Tag Archives: michigan

Just a typical lunch conversation

10 Jun

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 6.27.38 AM

“Hey, do you want to see four dead mice and a dead chipmunk?” my dad asks while we’re eating lunch. I’ve just arrived in Michigan for my nephew’s graduation.

“Where are they?” I ask, thinking they’ve just been caught in a trap. “Attic? Garage?”

“Basement,” my mom says, with a roll of her eyes.

“Why do you have these in the basement?” I ask.

“I’m cultivating dermestid beetles,” my dad announces proudly.

“And why are you cultivating dermestid beetles?”

“So I’ll have enough to clean the deer skeleton I picked up,” he replies, as if it should’ve been obvious.

“And where is this deer skeleton?”

He stops eating and points at the floor.

“Under the porch?” I ask, now imagining a rotting carcass as I put a fork full of sauerkraut in my mouth.

He nods.

“Did you get the whole thing?” my mom asks, surprisingly supportive for someone who prides herself on an immaculate house.

“Close,” he says. “I was able to pick up almost everything but I think I missed a few ribs.”

There are a number of relevant questions… Where did he find this skeleton? What does he plan to do with it? Exactly how did he pick it up? How long has it been under the porch?

Instead, I settle on, “Isn’t it stinky?” since I’m now sniffing around like a pig seeking truffles.

“Nah,” he says. “The maggots did a pretty good job with it. The beetles are just to finish the job so it’s perfectly clean.”

Of course.

Isn’t this how YOUR visits home sound – or is your dad not a biologist?

To catch a fugitive: Christmas Edition

30 Dec

Image source: google images

My sister lives about 30 minutes from my parents, so our tradition is to drive up and have dinner with her family on Christmas Eve. This year was no exception and it was almost 9pm when we pulled out of her driveway to return to my parents’ for the night.

Ten minutes later we were stopped at a red light near Briarwood Mall. Through the intersection, we saw three cars, all parked in weird places and at odd angles. Steam rose from the hood of the third car. “Do you suppose there’s been an accident?” my mom asked.

We were still puzzling it out when the third car suddenly reversed and peeled out, flying toward the mall and away from the accident at a break-neck pace. “Do you think he’s fleeing the scene?” my dad asked from the backseat.

That was the only nudge my mom needed to zip through the light and investigate. She pulled through the intersection, pausing next to the remaining car, where a man was standing outside it on his phone, looking incredulous. “Did that guy hit you?” my mom called out to him.

The guy confirmed that he had. “And did he just take off?” my mom continued. Again, the guy nodded. “Yeah – he just hit me and left. Can you believe that?”

“I’ll see if I can get him,” my mom told him, goosing her Prius into  action. Had she owned a police light, she would’ve rolled her window down and smacked it on the roof. We sped into the Briarwood complex, the parking lot and surrounding streets deserted from the earlier crush of shoppers.

As we started winding our way along the street circling the mall, something caught my mom’s eye off to the side. There, parked at a drive-thru bank, was a car with its lights off, steam still rising from its hood. “That’s him!” she yelled, cutting a wide, obvious u-turn to circle back to the bank.

Time-out as we assess my mom’s performance as a private eye for a moment:

  • Pros: eagle eye, fearlessness
  • Cons: discretion, stealth

No sooner had we pulled into the bank parking lot than the “perp” hopped back in his car and sped away. (He’d been standing outside it, presumably assessing the damage and calling a friend to pick him up). Mom, no shrinking violet (see pros listed above), pulled out right after him yelling for me to call the police.

What then ensued was was a game of cat and mouse as we tailed this guy all through the Briarwood parking lot, with my mom trying to get close enough for us to read the license plate, my dad trying to figure out the last four digits on the plate, and me shouting the letters we could see to the police dispatch, all as the guy did his best to lose us. It was a scene worthy of Home Alone.

Finally the guy DID manage to lose us – mainly because I urged my mom to stop matching his speed. (Sorry, mom!) We’d only been able to identify three of the seven digits for the police, but they also had the make/model and year of the vehicle, so between that and the fact that his radiator was probably out of fluid and would grind the car to a halt soon, they seemed fairly confident they’d find him.

“If only you guys had let me really chase him, we could’ve nailed his ass,” Mom sighed.

“Well, if you’d been driving my van, we could’ve used my binoculars to get the plate without needing to chase him,” Dad sighed.

At that I had to laugh, imagining the call the police would’ve received about US if my parents had gotten their Christmas wishes:

Image Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nkdggYHwcLc/S2nAWRTFJ3I/AAAAAAAAAuE/hvEaRCQoHMY/s320/prius2042.JPG

“I’d like to report a Prius driving recklessly in the Briarwood parking lot. It’s going about 60 mph, ignoring the pavement markers. It appears to be driven by two white-haired grandparents – and one of them seems to be trying to birdwatch!” 


However you spent YOUR Christmas, I hope it was memorable! 

Lakes trump Oceans. Or: Another Reason You Should Check Out Michigan.

16 Jul

WHY isn’t the state tourism board putting me on their payroll? Oh wait – probably because they don’t like to waste taxpayers’ money, which is YET ANOTHER reason you would enjoy living there…

The only thing dangerous about this is the possibility that I might poop on beach-goers.

I never understand why people love oceans. I mean, I enjoy water of any variety, but if I could choose, I’d pick a lake any time. It might be that those are simply my Michigan roots shining through (Hello, Great Lake State!), but let me share my logic and you tell me if it’s flawed.

First, when is the last time someone was attacked by a shark in a lake? Pretty sure the answer to that one is NEVER. (Actually, wait – just found this article and apparently it does happen. But I’d like to point out that it’s in Nicaragua. So if you’re visiting there, you’ve probably already come to terms with an untimely death anyway. A bull shark in a lake isn’t the worst end you could meet.) Nicaragua not withstanding, let’s assume your odds of encountering a shark in a lake are next to nil.

Second, no salt in your eyes. (Unless you’re talking about the Great Salt Lake, but that’s like an oxymoron. Let’s agree to call that Utah’s Ocean from here on out, ok?) Tell me this isn’t one of the most annoying things about the ocean… spend any amount of time out in the waves and you look like a stoner with bloodshot eyes. Not in a lake.

Third, not as many jellyfish. Sure, there are some freshwater jellyfish, but I can’t remember the last time I ran into one in a lake. Whereas at the ocean? They’re like landmines dotting the beach. Landmines that make people pee on each other for relief. In other words: not very friendly landmines.

Fourth, you can generally find GRASS near a lake, rather than sand. Some sand is fine, but having to walk through miles of sand? Having sand get in your drink? Decidedly NOT cool. Also: have you ever burned the bottoms of your feet on grass? I’m guessing NO, because grass is awesome.

But you can’t SURF in a lake, my ocean-loving friends claim. WRONG. The Great Lakes have waves, people. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

See? What else are you waiting for? NOW is the time to love the lakes and visit Michigan. Or any other lake in any other state for that matter. Just as long as it’s not in Nicaragua.


Top Ten Reasons to Give Michigan a Chance

15 Jul

I just spent a week in Michigan leading up to my class reunion. When my East Coast friends hear I’ve been to Michigan, they usually scrunch their noses and say something that makes me realize they think I’m going somewhere like Kansas or Iowa.

That reaction, coupled with Michigan’s declining population, should prompt PR agencies to circle like vultures, seeking an easy buck. But since they aren’t stepping up, I’ll take on the task. Because really, Michigan is like the US’s well-kept secret. Sort of like Rochester’s wife in Jane Eyre. But less crazy and more awesome. 

So, without further preamble…

Ten Reasons To Move to Michigan (Or At Least Visit)

  1. It’s a peninsula. Which is LIKE an island in that there’s water everywhere, but better because you don’t need a boat to reach it. The only other state that can claim that is Florida, and it’s filled with old people who can’t drive and snakes. Although if you believe this article, maybe you’ll only need to worry about the snakes, since they seem to be taking care of everything else.
  2. Michigan is all about the lakes. OK, maybe this seems redundant since I just pointed out that it’s a peninsula, but in addition to being bordered by the Great Lakes, Michigan has over 11,000 named lakes. And counting the Great Lakes, Michigan has more shoreline than the entire Atlantic Seaboard. (Think about THAT the next time you imply I’m visiting Iowa.)
  3. Sauerkraut Suppers. According to the 2000 census, two of the top five ancestral sources for Michigan residents are German (20%) and Polish (8%). This means you’re generally only a stone’s throw from a church that hosts a monthly fundraiser dinner with sausage, sauerkraut, potatoes, spaetzle and gravy. How can you NOT want to live near this?
  4. Skiing. You heard me correctly. If you like to ski but don’t live out West or in Canada or Vermont, then Michigan is your next best bet. True, you’ll never hear someone trading Whistler for Boyne Highlands, and Michigan doesn’t technically have mountains, but there’s a ton of snow and hills, so shut your mouth. Plus it’s more affordable.
  5. It’s so great, even the celebrities come home to roost. Just ask Jeff Daniels, who founded the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, or Kid Rock, who resides in Clarkston, MI and shows up in my Facebook newsfeed monthly because one of my friends has bumped into him.
  6. Sweet corn and cherries. If you’ve never bought either of these freshly picked from a roadside stand in Michigan, you are settling for second-rate produce. True, they’re only in season for a limited window, but once you’ve tasted them, you’ll know those few weeks make the rest of the year worth it.
  7. The Speed Limit is 70. And generally, the number of miles you’re going is the number of minutes it will take you to get there. Living in DC, which now boasts the distinction of having surpassed Los Angeles with the nation’s worst traffic, I advise you not to underestimate this one.
  8. International Flavor. You’re just one bridge away from being in another country. And – unlike Texas/California – the odds of having to bribe a police officer to avoid jail time in crossing the border are nil. Though you might have to toss an apple to the Mountie’s horse. (This is especially helpful if you’re a college student who is not yet legal to drink in the US, because the drinking age is only 19 in Ontario. Not that I would know anything about that.)
  9. Vernors. Sure, you might not move to a place simply because it’s home to the best ginger ale in the nation, but think about what that spirit of invention says about the place. It was the first soda (pop) made in the United States. Combine that with a certain someone named Henry Ford, and I think you can get a sense of the possibilities for an entrepreneur.
  10. You always have a handy visual aid at arm’s length. Have you ever gotten frustrated trying to explain where you live to someone? Michiganders don’t have this problem – they simply turn up the palm of their right hand and point. Saginaw? Crotch of you thumb. Traverse City? Tip of your pinky. Don’t tell me any other state can do that. Wisconsin tried earlier this year  and learned that when you mess with the Mitten, you get the whole fist.

Now that I think of it, that actually makes a pretty good motto. So don’t you want to visit? 

I love bacon, but PETA might recruit me.

12 Sep

More my speed.

Alan has decided he will never fish with me again.

It seems extreme, but I can’t really say I blame him. Not after how I behaved last week.

We were in Michigan, visiting my family. My parents have a cottage on a small lake, and – in accordance with some unwritten Michigan Lake law – a pontoon boat. One night at sunset we decided to grab some fishing poles, some bait, and putter out into the lake to see if we could catch anything.

As a kid, I loved fishing and was generally pretty lucky with what I’d catch. Before our annual trek to visit my grandparents in Alabama, I’d be out in our back garden, digging up worms so I could take down some Real Michigan Nightcrawlers for Papa. He always swore they were bigger than Alabama worms, and I believed him.

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