Archive | April 2022

Circus Trip 2018: Marshall, Michigan

Days 70, Sunday, September 23, 2018
Marshall, Michigan

Sunday morning my parents and I had breakfast with my Aunt Elaine, Uncle Richard and cousin Stephanie, and then we were off to the other side of the state to visit my mom’s side of the family.  Mom’s family is much smaller, but I have an aunt, uncle and cousin (and a few other relatives outside of Michigan) who live in Galesburg, Michigan, a small town outside of Kalamazoo. 

We headed over to the other side of the state, but driving separately since my parents had their own rental car.  I stopped in Marshall, Michigan and did a little wandering and shopping.  Marshall is a cute little town with a historic downtown area with shops and antique stores (which unfortunately are mostly closed on Sundays), and several nicely painted murals on the buildings.  

And then my cousin Megan met me at Dark Horse Brewing Company.  If you feel like you have heard of it, you probably have.  They had a reality show there several years ago, but I’ve never actually seen the show.  Megan and I got a beer and a pretzel with beer cheese, and I got a t-shirt!

That evening was pretty quiet, just enjoying a dinner of pork tenderloin tacos with the family, and catching up.

Not every day on the road can be thrilling I guess!


Book Review: Bright Shiny Morning

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

This was an unusual choice of audio books among my Dad’s collection, in that it was not a thriller.  Perhaps my mom chose it. I read James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces years ago before the controversy about him making up the story and then selling it as a memoir.  That hubbub seems to have died down.

Bright Shiny Morning

This novel, if you can call it that, details a series of stories about people in Los Angeles.  The down and out, the rich and famous, the ones who are trying to escape their pasts and build a new life.  The downtrodden and abused, the up and coming, the ones who have nothing but hope in LA. 

In between the characters’ stories, Frey details the history of Los Angeles, its fun facts, its troublesome violence, its natural disasters.  Honestly, no book has ever made me want to visit a place less than this book.  I’ve been to LA, and don’t really see the appeal, but this really solidified that I cannot understand why anyone would want to live there.  The only thing it has going for it is sun. 

Still I found myself interested in the stories, and intrigued by Frey’s unusual writing style, which frequently annoys readers based on his reviews.  The narrator, Ben Foster, is excellent.  He narrates with different accents, and changes his pitch, tone, speed and volume to vividly portray the stories in the book.  However, if you are looking for a happy ending, there doesn’t seem to be one in Los Angeles.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

4 stars. 

Daily Musings: Someday

I saw this meme the other day and it stuck with me.  You can “someday” your way out of a life.  Let that sink in – I’ll wait.

I’m sure we are all guilty of this.  I am.  You end up focusing on the “shoulds.”  I should work those extra hours at work.  I should put in the extra time and effort for that promotion.  You end up chasing the dreams of others, and not making time for your own.   

And then there are the, “I wish I had time” moments.  The vacations you never take because you don’t have time.  The Sunday Funday with friends you don’t do because you are supposed to be cleaning out the closet.  Insert the things that you forego and the excuses you make for it here.  We all have different ones.  I once told a friend, “you make time for the things you want to do.”  And then I’ve said the same thing periodically to the same friend for the last 22 years.  But the fact that I’m still saying it, obviously means it’s so hard to do it.  I’m not immune.

What are those things that you want to do?  What are those things you have been putting off until “someday”?  When is your someday?  Are you letting someday pass you by, getting further and further out of reach as you chase the here and now?

And if you are, and almost all of us are, why?  What’s your motivation?  Is it fear of change?  It is the desire to please someone else whose dreams don’t align with yours?  Is it a feeling that you aren’t good enough to make it happen?  What is holding you back?

I want to slow down.  I want more time for travel.  I want more time with family.  I want more time to read and look for rocks and wander.  And I want it to be someday already.

What’s the life you are “somedaying” your way out of?  And what are you going to do about it?

Book Review: Empire and Honor

Empire and Honor, by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
So what would happen if in the waning days of World War II, some German officers and troops escaped from the crumbling Reich?  What if they made their way in German U-boats to a neutral country, where they could rebuild and try again?
Empire and Honor
Empire and Honor explores this very premise, that officers from the Third Reich made their way in U-boats to Argentina, with cash and uranium for nuclear weapons. And Americans working for a new intelligence agency are charged with finding these defectors.
I really wanted to like this book.  I enjoy World War II history, and am intrigued by the theories that there were German officers who escaped from Germany at the end of the war to make a new life, and wait for a new opportunity to bring the Reich to life again in Argentina.  The book started out so promising, with stories of the refugees trying to cross the German border at the end of the war.  With stories of the fledgling secret intelligence agency of the US Government.  With stories of the Germans who were helping the allies.  And stories of romance.
But ultimately this novel never got off the ground for me.  Stories ended in mid-air, never to be picked up again.  Characters were not distinguishable from each other.  Characters became focused on petty grievances instead of the big picture of saving humanity.  And how the hell did Juan Peron fit in?  Yes, the later President of Argentina.  The point of his character was vague, and his story line was one that dropped off mid-story.  It was confusing and annoying.
I ended up wondering why this audio book was 16 CDs, because it seemed like they could have wrapped it up in 4. 
2 stars. 

Daily Musings: Girl’s Days

Last weekend I spent the day with my oldest friend, Tiffany. 

Tiffany and I met when I was 7 years old and she was 5; her mom taught me how to ride horses.  I saw her one or two weeks a year for the first couple of years, and then once a week for lessons, and then as we got older we saw each other regularly for 4-H meetings and horse shows, county and state fairs, horse camping and various other horse activities.  It was a good way to grow up. 

It has been almost 40 years since we met and we are still friends.  We don’t see each other all the time, but we make it a point to get together for dinner or a girls day every few months.  And every time, we pick up where we left off without skipping a beat. 

We went south to have a late lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, the Train Wreck Bar & Grill.  The food is so good!  And the cocktails are excellent!  We sat for a couple hours, catching up and chatting. 

Afterwards, we went for a walk around Northern State Hospital.  Northern State was at one time one of Washington State’s largest asylums. It opened in 1912 and was in operation until 1973. 1,487 patients are buried on the grounds… The Spanish style architecture is beautiful, and we wandered around the buildings and peeked into the broken windows. At it’s height in the 1950s, over 2700 patients were there, committed for various reasons. 

According to histories, many severely mentally ill people were confined, but others were given quite a bit of freedom to roam the grounds, work in the various industries and sneak off into town.  Commitments were different back then, as husbands could have their wives committed for hysteria, and teenagers were sent there because they were troubled or difficult to deal with.  Sadly, lobotomies and electroshock therapies were performed there, and many patients were worse off after these treatments than before.

There are many rumors of Northern State being haunted, and I can understand why, with almost 1,500 people buried there.  When the facility closed, 204 containers of unmarked cremains were found as well, and buried in a nearby city cemetery.  There are probably more who died there, and their families had them buried somewhere else.  There was a palpable energy that makes your hair stand on end. I know we weren’t alone…

We explored only a tiny portion of the hospital grounds, and I would like to go back and see more.

Yesterday was a pretty nice day.  It would have been a good day for relaxing.  But no…  Yesterday I spent the day cleaning the deck.  It’s a tough job, but fortunately it is a once a year chore.  Thankfully my friend Shelley helped!

And it looks so good when it is done! 

I hope you are all well and enjoying the last of the weekend!