Virtually in Bali

bali femme préparant les offrandes pour la fêt...

bali femme préparant les offrandes pour la fête du temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d love a virtual world that could take me to Bali.  The exotic scents of amazing flowers and the incense from little altars of offerings.  Birds flashing by wearing amazing hues of green, red, blue, yellow.  The loving, smiling faces of the Balinese people.  And I get there in a blink.  No 20-hour plane journeys.  Or knees that won’t straighten when I try to stand up at the end of the longest flight.  Or unbelievable jet lag.  Or guys with uzis in the Jakarta airport.  Just the sights and smells that say, “Bali” without the pesky travel.

#MicroblogMondays.  The prompt was Armchair Travel — where would you choose to go on a virtual journey.

Yapping and whining…

English: Chihuahua puppies

English: Chihuahua puppies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something few people know about me is that I’ve always been interested in floor plans for houses.  As a child I’d go to a house and later hang out creating a better lay-out.  If I’d had ANY affinity for higher math I might have been an architect.  And I love to go look at houses.`When I first found House Hunters on HGTV, I was thrilled; getting to see inside all kinds of houses, wow!

Over time I’ve quit watching very much for a variety of reasons.  But the biggest one that’s sending me away lately is the whining and the yappy voices.  I’m not sure if the producers find the whiniest people they can or whether they just edit out everything but the whining, but man it’s a BIG turn-off for me.  They also seem to select 98% women who talk like they’re five years old.  Yappy little voices like chihuahuas.  Yappy chihuahuas whining and whining…  “You can’t play basketball in the bathroom, it’s too small.”  “I wanted quartz, not granite.”  “I don’t like blue [and I can't even imagine that you can paint a wall a different color.  It's like permanent marker and you have to live with it forever].”

It’s so rare for the show to feature people who are accepting of what they see (and I want to kiss their feet when there is someone like that!), that I gather people actually like watching all that whining and yapping?  Really?  Can someone please tell me how and why that’s appealing?

See this old post on Sassy blog for more about voices.

Chihuly Garden And Glass | Seattle


I’ve been a big fan of Chihuly for a long time, so I loved being able to enjoy him through these great pics of the Chihuly Gardens — make sure you hop on over to her blog so you can see all of them!

Originally posted on :

chihuly-0I didn’t know a lot about Dale Chihuly until an upcoming trip to Seattle came up in conversation.

“You have to go to Chihuly Gardens,” almost everyone told me.

That was enough for me. I added it to my list, most of which only included local cafes, a few bookstores, but not many tourist attractions. I was told that it’s the most incredible place and that even photos wouldn’t be able to capture the pure depth, art, awe and size of these glass sculptures — both of those statements are absolutely correct.

In this garden museum that hides in the shadow of the Space Needle, I was introduced to Dale Chihuly and the concepts of his glass-blown sculptures. We walked beneath draping chandeliers constructed with dozens of individual bulbs of hand-formed glass in vibrant colors. We oohed and ahh’d as walked entirely around a sprouting garden that reminded of…

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How can I be home already???

The annual Michigan trip always seems to FLY by!  On the last day we’re always exclaiming that it feels like we just got there. Hard to believe it’s over and I’ve been home since Sunday night…

That last day I lost the thread on taking pictures.  Lunch at Kathy’s again, with Mom’s friend Frances.  We all drove out to Almar Orchards for some of the current crop of organic apples.  No pictures but the Almar site has a nice gallery.  We ran a few more errands, culminating in picking up the order of nutty donuts from Donna’s that we placed a couple of days before.  In the fall Donna’s offers pumpkin donuts but only a couple of days a week and they usually sell out long before the day is over; I never managed to try one until this trip!  Yum.  Glad I don’t live nearby.  :-)

Never did manage to haul that camera out until halfway through dinner at Fandangles.  When we were first introduced to Fandangles they served lunch regularly but dinner was sporadic because they do a lot of catering.  Realized this trip that somewhere along the way they started serving dinner regularly too.  Had to try it.  Everything at dinner is just as well-prepared and presented as at lunch.

Tenderloin at Fandangles

I promise, if I’d remembered to photograph it on arrival you’d have loved the presentation…  Red wine and rosemary in the sauce…  mmmm!

We’ve taken to getting a late start on the way home and meandering.  Mom does much better if we stop and get out every couple of hours and it turns out I do too.  First stop was for lunch in Maumee.  Then not such a long stretch down to Findlay to hit Dietsch’s

Dietsch’s Findlay OH

for Black Raspberry Chocolate Chunk ice cream.

black raspberry chocolate chunk

After all of that we weren’t ready for dinner at our usual Max & Erma’s stop in Dayton, so Mom walked around a bit and I did a little yoga at a rest stop.

Meanwhile, throughout the trip I reveled in driving the rental car to which we were upgraded–a fully loaded Buick Verano.  So many bells and whistles (some of which I didn’t know how to use), it was a dream to drive.  Hard to give it back.

Outside Bluegrass airport

Maybe we can get back before another year goes by…

Successful birthday, more great food and lovely visits

The birthday lunch (Mom’s 89th) at Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor was a big success.  Mom’s old friends Ann and Jim joined us.  As usual, I spaced out about taking pictures.  So you’ll have to take my word for it that the watermelon salad, salmon pasta and lemon chicken were gorgeous… and SO tasty.  A grand time had by all.  And a train came through with conductor waving (Gandy Dancer is in an old train depot and Amtrak trains actually still stop there).

Next came our yearly visit to Hollander’s.  The paper displays are phenomenal (shown in photos of last year’s visit).  I love their greeting cards.  They have a big selection of cards you don’t just see all over, unusual and beautiful.  Every year I buy enough birthday cards to cover the next year.  And often I find some unique gifts.

Hollander’s goodies


For dinner we made a return visit to Luigi’s, this time mostly to get the pizza that we freeze and haul back to Kentucky.  Our favorite waitress was there this time so the highlight was getting to catch up with her.

We had planned to meet another of Mom’s friends for lunch today but she called last night to say she’d had a bad fall and couldn’t make it.  We returned to Whitey’s for more lobster bisque — conveniently located very near our next visit, another friend of Mom’s; Shirley and her late husband were my parents’ first great friends when they moved to Flint and that just never changed.

On the way back to the hotel very late in the afternoon we decided to swing by Italia Gardens to pick up our giant order of gluten free spaghetti with the original owner’s creation, spitini -it’s beef flattened and wonderfully seasoned, rolled up and placed four rolls to a stick and grilled.

Always hard to believe how FAST this trip goes.  Tomorrow is our last day.  Lots of plans, lots of stops to make…



Eating our way through Flint

When I started working on today’s pictures I realized it looks like we just spend our vacation eating.  Though we both love great food and restaurants and we look forward to our favorite places here we do other things as well.

Today’s main event besides eating was a visit to the Flint Institute of the Arts.  There’s a big exhibit of French painter Marthe Orant and it was SO lovely.  I didn’t feel like going through the paperwork to be allowed to take photos — especially since FIA often attaches a rider that says you can’t publish them anywhere.  You can see a description of the exhibit here.

Lunch before the Art Institute was at Fandangles in Flushing.  Since I put up some shots from there last year I tried to take a couple of angles I’ve not had.  Of course the display of local artists’ work changes, so the back drop varies.  Forgot to take shots of yummy lunch…

For dinner we headed out to Whitey’s in Davison.  I love the lobster bisque and the appetizer size of coconut shrimp — after the big lunch something lighter sounded good.

Tomorrow is Mom’s 89th birthday.  Lunch with friends at Gandy Dancer and shopping at Kerrytown–all in Ann Arbor.  Evening unknown.

Back in Flint and favorite places

We had enough breakfast in Findlay that we decided to wait for a late lunch when we got up to Fenton, Mi, not far south of Flint.  There’s a restaurant there called The Laundry that’s fun and good.  They use fresh veggies, some of which they grow:

The Laundry’s veggie garden, Fenton, MI

Home made breads and a mind-boggling array of sandwich and salad choices plus more — it’s hard to choose.  I’ve had something different every time.  Vegetable streudel won this time and it was yummy!  We were glad we parked in back and got to see the gardens.

Flowers behind The Laundry, Fenton, MI

We then went down to a lovely gift shop we’ve enjoyed many times, The Iron Grate.  Right after we walked in I heard the woman behind the counter mention that she grew up in Flushing, the town where I went to junior high and high school.  So I wandered up and told her I graduated with the Flushing High class of ’70.  Her jaw dropped and she squealed, “That was my class.”  We didn’t really know one another back then though once I’d taken a good look I knew her face was familiar.  But what a hoot!

After checking in at the hotel and resting a bit we made our traditional first night trek to Luigi’s Pizza.  The best thin crust pizza I’ve had in the states (and I lived in Chicago for years — deep dish may get its own stars but you can’t get a thin crust there like Luigi’s!).  They opened when I was 3 and we became regulars when I was 4 or 5.

Pepperoni pizza from Luigi’s, Flint, MI

We were both still exhausted today so we got a very leisurely start and had a late lunch at one of our faves, Kathy’s in Flushing.  She makes one of the best chicken salads ever (I’m so fussy I just won’t order it most places).  I was too hungry to stop and take a picture of the food, but the presentation, with lots of fresh fruit, is always lovely.  After lunch I managed to snap the park to the side of the restaurant:

Little park downtown Flushing and Kathy’s wall

We finished our afternoon in Flushing with a visit to Flushing Shoe Gallery, where we both got shoes.  Our perennial favorite, Just Julie’s was empty but we found out there’d been a fire and she was operating elsewhere.  I love so many of the things she chooses for the store, but my favorite is that she paints great designs on sweatshirts and you can pick a design you like and a color and style of top you like and she’ll paint one up for you.

She now has a web site where you can mail order:  Kunky’s.  Every time I wear one people want to know where I got it.  This time I found a light weight coat of a type I’d been looking for for ages and couldn’t afford to also get a painted sweat shirt but I’ll be back!

Tomorrow our fave Italian place and the art museum!

The pros of visiting familiar places

Travel poster for rail service from Paris to R...

Travel poster for rail service from Paris to Rome via Lyon, 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother and I had some great trips to Italy and France, New Mexico and Canada and I loved them.  I’d like to spend more time in those places.  But I have to say, while those “big” trips have some glamour and excitement and–if it matters to you–more panache when you talk about your travels, I’ve come to have a great fondness for the ease and comfort of travelling the smaller distance to my home town.

I don’t travel with great ease.  Although I’ve been working on the mindsets I have about travel, I tend to get pretty overwrought about the packing and the schedules and the airport rules and finding my way around in strange places.  When I travel with my mother it is ALL up to me and, while I have great appreciation that she’s enabled me to go places I could not have gone on my own, I’ve not been quite sure the pressure of it was worth it to me.

Although a few freeways have been added to Flint since I grew up there, it really is pretty much the same, so from the first trip there was a certain amount I remembered.  And I could go off course and easily navigate back.  Since we’ve been going annually, I’ve got pretty much all the routes down.

With GM gone, it’s not nearly as populated as it used to be, so traffic is generally pretty quiet and parking tends to be quite easy.  Especially those visits to old friends with driveways :-)

We have a list of restaurants we already know we like and what to order.  Nobody is ever annoyed because we’ve violated some mysterious local custom; we are the locals and the customs are pretty basic.

Since we drive, all that making the airport early enough to be probed and patted and put through machines is not part of the scene.  And I CAN PACK WHATEVER I WANT!

When I was growing up in Michigan, most of our vacations took us to Kentucky, which is home town for both of my parents.  Those visits to family and old friends are some of the fondest memories of my life.  We were all a lot more tense and cranky when we took “bigger” trips (maybe the origin of my “story’ that travel is hard and unnerving?).

We may not get to see a world-class art museum or be dazzled by castles, but I’m calm and at peace.  I don’t make these trips with my stomach tied in knots worrying how to find a restaurant or get to the next place.  We see old friends and visit old familiar places.  There’s a quiet joy in this kind of trip that I’d match up against those more glamorous trips any day.


Revving for the home town visit

English: The Flint River in Flint, Michigan, U...

English: The Flint River in Flint, Michigan, USA, in the late 1970s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother and I have been heading north to visit my home town, Flint, Michigan, every year for some years now.  We went initially because I encouraged her to go back while she still had friends there who were alive and getting around.   And also because she no longer could walk very much which made sight-seeing vacations a logistical nightmare (that would be mostly mine… since she blithely assumes I’ll figure it all out).

I went to be the driver and general support.  I didn’t much like my home town so I didn’t expect to enjoy it.  And, to be honest, that first time I kind of dragged Mom, who, shall we say, lacked enthusiasm.  We’d been making trips to places like Vancouver and Florence and Nice for some years and she wanted something exciting and exotic.

Most people my age left the area when General Motors waltzed off so the visiting is mostly all my parents’ friends.  I’ve known them all my life and wound up surprised by how much comfort and enjoyment I found in meeting them again as an adult, knowing all those years stretched between us.  Miraculously, though they’re all by now mid- to late-80’s, most of them are still there and getting around!

Old favorite restaurants are miraculously there and thriving.  Over the years we’ve added newer places.  I also made sure I did a bit of research and figured out some fun things to do.  I’m always a fan of an art museum visit but my mother… not so much. But the lovely Flint Institute of the Arts is small enough to be easy to negotiate and has a very thoughtfully put together collection, given the obviously small-ish budget, so she wants to go every time.

Visiting friends at Ann Arbor during college years left me with fond memories so I insisted on spending a bit of time there and a day

English: Michigan Central Depot (Gandy Dancer)...

English: Michigan Central Depot (Gandy Dancer), Ann Arbor MI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

down there has become a highlight of every trip.  From the venerable and lovely Gandy Dancer–where my parents occasionally celebrated long-ago New Year’s Eves with friends–for lunch to strolling the fun shops of Kerrytown to riding around some of the lovely historic areas, we love every minute.

On the way up we’ll be stopping at Findlay, OH.  We started out by finding a great little place to eat downtown — not too far off the freeway but a world away from your usual freeway stop.  Then we looked for a way to start driving a little later in the day and avoid wearing ourselves out on day 1 so we tried out spending the night in Findlay.  We’ve discovered  a few spots we love and now that’s a highlight too.

We’re so looking forward to this — we wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told us on that first trip, something like 8 or 9 years ago, that we’d still be going back and loving it!

Gadgets in order… whew

In recent years I feel like I spend way too much of my time coping with various technological, electronic, gadget-type snafus.  Except that lovely Envy laptop I snagged on a Groupon deal last year, but that's another story.

I started in the computer world ca. 1987, with a little old Mac, very much like the one in the picture.  You know the kind.  No hard drive.  Copy word processing program onto a disc that then had about enough room for a couple of documents.  Got on the internet ca. 1992.  You know.  AOL.  Dial-up.  Pages took 10 minutes to load.

In those days all this was a bit simpler and changes came relatively slowly.  Since the early 90’s, when change started arriving more and more often, I’ve gotten increasingly tired of having to re-learn everything several times a year.  And tired of devices that last shorter and shorter times…  In fact the longer I’m in the computing world the lower my tolerance for constantly reinventing the wheel becomes.

Anyway, my tablet has needed a factory reset for some time (that one was my fault for dumping an app I apparently REALLY needed) but since I didn’t like typing on the screen nor the little bluetooth keyboard I got for it, I wasn’t in a big hurry.  This summer I got logged out of Twitter, couldn’t remember my password and it took about six weeks to get back in.  My cell phone was an old one that came in somewhere in between the really old style and Android.  In other words, a few crummy apps and a lot of slow going…

At last I did the factory reset –which restored an older version of the OS–and the tablet instantly worked much better.  Possibly also helped that I didn’t reload a ton of apps I never used.  Got the docking keyboard that actually goes with the tablet and suddenly typing on it is a breeze — and browsing too, now that I can use a mouse and up/down keys.

Got an android phone in the spring and recently I’ve finally learned more about how to use it, put a few good apps on.  And now that the tablet is going I have the Google stuff coordinated between phone and tablet.  Not that I really use that stuff, but still.  It’s coordinated.  And not that I really use a cell phone.  In fact on the rare occasions I give out the number I also advise not trying to call me on it.

Twitter finally let me reset my password so I’m back on.

Wow.  Everything working.  No obnoxious technical problems hanging over my head. Wish this would last at least a year…  But I suppose they’ll update something.  Or some built in obsolescence thing will kick in.  Or I’ll delete something I shouldn’t.  Oh, except I got the app for Instagram.  Gotta learn how to use that one of these days…