Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shaking off the Winter Doldrums

This winter is kicking some serious ass and taking its toll on all of us.
With roofs collapsing here and there in Michigan, a local news station did a piece on how to check for signs that your roof might be under stress. Number one sign? Your doors will no longer close. A quick check of the four hallway doors informed us that our roof was indeed under stress. None of the doors would close. The roof raking was not enough.
So it was back on the roof.
The roof was now somewhat cleared, the driveway was salted and drivable, and we were off for dinner and the symphony. Usually we just wing it for dinner locations but with the Boat Show in town, we thought a dinner reservation might be in order. The Open Table website didn't show any availability at Mangiamo but a voice message left on their reservation line garnered us a spot.
 We started with bruschetta but disappointingly, it arrived in a do-it-yourself form.
Still beautiful, but a bit of work to put it together.
Pasta was the order of the day, and this fantastic winter dish was back on the menu ~ butternut squash stuffed ravioli. I never use the phrase "it was to die for" because I hate the expression. So let's just say this dish is well worth a visit to Mangiamo.
Time for the symphony! We were disappointed that David Lockington would not be here but were overall quite taken with the guest conductor, Andrew Grams, by the time the concert was over. He walked out with his left arm bent at his waist with his fist clenched, his baton in his right hand. He was animated, dramatic, and altogether fun to watch.
Just a few comments about the music. Brahms wrote only one violin concerto and he wrote it for a friend of his. And he apparently (obviously?) composed it to show off the skills of his friend, violinist Joseph Joachim. Technically, it is superb. One can hear glimpses of Brahms in the orchestra but the solo part is all technique, especially in the first movement. And yes, violonist Augustin Hadelich is incredible, as he proved during his encore, flawlessly performing Paganini's Caprice #5. Again, a technical and impressive masterly performance.
The second work of the night was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. It was interesting to hear individual instruments/sections highlighted and it was impressive overall but again, we were not swept away. I'm sure this is sacrilege to fans of the composition, but other than parts of the fourth and fifth movements, it all seemed somewhat randomly constructed.
Some music can bring you to tears just through its sheer beauty, but tonight was not that night. It was technically amazing but it did not touch our souls.

But that was last night, and today brought us Sunday brunch with our son, Matt, and his girlfriend, Rachael.
The Winchester offers Sunday brunch complete with a Bloody Mary/Mimosa Bar. Your server brings you the alcohol and you belly up to the bar to make the drink yourself.  Bloody Marys all around.
Two items off the Sunday brunch menu ~ steak & eggs (with a secret, delicious aioli) and bratwurst burger. And two items off the menu ~ fish & chips and mushroom & swiss cheese burger.
Leftovers can now be carried home in an eco-friendly container displaying the iconic Winchester logo. We wish more restaurants would be as eco-friendly as The Winchester (hint ~ lose the styrofoam, everyone).
On the way home, we found these people on Reeds Lake defining their own version of fun.
Go find your auger and your own fun, and know that spring will actually come again.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grand Haven and a Frozen Lake Michigan

We visited Holland State Park last month and thought we'd visit Grand Haven this afternoon. It was in the 20's (heat wave), the sun was shining, and it wasn't snowing, miracle of miracles. The state park parking lot was jammed with cars stopped willy nilly, hoping that a family was leaving and not arriving. Lucky for us, a walking departing couple alerted us to an open parking place and we finally parked. We knew the lake was frozen but these first looks were still amazing. Hundreds of people were spread out on the lake.
We stayed on the jetty down to the lighthouse but finally took the plunge down to the lake to get photos of the icy lighthouse.

There was so much comaraderie present & everyone was taking pictures of themselves and everyone else.
This is a facebook profile or cover photo in the happening.
It was like a giant playground with kids and sleds and dogs and laughter.

 Some fish-eye views.

Walking on the moon.

Arctic scenes.

Kids were trying to break through the ice, and others were drinking wine from their lawn chairs or taking pictures of ice chunks, but mostly people were enjoying the novelty of walking on water.

Walking back we could see how far out on the lake we were.

Lake Michigan is now a Grand Haven playground and if we closed our eyes, it could have been a day at the beach ~ children yelling, screaming and having fun.



We shuffled back to shore and although we weren't (all that) nervous about walking on the water, we were happy to reach the shore :-)

Continuing our way back we saw an EMS guy on the jetty carrying a plastic leg cast. Uh oh. Right behind him came this cop and immediately thereafter, the lighthouse foghorn started, calling people in. Yes, those hundreds of people out on the frozen lake, some of them more than a mile from shore.
Back in the parking lot we saw the emergency vehicles and found out a man had fallen through the ice near this jetty. Yes, this one where people were walking to from the lighthouse.
The couple with the "falling in story" was blocked in by the emergency vehicles and not happy, and the stretcher was waiting for the hapless fellow.
Driving out of the park, the cops were blocking further entry and we think they had enough.
Party on Lake Michigan ~ over.
Trying to get out of Grand Haven we found one last unfortunate.
 The snow quantity this year is unbelievable but the ice and snow
do deliver a unique beauty. Just don't fall in.