Discovery Prompts Day 22: Tempo

Nothing is more important to music than tempo. But life has a tempo that we either control ourselves or it will be controlled for us, and we will roll along with it.

One of the hardest things to do is just stop. I’m retired now, but sometimes I feel more time-hassled than I did when I was working. There is this sense of “hurry up and get something done” that is really hard to shut off.

We have had lots of opportunities to enjoy the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the beauty is incredible. I have attempted body-surfing but usually end up being tossed around like a piece of driftwood. That’s what life feels like right now. Instead of a ride, it’s a crash in process. Like a train wreck. It’s really tough to slow the tempo and breathe normally.

Slow down! Turn the news off for a while. Look around and purposely notice some things you haven’t really seen in a while. When was the last time you watched a cloud? When did you last go outside in the middle of the night and look at the stars? Spend an hour and see how many satellites you can count. It’s amazing!

Make tempo work for you instead of against you. Rather than feeling rushed and unnerved, choose slow, steady, in control, confident. It’s your choice. The tempo of your life is set by you. You can constantly feel out of breath, or you can breathe and move as you choose.

Choose a tempo that supports you.

A Week on Mackinac Island, a Boy’s Dream Come True

The closest he had ever been to the Island was the Mackinac Bridge. Twice during family trips to Marquette to visit friends. Twice on the way to Wawa, Ontario for fishing and hunting.

It was actually his father who did all the hunting and most of the fishing. The hunting wasn’t successful and the fishing wasn’t much better. To be honest, there were actually three trips to Wawa. One hunting, and two fishing. The second fishing trip lasted one day. His father, for reasons only a person with concrete for brains would understand, decided it would be a good idea to include the young boy’s mother and little sister on the trip he knew would include blood-sucking black flies and an outdoor toilet. What could go wrong? The family spent one night in the cabin, packed everything up and returned home the following day.

It was the summer of 1964. This time, instead of heading to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with only vampire flies to greet them, the family’s destination was Mackinac Island. The family had a friend who was a Michigan State Trooper, a man the young boy loved and admired. That summer, the Trooper was assigned by the Michigan State Police to be part of the law enforcement staff on Mackinac Island. Not only would the boy’s family be staying on the Island, their accommodations would actually be inside the big fort on top of the hill, Fort Mackinac!

For an entire week, the boy and his older brother were free to roam the Island, and roam they did! The Trooper arranged for the two boys to use bicycles from the police department. One belonged to the Chief of Police! Since the boys had never been to the Island before, everything was new and had to be explored.

Every day there was a different fudge shop to visit. The boys quickly discovered there were samples to be enjoyed. Horses, buggies, wagons, people and bicycles crowded the streets. The shops were endless, lots of great things to want. The boys wandered the Island and loved the long ride around it. At first, it seemed like the bike trip would never end, but just when it seemed like they couldn’t go any farther, they were back in town.

There was an odor in the air that was different, but not unpleasant. Not having been around horses much before, the boy soon discovered the source of the fragrance. The horses didn’t seem to mind, so why should he?

The boy never wanted to go home. There was so much to love about Mackinac Island it seemed to make perfect sense the family should stay forever. There were lots of people working, his father could get a job, maybe driving one of the wagons, or carrying suitcases on a bicycle up to the big hotel on the hill. He remembered seeing a school, so he could just go there.

The day the boy dreaded finally came. His mother packed his suitcase and the family left the fort for the last time. They walked down the long pier toward the waiting ferry. He felt like his heart would break. He couldn’t stand the thought of leaving.

During the trip back to Mackinaw City, the boy’s mother said, “What’s the matter? I can read you like a book.”

“I just hate to leave the Island,” the boy said.

“Don’t you know all good things must come to an end?” his mother asked.

Somehow that didn’t make him feel any better.

Life has a way of making good things come back. And Mackinac Island, one of the greatest experiences of the young boy’s life has returned. Many times. Even though he’s much older now, he still feels the same way about the Island. There must be some way he and his wife could live there. Maybe he could drive one of the wagons, or carry suitcases on a bicycle up to the big hotel on the hill. He’s too old to be a Michigan State Trooper now, even though he had a deep desire to be a Trooper that started back in 1964.

A week just isn’t long enough for someone who loves Mackinac Island as much as this boy does. It never gets old. From the very first time he stepped foot on the Island that seemed so much like a dream, the dream stays new. Each time he steps off the ferry again, he is young, excited, and can’t wait to sample the fudge again.

Mackinac Island. Just can’t get enough.

They have great coffee there, too.

Magical Mackinac Island, Michigan

One of our absolute favorite destinations rests between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of our Great State of Michigan. It is Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island is a perfect combination of shopping, eating, walking, bike-riding, sight seeing, and history.

The beauty of the Island is hard to describe, but very difficult to match. Less than a thousand people live on the Island year round, but many hundreds of thousands visit each year. There are no motorized vehicles allowed, so bicycles, horse-drawn carriages, and your own legs are your choices.

There are many beautiful privately owned homes on the Island. Some are open as Bed & Breakfasts. Many amazing hotels are available, but booking far in advance is recommended.

We have enjoyed many trips to the Island and wish we could return more often. There is nothing quite like waking to the sound of horses clip-clopping along the street. You won’t really catch a sense of the ambience of the Island unless you spend at least one night. When the last tourist has taken a ferry to the mainland, the feeling on the Island changes. It is truly magical.

Grand Hotel is perhaps the best known destination on Mackinac Island.

We love riding bikes around the Island. The village is usually busy, but when we ride past Mission Point Resort the crowds disappear. The beauty of the lake is indescribable. It is an easy nine-mile ride to complete the trip around Mackinac Island.

When we stay on the Island, I love getting up early in the morning and riding my bike along the quiet streets. The workers are delivering items to stores and restaurants. The horses are moving along slowly, seemingly oblivious to the excitement that will be bursting in just a short time.

This is our favorite spot on Mackinac Island. J.L. Beanery Coffee House. They offer a fantastic menu of sandwiches and soups, and of course a wide variety of coffee drinks. It’ a wonderful place!

Our love of Mackinac Island began nearly fifty years ago when, just two months into our nearly life-long relationship, we spent the weekend with five hundred other teens in a church-sponsored junior-senior celebration. We’ve been going back ever since.

We found this 1968 Mackinac Island bicycle license in an antique store and had to have it. I painted the Round Island Lighthouse on a rock from the shore. These bring back memories of Mackinac Island.

Round Island Lighthouse may be the best known image of Mackinac, after Grand Hotel. Tourists are not allowed to visit the lighthouse, but cannot miss it as they approach Mackinac Island on the ferries.

Whether you visit Mackinac Island for a day, a week, or just a few hours, you will be hooked. Mackinac Island will capture your heart, as it did ours, and will become part of your family forever.

Discover Prompt Day 7: The Desert Below

When I was young, my parents had friends who owned a cottage on beautiful Sanford Lake in Mid-Michigan. The lake provided swimming, boating, sailing, and fishing opportunities for many people in Michigan.

We enjoyed going to the lake and spent many weekends there. I learned how to water-ski on Sanford Lake. I don’t remember exactly where the cottage was, but I remember it being on the east side of the lake, right on the water. The wooden dock stretched out into the water and I loved watching the fish swimming below.

This is how Sanford Lake looks today. A desert, marked by tree stumps of many sizes that were hidden below the surface. They are evidence of water having buried them years before when the lake was created.

On May 19, 2020, torrential rains over many hours caused the water levels to rise in Wixom Lake, several miles to the north, and in Sanford Lake. Wixom Lake was held in place by the Edenville Dam. As the rains continued, the dam failed. A wall of water rushed down the Tittabawassee River, taking trees, boats, docks, and homes with it toward Sanford Lake.

Sanford Lake was a favorite destination for summer and winter sports enthusiasts.

Families were quickly devastated as the water and debris raced toward Sanford Lake. Within hours, the Sanford Dam also failed, releasing the lake from its boundaries, sending it crashing toward the City of Midland.

Two beautiful Michigan lakes were destroyed.

Business and property owners on Wixom and Sanford Lakes and the Tittabawassee River, as well as the residents of Midland, have a very long task ahead of them. I can’t imagine the lakes ever being restored, but then again, the two dams were constructed creating the two lakes. The Edenville Dam was built in 1924. The Sanford Dam was built in 1925. (Wikipedia).

I drove to Sanford and Edenville today. I wanted to see what is left for myself. Memories.

I wish the desert below could have remained covered.

Open Spaces

The old train station above is near our home town. I have spent many hours sitting in the parking lot, watching trains go by. I always have a cup of coffee. Some days I see two or three trains, if I’m lucky. There have been plenty of times when I didn’t see any.

My wife and I actually took line-dancing lessons in the depot several years ago. I don’t know if I can remember enough to do the dances now, but it was sure fun then. The most fun was hearing the rumble of trains rushing past as we danced the hours away.

The old pictures at the top are fascinating. The top left photo shows two sets of track, perpendicular in the foreground. The tracks running left and right (north and south) are no longer there. The east-west track is still operational and trains run past the old station about fifteen times each day.

Why does a train station say “wide open spaces”? Because the track doesn’t end. The destination is the rider’s imagination. The explorer can ride as long as desire remains. There is nothing more wide open.

There is some restlessness in every individual. Some step into discovery, others hide from the unknown. Wide open spaces can build confidence and experience expands trust.

Joke

I’m very new to the WordPress Discover Prompt. In fact, I’m two months late! Day 1 for April 1st was Joke. We’re encouraged to share the most recent joke we heard.

The real joke was that my sister can’t remember jokes. She started in on one two days ago, and before she was three minutes into the story, she had to go back and start again. The story was told on YouTube by a leading actor as a lockdown entertainment.

“A frog went into a bank for a loan. The loan officer, Mr. Pattiwack, was not very helpful and continually refused to give the frog a loan. The frog took a small trinket from his pocket and handed it to Mr. Pattiwack. ‘What is this?’ he asked. ‘It’s collateral for the loan’ said the frog. The loan officer continued to refuse. ‘Mick Jager is my father,’ said the frog. ‘I don’t care who your father is,’ said Mr. Pattiwack. ‘I demand to see the bank manager!’ yelled the frog. The loan officer was exasperated and ushered the frog into the manager’s office.

‘This frog is demanding a loan. All he has to offer for collateral is this ceramic elephant,’ as he handed it to the bank manager. ‘He says his father is Mick Jager, but I told him we didn’t care’ said the loan officer.

The bank manager looked at the trinket, looked at the frog, and then said, “It’s a Knick-knack Pattiwack! Give the frog a loan! His old man’s a Rolling Stone!”

Many years ago I told my grandmother a joke she didn’t get. “What do you call a cow with no legs?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Ground beef!” She laughed politely, but the laughter was missing something.

Over a year later, I asked my grandmother again, “What do you call a cow with no legs?” “Hamburger!” she said, and all of a sudden she burst out laughing hysterically. She cried she was laughing so hard. “I didn’t get it. Ground beef! Hamburger! Hahahaha!!!!” We still laugh about that. Grandma has been gone for twenty years.

Someone said laughter is good like medicine. I believe it.

Ice Cream Research

We lived in Texas for several years. While there we were surprised to learn the term “Cokes” refers to any carbonated drink. At a restaurant, the server asked, “What kind of Cokes do you want?” We’ll have Sprite, or Dr. Pepper, or Root Beer. Sprite Cokes, Dr. Pepper Cokes, Root Beer Cokes. That was Texas.

There are two things you don’t mess with. One is coffee, the other is ice cream. I have had coffee all over the country, and a few other countries. The coffee in Louisiana is served “dark” or “light”. The dark is heavy enough you can almost stand a spoon up in it. Good stuff. In Australia we asked for coffee with cream. The waiter looked at us like we were crazy. She brought us coffee with a bowl of whipped cream. There, you ask for flat white, long black, short black. Not coffee with cream. Gracious.

Ice cream is a serious matter. So serious, that recently we began doing research. We investigated local Dairy Queen’s to discover whether they were creating a proper Mocha-Chip Blizzard. The first time we asked if they could make a Mocha Blizzard, since it wasn’t on the menu, they said, “Sure!”, like it was a stupid question. We were delighted. When we received the non-turned-upside-down blizzard, we were less-than thrilled. It was vanilla ice cream with little flecks of chocolate. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, we thought maybe the chocolate flecks were mocha flavored.

The unset of the research project required us to search out other Dairy Queen’s to discover whether the first Dairy Queen had made a mistake. When we visited another DQ, we asked the same question, and received the same response. We were thrilled to receive a golden-brown swirl of ice cream, standing tall in the cup, about a half-inch above the rim filled with the familiar chocolate flecks. It was delicious! A rich espresso flavor. We knew we were on the right track.

So, that meant we were required, of course, in the interest of proper scientific discovery, to revisit the original DQ, to inquire about their ingredients for what they called the Mocha Chip Blizzard. Obviously, to do a proper statistical investigation, to find whether the null hypothesis was true with regard to the number of chocolate flecks that were in each blizzard, we would have to completely melt the blizzard, count the chocolate flecks, then do the same with a Mocha Chip Blizzard from the first DQ. We decided our research would not reach to that depth. Taste preference would be enough.

At great risk, we took one of our grandsons with us, back to the original Dairy Queen, for the final test. We ordered two Mocha Chip Blizzards, and an Oreo Reeses-Pieces Blizzard for our grandson. When we arrived at the drive-thru window, I asked how their Mocha Chip Blizzard was made. The server said, “With Tiramasu Sauce and Chocolate Chips.”

Once again, we were disappointed. There was no noticeable espresso or tiramisu flavor. Only the familiar chocolate flecks.

At long-last, our ice cream research was complete. The second Dairy Queen served a proper Mocha Chip Blizzard, with a deep and wonderful coffee flavor, enhanced by the chocolate flecks. The original DQ needs to work on what they refer to as a Mocha Chip Blizzard. Like I said, don’t mess with ice cream.

Speaking of coffee, I need some.

How to Eat McDonald’s Pancakes in Your Car

There is a proper way to eat pancakes in your car. Get it wrong, and you’re going to have a mess, all over your lap. You’ll have to go home and change and be late for work.

Eating pancakes on your lap is not for the faint of heart. You have to be bold, willing to take a risk, unafraid, ready for action. You’ve come to the right place to learn the steps to successfully enjoying McDonald’s pancakes, in your car, regardless of weather, while listening to your favorite radio station, savoring each bite, and overcoming the sadness when it’s gone.

The photo is a little deceiving. McDonald’s pancakes only come in threes.

Step one: Find the right McDonald’s. You have to know where it is, how to get there, when it opens, and where to park. You don’t want any sense of anxiety before you even get your pancakes.

Step two: Your order – “I would like pancakes, without sausage (that’s important), EXTRA SYRUP, and a medium coffee with two creams.” It’s best to memorize the script before you order for the first time. If you stumble during the order, you might end up with donut.

Step three: Sitting up straight, remove the pancakes from the bag, and place the plastic tray on your lap. No need to put a napkin tablecloth on your lap. The container is tough enough to keep anything from seeping through onto your clothes.

This is vitally important! Do not open the flip-top on your coffee until you are ready to begin eating. The proper coffee temperature is necessary for the entire experience to be enjoyed fully. Preparation, ready, set, flip-top, eat. In that order.

Step four: (The remaining steps should be completed quickly, so it is important to have everything at hand before you begin.) Open your knife and fork. Unfold your napkin. Pull the tops back on your two packs of butter. Carefully open ONE syrup. Now, and only now, remove the top from your pancakes.

Step five: Place one dob of butter between the pancakes, place the remaining dob on top. Pour the entire syrup container over the pancakes.

Step six: Enjoy your delicious, mouthwatering, perfectly prepared pancakes. Only after a few bites, open the second syrup pack and pour it onto the area you have already cut. This will cause the syrup to seep into the pancakes.

Warning: I do NOT recommend using your knife. You will risk cutting through the plate without knowing it, and a small seepage of syrup will drip onto your clothes. You will not discover this until you are in your business meeting and doing your presentation before the board of directors. They won’t be listening to you. They’ll be staring at the syrup.

Step seven: When you are finished eating, you will obviously feel a sense of loss. This is to be expected. It is normal. However, what you do now will determine how the disappointment affects you long-term. Here is the key: As you sip your still-hot coffee, immediately begin thinking about the next time you will have pancakes in your car at McDonald’s. If it helps, write it down on a sticky-note and put it on your dash. Now you will begin to feel better as you look forward to your next trip.

The world would be a happier place if everyone took time for McDonald’s pancakes!

There you have it. You can now enjoy McDonald’s pancakes in your car, on your lap. Savor it!

You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to find a McDonald’s.

Loving Tennessee

Recently, we enjoyed a week in beautiful Tennessee. While we were there, we visited the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester, TN. What a fascinating place!

The early morning air was cool, but by the time we had been exploring the park for an hour, it was plenty warm. I did purchase a “Old Stone Fort” hooded sweatshirt, just to be sure.

The Old Stone Fort was built hundreds of years ago. The land in the area was used by Native Americans. It is incredibly interesting, and somewhat haunting to walk through what is left of the building. To think that the stones were placed so many years ago, and remain where they were carefully laid is amazing.

While we were there, people were fishing along the river. I don’t know whether they were successful or not. The beauty was smudged just a little, by some careless folks who decided to toss sandwich bags and plastic bottles along the rocks. Some thoughtless parent even left a dirty diaper laying by the water. Unbelievable.

Wooden stairways say so much. How many feet have used these steps? I wonder what the people were talking about. How many children complained of sore feet?

I was intrigued by this old sickle bar mower that was left to rust into oblivion along the river. I actually looked up the serial number and Google returned actual photos of the old machine. History.

If you make a trip to Tennessee, take some time and travel to Manchester. The Old Stone Fort State Park is well worth the drive. On a sunny day, the beauty is unmatched.

It’s time for coffee.