Circus Trip 2018: South Haven, Michigan

Day 71, Monday, September 24, 2018
South Haven, Michigan

Monday, my cousin had the day off, so we had the opportunity to take a little day trip over to South Haven, Michigan.  We were ready to have a little cousins relaxing time!

Our first stop was at the South Haven Brewpub for lunch.  I had the Philly Cheesesteak and the Sunset Amber Ale; it was a great lunch!  The sun was warm; by the end our lunch, Megan was already getting sunburned!

After lunch, we headed over to Warner Vineyards for a little wine tasting.  There were lots of options, so Megan and I split our tastings.  Megan and I have different palates for wine; Megan likes the sweeter wines and I like the drier ones.

After wine-tasting, we did a little poking around in shops in South Haven.  I got a Michigan zipper hoodie.  It was fun seeing all the cute items.  

We did one more wine tasting that afternoon, at 12 Corners.  I got a couple of bottles there, including their Aromella, which was really good!  

We wrapped up our day with a walk out to the South Haven Light.  It is a beautiful lighthouse, bright red at the end of the pier!  It was a beautiful, sunny day, but it was so windy!  We had a good time getting selfies with the lighthouse and taking photos of the lighthouse too.  

We ended our day with dinner with my parents, and my aunt and uncle at the Chinese buffet.  It was a good day to a fun day!  

Book Review: Compulsion

Compulsion, by Jonathan Kellerman

An elderly woman is stabbed to death outside her home when she goes out to grab her morning paper.  A young woman disappears on her way home from a nightclub.  At first, there is nothing similar about these two cases.  But soon enough, investigators begin to ask, how are these two crimes connected?  

Compulsion (Alex Delaware, #22)

Detective Milo Sturgis and Dr. Alex Delaware, a psychologist who gets pulled in to assist with investigations, dive into the case, trying to connect the dots in a series of murders that seem to have nothing in common except flashy, black cars.  Will they make it in time to prevent another murder?

This book was a quick read with plenty to keep you entertained.  

3 stars.

The Light and the Tunnel

In another 17 days, my life will be considerably less stressful.  It will be the end of a major project towards achieving my long-term goals.  I’m still too mired in the thick of it to feel relaxed enough to celebrate my success, but soon!

I am just trying to keep chipping away at the tasks.  Day after day, one task at a time.  It hasn’t been easy, certainly.  But it will be worth it.  And it has probably been made easier by the fact that the weather has pretty much sucked for any sort of leisure activities, so at least I don’t often feel like I’m missing out when I spend the weekend working.

I’m ready to take a breather.  I’m ready to have some time to relax.  I’m ready for a vacation!  But first I need to get through this last final push.  I can do this!

Book Review: A Higher Call

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II, by Adam Makos

A Higher Call is the true story of two World War II pilots, German fighter pilot and Ace Lieutenant Franz Stigler, and American B17F bomber pilot Second Lieutenant Charles Brown.  These two men fought for separate countries, in a war where brutal losses occurred.

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

The two men’s lives intersected by chance after an American bombing raid on Germany a few days before Christmas 1943.  Both men’s lives were forever changed by a few moments of compassion shown over the skies of Germany.  Neither man could talk about the experience during the war, but each of them remembered it, and decided to try to find each other more than 40 years later.

The book shifts back and forth between Franz and Charlie’s story, detailing their experiences during their childhoods, and the war.  These stories are not for the faint of heart.  Both men witnessed, and were involved in, well, a war.  They watched men shot out of the sky, burned alive, shot while trying to escape, and saw the devastation inflicted upon the civilians in the war-torn countries of Europe and North Africa.  In a word, it was horrific, and there were multiple times I broke down in tears listening to the retelling of their experience.  

If you have any interest in history, or any interest in understanding the complex experience of war, which led one man to show compassion for his enemy, you will want to read this book.  

5 stars. 

Progress

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  Frederick Douglass

I feel this quote lately.  Life is messy.  There’s no doubt about it.  It is cluttery and complicated and equal parts joy and pain.  Well, let’s be real.  Hopefully it is equal parts joy and pain, and not more pain than joy.  There are no guarantees.

I have embarked on a project of Marie Kondo-ing my life lately.  The purging continues.  I’m trying to get rid of that which does not spark joy.  It has been a strange and stressful process.  I’ve touched items and opened drawers to peek inside at things – representations of my life – which no longer spark joy.

I started this journey by pulling down a box from a top shelf of the guest bedroom closet.  A box of all the cards I received for my wedding.  I recycled all but one.  They belonged to a former life; a life I no longer lead.  I felt pretty ambivalent about them.

I picked up a framed photograph taken the day of my wedding.  My ex-husband and me.  He had taken that photograph with him when he moved out.  Then he brought it back a few months later – it didn’t fit with his new Casanova lifestyle, I guess.  That really stung at the time.  I look at that photo with regret for how that life ended, even though I could only control my part.  I tucked the photo into a box, because I can’t pretend I didn’t live it.

Other things do spark joy.  The china that my grandmother collected and were passed down to me; knowing that this strong, admirable woman loved these things enough to buy and save them.  And of course, my books.  It’s not hoarding if it’s books!  I can’t wait to read them all!  The pint glasses and postcards that I have collected on my travels.  Each one a happy memory of a place that I visited and an experience I had.  

I have recycled and shredded, and taken things to Goodwill, to the neighborhood Little Library, and to the dump.  I have held objects and tucked them back into their homes, and then later put them into the Goodwill pile.  I have put a few things in the Goodwill pile and then taken them out to put them away.  It’s a process, and I’m certainly not an expert at it.  But I have done more in the last few months than I have in the last ten years, and I’m proud of where I’m getting to.  

All of this to simplify, and to ready myself for change.  To let go of the things in my life that no longer serve me.  It hasn’t been easy, but I keep focusing on what joy will come if I let go of the past.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  -Socrates 

Book Review: The Charlemagne Pursuit

The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry

This is another in the series following Cotton Malone, a former Justice Department agent, who owns a rare book shop in Copenhagen.  But somehow he keeps managing to get pulled back into the adventures he tried so hard to leave behind.

The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone, #4)

Malone brings it upon himself this time, as conversations with his son lead him into a new desire to learn the truth behind his father’s death in 1971.  He knows that he died in a submarine accident in the North Atlantic, but what went wrong?  

Malone asks his former boss to get him a copy of the still classified file, which leads him on a pursuit he never expected.  His father, in fact, did not die in the North Atlantic, but instead while on a mission in Antarctica.  But why?

Malone learns that as he is trying to learn why his father died, there are powerful men who want to ensure that the secret never comes out.  His pursuit to find out the truth leads him to uncover the ancient secrets that his opponents don’t want him to know.  

As usual, this is a fast paced book with several twists and turns.  Unfortunately, I feel like this novel sort of fell flat on the believability index.  It was disappointing, because I never really bought it since the story is just a bit outside of the realm of reality.  That said, it was still an interesting read.  

3 stars.

Finally spring…

I swear, it has been the coldest, rainiest, gloomiest spring in the Pacific Northwest.  I heard somewhere that it has actually been the crummiest spring since 1990.

This weekend was actually the first weekend where the weather was sunny and nice enough for shorts!  I needed this!

This last week I have had a bit more time to spend with friends.  A week ago, I went to a cocktail and food pairing tasting at a local restaurant with my friend Shelley.  There were seven courses of mini-cocktails, paired with delicious food!  It was a bit of a splurge, but it was so much fun!

Then Wednesday night was steak night with Jena and Audrey – so delicious and great conversation!

And Friday, I got together with Shelley, Tiffany, Toni, Danielle and Barb!  Six of us for great conversations and amazing Italian food.  It was definitely more social outings than I have had in a week for quite awhile.  It was much needed.

Then I topped it off with morning walks on both days, and Mom and I went to the matinee showing of Downton Abbey today!  Wonderful movie – they did a great job with it!  What a great week!

Book Review: Bones

Bones, by Jonathan Kellerman

Bones is a murder mystery; the story of the search for the murderer of a woman with a bright future.  She is a musical prodigy, working as a tutor for a rich family whose son possesses the same bright talent.  She is discovered murdered in a bird marsh in Los Angeles.  The investigation uncovers several additional bodies buried in the marsh; they are all local prostitutes.

Bones (Alex Delaware, #23)

Detective Milo Sturgis calls in assistance from psychologist Alex Delaware; the different types of victims are providing a challenge.  Together, the two of them, along with assistance from a new detective in training, must find the killer.

It was an interesting murder mystery, full of twists and turns, where you never quite know who did it.

3 stars

Book Review: The Alexandria Link

The Alexandria Link, by Steve Berry, read by Scott Brick

This was another book in Steve Berry’s series featuring Cotton Malone, a retired Justice Department Agent who moved to Copenhagen to open a rare book shop.

The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, #2)

In The Alexandria Link, Cotton Malone is drawn into the chase when his son his kidnapped.  The kidnappers want information related to a previous case Malone worked on, and that only he possesses.  Making sure his son is safe will require him to revisit the previous case, and make sure what has been hidden remains that way.

And what is that secret information?  Well imagine for a moment that the Holy Land as named in the Bible is not actually in Israel and the region of Palestine?  What if Israel, as created after World War II, is not actually located where today’s version of the Bible says it is?  And along those lines, how would you prove it?

The adventure sends Cotton Malone on a search for the lost library of Alexandria, the huge research library of the ancient world, that was supposed to have been located in Alexandria, Egypt.  The library was said to have contained scrolls of the Old Testament prior to their translation into modern languages.  And those scrolls would hold the key to whether the location of the Holy Land, as described in the Bible, was within the modern state of Israel.

But why would that matter?  Because…  Modern day Christians, Jews and Muslims all make claim to the Holy Land.  But if it were in the wrong location, what do that do to the already tense situation?  Would an all out war ensue?

Berry’s writing style keeps the reader engaged throughout the whole book and his creative interweaving of history and hypothetical scenarios makes you think.  Plus, Scott Brick is one of the best narrators out there!

4 stars.

Don’t Worry, I’m Alive!

I’m here!  I’m not dead!  I know I’ve been quiet for the last few weeks, but I’m alive!

I’m in the middle of a stressful, trying time at work, and getting towards the end of a big project in my personal life.  It’s been a lot of work on both fronts, and I just haven’t had much time to sit down at a computer in my off hours.  But I’m here, and I’m ok, I promise! 

I’ve been neglecting my friends, and I haven’t even had the time to do my evening walks, so you know things are intense!

I’m trying to stay focused on the end goal amid the exhaustion and stress.  Soon, soon, soon, things will settle down a bit and I will have more time.  I’m looking forward to it! 

Meanwhile check out this beautiful sunset I caught last week from a park close to home. So pretty!

I hope you all are doing well!