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

I arrived in Chicago at Two-Thirty in the afternoon. I had already booked two nights at an AirB&B property near the National Museum of Mexican Art. I had stayed a night there in November and liked its location right on the Pink Line, near Western Station. I popped up my laptop to kill some time before check-in time. I was wondering about the evening. I couldn't wrap my mind around some of the events. They were all so diverse. I noticed an evening mass close to my home for the night, and I decided on that. The description promised a service in Spanish, and I just wanted to be immersed in another language for a few hours. 

Crossing over the Chicago River as the early sundown arrived made an impression on me. I was glad I hadn't taken a rideshare to the flat. I checked in, stowed my gear and began making sure I knew the directions to the storefront church. A group of four people arrived, and a woman struck up a conversation with me. The four had just passed the afternoon in Chinatown. All were Chinese students on break from their midwestern schools.

She finally coached me to say her name, which sounds like "Jiffy". She was very inquisitive. "Was it colder in Michigan than it was in Chicago"? The Great Lakes surround us in Michigan I answered. The lakes are like a blanket. I went over my plans for the evening. "Is that an invitation?", she asked. I said it was a bit of a walk through the streets of Little Village. She didn't mind a walk. I excused myself to change into better clothing. Most churches say, "Come as You Are". I'm not one to wear blue jeans and a Planned Parenthood tee shirt to a church.

I made extra certain I knew where I was walking. It turned out to be farther than I had estimated. It required walking west an entire subway stop on the Pink Line. "I trust you", she said. I kept checking the map on my cell phone. The sidewalk turned to a puddle filled rubble. We made our way carefully through the street. She started to hum a song. A brick building without windows or a back wall alarmed me. I saw plenty of places open where one could duck inside for safety, including an office of Alcohólicos Anónimos holding meetings around the clock. I was so relieved to see a cross above a door and a sign in Spanish confirming we were in the right place.

We sat in the front pew because all of the pews were taken. A man in priestly vestments walked in looking like a lumberjack with a long red beard and he questioned his flock in a voice with a deep tone, "Who would like to carry the baby Jesus to the altar"? A man was plucking out Christmas songs in Spanish on the guitar, using a ballpoint pen as a cheater. I asked her if she were a graduate student at Purdue. I was surprised to learn she was wrapping up her first semester as a Junior. I had brought pretty much my daughter, a Chinese daughter, on an adventure.

I liked how Father Tomaz Pels delivered his homily in Spanish and then English. He began with a humorous question. "Ever notice how we keep celebrating the birth of Jesus and never his Quinceañera"?  I never thought about that. Everyone in the congregation wanted to shake her hand when we all went around giving the sign of peace. "They were saying 'La Paz'?", she asked me. "Peace be with you", I answered. Looking it up later, we were wished, "La paz esté contigo."

After Baby Jesus and Father Tomaz proceeded to the rear of the church, we began Googling the sheet of carols for translations. Google revealed Campana Sobre Campana to be Bells Over Bells. "Don't leave", father declared from the rear of the church. We have mole and tamales and pozole. In marched a man with a huge pot of the spicy soup. After followed two women bearing a cooler of tamales. Children carried in trays of limes, cilantro, and enough corn tostadas to feed three congregations. I thought, "Dear three wise men, you can keep your gold, frankincense, and myrrh". Three men erected a table for this banquet faster than one could say loaves and fishes.

A woman of the congregation reached out to her to make sure she felt welcome. Father came to me to say that there was plenty. I asked how he learned his Spanish. "On the street corner. Every other week, I drive down to St. Louis to lead services in Polish". We talked about Hamtramck, the Polish city inside of Detroit where the people honored the visit of Pope John Paul II with a statue.  "I've just read about Hamtramck. It's where the call to prayer of the Muslims is heard and Catholics and Muslim live together in peace". I told him of seeing the call to prayer one day, the faithful walking to that mosque at Caniff and Joseph Campau. "It stands in the shadow of the bell towers of St. Florian". "Eat", he said. "It'll grow cold". 

I have visited Mexico numerous times. I once taught in Detroit near all the restaurants of Mexicantown, and I visited them all. I once had dinner with the Mayor of West Hollywood at his favorite Mexican restaurant near city hall. This was the best Mexican food I had ever feasted upon. "They fussed over us", I told her. "What does that mean", she asked. "Did you notice how they made sure the pozole had all the right touches on top"? "The lime? The cilantro? Oh, got it." Miraculously, I didn't get a spot on my khakis as I enjoyed two helpings of the pozole.

On the way home, we walked by three Catholic parishes with Spanish on the signs out front. Two ambulances rushed up California to a crisis north of the Pink Line. I picked out sign after sign in Spanish and translated. By the subway, I said, "Do you see that word 'Esperanza' in red letters. That is the Spanish word for hope". She spelled the word aloud. After this beautiful evening, my mind felt more Esperanza than when I had arrived in Chicago.

This morning, by the Esperanza sign, a building sign promised Pollo Vivo. I was on my way to a meeting and had little time to see the live chickens.

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.

The closest pub to my doorstep, I'll wander into Mike's Inn for a tall pint of brew almost as cheap as water and a conversation. The Eagle's Club stands closer, and yet, that's a private club I have yet to ask for membership. The Tipsy Toad is closer and yet, I'm only in love with the upstairs deck. 

Mike's Inn is a joint never fails for conversation. A joint where old men drink in peace is a place that will never fail for conversation. Young men sit shoulder to shoulder with old men and compare notes. We often skip with the formalities of introduction. Why spoil a good conversation with introductions? We're content to see one another around the barstools of Mike's. 

Last night, a young man about to graduate from Western Michigan told me about his boat harbored this summer in South Haven. He made 150 dollars a night this summer between June and September renting his boat out on AirB&B. Now, he wants to build a trailer for his boat and haul it out to a mountain lake in Colorado where he'll live upon it, paying to rent a buoy from the marina, his only tether to civilization. "Why haul your boat to Colorado? Leave it anchored in South Heaven and buy another one for Colorado and skip building that expensive trailer?"

"I'll think about it".  He stood me another pint when he left, gathering up his entourage, two young women who hadn't chimed into our conversation, engaged in their own talk about their clinicals at the local hospital. I talk to Dawn, a bartender. I talk to Brandie Zietlow, a bartender I met in 2008 when I moved to West Michigan, back when she was serving cold ones at Corsi's. But on my side of the bar, I'm here to talk to men, especially the men left who are still my seniors. 

A fellow named Smokey celebrated his birthday a week ago, fourteen years my senior. He had a selective service number that got him that one-way ticket to 'Nam. He wears the hat of the 'Nam veteran and he gets the respect a veteran deserves at Mike's. Let's say he was a little toasty when he shook my hand and made chit chat with me near midnight on his birthday. Well, I heard him out. He was drinking Hamm's in the can and I stood him a Hamm's. I slapped him on his back, the leather jacket taking the blow and wished him a thousand years. Happy to have an elder tell me about his grandchildren, living the good life in the Skee.

I talk to Bobby. I was afraid a few days ago that I had learned Bobby's last name. Bobby doesn't need a last name for me to like him. He's Bobby who works behind the bar at Mike's Inn. Bobby has the longest hair, and it's coiled. He makes women feel comfortable at Mike's. On a rare occasion when the lady on the neighboring bar stool opened up a chat with me, she said, "Bobby makes me feel safe. I know if something went down, Bobby would fly over the bar to save me". Bobby vaulting over the bar of Mike's. No problem imagining that. I should ask his good friend and fellow bartender, Dan Parker, to draw just that. Heck, Bobby makes me feel safe. I'm Mister one and done. But three years ago, he cut me off. Refusing service shows you really care.

Mike's Inn is as narrow as a New Orlean's shotgun shack. The joint is no more than fifteen feet wide. If the owners wanted, Mike's could be expanded by knocking out a wall to the restaurant space that is perpetually empty. That would probably kill the ambiance at Mike's Inn. Too much space would kill it. People wanting more space are welcome to take a drink out onto the deck, which is busy even on the coldest of cold nights. There's an ironic sign on the fence that faces Western Boulevard. "Enjoy a Cold Beer Outdoors Here". Well, that's an all-season sign at Mike's Inn.

Postcard image shows the Muskegon Hotel, torn down in 2008 for seemingly no reason at all. More than eight years later, nothing has been built upon the empty lot. The Muskegon Hotel stood near Mike's Inn.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wilbo Remembers a Time When He Enjoyed "Intriguing Malbecs at Vinotecca, downtown Royal Oak, 8 dollars the glass".

Dear friend in Argentina:

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.
This is the first Christmas I've spent at home since 2000, so I'm visiting with friends and family. It is not easy to resist the call of the road; the plane tickets out of town for any distance are highway robbery, and that keeps me in town. My trusty S10 clearly feels like it wants to road-trip, and so I purposely do not fill up my tank.
I doubt Mendoza will be any tamer. Perhaps when in Buenos Aires, do as the Good Breezes people do. How lucky of you to be under the Tropic of Capricorn for this Sosltice.
There's a woman filing reports of life in Argentina in the Detroiter. I quote Nick Sousanis: "But that's not all in arts! Catch special Argentinian contributor Maria Carolina Baulo as she shares her observations about art, Buenos Aires, and popularity." Have your paths crossed?
Feliz Navadad, and by the way, have you seen the Southern Cross ... for the first time? To quote Crosby, Stills and Nash,
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
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

Wilbo Writes a Friend as He Reflects Upon the Lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know"?

Since it is almost New Years Eve and time to make resolutions, time for a return to writing. I just listened to Pentatonics singing their version of "Mary, Did You Know". I have loved the lyrics since I heard Ruth Bloomquist sing them at the Howmet Theater for Christmas. It was at least four years ago. These are the kind of lyrics I like to look up, just to see how the words made that leap from text to song. The following summer, I dropped into a free concert at Maranatha, the Christian retreat south of the Mona Lake Channel. I knew something was up when I heard how the pianist knew how to play the keys of that concert grand with that something extra. He played piano for Vince Gill and the Time-Jumpers, so he was a Nashville level pianist. The man on banjo and guitar was Buddy Green, and he had a special relationship with "Mary Did You Know". The lyrics showed up in a note from his friend, freshly written, and Buddy Green set them to music. Some writers love those moments when the source of great language is present, and I am one of those writers. I go out of my way to hear poets and writers read their work. Not only to be inspired and see how the magic happens, but also to show respect and render support. For example, Mary Carr, author of the Liars Club, is coming to town this winter and I am making plans to hear her. That's why I went to see Dennis Lehane when he read in October. I chickened out on the meet and greet at Hennessey's after the show. I like to give talent some space.
The early writers are always the most interesting. Maybe you will write a lyric as likely to endure as 'Mary, Did You Know'? And when we talk endurance, it's not the endurance of marble, which must in time wear down. Anyone who has seen old tombstones knows that even marble wears down. This is endurance that renews itself each time a new voice sings the lyric, each time a composer arranges a composition for the lyric.
My friend, do you know this could be the fate of your writing?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

As Sixteen Electors of Michigan Cast Votes for Donald J. Trump for President, Wilbo Wandered Around the Michigan Capital.

The Michigan Capital has almost become antiquated. The Governor might enjoy a better-equipped office in his home. The chambers for the Senate and the House of Representatives might as well be replaced by online meeting rooms. Why should the legislators from the Upper Peninsula drive to Lansing when they could vote from a chair in their study and be close to their constituents? The capital functions well as a museum.The exquisite landmark built in the age of steam has monuments on the lawn honoring Michigan's Civil War soldiers and preserves the flags the troops carried into battle in cases around the rotunda. The Civil War might have been fought for many economic causes and yet, by the time it was done, slavery had been made illegal in the United States. A just cause that triumphed has been honored here.

On Monday, sixteen electors paid a visit to the capital to cast ballots for the next president. A friend and I drove from the lakeshore, invited to protest on the marble steps leading up to the building's great doors. The protest had been allowed to set up a podium with a public address system on the steps. Standing in the cold, the small audience listened to three speakers who addressed the small gathering. One demanded that Barack Obama act to assure the future of D.A.C.A youth, children of immigrants without American citizenship, beneficiaries of a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The next speaker felt afraid for her life under the next administration. She demanded protection for all those residents who live LGBTQ lifestyles. The audience that cheered her supported her and yet, was rapidly losing power to guarantee safety for LGBTQ people and her as the inauguration approached.

The third and final speaker I caught up with inside the rotunda, among the civil war flags. Dressed in camo bib overalls, he had introduced himself as Grandpa Bob. I congratulated him on his stirring speech and wanted a bit of the chewing tobacco he was enjoying. He wasn't spitting on the glass panel floor as men in the days of Charles Dickens did. He admitted he had not planned on speaking, but no one had stepped up to address the appointment of Betsy DeVos to the Department of Education.

Grandpa Bob said he hasn't made a dime from public education. He felt it was his duty to help tutor children, assisting teachers he admired as hard working, self-sacrificing professionals. He took a day off from his post as a volunteer Grandfather at the poorest school district in Michigan, Godwin Heights next door to his home in Kentwood. He worried aloud that we could lose public education in Michigan unless we all wrote a letter, "with ink pen and stamp", to our elected officials. Grandpa Bob doesn't have any fact checkers, so when he claimed that Florida allows businesses to funnel tax money away from the public school system, his claim must be researched.

When the protesters entered the capital building, all had to put aside their signs at the ground floor entrance. A small detachment of Michigan State Police officers looked over the men and women arriving well-bundled from the cold, but it was more simple a passage than going through security at an airport. We lined the floors of the rotunda, leaning on the round rail, pounding on the concrete rings of the railtops. The rotunda echoed with chant for more than an hour, taking up one issue after another. "DACA Youth are Here to Stay". "Vote Your Conscience". "Unfit to Serve".

I walked the levels of the rotunda, regarding the portraits of governors. My grandmother campaigned for Romney. She treasured her staff identification card. Bill Milliken served many terms, from the time I started elementary to the time I began sophomore year at Michigan State. Jamie Blanchard came next, the man who brought us Autoworld in Flint who also left office with the treasury in blue chip shape. And then came John Engler, famous for his Oldsmobile, whose victory by approximately 17,000 votes surprised most in the know. Call him Engler the Harbinger because with Engler came the new attitude of the Republican party. What was that new attitude? Republicans began to ignore the elected on the wrong side of the aisle. As the Monday protest in the capital was largely ignored. We could have as well chanted, "Ape has killed ape" for all the influence we had on proceedings. Engler was looked at as a Vice Presidential pick by Bob Dole and passed over for Jack Kemp. Ignored.

After three terms of Engler came two terms of Jennifer Granholm. Then Rick Snyder beat Virg Bernero in 2010 and Mark Schauer in 2014. Engler first made use of emergency managers. Granholm named seven emergency managers. Snyder has fifteen emergency managers to his name, five named for Flint. Snyder's portrait has yet to be raised in the rotunda, but he might be interviewing painters now as he cannot run again, due to term limits. As the votes were cast and tallied, the capital staff broadcast C-Span to the protesters singing "We Shall Overcome". I found myself asking, "Is Snyder even wearing a tie with his jacket"?

Standing in the chamber with electors might be as close to the presidency as Snyder will go. Trump brought the Governor of Indiana to the White House. I didn't think to ask for admission to the gallery of the senate chamber. As far as I could see, no one offered a seat to the protesters, and the small group that persisted until the vote would have fit on that balcony.

I went as high as I could in the rotunda, looking at governors depicted in their suits from a time before my birth. I remembered that the recount of Michigan's ballots had been halted by a panel of judges who didn't believe Jill Stein was an aggrieved party. I heard the judges were Republican in sentiment. Was the recount squelched to prevent discovery of voting irregularities in cities with large African-American voters? That has become a point for historians to decide now that Donald J. Trump has collected all sixteen of Michigan's votes. I wished the recount had proceeded so that I didn't feel alienated from the proceedings in the senate chamber. Bill Milliken might have insisted on a recount had he the power. The historians have the chance to ask him his opinion as he still has his eye on the state, an elder statesmen in his nineties.

I found two young men on ladders, touching up the stenciling of the fourth-floor ceiling. Anthony had time to talk, a graduate of Kendall College of Arts and Design. The two men from Grand Rapids work all year round working on the rotunda interior and other state painting projects. We talked about our mutual friends, and I was glad for their company at that moment. Before I descended the cast iron steps to rejoin my friends I studied the eight muses painted at the zenith of the rotunda, representatives of agriculture, art, science, commerce, education, industry, justice, and law keeping eye on the proceedings in the mansion. The painter gave equal status to the muses of science and commerce. In 2003, proof arrived that attributed the paintings to Tommaso Juglaris, an Italian. Good to know the truth for the truth, especially in so public a building.

The eyes of the muses will not blink. For the next four years, neither will the eyes of those who feel disenfranchised by this election.

If an Obscure Sentence or Paragraph Appears on My Timeline, It's Intentional

I wake up every two hours at night, and usually I remember a fragment of a dream. I text a few seconds of that dream to Facebook. Dreams are real, but probably are not prophetic. In one theory, dreams are the brain's attempt to stay asleep when distracted. In another theory, dreams are wish fulfillment. I have the idea that dreams are worth remembering. A few sentences will recall the entire dream the next morning.

My grandmother, Aino, believed that dreams were prophetic and frequently talked about her dreams with her friends. She learned that I was hospitalized when I was nine years old. I was hospitalized for a long time by this illness. When she visited me, she related her dream from the night before my hospital admission. Our two story farm house had fallen into rubble, shaken by an earthquake. She arrived to see if she could be of aid. She found me on a stretcher, and she held my hand as help arrived. My mother, a believer in modern medicine, dismissed this dream as less than modern. And yet, I ponder this dream decades later. Why that dream the night before news arrived?

My mother knew to take me to the hospital because encephalitis was fought off my antibiotics. Sadly, I have no idea the depth of my grandmother's learning and all of my researches suggest that she possessed a body of knowledge beyond ken.

As I woke up this morning, my last dream related an impossible episode. My eyes followed the flight of a bald eagle through the woods north of Copper Harbor. His beak snapped shut on a dry maple leaf, she arrived at the nest an Ivory Billed Woodpecker had woven of twigs in the crook of a tree. Called the Lord God Bird, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker has not been found again after a single sighting. Without landing, the bald eagle transferred the leaf to the beak of the woodpecker. The episode stopped at this image.

This is an impossible episode. Talking about the symbols might be helpful. The bald eagle is a carnivorous bird that could make a meal of a woodpecker. However, I lived and worked in the Keweenaw, a land of woods where the bald eagle thrives. I am considering a job offer in Arkansas, where the Ivory Billed Woodpecker once was spotted in the swampy forests. If I move, I'll have to build a nest there. The eagle might have to help build a nest where the Lord God Bird dwells in hiding.

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.

Sep 28, 2015 2:42pm
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.