in Laredo

We're in Laredo on business, having paid for hundreds of dollars worth of metal and glass yard art on Saturday from a large indoor/outdoor wholesale warehouse and ready to pick it up this morning, packed and ready to go. We will also specify more to be shipped at the end of March. But we always combine work and play. We're staying at the old downtown Rialto Hotel (John sitting out back where we've just finished our breakfast hot tacos). The hotel is right across from a little park where we've had our picnic suppers. It's not for everyone. We had to ask for more than 1 hand towel, etc and other little things that would be expected in any low-cost chain motel. But when we can get a very affordable and clean old fashioned hotel, we take it.

This is a Mexican city (in the USA). None of the dozens we've encountered are Anglos--not one. None speaking English as their first language. We took a long walk yesterday morning right out our door into upscale and downscale neighborhoods, loaded grape fruit and orange trees everywhere.

The idea of Trump's Wall seems so ludicrous. John stands in front of the Wall which only extends 20 yards to his right where we pass by people fishing with no wall/fence between them and Mexico, only the river, people fishing on the other side. This is a nice park where we have our picnic lunch, a large family nearby, kids on a scooter and kicking a soccer ball with Dad while another dad gets charcoal in the grill and the women spread out the food. A National Emergency on the southern border. Really? The bridge is off to our left, cars and pedestrians going over to, and coming from, Mexico.

In the afternoon we took a ride, stopping to hike at the very fine Casa Blanca International State Park, walking along the beach of a large lake and hiking up into the hills.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day we headed out to Lake Michigan to hike at Rosy Mound County Park. On the way we stopped in and spent some time with Franny, John's 103-year-old mother. She was sleeping in her wheelchair but quickly became quite clear headed. The first thing I said to her as she was waking up was your son John is here to see you; she said hi to him then looked at me and I said I’m his wife Ruth. Then, as cute as she could be, she said in a very pronounced way: well, I’m Frances Worst. I stepped out to ask the front desk if we could turn the TV off and so John could play Christmas music on the piano. (The 10 people watching were all sound asleep.) When I got back to the room, John was saying a nursery rhyme with her, so as soon as they were finished, I started “T’was the night before Christmas.” She was good, finishing a couple lines that I messed up. So off to the piano, she singing along with me only if I really urged her. But she went straight through Ps. 23 and John 3:16, no coaxing at all. Back to her room and then we were off to the Lake. What fun hiking through the wooded dunes, up and down steps, then down the final 100 steps to the sand dune bowl and around the boardwalk and on to the shore where we encountered the sun. Ended up walking a long way and picking up some nice driftwood. Back to our condo for a while and then on to the shop where John built a nice fire in the wood stove in the loft, Carlton joining us for clam chowder and fixings. Kayla was off with the Sosa family. She and Ariel will join our little family Christmas Sunday, Dec. 30.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Weekend Events

It's been a busy month for us at the shop with little time to relax except for fitting in some good hiking this past weekend. Then Sunday night was our carol sing at church with John directing the orchestra again this year. I was involved as well as one of the Scripture readers. Kayla snapped pictures, and her husband Ariel filmed the entire program, a good experience for his college film classes and future profession. On Monday night we all went to Meijer Gardens to eat and to  enjoy all the Christmas decor both inside and out.

Monday, November 19, 2018

From Girl to Woman

Kayla at 22 is a busy wife, student and journalist---don't know too much about the first two, but she's a fine journalist, determined and assertive,with deadlines galore and actually decent pay. In an era when journalism is on a down-turn, she's really making it work. Here she is, 5 years ago and today.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Jerry Rigging vs. Gerrymandering

Percy Stellrecht, my father, was a true champion of jerry rigging. I thought of him today as I jerry rigged a hollow metal post (that had broken at a joint) with a piece of rebar that I pushed down both ends. I topped it with the 14 inch double spinner that was on the post before it broke; it's once again displayed near the road at our shop. Here is a picture of a chair Percy jerry rigged when I was a kid---the top portion of one chair, the bottom of another, some scraps of wood and wire and you got a perfectly usable piece of furniture. Sister Kathy had come into possession of it years ago and later passed it on to me. Husband John built a shed at our shop (one of more than a dozen outbuildings) with lumber from the barn where I milked cows as a kid. The sign appropriately reads: "Percy's Shed" and that's where we display the chair. Now to gerrymandering. Every day at the shop I pass out flyers: Vote for Prop 2. We're trying to end gerrymandering in Michigan---the definition of which is: manipulating the boundaries of an electoral map so as to favor one party. Both parties are guilty of doing this when they are in control; this would give the task of designating sane boundaries to a bipartisan/independent commission.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Saul Lake Bog

The most common complaint we hear at the shop is that we close at 4 pm. But it allows us to get out hiking on nice days. Today we drove northeast of Grand Rapids to Saul Lake Bog, one of our favorite remote spots. No one else around on the entire property. It has been set aside by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, one of the non-profits we support. It was a perfect fall day.