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Showing posts from October, 2007

Traitor Joe's?

I like the idea of Trader Joe's stores and have patronized one in Northville a few times, but after shopping there today I don't think I'll be visiting much anymore. Here's the problem--outside of wines--no local products. How hard is it to stock MICHIGAN apples in October? Better yet how hard is it to stock local apple cider? There was no local produce, no local meat, no local dairy, nothing except the wine. I'm trying to make this a blog with as few F-bombs as possible, but this is testing my limits. If they don't want to support local/regional farmers then I don't really want to support them. They are sending money outside of a state that badly needs income. What about you? Do you even care that you eat South African oranges, Chilean apples, and New Zealand lamb?

What kind of miracle are you?

In reading a brief passage today from The Backyard Beekeeper I had one of those epiphanic moments we all occasionally have. A bee spends the first three days of its life as an egg, about the size of a grain of rice sliced in half, and after that "the egg dissolves, releasing a tiny grublike larva." From there depending on whether it was fertilized or not it becomes a queen (if the workers decide that), a worker, or a drone. Yeah, yeah, to beekeepers this is nothing special. This is what most novice beekeepers learn early on. My question is where does that bee essence come from? Sure, there's the sperm and ovum, that's true for nearly all living things, but think about it--all living things are composites of their forebears. The individual bees, bears, and humans didn't exist before conception--and yet, here they and we are! What a miracle is this! Skip the genetics lecture, I get it; where did we (that's you and me) come from? How is there bee essence and oa…

Trans-Atlantic Epistolary Cinema

Who knew a film about books, letters, and friendships could be so charming? 1987's 84 Charing Cross Rd.is a gem I have ignored for about a year. I watched it this evening and found it time well spent. Yes, it is based on a play, but it doesn't feel wooden or claustrophobic as many stage to screen translations often do. Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft portray the main characters who live an ocean away from each other yet strike up a friendship through the ordering of books. The story takes place in the paleo days of 1949-1970something--that's pre-bubble wrap and pre-Amazon.com. Ahh, a movie for bibliophiles (and maniacs as Bancroft builds up an impressive library of hard-to-find titles). Put the kiddies to bed, parents; this one's for grown-ups. That means no explosions, car chases, nor jiggling breasts. Unless you count the scene where Bancroft's character is arrested.

And it was good

Camping this weekend was good. Perhaps it wasn't camping--we stayed in a cabin--let's call it primitive living. Heat (much needed) from a wood-burning stove and no electricity. We hiked, I don't know, maybe six-seven miles through the Waterloo Recreation Area, sharing the trail with horses. But perhaps the best, though fleeting, moment was to hear early in the morning the croaking bugle of these flying over. They are as large as blue herons but don't resemble pteradactyls flying (at least that's how I picture herons). While their call is not beautiful in the conventional sense, beauty ain't always pretty, they match the sensuous and graceful undulations of the "Ooh, dat ugly" octopus. It beats the sound of the internal combustion engine any day of the millenium.

Tales of the Sweetwater Seas

Before you leave Michigan (for something flimsier than employment reasons) read Jerry Dennis' The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas. This luminous work is part travelogue, part natural and cultural history that only makes living in this region all the more sweeter.

Dennis, himself a Michigan native, intersperses his tale of sailing a former tourist schooner, the Malabar, out of the Lakes to Bar Harbor, Maine (another sub heaven) with stories and information about invasive species, Indians, weather and specifically storms, fishing, Chicago and the forest fire it overshadowed, the "Mighty Mac," shipwrecks, and just about any other topic related to Lakes HOMES.

The writing is personable and enticing. I had the pleasure of reading most of it while camping outside of Traverse City about two months ago and could recall either by memory or while presently there some of the sights Dennis describes.

EVERY Michigan native should read this love letter to o…