Christmas Lights Around TC

Here’s a few snapshots of Christmas lights from around TC. I’ll add to this post through Christmas.

Dan & Peg’s magnificent tree:

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Beach Christmas in TC:

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Mom & Dad’s beautiful tree:

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Fall Golf & Website Update

Lindsey and I trekked over to Gaylord to use a couple of free-round coupons for The Tribute golf course at the Otsego Club. I think the rest of Northern Michigan had the same idea. It was one of the slowest rounds of golf ever. The course was nice (I holed out for eagle on one of the par 5’s on the front nine!!!). However, we called it quits after it took four hours to play 12 holes.

We had a good “old” dinner at the Suger Bowl in downtown Gaylord where we were the youngest couple in the restaurant by a good 30 years!

There was lots of wedding talk – and we’re trying to nail down the rehearsal dinner location. When it comes down to it, it’s tough to find a place to host a large group the week before the Fourth of July! One of the many “joys” of fudgie season in Traverse City.

As you can see, the engagement/wedding website is slowly taking shape. I added a countdown timer today, and we’re hoping to post profiles of the bride-elect and groom-elect this week… and then follow with the rest of the wedding party and families.

Have a great week and feel free to comment or contact us if you have any tips or just want to say hello!

Traverse City’s Heart Graffiti

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Has anyone else noticed the heart graffiti that is becoming increasingly visible around Traverse City, Michigan? I searched the Record-Eagle website and on Google for any coverage of this graffiti phenomenon and found no mentions.

If you’re a local resident or if you have visited within the last year and walked around downtown, you can’t help but notice dozens, if not hundreds, of six to twelve inch two-toned hearts painted on walls, posts, sidewalks, and other surfaces around the city.

Personally, I like it. The hearts liven up otherwise plain spaces. If the city is deliberately ignoring the graphic decorations, I hope they leniency is not abused. Some decoration is clever and cute, but too much could become unsightly.

Have you noticed? If so, what do you think of it?

Update on October 11, 2009: I was quoted by Vanessa McCray in her Record Eagle article, “Someone Hearts TC.” What I said:

Chris Rogers of Traverse City blogged about the phenomenon, which he first noticed in a plaza off East Front Street.

Since then, he has spotted the hearts frequently. Like others, he said your creations straddle “a fine line.”

“I think it adds an interesting texture, and, fortunately, they are hearts and something not more controversial,” he said.

Early Morning Rounds

I haven’t had the opportunity to play an early morning round of golf in a long time, but boy do I miss it. There is just something about the chill in the air, the uninterrupted dew on the fairways and greens, and the empty course waiting to be played that makes for a peaceful morning. Dodging the mowers can be tricky, but fun.

My penchant for early morning rounds likely developed during my junior golfing days. At the young age of ten or eleven I started competing in nine-hole tournaments at local golf courses. The courses donated (I presume) early morning course time to the Traverse City Junior Golf Association for us to compete. And compete we did, once a week through the summer. There were usually about eight or ten tournaments, which worked out to one per week. Just enough to establish a competitive season without being too great a burden on our parents, who got us to the course at obscenely early hours.

Later, high school golf tryouts started at 6am and ran all week. Needless to say, it was a very tiring week. High school tournaments were usually played early, too. And there were always too many pranks to be played and fun to be had to get to bed early.

So, through all of this nostalgic wandering is the reason I like playing early in the morning. It gives me a reason to think back on my childhood when I had trouble falling asleep because I was so exciting and nervous about the next mornings nine-hole tournament. That feeling never went away, and to this day, I still get butterflies in my stomach when I tee up my Titleist on the first tee and take those stiff practice swings.

High School Golf Practice

Yesterday was sixty-five degrees, calm, and sunny so I went to the golf range to practice. I bought my seven dollar large bucket of balls, laced up my golf shoes, and started hitting easy sand wedges to the red flag on the right of the range about 85 yards away. I was trying to keep the trajectory of my shots down so I could control my distance better. About thirty minutes into my session high school golfers began setting up shop on the range. Then what looked to be the junior varsity team hopefuls came over. These kids didn’t look a day over pre-adolescence, but they talked a big game. They talked it loudly, as if they were addressing a elderly foreigner. Naturally, they started their warm-up by trying to smash drivers to the edge of the woods. I felt compelled to get my driver out and hit the ball well into the woods. I did, easily. Having satisfied my ego, I returned to hitting easy eight irons to the yellow flag 160 yards away. But, the range was filling up too fast for all of us to hit. These kids were moving in on my nice patch of grass. A runt of a boy directly in front of me swung a driver equal to his own height. A lanky youngster was joyously topping, slicing and shanking balls behind me. I feared for my life. Instead of visualizing the shot I wanted to hit, I began imagining what it would feel like when cold steel met my skull. Not good. It was like I was standing it the middle of a chinook helicopter. Clubs were spinning, balls were flying. The kid in front of me actually lost his grip and his club flew over my head. The kid said woops then blindly walked in front of me. I decided it was best for me to leave at that point, so I hit my last ball, tucked in my clubs and shook my head. This was chaos – unlike any golf practice I had ever participated in, but it still made me miss high school golf.

Michigan Wine

“Michigan’s Wine Country Grows Where the Cherry Is King” – a NYT article about what great wine Michigan has to offer. The focus is on Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties in the northwestern part of lower Michigan. (By the tip of the pinkie finger is you look at the palm of your right had.)

I’m not a big fan of the cherry wines, which are very sweet. But both the white and red wines I tried at the Leland Wine Festival in early June were delicious.

It’s always fun to see your home area highlighted for good products.

On Being Home

I’ve been home for less than a week, and already I’m gong nuts. I walk around looking in cupboards, around corners, and outside. I’ve managed to take a doorknob off, but replacing it has been asking a bit too much at the moment. It’s weird to experience such a drop-off in mental tasking from 2+ weeks of law school finals to loafing. The down time is good, but I need to make / build / do something sooooon.

Back Porch

The back deck was fun. We were sitting under the pines standing tall above the roof of the house. I liked to look up and try to see the sky. The table was gooey in places and I had to watch what I touched. Sticky fingers – like someone rubbed marshmallows all over.”Chris, say grace so we can get started,” mom said.

For a little bit I looked around to make sure that everyone had their hands together and heads down. “God is good, God is great. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we must be fed. Thank you, dear Lord for our daily bread.”

And when I finished, we all said, “Amen.”

I looked up fast – before everyone else, as if to check that we were all still there. Mom and dad were by the grill. My little sister sat still, dwarfed by the ugly yellow deck chair.

“Grandpa, how’s the baseball on TV?” I asked. He was sitting at the end of the table with his wooden cane hooked on his chair. I looked his way and my dark head of hair followed.

He muttered for a moment then said, “Who’s so tall they couldn’t see?”

“No. How’s the baseball on TV?” “Oh,” he said, still not answering. He was playing. But I guess he didn’t watch the baseball either. It was static in the background during his nap. My mind moved on. The grill smelled good, but I really just wanted to make s’mores.

Drag Racing

The high school parking lot is dark and empty. The faded lines that define the spaces during weekdays create lanes the length of the lot that we are racing down as fast as we can in a Jimmy and a Jeep. The fear of getting caught is too far behind to enter our mind.Alice is in the back seat of my Jimmy holding on tight and talking – always talking on her cell phone. Her bright blond hair shines against a black t-shirt that reads “Metallica” in bold silver letters across her breasts. I look away from the pavement ahead and into the rearview mirror. Alice sneers when I catch her eye then blows me a kiss. The air in the car sits low like a heavy fog and smells like cotton blossom body wash and cigarette smoke. I inhale deeply through my nose and exhale through my mouth as the adrenalin pulses down my spine. The engine whines as the car nears eighty-five miles per hour.

At full speed Bob’s jeep looks like an autonomous red blur rolling on black spheres. Even during the day he is invisible behind dark tinted windows, and now he is just a lurking shadow ahead and to the right.

There isn’t much to this race, beyond the girl in my back seat. She was the fixation of his adolescent dreams and is now the source of our silent animosity. She is also my girlfriend because I was too arrogant to know the rules. To care.

Bob doesn’t talk to me anymore, and it is irony, perhaps, that we are racing each other tonight. As if racing cars in the darkness of nowhere will settle something. Damn it, it’s just a girlfriend. Is that really going to wreck our friendship? It was more than that. I knew that. But staring ahead into the open lot and knowing there was a lost friend racing next to me exaggerated the void.

It was over before it started.