PORT HURON: Boat Night

21 Jul

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It’s the eve of the 91st running of the Bayview Yacht Club Port Huron to Mackinac Race, Port Huron is wall to wall people, the banks of the Black River are thick with boats, a forest of tall masts pierce the sky; the excitement is palpable. 250 teams have entered the race sponsored by Bell’s Beer, they will sail either a 259 nm Cove Island Course–for faster, bigger boats, or a 204 nm Shore Course–for all others, taking them from lower Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. Bayview Yacht Club is celebrating 100 years of sailing in 2015. What began as a 3-story tin boat house in 1915 on Motor Boat Lane is now 1,000 members strong, occupying a 5,000 sq ft clubhouse on the Detroit River near the mouth of Lake St Clair.

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We park our car on Military Street and walk to the Black River, downtown is swarming with pedestrians, walkways on both sides of the river are overrun with activity. We cross the drawbridge and head down to the water, it’s an amazing scene; the sky is powder blue, a few puffy, white clouds hang low, a steady procession of boats travel up and down the river,  huge sailboats are anchored two deep parallel to the walkways, everyone seems to know one another. We walk to the farthest drawbridge then slowly, taking our time, walk back, observing the bash that is Boat Night.

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Dockside picnic tables are crowded with beer cans, bottles of wine and tasty looking edibles, leashed dogs seem unfazed by all of the activity. Crews arrive with sleeping bags, back packs and supplies, they talk strategies and routes getting ready for the morning start, Bell’s decals cling to the bow of participating boats. We traverse the wide sidewalk passing live performers, family BBQ’s and restaurants and bars filled to capacity—everyone is having a good time. Lovely condos line the south side of the river seizing the best view of all. Boats have arrived from Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, South Carolina, Chicago and Detroit, many are personalized, one has a giant Detroit Lions decal. Flags from sister yacht clubs cling to the rigging, colorful spinnakers flutter in the breeze. The old Michigan National Bank building (aka Bank of America) hovers in the background, come August it will begin its transition into a City Flats Hotel.

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Back on street level, the main drag through downtown is closed to vehicles, the area is teeming with visitors and vendors, games and activities. Human mannequins grab our attention, we make our way to the live mannequin contest sponsored by Salon Pizazz. Talented stylists have created exotic, make-believe characters, extravagant hairdo’s, whimsical, eccentric costumes all combine into surreal mannequins; my two favorites were the young ladies who looked like fire and ice–very cool! We direct our steps toward the lake, traffic is still heavy on the river; vintage wood boats, pontoons and a pilot-boat all join in the fun. Each restaurant we pass has a line, doors and windows are open to the street, smiling patrons are wedged inside. As we near the lake we remember a little out-of-the-way place, riverside.

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Vinomondo Wine Bar and Brew Pub is a nice place to catch a light meal, a glass of wine or pint of beer while relaxing waterside. We are happy to see open tables available on the deck, we choose one with a view of the Black River and Lake Huron—perfect! We order as the sun goes down, an orchestra plays Big Band standards under a canopy nearby, Kris sips on Kiwi Pear wine, tables fill up quickly. As darkness arrives so does our dinner, the panini is made with turkey, brie and slices of Granny Smith apples, the bread is crisp but tender, the brie warm and gooey. Our flatbread pizza is covered with a sun-dried tomato bruschetta, prosciutto, tiny pepperoni, yellow pepper rings and mozzarella, a tasty combo. Looking out, city lights dance on the water’s surface, clouds create interesting patterns in the night sky, lights from carnival rides glow in the distance. When we finally get up to leave our table is snatched quickly, the inside of the restaurant is empty, every patron is on the deck on this spectacular July night. 

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Back on Military Street we stop in at The Raven before hitting the road; a combination cafe and coffeehouse that also serves cocktails. The interior is a wonderful combination of wood, wrought iron, stained glass fixtures, book shelves, photographs and movie posters. A musician is singing on the balcony above the door, the tune sounds straight from the Delta. Kris orders an iced coffee and a brownie, I can’t resist the Rioja on the wine list. As we sit and listen much of the talk is centered around the boat race, this is the biggest night of the year for Port Huron and the city is a wonderful host.

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DETROIT: Eastern Market: Always Growing…

15 Jul

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It’s Saturday, the two of us will be joining the estimated 45,000 people who head to Detroit’s Eastern Market on any given Saturday in the summer; the nation’s largest historic public market has been at this location since 1891.There have been many changes to the 4.5 acre district over the last 100-plus years; long-standing businesses have been handed down through generations–new businesses have popped up on Russell, Division, Riopelle and other streets in the district, sheds have been upgraded with roll-up doors and heat. More and more people continue to discover the charm, vitality and community feeling that is Eastern Market; it’s Detroit’s history and its future.

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Russell Street is a beehive of activity; ribs are cooking over an open fire in front of Bert’s, cars roll slowly in search of parking, shoppers are loaded down with flats of strawberries and hanging flower baskets as they sip on a cold beverage and munch on tasty free samples. We begin our visit at Shed 5, after much work and great anticipation the shed officially re-opened in May. There’s a new fully licensed, rentable community kitchen; people considering opening a food-based business can use the space to try out their idea before committing to a brick and mortar shop. The kitchen also hosts cooking classes and demonstrations. The Kid Rock Commons is a 2,000 sq ft indoor gathering space next to the community kitchen that can be rented out for private meetings, events and parties. Roll up doors have been installed on both sides, today a lovely cross breeze keeps us cool, heated cement floors are sure to make those January visits more comfortable. I linger at a booth selling Hydrangeas; fragrant ball-shaped clusters cover the leafy shrubs.

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Outside we follow the covered walkway taking in flats of annuals that have long outgrown  the tray, herbs are tall and ready for harvest, Asiatic lilies create a sea of yellow; bargains are everywhere. Kelsey Rose is tap dancing on a sheet of plywood in an open area, a talented young lady accompanies her on the violin, dollar bills are tossed into a jar. As we proceed through the market we encounter more buskers; a xylophone player serenades us with Tiki-inspired tunes, a guitar player sings and plays the harmonica, music fills the air at every turn. Fresh Michigan greens are bountiful today, radishes are huge, we sample goat cheese, beef jerky and Ingrams Fine Candies, I think I need to buy one of those hanging terrariums…. 

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Next we arrive at Motorless City Bicycle Co. on the East Fisher Freeway service drive; new to the market district they seem to be doing quite well. Bicycles line one side of the showroom wall, brands include Fuji, Civia, State, Surly and Detroit Bikes–don’t see something that suits you? They have their own fabrication facility on-site. This is a full service bicycle shop; they offer repair service, parts and accessories. Bicycles are becoming more than a form of recreation in the city, they are transportation; bicycle racks are a common sight in front of restaurants and shops. Have you heard of Detroit Bike Polo?

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Over on Gratiot a cluster of brick buildings have recently found new life; restaurants and galleries have given folks reason to explore this part of the market district. We’re here to have brunch at Trinosophes, a coffee shop/performance/event space contained in a quaint red-brick building with large Gratiot-facing windows. The interior is huge! An assortment of tables sits atop terazzo floors; there’s a coffee bar, lending library and cozy seating areas. We take a seat and get right to business ordering, my iced americano arrives in record speed, a splash of cream sweetens it ever so slightly–don’t you love the way it looks as the cream makes its way through the espresso to the bottom of the glass? Oh how I love coffee… We choose one sweet and one savory dish from the menu to split, Kris goes straight for the sweet: 3 corn cakes rest atop thick puddles of lemon curd, a fresh blueberry compote is spooned over top, buttermilk whipped cream crests the plate, a sprinkle of praline adds just the right amount of crunch. It’s important to get a little bit of everything on your fork, a bite of heaven! The breakfast sandwich is the perfect mix of savory ingredients; a homemade biscuit is split and filled with a fried egg, peppery bacon, house made dill pickle slices and leaf lettuce, yum. Watermelon slices are a nice touch. You can stop in for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, selections change weekly. Check out the website for all the action taking place at Trinosophes.

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Our stomachs are full our appetites satisfied. We pop into the adjoin space where People’s Records maintains the Michigan Audio Heritage Society Museum. The sunny space is a record lovers paradise; walls are speckled with old black and white photos, vintage album covers and newspaper clippings, 45’s, LP’s and 78’s fill crates and cubbies. Lyman Woodard is the featured artist today; a bulletin board displays hand-written checks signed by Woodard, a handbill, t-shirt and items of recognition. A Detroit-based Jazz organist you might now him from his 1975 mega-hit Saturday Night Special. Woodard also did a number of recordings with drummer Melvin Davis and guitarist Dennis Coffey. It’s a pretty cool little place to check out, be sure to stop and look at the front window display of old record players turned planters. At the end of the block, multicolored bricks fill the space below front windows, an open door and a sandwich board invite us to visit Riopelle Collective. Shared by 5 artists, it is a collective of local artists and designers who work, collaborate and teach in the studio. Both finished pieces and works in progress are on display, the letterpress section is open and interesting to see; the studio is open to the public on Saturday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

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It’s late afternoon, we decide to end the day with a cocktail from Detroit City Distillery back in the market area. They are celebrating Summer of Gin, who doesn’t like a celebration (or Gin)? Open for less than a year, the tasting room hides in a nonchalant building on Riopelle; a couple of half barrels are used as planters out front, a full barrel is mounted sideways to the building. Inside walls are exposed brick, the antique bar is softly illuminated by pendant lights, cabinets behind the bar are beautiful and old–mirrors on top, ice boxes on the bottom. Bottles of Detroit City Distillery Gin, Whiskey, Bourbon and Vodka glow on shelves behind the bar. Scanning the menu we each pick a cocktail, Drunk Yoga for Kris, Carpal Tinder Syndrome for myself. Both made with Gin we find them refreshing and delightful. DCD was founded by eight childhood friends that joined forces to create small-batch, artisanal spirits, they offer original cocktails along with classics like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Gimlet and Moscow Mule. 

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YPSILANTI: Neighborhood Treasures

9 Jul

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Ypsilanti is about 35 miles west and a little south of Detroit, most folks know it as the home of Eastern Michigan University. In 1835 the road from Detroit to Chicago (now called Michigan Ave) opened, train service arrived in 1838, allowing travelers easy access to the city. Michigan Normal College, a school for training teachers, was founded in 1849, today we know it as EMU. Flour mills, saw mills and plaster mills along with farming brought wealth to early residents; the city is dense with beautiful, historic architecture. Ypsi is home to the second largest historic district in Michigan. Today we are getting an up-close look at some of the city’s finest homes on the 38th Annual Historic Home Tour. It seems many historic districts share the same story, just as a city landmark is about to be demolished, residents ban together, form a foundation, create a historic district and save the structure; such is the case with the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation

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The structure I am referring to is known as  The Towner House, it’s where we begin our tour. At one time the First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti owned the house and property, wanting to expand the church’s footprint they planned to demolish Towner House, that’s when a group of people stepped up, joined together, formed the Heritage Foundation and saved the house from demolition; today the Towner House Foundation owns the house. Built in 1837 in the Greek Revival style, the renovated exterior is a lovely medium blue. The building stands on its original stone foundation, the original timbers used in construction still bear their bark, we’ve never seen that before, it’s pretty amazing. The interior is gutted; walls are missing plaster, ceilings are open, remnants of wallpaper found on walls rest on a table. Wood floors, a pretty marble fireplace and a portrait remind us of the families who once lived here. Collecting stories from people who once lived in the home or neighborhood is ongoing as the restoration process continues— at 178 years old, that’s a lot of stories

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Just down North Huron Street we find ourselves in front of a gorgeous Tudor Revival home built in 1921, because of its size the front entrance and facade face the south side of the lot. Members of Ypsi’s most prominent families once called the place home. Trees and shrubs create a tranquil landscape, bright red Geraniums fill flower pots, whimsical sculptures are tucked into plantings. Dark wood beams frame stucco, this house uses the pebble-dash method, the amount of exterior detail is staggering. The living room is a sunny yellow lit up by the afternoon sun, built-in leaded glass bookcases line the back wall, original chandeliers and sconces still adorn the home.

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  Across the street a spacious red-brick home is a pleasant blend of Italianate, Georgian and Colonial Revival styles. Built in 1860 for a local haberdasher, ensuing residents were also wealthy; the best known being Danile Quirk Jr, son of the founder of Peninsular Paper Company and the National Bank of Ypsilanti. During the time Ypsi owned the house, the 14th Circuit Court operated out of the library Quirk added in 1927.  The house now contains the offices of Manchester & Associates. As we pass through the reception area we notice many of the original details remain such as splendid fireplaces and exquisite plasterwork.The library is stunning; handsome wood covers the walls and ceiling, built-in bookshelves are crammed tight with volumes, a petite arch leads to a tunnel-like stairway to the balcony, we have a great overall view of the library from here. When we exit we study a large black and white photo that captures the elaborate terraced gardens that once covered the back slope of this hill.

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The next stop on the tour is a former carriage house turned apartment, it sits behind a grand home that is now the Ypsilanti Historical Museum. When the horse and carriage was phased out the automobile took its place in the building; it was turned into apartments around 1930. We climb the long stairway to the second floor, the space is modern and attractive with a wonderful view. We pop into the museum for a look around; all the goodies you’d expect to see in a well-to-do 1860’s home are here: plaster ceiling medallions, winding staircase, fancy chandeliers, ornate plaster moldings and beautiful furnishings. The historical society displays the history of Ypsi in rooms at the back of the house; display cases exhibit old photos, war relics, the stories of Tucker and Elija McCoy, all very interesting.

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We leave the neighborhood taking Washtenaw to the next tour home, a gorgeous brick Tudor built in 1932. I love the exterior brick, an assortment of colors with dark clinker bricks sticking out. The details are extensive inside and out; stonework, leaded glass panels, plaster and fabulous ceramic tile—it still has the original sconces too! The owner is a collector of fine things, the home reflects his good taste.

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Just up the road on Huron River Drive we find ourselves at a farmhouse built in 1841 by the Starkweather family. Built in the Greek Revival style the home is in the process of being renovated into apartments. The current owner has been able to restore some of the original features in the process. The last tour home is a Mid Century ranch built in 1956. The builder lived in a beautiful Gothic-style home, he split the property, built this house and moved in with his family. The exterior appears much as it did then, the interior has been extensively updated. One of the cool things about an old neighborhood is the variety of homes that sit side by side.

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We are having lunch in Depot Town at Maiz Mexican Cantina on E Cross Street. Specializing in Tex-Mex, the food is prepared from scratch daily. Patio tables extend across the sidewalk, chairs are a mix of red, green and white, the colors of Mexico’s flag; it’s a perfect day to sit outside. With a little help from our server we place our order, we gobble up colorful tortilla chips dipping them in spicy salsa and creamy guacamole. Our tacos arrive; flour tortillas stuffed to capacity with tasty fillings like pan-fried avocado slices dusted in cornmeal, flour and sesame seeds, beer-battered cod and vegetable hash. Toppings include spicy slaw, chipotle cream, mango salsa and cilantro aioli, everything is delicious! Side dishes of black beans and corn on the cob are equally tasty. We linger on the patio sipping cold beverages; a steady stream of folks come and go, pedestrians carry ice cream cones and shopping bags. What a perfect summer day. 

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TOLEDO: Old West End

30 Jun

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We are in Toledo, Ohio today for the 44th Annual Old West End Festival. Spread out over 25 blocks in the Old West End neighborhood, activities include historic home tours, garage sales, antiques, food trucks, music and an art fair. We pick a centrally located street in the neighborhood to park on, sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians in search of a great find or that ‘can’t live without’ item at one of the many garage sales. Small children have set up lemonade stands on the lawn, homeowners have relocated their grills to the front of the house and are selling hot dogs with all the fixings, I spot an ice cream truck parked up ahead, a band plays on a large front porch.

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  The houses in the neighborhood are an eclectic combination of architectural styles, very Toledo. We stroll by traditional Tudors with stucco, wood beams, leaded glass and large front porches. Queen Ann’s, Victorians, Romanesques, Arts and Crafts and Edwardian’s are well represented. I love the detail in the trim, doors and stone. Elaborate gardens and well maintained landscapes fill front lots, antique urns are spilling over with colorful flowers and vines. Graceful entryways are welcoming, window boxes are packed with annuals, wrought iron surrounds balconies and yards, many homes have sleeping porches. Built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries this is where the wealthy families of Toledo resided.

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Garage sales trail out onto driveways and lawns, tables lined end to end lead us to backyards; bottles of ice water are for sale at every stop. From the really old to the not-so-old, items range from furniture and clothing to antique hardware, sterling silver, souvenir spoons, housewares, glassware, kitsch and seasonal decorations. As we walk from house to house well-behaved dogs rest on shady porches, a pair of cars drive down the street draped in a fish costume, how fun is that? Artists display their wares hoping to sell them to passersby; framed paintings, stained glass, and bold, colorful, hand painted furniture get our attention. One house has gobs of vintage items for sale, the sides of their car have been covered in bamboo, a portable tiki bar follows behind. Down the street another art-car is covered in stones, car parts and toys in every color of the rainbow. The Freeman-Hirt home on Glenwood Ave is on the home tour, the line stretches down the block, I think it’s my favorite house in the neighborhood. Built in 1896 it’s a mix of architectural styles, conical towers, shingle and clapboard siding, concave gables, the witches hat dormers are awesome.

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Block after block we pass beautiful homes, ornate apartment buildings, lush green lawns, food stands and antiques. Did I mention the super cool phone booth for sale? On the side of a lovely old building an acrobat swings on a length of white silk, a young girl gives a hula-hoop a whirl. Music is being played in a neighborhood park, listeners sit at tables drinking cold beer. We make our way through the marketplace, art fair and a quick pass through the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion, the air conditioning feels fantastic. We are done, time for lunch.

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Tony Packo’s is a Toledo tradition, with two locations in town we choose Packo’s At The Park by Fifth Third Field where the Toledo Mud Hens play. The interior displays cool old neon signs, vintage black and white photos and baseball related items. Our server takes our order quickly and returns promptly with icy cold soft drinks; in no time at all lunch arrives. The Fried Pickle Salad is heaped onto the plate, piles of mixed greens and romaine are topped with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, grape tomatoes croutons and, you guessed it, Tony Packo’s fried pickles; served with house Italian dressing, it’s really good–hey, don’t knock it till you try it! The two-dog combination comes with two Hungarian hot dogs slathered in house hot dog sauce ( think chili), mustard and onion. I love that slight crunch when biting into the hot dogs. We choose the paprikas dumplings with gravy for our side and they are delicious as always, yum!

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Kris likes to drive around cities we visit and see what’s new, the Uptown District is beginning to come to life with Handmade Toledo leading the way. The 10,000 sq ft building from the 1930’s was originally a car dealership, through the years businesses came and went, today it is a combination maker shoppe, workshop space, gallery and event space. The Maker Shoppe’s main focus is the work of local and regional artists, makers and designers, all items are for sale. There are lots of Toledo-centric items such as T-shirts, coasters and mugs. The pieces are of high quality, paintings are eye-catching. A nice variety of jewelry is offered along with ceramics, candles and textiles; they even have beans from one of the local coffee roasters. Speaking of coffee……..

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Before we hit the road and head north we stop in at Black Kite Coffee and Pies, a local coffee shop on Collingwood. A gorgeous mural covers an entire side of the building, a tribute to the street, neighborhood and city the shop is located in. Inside, a white tin ceiling adds character, pendant lights hang above the counter, a refrigerated case displays the days offerings; all food is made in house, from scratch. We each order a cold brew, and are immediately distracted by 4 large donuts on exhibit. Holey Toledough(great name!) creates handcrafted doughnuts in flavors like maple bacon, siracha honey sesame, pineapple macadamia and raspberry limoncello and sells them through local businesses and farmers markets. Unable to choose just one, we go for the raspberry and the pineapple, eat half and switch; both are very good. Coffee and doughnuts, not a bad combination…. It’s been a great day in Toledo, just a hop and a skip from Detroit, we’ll be back.

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ANN ARBOR: Naturally…

23 Jun

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We’re in Ann Arbor today at Nichols Arboretum to see the largest collection of heirloom herbaceous peonies in North America. Operated by U of M, the 123- acre “arb” is located near the eastern edge of Central Campus. The naturalistic landscape was begun by O. C. Simonds back in 1907; home to natural areas, trails, pathways, specialty gardens, broad valleys and thematic areas, it provides an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. We park in a neighborhood off Geddes Ave and make our way to the entrance; we are greeted by a floral display, a newer iron gate closes the gap between two very old stone posts. Walking straight out we reach the highest point in the arb, they say the escarpment and slopes were created by glaciers, here we have a panoramic view for miles.

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We begin our walk through the main valley following a wide gravel path north and west toward the Peony Garden. The path winds through shaded woodlands, giving us respite from the afternoon sun, wildflowers bloom in purple and white against a lush green background. Leaving the main path, we follow a narrow dirt trail deeper into the woods, a deer nibbles leaves a few feet away. As we ascend the hill we eventually emerge from the woods, the peony garden is below us in the distance, a large grassy area surrounds it. In 1922 Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo and passionate collector of peonies, offered to donate peonies to the arb, regents accepted his offer, appropriated $2,000 to establish a peony garden, which then opened to the public in 1927. Today each of the 27 beds contains 30 peonies, the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom.

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Our timing is perfect, beds are bursting with blooms in white, every shade of pink, deep red and burgundy, it’s fantastic! I wander from plant to plant in awe of their beauty, a closer look reveals the difference in varieties; some are shaped like goblets, others are flat and cupped, there are inner petals, outer petals, pistols and stamens, crowns and collars. Placards give detailed information, I love the names: Fortune Teller, Lady Emily, Do Tell, Loveliness, Madame Jules Dessert and Nanette. Some are quite fragrant, I bend at every one hoping to be rewarded with sweet fragrance. Kris joins dozens of others taking photos of these delicate beauties. Up close the colors are stunning, one is all white with flecks of red near the center, multicolored blossoms fade from bright rose to pale pink to white, centers are yellow or gold, petals are ruffled or smooth, wide or narrow. It is an amazing thing to see!

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We choose a wide path that takes us through the woods, mushrooms cover a fallen tree, in the distance yellow flowers top reed-like stems, we come upon a stairway terraced into the hill, it leads us to the bank of the Huron River. We stand in an open area, the sun blazes overhead, two women in  kayaks drift by us carried by the current. Buildings on the opposite side of the river remind us we are actually in a city. We duck back into nature, taking a more secluded trail this time, a Robin sitting on the edge of her nest watches us closely as we pass. Mature trees and more wildflowers surround us as we make our way back, another set of stairs leads us gently up a hill, at the top we take in the vista that surrounds us, and then we are back to where we started.

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By now we are famished, Angelo’s On The Side is a short drive away, I hope we make it before they close. We’re in luck, there’s a space in the back lot and they’re open. The original Angelo’s opened in 1956, serving breakfast and lunch, it is still owned and operated by the same family. This side is a coffee-house and carry-out counter with limited seating for dining in. Chalkboard menus surround the counter, we quickly agree on what to order and take a seat overlooking the street. A wax paper lined tray arrives, upon it sits giant battered onion rings and a mouth-watering California Club Sandwich. A stack of turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, guacamole and cucumber are piled between two slices of exceptional homemade white bread Thick slices of onion are nestled in crispy batter; we exchange few words, the food is too good to be interrupted with talk.  

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A couple of blocks away on S University we stop in at Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Co. before hitting the road. The coffee shop is located on the ground floor of a mid-century style building, three walls are glass and there’s also a patio. Kris and I drink cold-brew coffee regularly, every shop uses its own method and choice of bean; this is the first time we have encountered Nitro-infused cold brew. This method uses a stronger mix of cold brew concentrate with cold filtered water, they put it in a keg, add pressure and serve it up on a nitro tap. What you get is a creamy, slightly bubbly coffee that’s higher in caffeine. It’s usually served in a pint glass without ice, cream or milk, just looking at it you’d swear it was Guinness Stout. Kris orders one on ice, I stick with traditional cold brew. We relax on the patio drinking our coffee and sharing a chocolate chip cookie; the nitro is outstanding as is the regular cold brew. What a great way to end the day.

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DETROIT: What’s up at Heidelberg??

16 Jun

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The Heidelberg Project has been drawing visitors from near and far to Detroit’s East side for 29 years. Created by native Detroiter Tyree Guyton, the project is an ever-changing, constantly evolving, open-air art gallery covering a two block area once dense with family homes. Heidelberg and controversy are no strangers to one another; in 1991 and again in 1999 the City of Detroit demolished several homes in an effort to close the project, stating that it deterred development of the area. Since 2013 there have been a number of fires, houses have been burned to the ground; arson is suspected. And yet, on this lovely, summer-like day, visitors roam the neighborhood streets taking one photo after another, cars parked along the curb wear license plates from Ontario, Illinois, New Mexico and of course, Michigan. Conversations in several languages can be overheard. Colors are cheerful, the mood hopeful, discarded objects appear content in their new purpose.

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Sidewalk squares are decorated with Tyree’s signature faces, polka dots are painted in the street, old tires are stacked two deep and re-used as planters. A doghouse belonging to Congo The Art Dog has been erected on a grassy patch across the street, cut-outs allow visitors a silly photo-op, clocks are a recurring theme throughout the landscape, the openings in a section of chain-link fence are stuffed with white shoes. The backyard of Tim Burke’s Detroit Industrial Gallery is filled with whimsical sculpture; giant flowers sprout from the Earth, beings created from found objects stand about, there’s a lot to look at. The Polka Dot House still stands, I can only imagine the stories it could tell…..

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Long dead trees provide the foundation for artwork and shopping carts alike, a toilet looks awkward sitting in the open. The foundation is all that remains of one house; hundreds of items surround the perimeter, baby dolls and stuffed animals wear smiles, making me think they know the answers to so many of life’s questions. Portraits cover automobile hoods and boards, pretty glass panels hang from a wooden frame near Mt Elliot. We peek into the basement of a house on the next block, an assortment of blue-painted shoes are scattered on the floor, a rusty antique stove has baked its last cake. Further down, vinyl records are attached to the frame of a house, completely open, an old-fashioned radio sits central in the space. An old boat has run ashore, dozens of stuffed animals are wedged inside, a giraffe is about to board, perhaps they are planning a trip?

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We walk down the sidewalk past a playground where polka dots have taken up residence, sculptures are created from old doors, trophies cover a makeshift floor and there are more clocks. Kris and I point things out to one another, funny how we each notice something different, art is subjective. Here in the quiet our imaginations run wild, I like that all the unwanted shoes are grouped together, that the discarded gloves have found a new home on chair legs, that some of the old “taxi” signs are still around. To me it is a testament to survival, persistence, perseverance; something every Detroiter knows about.

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It’s a short drive to Milano Bakery and Cafe on Russell Street in Eastern Market; the bakery, originally opened in 1958, has been at this location since 1999. Inside you’ll find a bevy of breads, pastries, whole cakes, tarts, cookies, well, you get the picture. Today we are having lunch in the cafe, large menu boards hang on the wall above the pastry cases, one for pizza, one for sandwiches; everything sounds delicious. We place our order at the counter, Kris takes a seat at a table while I study our dessert options. 

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Before we know it lunch is delivered to our table. We chose an onion roll for the pepper-jack roast beef sandwich; roast beef topped with sautéed mushrooms, red and green pepper, onion, pepper-jack cheese and Milano’s homemade sauce. The onion roll is toasted so it keeps the sandwich from becoming soggy, the meat is tender, the cheese has melted, all the flavors have combined into one tasty combination. Sandwiches come with a side, we had potato salad and ordered an extra side of pasta salad, both are very good; the pickles are excellent too. About the time we came in the door, our willpower went out, it’s impossible to resist temptation with such a gorgeous selection of pastries in view. Choosing which to have is an entirely different dilemma….. Caramel Bumpy Cake proved irresistible; moist yellow cake topped with pastry cream and submersed in caramel frosting, yum! Scrumptious food, delectable desserts and fair prices keep us coming back.

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CLEVELAND: Art, History And A Grilled Cheese Sandwich…….

10 Jun

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We’re in Cleveland where new and exciting things are going on all over the city. Today we’re on the East side, University Circle, re-visiting a couple of museums that have undergone recent renovations. The Crawford Auto Aviation Collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society was founded by industrialist Frederick C Crawford of TRW and opened in 1965. Exhibits trace the automobile through its development in Ohio and across the nation. John D Rockefeller, who attended Cleveland Central High School and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, founded Standard Oil in Cleveland, the city comes by its automotive history naturally. We begin our visit on the lower level, with the newest exhibit, REVolution. With about 50 automobiles on display we see the evolution of design and technology from the 1890’s to the 21st century. 

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Paint jobs gleam under halogen lights, vehicles are gathered into groups, a replica Standard Oil Company gas station complete with vintage gas pump is off to one side, historic photos of Cleveland have been enlarged big enough to cover walls. We meander through the maze of cars, chrome bumpers are huge, hood ornaments elaborate, all the cars in one section are made of stainless steel. Vehicles wear name badges of Studebaker, Pierce Arrow, Auburn, Hupmobile and more familiar ones such as GTO, Impala, Cadillac and Belvedere. The wood on the Chrysler Town & Country is beautiful, the concept AMX is really cool.

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The ‘Road Trip’ display includes the Jordan House car, an early version of a camper, there’s an old trailer too; the Need for Speed section highlights race cars. The World Touring Hupmobile has survived its travels, we see a Stanley Steamer, a turbine car engine, vehicles that ran on alternative fuels; we learn about tires and check out accessories that at one time had to be purchased separately but are now standard equipment, I’m talking bumpers, headlights, even windshields!

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Upstairs, Setting the World in Motion is all about northeast Ohio’s impact on the automobile and aviation industries in the first half of the 20th century. By the 1930’s over 100 automobile manufacturers called this area home. There are about 50 vehicles on display, each manufactured in Cleveland. Roscoe Turner’s only surviving Wendell Williams model 44 looks as though it’s flying through the room, Turner broke the world speed record in 1933. The gondola from the “Spirit of Goodyear” blimp was active for 31 years and flew over such events as the Kentucky Derby, the US Open tennis matches, NFL and MLB games, you wouldn’t get me up in that thing!

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In the old days, entertainment was often based on transportation; air shows, car races and the like. Cleveland was home to National Air Races and the Great Lakes Exposition in the late 20’s and 30’s with Lake Erie serving as a stunning backdrop. Free tickets for the air shows were dropped from planes with little parachutes attachedI love the collection of souvenirs on display; programs, posters advertising Billy Rose’s Aquacade, drinking glasses, spoons and numerous trinkets. We have reached the newest addition to the museum, a glass pavilion built to house the newly restored Euclid Beach Grand Carousel.

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To me nothing defines the mood or character of the early 1900’s better than an old-fashioned carousel; this one is gorgeous! We received tokens to ride when we paid our admission, now we choose from 58 hand-carved, hand-painted wooden horses. The ride begins, we rise and fall to carnival-type music while passing scenes depicting Euclid Beach Park and other Cleveland icons, a smile crosses the face of every rider…..Come to think of it even the spectators are smiling. This is one of only a few carousels to return to the city where it was originally located, how cool is that?

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Next we make our way to the Cleveland Museum of Art, this will be our first visit since the renovation and expansion project has been completed. The original Neo Classic building opened in 1916, there have been several expansions through the years but nothing like this. Gallery space has been increased by 33%, a 39,000 sq ft glass enclosed atrium has been added to connect the new to the old, there’s a cafe and a 76-seat fine dining restaurant called Provenance; welcome to today’s art museum.We head directly to the atrium and are in awe of what we see, it resembles a plaza or a town square. The glass ceiling allows the light in and affords us a view of the outdoors. Rectangular beds are filled with ground cover in varying shades of green, wood benches give a park-like feel to the space. In the distance dwarf trees bask in sunlight of the day, cafe tables are filled with hungry visitors, a mezzanine level overlooks the activity, the existing 1916 building makes up the south side. 

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Our main focus of the day are the new galleries, we visit the East Wing first. Home to Contemporary and Modern art along with Impressionism, Abstract and Photography, all of our favorites are in the same section. Hardwood floors lead us down long hallways, in and out of spacious galleries, past Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Anselm Kiefer. We check out Rebecca Norris Web’s photography exhibit, My Dakota, before moving on.

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Though we have visited the museum a number of times, no visit would be complete without walking through the Armor Court, we have great affection for the original building and the rotunda, it’s wonderful. While we’re here who can resist Tiffany or Faberge? The West Wing is also new, the ‘glass box’ is a gallery in which all four walls are entirely glass; it’s like being in the middle of an amazing garden that just happens to have spectacular Indian and Southeast Asian sculptures set about on pedestals, wow! Kris and I are extremely impressed with the transformation, if you’re in Cleveland you have to check it out. 

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Time for lunch, we are headed to another Cleveland original: Melt Bar and Grilled on Detroit Ave in Lakewood. The restaurant space is decked out in quirky, eclectic items like vintage outdoor lighted decorations such as snowmen, pumpkins, penguins and the Easter Bunny; it works great with the antique tin ceiling. Owner Matt Fish takes ordinary grilled cheese sandwiches and elevates  them to gourmet with combinations like the Parmageddon with potato and onion perogi, kraut, sauteed onion and sharp cheddar or the Lake Erie Monster with crispy battered jumbo cod, sweet slaw, jalapeno tartar sauce and american cheese. There are dozens of combinations to choose from or create your own.

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We are seated at a table near the bar, we’re hungry so we concentrate on the menu and make a quick decision. First out is the Attack of the Green Tomato: battered, fried green tomatoes covered with an outstanding southern herb remoulade, topped off with fire-roasted corn salsa, delicious. Our Hot Italian Grilled Cheese arrives, it’s huge! Honey ham, pepperoni, salami, basil marinara, roasted garlic, banana peppers, provolone and romano on fresh-baked grilled bread sprinkled with herbs and grated cheese, excellent. If you’re a beer drinker, you may be interested to know they also offer 150 beer selections—-seriously. It’s been another great weekend in Cleveland, the city has a lot to offer without all the hassle and expense of those bigger cities people flock to. Only about 3 hours from Detroit it makes for a fun, easy get-away.

 

CLEVELAND: What’s New ???

3 Jun

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We’re in Cleveland for the weekend; our home base, Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast is nestled in the vibrant, charming, historic Ohio City neighborhood. A group of young entrepreneurs have given new life to the area now known as Hingetown in Ohio City. It’s a familiar story, vacant old buildings are restored and repurposed, new businesses move in and flourish, elevating the quality of life, which in turn attracts new residents and visitors. We’re on 29th Street in the midst of  a sun-drenched Saturday, the old Ohio City Firehouse building is buzzing with activity, people sit at picnic tables on the patio drinking cold beverages, dog walkers greet one another as they pass, bicycles whiz by. We step into the air-conditioned space of Urban Orchid, a floral and gift boutique. The place smells amazing, like Gardenia, fresh-cut flowers have been arranged into colorful centerpieces for a reception that will take place later in the evening. Cleveland goods such as t-shirts and cards as well as gift items created by local artists are available for purchase.

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Just around the corner of the firehouse is Rising Star Coffee Roasters, this was the first business to take a foothold on the block. Inside the line moves swiftly, the guy in front of me has the highest praise for the coffee and the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie–who am I to argue? Standing at a high-top table we have our cold brew coffee and cookie, both are excellent, never doubt a local. Back outside we cross the street to the Striebinger building with businesses on the street level and apartments on the second level. We wander in and out of each space, long and narrow interiors are accented by exposed brick and Edison bulbs. Glass storefronts allow sunlight to wash in giving shops an open, airy feel. Beet Juice Bar is doing a brisk business selling cold-pressed juice, I love the drop tin ceiling in Cleveland Tea Revival, the lunch crowd has started to arrive at Juke Box. Harness Cycle is a spinning studio that also sells cool work-out gear, pet owners make their way to Ohio City Dog Haven. This little district has the feel of a small village integrated right into the neighborhood, it’s wonderful.

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Heading west in the Jeep, we stumble upon the Madison Arts District on, what else, Madison Ave in Lakewood. We both spot the sign at the same time, Kris manages to turn around and park us in front of a quirky, vintage, antique, Mid Century shop called Googie Style. Googie is that modern, futuristic, atomic, car-culturish, bright-colored, starburst, anything goes style found from the 40’s to the 60’s. Inside we meet Margaret, one of the owners, she’s awesome. She points out some of the more unusual pieces, shares stories of great finds as we take in the fun and funky collection of items. Sure there’s the great mid-century design furniture, beautiful glass and copper sculptures, but there’s also a jack-a-lope, masks and a framed painting of parrots. With names of other shops in the area and a school to check out, we’re off.

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First the school, Lakewood High School on Franklin is home to Viktor Schreckengost’s 1954 sculpture, Johnny Appleseed. A native of Ohio, Schreckengost attended the Cleveland School of the Arts, designed the Jazz Bowl for Eleanor Roosevelt, taught industrial design and was a bicycle designer for Murray, Sears and others. The sculpture is kitchy-cool and definitely worth a look. Back on Madison we drop in and out of several antique shops. Great 70’s kitchenware, Corning Ware had some far out patterns, mushroom canisters were all the rage, ahhh, the memories… The Good Goat Gallery is a great place to stop and browse, the art ranges from fine to fun. Kris and I wander, we find it all quite attractive, dolls have amazing faces, paintings use bright colors, some of it is humorous, some solemn, much of it puts me in the mind of Latin America. The gallery is gearing up for a big show called Six Degrees of Vincent, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria will be there for the opening, looks like an awesome show!

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We are having lunch at Barrio, Cleveland’s own taco house serving up specialty tacos, tequila and whiskey. We are seated on the patio, pencils and menu pads stand in a metal bin on our table, our server brings us icy cold glasses of water and explains the ordering process. We’re hungry, too hungry to create our own tacos from the vast list of available ingredients, so we go with El Jefe’s Selecciones, we ask our server to bring us the first four on the list. Munching on still-warm chips and flavorful salsa our basket of tacos arrives. We each take two, eat half and switch, thank goodness for the roll of napkins in the basket. The Vegan Stoner is a soft shell with grilled peppers, onions, portobello, corn salsa, pickled veggies and a herb vinaigrette, delicious. El Jefe is a hard shell, wrapped in a soft shell and stuffed with queso, chorizo, chicken, corn salsa, smoked cheddar, lettuce, chipolte honey sauce, wow, a great combo of flavors and textures. El Puerco is the combo soft and hard shell with white cheese, pulled pork, queso fresco, chipolte honey, salsa roja, lettuce and tomato, so good! The Spicy Sapanaro is spicy, but not so hot that it’s hard to eat. Here we have the soft and hard shell, cheese, chorizo, chicken, queso fresco, salsa roja and secret sauce, yum! I can see why Barrio is such a local favorite.

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Refreshed and re-energized we drive into downtown Cleveland to check out Heinen’s on 9th and Euclid. This gorgeous building, designed by George B Post, opened in 1908 as the Cleveland Trust Building. The building was occupied by Cleveland Trust, then Ameri Trust and finally Society Corp until the 1990’s. Today Cleveland’s oldest family-owned grocery chain, Heinen’s operates out of this iconic domed structure. The exterior is richly detailed with carvings and columns, one look and you know it was an important building in its day.

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Inside, your eyes are immediately drawn to the elaborate, beautiful glass dome. A ring of super-ornate plaster covered in gold leaf caps arches and more columns, illuminated rosettes are magnificent, a stunning railing runs the perimeter of the mezzanine level, hand painted murals peek out between arches, plaster details are heavy. Cafe tables fill the circular ground floor, grab a coffee, something from the bakery or a meal at one of the counters. The mezzanine level offers wine tasting, a huge selection of bottles and beer. From here the overall view is spectacular; above, the murals, dome and all of its details, below, the patterned marble floor, the stairway is pretty snazzy too. Aisles are located in the space beyond the dome for all your grocery needs.

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We make one last stop on our way back to our room, there’s a new ice cream shop on Bridge Street we want to check out. Mason’s Creamery is housed in a tiny Mid Century building with a covered patio that looks like it has always been a neighborhood ice cream shop. Folks are gathered along the freezer staring into five-gallon drums of frozen deliciousness; tasting is encouraged and everyone seems to be doing their part. Along with the usual suspects, Mason’s offers flavors like popcorn, Cleveland Whiskey, butterscotch and Paw Paw. Flavors are made in-house in small batches, today there are about a dozen to choose from. I taste and I taste, it’s the dark chocolate I like the best, Kris goes with the Roasted Peanut, they add a drizzle of strawberry for that peanut butter and jelly combo. We eat our dessert sitting at a small table, it’s fun to watch people try the different flavors, the line continually repopulates. It has been a day of fun and new discoveries in a place so familiar to us. There’s still tomorrow………..

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SOUTHFIELD: American Dreaming

27 May

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There was once a blissful time in the United States when Americans believed anything was possible. After the Great Depression and two World Wars the country was recovering. The Big Three were back in the business of building cars. The public was in need of personal modes of transportation that would take them to newly developed suburban neighborhoods, shopping malls and trips across the country. Manufacturers grew huge styling departments, hiring artists to capture this new futuristic spirit. It was the “Golden Age” when cars were a thing of beauty, they stirred our imagination, put us in the mind of outer space, science fiction didn’t seem so far-fetched. These talented, mostly unknown, artists took eye appeal to a whole new level that shaped not only the auto industry but every facet of American design.

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We are at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield to view a historic collection of sketches assembled by Robert Edwards called ‘American Dreaming‘ Detroit’s Golden Age of Automotive Design. The exhibition takes us inside the styling studios of the American auto manufacturers from 1946 to 1973. The walls of a small banquet room are covered with framed sketches; created in pencil, pastels, ink and airbrush, their mere existence is incredible. Back then due to fierce competition between companies all drawings were ordered to be destroyed, preventing them from ending up in someone else’s hands. These drawings were smuggled out by the wildcat artists themselves under the threat of termination if they were ever caught. Today the room is crowded with appreciative viewers enjoying the works of Rodell Smith, Don Hood, Bill Brownlie, Allen Young, Del Coates, Carl Renner, George Krispinsky, John ‘Dick” Samsen and many others who names you may not recognize, but their designs you would. 

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We move around the room slowly, sidestepping others, dodging cameras, in effort to get a closer look. The designers were predicting the future and showing us how we would get there. The early sketches are more conservative in nature, traveling forward on the timeline bodies become exaggerated, elongated, surrounding landscapes are futuristic with rocket ships blasting off in the background; cars look like they could join them in space. There are renderings of Corvettes, Barracudas, Toronados and Gremlins, Studebaker, Packard, AMC, DeSoto and so many more. There are studies of interiors, wheel covers, hood scoops and badges. Model cars are displayed in plexiglass cubes, placards give us insight to the artists and their careers. The evolution of the automobile and the country is laid out in front of us, what an incredible ride it is!

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We take a brief walk around campus before going back to the Jeep. LTU was founded as a private university in 1932, classes were held in the former Model T assembly plant in Highland Park before moving to Southfield in 1955. Theory and Practice have always been the schools motto, offering degrees in Engineering, Architecture and Design. You may recognize the names of these former students: A. Alfred Taubman, Steven A Ballmer, Donald W Date, John Z DeLorean. Buildings are a mix of old and new, all modern in design; my favorite is the architecture and design building with its glazed brick, folded plate roof and courtyard. Landscaped gardens and sculpture dot the campus.

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Sticking with the Modern theme of the day, we decide to drive through some of Southfield’s noteworthy neighborhoods. We start in Northland Gardens off 8 Mile Rd, ranch models sprawl with breezeways, car ports and forecourts. Most are brick accented with stone, lots of windows, skylights and large entryways. One of the most unusual sits on Westland Ave, built in 1961 it is long and low, the stepped roof lend an Asian feel to it. Leaded glass windows contain blue circular patterns, the glazed brick cylinder in front is one of a kind.

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Further north we pop into Washington Heights and Cranbrook subdivisions with multiple California Modern ranch style homes. Low sloping roofs, wide eaves, large fireplaces and tall windows are prevalent. Many of the homeowners put forth great effort keeping the homes architecturally correct from the colors of the time period right down to the lighting. The Ravines neighborhood is nestled into a wooded area along the Rouge River; palatial homes are built on sweeping, rolling lots above the waterway. Several homes are completed in the same style as the “Brady Bunch” house. Most of the homes in these subdivisions were built in the 1950’s and 60’s when Southfield was booming.

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We’re having dinner at Sweet Lorraine’s Cafe & Bar on Greenfield Rd, Chef-Proprietor Lorraine Platman has been in the restaurant business since 1982. Know for her “world beat cuisine” she has a reputation for turning out tasty dishes made with interesting combinations through the decades. The dining room is a lively space with colorful murals, attractive lighting, glossy wood tables and booths. We are greeted at our table immediately with menus and glasses of ice water. There’s a lot to read making a decision difficult. The flavors cover the globe, there’s something for everyone from meat-eater to vegan. Kris and I each pick a dish to share.

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While we wait for our dinner, our server brings us each a piece of focaccia bread and a shallow bowl of red sauce for dipping, it’s outstanding. I could have added a glass of red wine to that, had a second portion and been completely satisfied. I’m glad I didn’t, as our entrée’s were delicious. The pear brie quesadilla is stuffed with thin-sliced pear, melted brie, drizzled with a cilantro cream sauce and served with a side of red pepper jelly. Basic ingredients when combined give a variety of flavors and textures. The Veggie Vietnamese “bahn mi” is a crusty roll filled with organic tofu steak, portobello, spicy slaw, sriracha, cucumbers and cilantro, so flavorful, so good! At the end of the day our appetites for art, architecture and delectable food have all been satisfied.

 

 

DETROIT: Breaking Down Borders

21 May

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There are places, pockets, that exist outside the mainstream, under the radar, that go completely unnoticed until some event, a happening, comes along inviting us to take a closer look. Today we’ll attend two such gatherings and find some surprises along the way.

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 The Porous Borders Festival takes place (mostly) along Carpenter Street, the border between Detroit and Hamtramck; the usual offerings are there: art, music, food, t-shirts, but in a completely different way. The Jeep is parked on Gallagher, we walk the short distance to Carpenter, looking around we wonder where all the activity is. I grab a map from the information hub in the parking lot, my attention is diverted by the sound of cheering voices, a ball being hit and laughter; we cross the street to watch a group of young men learning to play Cricket. Heading westward we intercept a car cruise; earlier in the day participants created their own wire vehicle in a workshop led by the Wire Car Auto Workers Association of Detroit (WAWAD), suddenly musicians from both sides of Carpenter raise their instruments and begin to play as they chase the tiny cars down the street. Looking closely at the map and schedule I realize it is merely an idea of what you may see, many of the activities are random, unexpected, participant driven.

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Walking past long forgotten businesses, empty homes and buildings, the cities are mirror images of one another; a make-shift tank is parked on broken concrete, weeds grow between the cracks, a boat sits on a trailer in a patch of grass. The door to Turtle & Inky’s, a local bar is open, it’s quiet inside, there’s a break in the action; a large figure of a man, beer in hand, sits way up high on the chimney. We duck into Record Graveyard, the air conditioning a welcome respite from the mid-May heat wave. The new location sports the same green walls as the old building, continuity, I like that. Oren Goldenberg’s installation, The Portal, fills the front window; the scene is of water, a pink geometric shape and a giraffe, anybody walking down the sidewalk becomes part of the scene, you can attempt to swim or splash around entertaining shoppers inside. Further down a residential garage-turned-music studio invites us to stop in and make some noise. Hand-held instruments, drums, and a microphone dare to bring out the rock star in us.

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On the Detroit side a seesaw sits in a beautiful field of green, wildflowers (or possibly weeds) are blooming as the sun blazes overhead. A pair of girls glide up and then down, a sign nearby reads “take a seat, make a friend”, looks like it worked. We arrive at the WAWAD workshop, wire cars are parked in the street, each one is different, some look vintage, there’s a truck, a police car and a dragster complete with headers. Somebody has built diminutive versions of abandoned houses in the area. Around the corner we wander into Popps Packing, a cool art gallery. The pieces on display are modern, the former slaughterhouse has been re-imagined into a great space, Kris likes the multicolored windows. Deeper into the neighborhood a backyard has been transformed into a vineyard; I wonder what kind of wine they’ll make.

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Time for a snack. In 2012 Lisa Ludwinski’s Sister Pie began as a Cottage Food business; hard work, lots of dancing and winning the 2014 Hatch contest culminated into the opening of a quaint storefront at the corner of Kercheval and Parker just a few weeks ago. The building is from the 1920’s, large windows look out onto the streetscape where positive changes are taking place. Inside we are greeted by the aroma of buttery goodies baking in the open, professional grade kitchen.

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Directly in front of us, under glass domes, are the stars of the place—the pies! Today the selection includes Honey Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Coconut and the signature Salted Maple…….enough said. Kris orders his Salted Maple heaped with fresh whipped cream, I take the Chocolate Coconut as is. Sitting at the large community table we dig in, the salted maple has the consistency (and look) of pumpkin pie, the crust, made from high fat French butter, is tender and flaky, the filling is full of maple goodness balanced out perfectly by a little saltiness, you’ve got to try it! The Chocolate Coconut is delicious, soft chocolate filling is chewy at the edges, long shreds of coconut throughout give it a nice flavor and texture, yum! Pies are available whole or by the slice, savory items are available as well, eat in or carry out, you’ll be glad you did.

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Blocks away, we park in front of a gray-painted building on Bellevue that was originally a pickle factory. The Atlanta-based non-profit Dashboard Co-op has turned the building into a temporary art gallery. Dashboard sent folks out to Detroit in search of vacant property to use as exhibition space. They zeroed in on the Pickle Factory, invited several Detroit artists to create works that ‘respond or enhance the uniqueness of the city’ , threw in  a few national artists asking them to create a piece depicting their initial impression of Detroit, put it all together into a contemporary collaboration called Detroit Boom City.  

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Approaching the entrance we stop for a look at After Aris a lined mural by Mitch Cope on the side of the building. Inside we are as interested in the building as we are the art; the space was last used by an automotive surplus company as storage. All of the artwork was created from items found in the building or the surrounding area; much of that being automotive, the Detroit connection is obvious and immediate. In front of us is a miniature parking lot, we recognize the wire vehicles, the artist Chido Johnson, is the creator of WAWAD. The space is cool, windowless, items such as the time clock remain; it still works! Wandering from piece to piece, we can identify many of the items used: fenders, oil filters, hoses, bumpers, very cool. Narcissus Inc by Scott Hocking is the most ambitious of the bunch, the office-like area looks like it could still be in use today. Huge swordfish and bookshelves cover the back wall, paintings, clocks, wheel covers and record albums are incorporated into the setting. Chrome pieces are stacked high creating sculptures on each side of the room. Popps’ Mobile Sauna, a 1989, yellow and orange striped van turned mobile sauna is parked in the courtyard, it even works. The gallery is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm until June 12.

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art 101 (1)art 104 (1)

art 102 (1)

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