Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Walking the beach

Last week, late in the afternoon, Petey and I decided to drive to the lake shore.

This is a public beach directly west of Allegan.  It's called Pier Cove.  It is the tiniest public beach around.  It feels like it's about 6 feet wide.  Not really but not much more - it's an itty, bitty one.

 The coolest thing about Pier Cove is this creek.  When I was a kid we used to come here and spend hours playing in this creek.  At least I hope it was me and I'm not, yet again, stealing some other kid's memory.

 You were waiting for the "foot in the water" picture, weren't you?  Didn't want to disappoint.

 Someone needs to do a little cabana repair, don't you think?

 This stone has several names:  Lightning stone, Lucky stone and Spirit stone.  Or Petrified poop stone.  That last one is mine. hehe


 After walking the beach for hours and hours - ok, we were there for about 45 minutes - we were hungry.  We dusted the sand from our tootsies and headed to Douglas for some pizza!!!

I have no idea how we have missed eating at Back Alley Pizza.  You'd think Petey's pizza radar would have taken us there a long time ago.

 Two tiny tables inside and three outside. We had a bit of a wait for an empty one so I headed across the street to the lovely park for some pics.

 What a gorgeous day.  The flowers were cooperating to the max!

This is the main drag in Douglas.  I love, love, love Saugatuck and that's where most people hang out but you really need to check out Douglas.  I always say it's like the little brother to Saugatuck without the T-shirts and fudge.  Very quaint.  Lovely shops and outstanding eateries.

 Finally the pie arrived and, oh my, it was tasty.  After looking at it, I'll bet you're wondering why you don't see anything but cheese on this bad boy.  As Petey always tells me, "Real Sicilians eat cheese pizza."  I'm not at all sure about that but now that I think of it, I never saw any of his relatives order anything but cheese on their pizzas.  This one was perfect.  The crust was crunchy all the way through - just the way we like it.

We're coming up on the most beautiful time at the lake shore as far as I'm concerned.  Strolling the beach in September (and swimming if you're into it) can be incredibly peaceful and warm.  The sunsets are TDF.

We here in south west Michigan consider ourselves lucky indeed.  Our lake shore is less than an hour away.  When I think of all the people who cram their kids and all their beach paraphernalia into the station wagon and drive two hours or more for some beach time, all I can think is "it's gotta suck to be you."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Just because you've been doing something forever . .

does that mean you need to/have to/should continue forever more?

I've asked myself this question several times over the last two or three decades.  I've always struggled with the answer and have made some difficult decisions that disappointed a few people.  But in the end, I had to follow my "voice."

When Michael was a little boy we had a Santa Party every year for the neighborhood kids and children of friends.  It was a blast and the kids had a great time.  Santa would arrive ringing his bells and handing out gifts and everyone loved it.  But there came a time when it felt like the "last." 

Hillary Richmond was so disappointed she wrote a paper about it in school.  Tom Collins (an adult) walked around with a frown on his face for days.  It was time, though.

I used to dress like a witch and sit on the front porch for Halloween for years scaring the crap out of the kids.  Nobody had more fun than me.  I was known far and wide.  Sometimes there would be a line down the steps. I don't remember how many years of scaring went on but, again, the pointy hat and the ugly witch mask were put away. 

I sang in a local fund raising show called Cabaret with the trio for years and years and years.  I loved every single second of performing in that production but when rehearsal started in 2007 I got that feeling again.  It was time.

And speaking of singing, I have decided to bring my time with the trio to a close.  Oh the memories I have  of Mary Spreitzer and Alva Morgan and then Sue Buese.  The laughs, the guidance, the harmony.  Phil Siegler on the piano in the early years still leaves a warm fuzzy in my heart.  Shhh, don't tell him, he gets all puffed up when you compliment him.

I've had a tough time with this decision because it affects my friends as well.  It wasn't a decision I made lightly.  It's been on my mind for over a year. 

At age 63 I'm looking at how many years of "singing" time I have left.  How much time I want to put into it and what I want to sing.  I finally came to the conclusion that I want to sing a few times a year but only a few songs every now and then and only the Blues with little rehearsal.  I have a few friends that put up with me and give me a little mic time periodically.  For right now - I think - that is enough.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do you "groupon?"

I have never been a coupon clipper.  I've tried in the past and it just never worked.  I'd get all enthused and clip the dang things from the paper and even carry them with me to the store - and never take them out of my purse.  One needs to be way more organized than I am in order to be successful at coupon usage.

So lately I've been hearing about "groupons."  If you don't know what they are, don't feel bad, neither did I.  They're online coupons.  You go to, fill out your area preferences ("treat me like a queen, feed me like a starving child", etc.) and then you'll get emails pointing you in the direction of "deals."

So I did and this is where I ended up with my very first groupon.

 Salon Brandon Jay in downtown Allegan!

See?  Here's a view of the "business area."

And most importantly for some people, conveniently located across the street from two local bars.

Hair stuff happens in these chairs; the partial wall separates this room from the front room.

 The station on the left is where my fingernails got spruced up.  My groupon was for a mani/pedi.

 This is the front room.  More hair stuff happening.  Great light, eh.  Perfect window for waving at passer-bys.  You know how I love to do that - except if you look closely, that's not me sitting in that chair.  More about him later.

The reception desk where people are "received" - hence the name.  Get it?

Tons o' product.

 I didn't catch her name and she did not want to have her picture taken but what's the point of a picture with humongous lips in it without some perspective, eh?

And there he is!  Brandon Jay doing his thang on a handsome (already), suave dude.  Who is that dude, you might be asking yourself right about now.  That's little Tyler Melvin.  He's getting all primped up for the weekend.  Brandon's pretty darn cool lookin' himself, doncha think?

Yes, he has ink.  Boy howdy, does he have ink.  I like ink.  And we were both wearing our Chacos and I have a bit of ink myself so that makes me equally cool.  Right?

 This is the young lady who pampered me yesterday.  Hi, Holly!  It just so happens that her parents are friends of mine, too.  Hi, Kevin.  Hi, Mary.  Holly is a recent grad of "beauty" school.  I'm sorry I had to use that term - it sounds straight out of Grease doesn't it?  I used it because I'm not exactly sure of the name of the school.  She told me and I forgot.

 Here's Holly again.  She's so cute and she did such a nice job for me that I thought she deserved two pictures.  Don't you agree?

Yeah, I know.  You're wondering why I didn't go with some "flash and fire" for my fingernails, right?  Well, as a Sign Language interpreter color is too distracting so I went with a very neutral shade.  I like it.

Now for some "flash."  And I went home with a free bottle of polish!  What a deal.

There is a very friendly, comfortable atmosphere at Brandon Jay's.  Plus, the bonus of watching people passing by and waving at them; don't forget that.  And the bonus, bonus of checking out Brandon's tats.

Go back up to the top picture for the telephone number and give them a call.  NOW!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lunch with Dawson alumni

Yesterday was lunch with the ladies I used to work with at Dawson Elementary School - go Dawson!
It also happened to be a certain someone's birthday.  That will become evident shortly.

First a word about working at this particular school.  I started my full time interpreting gig in Saugatuck and was at the middle school/high school for six years.  I loved every single moment there.  The staff was exceptional, or so I thought.  We partied and worked together no matter your particular job.  I never once felt a separation because I was "support staff" and not teaching staff - not one single time.

When the program moved to Holland, there was an opening in Allegan's program at the same time and I nabbed it.  I just knew it would never be the same as my experience in Saugatuck.  There was no way I was going to have the same level of acceptance.  And I was placed in an elementary school.  I'd never worked with that particular age group before and I was expecting to hear the "sing-song elementary voice" coming from every teacher.  They'd be putting cut out poster board animals, etc. on their bulletin boards and those jelly-like sticky things on the windows.  Oh, crap, how was I going to survive this?????????????

Boy was I wrong.  I spent several wonderful years with the sharpest women I know.  Politically savvy, tuned into what was happening in the world and fierce in their belief that the kids in their rooms would get the best they had to offer.  And offer they did!

Again, the same as Saugatuck, I never felt the support staff/teacher thing.  Oh, yeah, I never heard that sing/song voice either.  Yes, there were things made out of paper on their bulletin boards and those squishy things on the windows but, hey, what did you expect?  It's an elementary school.  Duh.

That's Anne on the left; more about her later.  Marianne (hope I spelled that correctly) is next to her.  She was a teaching assistant in the special ed. room; the kids loved her.  Joann is next.  Fifth grade, right?  Poor thing had my son in her room for two years I think.  Not because he couldn't make the grade; she was teaching a split back then.  On the far right is Edie.  The consummate kindergarten teacher.  I have a ton of stories to tell you about Edie but she probably wouldn't appreciate them, right Edster?

Donna on the left.  She wasn't a teacher or a teaching assistant or a cook or a bottle washer.  Her husband, Tom, however was a wonderful teacher and since he didn't feel like hanging with a bunch of ladies (I still don't understand that), he sent Donna as his pinch hitter.  We're all very glad he did too.
Marilyn on the right.  I spent a lot of time in Marilyn's room and let me tell you, she ran a tight ship but was fair to the bone.  The kids always knew what to expect. 

 This is Marne.  When I came to Allegan Marne was the teacher for the deaf kids.  She was amazing.  Tough, never babied the kids.  Expected a lot and got a lot.  I loved working with her.  One thing about Marne though, I feel like I need to warn you about - don't ever ask her to do her Dorothy impersonation.  You know, from the Wizard of Oz.  And she runs like a girl - on her tip toes.  Hard to watch.

Becky on the left.  I spent some time, not much, in Becky's room.  Those kids were luckier than they realized to have her for a teacher.  She gave it her all - all the time.  Joyce, the hostess, is with her.  My biggest disappointment in the time I was at Dawson was that I didn't get any "Joyce time."  I loved every other minute I had with her, though.  Mostly lunch time.

Marne and me - mutual admiration.

We talked a lot.  I think these three did the most, though.  Just kidding.  Not really.

And then - we ate.  Yummy salads.

Guess whose birthday?

Guess how old she was?  She also hates the color pink (what the hell is wrong with her anyway?) so everything she got was pink. So there, Anne!

These are great ladies, wonderful people.  Thanks for inviting me!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big old salad bar - Allegan style

Two weeks ago a neighbor called and invited us to the "party barn" for a big old salad bar.  How could we refuse?

 These people bought an old bus garage in our industrial park and outfitted it for parties.  How cool is that?

 There was soup at the bar in the back and salads out in front.

Nope, I didn't bring either of these salads.  I made chocolate chip cookies.  Dang it, I forgot to take a picture of the dessert table!

 Didn't bring this one either but it's a pretty one, isn't?

These were extras for a mongo-sized bowl they had of lettuce.  Mix and match.

 I must have taken this one before we strapped on the feed bag.  Everybody's just sittin' there.

After dinner several people got serious with the dominoes.  We were too busy gabbing to get involved.

This was Tim's hand.  Do they call them "hands?"  Is it a good one?

It was a fun-filled evening.  Good food and nice people.  Hard to beat that, eh?