Saturday, May 30, 2009


Remember all those tulips?

They've exploded into a wash of glorious color.

I love spring... Though I would love it more if I was healthy. I've been to the doctor twice now due to this "crud," and I'm currently nursing two infected ears and an awful cough. But the silver lining is yesterday was my last day of school and I can stay home and take it easy every day from now until September eighth. That is exactly 101 days of summer.

However shall I fill it all? Why spending time with my children, of course. We'll go on a road trip to Indiana, camping, to the fish hatchery, to the Butterfly House, on about a million walks through the woods and to the park, we'll walk picnic lunches down to Papa at work, get baked goodies at Martha's, throw rocks into the lake, pick raspberries, weed the garden, draw on the road with chalk, and spend lots of time at the library. Even if I am still a wee bit sick, I plan to relish every minute - all 145,440 of them...

Monday, May 25, 2009


I mean really sick.
The sickest I think I've been in like, forever.
Been in bed since Friday night,
(hacking, sneezing, enjoying sinuses full of
lovely yellow goo,)
except for the trip to the doctor this morning.
Fell off my bike and hurt my leg on the way there.
Oh crap.
Screaming ear infection.

Nice doctor, fantastic nurse and a
darn good shot of torodol.
Plus prescription antibiotics and decongestant.

The big debate: work tomorrow?
Hubby says no - sternly.
My conscience says yes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nature's Bounty

Do you recognize this little beauty?

It's a morel mushroom - a black one - and are they ever tasty. My husband has a number of morel patches he frequents regularly this time of year; super secret patches. I've been sworn to secrecy never to reveal the locations on the island where these elusive little guys grow. When a friend of ours, another avid morel hunter, moved to Colorado, my husband sat down with him, a map of the island and a highlighter. A was thrilled to discover all of R's closely guarded spots.

Once the black ones have finished, the white ones will appear. Hopefully, that is, if the weather cooperates... They are kind of challenging to find, but I'm getting better at it every year. My husband amazes me - he can spot them growing on the side of the road as he rides by on his bicycle. I on the other hand, have to be practically on top of them before I see them.

We usually find enough each spring to make three or four meals. My husband dries them and then rehydrates them (with water, wine or milk) when he is ready to use them. If you've never had morels before, they have a wonderful, almost nutty flavor. I love them, but I'm not willing to shell out the $20.00 per ounce to buy fresh ones. Having to find them ourselves just makes them an even bigger treat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reflecting on a Rainy Day

Spring in Northern Michigan means rain. And when you live on an island with no cars, you must dress for the weather. I'm an avid thrifter, so you can imagine my excitement when I found that amazing yellow sow wester hat at one of my favorite thrift shops this winter for $1.00. It fits my son perfectly and he was quite pleased with it. So this morning we walked to the sitter's house in the rain. No bike cart for us today - just rain coats, pants, hats, boots and umbrellas (or rainbrellas as my daughter calls them.)

The entire way I was thinking about my son and how much he's grown this year. Today was his last day of school; the last day of his first year of preschool. Of course he is the same little person he was nine months ago, yet he's different, too. Over the course of the year he has learned to write his name, to identify letters and sounds, to sing a zillion songs, and to be a better listener. I love the little man he is growing into. I love how he usually remembers to say "please" and "thank you" without being prompted, how he always wants me to rock him in my arms before he goes to sleep, that he can remember the words to most of the songs he hears, and how he greets each new day with excitement. Even the simple little things in life, like walking in the rain wearing a big yellow hat, make him smile. If only it were that simple for all of us...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thanks Girls

It is hard to believe that I have known these women for twenty years now. Most of us met in early June back in 1989. O.K., the math teacher in me has to admit that it is more like an average of 20, since I've known M for 25 years and the other M for only 15, but still - that's a long time.

While we may have worked in different jobs for Mackinac State Historic Parks (Historic House Interpreter, Cashier, Scout Coordinator and Collections Assistant,) working for the fort brought us together and we bonded. I think we can all agree that we are who we are today, in part, due to the time we spent on Mackinac. A lot of it had to do with our island living arrangements at the Mission House.

We spent many hours on that porch: pot lucking, watching lightening storms over the straights, celebrating and just being together in one of the most magical places on Earth.

I have one friend from elementary school I still talk to regularly, three from high school, maybe six from college, but there are probably 25 "Mackinac People" - (including my husband) with whom I remain friends and talk to regularly. I treasure their friendship and am thankful for the incredible memories we made together. We may live miles apart and have completely different lives now, but somehow I feel like they are always close to me. It sounds cheesy I know, but it's how I feel.

Thanks girls; friends just don't get any better...

Here's a gander at us back in 1989...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring on Mackinac

I think spring may have finally made it to Northern Michigan. The tulips at Grand Hotel, and in my garden, are just starting to open- though the daffodils have been open for about a week now. Lucky me gets to pass right by these beauties every day on my way to and from work. Which reminds me, I've only got two weeks of school left. It's been so cold here this spring that the end of the year has kind of sneaked up on me. The teacher in me enjoys cold springs because my students aren't pining away for summer quite so much when it is only 50 degrees (about 10 C) outside. But the other side of me wishes I still didn't have to wear my mittens to work in the morning. It's been so chilly that my little lilac tree just has little buds on it. It has me wondering if we will have an lilacs for the island's Lilac Festival; it's only three weeks away...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Special Treat

My friend, K, went to Japan recently. Given that she is really smart, she got the hint when I told her how amazing the sweets were that I bought at the Kyoto train station when I visited Japan seven or eight years ago. You can imagine how excited I was when she presented me with this little box when I saw her at our "Girl's Weekend."

I can't remember what they're called, but they are fantastic; sweet bean paste wrapped in a pasta-like wrapper made from rice flour. Mmmmmmm. My husband doesn't like these so I can eat them slowly and savor every one, safe in the knowledge that they won't disappear.

Thanks K. I heart you.

A lot!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Urine for a Good Time

Eight old friends, who all use to work at the fort on the island, got together this weekend for our annual "Girl's Weekend." For some reason we all need a break come spring, so we abandon our husbands and children for a weekend of friends, food, and conversation, which gives us all a much needed recharge. This year we met at T's house because she and her husband, K, were starring in the Midland Theater Guild's production of Urinetown. (OK, they wouldn't say "starring," but I will. T even got mentioned by name in one of the reviews!)

According to the audition call put out by the Midland Center for the Arts, "Urinetown is a town plagued by a 20-year drought, where water has become so scarce that only the extremely wealthy can enjoy private toilets; the masses are at the mercy of a greedy corporation that has a stranglehold on the town’s public amenities and charges the townsfolk exorbitant fees to carry out their most private and basic needs. Surely, an uprising must be on the horizon. . . Who will lead the downtrodden citizens to conquer these tyrannical bureaucrats . . .? Famous songs from this fresh new musical include "It’s a Privilege to Pee" and "Run, Freedom, Run."

I know it sounds odd - I thought so too, but it was an absolute hoot and I loved it. (A Tony Award winning show can't be bad, now can it.) The best part was seeing such good friends in action for the first time - they were amazing as two of those "downtrodden citizens."
Hopefully they'll keep us all informed about any other shows they do, because I know I'll do whatever it takes to be there.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Deep Fried Plaintains

The island has lots of foreign workers here in the summer. In the past we've had lots of Jamaicans,but this year due to visa issues it looks like we'll have a lot of folks from the Philippines. Since we have had so many Jamaicans in the past, one rather exotic food that our little island grocery store (Doud's) stocks all summer is plantains. That suits me just fine because I love deep friend plantains.

If you've never had a plantain, they look like a green banana but they aren't sweet. Lots of Caribbean cultures use them like we use potatoes. I've eaten them several different ways, but deep fried is my favorite. Believe it or not, they are really easy to make...

You'll need:

About 5 plantains (not too green, but not really yellow either)
deep fryer and oil (we use peanut oil)
A slotted spoon or similar to get them in and out of the fryer
lime juice

What to do:

Peel the plantains and throw out the peels. Slice the fruit into about one inch sections. Deep fry a few of them at a time until they are golden brown.

Pull them out of the fryer and let them cool for a minute or two on a wire rack. (The wire rack lets the excess oil drip away.) Go ahead and fry more while these cool.
Once they have cooled off a bit, use a glass to squish them. Press them flat and thin - not potato chip thin, but as thin as you can get them. If they stick to your cutting board or place, just use a spatula to get them up. These are great to make after a rough day because you can get out all your frustrations as you squish them.
Then deep fry the plantains a second time. Fry them until they are golden brown and look done. If you are not sure, try one and let it cool. Taste it. Do you like the texture? We usually cook ours so the edges are crispy but the insides are still a bit chewy. I love how the cooking brings out the sweetness of the plantains.

Salt them heavily, dip in a bit of lime juice and enjoy a little taste of summer. Now I'm wondering what little bits of Philippine cooking I might discover at Doud's this summer...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mystery Solved

Papa told us to be prepared to spend the day outside in the woods, so it was raincoats and boots for us this weekend. The kids were so excited as we rode the ferry to the mainland. The catamaran had broken down - so our weekend got off to a slow start on the slow boat. Thank goodness both kids were very well behaved during the 40 minute trip.

We met my dad for dinner in Petoskey on Friday. I think my fortune was a good omen...

Saturday morning we checked into "the cabinet" (according to my son) just a stones throw from the banks of the Platt River.

We spent the afternoon down by the river watching water gliders, throwing sticks in the water and basking in the sunshine.

At 7:00 it was time to go; guess where my husband took us.

Clue #1

Clue #2

Any ideas yet?

How about now?

Look closely...

Yep, you guessed it, he took us to a drive-in movie at the Cherry Bowl, Northern Michigan's largest movie screen. My parents always told me I wasn't allowed to go to the drive-in until I was married. I guess after 13 years of marriage my husband thought it was time.

What a fun trip! It was kind of nice not knowing where we were going and not having a packed schedule to keep. I think going to the drive-in may have to become a summer time family tradition.

Do you have any?

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

I bet you haven't seen snow in quite a while. You're probably not missing it either, but in case you are, here is some of ours for you to enjoy...

Here it is, May first, and we still have snow on Mackinac. While it may be out in the woods in deep shade and where the snow was piled up by the plow, it's still here. I think the high tomorrow is supposed to be 40 degrees (about 5 C.) Brrrrrrrrrrr! My husband is taking our family on a mystery trip this weekend (yeah!) - an outdoor mystery trip. Warmer weather would be nice, so please send warm thoughts my way...

I'll let you know about the mystery trip when we get back. (It's so exciting - despite the fact that the planner in me is going nuts. I think my husband is secretly enjoying it.)