Tag Archives: Entertainment

A Weekend in the Windy City

My Granddaughter Gracie and I took a quick overnight trip to Chicago. I thought it would be fun to take a train. Two first experiences for her.


Friday morning was spent on Amtrak. A bit less than five hours. Our surrounding travel companions happened to be a group of college boys and two older gentlemen, maybe coaches or Dad’s. They were on their way to Chicago to see the Cubs play ball. I think the bar car sold out of Bud Light before ten am. Thankfully, the boys were respectful of their language and were in jolly spirits which produced much laughter from everyone around.

Gracie and I played a few games, told each other silly riddles, did word searches, and read. Did I mention snacks? I thought I had packed enough for the trip home too.

I found some earphones in my backpack. Now Gracie could hear the Harry Potter movie/game she was trying to watch instead of hearing all about baseball stats and college type conversations from the boys around us.

At Union Station, my sweet cousin Debbie who lives near the city said she would be our taxi. She drove us to Shedd Aquarium where we spent the next several hours enthralled with the magical, mystical, magnificent creatures of our planet. There were sharks, eels, seahorses, stingrays, Beluga whales, penguins, and a rescued blind walrus that was full of tricks. We saw clownfish like Nemo and a regal tang fish like Dory in the movie.  The living breathing coral and anemones were amazing and gorgeous, and of course, there were dolphins. Grace enjoyed the six-inch yellow and gold seahorses, whales and the dolphin show the most.  It’s also nice to know how many rescue missions Shedd Aquarium is responsible for.


From the aquarium, Deb drove us to our hotel. Once we settled into our room (with an excellent unexpected view of the river and Lake Michigan) we prepared for a short walk to an authentic Italian restaurant called, Labriola Café and Ristorante. It came highly recommended for their famous Chicago deep dish and thin crust pizzas. Gracie decided to order meatballs smothered in marinara sauce with a dish of homemade buttered pasta on the side. All delicioso!


After dinner, we returned to our hotel to check out the swimming area. Gracie was so inspired by the whale and dolphin show, I think she went through her own metamorphosis.  She dipped and somersaulted underwater, waving her feet in the air like a whale tail for over an hour while Deb and I cheered, applauded, and chatted. The day and evening couldn’t have been more perfect.

Our night view from the eighth floor was filled with the reflection of twinkling lights from the skyscrapers and street lights that were reflected on the ripples of the river.  We were equally impressed with a peek of the underground streets that spread beneath the city. Sadly, due to having to work the next day, Debbie had to leave us.


First, on our morning agenda was breakfast at The Grand Lux Café a few blocks away. My friend Peggy introduced me to this memorable restaurant about ten years ago while on a writing retreat. The Lux has a serene atmosphere with high-back plush window seats over-looking the cityscape and are known for their homemade-on-the-spot-desserts, along with top quality chef-created meals. Guests are encouraged to order their desserts at the same time you request your entrée. They produce and bake each individual one to order. The taste buds know this to be absolute truth. Beignets (benˈyā) are my all time favorite. I love them so much; I haven’t tried any other dessert. I’ve glimpsed other delicacies pass by on waiter’s trays and I’m sure they are as appealing to the eye as they are decadent to the palate. Maybe next time.


After we finished our breakfast of pancakes and whipped cream for Grace, an omelet for me, they arrive . . . The beignets make their appearance in a basket, cloaked in a white linen cloth, piping hot, wearing a sprinkle of powdered sugar and served with a variety of dipping sauces, which include; Raspberry, chocolate, cinnamon, and a cream brulee.


Now it’s time to walk the extra calories off on the Magnificent Mile. Familiar store names of many famous brands, designers, and businesses fill these towering buildings, almost all with twirling doors, to my granddaughters delight.

Grace stopped abruptly in front of me and stared skyward. Her jaw hung open, her eyes wide. Misty clouds wrapped around the upper part of a tall building like a shawl. “Look, Grandma, that one is above the clouds and that one and look over there.” She did a jumping jack twirl dance as we moved on and said, “Whew, I’m dizzy from looking up.”


We peeked in storefronts and browsed in a variety of shops. Grace was thrilled, most had twirling doors, along with her other favorite rides, the escalators, and elevators. I think she would have been happy riding up and down all day.

We had tons of fun shopping at the Gap Inc., H&M, T. J. Maxx and Marshall’s along with the Ghirardelli Ice-cream and Chocolate Shop.  We toured the different levels of the American Girl Doll store and finally found the doll with her name.


We started towards Navy Pier when thunder reverberated from all the monstrous buildings. We chose to turn back and catch a bus to Union Station even though it was a tad early for our 4:00pm train departure. We were a bit sad we didn’t get to shop Navy Pier and a whole-lot-happy we didn’t have to walk to the train station in the thunderstorm. Taxi’s and busses were everywhere.

“Well,” I said,  “Since we didn’t get to see everything, we’ll just have to come again sometime.”

“Really Grandma, we can come back, next weekend?”

I laughed, “No, not next weekend. But we will definitely visit again.”

We started a plan list on the train for our return trip to Chicago – First stop, Navy Pier, then the museum with the T-Rex, and possibly the Planetarium, if we have time. I can’t wait!

We decided we love the Windy City, the train rides and best of all, sharing fun times with each other.


All photo credits to PRF


Filed under Chicago

Shipshewana Silliness

My July 4th began in the car, listening to a half of a very good book while I drove to Shipshewana, Indiana for our annual ladies retreat with some family and friends.

I thought it was crazy that I bought cinnamon bread in Indiana and when I sliced it, it was shaped like Michigan.Lotta love in that loaf.


The flea market celebrated the holiday opening on Monday, along with their usual Tuesday and Wednesday. Who doesn’t love an extra day to shop?

Besides the famous flea market with bargains beyond ones imagination, there are many store-front shops that line the main street and side streets.

We stayed at the Farmstead Inn, ate fresh locally farmed Amish food, found wonderful bargains every day, had our very own auction one night, (everyone contributes a donation or more) and played card B I N G O the next. The auction purchases and bingo prizes were fun, some practical, others, well, maybe not so much.



The musical, The Home Game, playing at the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant,  was raved about by those who attended.

But as always – –  the very best part for me was all the laughter, and just being together with family and friends and I can’t forget my mother’s wonderful silly sisters.



At one point I truly thought someone in the hotel may complain. We all laughed so loud and hard, it hurt. Truly the best kind of pain! That’s me below with the happy tears at the bottom right.

Jersey Cookie Girl

Our Shipshee Faces! Photo- Jersey Cookie Girl

Here are some of our best finds this trip!

If you love – better than Grandma’s comfort food, shopping, and great flea market bargains, you will adore Shipshewana. I highly recommend a visit.

Until next time, wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Love Mel


Filed under Shipshewana, Uncategorized

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Not only is Grand Rapids the second largest city in Michigan, but it has numerous extraordinary entertaining things to do, and amazing places to visit. My husband and I found two of them last Monday.

A peek at our day trip to Meijer Gardens.

It was the perfect weather, overcast and not to crowded. There were fields of wild flowers, woodlands and wetlands along with perfectly manicured grounds through our entire journey on the walking paths. We spent about four hours and I wished we had at least that many more. It was so tranquil to take in the kaleidoscope of color, shapes, scents and spectacular sculpture exhibits by some extremely impressive artists.

We didn’t make it to the children’s gardens. Although we saw a few children in swim suits and joyous sounds emanating from the area as we passed by.

There was some amazing music that could be heard throughout the grounds from a band that was rehearsing for a later concert at the amphitheater.

The pillars, flowers, and vines were breathtaking.


The Japanese Gardens  opened in 2015. As we enjoyed the journey through the curved paths, it felt as though you were being bathed in a blanket of calm. There were several waterfalls ranging from a trickle to a cascading rush. The blossoms blew their fragrance as if sending gentle kisses through the air. I never wanted to leave, but they closed at five.


In one of the indoor exhibits I recognized a saguaro cactus, but this one was under fifty years old…no arms yet. Earlier blog post about these unique cacti.



The sculpture gardens are filled with unique and famous pieces by many artists.

I enjoyed this equine masterpiece that measures 288 x 91 x 339 inches. The American Horse, was created by Nina Akamu in 1999.

He’s Majestic… I’m about 5 1/2 feet tall and to him I must feel like a horse fly on his front leg.


The Long Island Buddha-made from steel and copper by artist Zhang Huan.


I bet you can guess why I could hardly take my eyes from this stainless steel and stone sculpture. I, you, she or he . . .by Jaume Plensa, known for using ideas about language and communication in his sculptures.  It was so wonderful to walk among these figures and imagine their silent conversations. I have no doubt their conversation included the words, “This artist is brilliant!”

Here’s the link for Frederik Meijer Gardens. We would highly recommend this park be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting the area.

Afterwards to end our adventure, we discovered a well-known brewery in Grand Rapids. Founders Brewing. 

Just a small appetizer. (enough to feed four, I think) Absolutely the most umami (my new favorite word) hummus and olive tapenade spread I’ve had anywhere. The beer wasn’t bad either. (tee-hee) Five star brewery for sure.


If you’ve been on any day trips that were fun, please share in comment section!

As always, thanks for reading and sharing my blog.

Enjoy your summer.





Filed under Day Trips, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculptures, Uncategorized

Jill Jack’s Birthday Bash

If you have ever seen Jill Jack perform, you are calling me a . . .

Lucky Duck

Lucky Duck







Sold Out

Sold Out







Jill Jack B-day Bash

Jill Jack’s B-day Bash






Jill Jack’s birthday bash last night at the Ark in Ann Arbor was absolutely the epitome of entertainment. The star-studded show included many of her gifted friends and her daughters. A young teen power house (Allison Albrecht-15) opened the show with three songs. She is amazing!

Bobby Streng a friend, sax player/composer joined Jill Jack on stage. His music, playing, is divine . . . I believe Jill’s exact words, after a quick apology to her husband in the front row, were, “It’s like having sex on stage.” Bobby is undeniably phenomenal.

She shared the spotlight with her awesome band, which includes a drummer, electric guitar, an accordion, tambourine, keyboards, and a bass player. Jill strummed her acoustic guitar for several songs, many written by her own hand.  Her band members are far from stagnate on stage. They sang, danced, swayed, and their facial expressions at moments were priceless. The entire evening was a pure merry-making good time for all, and at the unbelievable price of twenty bucks.

The Ark  that presents over 300 shows a year was filled to capacity with an all aged diverse crowd of around 400.  Everyone enjoyed  free birthday cake. The concert began at 8 p.m. We left after 11:30 when she was about to do her first encore. Jill Jack never disappoints, always leaving everything she has on that stage.

We’ve been to many shows at this venue, but we both agree this was one of the best.

Jill’s sense of humor, open honesty, caring, contributions to community that go beyond, and stage presence takes a person on a turbulent ride of emotions. She has you laughing, smiling, teary eyed, and it always ends with her taking you on this journey deep into her heart, soul and her music. I’m not sure how one can give so much of their self and not keel over on stage. Amazing!


Deciding where to eat before a show in Ann Arbor is always a challenge. There are numerous “good eats” restaurants and pubs covering many ethnic types of cuisine.

This night, our evening began with a taste of Ireland at the pub below, great Irish beers, tasty food, and ended with a fabulous concert.

And to the couple making out in the parking garage elevator-please at least wait until you get to your car. REALLY!


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Our first date night of 2016. Definitely the beginning of a very good year. Thank you Jill Jack and company.

For the names of every fabulous person that performed January 9th at the Ark and more about Jill Jack and her band – click here

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Wishing you all a fun-filled 2016



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Filed under Concerts, Jill Jack

C. C. My Crazy Cardinal

He looks like a cardinal. He sings like a cardinal, so he must be one, right? He doesn’t act like any cardinal I’ve seen before. I’ve come to the conclusion he is possessed.








I work close to window

I work close to window






This silly bird  wakes me up every morning knocking, banging, and bombarding my windows in the sun porch. Sometimes he hits them softly, but more often than not he body slams into them, sounding more like an eagle instead of a tiny bird. I expect to see his limp feathered body slide down the tall window like a smashed cartoon character.

It never fails as I’m looking out at the peaceful water, he comes out of nowhere. BAM! He hits the glass right in front of my face, and of course, I about go through the roof. I bet he’s saying, “Gotcha … Again,” and laughing at me as I call him a few names! He’s been doing this for three weekends now.

I’ve hung things on the windows, closed the blinds. I’ve tried to figure out this obsession he seems to have, with no success. I’m not sure if he’s a prankster that gets his kicks out of making me jump or if he’s suicidal.

I’ve gone outside and stared at the window trying to see what he sees. I see reflections of the trees and water. I have read that cardinals are territorial and protect their nests, but it’s the robins who have nested in my small tree right in front of those windows. And this doesn’t explain C. C. and my car windshield.

I’ve noticed other birds like sparrows cling on my screens or gutters and eat the tiny insects, which I understand, but, a cardinals diet is made up of mostly of seeds and fruit.

Sometimes after a good clunk on a window, C. C. lands on the rocking chair on the back deck and appears to be looking in at me, watching, just watching. I’ll be honest, sometimes this bird creeps me out.

He uses the top of the windshield on my car for his entertainment as a slide.  I swear I can almost hear him saying weee as he slides down onto the wipers. He does this several times in-between  hitting the porch windows. My car appears to be his very own fun-house and unfortunately his outhouse too.

Speculating on C. C.’s morning agenda:

I must hit each window at least three times before noon.

I can’t help but smother myself with kiss’ in those tiny circle mirrors on the sides of that red car. I get better lookin’ everyday!

Time for my goose imitation. Practice bobbing my head in the mirror…oh yeah baby, I make this look good!

After that it’s off to the top of the windshield. I’m only supposed to slide once, but can’t help myself and have to slide down at least three times.

I must sing now, so I screech a tune as loud as I can for all to enjoy.

Okay, breaks over, back to work…time to hit the next window, hmm did I hit the second or third one last time? I better hit that second one again just in case I missed it. BAM!

I can’t wait to hit the next six windows. I bet that crazy lady at her computer will jump and screech again! Hahahahah! I think she said a bad word yesterday.


For a tiny bit . . .

I felt sorry for this strange bird thinking maybe he had a sight or a coordination condition. I realized he didn’t when he landed on a branch or on my bird bath with no problem.

After observing him each day I’ve finally decided to accept him as is, in all of his glorious goofiness and enjoy his show as he is enjoying mine.

Next Weeks Blog-update and pictures of the finished bathroom. (fingers crossed) Maybe I’ll accent this new room in a cardinal theme-NOT!

Thanks for reading and sharing my blogs.













Filed under Cardinals

My First Poetry Reading

My First Poetry Reading.


Filed under Poetry

New Book Just Released About The Downriver Region

Life just doesn’t get much better than being snuggled on the sofa with a new book, a crackling fire, and your feet tucked beneath a fuzzy blanket.  The book I am reading …  Images & Ancestors (Adventures in Local History)  Written by, Wallace Hayden. (Aka Wally, a local history librarian at Bacon Memorial Library in Wyandotte, MI.) Pictures and purchasing information below.

As I immersed myself into the pages, photos and the history of Downriver’s past, some of the events I was unaware of, but others took me to more familiar places, long forgotten, and wrapped me in such delightful warm memories. Areas like, Bishop Park’s Boblo Boat docks. It was like yesterday, I remember the screeches of excitement, the unforgettable smell of the engines and the vibrations. Then, there’s the Fort George drive-in theater I had forgotten about completely. What fun fabulous times I had there with family and friends.   I remember when President Clinton visited the Bacon Library in 1996. I didn’t know that Rosa Parks was there  for that event or that President Theodore Roosevelt passed through the Oak Street train station many years before. There’s even an interesting tid bit about Abraham Lincoln passing our shores on the Detroit River, near Fighting Island in 1848. At this point I set the book down and closed my eyes, trying to envision the era. I’ve been on the same river in the same place, and I’ve crossed those tracks thousands of times and never have I thought about who came before me. This realization of  local history and ancestry took my breath away. It’s absolutely astonishing.

This book felt like that kindred spirit so many people talk about… I had a strong sense of belonging, a unity to the area in which I was raised and proudly still live and now know so much more about.

I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know what was coming next and I didn’t want it to end. I’ve gained an immense appreciation of our local history or as Wally so brilliantly said on the introductory page . . .

“As we walk down the street in the ghostly footsteps of those who have gone before. The endeavors of previous generations have not completely vanished. They are folded over the present, superimposed like a map with overlaying transparencies. When we become aware of these added dimensions we are richer for it.”

There’s no doubt, I am now richer than I was yesterday. Thank you for the heartwarming journey through the historical photographs and your words. Your many hours of research and knowledge will be a treasure to anyone that reads this book.

Whenever I finish a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it seems I always wonder about its author.  After reading this book, one question I don’t have to ask is: Why do you love local history? Ah . . . I feel like I’ve been bonked on the head with a brick. I get it!

Wally agreed to answer a few other questions.

MS-When did you first become interested in history?

Wally-I remember being fascinated with my first history class in 4th grade and even writing my own made-up history of the world at that time. I think I see history as a narrative, a story of the people and so it is as interesting as any novel or thriller.

MS-Are you originally from Wyandotte or the downriver area?

WallyI was born and grew up in Ann Arbor, but have lived in Wyandotte since 1981 when I started working at the library.

MS-How many years have you worked for the library?

Wally-32 years at the library. I have been a local history librarian the whole time. 

MS-What do you enjoy most about writing, and what other published books have you written?

Wally-I enjoy the research, writing, and the feedback from each article. I learn new things with each. Also, over fifty people have contributed to those articles. The best part about writing is when the article reaches a critical mass and comes alive and mostly thereafter writes itself. That does not always happen.

I have two other books. Postcards from the Past (old Wyandotte postcards) and The History of the Public Library in Wyandotte, Michigan.



Cover Photo


Content Page-A plethora of history


What can you tell about this picture?

The above picture was taken in 1941 where Nanna’s Kitchen is located presently. Playing at the Wyandotte Theater are two comedies Tight Shoes (starring John Howard) and Caught in the Draft (starring Bob Hope and Dorthy Lamour).

IMG_1410 (640x480) IMG_1411 (640x480)

Bob-lo Boat and the Kresge Co-What great flashbacks!


It’s so nice to rediscover ones warm epic memories long forgotten. This book does an excellent job of reigniting them once again. I hope everyone enjoys traveling back in time as much as I did.

I have several family and friends that moved out-of- state, but grew up here. Looks like I may be buying a few more copies.

If you would like a copy for yourself or as a gift:

Images & Ancestors will be available at the Bacon Memorial District Library at $15.00 a copy.

If you would like your copy autographed, Wally will be signing copies at the library on Saturday, December 14, from 3 to 4 pm.

My Congratulations Wally! Great Book! Fantastic Work! I loved it!


Filed under Uncategorized