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Monday, September 29, 2014

The Diva

We discovered something interesting on this trip. It's all about Marilyn.....Monroe! It started with our ferry trip to Mackinac Island. The minute we boarded, other passengers began oohing and aaahing and asking if they could pet her. Marilyn would gaze at them with her baby brown eyes, bat her lashes, and wiggle a bit and settle into a love fest. Men, women, children,shop keepers, all enthralled with her story of service, and her current retirement status. People brought her her own water bottle and dog treats for the road trip. She loved her first grilled chicken breast sandwich, with a side of fries. After a long day of walking around the island, I was afraid I might have worn her out. She stumbled a bit on ferry steps and flung herself down on the deck for a snooze, then slept on the drive back to Nina.

The next day, however, we again discovered that Marilyn was the star attraction of any tourist stop. While we looked at the scenery, others looked at Marilyn. We met quite a few dog lovers. Most would ask tentatively if she was a poodle, and then we'd have to explain all about her bad hair cut (see earlier blogpost for details)  One lady went too far, we thought, when she remarked, "Oh, she's just a poodle, not a golden doodle. " WELL! We soon set her straight!!!
In case you are wondering, as I was, just how far north this part of Michigan is, see the billboard above! That doesn't quite tell you how lovely it up here, though. It is clean, quiet, beautiful, and everyone seems friendly and relaxed. One man asked where we were from, and when I said Ohio he quickly  responded, "Oh, I'm so sorry!"  Ha, I thought that was pretty funny! (Since I'm not a fan of football-I wasn't offended.)
We drove down the coast yesterday, from Petosky,where we are staying, down through Charlevoix, and further south to Traverse City, then up Rt 37 to Old Mission Peninsula. When I inquired about the   piles of rocks stacked in the water, I was told people stack a rock and make a wish. See my rock below (the wet one).

I hope it doesn't spoil anything to tell you I wished for a long happy and healthy retirement.....

We stopped at several farm stands to sample the apples and peaches. Skeptics that we are, we noticed a few boxes that said the produce was from Mexico. No worries, tho, we didn't point it out to the other customers.
Today, it is raining and cooler. After a gander through Harbor Springs, our favorite town thus far, we've settled back for a quiet afternoon at the campground.  Ron and Marilyn are napping, and I'm going to pick up my needlepoint and knitting projects-the first time I've touched them since before we    left Ohio five days ago!! Later,we'll squire Miss Daisy, I mean, Miss Monroe around for her daily dose of  ooohs and aaahs. Don't worry, Kate and Jack are getting extra attention from Jim back at our house. In fact, I suspect that they don't miss Marilyn at all!

Friday, September 26, 2014

On the road again

Note to self: do not retire after 37 years and start on a big motor home trip the next morning!

And yet, why not?? After an emotional last day,  Ron and I headed to Nina to learn how to use our camera system (see photo above). We thought all was well, so we headed off to dinner with   Paulie and Bob to celebrate my retirement at Amarone's.  Still not having packed, or shopped for food, we headed home and optimistically thought we could get ready and head out by 9:30 am.
Ok, so we didn't leave until 1:30!  First, we forgot the grill and portable heater, which Bob and Paulie retrieved for us.  So,when we were only 30 minutes from Sandusky and the camera stopped working. it was a bit discouraging.  After an hour at a truck stop, we had it going again. By 3, however,  it needed a duct tape fix. That lasted about10 minutes. 
By 8 pm we were near South Haven, Mi and stopped to spend the night at a really super RV RESORT. I know, I know,that seems like an oxymoron. We dined on hummus and chips and hit the sack.

Instead of leaving at 9am as planned, I took the camera apart and got it working. Voila, off we went. Marilyn, by the way, was a MODEL pet, no barking, lots of snoozing, and quite a sport about it all.

So,  two hours later,we headed toward Petosky, and, taking a short cut, arrived in time to pick up a rental car at 5. Champagne and salad served us well for dinner number two. Oh, and Swedish rice pudding made by Janet was our most excellent dessert!  

Our pet sitter,Jim Kelley, was derailed by his defibrillator going off this evening!!!! and so, once again, Paulie stepped in and stayed with Kate and Jack for the second night.  

Tomorrow, we're heading for the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island-weather is great and we're looking forward to the ferry ride.. Ron has his coat and tie in order to get  into the lobby, ...somewhere in time.... more later. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Signs of Fall

Even though it is 86 degrees, I saw frost on the pumpkins!!! Not only that, there were squirrels stowing acorns away for the colder days ahead. That is surely a sign that fall is almost here and I am soooo excited! Along the north coast of Lake Erie, fall is the longest season we have. In fact,  there will be no frost on the pumpkins until after Thanksgiving.

There were plenty of other signs that heralded my favorite season. The produce stands are full of homegrown tomatoes and corn. Yum! Sure, you usually think of those as summer produce, but, in order to have a perfect Ohio tomato, you have to wait until almost September.

This is the closest I have ever been to corn not on my plate. In spite of the fact that my grandmother and aunt grew up on a farm in Iowa and I recall visiting many times, I don't remember the corn. I remember the piglets and horses and the swing on the front porch, but, I don't think I ever wandered near any field of corn. The cornfield near our camper, which was a soybean field last year, is dense with stalks. I keep imagining scenes from the movie, Field of Dreams, where the old time ball players emerge from the cornfield, and sometime I think of the movie, North By Northwest, where Cary Grant is chased by a dust cropper. Clearly, my association with cornfields is strictly from Hollywood!

This year,  we didn't plant a single tomato or even any basil. Sigh, the two main ingredients of  our favorite summer dinners: Linguine with Tomatoes And Basil, from The Silver Palate Cookbook. 
In case you want to try it, it is both delicious and easy.

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound Brie, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into strips (this takes awhile, trust me)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon best quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds linguine
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)

1.At least 2 hours before serving,(don't rush, this really makes a difference) combine the tomatoes (must be fresh and ripe-we've tried this in the winter and it isn't the same, at all) , Brie, basil,(see message about tomatoes-same with the basil, trust me on this) garlic, the 1 cup olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. (really large)
2.Bring 6 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the linguine, and boil until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
3.Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce. Serve at once (I have our seated on the porch and the bread and salad on the table before I start step 3) passing the pepper mill, and the grated cheese, if you like.

The leaves are already starting to turn. This tree is in our campground in Bellevue, Ohio. The Japanese Maple in our yard is tinged in red, too. I've always thought the best trip in the world would be to follow fall, starting far north in Maine and heading down into the Carolina's to extend the season. Maybe next year, traveling in Nina? 

The mums are at the garden stands already. Even though they really don't match our blue/gray/green house paint (trimmed with pink) I can't resist adding these to our window boxes. I have never been successful in planting mums in the flower beds to have them come up again-they are strictly annual with my green/brown thumb.

Speaking of my gardening skills, Queen Anne's Lace is Ron's favorite "flower" as it was my Grandma Carlson's.  We've tried several times to get these to grow in our garden, and behind our garage, but, to no avail thus far. Transplanting them leads to disappointment quickly--I wonder if sowing the seeds would bring better success. Maybe it  is large maple tree's roots in our yard, or the fact that we have a small city lot, not a big open field? 

Ahhh, no more time to ponder, Paulie and I have some knitting to do. Another wonderful thing about fall-there is more time to sit and knit, and enjoy the cooler days on the porch. Our favorite is "twine-time." we start with tea at 3 and 4, and finish with wine at 5, 6, and 7! What a life!