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.

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.