Archive for June, 2011

Our weekend plans took a turn. Earlier in the week I suggested to my husband that we should go to the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell, Michigan on the weekend. I had never been before but when I lived in Wixom, nearly every year one of the balloons would fly over our neighborhood. Perhaps it was the balloonist from Commerce Township? Last year he landed in a nearby parking lot, but in 2003, he landed right on our street! Talk about precision flying! Here’s a picture I took from my front porch as the balloon was flying away:


As the weekend wore on, the thought of going to the Balloonfest was less and less appealing. Sure, I wanted to see the balloon launch, but the thought of battling crowds and traffic on such a lovely summer day sealed my decision to make other plans. So, Sunday morning I suggested that instead of going to the Balloonfest that evening, we go on a bike ride instead. My husband was agreeable.

Now the decision of where to? I had been wanting to ride into Downtown Okemos for some time now. I wanted to see the new artwork that was installed there this year. I decided to take my camera, just in case I felt inspired for a travelogue entry.

“Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.” That describes Downtown Okemos. In fact, until I moved here and started keeping up with the goings on in Okemos, I didn’t realize that this little (roughly) two block area was the downtown.

First, why is Okemos called Okemos? You’ll have to read the historical marker:

The Red Cedar River, by the way, is about a block and a half from this historical marker, looking straight ahead as you read this:

If you imagine yourself standing on this street corner reading this, Hamilton Road is directly behind you. Okemos Road is directly to your right.

Later that afternoon we rode up to my in-laws’ condo and my husband mentioned that I had been taking pictures of some of the artwork in Downtown Okemos. My father-in-law laughed and said “The fish?” My husband said “yes, and the new artwork that was installed this year (which my father-in-law apparently did not know about).

These fish have been around a while, a staple of the downtown area. They’re quite pretty when you get up close. They are covered in mosaic tiles. The fish closest to you is covered in mirrored tiles and is shiny in the sunlight.

Here’s a picture of another staple of the Downtown: The Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum. It’s quite a unique place. Their website is here, if you’d like more information. (I highly recommend checking out the website.) Each month their special of the house is from a different country in the world. And, for you beer lovers out there, this restaurant offers a selection of 202 beers, including microbrews from Michigan. I don’t drink, but the Michigan draft beer called “Final Absolution” is intriguing to me for some reason. 🙂

Across the street (to the left in the picture) is where my favorite new art installation resides. It’s called “Little Joyful Dancer.” It’s in front of the dancewear and lingerie shop. They were having a sidewalk sale, so I didn’t take a picture of it, but you can check it out here on Facebook. This was when it wasn’t yet installed.

Across the street to the right in the picture, is Zea’s Okemos Barber and Style Shop. Its recent claim to fame is that the owner, Vincent Zea, won the 2011 People’s Choice Award for Best Barber in the East Lansing/Okemos/Haslett area. The shop was started in 1962 by his father and is still family-owned and operated.

Turning the corner to the right, as we go down Hamilton Road a block we come upon this new sculpture. It’s called “@Com,” but every time I see it I think of Scotch Tape (with apologies to the artist).

And, this is looking East to the edge of Downtown. There’s another new art installation in the traffic circle. Quite impressive and modern. It’s called “Divine Wind Gate.” A picture can be found here.

If you look to your left in the picture, you can see the edge of Wood’s Marathon gas station (my preferred gas station). When you pull up to pump gas, an employee comes out to wash your windows for you. Can’t get service like that anywhere else around here! As a plus, one of their mechanics, Mike O’Connor, won the 2011 People’s Choice Award for Best Mechanic in the East Lansing/Okemos/Haslett Area.

Now back to the corner of Okemos and Hamilton Roads. Tired out from walking? How about relaxing and sitting a while here. Um, maybe. These aren’t the most practical benches to sit on. Especially after the sun has been beating down on them all day. Actually, since they are part of the art installation, are we allowed to sit on them?

To keep up with the goings-on in Downtown Okemos, visit the Facebook page here.

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Yes, I know that it’s going to be Father’s Day this Sunday but recently I was trying to catch up on some reading and came across an article in the Catholic Times, our diocesan newspaper. The article, entitled “Dominicans bless gift of ‘peace’,” talks about the Adrian Dominican Sisters marking Mother’s Day by installing a Peace Pole on the grounds of their retreat and conference center. It said in the article that this ceremony was reconnecting Mother’s Day to its original meaning. This had me intrigued. I had assumed that the day was simply meant to thank mothers for all that they do.

Later in the article it said that originally Mother’s Day, proposed by Julia Ward Howe, was “an event to focus on striving towards world peace in response to the death and destruction wrought by the U.S. Civil War.” Howe wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation calling all “women who have hearts” to come together to plan ways to put an end to war. “Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

Somehow over the years this original meaning of Mother’s Day has been lost.

Now we also “allow our [daughters] to be trained to injure theirs.”

Perhaps now, more than ever, as war still rages on, we must revisit this proclamation. But, perhaps this should not only be a Mother’s Day Proclamation. This should also be a Father’s Day Proclamation and a proclamation that we take into our hearts the rest of the days of the year also, teaching (and relearning for ourselves) charity, mercy, and patience on our way to becoming “too tender of those of another country.”

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… Irises

I know that the saying goes “stop and smell the roses,” but in my yard I stop and smell the irises. Why? They smell like grape juice. “Huh?” you say. That was my reaction too. I had never heard of (or smelled) such a thing before. But, yes, they do exist and they smell heavenly! You can even say I’m addicted. The full name for these irises are Iris Pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’ and you can find more about them here.

A closer look at the blossom:

There were a few more surprises this time when visiting my garden. Finding lilies of the valley are always a surprise because they grow under large leaves. One can overlook these so easily.

Then nearby I saw that this plant had blossomed. I don’t know what kind of plant it is, but I didn’t expect it to have these tiny yellow blossoms.

Then behind a large bleeding heart bush I found these little delicate flowers…

Coral Bells, I think. They grow on these long stalks.

I saw that my rhododendrons were blooming nicely, so I went over and took a couple of pictures.

Then I saw the buttercups.

Meanwhile I nearly overlooked these flowers:

So unassuming until I took a closer look:

Here’s some hidden lamium:

Then here’s some not so hidden:

Some flowers are difficult to overlook. They just seem to say “Look at me!”

Besides the rhododendrons above, there’s Phlox.

These cornflowers:

A closer look at the blossom:

Oriental poppies are another.

And peonies, of course.

And we must not forget to stop and smell the roses.

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