Friday, January 31, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

Monday morning I fought my way out of the house on unplowed roads to the grocery store, and I had the place to myself. By the time I went home thankfully the road had been plowed.

Find No. 2

I saw these candles on an end cap display at the grocery store and I just had to stop and smell them. Oh yes, thank you for reminding me what Spring smells like, because Winter doesn't have a smell.

Find No. 3

To delay going home I stopped at Lowe's and cruised the paint aisle, picking up paint chips as I went along. Can you tell I am desperate for color.

Find No. 4

I opened my mailbox earlier this week to find this lovely surprise inside from my friend Kelly at Just a Click Away. I knew that I had won a fun giveaway she was doing, but it was so lovely when it came. We really need to send out more real mail. It is such a delight to received.

Such a lovely image and it has a special place on my newly installed memo board.

Find No. 5

Slowly photography is taking over my life. I converted these shelves in my art room from ones holding scrapbooking supplies to ones that are holding some of my photography props. So much easier to see what I have that way.

Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 3

I figured that if there was nobody at the coffee shop today because of the arctic temperatures, I would make some observations on my drive there to help fill this space. For example, I wondered if my car temperature display really worked because it always seems to say it is 9 degrees or 7 degrees. Also, as I passed a gravel hauling truck filled with snow, I wondered where they hauled that snow to. Is there a snow landfill somewhere? And if there is, will there still be snow there in August?

I arrived at the coffee shop at 8:20 a.m. It gets earlier every week because I still wake up at 5:00 a.m. and once I have eaten, exercised and showered there is nothing left to do. In those carefree, non-snow filled days, I would be out walking the dogs before I came to the coffee shop.

Interestingly enough the coffee shop was the busiest it has been since I started coming.

The Chair Changing Guy was here ahead of me today. Maybe he has the same problem I do, up too early with nothing to do. Maybe he has a Retriever at home that is pissed that it can't go for it's walk either. So maybe we both are really hiding out from our dogs.

He was sitting in a booth behind me today. He may have deviated from his usual table because his table is right next to the big long table that was filled with police officers this morning. They must have been on their morning coffee break. Needless to say their conversations were interesting, but my lips are sealed.

Barb, commented on last week's story and said the coffee shop is starting to remind her of the old T.V. series Cheers. That thought became abundantly clear to me as I watched Brian come in this morning. He was greeted by The Order Taker, she confirmed that he wanted a bran muffin and coffee to go. Which was quickly filled and out the door he went.

Next came Meredith, who again The Order Taker greeted by name and confirmed that she wanted a plain bagel, toasted with butter and coffee for here. Meredith made me happy and not seem so weird, because when The Head Assistant delivered her order, Meredith took a photo of it with her phone. A kindred soul :) I did find it interesting though that she stood the whole time she was eating, and only sat down when she was done.

Table props are everything in people watching. You look like you are busy with books spread out and writing away, all the while you are casually observing and always, always listening. So yes Dotti, I have "covert" down to a T :)

Today those table props paid off in a big way. There was a couple sitting at a two-seater table behind and to the left of me. As I am watching another regular, Chad come in and am just getting ready to document what The Order Taker is going to confirm as his usual when I hear from behind me "Are you a Seminary student?" What… Well that is a new one for me and one I will probably never get again :) I slowly turn to my left and make eye contact with the gentleman who was probably in his late 60's-early 70's. He had noticed my C.S. Lewis book that was on the table. I said "no" that it was a daily devotional and that I enjoyed reading through it and writing down some thoughts. Hence explaining the journal as well.

Next he noticed my M-22 shirt that I had on, that sparked a lengthy conversation of the joys and wonders of the Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Traverse City. His wife had become engaged in the conversation by this time as well. Then I was telling them about the recent tour that I had done of the Asylum, which they found fascinating and definitely want to do in warmer months.

I feel like I had a major breakthrough today. Actual conversation with people while I was observing. I am hoping this will give me the courage to do more of it in the future. Maybe I will even get asked if I am a Seminary student if I bring my C.S. Lewis book with me again.

Oh, by the way, The Assistant was back today :)

Until next week...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Standing Inside the Asylum

Here it was, my chance to finally get inside one of these beautiful, decaying buildings on the grounds of the former Northern Michigan Asylum. You probably don't often combine the words beautiful and decay in a sentence, unless you are a photographer or a history lover. I happen to be both. To me the stories lie in the undone, the unrestored, in every piece of chipped and peeling lead based paint.

I stood on the threshold of Cottage No. 34 bursting with excitement for the opportunity to explore, photograph and hear the stories.

As chance would have it, I actually did a little shooting around the outside of Cottage No. 34 earlier that morning, not knowing at the time that this would be the building I would get to explore on the  inside a little bit later on.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped inside, aside from all that glorious peeling paint, was the cold. It was colder than a meat locker.  Definitely colder than outside. In short order, my feet, even inside my trusted Paisleys felt like blocks of ice. Unwilling to be deterred I moved in and started to explore, all the while staying tuned in to the history that Joe was sharing.

Cottage No. 34
Act No. 121 of the Public Acts of 1899, allowed the construction of a hospital for acutely insane or "curable" male patients. Cottage No. 34 was constructed at an approximate cost of $20,000. Construction was completed in 1904. It was an "open" cottage, meaning that it was a cottage that was unlocked and without grating over the windows and occupied by patients who had the freedom of the grounds. Many of the patients living in this cottage worked in the greenhouse and garden areas.

In 1964, the hospital with the aid of a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, established a vocational activities program for children and young adults. The grant funds allowed the remodeling of the cottage to house the program. 

*from the book Northern Michigan Asylum

They have quite the problem with people breaking in and spraying graffiti on the walls.

Lovely old radiators.

Transom windows equal window love!

Curved radiator and more graffiti. This rad was in the curved tower that I showed earlier in the post.

Each end of the cottage also had a tower, unusual in the cottage designs here.

I couldn't resist a shot of the bathroom.

I admit for a while I wasn't as tuned in to Joe as I should have been. I was too busy taking photographs.  Although the low light situation inside created a challenge, I did the best I could with what I had. I had a good low light wide angle lens and set my ISO fairly high so I could hand hold. I didn't get all the shots I wanted but that is a good reason to go back and take the tour again. Learn more and shoot more.

Leaving Cottage No. 34, I was actually happy to go back outside, hoping that my feet would "warm up" out there, because by this time I could not feel them anymore.

We next stopped outside Cottage No. 30 very briefly and then continued on the road that lead past the backsides of all the cottages.

Cottage No. 30

October 2013 
October 2013

January 2014
Patients living in this cottage were "working patients", assisting in the fields and grounds keeping chores.

Next stop was the backside of the Men's dining hall. Apparently the fan above the door here has not stopped turning since the building was built in 1915, wind or no wind. Spooky…

Finally we were going inside again, and there was glorious heat! I began to feel my feet again.

The Chapel is being restored as we speak and is due to open by May of this year.

This lower level, where the glorious heat was, was originally the kitchen for Building 50.  Here the food for the entire institution was prepared, except for the administration section and special diet patients. This kitchen was divided into eleven rooms, including a temporary room, sink room, steaming room, room for preparation of vegetables, (almost all the work done by patients), and a dining room for employees.

Joe, our tour guide talking to the group.

The original cast iron columns.

The original marble floor.

Above the kitchen was the chapel room, which could seat 318, and was also used for amusement purposes, concerts, dances, socials, etc.

A drop ceiling was installed some time in the mid 1900's covering up this beautiful wood work on the ceiling. The drop ceiling is being taken down and all this beautiful wood work being restored.

The Tunnels

Being Northern Michigan and getting lots of snow in the winter, people tunnels were built to make getting from one building to the next much easier in the winter.

People Tunnel

Steam Tunnel - housing large steam pipes to carry heat to the buildings from the on-site power plant. The steam pipes have now been removed. It was quite weird walking on a curved floor. Also Joe shut the lights off briefly when we first entered this tunnel. Let's just say pitch black doesn't do it justice.

The steam tunnel that we traveled through brought us back into Building No. 50 right where we began.

I have to say that this is the best $25 I have ever spent on a tour. I definitely want to take it again in warmer weather. Maybe Joe needs an assistant, I would work for free. Just to have the opportunity to shoot some more and learn more would be well worth it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Asylum Tour

The trip had been planned for a few months, but the tour was a last minute thought. When Glen and I were in Traverse City in October we were able to do some photographing outside the former Northern Michigan Asylum. When I was doing research for my post Standing Outside the Asylum, I came across Brown Paper Tickets' site which hosts guided tours into some of the unrestored buildings and the underground tunnel system.

As we were standing in the lobby at church the Sunday before our departure talking with the couple we were going with, I suddenly remembered this tour.

I jumped on-line as soon as we got home to check and see if any were running while we were going to be there. Indeed there was, both Friday and Saturday. Delighted I quickly booked the four of us for the 1p.m. tour on Friday.

We arrived promptly at ten minutes to one, just as the brochure asked. Frankly, I love being early anyway, what better way to make a good first impression and chat up the tour guide ahead of time. You never know when that little relationship building will come in handy.

There were eight of us on this tour, perfect! A nice small number. Easier to ask questions that way and sometimes you can get a few more places with a small group.

Our tour guide, Joe, was amazing. It became apparent very quickly that he has a great love and passion for the Asylum, both the renovated and unrenovated parts.

Our tour started in the lower level of Building No. 50, the massive main building that has been restored. This lower level houses boutique style retail shoppes, all very artsy and unique. My plan is to get back up to Traverse City and the Asylum later this Spring, when the snow is gone and the temperatures are warmer, and do a more in-depth post on Building No. 50.

We did not stay long in this finished building, our goal was the unfinished buildings.

We trudged off through the freshly fallen snow. Our first stop was Cottage No. 40. This cottage was constructed in 1898 at an approximate cost of $25,000 for the purpose of housing 100 irritable or noisy male patients.

Yes, this picture was from October, we did not stop in a good spot for me to get a good shot of it.

Joe, our tour guide, grew up in Traverse City and spent some of his boyhood days hanging around the outside of the Asylum while patients still occupied the cottages. Joe told us the story of a day when he and some friends were standing outside Cottage No. 40 when a male patient came to the window, saw them and started screaming. The man disappeared only to return a few minutes later and started pushing  something through the holes in the window grate. The boys moved closer to see what it was the man pushed through. They discovered pieces of bread. Obviously the patient was concerned for them and was  trying to feed them.

Yes, again from October
From Cottage No. 40 we moved on to Building No. 22 the Men's Dining Building. Drastically out of place with it's flat roof and more mid-century style is was actually constructed in 1915 and located between Cottage No. 40 and Cottage 28. This building served all the male patients on the south side of the hospital grounds. Prior to the construction of this building each cottage had its own kitchen and dining room.

When a Moving Picture Machine was given to the state it was installed in the dining room. When the dining room was not in use for dining, it could be converted into an assembly hall and comfortably seat 600-800 people.

Moving on, the next stop was Cottage No. 28. This cottage was designated for 50 male geriatric patients when it was completed and opened in 1891 at a cost of $13,800. Unlike all the other cottages its tower is on the center of the roof instead of at the sides or corners.

One last outside stop was at Cottage No. 32, a former Tuberculosis ward. The windows are either bricked in or replaced with barricade windows to try and keep vandals out.

It was quite chilly outside and a little snow was starting to fall, so nobody had a desire to linger.

Next up the Inside Tour…

*I divided this tour into two posts because if you are like me, my attention span is short for reading posts, so not to overwhelm, it is better read and enjoyed divided up.

**Historical information came from the book Northern Michigan Asylum by William A. Decker M.D. a most delightful book filled with history and period photographs.

Linking up with my friend Helen for her Weekend Walks blog party

Friday, January 24, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

My new glasses came in this week. I am pegging these my Ira glasses, because I am a huge fan of Ira Glass from NPR's This American Life, and in the You Tube video I love to watch of an interview he did, he has on similar glasses. I also love ephemera and I found these trail guides from our 2003 trip to Acadia National Park when I was organizing and filing some past vacation information.

Find No. 2

This week's assignment for our 50mm class was landscapes. Not a lot of landscapes that aren't buried under a mountain of snow right now. I went to the beach and found this barren landscape.

Find No. 3

Stuck inside on yet another snow filled day, I went searching through some of my Grandma's sewing notions that I inherited when she passed away. I found this J&P Coats wooden spool. LOVE! The pin cushion my daughter made in her high school sewing class.

Find No. 4

I am getting too old for Cross Country Skiing. My body is still recovering from last week's trip.

Find No. 5

Well groomed ski trails are pretty though.

Joining Nancy at Random 5 Friday