Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween 2012 Part I

First off, I need to share this image that I made with everyone. My apartment is currently located on the edge of the giant storm that is about to clash with Hurricane Sandy, which prompted my roommate Bri to head out and buy candles and extra batteries while I took stock of my canned goods and assembled what candles and lighters I could find in the apartment on the dining room table just in case
Anyway. To kick off the Halloween celebrations, my boyfriend Greg and I went to the Ann Arbor Michigan Theater's showing of Nosferatu with live organ accompaniment, which, apparently, they do every year. The man who plays the organ does the score himself and changes it up every year so as to keep things interesting for returning patrons, which I think is pretty damn impressive, not to mention that he plays basically nonstop for the entire film, which has to take some stamina. 

I believe this is the first time outside of a church that I have listened to organ music on this scale, and the effect is quite different from church services. I found that the full range of the organ was displayed while accompanying the film. Not only was there eerie music, but church bells donging out the time, knocks on doors, and the rat-a-tat-tat of a drummer delivering a message to the town. Very cool. And the Michigan Theater's organ is the original organ that was installed in the 1920s, one of only about 40 still in their original homes in the United States today. 

As slow, somewhat simple, and plagiaristic as Nosferatu may be, I do like that it is the woman who figures out how to defeat the vampire and saves everyone's asses in the end. Though I have always thought that Ellen (Nos' version of Dracula's Mina) looked like a man. For years I wondered if German women really were just that masculine looking, but a trip to Germany in 2006 informed me that not all of them are. I will say that the Germans do tend to be a hardy folk, but I don't see this as a bad thing. 


On Saturday night, my apartment was host to a Halloween party. Not everyone who said they would showed up, but I think it was a great turnout anyhow. At one point, we did seem pretty filled to the gills in here. And we had so much food! I really didn't expect there to be so much. We're supplied on nachos for the next season. 

There was also some Halloween-themed music, good conversation, and the best party game ever, Telestrations. If you're familiar with Apples to Apples, Telestrations is better. If you're sick of Apples to Apples, try moving on to Telestrations. I seriously doubt you will be disappointed. Telestrations has a point system that we regularly ignore because the hilarity that ensues is reward enough.

I am hoping that tonight Greg and I can go on a haunted hayride. If so, that will be mentioned in Halloween 2012 Part II, which will be the title of next week's blog (unless some serious shit goes down before then, which really wouldn't surprise me considering the way things have been going lately). We're hoping to be able to go to this free haunted house thingy in Ann Arbor on Halloween night. We'll see about that, too.

Happy Halloween, folks! (And bitches!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Busy Weekend, Another Chapter in Life Begins

According to the Western World's figuring of age, this past Saturday, I turned thirty. Three zero. I am in my third decade. And how do I feel? Accomplished. I did more in my twenties than I ever dreamed I would when I was a little kid. Sure, back then, I thought I'd be married by now, possibly even have a child like parents before me (my father was thirty when I was born), but the world has also changed.

When I was twenty-five, I uprooted myself and moved to California. Boy, what a ride that was! Moving to San Francisco was a dream I'd had as a kid, and had mostly shelved after college. I might not have come back to Michigan if my father had not become ill and eventually passed away (though San Francisco is outrageously expensive, and I had to survive off of free day-old bagels for a couple of months there). I am glad that I did move back, though, because it meant meeting Greg, and my relationship with him is truly one of my greatest accomplishments. 

Funny story. I remember thinking way back then that it was okay for me to be a fan of the San Francisco Giants - that I wasn't betraying the Tigers - because what were the odds that they'd ever play each other in the World Series? Pretty damn good, as it turns out! Or maybe I jinxed myself. Since the Giants won in 2010 (I was back in Michigan at that point, so I missed out on the revelry), I would be especially pleased if the Tigers won this time. Though I'll honestly be happy with either outcome. (Sorry, Michiganders! Go, Tigers!)

Since I spent last year in Ann Arbor celebrating my birthday with friends, I decided to travel to Kalamazoo this year and spend it with friends I don't see very often and family, whom I also don't see very often. My older niece shares my birthday and turned thirteen (she is not an official member of the internet), so it was very cool to celebrate with her again. She is blossoming into one awesome chica. 

The night of my birthday, my roomie Kimmy, my boyfriend Greg, and I carpooled down to my favorite spot in Kalamazoo, Olde Peninsula Brewpub. It was interesting as the place had been invaded by zombies. I am glad I had a heads up that Kalamazoo was trying to break Grand Rapids record of the most zombies in one place because I can't imagine anyone's reaction to seeing zombies popping up as we drove down the street. I was highly amused and quickly lost count when we tried to play "Count the Zombies." Some excellent quotes include, "Was that a zombie? I thought it was a hipster," and "They've gained technology! SHIT!"

Sunday the 21st marked two years since my father passed. He has definitely made his presence known since then. Kimmy has reported hearing a man's voice in the house and seeing strange lights in the hallway at night. My mother told me last week that the lights above the mantel turned themselves on mysteriously, and that another time she saw Pa and he gave her a kiss. Plus, just a few days ago, my sister-in-law was filming my baby nephew crawling across the floor and captured orbs of light zipping around him rather in the fashion of lightening bugs. She re-filmed the area a few times trying to recreate the lights, but they did not appear again. It's possible their house is haunted, but it makes sense to me that the baby is just receiving a visit from his proud and happy Grandpa. 

My life has changed a lot in the last couple of years, so turning thirty really only felt like a minor step up. Hopefully, it continues to feel that way, and I will have just as many adventures in my thirties as I did in my twenties. Positive ones. I've really had my fill of negativity lately. I don't think I mentioned that I broke my toe last week. To end this on a positive note, I should get my car back by Wednesday, and I have Halloween night off, which means shenanigans! Whoooo! My next update will probably about our upcoming Halloween party. (I'm excited.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Day at the Toledo Zoo

I like zoos. When I was a kid, trips to the zoo (usually Binder Park in Battle Creek or John Ball in Grand Rapids) were fun and educational. I saw so many animals I never would have had the chance to see any other way. As an adult, I have learned about all the different rescue and conservation efforts that zoos around the world have undertaken. Most animals (the not lazy ones) are probably happier in the wild, but there are a great many species that would be extinct or closer to extinction if not for these rescue efforts.

Having visited the Detroit Zoo last year with my roommate Kimmy, we decided this year that we would check out the Toledo Zoo, which so many of our friends and coworkers have insisted to us is "way better" than the Detroit Zoo. We were joined this trip by my loving boyfriend Greg, who is a good sport about going along with our antics and general goofiness. (His occasional goofiness came out at the zoo and was caught on camera!)

We never did decide if the Toledo Zoo was "better," but it definitely seemed quite a bit bigger. Greg said it was even bigger than when he was a kid. Since the weather was getting chilly, I think a lot of the animals were hanging out trying to keep warm, so we saw a lot of sleepy piles of fur. That's okay, though. At least we got to see them! And the weather stayed mostly pleasant.

The thing about the Toledo Zoo that everyone seemed so keen on was the Aquarium. I was expecting something bigger, but considering we were there on possibly the last day of the aquarium building being open before it underwent major remodeling that they expect to take years, it may well turn into something just as spectacular as I was imagining. The aquarium certainly had a lot of different kinds of fish, and we did spend a god amount of time there. However, it was only one building among many at the zoo, not an attraction onto itself. 

As you may have noticed from the pictures on this page, there are a number of statues and so forth that offer great photo opportunities! There is also, of course, face painting for a nominal fee, though none of us had it done. Speaking of paying for extras, the food, I thought, was quite reasonably priced and really pretty tasty. Kimmy got chicken tenders while Greg and I got burgers and fries. And it really was one tasty burger. The Carnivore Cafe had a surprising variety of offerings. 

Our visit lasted pretty much from open to close, and we had to rush through the last view exhibits before being ushered out the exit. If you go to the zoo, definitely plan to spend the whole day there. Naturally, we had to swing by the gift shop on the way out, but I was really disappointed by their merchandise. I'd been hoping to pick up a souvenir T-shirt, but the only kind they offered were "unisex," meaning designed for men. 

The only complaint that Kimmy had was that the animal enclosures seemed too small for the animals. I wondered if perhaps there were other accommodations elsewhere, and these were just their daytime hangouts. The winter quarters for certain animals that we passed by, though, did seems quite small and dull to me, too. The Toledo Zoo is no San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park), but it is a very worthy zoo, and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Surprisingly (to me, a Michigander), there are a number of things to do in Toledo. There's the Toledo Museum of Art, the Imagination Station, and the recently rechristened Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship (which is only open through Labor Day on the weekends, so I'll have to wait until next summer to see that one). I think we all agreed that there are definite reasons to return to Toledo for further exploration. Since it's only a 30 to 45 minute drive away, it seems kind of silly not to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Return of the Skeletons

I'm terribly sorry for not updating this sooner. On Sunday, which this blog is about, I was out all day with my mother and boyfriend, Greg, in Northville, then had our weekly game night. Then on Monday, when I had planned to update, I was involved in a car accident. I'd say I'm fine, but the doctor I saw this morning about a sore neck sent me to get X-rays after she found a very sensitive spot on my spine. The jury is still out on the well-being of my car, as well. The front end was smashed in, though the engine was untouched, and I was able to drive it to the mechanic's shop. 
A Northville home overtaken by spiders.
Anyway, I wanted to post about Sunday's adventure. I've often told my mother about the various festivals and so forth that Greg, my roommate Kimmy, and I attend in Northville, MI. Since she decided to visit this past Sunday, I thought it would be fun to show her around Northville since it has such an adorable downtown, plus the internet informed me that the skeletons were back. Not too far from downtown are also Mill Race Village, which is open to the public complete with docents on Sundays, and Parmenter's Northville Cider Mill

Greg, Kimmy, and I went to Parmenter's last year and enjoyed cider, donuts, and a free wine tasting. We ended up buying a bottle of their cherry wine, one of the best cherry wines I have ever tasted. This year, my mother and I also enjoyed their cider and donuts, as well as a brief wine and hard cider tasting. We also discovered a little craft fair and quite the crowd! If I had known ahead of time, I would have brought cash and made a few purchases. My mother bought a nice dragonfly necklace, and by pooling our change together, I did walk away with a 1/4 pound of smooth and creamy chocolate mint fudge. 

Back downtown, we wandered through the shops that were open on Sunday, such as my favorite, Gardenviews. I always love to go in and see how they've decorated for the seasons. It's a store that I knew when first I found it that my mother would love, and I was not mistaken. Anyone visiting Northville must stop by. 

We next wandered to the Mill Race Village, and when it began to rain, we returned to downtown and grabbed some warm beverages from Next Chapter Bookstore and Bistro. There I had more hot cider, this time with spices and whipped cream on top. It was wonderful! And there was some lively banter with the man taking our orders.

Outside, along the street, we enjoyed viewing all the skeletons on display. Greg and I recognized some from last year (the skateboarders were back, as well as the old skeleton with the walker, though she was in a different spot), but there were definitely some new ones, some of which I have pictured here throughout this entry. 

I love it when a community gets together to do something clever to celebrate the season. I don't have any pictures because it was dark, but while picking up a pizza from downtown Belleville, Greg and I discovered the main street was lined with scarecrows! It's a contest, and anyone who'd like to may enter their own designed and decorated, life-size scarecrow. I wish I had known about it sooner so I could have put one together. Something to keep in mind for next year, I suppose. 

I think now I should take it easy, make some hot cocoa, or maybe eat a bowl of ice cream. I'm feeling a little sore from the accident. Alas!