Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY Street Fair 2012

Every year, the city of Ferndale, Michigan is host to the DIY Street Fair, centered around E 9 Mile and Woodward. Admission is free, and not only are there countless booths of handmade jewelry, T-shirts, crocheted and knitted goodies, photographs and other pieces of art, but food tables galore, mostly from local restaurants (a good way to sample a city's fare, if you ask me) and a beer tent. Oh, and let's not forget the live music, which you get to enjoy at no extra cost. And the carnival rides, which might have cost something. I didn't ride any both due to a lack of interest, and an injured back.

Greg and I grabbed atchafalaya chicken sandwiches from the Howe's Bayou stand. They were really delicious! I would definitely give that restaurant a try sometime. For dessert we got ice cream from Treat Dreams, a local ice cream shop that features unusual flavors such as honey lavender, lemon basil, ube (purple yam), and Sunday breakfast. They have traditional flavors, too, which aren't as fun, though they are certainly tasty. I got mint chocolate chip. Greg got Stoli salted caramel.

We wandered around a bit, admiring some things and being confused by others, and I picked up two pairs of really fun earrings. One pair features images of a Ouija board, and one earring says "Wicked" while the other says "All signs point to yes." The other pair of earrings were bought from the same place and say "dream" and "create." Both pairs of earrings were made out of pennies. Very cool use for our next to worthless currency, and the pennies made them a good size and weight.

Although Greg had originally wanted to go to the fair to see one of the bans that was to play later that evening, the music for that stage was so loud and badly done, that we ended up leaving early and taking a stroll through Rust Belt Market, open late for the occasion. If you've never been to Rust Belt, and you live in the Detroit Metro area, do so! It's really fun and filled with antiques, crafts, donuts, handmade soaps, and local coffee. Rust Belt is only open on weekends, though, so plan your trip carefully.

I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures to share. The phone that I used to take the pictures recently drown, taking with it all my photos before I could send them to my email. (Very sad face.) I guess you'll just have to click the links and enjoy all the pretty, colorful pictures there.

Next year I'd like to re-visit the DIY Street Fair, hopefully with more money.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kerrytown Bookfest 2012


Part of my job at Crazy Wisdom is to work what they call offsites, which usually means a book festival or some other such gathering where we set up a table to sell books and spread the word of our existence. The tea room upstairs had a table set up at the Home Grown Festival in Ann Arbor, for example, and the day after, the book store had a table set up at the Kerrytown Bookfest.

None of us at the store, nor even anyone I spoke to, had heard of the Kerrytown Bookfest, yet this was their 10th year anniversary, and the first year our store had been invited to participate. None of us knew what to expect. I was intrigued at the prospect of both working a book festival, and checking out a book festival no one I encountered had heard of before. The location was the farmers' market, so outside, but covered in case the weather was bad. It wasn't, though. Chilly enough that I was grateful for my hoodie, but sunny and pleasant otherwise. 

I arrived at the store early that morning, and we pulled all of our stuff over in a wagon, since Kerrytown is only a few blocks away. We set up our table, crowded with books, and I was shown how to take credit card orders with one of those metal card impression thingies. The last time I had to use one was during the Great and Mysterious Blackout of 2011. So having had experience, I felt pretty good about the day. There was a calculator for people who had cash, and a handwritten receipt pad with pretty clear tags about what I was to fill out.

The Kerrytown Bookfest wasn't just about books, at least from the vendor's side. It was about networking. We had a few local authors come to our table and ask how to get our store to carry their books. There was also a fellow from the University of Michigan's writing department who was spreading the word about a book and writing festival he's trying to get going (more about that as information comes to me). 

On the little breaks I took to wander around and get something to eat and drink, I encountered a number of people - attendees and fellow vendors - who knew our store and were excited to see us represented at the festival. But it wasn't just a bunch of local bookstores out to showcase their wares, there were rare and used bookstores that had traveled from far off cities that I had never heard of (okay, probably not that far off considering Michigan isn't that large of a state), and more than a few craft vendors. I marveled over the creations of one woman who was crocheting adorable little monsters, aliens, and other creatures. I'm pretty sure one was an ood from Doctor Who! Another woman had knitted stuffed animals that could be turned inside out to become another animal, including an egg that turned into a bird and vice-versa. 

For lunch I bought a made-to-order duck sandwich from the little lunch counter inside the Kerrytown shops and a caramel latte from Sweetwaters located across from the lunch counter. Sweetwaters might be my favorite Ann Arbor-local coffee shop, but it's a tough choice. Roos Roast is very delicious, though their shop is tiny and their offerings limited. 

I didn't end up buying anything other than sustenance at the bookfest, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It's another one of those things I can't believe I got paid for. It affirmed for me that the book world is where I belong and where I love to be. Speaking with local authors was heartening and gave my hopes of more solid publications a boost. (Magazines and anthologies are all well and good, but I am selfish and want a book all to myself!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Navy Week Detroit 2012

The War of 1812 may ring a bell for most people, but many aren't going to remember what it was about. That's not what this blog is about, however. This entry is about the 200 year celebration of Detroit setting the record as the only major American city to have ever surrendered to a foreign power. (Seriously, Detroit holds that title. You can read all about it here.) 

September 5th through the 10th was Navy Week in Detroit. Now, the Navy is cool and all, but the reason I wanted to go was the promise of a tour of the USS Niagara, a reconstruction of the original ship that won the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. A tall sailing ship docked at a port near moi? Yes, please! 

Since I didn't work until 7 that evening, my boyfriend Greg and I headed out that morning for Detroit's Riverwalk, where most of the activity was planned. In addition to the Niagara and other modern Navy vessels, there was a military band performing, and, inside the RenCen, there were a number of educational booths set up, including a table with people dressed up as sailors from 1812 and an array of what they would have carried with them on board ships. There were 12 year old sea biscuits that were still crumbly enough for me to easily break one in half, so I was less than impressed with their hardness.

But back to the ship! The USS Niagara is a fully functioning ship, and even offers cruises in which you can choose to work as a sailor on the ship and learn how everything works (which I think would be freaking awesome). There were workers hanging about answering questions, but mostly we just walked a pre-set path through the ship. Belowdeck was extremely low ceilinged. Greg couldn't stand up straight at all, and I could only stand up in the spaces between the beams. Cramped is an understatement. They did manage to fit some hammocks, a small table, and a tiny, yet fully functioning kitchen. I am not sure how most people managed to cook all hunched over, though. They didn't actually let us in the kitchen, so I couldn't investigate properly. 

Once we'd finished with our tour of the Niagara, we headed into the RenCen for a few minutes before returning to the car and going in search of American and Lafayette Coney Islands. Then on our way out of town, we stumbled upon John K. King Used and Rare Books, where Greg and I had our third date over a year ago. (I hadn't been back since; Greg had.) I think wandering through an old glove factory that's been converted to the largest used bookstore in the state was the perfect way to end our outing in Detroit. 

A tall ship, coneys, and books. Oh my!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Day at the Beach (With Disc Golf)


All summer long I've been wanting to go to the beach. It's summer! That's what you do! But living on the east side of the state, I can't just run off to Lake Michigan every spare day I have like I used to when I lived in Kalamazoo. (Which makes me very sad.) I only went swimming in a pool once when I went to Kalamazoo to visit friends and family, even though my apartment complex has a very nice pool right next to my building. To be fair, though, I was prevented from swimming for the month of August by my fresh tattoo, Erasmus. (He was quite scaly and needed much time to properly heal.)

Knowing my desire to go to a beach, my boyfriend Greg looked into local beaches for me, and we decided on one at the Kensington Metropark where Greg used to go as a kid. Kensington also has boat rentals and a disc golf course, among other things, so we figured we could easily spend our Labor Day there, Labor Day being the unofficial end of summer in Michigan when most public pools and apparently metropark beaches close for the season.

It only costs $5 to get into a metropark for the day, or $25 for a season pass. In my experience, metroparks are HUGE. I've now been to two, and I've enjoyed my experiences both times. The west side of Michigan does not have such things. There were State parks and a couple county parks growing up, but Kalamazoo's county parks have nothing on Metro Detroit's metroparks. We drove around for a few minutes before we found the swimming beach (as opposed to the boat launch area), where there is also a water park for a modest extra charge.

The restrooms and changing areas are quite nice and clean, though I was a little disappointed the showers were not private. There is also a picnic area, and the beach is quite sandy. After enjoying the water, Greg retrieved our picnic basket from the car and we had a lovely lunch on the beach. (I love that I am dating someone who not only has his own picnic basket, but a complete setup that includes a cutting-board for bread and cheese.)

After lunch, we changed out of our suits and drove across the rode to the disc golf course, which was $2 per person. I've never been to a disc golf course that charges before, but I have also never been to a course like this one. It's called Black Locust, and the first hole starts at the top of a hill. Well, that's where the professional launch is, anyway. The amateurs like me and Greg carefully make our way down the hill to the bottom. It's a hell of a view from the top, though, and it was really tempting to throw my disc from up there, even if it didn't make it very far.

Unfortunately, the course was also extremely busy, and we had to wait after every hole. This was Labor Day, though, so other days would hopefully be less crowded. There are something like 27 holes in all. Greg and I only ended up doing 13 because it was hot, humid, and I was in extreme need of water by that point. (We didn't bring it with us – again.)  

After a day of swimming and disc golf, we headed towards home, picking up ice cream along the way, and watched The City of Lost Children (in the original French, of course). All-in-all, I say it was a very successful Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Family and Friends


After announcing that I'd be updating on Sundays, I totally skipped the next Sunday. I did have access to the internet, but I was in Kalamazoo celebrating my grandfather's birthday with my family. His birthday is actually today, but this being Tuesday, we celebrated over the weekend because it was easier to get people together.

I'm actually surprised at how many people managed to make it. I saw my cousins, whom I don't see very often anymore now that there are in-laws involved in the holidays and what-not, which makes gathering at the holidays somewhat difficult. (I'm lucky in that my boyfriend's family does their Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve while my family's is on Christmas Day. Also, both families are in the same state.)

Since I worked until midnight on Saturday, Kimmy and I awoke at 8am on Sunday and were on the road to Kalamazoo before 9, arriving by 11. I was actually pretty impressed at our good timing. Most things were set out for the cook-out at 1, so although Kimmy and I were prepared to help set up, we instead got to relax for a bit in the living room (television!) and on the patio and catch up with the latest family news. My mother's boyfriend told us about the new job he'll be starting soon, and we heard about the problems they've been having re-doing the bathroom (which I think looks very nice, contractor issues aside), and we told them about our new roommate who was officially moved in as of that day, though I hadn't officially met her yet due to my intense work schedule that week. (I had one 14 hour day followed by a 12 hour day.)

Then the guests started arriving and there was more catch-up time. My baby nephew was awake and bright-eyed, and my younger niece passed out papers to everyone on which she had drawn a heart in different colors of crayon. I put mine on my fridge when I got home because that is what fridges are for. (They are also for putting post cards on, of which I have many.)

There were burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, potato salad, cheesy potatoes, blueberry pie, and apple-walnut cake. By the end of the party, Kimmy and I were quite stuffed and feeling lethargic. We stayed and visited for a couple more hours, watched a caught-on-camera show, then made the trek home. We don't usually make the trip to Kalamazoo and back in one day, so it didn't feel like only that morning that we had left. Bri, our new roommate, was waiting for us when we got home. While Kimmy and I unwound from our long day, we all three hung out in the living room, and I showed Bri my collection of NES games and working NES that's hooked up to the TV.

It's good to spend time with family, and it is also good to make new friends. I'd say the weekend was quite successful, even it did come after 44 hours of work!