Friday, December 14, 2007

Photo Catch-Up: Fall Walk at Hidden Lake Gardens

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way...

Yesterday evening I finished decorating my Norfolk Island Pine as my Christmas tree, and now I'm in the mood to share some photos of my holiday decor... but I'm still not caught up with posting about things that have happened earlier. Since it's my pre-New Year's resolution to start 2008 with an updated blog, let's travel together back to November 3, OK? It's not that far!

I needed to deliver 10 copies of Fun with Winter Seed Sowing to the Hidden Lake Gardens gift shop and invited my friend Pete along. We first took a little detour to a hobby shop in Tecumseh that Pete was interested in browsing in. That was amusing.

We then delivered the books and commenced to take a walk on the trails at HLG. They have three trails, the papa trail, the mama trail, and the baby trail. We decided the baby trail (really the Sassafras Trail at 0.75 miles) was too short, the papa trail (the Hiker's Trail at 3 miles) was too long, and the mama trail (the Pine Tree Trail at 1.33 miles) was just right. And it was, precisely and exactly.

Fall was unusually late in coming this year, so even in early November, there was still some nice fall color:

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We also spied a deer, who eyed us with a calm confidence and allowed us to admire her for a few minutes. Unfortunately, I did not snap a good photo.

We were tired but happy on the trip home, which consisted of turning randomly north and east on back roads until I found one with which I was familiar.

Another thing I've done recently, for which I didn't take photos but which was also fun, was visiting the Rentschler Farm House in Saline (whose garden Carole and I may take on for our next master gardener project), with my friend Wendy for a Christmas open house. It was kind of ice-rainy that day but the short jaunt was no problem. Volunteers were stationed in each room, explaining items in the room and history of the house.

Another fun holiday event was the Ypsilanti Holiday Home Tour, which took place on a rainy Sunday. Carole, Amy, and I toured six residences and one museum, all decked out for the holidays. One stop was the home of former Ypsilanti major Cheryl Farmer, which was fantabulous, not least of all for the lovely natural decorations and the large and bright wrap-around sun room/greenhouse. Pout pout pout. As much as I love my home nestled by trees along two property edges, I just don't get a ton of light, not even through my large triple patio doors. Another home was the Eastern Michigan University president's house, which was built long after I graduated. Because the post is currently vacant, we were actually allowed to see the private part of the home (most of it is public space for entertaining). The place was large and very, very cream and beige, but I guess it needs to be somewhat neutral. The tours were led by students who are members of what used to be the University Ambassador's Society (UAS), of which I was a member some twenty years ago. I used to lead tours for prospective students and call them to see if they'd decided on a college and answer any questions about EMU. I also had my first job through the UAS, writing "EMU Candids," short fact sheets about successful EMU students to be sent back to their high school as a recruiting tool. (Hey! I said it was twenty years ago; we didn't have slick web pages back then.) I'm really struck by two things: 1) That I dared step outside my comfort zone and quiet and shy demeanor back then to actually do either of the first two things (If you've ever seen me present, you may be laughing at the idea of me being quiet or shy, but I really was and still sort of am, even today. In fact, I never would have entertained talking in front of a group of people before I started doing it. We can blame Kitty Zimmer for that, but that's another story entirely.) and 2) That, years later, I'm still writing the same kinds of articles for the staff newsletter in my day job.

And, finally, a thing Carole and I had planned to do, and which I was looking forward to for several months, didn't end up happening: a day trip to Chicago on megabus to see the Christkindlmarkt, a German Christmas market modeled on the market of markets in Germany, the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt. Ice storms were predicted, and did occur, on what would have been our five-hour bus trip home, and neither Carole nor I wanted to be delayed in Union Station or fret on the trip back. My mother informed me of a German Christmas market happening in Saline (the next town over), which she read about in the Nordamerikansiche Wochen-Post, on the same day, so we went to that instead. It was, as to be expected, much smaller than the one in Chicago, but it also wasn't very German. There were local artisans selling wares, and that's swell, and the booths looked like the huts in Germany, but aside from a book or two and a few sweets, nothing was from Germany. And the sausages and glühwein were entirely not so very authentic. But the event did give us the general feel of a German Christmas market and that was better than nothing!

Two years ago, Carole and I went to the Christkindl Market in Kitchener, Ontario, with Carole braving a drive in a snowstorm for part of the trip there! The market was awesome. The food was authentic and awesome. The glühwein rocked. And we met a self-proclaimed Christmas Nut, a vendor selling nice ornaments and authentic feather trees. He and his wife invited Carole and me to their home that evening, which was decorated to the tippy tippy top of the hiltiest hilt for Christmas. This was just one of many rooms:

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In retrospect, I think I can also trace my recent fascination with retro Christmas decorations back to this evening, thank you very much! It's funny how something can go from tacky to classic so quickly! :) I will post photos of my retro decorations soon. Really. Double-dog pinkie swear.

And finally, I'm throwing in a gratuitous cat photo from Christmas (notice the bows) 2005, with Fiona swatting at James to keep him off her (yes, it's really mine, but never mind) heating pad. Also note the milk ring, which they always bring me as "kill." And they can really give that milk ring a run for its money, let me tell you.

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There, now, that's better. Good times!

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