Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day when we traditionally gather with family or friends and enjoy a large meal.  The Thanksgivings of my childhood are different than those I have now.

Thanksging - Grandma and PieAs a child we would travel “up north,” which meant to grandma and grandpa’s house in Traverse City.  The men (my dad, uncles, adult cousins) would go deer hunting and then come in from hunting for the meal.  The women did the preparations which included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie.  I remember my grandmother also having mincemeat pie.  I tried it as a child, hated it and have never been able to bring myself to try it again.  I don’t even know what is in it, I don’t like the appearance and I remember hating the taste.

When I got married my husband and I would juggle from year to year traveling to either my parent’s home in Eaton Rapids or my in-laws home in Boyne City.  At the home of my parents the meal was similar to what I had grown up eating except my mother would have 2-3 fruit pies in addition to the pumpkin, but no mincemeat.  The gathering would be my parents, my husband and I with our kids and my sister, her husband and their kids.  family - telling story of ffamily

When we traveled to my in-laws in Boyne City the size of the gathering could vary greatly depending on how many of the kids were coming home.  My husband was one of five and there were eventually 13 grandchildren so the gathering could be quite sizeable.  My mother-on-law was a wonderful cook and baker, so the meal had all the traditional foods plus duck, and she always made both the pumpkin and pecan pies.

My introduction to the family was the first Thanksgiving after my husband and I started dating.  Quite a few of the family members were home.  My father-in-law was at the end of the table and asked to have a roll passed to him.  My mother-in-law, who was seated at the opposite end, picked one up out of the basket and threw it to the end of the table.   I was shocked.  My family was much smaller and never did those type of things.  Now don’t get the wrong impression.  These were very well mannered people enjoying an informal family setting.  It was fun and relaxing whenever they gathered for any holiday or event.

Now I’m the one that does the cooking.  Our parents have all passed away, and our children come with our grandchildren to spend Thanksgiving with us, though they only have to travel a mile down the road, not several hours.  The meal has the traditional turkey and stuffing, plus mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with pumpkin pie for dessert.

thanksgiving - 8 servings of pieMy Thanksgiving meal differs from that of my childhood or those prepared by my mother-in-law.  I don’t have a regimented menu.  I mix it up a bit from year to year.   I don’t do everything from scratch.  My pies are generally purchased pre-made, my rolls are sometimes from a mix, sometimes brown and serve.  This year my three main side dishes are being prepared in a triple crock pot to keep it simple.

However you do Thanksgiving, I hope it is a happy one.  Enjoy time with family and friends.  If you are on your own take yourself out to a restaurant and enjoy a traditional meal or look for a soup kitchen to volunteer at.  Enjoy the day regardless of whether you are with family and friends or making someone else’s day a bit better for them.







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Filed under celebration, Family, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot, nutrician, travel

When Emotions Surprise You

When my mother passed away May 24, 2013 my dad asked my sister, Carol, and I to go through and clean out mom’s things.  We had started working on it but had not yet completed the task when our Dad passed away on December 3, 2014.

It was in January or February that I started making the 2-1/2 hour drive to their home so Carol and I could work together going through their belongings, sorting things out, taking what we wanted.  They had moved into the house in 1966 when I was six years old.  The accumulation was massive.Emotion - memories taken for granted

Throughout the process we found things that made us go “why?”, such as boxes and boxes of health-care books.  We found things that were funny, items we could use in genealogy, photographs that were fun to flip through, collectibles, and numerous other things.  One of the neatest discoveries was four boxes labeled “treasures” that were filled with family heirlooms and lists typed by my mother on an old-fashioned typewriter giving the information on each “treasure”, such as how the family acquired it, who had owned it, etc.  Those four boxes were a genuine, exciting surprise.  Finding Treasures was definitely fun.

It was an exhaustive process and when we finally reached the point where we had sorted through and removed everything we wanted, it was time to call a company for an estate sale.

Emotion - when something breaks your heartThe estate sale was Wednesday and Thursday this week.  It was rainy, windy,  and cold, but the street was a busy flow of cars and people were making purchases.  Everything was under control when I arrived to see how things were going.

What surprised me was the emotional impact it had on me when I entered the home.  I never expected it to be that difficult.  I was glad to be done with the sorting and cleaning, glad that I now longer have to spend all my weekends there.   When I walked through the door and saw strangers digging through my parent’s  belongings, walking around in the house I had grown up in, it was hard.   I was swallowing and blinking my eyes to keep from crying.  I maintained my control, walked through the house, and didn’t fall apart until I got back into my car.Emotion - smile, hold back the tears and walk away

Then I tried to analyze why I had such a hard time.  Was it because it felt like a personal invasion to have strangers going through their belongings?  Was it because it was the house I grew up in and soon would be out of our hands?   It is hard to explain.  It could have been one of those things, it could have been a combination, I will probably never know.  I was shocked at my own emotional reaction.

Emotion - upset specific to those who careI did go back to the house later and again the next day and did not re-experience that initial emotional hit.  The sale is now over.  We sold a ton but have lots of things left.  Now we have to figure out how to get rid of as much as possible.  Life is never dull….Life is a Melting Pot!


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Filed under Family, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot

Boom! Then The Walls Caved In

Implosion. Photos by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

Implosion. Photos by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

The anticipation, are you going?  Where are you going to watch from?  As the time grew shorter, the inquiries became more frequent, planning more intense.  It filled conversations, Facebook posts, the newspaper.  The much anticipated implosion of the DTE Power Plant in Marysville, Michigan.

Marysville Power Plant, Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

Marysville Power Plant, Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

The plant was built along the St. Clair River, an international waterway and shipping channel.  My husband and I decided the best vantage point would be from the Canadian side of the river.  We were not alone in our thinking.  Both Canadians and Americans lined the roadway to watch the event.

It was scheduled for 8:00 am on November 7, 2015, and it is one of the few activities I have ever attended where 8:00 am meant exactly that.  At 8:00 am you could see lights flash in several spots, the boom as explosives went off, and then watch the building go down in a matter of seconds.  Definitely worth getting up early to see.

Dust and smoke billow out across the St. Clair River.  Copyright 2015.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Dust and smoke billow out across the St. Clair River. Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

Immediately following the implosion a huge, billowing cloud of smoke and/or dirt rose up and started to roll out over the river, eventually hitting the bank and coming up onto the Canadian soil.  Then, in a few minutes it was clear again and you could see the huge pile of rubble left where a building had once stood.

Aftermath - Ron Grogan takes down his camera and tripod as the cloud of dust rolls in.  Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

Aftermath – Ron Grogan takes down his camera and tripod as the cloud of dust rolls in. Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

Then the traffic jam started.  You know how it is when you are trying to leave a large event, bumper to bumper traffic moving at a slow pace.  The problem was, the authorities had not really anticipated the amount of vehicles that would be there and had no one directing traffic to clear it out quickly.  We didn’t even attempt to enter traffic for at least a half hour or more.

The downed power plant.  Copyright 2015.  Photo by Grace Grogan

The downed power plant. Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  Would I attend an implosion again if the opportunity arose?  Definitely!  Watching a building come down in only a matter of seconds is a sight to be experienced in person.  It can not be explained.


Filed under Life is a Melting Pot

Happy Veterans Day

Veterans Day - Happy Veterans DayThe only purpose of this post is to give recognition of those who provide service to our country, protecting our lands both here and abroad.  Those who have served in the past and continue to serve now.  THANKING ALL VETERANS FOR THEIR SERVICE.

Veteran - What is a Veteran

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When the Lights Go Out

Internet went downA week or so ago I was finally home for a Saturday, the first one in weeks, with a long to-do list.  At 10:30 am there was a glitch — we lost our power.  Washer and Dryer both stopped mid-cycle.  Dishwasher stopped mid- cycle.  I’m not used to this.  In the eleven years we have been in this house we have only lost power 3-4 times – why now?

It was rainy and gloomy outside, which means even with the blinds open it is dark.  I managed to get the small load of clothes out of the dryer and hung them to dry.  Then I stood in the house looking around.  What could I do that would allow me to be productive with only the light from the windows?

The CD’s on our shelves had all been taken down and needed to be reorganized, and there was a window nearby.  Not a very exciting project, but at least it was something.  Rather blah sorting music CD’s when you can’t even pop one in the player to listen to.  At least it was something to do.

Life without power is challenging.  Walk into the bathroom close the door and realize as you flip the switch that there is no light.  You are standing in a pitch black room because it has no window.  Exit the room and go look for a flashlight to use.  As you are looking for the flashlight you walk into a room and instinct comes into play…you hit the light switch out of habit, and again nothing happens.  Then you feel like an idiot….why would you be looking for a flashlight if the lights worked?

The coffee maker went off with the power, so now you want to warm up a cup of coffee, but the microwave won’t run.  The internet also went down with the electricity, so you try to surf using your phone, but due to lack of power the cell lines are tied up and nothing is loading.   Figure out lunch with items that do not require cooking.

It was around 4:30 that our electricity came back on.  Lights flashed on, lights that had been on when the power went down sprang to life.  However the internet was still out.  We have a package plan, internet, phone and TV, so nothing worked.  Predicted connection:  11:30 pm.   You feel like you’ve been stripped of contact with the world!  Now what will I do.  I have lights, but no TV, phone or internet.

Losing power, even for a short time, is a wake-up call to how dependent we are on technology.  Our ancestors lived without all these modern conveniences and did quite well without them.  Yet loose the for a portion of the day now and you find yourself lost, unable to function, because everything relies on electricity and/or internet connections.

Try going for a few hours without any lights, electricity, internet, TV or telephone.  Get back to the basics of life.  It will give you an appreciation for all you have, and for how your ancestors lived very happy, content lives without all our technology.

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Filed under Coping, Life is a Melting Pot

If I Could Write A Letter To Me…

I was recently listening to an old Brad Paisley Song, “Letter to Me”    The song talks about writing a letter and sending it back to yourself at age 17, reflecting on the past.  That started me to thinking about what kind of advise I might give myself if I were to reflect back on my youth.  I thought it would be easy, but it isn’t.     What would I change if I could?  What would stay the same?

I would probably tell myself to have more self-confidence, not be so timid.   Although the popular crowd seems desirous to be in as a teen, they are all just people and having one or two good friends that last and you can trust is better than having a lot of casual friends.  a.youth

I started working at age 14.  While this was good experience, I would tell myself to do more extracurricular school activities and work less.  You are only young once and have a whole lifetime to be committed to a job and making money.  Try out for a play, join a club, enjoy the high school experience.

If you skip school less and spend more time on your homework you would have a higher GPA.  But then again, you did have fun, and an A-B average through high school isn’t bad.

Don’t start business college the same month you graduate high school.  Take the summer off.  Enjoy life.  You may have not gotten frustrated and/or burned out on school if you had at least taken a summer break.  Push to go away to college, experience living on your own a little.  If not college, get an apartment with a friend.  Experience single life without being under the shadow of your parents.

Follow your dream career, not what your mother thinks is safe and/or proper.  Although her advise led you to solid jobs throughout your adult life, you will never know what you may have been because you didn’t fulfill your own personal career dream.

That boyfriend you have been with off and on for years is not the one you’ll marry, but he will eventually become a good friend.   The experience, both the good and the bad, helps you to form the person you become as an adult.

a.youth2Follow your gut instincts about people and situations.  Regardless of what others think, you have good instincts, use them. Never regret standing up for your own safety and your moral standards.  They will serve you well.

You have a lot going for you, even though you think the things you are dealing with now are critical, they don’t even begin to delve into what life is all about.   Enjoy your youth.  You will met someone and marry, have kids and grandchildren of your own.  You’ll move away, build a life and as an adult look back on this day and realize that what you have now are some of the easiest years of your life, but the best is yet to come.

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Touring The Insane Asylum

Touring the The Traverse City Commons.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Touring the The Traverse City Commons. Photo by Grace Grogan

This past weekend I toured a beautiful, spacious, historical sight located in Traverse City, Michigan.  When I was growing up the Northern Michigan Asylum / Traverse City State Hospital was still operational.  Lack of funding eventually closed the facility and those remaining patients were turned out and onto the streets with nowhere to go, nowhere to live.

The 63-acre site and its buildings of beautiful architecture deteriorated and were almost destroyed.  Word got out and those desirous of preserving such a beautiful historical location stepped in and renovations continue today.  Now called The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, it is one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse developments in the country.

The eateries and shops of The Commons.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015.

The eateries and shops of The Commons. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015.

Former historic buildings have been transformed into an indoor marketplace with a variety of gift shops, professional services, artwork, offices, eateries, condos, and a restaurant.   The location is alive with activity.  Outside there are walkways and lawns to explore on 480 aces of preserved land.  The restoration of historic barns and a botanical garden are underway.

If you really want to learn about the history of this asylum for the mentally ill, take a guided tour.  This two hour tour takes you into buildings that are in the process of being renovated and provides you with a vast amount of information regarding the lifestyle of those in residence there, the way they were treated, and how innovative this facility really was.

The underground tunnels.  Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

The underground tunnels. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

Our tour guide was very informative with a a great personality and sense of humor that was constantly wound into his presentation.  You know you are in good hands when before the tour begins he announces that people should use the restroom and then says “sorry, its the mom in me”.  The tour is two hours of walking, both inside and out.

Visiting patient rooms.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Visiting patient rooms. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

The information provided is interesting and informative.  Not only about the architecture and design of the buildings themselves, but also about Dr. Munson, who designed the facility, and his “Beauty is Therapy” theory on providing treatment for the patients.  The facility was very innovative in that it treated patients as if they were thinking and feeling humans, not something to be thrown away.  He gave them incentive and pride by providing them with jobs on the facility.  Working in the kitchen, creating tile, woodworking, working on the dairy farm, and more.  Residents enjoyed their lifestyle and took pride in their “home”, which is what the facility was to them.  Furnishings were luxurious and comfortable, dining was on the equivalent of a fine restaurant with table clothes, fine china, and fresh flower center pieces.

Touring the Traverse City Commons.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015.

Touring the Traverse City Commons. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015.

The tour includes a short period of walking outside in which you learn about some of the buildings before proceeding inside.  You will enter an non-renovated historic building, a renovation in process, and learn about the purpose in the way the architecture was designed, how the patients were housed, and then finish the tour with a walk through a brick steam tunnel built in 1883 and a visit to an area of The Commons where offices are located.

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Once the tour is complete make sure you visit a few of the shops and eateries.  Books, gifts, ornaments, T-shirts and more await the shopper.  I purchased three books while there, Traverse City State Hospital is a pictorial history, Beauty in Therapy is a memoir, and Training School for Nurses is a guide of the training that nurses underwent to work at the Insane Asylum.  I look forward to reading and learning more about this unique place.


Filed under Michigan, travel

Hot Air Rising

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

My husband and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico October 2, 2015 to attend the first three days of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.  If you have never attended, it is a must see.  It is hard to explain the feeling of standing amongst hundreds of hot air balloons as they inflate for lift-off, and then turning in a circle and everywhere around you and above you are over 500 hot air balloons in a mass ascension.   They have a “main street” area with food vendors, craft vendors, stores, buttons, and various types of merchandise to shop and enjoy.

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

We spent the first day there from beginning to end, arriving at the park around 4:30 am and leaving as the fireworks were being shot off that night.  A long day, but we experienced it all.  The second day of the show we left after the morning lift-off and spent the afternoon driving up to Sante Fe to visit a botanical garden.  We found we enjoyed the morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off more than the evening glow.  It could have been the so-so weather on the night we stayed that left us with that feeling, because the night glows are one of their most popular events.

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

If you have been following my posts for a while you know that my husband visited Sante Fe and Albuquerque during his trip west a few weeks ago, which I talked about in When Your Husband Returns..
This was my first trip to New Mexico, and here are some quick thoughts about the trip:

  • When booking a nice, early morning flight, don’t forget you have to be at the airport 1-2 hours before flight time, meaning a 6:00 am flight requires being at the airport by 4:00 am.
  • Don’t book your layovers too tight.  We had a one hour layover in Dallas, but by the time we were able to exit the plane and walk to our departure terminal, making only a quick restroom stop, we arrived at our departure terminal two minutes before boarding began.
  • New Mexico is a dry heat, so you don’t notice the heat like you do in more humid areas, be sure to wear sunblock.
  • The hottest (spiciest) food in Michigan is mild compared to “normal” food in New Mexico.
  • Chillies are used in a lot of food (they were even offered in Chinese fried rice), it you don’t like spicy food, ask before ordering.
  • A two-hour time difference can work to your advantage when you have early mornings planned
  • It is worth getting out of bed to be on the Balloon Fiesta Field at 6 am for the ,morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off.
  • Old Towne Albuquerque is a wonderful place of interesting architecture and great shops.  Don’t miss Sculpture Park on the east side of Old Towne.   They also have a fantastic pizza shop, fresh pizza on a light and airy crust.
  • If you want to take the Tramway in Albuquerque to the top of the mountain, plan for it to be a several hour excursion.  We waited in line two hours only to have it shut down due to high winds.  The next time we arrived 20 minutes after they opened in the morning, but already the line was longer than the day we waited two hours, plus there were five tour buses there already.
  • Sante Fe is a photographers dream; be sure to visit the Museum Hill Botanical Gardens.
  • When doing all carry on luggage, be wary of what you purchase.  Packing for the return flight can be tricky.
  • Plan to visit the Fiesta and New Mexico again, because it is an awesome, breathtaking, unique, cultural, event and location well worth the trip.


Filed under events, Life is a Melting Pot, travel

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Everyone Makes MistakesWhen I saw this quote I knew I had to write about it.  It seems like today’s society is unwilling to forgive those who step outside the boundaries.  This happens to children when they are still very young and impressionable.  Even at a very young, vulnerable, age adults in their lives, usually teachers, adult family friends, members of their church, etc. will berate them if they falter.

A child’s mistake can be anything from forgetting to put on socks, messing up the freshly cleaned family areas of the home, getting into a fight at school, or committing some type of crime.  The child makes a mistake, deals with the consequences, and at this point life should go on, but it doesn’t.

The next time something goes wrong other children blame that child, because they know he/she will be an easy target.  If they faltered once, the adults will believe they have done it again.  The sad part is, when that repeatedly happens the child begins to feel they can do nothing right.  If a child is continuously blamed for everything that goes wrong, then eventually they will learn that no matter how hard they try, it simply isn’t going to matter because everyone will blame them for anything that happens anyway.

When a child, teen, or adult realizes that no matter what they do they will never be able to dig themselves out of a hole in which they are continually assumed to be at fault, they will eventually give up trying.  In addition to trying, they may begin to live up to the expectations of failure that are continuously being placed on them.

Now think about society.  People have lost their compassion, their value of human life.  Teens and adults become frustrated and take that frustration out by using guns to create mass murders.  It isn’t the gun’s fault, and maybe it isn’t even the child/teens fault.  It could be that society’s attitude has put that child/teen into a bad place, created someone that is unable to cope and feels like a failure.

Society needs to change.  People need to learn how to show compassion and understanding, how to give forgiveness.  People need to learn to accept those who are different, forgive those who falter, and move forward with a positive approach to everything.  That is how we fix what has gone wrong within our society.

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Filed under assumptions, children

Prepping for Vacation is Work

My husband and I are taking a long weekend to attend the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve come to the conclusion that preparing to take a trip is exhausting.  I want to get my desk caught up at work because I will be off Friday and Monday, so I’ve been getting up and going into work an hour earlier than normal each day this week, and then staying 30-45 minutes longer than normal.

Then once I get home I have other prep to do.  We are doing strictly carry-on luggage, so had to pare down our camera gear considerably to make sure we could get that in.  Of course packing for 3-4 days in an airline regulation size bag is tricky, but I think I’ve got it workable.  Then of course the bag to go under my seat with a book, travel vouchers, camera, camera gear, etc.  Could it get any more complicated?

Yes it can, our flight time is so early in the morning that I realized we are going to have to get up and on the road around the time I normally go to bed.  I’m excited, but I have a feeling it is going to be an exhausting trip.  Being photographers we don’t want to miss any photo ops so will be up and on the field bright and early when it opens, and then be shooting all the way through the event.  I’ve discovered I can’t fit my tripod into my carry on luggage, so I’m bummed about that as there will be fireworks each night, but I’ll manage somehow.

So, is travel worth it if you have to wear yourself out in the preparation?  Yes, It always is, and it will be this time as well,  However as I sit here typing this post and realizing how tired I am from this screwed up week I truly do believe that Prepping for Vacation is Work!

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Filed under Festivals, Life is a Melting Pot, travel, vacation

Be Happy

I think this quote by John Lennon is an excellent way to view life.  As an adult you will encounter all kinds of people as you go through your day-to-day life.  There are those that seem to be going through the motion of life, but not really living it and have an unhappy demeanor.   Then there are those who don’t seem to have anything positive in their life, but they appear to be at peace with everything.  They have a friendly, positive attitude.

I believe that attitude is everything.  Your attitude about anything and everything you encounter affects the way you feel and affects the way you are perceived by others.  If you encounter difficulties and feel doomed, like you aren’t ever going to achieve anything in life because of whatever it is you are dealing with — a low-paying job, unhappy instructors, difficult children, etc., then you have a negative outlook on life and that negativity will radiate from you and to those around you.  If your attitude is to believe in yourself and your ability to overcome whatever obstacles are put in your path, regardless of what you encounter, you will be at peace with yourself and at peace with the world.  Those around you may be amazed at your positive attitude.

Whatever you are facing in life, health problems, pain, injury, or any other challenge, stay positive.  Believe in your own ability to rise above whatever it is you are battling.  Take life as it comes, accept its challenges, and most importantly, decide that whatever life throws at you to maintain a positive attitude and to Be Happy.

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Filed under Coping, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot

Happy 34th Anniversary

This past Saturday, September 12, 2015, was my husband, Ron, and my 34th Anniversary.  We typically do not celebrate anniversaries or our birthdays, but this year we both had gifts for each other.  Possibly because Ron is currently battling his 3rd round of cancer and you look at things differently.

I had decided while Ron was away on his trip west, which I talked about in When Your Husband Returns, to make him a video of photographs of us as a couple over the past 35 years (from when we met to now).  I gathered the photos into a folder, found the song I wanted to use, “Grow Old Along With Me” sung by Glen Campbell, and began putting together the presentation.

First problem arose when my daughter found me the song I wanted and obtained it as an MP3 on her phone, then emailed it to me.  I couldn’t figure out how to download it, but someone showed me how and that was fine.  Then I put the slideshow together in a PowerPoint presentation, figured out how to convert the MP3 to a WAV file for imbedding into the PowerPoint and then used the drop-down menu to convert to a video.  When I played back the video version it had an echo and played the music twice in an echo format.  Not good!  The PowerPoint played fine, but I wanted to be able to share it with family and friends on Facebook which required a video conversion.

I questioned a friend who does not live near me, and after a series of questions he asked me to email him the file so he could attempt to remove the music file from the video.  Unfortunately he was unable to do that, so I had to download a free video slide show program and re-build the presentation.  I got it re-built in a slightly different version and it played well, I was able to upload it to YouTube and then share on Facebook on the appropriate day.

I next purchased a flash drive, which I saved the original PowerPoint presentation on and placed that into an Anniversary card for Ron.  Then after midnight the night before our anniversary I switched the YouTube version from private to public and shared the link on my Facebook page, tagging Ron, in Happy 34th  Anniversary.    Everyone enjoyed viewing the video, and I have also taken all the photographs and built a Shutterfly book with them, which will be arriving here soon.

Now Ron also had gifts for me this year.  I received a sapphire necklace (my birthstone) and an amethyst bracelet (my favorite color).   We spent the day together visiting an art fair we enjoy attending every year and then going out to dinner.  A great 34th Anniversary.

Sapphire Necklace

Sapphire Necklace

Amethyst Bracelet

Amethyst Bracelet


Filed under celebration, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage

Become Friends with People Who Aren’t Like You

Become friends with people who aren't your age, language, etcI stumbled across this saying this week and I think it holds a lot of good advise.  I have done all the things listed in the photo.  If you haven’t, then you don’t know what you are missing.

Being friends with people who are of a different age group than you has benefits.  Those who are older have knowledge to share, have lived through portions of history that took place before you were born, and have grown up without many of the everyday conveniences you now take for granted.

Friends who are younger are refreshing and vibrant.  They have a different viewpoint on life because they have grown up in a technology and computer based world.    Their life experiences are different.  Their expectations for what they can get out of life and career are broader based.  You have lived through portions of history that took place before they were born.

I have a friend who grew up in India and came to America when she got married.  She had an arranged marriage and had only met her husband 2-3 times before they were wed.  She learned to speak English after coming to this country.  We spent seventeen years working together.  We discussed everything from culture, marriage, religion, children, and mourning/funeral practices.  When you become friends with someone whose first language and culture is different then yours it can be a very rewarding experience from which you both grow from the knowledge acquired in the sharing of information.

Getting to know someone who is not from your same social class is probably the most intimidating and most difficult of all of the contacts listed.  However it opens you eyes to the way other people live and can broaden your understanding of what those people cope with on a daily basis.  Someone who comes from a higher social class than yours can make you feel intimidated, uncomfortable, and possibly lacking in the fine, cultural knowledge that frequently accompanies such status.  On the other hand, someone who comes from a lower social class than yours may also make you uncomfortable.  You may be shocked at the condition of their clothing, furniture, housing, where they shop for clothes, or any other multitude of things.  Whether dealing with someone of a higher or lower social class it is important to remember, we are all people, and just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they lack value, compassion, or understanding.

It is easy to make assumptions about people who are different than us.  Destroying those assumptions and converting them into friendly contacts is beneficial for all.  That is the basis of achieving peace.  Whether the friendships you develop are based strictly on work relationships, club relationships or friendships that grow and develop beyond those areas, they are still valuable resources for stepping outside of your comfort zone and experiencing something different, which is always enlightening.


Filed under assumptions, communication, friends

Labor Day Past and Present

Labor Day - Celebrate the labor that built this countryLabor Day, always the first Monday in September, is a holiday that here in America we take for granted as providing us with a 3-day weekend, but does anyone really give thought to what the holiday’s significance is.  Labor Day was created by the labor movement and is dedicated to social and economic achievements of American workers.

The First Labor Day - September 5, 1882

The First Labor Day – September 5, 1882

In the 19th Century Americans started a tradition of having picnics, parades and various other celebrations to support labor issues.  Then on September 5, 1882 a pivotal event occurred when a parade of unions and massive picnic took place in New York City.   The labor movement had been gaining popularity and several unions proposed joining together for a monster labor festival.  The Central Labor Union, which was comprised of members from many local unions, proposed the event on May 14, 1882.  They selected Wendel’s Elm Park as the location to host the massive festival,   Tickets to the event were sold, and proceeds went to each Union selling them.  By June 20,000 tickets had been sold and in August the Central Labor Union passed a resolution “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.”  The day of the event arrived.  Workers participating had to lose a day’s pay to participate, but that did not deter people.  An estimated 10,000-20,000 marchers participated in the parade, and everyone continued to celebrate with food, music and fireworks.

Labor Day Parade - Jackson Michigan - September 4, 1911

Labor Day Parade, Jackson, Michigan September 4, 1911

Labor Day was not initially recognized as a national holiday.  In 1885 and 1886 municipal ordinances provided the first recognition of Labor Day.  Then Oregon passed the first law on February 21, 1887, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York a year later.  Popularity continued to grow, with more and more states adopting the holiday until in 1894 Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each an every year a legal holiday.Labor Day - What it Means

So today as you are enjoying your picnics, family gatherings, traveling, or what ever activity it is that you do on this holiday that has come to signal the end of summer and beginning of school in many states, remember those men and women who lost a day of pay to promote the working man so that you could today enjoy the fruit of their efforts.


Filed under Activities, Holidays

When Your Husband Returns

A sketch done of Ron, the artist was Europeon and didn't want his glasses on because she wanted to see his eyes.  Not my favorite, but he likes it.

A sketch done of Ron, the artist was Europeon and didn’t want his glasses on because she wanted to see his eyes. Not my favorite, but he likes it.

My husband, Ron Grogan, is battling his third round of cancer and decided that he wanted to take a trip west to Sante Fe, New Mexico, because he read that it is a photographer’s paradise.  He is retired (I work a full-time job), so he packed up his car and left on the 7th of August, delaying his next chemo round until August 26th.

Ron had a great time, I believe he said he took something like 11,000 pictures.  He visited Sante Fe, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Carthage, Missouri (home of the Precious Moments Chapel, I’m a collector), and Hocking Hills, Ohio.  He took a jeep photo tour, train ride, hot air balloon ride, and a glider ride.    Ron attended events, estate sales, auctions, and anything else that captured his eye.

When Ron pulled in on Monday at approximately 11:00 pm his car was loaded…trunk, back seat, and passenger seat and had newly tinted windows, another thing he had done while gone.  He didn’t even start to unload until the next morning as I was leaving for work.

Some of the items Ron acquired at estate sales and/or auctions.

Some of the items Ron acquired at estate sales and/or auctions.

So, now my house is overrun with items we have to figure out where to put.  A huge box of vinyl records…why?  I don’t know.  About 8-10 books he purchased for me, plus 3-4 for himself.  Neat paintings of male and female Indians, plus an Indian blanket we are going to use as a bedspread/comforter on our water bed.    Antiques he got in auctions, including an antique train book, two antique ice buckets and a wine/champagne chiller, vases, cruets, train cars, accessories, and I believe a model train to add to his set-up, plus a large box of Previous Moments figurines he purchased for me, and much more.

11 New T-Shirts for Ron.  Photo by Ronald Grogan

Eleven New T-Shirts for Ron. Photo by Ronald Grogan.

Before leaving for his trip Ron had approximately 115 T-shirts.  I was constantly having to re-stack them to fit them onto the shelves in the closet.  He came home with eleven (11) more.  Now I will admit some of them are very cool, but where the heck am I going to fit them?

Indian paintings obtained in New Mexico

Indian paintings obtained in New Mexico

So ladies, be aware.  If your husband is retired and takes a trip which you don’t participate in because you are still working, you have no idea the things they will bring home.   Fun for him, clutter for me.


Filed under travel

Unable to Shoot–a Photographer’s Dilema

Nikon-D750-2I am a photographer.  I have an attachment to my favorite camera, which is a Nikon D750 that I received at Christmas.  My husband and I both upgraded to them at the same time.  Two weeks ago I was taking a walk and it started giving me a beam of light across all my pictures, then locked up and gave me an ERR message.  A quick check of the owner’s manual on my phone told me that such a message means it must be sent in for repair.  What!  I have to ship it away!Nikon D80

That is exactly what I did, I took it in to the Camera store to be sent in for a warranty repair.  The shutter had locked up.  Now every photographer has a backup camera, and I have mine…the D80 I was shooting with prior to the D750.  Ron (husband) was leaving for a trip and made sure my batteries for the D80 were charged, and he took one charger with him as he carries a D90 for backup.  We weren’t worried about not knowing where the other charger was, as I had my D750 to shoot with anyway.  Then it locks up.  Now I’m not doing as much shooting because I am trying to preserve battery power.

PhotographyWhat I can’t figure out is where the charger went.  I swear I will never let that man put away anything important again.  One year he handled hiding a Christmas present for our son, we didn’t find it until almost a year later!  Now he knows he put the charger in a box, doesn’t remember what box, doesn’t remember where the box went.

So, that is my past two weeks.  The frustrations of a photographer who has temporarily lost their favorite camera and is trying to preserve battery power on their back-up as they have no charger.  It has to get better from here…


Filed under hobbies, Photography

A Punch in the Stomach

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember my post called Slippery Surgical Stress in which I talked about my husband’s esophogectomy in January 2015.  After the surgery he tested cancer free, although they had removed several lymph nodes and three of those were suspect.  He recovered quickly, but continued to loose weight.

At his three month follow-up and Petscan it was determined that he now has two cancer spots in his right lung.   He had a permanent port surgically put in and every two weeks he is hooked up to a chemo pack that he wears for 48 hours, then he has a two week recovery period, then back on the chemo for 48 hours.  After a three month period they will do another Petscan to check his status.

It is the cancer that prevented him from gaining weight, and instead caused him to lose more.  Prior to having the tumor he weighed approximately 180 lbs., then due to the blockage by the tumor in his esophagus he was on a thin liquid diet, which caused him to lose a tremendous amount of weight.  When he completed his surgery in January 2015 he weighed 133 pounds, he is 111 lbs now.    While the doctors have not given him a time frame, if he continues to loose weight he will not survive.

Given that information he began checking into our finances, what money I would have coming into the home if he passes as he is retired and collects social security and a pension.  He is putting all the financial records in order, looking at headstones, cemeteries, and planning his own memorial service.  Hopefully it will be a Murphy’s Law situation and by putting everything in order he will end up in remission and live a long time.  Life is a Melting Pot, and sometimes the mix isn’t what you hoped for.

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Filed under cancer, Coping, Life is a Melting Pot

Peaceful, Relaxing, Happy

Everyone needs a favorite spot close to home.  A place that makes them feel peaceful, relaxed, and happy.  I actually have several that are anywhere from about two minutes to 20 minutes from my house.  Places I go just because I enjoy being there.

St. Clair Board Walk.  Photo by Grace Grogan.

St. Clair Board Walk. Photo by Grace Grogan.

My favorite spot is the boardwalk in St. Clair.  It is the world’s longest freshwater boardwalk and overlooks the St. Clair River, the world’s busiest shipping channel.  More freighters go down the St. Clair River than the Panama and Suez canals combined.  The water is a beautiful blue, and across the river is Canada.

I love the boardwalk in both summer and winter.  The summer months you can view freighters, boaters, kayaks, jet skiers, kids jumping off the boardwalk into the river, and the beautiful park it is located in.   Winter is also special, with freighters moving though the frigid waters amongst ice floats, Christmas garland strung on the rail, and the snow covered walkway and park.

St. Clair Boardwalk.  Photo by Grace Grogan

St. Clair Boardwalk. Photo by Grace Grogan

My second favorite spot is the Thomas Edison Parkway.  This is where you will find a walkway along the St. Clair River and Lake Huron where they meet under the Blue Water Bridge.  A perfect viewing spot for freighters and boaters traveling along the channel.   If you are feeling energetic you can walk from the International Flag Plaza just north of the Blue Water Bridge south into Pine Grove Park where the Huron Lightship Museum is located.

In addition to those two favorites I also enjoy Lighthouse Beach.  The beach is located on Lake Huron and offers views of the Blue Water Bridge and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza. Photo by Grace Grogan

Fort Gratiot County Park is also located on Lake Huron and includes a path through a small wooded area, a boardwalk lets you walk out onto the beach close to the pavilions without actually walking in the sand, and of course the beach itself.  You will also find the 1971 Tunnel Explosion Memorial in this park, a construction accident that claimed the lives of 22 men.

Blue Water Bridge in Winter.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Blue Water Bridge in Winter. Photo by Grace Grogan

Kettelwell Pond in Fort Gratiot is a great spot for viewing birds, turtles and other wildlife.  The pond has a paved walkway all the way around it with benches placed periodically for sitting back and enjoying nature.  This is a peaceful place good for a leisurely stroll, but is also popular with people who enjoy jogging the path.


Turtles in Kettelwell Pond. Photo by Grace Grogan

These are only my favorite spots here in the Blue Water area.  There are so many, too many, to go into detail on.  You may also find me on the river walks in Marine City or Algonac, at Chrysler Beach in Marysville, Lakeside Beach in Port Huron, or Desmond Landing in Port Huron,   So much water, so many relaxing spots.

I hope each of you has, or finds, a spot to relax.  Somewhere that is peaceful, relaxing, and makes you feel happy.

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Filed under Blue Water Area, Life is a Melting Pot

Swallow Big and Plunge Forward

Life is tricky.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out it will throw a curve ball at you.  Then in the midst of dealing with one dilemma another pops up.  Not huge, the type that makes you say “Seriously?  Why can’t people deal with this?  Why can’t people just take on one small task?  Why are they leaving it for others to handle?”

That is the point where I took a big swallow, plunged forward and said what I thought.  I think my comments shocked a few people, but in the end I achieved the results I was striving for.    I don’t know if it was the stress of what I was already dealing with on a personal level that made me plunge forward, or if it was frustration over people who have already taken on duties trying to juggle more while others sat in limbo doing nothing.

Our Secretary had said if no one volunteered she could try to handle the job, but secretary in itself is a monthly obligation and I thought that was ridiculous.   I am Vice President, Newsletter Editor and Webmaster (although I fail drastically at the last one), and our President has taken over numerous committees as the chairs left and no one volunteered.

That is when I swallowed big and plunged forward with my thoughts on the situation.  I stood up and said that it isn’t right that every time a board position or committee chair position opens up no one volunteers and the existing board members end up adding it to their own list of duties.  We have a sufficient amount of members and if no one is willing to step up to the plate than maybe we should just dissolve the club and be done with it.

I think I shocked more than a few of the members with my announcement.  No one knew I intended to do that except for the exiting treasurer.  It was like pulling teeth.  When no one volunteered the Secretary said she would take over as Treasurer if someone would volunteer to be Secretary.

Again no one volunteered, so I said that I would take over as Secretary if someone would take the Vice President’s position.  The position of VP is one of the easiest, as your only obligation is to run the meeting if the President isn’t there (which has never happened in the 11 years I have been a member) , and putting together a collection of all committee reports for our Annual Report once a year.  Not only did no one volunteer, but one member went so far as to keep pushing forward with reasons no one should take my Vice Presidency job!

It took a bit of coercion, but a fairly new member agreed to take on the job of Treasurer, so the Secretary and I retained our current positions.  Was I nervous about announcing we should dissolve the club if we couldn’t get volunteers, especially when I had not discussed that thought with other board members?  Absolutely!  Am I glad I pushed forward and got the job done?  Without a doubt.

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Filed under Activities, Coping

Boat Week

I love Boat Week.  There are numerous activities working up to the main event, the send off the sailboats on the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.  Boat Week is fun and energetic.

Fireworks at Vantage Point.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Fireworks at Vantage Point. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The kick-off is actually on a Wednesday night with the Rotary Parade.  This is an event  I have never attended, but those who do attend the parade really enjoy it.  That is followed by Family Night on Thursday, where families can walk up and down the Black River and view the boats, visit the midway, ride the zip-line, climb aboard the large Ferris wheel, enjoy some great food from vendors, check out the live manikins, and participate in many activities especially designed for families.  The night is topped off by fireworks.

Friday night is Boat Night.  This is a party night, and the later it gets, the more crowded it gets.  Many of the same activities available on Family Night are repeated on Boat Night.  Beer tents let attendees celebrate, bands play on stage, and the walk along the Black River gets more and more crowded as the night rolls on.  This is the party before the Saturday morning send off of the sailboats.

Boat Night in Port Huron.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Boat Night in Port Huron. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Saturday morning starts with the Boat Parade.  As the boats head out of the Black River and onto Lake Huron for the start of the race they are out on their deck, waving at the hundreds of spectators lining the river.  We normally watch the parade, but this year we were on a press boat to take photos of the start of the race, so in a sense we were part of the “parade” trying to maneuver out of the river.

Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The starts are timed for several hours, with the smallest boats starting first and the largest boats being the final ones to start.  This year was great with spinnaker starts and a boat captain that put us into some great positions for photographs.  As the day wore on the boat owners were watching the reports of a incoming storm and we could see the black clouds moving in.

Racing to Beat the Storm.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Racing to Beat the Storm. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

As soon as everyone had taken all the photos they needed of the final race the captain had everyone sit down on the boat as he announced we were going to make a fast paced ride back in an attempt to get off Lake Huron and into the St. Clair River before the storm hit.  It was a fast ride with a bit of rocking and rolling as the storm moved closer, and we were in good company as numerous boats were running the same race we were.  The rain started to hit just north of the Blue Water Bridge.  We made it safely back to dock.

A fun-filled week of activities and an exciting ride back to put an end to it all.  Actually the activities for boat week end Saturday night with a Lighted Boat Parade, which we did not attend.  If you are ever in the Port Huron area during Boat Week, I hope you take the time to enjoy at least some of the activities, if not all.


Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, events