Tag Archives: Michigan

Without a care in the world…

22 Aug

Our time home in Michigan earlier in June made me remember so many of the wonderful things that are summers “Up North.”  Even though our trip was too short (they always are), we found time to do many of the things that scream “summer” to me.

Summer is having the time to watch a sunset,

Sunset with airplane trails

Time to sit out on the dock and count the pebbles under the clear water.

Classic dock

Summer is playing mini golf (and eating fudge)

He did hit a hole in one on one hole

He did hit a hole in one on one hole

and going to the beach and only worrying that your hat will blow away.

Yellow hat at beach

It’s wandering over to watch the windsurfers do amazing tricks as the sun starts to sink down.


Summer is finding time to lay in the hammock with your sweetie

Hammock with feet

and finding animals in the clouds floating in the big blue sky.

Puffy clouds & hammock

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree – to see how others posted about this topic, please click the link.

Thinking about this topic, China is not a place where I can be carefree.  I have many good times, enjoying life with friends and family – but it’s different.  Enjoy this version of carefree from me.

Where are you without a care in the world?

Into the wilds of Michigan

6 Aug

As the heat continues to beat down on me in Shanghai, my thoughts have flown to the other more pleasant places I have recently rested my head.  Towards the beginning of my long trip in June I was lucky to spend several days in northern Michigan at my family’s cottage on Lake Huron.  It is the place where I have gone ever since I was small to escape both from the normalcy and extreme pressures of life.

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

Branches of the trees tangle over the water leading to the dinner table

My first full summer in China I escaped there for a week after which I was able to recover from a near break down and finally abandon my perfectionist tendencies that were holding me back in China.  It is a comforting place – but one that is quite literally worlds away from where I currently call home.

Looking out towards the pines

Looking out towards the pines

Part of what makes it such a wonderful place to escape is the nature that surrounds the cottage.  Looking out the picture windows I can see Lake Huron and the ducks and seagulls that float and fly by.  On the lawn and behind the house are Michigan white pines that have seen generations of my family play and grow old.  There’s not a meal that goes by where a naughty squirrel won’t run across the lawn or a hummingbird samples the syrup at the feeder.  We have flowers surrounding the house – both real and plastic (the wind on the lake side punishes flowers) and the long drive that leads you in makes you believe you are miles from everywhere.

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Spiders catch prey while I enjoy the view

Even the "creatures" can enjoy the view

Reflections of home

We take friends on nightly deer watching rides as dusk slides over the land.  Skunks and bugs and bats all call this corner of northern Michigan home and they have been there much longer than I.  It is a constant battle against the sun or the wind or the water to preserve our privacy and the house that exists there.

Dusk at the water

Dusk at the water

On hot nights in Shanghai I go there in my dreams to the place where the lake laps at the shore and the bats and chipmunks scratch at the roof.  It is wild and it is home.

The perfect iris

A wild iris

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s travel theme – Wild.  I haven’t linked up with her for quite some time, so if you are curious about how others define Wild – click the link and check it out!

What does wild mean to you?  I think cities can be wild – the constant people and tall buildings and the acceptance of things that where everyone knows your name just don’t happen.  The wilds of nature have rules that are as old as time, where the rules in cities keep changing.  Which do you pick?

Travel Theme: Leading lines

9 Aug

I recently started following a blog called “Where’s my Backpack” where there is a weekly travel theme.  I’ve seen several of them now, but the challenge for this week made me think long enough that I decided to participate for the first time.  It is on leading lines and how in photos we often have something that draws the eye.  For example – on an open road, the line in the middle carries us forward or when you are looking at a rock formation the different layers of rock contribute to a different perspective.

I was going through a few photos and thought about the contrast between natural leading lines and man-made leading lines and then chose these two photos to illustrate that.

The photos were taken last fall when I went to explore Longhua Temple towards the west side of Shanghai.  The first is a shot of the elevated subway – so many lines, all connected and integral for the running of a modern machine.  The second is the leading lines that have been created by the careful cultivation of a grove of bamboo.  I may not be following the challenge directly as it is in the city where I live, but Shanghai is so big that it needs some exploring!

I also have another photo that I took when traveling in northern Michigan earlier this year.  The moon path – the ultimate leading line, leading to hopes and dreams and starry nights.  It’s a sight I don’t see often enough.

If you’d like to see other people’s ideas of what leading lines could be, please go to the Where’s my Backpack link above.

Where do leading lines lead you?

Trend spotting – froyo

28 Jun

Would you expect to get the same food in Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Shanghai, China?  I normally don’t – but in the two months I’ve seen the same trend in all of those different places.

And what is the trend?

Frozen yogurt.

It started with my visit to my sister in Austin, Texas.  Texas is a warm place and she suggested a snack after we had toured the campus.  Her snack of choice was a frozen yogurt place where they had special “tart” yogurt with self serve freezers and then you could add toppings.  You paid for the yogurt by weight.  I thought it was a pretty cool concept.

The trend continued when I was in Chicago.  The weather the first day was very hot and as the midpoint in a walk, we stopped at a shop for frozen yogurt.  Then, in Michigan at a shopping mall with my dad and his friend, there was a frozen yogurt stand where you could add fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc.  Confirmed – frozen yogurt was just about everywhere.

Enjoying our frozen yogurt in Chicago (photo courtesy of my friend David)

I didn’t think much about it until a week or so ago when I was going through the big food court in Raffles City here in Shanghai.  I turned a corner and found – a frozen yogurt stand, which was self serve with toppings.

Small world.

Sometimes things will come to Shanghai before they make it to my home.  Clothing trends especially seem always to be a little ahead.  Other things come much later or not at all.  Perhaps if I was from the east coast or the west coast the patterns would be different (for example, I understand frozen yogurt is old hat in California now) – but this trend appears to be everywhere at once.

So – in honor of summer, of the longest days of the year – of the heat – I suggest we all have a frozen yogurt.

What’s your favorite flavor?

Year of the dragon – in Michigan

26 Jun

I was lucky enough to spend some time traveling around my home state during my recent travels and went to the place where I have spent almost every summer since I was born.  I got a big smile when I entered the cabin because there was a dragon to welcome me.

My friendly dragon

My parents had hung it from the fireplace both because this year is my mom’s year – she is a dragon – and because it reminded them of me in China.

The world keeps getting smaller.  I see it as akin to the small stuffed turkey and pumpkin I bring out in October/November, the peanut butter eggs that I sourced for Easter or the Christmas stockings I hang in December in Shanghai.  So – in honor of dragon boat festival which was last weekend, I’ve posted this dragon.

Any cross culture references that seem out of place in your travels – or while not your first thought, seem wonderfully in the right place?

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