Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Trip to Detroit

MONDAY: DAY ONE -- October 29, 2007

I was talking to Aunt Ruthanne on the phone last week and we decided that since Terry was going to be out of town for a few days this week, it would be fun to spend some time together; so I drove down to Detroit to see her! We had gotten together at the end of June for our annual sister's weekend, but it had been a year since I had seen my niece, Shelley, and my grand-nephew, Matthew Owen -- I couldn't wait to see them!
Shelley, and Matthew Owen
(who just celebrated his 2nd birthday)
It was so much fun watching Ruthanne
playing with Matthew -- she is very good with little kiddos ...
and she is overwhelmed at the love of this
precious little boy!

Ruthanne made delicious chicken-noodle soup and we had wonderful crackers and breads with that for lunch; and then Shelley and Matthew went back to their house to that he could get a nap ... but we met all of them for dinner later on that night! We ate dinner at Boston's
This is Bob (Shelley's husband), who is a huge sports' fan ...

Bob coloring a picture for Matthew ...
Shelley and Matthew!

It was so good to see all of them again -- so wonderful to see how happy Shelley and Bob are -- so great to see my little grand-nephew. I have three other grand nephews whom I have never met! :( I guess that makes me a great-aunt, doesn't it? Doesn't that sound atrociously OLD!??

Tomorrow, Ruthanne and I get to babysit Matthew for awhile -- and then we are going to go and see the Fort Gratiot Light in Port Huron -- how fun!

Adorable Matthew Owen!

TUESDAY: DAY TWO -- October 30, 2007 (PART I)

Ruthanne babysits Matthew on Tuesday mornings. Shelley teaches a college class in architecture, interior design and I think some basic CAD stuff -- so she needs someone to take care of Matthew while she is doing that. It works out really well because Ruthanne loves spending time with Matthew -- and this week I got to enjoy him too!
Shelley, all dressed for teaching class ...
Matthew and his adoring grandma ...
Matthew showed us all of his neat toys ...
he has a great train table and tons of Thomas trains --
look Mr. Jones!

Matthew cooked us a lovely meal of hamburgers,
cookies and ice cream cones ...

Then it was Air Show time --
Matthew has a cousin, Chris (on his daddy's side)
who is the P.R. person for the Blue Angels, so
he has had front-row seats at a couple of air shows ...

Here he is making very authentic train sounds:

He is a very engaging little person, very social
and extremely verbal for his young age ...
it's very fun to have a conversation with him.
Isn't he completely adorable?

He talks to all of his trains using interesting voices
and sets up "pretend" situations for all of them ...
(Look at his beautiful LONG eyelashes!)

Matthew is my sister's first and right now ONLY
grandchild -- so you can imagine how much
fun she and Terry are having spoiling him to pieces!


You've Passed the Point of No Return

TUESDAY: DAY TWO -- October 30, 2007 (PART II)

We left Shelley and Matthew at about 1:45, grabbed a nice lunch at Baker's Square (a yummy little sandwich place close by) and headed over to I-94 to go to Port Huron. Our goal was to find and photograph the Fort Gratiot Light which sits at the entrance to the St. Clair River at the mouth of Lake Huron. We had been on-line the night before and found a map showing us the way. It looked really easy, pretty basic and straight-forward -- but it wasn't! Hence, the label: "Journeys and other misadventures" is very appropriately given for this post and ANY post where I have anything to do with the directions! By the way, I looked up the word "misadventure" and it is defined as "misfortune, mishap." Misfortune is defined as, "bad fortune, mishap." Mishap is described as "an unfortunate accident." Yes, unfortunate indeed!

We made it to Port Huron just fine, with a few expected slowdowns due to road construction. When we got to Port Huron, I-94 ended and then the road either went straight, or you could turn right. The road to the right was labeled (on our internet map) as Blue Water Bridge street and it showed three possible roads that could be turned off from there that would take us to the lighthouse. So we could go straight, or we could turn right. I forget what the highway sign said about going straight, but it didn't sound like we wanted to go there. The highway sign going right was labeled, "Blue Water Bridge to Canada;" however, it was missing a very important word -- ONLY!

Anyway, immediately after we made this right turn, the road curved and you could see the Blue Water Bridge to Canada, as well as the fact that the road was one-way with no possibility to turn around! Wait a minute! We didn't want to go to Canada! We had no intention of going there!

So we pulled over. The road was very wide and ahead there were many lanes to go through to pay a toll to cross the bridge, etc. We noticed a gated area to our left, and a not-very-high tower structure beyond it with a gentleman inside. The gate was down, but I was able to walk around it -- I saw there was a nice wide area past the tower where it would be possible to turn around, if he would just kindly open the gate for us. I got out of the jeep, internet map in hand, and went to talk to him. I climbed the few stairs up to his door and knocked. He answered it with a very perturbed facial expression, and I carefully explained our plight in as few unemotional words as possible. This is what followed: "I'm afraid you have passed the point of no return," said the young gentleman, straight-faced and serious.

I naturally thought he was joshing -- so I laughed and said, "You're kidding, right?"

Never changing his somber expression, he repeated: "I'm afraid you have passed the point of no return."

"I'm sorry," I said. "I don't think you understand. My sister and I do not want to go to Canada. We only want to go to the Fort Gratiot Light. We don't have any papers with us to prove our U.S. citizenship. We just want to turn around. See? Look at our map! We simply have made a wrong turn!"

By this time, the young fella was aggravated with me (cold-hearted he was!) and re-stated his nasty statement (the one about being "past the point of no return"), and told me we would have to pay our toll, cross the bridge, and discuss our dilmemma with the folk in Canada. Perhaps (!) we could turn around over there and then pay the toll again, and try (!) to get back into the country.

And then, he closed the door and turned his back on me! He was finished with his duty! Well, of all the ...

So here we are, crossing the bridge!
On the Blue Water Bridge (aptly named!)
Looking towards Port Huron

Did I tell you, though, what this bridge means to me? I LOVED this bridge as a little girl. You see, my great-grandparents owned water-front property (I think 400 feet of it) in Sarnia, Canada right on Lake Huron, north up the coast from here -- and we could look to the south and see the Blue Water Bridge as we played on the beach. I always thought it was the most beautiful sight! I was five years old the last time I was there at the family property (it was sold in 1958 -- long story), but I have clear and happy memories from this place -- so I love it!

Ruthanne has the same feelings, and more so because she is four years older than I am -- but she and Terry had a friend commit suicide from this bridge (it is 180' high) less than two years ago, and so she has a hard time seeing it at all ... PLUS, Ruthanne DOES NOT like heights and she DOES NOT like driving over bridges (especially if she is the driver)! Well, we got across the bridge and explained our situation to the young woman at the booth. She said this happens all the time and made some rather rude statements about the poor signage in our country, lessening our embarrassment (but not our anger) a bit. We were able to turn around, pay the toll a second time, and cross the bridge again!

Here we are on the Canadian side ...

And here we are crossing the bridge back to the U.S.A.!

Mid-way across the bridge, traffic was backed up and it took us nearly 45 minutes to get to the gate. We were thankfully allowed back in the country (without proof of citizenship) after we told the official our story. He was slightly more sympathetic than the first guy we spoke to. The next picture shows our view of the Fort Gratiot Light from the Bridge ... Look at how BLUE the water is!
It still took us awhile to find the right street to the lighthouse. You would think that after all that trouble, we would be able to SEE and get close to the light and get fabulous pictures of it! But no! By this time it was 5:15 p.m. and the lighthouse is surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and on private property (United States Coast Guard, No-Tresspassing, will arrest you and confiscate your property type of private property!) These are the pictures we were able to take ...
This is probably the nicest shot I got ...
The original lighthouse was built in 1825
and was 65' tall.
That structure toppled over in a violent storm in 1828.
It was rebuilt in 1829 by Lucius Lyon
(who later became one of the first Michigan senators).
In the 1860's the tower was extended to its present
height of 86'.
It was automated in 1933
and its green flashing light can be seen for 17 miles ...

We walked all around the grounds, trying to get as close as
we could get, but fences were everywhere!
And these friendly kinds of signs ...It was pretty frustrating!
We walked every angle we could of the place and
snapped pictures all along the way ...
This photo was taken at the water's edge.
The fence extended to within one foot of the water --
I was really tempted to just sneak past the opening
and go around;
but good thing Ruthanne was with me -- as well
as a sign in the sand to remind me about the confiscation
of personal property to all tresspassers! My camera!

Fort Gratiot Light is named after
General Charles Gratiot
and was erected to guard the juncture of the
St. Clair River -- one of the busiest watereways in the world!
All of the great ships travel past
this exact spot on their way to ports along
Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior.
It would have been nice to have seen some
of those huge boats ... but, no -- not ONE came by!
The two-story brick lighthouse-keeper house
was built in 1874-75.
See the point of land there? That's Canada, and
just beyond there, a little to the north,
was where our family cottages and property was ...

How beautiful!
I'm smiling really big looking at this!"The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple."
PSALM 119:130

We left Port Huron a little disappointed in our day -- but really, these pictures are okay. Even if the place had been open, it's hard to get a good shot at a lighthouse on land that is so close to the water's edge; so I think we did alright.

We went back to Detroit to have dinner and ended up at Brann's Steakhouse -- look! There was a wall mural of Grand Rapids (made me feel right at home) with celebrities perched above! We had a real enjoyable dinner (except the steak was kind of bland) and then went back to Ruthanne's and watched a movie based on a Francine Rivers book entitled, "The Last Sin-Eater." It was a really interesting story ... rent it some time!

Yates Cider Mill

WEDNESDAY: DAY THREE - October 31, 2007

After the traumatic events of our travels yesterday (!), Ruthanne and I decided to stay closer to home today. We really hadn't made any definite plans, and I needed to leave for Grand Rapids by about 2:00 in the afternoon so as to be home for the trick-or-treaters tonight (Mr. Jones will be at choir practice). Ruthanne suggested we go out in the country to a cider mill and enjoy the sights, so we did! We actually went to two of them. The first one wasn't in the prettiest location, but we enjoyed some hot apple cider and a fresh cinnamon/sugar donut there and then drove over to Rochester Hills to hang out at Yates Cider Mill.
Water powered since 1863
It was a perfectly beautiful morning! You can watch the process of making apple cider ...
There is a wonderful trail along the Clinton River ...
so we took a nice, long walk!
The air was crisp and chilly and so refreshing!"Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I might fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God,

with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me
..." PSALM 86:11-13
I took 100+ pictures walking along the river --
but see? I've only posted just a very few!
So beautiful!
I love the shadows and the reflection ... Fall colors are a bit subdued this year ... too warm for too long!
But STILL, this is a beautiful place ...
I love these trees!
So peaceful! Quiet! Perfect!
What an amazing and awesome artist the LORD is!
My time in Detroit came to an end too soon! But it was so good to be with my sister again. We had such a nice three days together. We've decided to do it again very soon! I had a completely uneventful trip back to Grand Rapids (except I nearly ran out of gas!) -- whew! Close call! Mr. Jones had dinner waiting for me at 5:00 -- how kind of him! That's all (finally) for now with posting and pictures ... talk to you soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Love of Friends

Today is one of those days where I wish with all of my heart that I had been given the gift of words, the gift of writing -- you know, being able to describe events to you so that you could experience it right with me; or tell you about deep feelings, so that you could know my heart. I am full of joy today and want to tell you about it, but I will fail miserably in the effort.

All week long I had been preparing our house for a gathering of our LOGOS class. We had all agreed to meet at the Joneses to "break bread together" and so, I had a lot of work to do! I had forgotten how much I LOVE to just tinker around the house, cleaning floors and furniture, arranging each room, making sure everything was cozy and comfortable. This is one of the first times in years that I could do that at my leisure. It was heavenly! And the baking! I baked sugar cookies and decorated them like I hadn't done in years. I baked breads and made special veggie dips and bean dips -- oh, and a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting (yum!) -- I LOVE being in the kitchen -- I LOVE the anticipation of hosting an event at MY house!
One of the regular families in our class
has small children -- so the family room was ready!
I even got out the brand new floor rug
I purchased at the IKEA in Houston
with all of the Matchbox cars (and a few new ones)
so the little kids could play ...
I finished my "Scripture pictures"
and got them hanging where I wanted them ...
These are some of the sugar cookies ...
the pretty leaf ones are kind of covered up
by the pumpkins --
but I made ghosts, 3 sizes of pumpkins,
swans, lighthouses, apples,
and 2 kinds of leaves!
Grandpa made a big pot of delicious chili!
We got the table ready for our 5:00 dinner ...
Nate and Christy and their 3 kids showed up first ...
but I had the camera set on landscape
and every one of the pictures of the kids
blurred beyond recognition!
This picture was somewhat OK.
That's Nate (the young dad) in the rocker
and Catherine (6) is playing trains ...
Nigel, Christie and Angela
Nigel and I even played a game of chess
on our famous Masi warrior chess set!
Nigel is one of the teachers of our LOGOS class.
He has his doctorate in micro-biology (I think!) ...
Guess who won the game?
(Notice my body language -- that should give you a hint!)
Gene and Michelle
They are very involved in Urban Family Ministries
and do a lot ministry with inner city children ...
Nigel and Angela
Nigel is from Great Britain and Angela is from Germany
Angela teaches the Wednesday a.m. exercise class I have joined --
I love Angela like a sister -- she is so precious,
I love her heart.
Nigel has his Phd but I didn't even know that about
him until recently. He doesn't flaunt his "knowledge".
He is one of the most humble people I know.
Our LOGOS class is a small class -- about seven or eight couples come on a regular basis. Many were out of town this past weekend and were unable to come on over. Plus, our phone line was "down" all day yesterday, so we couldn't make or receive any calls! Everyone who came, brought a dish to pass. The food was good. The children were fun. Our toys were played with! Last night was comfortable and nice, special and close. These are good friends. I love to sit and listen to the conversation. I love to interact with them and share the good things of the Lord with them. I feel very blessed to have these folk be part of my life.
I was sitting next to a young girl in church this morning whom I had never met before. She was there with her smiling-faced, white-haired grandmother, flanked on the other side by her small grandson. We sang, "Shout to the North" that great song about Jesus being the Savior to all and as we sang, this young girl was "signing" the words. She was so beautiful to watch. Her face! The joy! She was not deaf, she just learned how to "sign" and decided to do it through each song. I love the "sign" for Jesus -- take your right hand, middle finger, and touch the palm of your left hand, then do the left middle finger into the palm of your right hand -- nail pierced hands -- Jesus. What an awesome way to visualize Who He is! I introduced myself after the service and learned that her name is Megan and she is 11 years old. I thanked her for sharing her "signing" and she told me a little bit about herself.
And then I went down to our LOGOS class where it was prayer and share time (we do this every fourth Sunday) and then pray for each other all during the month. Several of us had brought leftover cake from the night before, so we enjoyed it all over again.
Many of our family are so far away from us and we miss you guys terribly. These friends of ours at Calvary Church have become "family" to us. It's very much like what is described in the New Testament, how folk came to Christ and were united in that love for Him and for each other. I'm so thankful for the love of these friends.