Sunday, January 8, 2017
On Christmas Eve, Wilbo Found Himself in a Mission Church in the Heart of Chicago, Discovering that Mole and Tamales and Pozole Are As Vital As Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Wilbo Passes Christmas Morning in the Grand Rapids Bus Station Amid the Homeless, the Travelers, the Security Guards and the Carolers.
Christmas Carolers arrived to sing carols to the homeless and give them stockings full of food, toiletries and gifts. Sadly, a security guard has been throwing out people without bus tickets for hours. The Rapid buses are not running today so those without homes stand out more today. A few men who had dodged the guard remained and accepted the stockings. The 8:00 AM Indian Trails cost three times as much as the 11:35 AM, and so I have passed three and a half hours reading. Usually, Founder's is open to allay waits but today is a holiday. Somewhere in Christendom beer is hoisted in pubs in the morning and Grand Rapids is not that place.
A woman in a security uniform handled the job of talking to the homeless with firmness and compassion. "Hello, if you don't have a bus ticket, you have ten minutes. Go ahead and use the rest room and freshen up. Don't clog the drains. No shooting up. You all know a church is open close by, right?"
"I have a ticket," I assured her. "Good. You have a ticket", she answered. I was not the droid she was seeking.
She sent on their way five young men who didn't have tickets, and I wondered why these resourceful guys were out vagabonding Christmas morning. The hats matched the mittens matched the coats for all five guys. They all walked in with pizzas kept warm in disposable bags of mylar. A clever person could weave an emergency heat blanket from all the bags tossed into the bathroom garbage. I guess some folks cruised Division this morning, dropping off hot pizzas.
I annoyed a man this morning. I went to plug in my phone and took a tad too long to unravel my earphones. He looked up from his iPad, halting his texting of long sentences. He wore a worn Western Michigan Broncos hoodie. "Why do you stand like that? It is distracting!"
"Sorry. Unraveling my ear phones. So I can keep my music to myself, right"?
I went to plug in my adapter below his Apple adapter. "Careful! It is rather fragile!"
"Sorry. I had an Apple adapter with a similar issue".
"Fine! I'll plug in over there". And he got up and moved.
"Okay." I thought, "It's a free country" to myself. Reminded myself of my promise to shed my snideness as a New Years resolution. Kept unnecessary comment to myself.
When the carolers sang, he stood up to enjoy their songs and smiled almost boyishly. He accepted a stocking. He didn't have a ticket but his iPad and his university hoodie made him look like a traveler? He ducked out a few times when the guard did a sweep. He didn't get on the bus to Chicago. I didn't ask.
I am on the bus with a retired driver of the Chicago Transit Authority and he expressed amazement that the Rapid shut down services for Christmas. "There's people who need a ride to see their family today. Chicago kept going 24-7. Grand Rapids is too big a city for no bus service on Christmas". I could only agree with him.
I knew he was a retired driver taking a busman's holiday. He was traveling light with a suit bag that could hold a busman's uniform. He also coached a fellow on an itinerary. I had heard the man going to Green Bay talking on a cell phone in a language of Africa earlier. Our busman knew the route well, "That's right, Grand Rapids to Benton Harbor and transfer. Benton Harbor to Chicago and transfer to the Green Bay Indian Trails run". I am envious of this slender man destined to visit Green Bay today. That same bus continues up to Houghton - Hancock, the twin towns of the Keweenaw. I think about asking the busman if I am right.
Greyhound has improved. All the buses have wifi now. The reason that morning bus had such a hefty price? As the clerk said to me, "Greyhound controls its schedule". The 11:45 AM to Muskegon began this morning in Detroit, and now has fallen two hours behind schedule. Waiting for the late bus, two women with enough Christmas cookies to feed an extended family in Tupperware have decided to catch a nap, leaning against one another. Grand Rapids offers little in the way of hospitality to lighten a wait until Two in the afternoon.
There's hospitality for those who have means and who begrudges this? A man in the valet uniform of the J.W. Marriott marched into the station at 7:30 AM. He proceeded to the ticket counter to affirm that the 8:00 AM to Chicago, the expensive run, was still on time. He then assisted a couple with their bags in the back of the JW shuttle and accepted a tip pressed into his white glove.
Master of Vyšší Brod, Mistr Vyšebrodský
Cycle de la vie de Jésus : Nativity
Wilbo Visits the Pollo Vivo Shop on Western Near the Pink Line to Remember his Mother's Chicken Farm.
So I walked under the Esperanza sign and under the Pink Line. I walked in the door of Pollos Vivo and my nostrils filled with the fragrance of chicken dander. Three men in butcher aprons greeted me behind a counter stacked high with fresh eggs in cartons, two for a fiver. "Hello"! "Hello"! "Hola"! I explained, "I am here to see the chickens"! They nodded and smiled and I looked down a narrow hallway to see dozens in cages stacked up floor to ceiling, dozens laying dozens. I had that moment where I took a mental picture to draw later. Remembering my binge watching of the Sopranos, Tony sold off his live chicken store in Newark, knowing he was making life harder for the neighborhood cooks who insisted on totally fresh chickens and eggs. None of these cooks would be too thrilled with the Jamba Juice to come. But he sold anyways after a bit of delay. My mother raised her own chickens in our sheds. Her mother Stella and her husband, Stanley, would drive out in winter time and Stanley and I would harvest the chickens. I would catch and Stanley would chop and Stella and her daughter would pluck. Stella and her daughter could make soup from the blood and make noodles on the kitchen table. I think the word for Chicken Blood Soup is czarnina. I'll have to look that up. We ate soup throughout the weekend and through the rest of winter, unfreezing what we needed.
I have time now to recreate my mother's recipes, written down in a now lost card file.
There's a whole lot of Chicken Soup making going on. I read a friend's Facebook story when a friend gave her a flock of stew hens and she put up Mason jars of low fat chicken stock for her larder. She's my age and yet looks the same as when I met her almost two decades ago. Is Chicken Soup the secret to longevity?
Amazed to learn that the chicken has a jungle bird that lives in Thailand in its ancestry.
Wilbo Goes To Mike's Inn for More than A Cold Beer. Wilbo Goes to Mike's Inn for a Cold Beer, Community and Conversation.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Wilbo Remembers a Time When He Enjoyed "Intriguing Malbecs at Vinotecca, downtown Royal Oak, 8 dollars the glass".
Well, yes, I did sample a Malbec. From bin 421, I enjoyed the El Felino (Paul Hobbs), 8 dollars the glass and 32 dollars the bottle. I noted the Luca Altos De Mendoza 2001 Malbec in bin 423, but at 70 dollars the bottle I did not partake. I wrote down the exact names wondering if you are finding them on the shelves at wondrous prices.
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be running from
Is so small
But it's as big as the promise
The promise of a comin' day
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
As Sixteen Electors of Michigan Cast Votes for Donald J. Trump for President, Wilbo Wandered Around the Michigan Capital.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
On the road to New Orleans, Wilbo Pauses for the Night in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Celebrates Life in the Historic Downtown.
The drive to New Orleans has been halted for the evening as I grew a bit drowsy as dark fell. I wondered about Bowling Green, Kentucky and so exited I-65. I saw a sign directing me to "Historic Downtown", and now find myself awaiting dinner at Verdi's on the town square, right next to a distillery of bourbon. I am reminded of dropping into Niagara-On-The-Lake for a night and I extended for a week. Could that happen in Bowling Green? Subie has plenty of oil and yet the Jiffy Lube guys in Carmel, Indiana said my oil plug had been screwed in slightly a kilter. Can't take it out without replacing all the oil. So I'll probably add a quart of Lucas once I'm one quart low to thicken up my oil. When I get home, my Tech at Fast Eddie's and I are going to have a talk. For now, Bowling Green is home, and I am charmed. The owner has brought me little loaves of bread to dip into virgin olive oil and balsamico. Dad had a bakery in the old country called Verdi 80 years ago, hence the name of the establishment. As the Greek Salad arrives, I see I have ordered too much food. The Greek Salad was amazingly fresh, the Pasta Verdi al dente and delightful and I learn Germany is the old country for this family.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
On the Day Cellar 152 Celebrated Its Grand Opening in Elk Rapids, an Incredible Storm Struck Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties.
Cellar 152 Wine and Gourmet Market
In downtown Elk Rapids, River Street has commercial buildings built in the late Nineteen hundreds, and these two and three story storefronts have become convenience stores, breakfast joints, boutiques, interior design studios and even gourmet food and wine shops. I read bits of this and that compulsively as I walk a town, and Cellar 152 has a fascinating story. I had a freshly made quiche this morning at the wine bar and avoided the wine as it was hardly noon yet. The host had willingness and ableness to serve me a pour from an impressive wall of bins. She agreed to give me water instead. She asked, "How is the quiche"? It had a wonderful crust, just like a well-baked pasty. I answered, "As fresh as the establishment that served it". She laughed. A paper awaited a reader, a copy of a recent edition of the Grand Traverse Herald. The Business section praised the establishment for rebuilding the building and for making furniture out of wood reclaimed during interior demolition. The food and drink had pleased the writer too. I hoped I hadn't mucked up the copy the owners planned to frame for the wall! The grand opening took place on the afternoon of August 2, 2015. That day has already been celebrated in a crowd-sourced book on a storm's effect upon Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties, a book called Storm Struck. The authors are making the rounds of the Horizon Books chain. The storm couldn't upset the guests at Cellar 152 as the old structure had weathered the rain and wind of many decades. Now strengthened with steel pillars, the party inside went on fascinated and untrammeled.