Sunday, September 16, 2018

An afternoon at West Lake

Recipe for the good life:  a group of high school friends, a lake and west Michigan summer - oh, and don't forget one of the coolest dogs in the Western Hemisphere. Combine and enjoy.

Susie kayaking

Brent enjoying a good life

Mary Beth and Luanne

Angie and Wayne

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Roman roads as subway maps

Below are copies of three incredible maps by Sasha Trubetskoy: the major Roman roads of the empire, the Roman roads of Britain and the Roman roads of Italy; all in the style of subway maps and available online as printable posters at

Personally, I paid the 9 bucks for Italy. It's not only tres cool but supports a college student who has a pretty fantastic imagination.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

An afternoon in Muskegon

The other day Susie and I drove up to Muskegon for an afternoon outing. We planned to meet friends Patty and Paul for dinner later that evening in Grand Haven and thought we'd take the opportunity to take in a couple of sights we had yet to experience on the Big Lake. And since it was a lovely day we thought to visit the Muskegon Museum of Art and see the World War 2 submarine USS Silversides. If we had time Susan would help me track down a grave in the bargain.

The museum is tiny -- a scant three rooms on one floor - but what a collection of artwork! One room was dedicated to 150 photos of Native Americans by the noted photographer Edward Curtis. While we learned that his photography has been considered rather controversial, the faces he captured are nothing short of stunning.

The other featured exhibition that stunned both of us was the ultra-realistic sculpture of Marc Sijan. Eery and a bit disconcerting to be around, these life-size sculptures must be seen to be truly appreciated.

From the art museum we drove along Lakeshore Drive out past the Pere Marquette Beach to visit the USS Silversides. Launched in 1941 this boat (SS-236) saw active service during the war, sinking 30 Japanese ships.

c. 1942
Even though it was nearing closing time, there were still plenty of people touring the boat. And it was heartening to see so many young people showing serious interest in their history.

OK, so you enter the sub in the forward torpedo room. . .


control room


crew's mess

crew's berthing area

engine room
We exited through the aft torpedo room.

The tour also includes the 1927 Coast Guard cutter McLane, which saw active service in the Bering sea off the coast of Alaska.

We were also given a unique opportunity to see the high-speed cross-lake ferry leaving Muskegon as it passed through the channel right next to the submarine.

Oh, and no we didn't find the grave we were looking for. On our way out of Muskegon we sopped at Oakwood Cemetery to search for the resting place of one William Zilkey. Zilkey had served in the 3rd Michigan Infantry during the civil war and died in Muskegon in February of 1920. In our search for the marker we surmised that his gravestone was long gone (notice the open space in the foreground of the photo).

From the cemetery we headed back to US 31 and turned south to Grand Haven to meet up with friends for dinner and catching up. A good day all round, I'd say.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Out and about in West Michigan

OK, I admit there's little rhyme or reason to this particular post -- the cynic might say I was too lazy all these past three months or so to post individual notes with accompanying photos. The cynic might be right. And then again she might be wrong.

Frankly, I couldn't bring myself to focus on one simple blog entry as somehow worthy of standing alone on the page as it were. That and I had a few other things on my mind -- spending nearly a month in Europe, spending time with folks I find funny, engaging and happy to be alive enjoying life.

And I was sick for a short while. No, not the kind of illness that brings one to death's door but one that was nonetheless debilitating. And no fun, if I may say.

Anyway, here's what our spring and summer have been like, in part and so far. . .

First up, the butterflies at Meijer Gardens with Susie, her sister Mary and Mary's daughter Mallory.

Cut to Memorial Day, which is a pretty big deal here in the USA.  The idea for "memorialization" of past lives grew out of the American Civil War. The veterans of that horrendous conflict as well as their friends and families determined it was important to recall, indeed to remember annually the sacrifice made by so many to preserve the Union. As a kid growing up in central Illinois I remember my folks calling it "decoration day" since we would go out to visit the folks who have long since shuffled off this mortal coil to place a vase of flowers on their graves.

Anyway, we thought we'd visit the cemetery before heading out to Clear Lake for some quality family time and good food.

Susan and her mom visiting Tunis VandenBerg's grave

Melissa Ten Have Loaney

Melissa, Jeff and Laurie

Bernice, Melissa and Susie

June saw another trip back to Meijer Gardens, this time along with family visiting from Chicagoland.  Anyway, I learned that the Orchid Corner has been renamed in honor of Anne Frank and the children who died in the Holocaust.

Later in the month we had a chance to catch a fascinating discussion about Fortunato no. 4 chocolate by its sole producer at Patricia's Chocolate in Grand Haven.

I can never refuse a shot of the pier at Grand Haven.

After the talk Susie and I headed back into Grand Rapids and had dinner at Søvengård on the city's west side.

Small plug here for one of my projects this year: I'm prepping for a presentation on the men of the 3rd Michigan buried in Fulton Street Cemetery in Grand Rapids (21 to be exact) and am updating some of photography.

Fulton Street Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the city (1838) and is the final resting place of many of the city's early settlers and more illustrious (and undoubtedly not-so-illustrious) characters.

Earlier in July we took a day trip up to Ludington, Michigan and checked out the state park and its beach -- both worth a stop, especially if you're keen on Lake Michigan.

After we left Ludington, we spent an hour or two touring the backroads of Mason County away from the lake and came across this bit of whimsy. . . . Enjoy your summer!