Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking back at 2012

This past year has been an interesting one, full of new adventures and opportunities. The economic downtown of the last couple of year's adversely affected my business, driving sales to their lowest point ever. In 2012 things picked up a bit and stabilized. We're still not back to pre-2010 levels, but things are moving in the right direction. On the other hand Mary's business, Connie's Cake's, is doing fantastic. She found a new space in Eastown she really liked and spent a good portion of the last year planning and negotiating and then in November signed a lease. Build out started and is scheduled to be completed in the first week of January. The new shop is at 1416 Robinson Road in the historic Kingsley Building.

One of my passions is traveling and we got to investigate some new places this year. In August we spent a few days at The Headlands in northern Michigan with Mary's brother, sisters, in-laws and mom. The Headlands is located on the shore of Lake Michigan near Mackinaw City. It is an international Dark Sky Park, so the theory is that the lack of light pollution allows you to see the stars well. Unfortunately, during our visit there was a full moon that pretty much washed out the entire night sky. We did see a spectacular blood red moon set at 4:00 a.m. one morning. We also brought our mountain bikes and rode the trails in the park. The whole group spent a day on Mackinac Island. Mary and I did a lot of hiking on the island, visiting some very old cemeteries, churches and forts.

In September we did our annual JDRF bike ride. This year we opted for the ride at Lake Tahoe instead of our usual Death Valley excursion. To say it was a glorious ride would be an understatement. The weather, scenery, and atmosphere were all perfect. The people we rode with were a lot of fun and we raised a lot of money for the cause. You can read more about it on my other blog More Than 100 Miles.

Speaking of JDRF we presented the 8th annual Jake's Music Festival in April at Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids. It was our most successful event ever raising over $6,000 for Type 1 diabetes research. The band line-up seems to get better every year and we have high hopes for the 2013 edition, which takes place April 13th.

To jump back to the travel for a moment, I attended a public relations conference in Chicago in July and took Mary along with me. We've been to Chicago a lot but this was a unique experience because we didn't have the kids with us and we we're staying in a very nice hotel, the Marriott on Michigan Avenue. We spent one evening with our Chicago friend's Susan and Elvin. We also went to a couple of parties sponsored by conference vendors. One was on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. Great views from way up there and we had a special elevator to get to the top. The next night's party was at the House of Blues. That was big, loud fun. We even got Blues Brother style sunglasses to wear for the evening.

I could write another entire post about what the kids did in 2012 and perhaps I will at a later date. Although given the frequency I post to this blog, don't hold your breath.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Posting from the iPad

As I've mentioned before I use this blog to test new stuff. Today I'm testing posting from my iPad.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

World's worst outdoor dining

I've seen some pretty ridiculous "outdoor dining" set-ups. Tables overlooking gigantic parking lots. Tables stuck in the sun next to busy streets. Yes, people do like to eat outside, but not every restaurant should offer the option.

We were in Chicago last week and walked past this place a couple of times. It's near Michigan Avenue. The outdoor tables are within inches of a busy, four lane, one way street. Overhead there is construction scaffolding. Because of the construction, the sidewalk is down to about a third of it's normal width, which means lots of people push past diners in both directions. It could be worse. At least it's not 100 degrees outside. Oh wait...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Hawks in the backyard

Since early this spring we have had a pair of red tailed hawks nesting in one of the maple trees in our backyard. We watched them build the nest, which is nothing more than a loose grouping of twigs and sticks, in a crook of the tree. For the past several weeks one of the hawks always seems to be in the nest. We think they are sitting on eggs. Both the mommy and daddy hawk take turns sitting. We assume the other one is out hunting. We've only seen the two together a few times. Because of their position in the tree we haven't been able to get a good photo of them. Until tonight!

When it's 100 degrees outside everyone likes to dip their feet in the water.

We we're having dinner and all of sudden one of the hawks was standing in our birdbath. I had put water in it last night and we often see cardinals, robins and bluejays enjoying the bath. But tonight one of the hawks decided to take a dip and all the little birds, not to mention the chipmunks and squirrels, scattered. He (although it may have been the she) stood there for a few moments and then dunked it's tail feathers into the water several times. I was able to get a couple of nice photos from inside the house, but when I moved to get a better angle he took off and landed high up in one of our trees. It was amazing to see that large of a bird in the birdbath. It will be interesting once the eggs hatch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I resemble that remark

Yep. This is me. From our friends at The Oatmeal.
I'm really looking forward to warmer weather so I can actually get outside and ride bikes again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making life easier

I would have to agree. Alcohol does indeed make everyday life easier. And I have been known to crack a beer at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Holiday Curmudgeon

I don’t hate the holidays. I hate what the “Holiday Season” has become. Christmas music starts on the radio, 24 hours a day, right before Halloween. Municipalities decorate their lamp posts with twinkling lights and red ribbons two weeks before Thanksgiving. And I don’t think I even need to mention the excess of Black Friday. When did Christmas become synonymous with buying big screen TVs at a deep discount? Is it any wonder that by the time December 25th rolls around that people are tired of Christmas?

The “Holiday Season” gets stretched longer ever year. Soon it will resemble a presidential campaign in length. It’s hard for Christmas Day to be special when we’ve been “celebrating” for over two months. (I will give special dispensation to those businesses that celebrate Christmas 365 days a year like Bronners in Frankenmuth, Michigan.)

One of my favorite holiday TV specials is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. I’m old enough to remember watching it when it premiered in 1965, and pretty much every year thereafter. Many people today would love to go back to that simpler time. But do those people remember the main theme of that holiday classic? Charlie Brown was repelled by the over commercialization of Christmas and went in search of the true meaning of the season. And that was 45 years ago. What would Charlie think of today’s over-hyped and pepper spray scented holiday shopping binges? I suppose if he could listen to Vince Guaraldi while carving a pumpkin he’d probably be okay.

Peace. And Happy Birthday Jesus.

Yes, I waited to post this until after the holidays on purpose.