Friday, January 30, 2015

The Coffee Shop Chronicles - No. 26

I was torn that morning between watching the sunrise or getting to the coffee shop at an early hour. The sunrise had potential to be a beauty. In the winter there isn't a lot of sunshine, blue skies or sunrises. I am happy for any small peek the sun will give us. But Scout and I had been scoping out the downtown coffee shop for the past week, I needed to know the best time to come and actually find a place to sit and write.

Displaced from our usual morning walking route at home due to icy sidewalks, we had moved downtown. Our downtown has a snow melt system under the sidewalks, creating ice and snow free walking paths. Usually we arrive downtown about 8 a.m. There is enough daylight to see but the shoppers have not yet arrived since most of the stores don't open until 10 a.m.

Scout is a little over-excited at new places and around lots of people. This is something that we are working on. When we had both dogs it was hard for me to take them places like our downtown because they were both extremely excitable. Two golden retrievers who love people and want to be everyone's best friends proved challenging for me.

Now with only Scout it is easier for me to tackle places like downtown. Currently we are working on healing on the busier sections of the downtown blocks, also sitting and staying at each corner if the traffic light is red. He is doing amazingly well, so the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks would be incorrect.

Anyway, as I was saying, Scout and I have been scoping out Holland's famous coffee shop for the past week. This place is crazy busy all the time which is why I don't usually go there to write. I hate trying to wade through a sea of people to find a table in some remote corner of the coffee shop. But I have noticed when we walk by between 8:00 and 8:30 each morning that the place is fairly quiet. So that was my plan, to arrive in that time period.

What I hadn't planned on was being awake before four, I finally decided to just get up. I figured I could get a lot done in four hours. My husband was out of town for work so it was just Scout and myself anyway. By half past seven I was ready to go, a lot accomplished already for the morning.

I arrived at the coffee shop at ten minutes to eight.

Unlike every other morning that I had observed the coffee shop, the place was busy. Maybe it was the before eight o'clock rush, everyone getting coffee on their way to work. A lot of people did get coffee and leave with their to-go cups in hand. But there was still a high concentration of men sitting at the tables that were usually empty when I walked by. Maybe it was a men's society meeting on the last Tuesday of the month.

I didn't need a table in the main part of the coffee shop though. I wanted to sit at the counter than runs along the front windows. I wanted to sit by the window and watch the walkers and runners outside, my new community of people. These are the people that Scout and I see every morning as we walk. They have become my new cast of characters. I wanted to have the opportunity to observe them in a more deliberate way.

There is the little China doll grandmother in her powder blue winter parka, the hood pulled tightly around her face. We are always walking opposite directions so we tend to pass each other a few times doing our loops. I am quite certain she does not like dogs or at least not big dogs, because she always moves to the far edge of the sidewalk when she sees us coming. The other morning I gave her a big smile and said "Good Morning". I am hoping that I can win her over with kindness, and eventually she won't move as far over when she sees us coming.

There is the lady in the winter version of a track suit, shiny, bright pink winter jacket and shiny black rain resistant pants. She wears a thick, wooly looking headband in her long brown hair to cover her ears (and half her head). She also has enormous black snowmobile gloves on, and whenever I see her, she is talking on her black flip phone. She is holding that tiny little phone in her enormous black gloves and holding the phone about eight inches from her head because of the big wooly headband. I wonder if whoever she is listening to is on speakerphone?

There is the lady in her 60's who runs past us every morning in her latest bright, colorful outfit purchased from the running outfitter located in our downtown.  I am quite certain this lady lives by me because I would recognize the bright outfits and that unique running form anywhere. She too has decided to move to safer terrain.

On that morning as I sat at my window seat, I wanted a bundled up lady with a over zealous golden retriever to walk past. I wanted to know what I look like to the people that sit at this window on the other days of the week. Do they wonder about me?  Do they try to figure out my story? Some might. I can't be the only one that is curious. But instead of a lady with a golden retriever I got two ladies walking with a greyhound/doberman looking dog. He was wearing the most adorable black and gray plaid dog coat. I think Scout would be irresistible with a bright red plaid coat of his own. I actually looked at them at Christmas, but as much nervous energy as he has he would probably get too hot.

As I sat there at my window looking out at our beautiful downtown filled with old buildings containing unique shops and the most amazing restaurants, I realized how fortunate we are to have this downtown. While most cities' downtowns are dead or dying, ours is alive, filled with walkers and runners before the shops open, shoppers during the day, and at night the town is alive with people of all ages coming to experience one of the many brew pubs or trendy local food restaurants. If you are ever in the Holland, Michigan area you must make a visit to our amazing downtown, have a stop in at the local coffee shop, have a seat at the window counter and tell me what you see.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grow Your Blog

I missed the cut off for this fun link up party last year. Thankfully this year I was a little more on top of things. Alright then...on to the introduction.

My name is Sarah. I live in Michigan in the United States. I live about a mile from the shores of Lake Michigan. I can't imagine ever living far from a body of water.

On January 1, 2012 I started my first blog, a creative journey to become a better photographer. That really was my focus when I first began, learning to take better pictures. Along the way I rediscovered a love of writing. This love had been lying dormant inside me since early elementary school.

My blog name Paisley Rain Boots came from a self-portrait class that I took in the Spring of 2012. I live in Michigan where there is snow quite often until April and generally quite a bit of rain in the Spring. I was not very comfortable taking self-portaits shots that included my face.  Instead I would photograph my feet which most often happened to encased in my paisley rain boots. I got so many comments on my boots from the photographs I posted in the class Flickr group, this made me think. "What a great name for a blog....Paisley Rain Boots". The blog could be about anything which was great since I love to photograph and write about random topics. The blog could also about exploring. I love to explore the back roads; old barns, fields, orchards, lakes, etc.

On January 1 of this year I started a year long project called A Year Beside The Water. A project with a more specific purpose, marrying photography and writing all based on the subject of water. This project will stretch me in new ways, but I am one who is constantly striving to learn new things and experience growth from that learning.

I have been married to my husband, Glen for 28 years. We have one daughter, Mallory who is a college senior and will be graduating in May. We have one cute as a button, but naughty as can be golden retriever named Scout. Scout often accompanies me on day outings, he doesn't mind riding in the car, and loves to go for walks and hikes in the woods.

I would love to connect with other photographers and especially other bloggers who have a strong desire to write. You can contact me at

Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found this lovely weed encased in ice last weekend while we were in Traverse City. I love iPhone apps! Something so simple turns into a piece of artwork.

Find No. 2

The one drawback of melting snow is that it creates icy sidewalks.

Find No. 3

To avoid the icy sidewalks, Scout and I have now decided to walk the heated sidewalks of our downtown. Two four block loops takes us about 50 minutes.

Find No. 4

In November I did a photo documentary project for our church for Advent. The theme was Hope. The week I had to shoot for the theme was despair and Hope. This is Mallory in front of the District Court downtown.

This week while we were walking downtown, I decided to recreate the shot with Scout. I think he looks a little more hopeful than Mallory.

Find No. 5

I love wooden docks, and I am especially loving them this winter. The contrast between the wood and the ice is wonderful.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Random Friday Finds

In keeping with my vow to appreciate the beauty of winter this year, here are a few finds from this past week.

Find No. 1

I find beauty in the simplicity and barrenness of winter. I find this shot very peaceful.

Find No. 2

I found a dog not to happy to be tied to a tree while I climbed through some snow drifts to get down to the beach and Lake Michigan. I was only thinking of him and his old dog hips.

Find No. 3

I found a frozen channel, a big red lighthouse and a lovely sky. That is suppose to be the water filled channel on the left hand side of the the blue railing.

Find No. 4

I found on a chilly -2 degree morning a beautiful sunrise.

Find No. 5

I found some beautiful frost on one of my outdoor light fixtures just by walking out my garage door.

See...winter beauty is all around us. All we have to do is be looking for it.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Thursday, January 8, 2015

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

Glen gave me a new gadget for Christmas, something I was not expecting, a Garmin Vivosmart. It is similar to a Fitbit. I love it. It tracks my steps, vibrates when I have been sitting too long. It vibrates when I have a phone call or text message coming in. Which is very handy because if my phone is in my purse I tend to miss calls and texts because I don't hear them. It links with My Fitness Pal so I can record my meals everyday, and it also vibrates if you haven't tracked your meals for the day. Harder to ignore that way. I have set my steps per day goal to 15,000. It is amazing how many steps you can get in snow blowing the driveway once or twice a day, in addition to walking the dog.

Find No. 2

I found six inches of snow on the deck when I got up the other morning. We have gotten more since then.

Find No. 3

I finally found a new hat to go with this coat. It is a cute slouchy hat. Maybe when I take it off in March, my hair will have finally grown to the point where I can have a hairstyle. Right now I take one step forward and two back every time I get it cut while my new stylist tries to fix past problems.

Find No. 4

I found empty marina boat slips are awesome to photograph in the winter.

Find No. 5

For my new blog, A Year Beside the Water, I am aiming to take one iPhone photo a day of a water related landscape and post them in the gallery section of my blog.  If you are curious about what I have taken so far you can click here and see.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Year Ahead

The older I get the more I approach the start of each new year with a fair amount of trepidation. More and more of life lies behind me. Also as I get older so does everyone else; parents, spouse, daughter, dog. Some still in the prime of their lives, others not so much. Yes, this does concern me. My dad will be 80 in February, which in this day and age isn't that old, but still you never know. I can't imagine life without my dad. I have a project that I want to work on with him this year. I want to make videos of him sharing his history with me. Recording this for me, for my daughter and for my future grandchildren. My dad is a collector of stuff, really cool old stuff. Stuff full of family history. I want the stories of those things and I want the stories in his voice.

After losing one dog this past year I don't want to go through that again any time soon. Yet Scout will be 12 in just a few days. While still full of naughtiness for his age, he also harbors some less than wonderful hips. On his good days we will go out and explore to our hearts content. On the less than stellar days I will make him comfortable with a warm blanket on his dog bed, while I write and process pictures and video from our adventures.

Despite some trepidation, I also approach 2015 with great excitement because many wonderful things  lie ahead.

The first of which being the graduation of the beautiful girl from college on the first Saturday of May. The first of our family to graduate with a four year degree. She is changing the blood line, a phrase she has grown to detest yet tolerate. But it is true, she is changing the blood line and we are extremely proud of her!

In celebration of her graduation we are taking a family vacation to Walt Disney World a little later in May. We haven't been in a number of years but it is one of our favorite vacation destinations. Glen and Mallory love the rides, I love the people watching. I should come back with some great stories.

At some point in the year we will help the beautiful girl move somewhere to begin life beyond college. She has no idea where that will be or what she will be doing. But I have complete faith that what ever and where ever it is, it will be an amazing adventure.

Another highlight in the year ahead will be meeting up with a dear blogging friend for a week vacation in Pennsylvania. We have been friends for a couple of years and have walked through some hard times together. Yet we have never met in person. This year we will change that. We will have a week to hike together, to photograph together, to go antiquing and to go to coffee shops. A week to talk, to laugh and to cement a life long friendship.

Finally, I haven't been around this space much lately but I have been busy. I have been working hard on my new project: A Year Beside The Water. The sight is live and the first post is up. I would love it if you would click on over and check it out. This will be where I will be spending most of my time in 2015. I am so excited to see where this project takes me and to document the creative growth that lies ahead.

I am also excited to see where 2015 will take you my friends. I would love to hear a plan or two that you have in the works for the year ahead.