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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween to the Max

Some folks decorate a little for Halloween. Often you'll see the obligatory jack-o-lantern, perhaps inflatable characters or wee ghosts dangling from trees made of styrofoam balls and cheesecloth. But nothing prepared me for passing by this house in East Jordan, Michigan, the first weekend in October.

I was so impressed, I drove around the block and parked and photographed, and wondered how many others did the same.

This is not one fluid story. It covers a lot of ground. But the focal point is the wedding ceremony.

The bride was lovely in white.

The groom was striking in blue.

And the best man seemed to have a savoir faire all his own.

And then there was the wedding party -- stunning don't you think?

This family look ready for an outing, baby in tow!

They must be accompanying their youngsters as they trick or treat.

These folks appear to be at the reception!

Hats off to this family for such a splendid tableau. I was impressed. I also wish I had their time!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!

This is the Gypsy checking in. I just want you to know that my person seems to think it appropriate to clothe me at the holidays.

Then she makes me pose.

And ask for treats.

Really, did she ever have to pose at Halloween?

Gee. Doesn't look like she's too happy about it, either. But did they make her wear a costume?

OK. I stand corrected.

Still, I'd rather be naked.

Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Harry the Heron at Twilight

Call it a bad day -- a gloomy Saturday when the work world was going a little crazy and nothing else (like trying to hook up my internet at home) was falling into place. More on that another day.

So, I decided a long walk was in order and headed to the Ditch (thank you, Rick) about eight blocks from where I live for a few laps.

I thought on one lap, I might want some photos, so I took my camera and am I ever glad I did.

We're nearing the end of the fall color here -- a good windy day and much of it would be gone. So the purples of the asters just seemed to pop against the gray sky.

And the red trees with leaves -- well, they were practically preening, begging for attention!

The browns. Every shade from deep mahogany to pale wheat.

And musty grays and whites.

The ducks were begging for attention, too -- and I was disappointed I hadn't slipped any contraband bread crumbs in my pocket for them.

But it didn't seem to matter -- they were finding things in the water!

And I do love this duck! He or she is the only one with these markings.

And then I saw him -- Harry the Heron was back. And he was posing.

Now these photos were taken with my instant camera, its zoom maxed out to 40x. (I don't understand how it does that, since it's a 10x zoom, but that's what it said.)

And Harry tends to hang out right in the middle of the pond. No matter which side you're on, you're about the same distance.

That said, it was mesmerizing. He cleaned every inch of himself.

He posed.

He watched the water intently and then with a swoosh grabbed one of the orange koi from the pond and flew into the reeds.

Another walker/photographer with a far better camera than mine was there, too, and we strangers stood together, waiting. Her photo of the flight and fish was far better than mine (so was her camera and lens), but I was happy.

We didn't see him eat the fish, but soon he was back, and we waiting again, shooting like crazy.

I have to say... my day got a lot better after that!

And the next day? Sunny and bright!

The sumac was wilting, but still was dazzling against the sky.

The contrasting colors of late berries against gold and the rich blue of the sky.

And yes, I was still very happy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Cork Poppers Return!

It's been awhile since I've had a wine-tasting post. Our Cork Poppers gang met once this summer while we were away and again for a BBQ (where I'm sure wine came up in the conversation).

So we were excited to have a new experience in wine tasting -- at a local winery.

Well, excited and a little bit nervous. To be perfectly honest, the experience Rick and I have had with Michigan wines has been far less than stellar. This winery, Burgdorf's, was right here in our own town, far from the more known Michigan wine areas on the west side of the state. (That's Deb Burgdorf below!)

We arrived at the charming winery late -- having passed it by and missing the small sign. But as soon as we walked in, we knew we were in for a delightful evening, no matter what the wine!

And if we had any reservations, they were gone after having our first taste -- an un-oaked 2009 chardonnay. It was cool, crisp, light and quite dry. The handout they gave us said it was a silver medal winner in the 2009 Michigan wine competition, and I can see why. It was a little pricey for me ($21.99 -- and I tend to try to keep my wine buys under $15) but it was really delicious!

Dave and Deb have a delightful two-room operation -- one side is a tasting bar and gift shop, the other also with gifts but more industrial, with jugs of wine waiting to be bottled.

We learned they both had many years in agriculture and science and while they used Michigan grapes, they also used those from other vineyards around the world.

They set out some delicious snacks (I ended up buying the Tuscan Olive dip and the little crock they served it in). And the shopping was great. (I sort of overdid it, but they had such cute things at such reasonable prices, who could resist?)

Our $20 "admission" brought us samples of eight wines they planned for us, plus two "wild cards," our choices from their list of eight whites, four reds and six fruit wines. By and large, I'm not a fruit wine fan. We sampled Perfection, Blueberry (Rick really liked this one) and Red Raspberry. That last was such a hit with both of us and our wine guide Dick that at least a couple bottles were purchased at $17.99. Oh, to have it with decadent flourless chocolate cake, truffles or on ice cream. I can't wait!

Rick also liked the Cayuga White ($19) and I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio ($19.99). For primarily being red drinkers, neither of us were knocked out by the reds, but remember -- this is Michigan. I've never had a really terrific Michigan red. I don't think the climate's right.

Dave was good at explaining wines, telling us about the four "S" qualities -- Swirl, Smell, Sip and Suck (in air after sipping), which enhances the flavor. The fifth S is spill. We didn't! His patter was funny, informative and as personable as he was!

If you live in the mid-Michigan area, I would recommend a visit. Just belly up to the bar and enjoy! (They also have a patio, a little too cold and dark for us this evening, but we look forward to revisiting and giving that a try!)

The crackers, cheese and dip were good, but we were in need of more sustenance, so it was off to Barb and Mike's house for a terrific dinner of two soups, cornbread, dessert and an enormous salad, called "The Compost" by Mike!

I'm not sure I know anyone who creates better table scapes than Barb.

This time she used the softer purples, reds and naturals all from her garden.

And we all got to take home a centerpiece as a favor! What a favor!

The best part of this, of course, is the friendship and laughter. We recognized two birthdays (here is Birthday Boy Mike)...

... the successful surgery and recovery of one of our members, and talked the news and fun of the day. We laughed. We left satisfied and happy.

We can drink wine anyday -- alone or with another. But it's so much more fun when sharing the experience with friends.

Good night!

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