Monday, September 29, 2008

The Legend of Sleeping Bear

Pictured above is Lake Michigan from the top of Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can also see North Manitou Island in the picture (see the lighthouse when you make it bigger). My friend and I spent the day at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The dunes are steep, and there are warnings about the climb to get back up to the top. In the park, there is a scenic drive with 12 stopping points, the photo above was taken at the top of the Sleeping Bear, one of the stopping points. See more photos of the stopping points below.

We learned a lot on the drive. But the most suprising thing I learned was about erosion, or the lack of erosion on the Michigan Lake beaches. At some beaches I've visited, there has been an erosion problem, where the beaches are washing out to sea. I know the Florida Gulf coast and the Southern California coast have had problems with beach erosion over the years. At one time when I was visiting Florida, there was a project going on to dig up sand in the ocean and bring it back to the coast. The northern Lake Michigan beaches in the Sleeping Bear area are actually growing. There was a diagram of the Michigan coastline of Sleeping Bear 40 years ago compared to what it is now, and the coast has grown. So, the Lake is really washing more sand in and placing it along the coast. This is not the case for all of Lake Michigan, as there is erosion in the southern beaches that are on Indiana's border.

So, now for the Legend of the Sleeping Bear. This is from the National Park Service brochure:

According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan (now Wisconsin) drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The exhausted cubs drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear's determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou Island) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day.
Here are some other pictures from the park:

If you make this one bigger, you can see a man trying to kayak in Lake Michigan. It wasn't really going well for him.

One of the other things that we saw, but unfortunately I didn't get a picture of, was the ghost forests. As more and more sand is deposited along the coast, there becomes a battle between the soils, and sometimes, the sand wins, creating a ghost forest. The trees are like grey ghosts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back Home Again....

There is no place like home. And that is what Tiger says too.

My Michigan week is over, as is any substantial vacation for the rest of the year. I am glad to have tomorrow to re-acclimate and at least start thinking about work and what I have to do. And also, it will be quality time spent with Tiger Boy.

In my last entry, I had battled insomnia while on vacation. And, well, it was also an issue last night. So, I have committed to get in bed tonight by 9:00 p.m. I can't figure it out. I'm hoping it was just an "out of my own bed and in a different place" issue, and all will be solved tonight. I am tired, so at least I should get off to a good start.

So, for tonight, I'm just going to give you a picture that was promised and shuffle off to sleep. Here is the beautiful sunset from the balcony of the hotel in Traverse City.

Good Night.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Say Yes to MICHIGAN!

I am on vacation, but compliments of the Cherry Tree Condo Hotel wireless Internet access and insomnia, I thought I would go ahead and post some of the things I have been up to the last few days. I will post some great pictures later, I just don't have the access to do that part up here.

On Friday, I left for a much needed vacation. I was getting a little grumpy at work, and I needed to get away before I said out loud what was in my head. So, Mom and I headed north after a long day at work on Friday, and spent the night at my brother Bob's house. While I definitely was tired, getting 2 1/2 hours knocked off the drive to Michigan was a definite plus.

Saturday, we got up super early to visit with my niece Tracey, a student at Trine University (formerly Tri-State University). The school has been renamed and there is a big story about it somewhere on the internet if you are interested. Just Google it. I've asked a lot of people about the name change, some older alumni, some current students, and my niece. Some are okay with it and others hate it. I think it is weird. A little like buying the naming rights to a stadium. But whatever. We had breakfast with Tracey, got the early morning campus tour, met the roommate, and then we headed on north.

My Aunt Ruth lives in Houghton Lake, about 2 hours north of Lansing. My Mom and I have been coming up here to see Aunt Ruth for a few years, usually for a week sometime in the fall. We usually shop at outlet malls, maybe see a movie, go out to eat, read, play cards, and talk. Very nice time. This time, however would be a little different. That is, as far as activities. I'm still counting on a very nice time.

This trip, I decided to see a little more of Michigan than just Houghton Lake and the West Branch outlet mall. I have been a few places before, but mainly just looking out the car windows as they go by. This time, I wanted to stop and put my feet in the water. My friend Cindy, also in need of vacation, flew to the Cherry Capitol Airport in Traverse City Michigan on Sunday to meet me for my Michigan adventure. And, just so we are clear, I invited my Mom and Aunt Ruth to come too. They declined.

Today, was a great day. We headed out mid-morning for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore. Wow! Our National Parks are a treasure. The Sleeping Bear Dunes area probably doesn't get the publicity or recognition of the big National Parks, but it was amazing. Please check back for pictures later in the week. We drove on a scenic route that had 12 stopping points of interest. We learned a lot about the lake shore, what is happening as far as changes in the lake shore and how it has evolved through the years, animals native to the area, and things in bloom. We also were able to walk along the beach of Lake Michigan and stick our feet in the water. It was very cold!

I was also able to get my National Parks Passport stamped and buy the Sleeping Bear sticker for my Passport. About 15 years ago, I bought a National Parks Passport in Washington, D.C. I had collected stamps in it for about 7 years, but it was lost in the move. I haven't seen it since I moved to Indianapolis. So, last year when I was in the Smokey Mountains National Park with Trevor, I decided to start over. I bought both of us a new Passport and decided it was something we could start working on together. I think it is a cool thing to collect, and what great memories at the places we will go.

Tonight we ate in and I went swimming in the pool. I'm hoping that in a little bit I will be sleeping like a tired bear. Tomorrow will be another adventure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Death of the Local Newspaper

Tonight I received a phone call from Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc., better known as The Indianapolis Star. They've actually been calling for a few weeks, but I have avoided them. When I saw the name on caller ID, I just wouldn't answer. Until tonight.

I just answered by saying "Hello, I don't want the newspaper." The lady was very nice, and she said "Really? Not even the Sunday paper. I can give you the special for 77 cents a week." Which did make me think for a split second, but my mouth had already started answering "No." So the very nice lady said "Can I ask why?"

To which I explained, that I just don't like the newspaper in my house. You see, it can overtake you, or maybe it is just me. The Sunday paper is too big. There is too much. I can't read it all. So, I end up getting the paper and bringing it in. I drop it on the floor right beside the front door (still in the orange plastic bag) and I think, I'll get to it. I never do. So, it lays there. And lays there. And pretty soon I have a mountain of orange plastic bags by my front door.

The lady said, "Most people just throw them away every week, or they recycle." To which I went into a little speech about how I was better at recycling, because I didn't even get it in the first place. She agreed with me.

The thing is, I don't want the local newspaper to die. Much like my friend Esmerelda, who loves reading books with pages instead of a reading device, I like the feel and smell of newsprint. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to go out to breakfast at a local diner and read the local paper. Front to back. (My mother reads the paper back to front, and I just don't get it.) I'm looking forward to reading the Traverse City Record-Eagle next week.

I hope that I am not contributing to the death of the newspaper by not subscribing to the Indianapolis Star. Maybe I should make a point of buying the paper once a week. But I would buy it on Friday, not Sunday. Friday is a much smaller paper. I may actually be able to read it and not get overwhelmed by the amount of newsprint in my house.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dinner at Granny's

My Mom has been cooking Sunday dinner lately and inviting whomever is in town for the day. A couple of weeks ago my niece Tonya, her husband Chris, and her daughter (my great niece!) Marissa came for Sunday dinner. I took this picture on the front porch.

I know a bunch of my friends from Bloomington remember Tonya and ask about her often, because she spent many weekends with me (and often her spring break) while she was in high school. And so here she is, with her little girl (who is 3 now!). Tonya works at Wishard Hospital in the Human Resources department.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Evidence...I AM the Luckiest Girl in the World

Little did I know as I was baking brownies at 4:30 a.m. today, that new evidence would unfold that I am indeed the luckiest girl in the world. (The brownies were very good, by the way.)

Today, was the big day at work, the annual picnic. Now, for those of you who had heard about the annual event that I attended in June for work, I need to explain. I have a new job that started August 1. Just in time to attend the annual afternoon outing for the new job. But also at the right time to not miss the annual outing for the old job in June. (Lucky Me!)

Today's outing was at the Garfield Park Pagoda. It was my first time there, but very cool. A nice area with tables, etc. Lots of activities planned by the event committee for the 300 or so people in attendance. Volleyball, bingo, guitar hero, a raffle, etc. The event was catered by Jugs' Catering, which has great food!! Barbeque, fried chicken, salad, potatoes, brown county biscuits and apple butter. Then there were the great desserts that everyone had baked up, including the brownies.

There was also a "donate to United Way" portion, where everyone had been given an opportunity to donate money to make particular people in management participate in a pie eating contest. They had to fish worms out of the pies. I couldn't see all that well, but I'm hoping they were gummy worms instead of earth worms.

So, on to the 4:30 a.m. brownies. You see, if you brought a home-baked dessert, you got 2 extra raffle tickets, and 1 other ticket that was in a drawing for dessert providers only. I didn't really do it for the extra tickets, but it was a nice perk anyway. I just haven't baked in a while, and I haven't baked at all for these new people. So, early morning brownies are always the best.

As for activities, I participated in Bingo. I hadn't really thought I would participate, but when I found out they were giving out gas cards for Speedway gas station, I was a little more enticed. I did mess up the bingo game a little. I know, you are thinking how can you mess up bingo? Well, you know I get excited about things, a little anyway. So a couple of times I may have yelled Bingo too early. But I won when it counted, on the final game of the day. The coverall. So, tomorrow I will get $20 of gas with my shiny new gas card.

For the raffle, everyone received 8 tickets which each person could then place however they wanted to in a container for eight different prizes. If there was a particular prize that you wanted, you could put all 8 in one container, or you could try to win all 8 by putting one in each. Of the eight prizes, there were 5 that I was interested in. They were: Dinner for 8 catered by Jugs Catering, tickets to see the Lion King, tickets to see the Pacers, $250 gift card to the Great Wolf Lodge, and Colts tickets. The others were good prizes, an Outback Steakhouse gift card, Simon Mall gift cards, and a gift card to another restaurant that I'd never heard of before. I just figure, if I wanted to go to Outback, I would go. And since I don't really eat steak, I haven't been there in about 3 years. Although they have a great onion soup.

So, since I had 10 tickets (because of the dessert maker bonus), I put 2 each in the five that I was interested in. Now, here is my little secret. I had a wonderful boss one time that was a super-genius. She was a chemist that helped discover a cancer drug. She holds 2 patents. One time I watched her put her name in a drawing, and instead of folding the paper nicely, she wadded it up in a ball, and then gently pulled it apart a little. When I asked her about it, she said that this technique creates more surface area on your little drawing slip, and therefore it has a better chance of being selected. Hmmm. Made a little sense too me. Especially since she won on the drawing where I saw her do it.

So, with my 10 tickets where I put 2 in each drawing, I put in one that was folded nicely and one that had been wadded up. And I can't wait to go to the Great Wolfe Lodge!! Woo Hoo!!! I even had a few people offer to buy it for $200.

Now, if this evidence to my luckiness is not enough, I need to add one more thing. You know the event in June? I won at that one too. My car will be detailed next week, courtesy of the gift certificate that I won there.

I am the lucky girl. Told ya.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Mysterious White Van

Tonight I checked my email to find a message from the Neighborhood Watch Block Captain about a mysterious white van in my neighborhood. Here's how it went:

"...It happened to come through after dinner and park at the corner of New Jersey and Fall Creek Pkwy. We got out the camera and took a picture. When he saw me do that, he drove away, so I got the back side of the van, including the license plate. I attached the pictures for you (small files, but if you want/need full scale high res,they are 2-3 meg). K___ followed the van on his bike, and saw it deliver something on Alabama (he said a recycling box, or something like it, but it wasn't a DPW van, nor marked commercially). Could be nothing, and probably not worth too much concern unless something happens over the next few days."

It seems my delivery of fruits and vegetables has caught the attention of neighbors.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Slow Food

As many of you know I have been eating mainly organic fruits and vegetables for about a year now. I do think they taste better, fresher, last longer, etc. But, probably the biggest reason I have stuck with it is because of the delivery service. I love every other Thursday when I get my green bin delivered to my doorstep from Farm Fresh Delivery. During the last year, I have eaten some things that I have never or would have never eaten had I not been using this service (i.e., fresh spinach, pink lady apples, rainbow carrots). If those things had not been in the bin, I wouldn't even have tried them or tried to cook them in the case of the spinach. But, they are things that I now regularly order.

The way it all works is that the Farm Fresh people have a "standard bin" that they have all picked out for you, but you are given 4 days to log onto their Internet site and exchange anything in the standard bin for something that you like better. I started out trying to at least try something new each time. I've sort of stuck to that, but as the late summer harvest is upon us, my love of green beans, corn on the cob, and fresh tomatoes has taken over. I also can eat up a head of lettuce pretty quickly.

And the fruit and vegetable delivery is just the start. I am so lucky that I live within walking distance of Goose the Market. I affectionately call Mollie and Chris Eley's market "the corner store", but it is way more than just a store. The sandwich shop, coffee place, meat market is where I have been getting meat on a regular basis, and buying bread from the Breadsmith. For you foodies out there, the Goose has earned top sandwich in the U.S. from Bon Appetit magazine. While you guys know me, and the sandwiches are a bit fancy for my plain jane taste buds, I still think it is pretty cool.

Anyway, tonight I had the absolute best pork chop for dinner that was marinated by Chris, and then cooked up on my George Foreman. (I'm hoping he's not offended at my George Foreman cooking, but that is how I do it these days.) Anyway, the pork chop was totally scrumptious and it seems, whenever I get something from there and take the time to cook it with some vegetables, it reminds me of a simpler time. When we sat down for dinner, at a table, and enjoyed a meal and conversation. And while I ate my pork chop and side items alone tonight, next time I will be sure to invite someone so that they can taste the great taste of Slow Food.

Labor Day Weekend - Baseball, Sky Concert, and Granny's House

Where has this year gone? I can't believe it is already September and it feels like Christmas will be here before I know it. How will I ever get everything done?

This Saturday, Trevor, Johnny, Scott and I went to the Indians baseball game which was followed by the SkyConcert fireworks show. It was a cotton candy-nacho-chicken strip-french fry-peanutty-lemonade-fun-filled time. Oh My!!! After an Indians loss (which may be blamed on the early don of the rally cap by Trevor and me), we headed out to the outfield to watch the fireworks. Can I tell you how cool the outfield grass is at Victory Field? It was funny that all these people brought blankets. What were they trying to avoid? Bugs? There are no bugs in that grass. It is so uniformly amazing. I always wonder what they do to get it so nice and neat.

The SkyConcert was a bit of a disappointment. I think that the launch location for the fireworks must have changed this year. Last year, the outfield was perfect for firework viewing. This year, the actual fireworks were blocked by part of the stadium. We ended up leaving the outfield and going to a different area to watch. Much better. But next year, I think we'll try an alternate location.

Sunday we went to Granny's for even more food. But good, farm fresh food. Corn on the cob, green beans, meatloaf. And later on, when we came home, we tried to make homemade ice cream. I improvised with what I thought would work. And well, it didn't. But I can't see how they could make the ice cream in a ziploc bag this morning on the Today show, when Trevor and I couldn't accomplish it with a Salad Spinner last night. It really seems like it should have worked. Oh well. We will try again. But maybe we'll put a ziploc bag in the Salad Spinner.