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

Furnishing Our House One Scrap at a Time.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my husband, Ron’s new scrapping truck in Treasures From Trash.  Since that time he has been bringing home tons of stuff that we use in our house or yard.  I thought it would be fun to share his finds with you so I took a walk around the house and yard and took photographs of things that we use obtained from scrap.  I know as soon as I post this I will realize I missed a few items, but I think you will be amazed at the things people toss away as garbage.  Keep in mind that these photos do not include all the Halloween items, Easter items, or Christmas items that are stored in our basement.


Filed under Life is a Melting Pot

Bear of a Week

Photo taken at Oswald Bear Ranch.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Photo taken at Oswald Bear Ranch. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing 4th of July and are rolling into what finally feels like some summer weather here in Michigan.  My life has been a whirlwind.  I haven’t processed the photos from our trip north to Newberry, in Mchigan’s upper peninsula, where we visited Oswald Bear Ranch and Tahquamenon Falls.I’m including a couple teaser photos in this post just for fun.

Tahquamenon Falls.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Tahquamenon Falls. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Of course we had 4th of July last weekend, and now I am only working 1/2 day on Thursday (July 9th) and then heading straight from work to Grayling, Michigan for a girls weekend with my sister and two cousins.  It should be a fun, relaxing weekend and I am looking forward to it.     Here’s wishing everyone a great week.

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Filed under Family, vacation

Celebrate Independence Day

St Clair Fireworks 2

Photo by Grace Grogan; copyright 2014

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th of July.  I am glad that I live in a city that still believes in having their 4th of July Fireworks on the appropriate day, so on Saturday evening I will be enjoying bursts of color shot from a barge over the St. Clair River.   With Ron and I being photographers, we watch with cameras on tripods to capture the event.

My weekend is kicking off with a visit from my best friend, Vicki, who lives four hours away.  We haven’t seen each in several months.  She and her boyfriend are taking a motorcycle trip along the eastern coast of Michigan this weekend and are stopping in for the night.

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair.  Photo by Grace Grogan  Copyright 2014

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair. Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2014

The Blue Water Area is full of things to do on this weekend.  The Blue Water Sandfest, an amateur and professional sand sculpting event is being held at the Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse, Algonac is having their Pickerel Festival, and there are numerous other events throughout the area as well.

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Happy 4th of July.

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Filed under Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Photo Seminar and Seven Ponds Nature Center

A couple weeks ago my husband, Ron, and I attended the Seven Ponds Nature Center Photo Expo.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had the opportunity to take classes and enjoy taking photographs at the nature center.  We split up, taking separate classes to fit our own personal interests and so we could share information from as many sources as possible.

Class subjects we participated in included Travel Photography, Subject Elements and Composition in Nature, Night/Low Light Photography, and Shades of Gray (visualizing your photograph in black and white when shooting).  Extended and overlapping break times allowed us to meet up and eat lunch together in the car before once again splitting up.  We even walked areas of the nature center separately, which is sometimes beneficial so that our photographs are not all alike or of the exact same subjects.

There were several drawings for door prizes and Ron was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to Camera Mart in Pontiac — a place that we frequent.  While at the seminar we purchased a new mono-pod for Ron and a new tri-pod that converts to a mono-pod for me.  I had been having trouble with my tripod and the Benro dealer informed me it could be sent in and re-worked/repaired at no charge by using his name from the seminar.  Needless to say I was very pleased to hear that, and Camera Mart handled getting that sent in for me.

Nature photography is something we both enjoy.  Everyone taking a walk in a wooded area or nature center should always have some form of camera available to capture the things that make those walks beautiful to you.  Take the time to look and enjoy the small things.  There are times I have taken walks with others who are not photographers, and they traverse the area much faster than I, because I am spotting and photographing many subjects that they never see.   I’m including some pictures taken the day of the seminar at Seven Ponds Nature Center.


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Filed under Life is a Melting Pot, nature, Photography

Caught up in Life

The past couple weeks it seems like life has been in a whirl and I can’t seem to catch up.   But then, how boring would life be if it were always the same.

Some of you who have been readers for a while know about the struggles of my husband, Ron, and I trying to adopt our two granddaughters.  We were denied the youngest, Kae-Lee, and she was adopted by her foster care parents almost a year ago.  We were still hoping to get Kiley, who is seven and severely handicapped, but we recently received the denial that they are giving her to complete strangers who live in northern Michigan, ironically in the very area where Ron’s parents retired to and we have spent a lot of time.  That adoption will most likely go through in the near future.  I did put in a call to the attorney that was trying to help us before to see what the retainer would be and what she thinks the chances are of winning a Section 45 hearing, but I already know from reading numerous appeals decisions that it is very hard to win.

Life is like a bicicleWhat is very frustrating is CPS/DHS denied us contact with the girls, both before and after the termination of parental rights.  Then when Michigan Children’s Institute wanted us to have supervised visits for MCI to make a final adoption decision, DHS fought against that as well and the judge ruled against us getting the visits.  So what is one of the reasons we are being denied?  Lack of contact for over three years — and yet they are giving her to a complete stranger.

When the adoption agency wrote their recommendation that we adopt, they recommended we get only the older one, not the younger.  Why?  Because the younger had been with the foster care family from the time she was an infant and they wanted to adopt.  As for Kiley, they said she should be adopted into a family as the only child — but they are awarding her to a family that has other handicapped children in it.

Their third reason was that we do not have experience in caring for a child with severe handicaps requiring 24-hour care.  The time we spent caring for her prior to being kidnapped by CPS apparently doesn’t count.  That’s okay, because I had started a book about this situation and was taking my time to see what the outcome would be.  Now that I know, I can delve into my writing more intensely and obviously will have a lot of time for promotion of the book once published.

I know we are not the only family this has happened to.  Kidnapping by Child Protective Services/Department of Human Services is a nationwide problem, no family is safe.  Removal of children from loving homes, placing them in foster care and then giving priority to non-family members, rather than biological relatives, has been going on for at least 15-20 years and needs to be stopped.

If you were not reading my blog at the time I wrote in more detail about our situation you can check it out at Attempted Adoption.  I would love to hear from others who have had experiences with this type of situation, good or bad.

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Filed under Adoption, Family, grandchildren

Re-Connecting with Old Friends

Friend - meeting after a long time and nothing has changedWhen I saw this image I instantly made a connection with it.  This has happened to me twice.  Once several years ago and again within the past couple months.

While it is always fun to have a wide assortment of friends and to make new friends wherever you go, there is something of value that cannot be replaced with a long-standing friendship.  A friendship that regardless of how long you have not spoken or how long you have been apart maintains an unexplainable level of comfort.  Those are the friendships to be treasured.

I have a friend I met when we were both attending business college back in 1978.  We quickly became friends and although I was only at the school a few months we remained friends.  All of our lives we have lived about four hours apart and contact was limited.

Once I left college we only saw each other a few times.  Vicki got married and I attended her wedding.  Then I got married and when I became pregnant she brought her daughter, a toddler, to my baby shower.  That was the last time we saw each other for several years.

There was no internet, so communication was either phone or snail mail.  With us snail mail was all we did, long distance calls were expensive.  Eventually computers and internet became a way of life and we connected via email, sending each other lengthy emails on an almost daily basis. We were email friends, but still had not seen each other in about 20 years.

When my youngest child was going to be attending a camp in Indiana I realized I would be traveling through Vicki’s area to drop him off.  I inquired about hotels in the area where I might be able to stay on the return trip and then visit her.  Vicki’s immediate response was that I could come stay with her.  I accepted.

Neither of us were concerned about re-connecting in person after so many years.  The man she was dating at the time was, and asked if she wasn’t concerned that we would run out of things to talk about and get bored.  She wasn’t.  We didn’t.   We had a great time, I taught Vicki about scrapbooking, a hobby of mine, and got her hooked  After that we spent years meeting halfway between our homes several times a year to do scrapbooking crops at a large store, then later at her mother’s house.  Recently she came and stayed at my home a couple times to scrap.

We have once again reached a point where we are not getting together as often due to certain commitments in our respective lives.  Sometime in the near future Vicki will be moving out of state to live near her daughter and grandchildren.  However we have a fast and firm friendship.  We have to stay friends, we know too much about each other to ever become enemies!

My more recent connection was on a much different level.  It was someone who I met when I was in 7th grade, 11 years old and he was in 8th grade, 12 years old.  Brad followed me home from school to get my phone number and from that point on until I was 19 and he 20 we were boyfriend/girlfriend off and on, but more on than off.  Everyone assumed we would eventually marry, but we didn’t.  I was the one that made the final break when I met the person that is now and has been my husband for the past 33 years.

I only saw Brad twice after that, once at a mutual friend’s home, and once when he came over to exchange belongings.  When I married I moved two hours away.  I would get updates, or mutual friends would make comments about him on occasion, but we had no contact.

About two years ago we connected on Facebook.  I don’t remember who made the friend request.  However I am more of a Facebook fanatic than Brad is, so most of our communication has been through IM messages.  We have extensive periods of time when there is no contact.  Although I occasionally traveled to  my old hometown, that was for the purpose of visiting family and we never saw each other.

Two years ago my mother passed away, and then my father six months ago.  That left an entire house for my sister and I to empty out, and it is the house they moved into in 1966, the one I grew up in.  A lot of things to go through, so I began making trips home on alternating weekends to do clean-out.  Brad was aware and suggested on one of those trips we get together for dinner or coffee.

About a month ago we did just that.  Brad came to my parents home to pick me up, which was a bit of deja vu.  We had a nice time at dinner reconnecting, and I invited him into the house to continue the conversation after dinner.  It was an enjoyable evening talking about our parents, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren.   We ended the evening agreeing we would have to do it again sometime.

Brad and I had not seen each other since 1980, but it was a comfortable interaction..  I am glad we reconnected and value the friendship, which I anticipate will grow stronger as time passes.  A friendship developed from old memories of times gone by, but continuing to build through the sharing our current life accomplishments and challenges.

True Friendship is something to cherish, hold dear, and enjoy.  Strong, long-time friendships are the best.

Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped


Filed under communication, Life is a Melting Pot

Feeling the Energy

I felt the challenge and I couldn’t resist.  My sister called up and said “when you come up this weekend, we won’t be eating out, I’ll be providing all the food because I started a new diet”

Okay, that intrigued me and challenged me.  My sister is on a diet.  I need to diet.  Don’t want her loosing and I’m not so I found out what the diet was and went out and purchased the book.  Of course I was at a disadvantage as I had not read it yet, but not wanting to be left behind I found and downloaded a cheat sheet off the internet I could use to muddle my way through the first week or so till I finished reading.

I am now on Week 3, and although I haven’t lost as much as I would have liked, probably due in part to my start without a full understanding of the diet, a couple flub-ups here and there and my refusal to give up coffee 100%, I must say it is a great plan for energizing your metabolism and the information in the book in and of itself is fascinating.

The book provides information on the reasons why she eliminates certain foods from the diet, such as wheat, corn, soy, dairy and caffeine.  It makes sense.  The book says that it resets your metabolism and I believe it does.  I have more energy and feel better than I have since a bad accident I was in five years ago.  I am wondering if that intense set-back got my metabolism out of whack and it never corrected itself.

This plan has an all-around health benefit.   I am more relaxed yet more energized all at the same time.Fast Metabolism DietI find I am sleeping better, more sound.  I have degenerative arthritis in an ankle that was severely injured in the accident and prior to starting this diet was taking a considerable amount of ibuprofen in addition to my prescription anti-inflammatory medication.  I have only used ibuprofen once, maybe twice in the three weeks since I started the diet.

The diet is easy to follow.  It is a 3-phase process through each week to keep your metabolism guessing and active.  It is eating all fresh, non-processed foods, and only sprouted grain products.  It is a bit of a stab at the grocery store, but the food tastes so much better and is amazing.  No chemicals, no nitrates.  Just good flavorful food, and nothing canned; fresh or frozen only.  Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, grains that meet criteria such as sprouted breads and wild rice, and a variety of meats, just make sure they are nitrate free.

The hardest adjustment to the diet is having to consume water  equivalent in ounces to 50% of your body weight, so if you weight 160, you have to drink 80 ounces of water per day, if you weigh 180 you would drink 90 ounces of water per day, etc.    I don’t find getting the water down hard, but it takes a while for the body to adjust so trips to the restroom are dramatically increased.

One surprise, I am down from drinking a full 10-cup pot of coffee plus about 32-48 ounces of tea per day to only 1/2 of a pot, the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee in the morning.  No more caffeine the rest of the day.  Even more surprising was that I never experienced the caffeine withdrawal headaches.  I assume another benefit of this eating plan.

One thing I failed to mention, this is a 28-day plan.  You can do as many 28-day cycles as you want.  You can do the plan for 28 days, take a break then start back on it again.  The plan is to re-set your metabolism so that you have more energy and when you do eat high sugar, consume alcohol, eat a high-fat product your body’s metabolism is working at its peak and can digest and process the food through your system properly.

Whether you are in need of loosing weight, feel sluggish, or want to eat a healthier diet, I recommend reading The Fast Metabolism Diet.

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Filed under Diet, Life Changing, Meals

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

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Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography