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
area.

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!!


A

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.




Thursday, October 11, 2018

Odds and Ends

Here is John on Sunday taking a little rest after hiking to the top of Cottonwood Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We drove for more than 2 hours in light rain, but the weather cleared by the time we arrived as the forecast predicted. Then on Tuesday we enjoyed the last day of "summer" at the pier and lighthouse in Grand Haven, after having split a salad and tasty burger at Snug Harbor. Below is pictured the final stages of the construction on Breton Road right in front of our shop, Carlton Gardens. The flag says we're open, but it's been a slow summer for us---and for construction that began in early June and was expected to be completed by the time school started before Labor Day.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

One Miserably Failed Protest, One Success

On Friday, John joined millions of paid protesters (as Trump and senators had alleged) and failed miserably. However, I succeeded on Saturday in burning my bra---a serious success, considering the difficulty in staging it between rain showers---and then only one person showed up, and he was the photographer.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Perfect trip to Michigan's UP

We had been warned just before we left for the UP at 1 pm Saturday that the power was out at Cedar Campus where we had reservations. Carlton had come to mind the shop, so we headed out not knowing what we would find. We arrived while the sun was still out and had a great time hiking along the bay and roughing it for the night---until I awoke with a bright light going in our bedroom. We stayed 2 nights and had a great time visiting friends on Drmmond Island where I had never been. Here they are with John in front of their very remote home. We had stayed at the cabin on Lake Huron 3 times previously and just love being there. Below is a pic of John by the lighthouse in St. Ignace and one of him walking through Hardwick Pines, one of our favorite state parks.





Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Short Weekend in Petoskey

We always stay at the wonderful Terrace Inn where we trade yard art for free Sunday night stays. Patty is just the coolest innkeeper we've ever met, and she works harder keeping this Victorian treasure clean and tidy than any of the hired help. Every room has its own unique antique quaintness.

We love this area, bordered by Little Traverse Bay, because of all the wonderful hiking and biking trails. On this visit we discovered two parks we had never before visited---the Bear River Trail system right in Petoskey and the Thorne Smith Nature Preserve north of Harbor Springs, just past the Tunnel of Trees. Below John is looking out over a misty magical pond and wetland in that preserve and I am posing alongside a beautiful piece of driftwood with the Bay in the background. After leaving the preserve we continued north to Cross Village where we caught the sunset. All in all, a fantastic time complemented by perfect weather.