Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

We were in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last week visiting our daughter at college. Here are five random finds from the weekend.

Find No. 1

We have a favorite indie bookstore in Marquette called Snowbound Books. It is in an old house. It is such a delight to explore all the shelves full of books. Many great staff recommendations as well.

Find No. 2

Here are the books I found while at Snowbound that had to come home with me. We have seen the movie Monuments Men so now I would like to read the book.

Find No. 3

I am attracted to old, boarded up buildings like a bear is attracted to honey. This is a former Catholic Orphanage built in 1915. I have a few more pictures of this place to share in a post on our trip sometime this weekend. The snow and -6 wind chill prevented me from taking as many shots as I would have liked.

Find No. 4

The pigeons found the perfect place to roost in the one window that wasn't boarded up from the outside.

Find No. 5

The Eben Ice Caves were even more spectacular than last year, maybe all the arctic air that Marquette has experienced this winter is the reason.

Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 7

As I drove to the coffee shop this morning I noticed the sky. Even though I am so done with Winter I had to admit it was beautiful. A weak, pale yellow winter sun was trying desperately to burn through a persistent thin layer of gray. It was the rest of the sky that caught my attention though, the color was neither blue nor gray, but a mix of blue, gray and yellow. Like an egg dipped in the weakest pastel dye solutions of blue, green and yellow creating the perfect Easter egg.

I arrived at the coffee shop at quarter to nine.

Today was not my usual day to be here. We were gone this past weekend visiting our daughter at college. We returned Monday evening, thus throwing my whole week off by one day. I wasn't sure how the cast of characters would change by coming on a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday.

Head Order Taker was behind the register. Usual Order Taker was in the kitchen. I ordered a chocolate cherry muffin and my usual Chai. I know I have had this muffin before but the selection was limited today and I knew I liked this one.

Keeping my promise from last week, I gathered my courage and told Head Order Taker that their coffee shop has set the bar very high as far as service and food. I told her I have been going to different coffee shops to write and their's has been the best by far. She seemed slightly surprised by what I said but very appreciative. Needless to say, she knew exactly where to go with my Chai when it was ready without having to holler out my name.

The Coffee Shop was busy today. Many of the tables were full. Is Wednesday a better day than Tuesday to meet for coffee? My usual table was snagged by these gentlemen just as I was getting my muffin.

Happily some of the usuals were here. Mr. Talks A Lot was here with yet another companion. A guy this time, similar in age to Mr. Talks A Lot. They were sitting on the opposite side of the room and hidden behind a column and the fish tank.

The Chair Changer came in shortly after me and briefly sat at the table to my immediate left. Today was a big day, we had a brief conversation. We talked about what else but the weather, the current polar vortex and snow. He commented on how the weathermen (which he correctly himself and said weather people) are always wrong. To which I agreed wholeheartedly. They were way off on their snowfall prediction for the year yet again. We both agreed we think the Farmer's Almanac still gets it more accurate every year. Though this conversation was brief, I feel it was a starting point for more conversations in the future.

I may have to change The Chair Changer's name to Table Changer though. He left the table by me shortly after our conversation and moved to this two seater by the window.

Shortly after settling here he moved again, this time to the booth that was being vacated by Mr. Talks A Lot and his companion. I think the booth was his ultimate goal, because once there he spread out his stuff, put his ear buds in and settled in for the morning.

Two college age girls, a blond and a brunette, came and sat at the two seater to my right. They both ordered something that looked delicious, some kind of spice cake with a nice dollop of whipped cream on top and yummy fruit on the side. It must have been something new because The Order Taker delivered it and told them to let her know how they like it. When they were done both plates were clean. A good sign I would say. The girls spent the first ten minutes of their conversation talking about the new haircut that the blond girl wanted to get. She was all prepared to show her friend pictures of the proposed new style on her iPad when she quickly discovered they don't have Wifi here. To which I said a silent Thank You after last week's adventure at the Internet Cafe. As I looked around the Coffee Shop I noticed there wasn't an electric outlet in sight. Real face to face conversations are encouraged here. The blond was able to find the picture on her phone to show her friend, and then the conversation moved on.

I was still thirsty after drinking my Chai so I decided to get a soda. I timed my arrival at the register perfectly. The Order Taker was there working on writing today's soups on a small white board. She had an array of colorful dry erase markers spread out in front of her. I ordered my soda and then I gathered my courage a second time and told her what a wonderful job they do here. The Order Taker was so pleased. She proceed to tell me how hard they work to create a cozy, community atmosphere here. Part of that coziness is NOT having Wifi, to which I replied "thank you so much for that" and I told her about my adventure last week. I told her that I write about this coffee shop and the others that I visit. I told her that she is in my stories, that I call her The Order Taker. She really liked that. Introductions were made, The Order Taker's name is Brenda.

Until next week...

Friday, February 21, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I am not a hearts and flowers kind of girl. Last week Friday while everybody was posting photos of pink and red, flowers and candy. I posted a picture of cows. That's me, always going against the grain.

Find No.2

I did find a lovely Valentine present at an Antique Shop that I thanked Glen for when he got home. I am going to have so much fun photographing this beauty.

Find No. 3
Everybody has been posting pictures created with the new app. Waterlogue. I am not a jump on the bandwagon kind of person so I didn't really get too excited about it. UNTIL my friend Leon did a post on it on her blog which you can view here. She doesn't seem like a bandwagon person either so I listened to what she had to say about it. And I do really like the app.

Find No. 4

For my real Valentine's Day present, Glen got us tickets to a wine and cheese pairing at a nearby winery. Discovered some lovely new cheeses.

Find No. 5

Local, old fashion stores are the best. They graciously let me take some photos inside their store.

Joining Nancy at Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim at Friday Finds

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No.6 - The Internet Cafe

I needed jam. College daughter is coming home soon and we are running low. We are a bit particular about our jam. No grocery store variety is going to work for us. Our favorite is a Cherry Jam made by Cherry Republic which is located in the heart of Northern Michigan Cherry Country. I can get small jars of it at a local store in our downtown, but I can get substantial size jars of it if I travel just 30 minutes north of where I live. The way Glen spoons jam onto his english muffin, we need the 17 oz. economy size.

I thought I would kill two birds with one trip. I would combine jam shopping with my coffee shop adventure. So I Goggled coffee shops in Grand Haven and this is the first place that came up. It is located right downtown, the same as the jam shoppe.

I arrived at the coffee shop at half past nine.

I had a mild case of sun blindness as I walked through the door. The first thing I noticed was how dark and cave like it was. Other than a big front window there were no additional windows. So different than my usual coffee shop, which is bathed in light.

It was quite busy in the coffee shop. Fortunately there was a "Line Begins Here" sign hanging from the ceiling, directing me to where I needed to go. At that moment I was the only one in line which was a good thing since the guy behind the counter was the Order Taker, Assistant, and Drink Maker all in one. There was no time for a cheerful greeting or pleasant chatter as he took my order since there was a line starting to form behind me.

Although, he did have time to offer me a free travel mug. They must have gotten a few boxes of give aways from a local bank. He seemed shocked when I declined his offer of the free mug. My cupboards at home are already overflowing with free travel mugs and free plastic water bottles all with some company's name or logo on them. I did not need to add another. I happily took my Chai in their pretty red house mug. A mug that I could enjoy my drink from and then return to them to clean and to store.

I ordered a Chocolate Chip Scone with my Chai. The scone was delicious, but the presentation was a bit lacking. No napkin, no silverware, just the scone on a plastic plate.

The table choices were pretty sparse. Most of the tables and booths were filled with people and their laptops. I had noticed on the glass door as I came in that this was an internet cafe. Now I really see the benefits of my lovely coffee shop not being a Wifi Wonderland.

I was probably the only person that didn't have an electronic device on their table. Well, ok, I did have my phone, but that was only so I could sneakily take photos.

Secretly I was hoping that this coffee shop would be rather empty. You see this town is where I spent my early childhood years. My dad worked here as a Kitchen Cabinet Maker and I went to Nursery School here. Yes, I am from the nursery school generation not the preschool generation. I really wanted to spend the morning reminiscing about those days, but alas that was not to be. Stories to save for another day.

I do remember that this coffee shop use to be a shoe store called Tim & Jerry's. I loved to come in here because in the back of the store there was a life size, realistic looking, stuffed horse. I don't remember every buying any shoes here, but I did love to look at and touch that horse. I was kind of hoping that it would still be here. Not that it goes with the coffee shop theme, but I would have loved to touch it one more time.

You might be wondering by now, if I love my usual coffee shop so much why do I bother going other places. Recently I came across this statement by Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones  which I think sums up my thoughts perfectly. "When we live in a place for too long, we grow dull. We don't notice what is around us. That is why a trip is so exciting. We are in a new place and see everything in a fresh way."

I need these adventures to see things differently, to keep my writing fresh, and to appreciate what I have  in my beloved coffee shop.

Next week I might mention to the Order Taker just how high they have set the bar for a coffee shop, and that so far all others have fallen short.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sugar Loaf Ski Resort - The Siren's Call

We have been coming here for five years to enjoy a week or a long weekend away. For five years I have stood at the base of this mountain. Hearing the Sirens calling out to me. Come. Climb. Explore. Photograph. Yet for five years I resisted because of fear.

Fear of getting caught somewhere I wasn't suppose to be. Fear of the climb up, no ski lift taking me to the top here. Fear of getting lost once up there. Just plain Fear.

This past October I looked that Fear straight in the face and said "I am done with you!". So I gathered up my courage, followed the two track path up the side of the mountain and climbed.

Once up there I texted Glen, who had gone out for a run, "I am on top of Sugarloaf. Tomorrow we are coming back up here together. It is awesome."

With my courage documented I set off to explore. My courage was greatly rewarded.

Sugarloaf Ski Resort has been closed for more than a decade. Closed suddenly to business and money problems. Over the years there have been many rumors of new owners and the resort being restored, so far they have been just that, rumors.

In its hey day in the 70's and 80's, I remember all the kids that skied talking about going to Sugarloaf.

So the first time I saw Sugarloaf five years ago I was quite shocked. This is what it had become. In those early years I was brave enough to walk around the buildings and peek in windows. Beds still made with sheets, blankets and bedspreads. Old tube style televisions sitting on top of the dressers. Layers of dust everywhere.

Even in those early years before I knew what I was doing with a camera, and while I held on to Fear. I could feel the stirrings inside me, the desire to explore and photograph abandoned, decaying, forgotten things.

Monday, February 17, 2014


We are traveling North later this week for a long weekend away. Since we always seem to be headed that direction I began to think about what North means to me.


It's where my beautiful girl is most of the year. Eight hours North.

It means the Might Mac Bridge which we must cross to get to the beautiful girl.

It means Lake Superior and Presque Isle Park

It means my favorite place on earth - The Leelanau Peninsula

It means great wineries and Wine Tasting

It means Old Barns

It means Insane Asylums

It means abandoned Ski Resorts

Most of all North means family and fun times together.

What does North mean to you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

Glen and I have hit a high spot in our marriage. We can now successfully shop for furniture together. These new chairs are getting ordered today.

Find No. 2

So glad that the coffee shop that I write at on Tuesdays has replaced the snowman cups and poinsettias with heart cups and carnations.

Find No. 3

I am not very patient when waiting for a train. This one just stopped, so I wound up turning around and going a different way.

Find No. 4

For the last two days I have loaded the dogs in the car and driven to a plowed bike path. I am so done with walking on the side of the road and living in fear for my life and the dogs' lives.

Find No. 5

It is so hard to find the right artwork for your walls. I love the saying on this and the colors, but I don't ride a bike. Now if it was some Rain Boots and this saying it would be perfect.

Joining Nancy at Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim at Friday Finds