Exploring Fabius Township and St. Joseph County, Michigan, with side trips all over this Great Lakes state

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The X-factor for ABC Wedesday

Pheno gave us so many examples of X's, I felt unable to find any more and then this video came along from a friend.  This is the Australian version of American Idol or Eurovision.  I wish us all the courage of Emmanuel Kelly in the coming year and the peace John Lennon dreamed of.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Willow in the winter

Earlier this month Willow waited to hear  my wishes on which way to go, the lower pond path or the upper.  That was a wonderful snowy morning, but today is woefully without snow as we wend our way to Christmas.  We are witnessing fog and rain and temperatures quite above normal.  So the lyrics of the Wassail Song are very appropriate to our winter weather:

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Whoops, I got ahead of myself.  Let Good King Wenceslas and me wish you a very Merry Christmas, first with Robert Shaw Chorale

and then wigging out with Mannheim Steamroller.  Happy Holidays to all!

Many more holiday wishes await you at ABC Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Victuals on ABC Wednesday

A vintage kind of word for this week's ABC Wednesday: victuals.  Defined as food fit for human consumption, three of its synonyms also start with v: viand or vittles or vivers.  

Never quite certain what vibes or little voices in my head cause me to visit a particular word to visually share with you.  But this vitamin-filled breakfast omelet (spinach, mushrooms, yellow peppers, one real egg and 1/2 cup egg substitute) with homemade whole wheat artisan bread (also with a butter substitute) inspired me to find the camera when Gene served it up several weeks ago.  And by the way, that is V-8 juice in the glass.  I know I didn't have ABC Wednesday in mind, it just look so delicious -- and it was.  Gene could be a very successful victualier.  Best be voracious when approaching a breakfast creation by Gene!

As some of you know, many weeks I share with you my wanderings through references to the word that is my "victim" of the week, finding amazingly that I am never really alone in using even unusual words.  For example, go to the Vintage Victuals,  a blog by Ellie to share old-fashioned and family recipes.   Or just explore good foods and their photos at Brooke's Victuals & Libations blog.  If you want someone else to good bread for you and you live in Berkeley,  California, try Vital Vittles,  an organic mill and bakery.

To read the fascinating history of the airlift of food to Berlin during 1948-49, called Operation Vittles, check out this excellent Wikipedia article on the background of a divided Berlin, the Soviet Blockade, and the US and British response.  Keep reading and don't miss the story of Colonel Gail Halvorsen who dropped candy to the children of Berlin (they called them "raisin bombs"), an idea adopted by all the Allied pilots and called Operation Little Vittles.

I must admit to being a victim of verbomania......  Vive la verbose!!!  And please visit more purveyors of vivacious V words at ABC Wednesday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Used Book Room

Hanging among many others, this sign is from the Long Lake Food and Book Shop and one more in my series in homage to the shop's utterly unique owner, Joanne Holden.   The new owner will start another store, but it could never be the same unusual place that Joanne made it.  Many will miss it!

More U blogs are under construction at this week's ABC Wednesday.  Utilize your time well by going there!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Once a sundog....

Until I had my camera in hand, there was a sundog in the middle of this cloud fragment.  Yesterday was only the second time I have seen a sundog and the first was also afternoon of a cold day.  I think of them as miniature rainbows, perhaps a better description would be a section of a rainbow.  The sundog, or parhelion, is ice crystals reflecting the sun. 

I recommend these Wikipedia articles: Sundog and Atmospheric Optics.  And for a great novel, please read Jim Harrison's Sundog

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November goes out like a .....

This is what walked in early yesterday morning.  If March can go out like a lion, this November went out like, well, a polar bear!  There are still three weeks until winter officially comes and all the signs point to a snowy one. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving thanks!

T'is T-week on ABC Wednesday and Troy reminded us all that time is of the essence.  Last week there were all the preparations for Thanksgiving to be taken care of and thus I found myself running out of it and never even getting an S-post up.  How terrible!  How could I even try to make it up?  Suddenly I had a taste for more of that wonderful gathering of family and food (the best of American traditional foods: a stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie)

So, I am taking you to another time and place for this second Thanksgiving and celebrating with you my ancestors from a photo I found again the other day.  The place is still St. Joseph County, but in Indiana this time and the date is 1939 not 2011.   Gathered for the Thanksgiving celebration are my parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles, and a bottle of Hoosier Beer.  Sitting are my Uncle Willy Archambault, my father John McCauslin,  and my grandmother, his mother, Marie Evelyn (Archambault) McCauslin.  Standing are my other grandmother, Helen (Stuckey) Turnock, my Aunt Anna (Charron) Archambault, my grandfather August (Buck) McCauslin, my uncle Chuck Borowski (waving the Hoosier Beer above the teetotaler Aunt Anna's head) and my mother, June (Turnock) McCauslin.  Since Grandma McCauslin has on her apron, I am assuming that they had all gathered at her home on Notre Dame Avenue.  Missing from the photo are my Grandpa Ted Turnock and my Aunt Evy (McCauslin) Borowski.  One of them must have taken the picture. 

So, please take Troy's advice, waste no more time here, but take a trip with all the tantalizing T-words brought to you by the teasers of ABC Wednesday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

the glimmer of hope on a snowy morn

For Skywatch Friday, another look at last Friday's first heavy snow and the glimmer of sun on a snow-filled cloud.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keeping warm

Two golden-haired ones huddle by the fireplace flames to drive away the cold and forget about the lake-effect snow flurries that hang over the day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ramiferous on ABC Wednesday

It feels like I am rather reaching with this R-word.  The recent snow and cold has reduced my rationality and rattled my brain.  Sensible restraint has been relinquished and I reluctantly offer you “ramiferous,” defined as bearing branches. 

The first Google entry (ramiferous in botany) is from a less than recent 1832 report and the next from 1920.  Before I retract this recondite entry, let me retire repentantly.  I do not want to leave you recumbent and so I refer you to Reggae music to revive you!  And check out this story from NPR on the newest Reggae stars: Non-Jamaican Reggae: Who's Making It And Who's Buying It

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winter came with a snow that began around noon and didn't stop until a heavy, wet two inches was covering everything when we went walking this morning.  The clouds were trying to part to let the sun come through and hopefully take the snow burden off the trees.  It was the evergreens that were groaning under the weight since most of the deciduous trees are bare now.   Luckily we did not receive the snowy blast that hit the U.S. east coast almost two weeks ago.  Some have just had electricity restored this week.

To escape snow skies, please stop by Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Flowering Quince for ABC Wednesday

In order to find a contribution for Q on ABC Wednesday, I had to search through last spring's photos to find this closeup of the flowers on my quince bush.  The flowers emerge generally before the leaves and make the still cold days of spring brighten with their intense hues.  Today those blooms are gone and even the leaves have deserted the branches.  Fall is queen today!

I can guarantee more Q's to quaff your thirst can be found at ABC Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apple Poster for ABC Wednesday

You are inside the  barn at the Spirit Springs Farm just across the county line from us in Cass County.  If you seek an amazing variety of apples, this is the place to come.  We have a standing order each year.  The farmer who started these orchards, filled with heritage apples, is dead, but his four daughters return every fall to pick and sell the 70 + varieties of antique and unusual apples.  One of my favorites is the Roxbury Russet, small and slightly tart but tasty.  And I found out researching for this post that the Roxbury Russet may be the oldest variety of apple in the United States, according to the website, Orange Pippin.  Click here for some interesting facts about apple production in Michigan.

By the way, speaking of P and Michigan, our new tourist industry motto is "Pure Michigan."  And for more postings on the prolific P, please pop on over to ABC Wednesday.  Thank you to Mrs. Nesbitt and her crew for pushing me every week into exploring our world!

Monday, October 31, 2011

But was it?

The answer is no, the room was not empty, but filled with empties!  A visit to the Long Lake Food and Book Shop was always quite a trip!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Official, but not officious!

You are back in the Long Lake Food and Book Shop with me touring the original signage Joanne created over the years.  You are about to enter the Book Room, actually several rooms that are filled with new and used books.   Michael Moore looks down on us from the ceiling as Joanne cautions, "Enter at your own risk!"  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thanks for coming

With Joanne's retirement in July, the Long Lake Food and Book Shop is closed and its sale is pending in November.   The plans of the new owner are not clear yet, but I am pretty sure this will now be the only way to see the Joan Hector window and the "thank you for coming in" sign on the entrance/exit way.   And I am certain that there will be no more of Joanne's wonderful messages scattered throughout the store.  I will post more signs this week to honor this local institution and its almost-former owner who turns 84 this week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nimbostratus for ABC Wednesday

I was feeling like a numskull.  I had neglected to even negotiate my way through the N’s in the dictionary and I was very nervous.  Here it was Wednesday morning and I had no new entry for ABC Wednesday, nary a one, nada, nichevo.  I had the notion to skip doing an N-blog, but then I really did not have the nerve to break the nexus with the ABC gang.  That wasn’t the notoriety I craved.  So stop being a nattering nabob of negativity, knuckle down and nab a dictionary, I said to myself.   So I did!

And next thing I knew there was the word I needed and I even had a photo to illustrate it.
This nimbostratus cloud (a low dark cloud that precipitates rain, sleet, or snow) appeared one day when we were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan just a month ago.  You are viewing Lake Superior from Shelter Bay and it could certainly be raining over Au Train Island.

Please do not neglect checking out the numerous contributions to N-Day on

Monday, October 17, 2011

Odd man, but not out!

We were visiting the Little Store on the Prairie (over in Cass County northwest of us) to stock up on items they carry in bulk (flour, nuts, rice) plus cheese and grass fed meats. 

In the barnyard next to the store we came across this feeding frenzy.  The chickens really had no choice whether to allow a guest -- a Highland cattle whose head is bigger than they are!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Misty Morning

Misty mornings are the norm here in Southwest Michigan, especially this past week of absolutely delightful Indian Summer.  Temperatures in the 70's (most definitely above average) during the day and ranging from 39 to 50 at night have us all meandering about outside as much as possible.  

Find many more M's to marvel over at ABC Wednesday!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Once more the Mighty Mac

Yes, once more we are crossing THE bridge of Michigan between the lower and upper peninsulas, the Mackinac (pronounced mak-in-aw) Bridge, or the Mighty Mac or the Big Mac.  The clouds do reflect my sadness at leaving the Upper Peninsula again, although unlike before retirement I didn't actually cry! 

I recommend a Jim Harrison novel, Sun Dog, to you.  It tells the story of one man from the UP who worked on the building the bridge in the 1950's.

I also recommend Louis LaVache's Sunday Bridges for more bridges to somewhere!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Animal Rescue Fund (ARF)

Every October two- and four-legged friends gather at the Meyer Broadway Park in Fabius Township to help ARF raise funds to help protect the four-legged residents of St. Joseph County.  Here we are strolling along on one of the trails participating in the ARF Walk-a-thon.  Willow, in the lead,  is the same color as the leaves on the right side of the path.  She is checking up on whether I am keeping up!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sleeping Bear sky

It seems as if the lakes below are reflected on the sky and not vice versa! 

This photo, looking east toward Big and Little Glen Lakes, was taken from the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Drive of the Slepping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 

For more wonderful skies, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

L is for lace-curtain Irish

I was loathe to leave behind my first idea for L, inspired last week by Roger’s fine take on the Kennedys and the memories his entry for K on ABC Wednesday brought back of growing up Irish in South Bend, Indiana.   That choice was “lace-curtain Irish.”

Curious about an “official” definition, I looked it up in lots of places with lousy results, in the sense that agreement is a loser in the debate.  Is it a slur or a compliment?  Only American or also Irish in its usage?  Did it refer to making lace?   Or hanging lace curtains, or simply aspiring to hang lace curtains, in your windows?    The American Heritage Dictionary (my favorite) says: “aspiring to or emulating the middle class.”  One side of my Irish family had definitely moved into the middle class (Brigid Flynn married an English Protestant!) and the other side (the Irish-French Canadian union) qualified because they aspired to it.  

But then I could not even find the photo of lace curtains in my very own house!  Did I have the luxury of continuing to look in old hard drives?  Was I just being lazy not to come up with another of the luscious L words that would leap to mind if I just tried longer?  Or would the legendary “luck of the Irish” see me through to finding what I remembered as a lovely photo which I would hate to lose?

Well, it is now late afternoon of ABC Wednesday.  I have lavished hours on the search of several back-up drives.  Finally I turned to my last hope, launched the very old Star-Max hard drive (which was left behind several computers ago), and, lo and behold, there it was, the photo I call “My Redon,” a late summer bouquet in front of the lace curtains,  I hope it brings a smile to your face and a lilt to your gait!

Do not linger here any longer!  Lope on over to ABC Wednesday for lucid and lustrous blogs on the letter, L.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Late summer day at Sleeping Bear Dunes

It would be hard to find a road with more spectacular views than that of the Pierce Stocking Drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern lower Michigan.  We chose to spend the night on our way home from Lake Superior at this second of the two national lakeshore parks in Michigan.   This was the frosting on the cake of our week on Lake Superior!

Reflections from around the world can be found at this wonderful site: Weekend Reflections

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

K is for kayak

A perfect day for kayakers in the waters of Lake Superior around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was also a perfect day for walkers like Gene and Willow and their favorite photographer, me!  There was sun and warmth in the September air and a calm and colorful lake at Miners Castle Rock near the west end of the PRNL, a day to treasure.

To pick your way through more K's, please visit ABC Wednesday!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just a week ago

Sunrise over Lake Superior's AuTrain Bay last Friday as we prepared to head south at the end of a week in our favorite part of Michigan, the Upper Peninsula.  It was the last day with pasties for lunch and no more whitefish at every supper for another year!

Please find more skies from around the world at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just joking?

Driving along H01 in Alger County last week we came upon an unexpected sign in the forest, a very folkloric-looking sign.  It stood out amongst the trees and vegetation of the Hiawatha National Forest and I had to stop and grab the camera while Gene and Willow waited patiently in the car.  My guess was that since we were definitely in Finnish-settled land of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the language of the sign was Finnish.   What does it say?

If you have very good eyesight, you might be able to read the English in the lower right hand corner of the sign.  I don't;  so when we arrived home I went straight to Google Translator and was startled by the translation possibilities.   See for yourself what I discovered is the translation of Harran paska puro.  You can see the creek in the second and third pictures.  It doesn't look quite that bad to me!  OK, OK, it is a little brown.........

For more jollity, please visit ABC Wednesday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

AuTrain in the rain

Since the rain is keeping us inside again today, let me show you a moody view of AuTrain Island on this cold and windy day.  The moods of Superior are always spectacular!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I is for island

Incredible morning on Shelter Bay with AuTrain Island silhouetted against the horizon of Lake Superior.

More I's at ABC Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

H is for hot dog

No we are not still in Chicago.  Chicago, its hot dogs at least, came to Three Rivers for Harmony Fest.  There were not only dogs (two vendors) but also ribs and chicken barbecued in the drum right before you and finger-licking good (forget the Colonel!).

For the hottest H words around, visit this week's ABC Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Harmony Fest

An annual event in downtown Three Rivers on the Sunday before Labor Day is Harmony Fest.  Main Street is closed off for a block with musicians at the south end and vendors' tents down both sides of the street to the north with food, crafts, and displays of local projects.  The middle of the street has picnic tables and plenty of space for putting your lawn chair up close to the bands while still leaving room for a "dance floor."  

I wish I had done this shot as a video so that you could hear and dance to the Gratitude Steel Band as these folks were!  Leading off the jam were the Waseppi Bluegrass Band.  After Gratitude came the blues from the Vincent Hays Project.  You can catch the whole lineup and learn more about Harmony Fest at the Harmony Fest Website.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chairs on the terrace at the Shedd

Shades of black, blue and gray dominate the sunny cafe tables and chairs on the terrace of the Shedd Aquarium on downtown Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline.  And only one pigeon!

Lots more shadows to see at Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lake Michigan's reflection

Just a week ago we were sitting in The Abbott Oceanarium*  of the Shedd Aqurium on Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline when I noticed that we could view the lake in front of us and also behind us.
When the show begins,  a rather large curtain drops down to hide the windows on the lake and the dolphins come out to play and delight us.

To see more of the world reflected in a photo, please visit Weekend Reflections brought to you by James and friends.

*"which immerses you in the vibrant coastal ecosystem of beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea otters and sea lions. You’ll also find a host of fishes and invertebrates that make their homes where freshwater flows into the ocean or where tides turn seascapes to landscapes and back again each day."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chicago sky perspective

A variety of lights in Grant Park compete with the former Sears' tower for prominence of place in the Chicago sky.  It tickled my fancy to see the lights and the ivy outshine the tower....

Visit other sky views at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

G is for gargantuan and generals

For G-Day on ABC Wednesday here is a photo that involves two generals and a gargantuan building in that great town, Chicago.   We had gathered in Chicago for the wedding celebration of young friends on Saturday evening and had all day before the train would take us back to Fabius.  So Sunday morning we strolled through Grant Park (named for U.S. President and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant) on our way to the Shedd Aquarium and the special exhibit on Jellyfish.  It was at the corner of the park at 11th Street that we passed this monument to the Civil War general, John Alexander Logan, an Illinois hero and congressman (not necessarily synonymous). 
The building behind General Logan is the Aon Center.   I knew it once as the Standard Oil building.  To its left is the Two Prudential Plaza building and on the right our insurance money at work, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower.  The Wikipedia article on the Aon Center has an interactive panoramic view of downtown Chicago in which you can see the relative height of all the city's skyscrapers.  Click on any building to learn more.
For Carl Sandburg's homage to Chicago, visit Chicago Poems, while you listen to Frank Sinatra sing  "Chicago, Chicago, the toddling town, I'll show you around":

Explore the world of G's beyond Chicago on ABC Wednesday.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weird and Wild Weather

Earthquakes in Virginia and Colorado, Hurricane Irene bearing down on the mainland US, two nights of fierce thunder and lightening storms here in southwest Michigan on Tuesday and Wednesday nights racing toward Canada with tornadoes in Wisconsin and Ontario -- Weird and Wild Weather indeed. These two photos were taken Wednesday night about five minutes apart and show the turmoil and strange orange light that followed the initial storm. For more skies, some definitely gentler, please visit Skywatch Friday.

nobody home

I think this alien-looking creature is the case of a cicada.  After watching it not move for several hours, I had the courage to touch it and found it empty.  It sure fooled me!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frogs for ABC Wednesday

Seen out the screen of the kitchen window yesterday while we were finishing the breakfast dishes was this froggy foursome.   Finally, a perfect feature for F-day on ABC Wednesday!

But then I was floundering around with a flotilla of F-words to accompany the foto;  nothing fully fit.  I figured I needed to focus better on those frog fotos, and oh, for heaven's sake.......... found myself humming this old folksong, Froggie Went a Courtin’.

Did I first hear it sung by Burl Ives?  (I definitely remember Blue Tail Fly  (done here not by Burl but by Big Bill Broonzy) and Big Rock Candy Mountain from a Burl Ives record of my parents.)   After further forays into recordings of Froggie, here is the fulsome list of recordings --folksy, funky, funny, whatever you favor! -- that I found:

Brothers Four


Flat Duo Jets



Tex Ritter

Uncle Pecos from Tom and Jerry

Washboard Jungle

I bet you now have your fill of Froggie,  so I must ‘fess up and be furtive no longer about my favorite version:  Bob Dylan

So flee from thr friggin' frogs and fly on over to  ABC Wedneday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eavesdropping on ABC Wednesday

Ruby may not especially enjoy my eavesdropping on her while she is eating......   Her eyes and ears are expressing a warning should you get any nearer her treat, "I am not an effete nor an endentate!"  "Well, excuse me!" I exclaimed, and exited most energetically.

Explore more E's on this week's ABC Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


The fairies have disappeared with the sunlight, but the mushrooms are still dancing......
For truly delicious D's, dive into ABC Wednesday this week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the yellows of summer for ABC Wednesday

 Last round of ABC Wedneday, Y fell in winter,  in January in fact, and I showed you the yellow glow of kitchen lights viewed from the outside on a cold winter day.  Now I take You on a tour of yellows from the warm days of late June on Lake Michigan.

Did I tell you that this western shore of Michigan (the eastern shore of the lake) is called the Third Coast?  The other two coasts may have their New Yorks and Montereys, but our coast has the largest collection of fresh water dunes in the world according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Learn more about all the shores of Lake Michigan in this Wikipedia article.

EnjoY manY more Y's at ABC WednesdaY.