Monday, December 31, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Happy 2013!

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to."  Bill Vaughn
Talk to you next year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Christmas is coming!

I have just returned from a Christmas wonderland:  Germany-- so am a little behind on my normal Christmas preparations (and blogging!)

So far December has been pretty exciting-- check out the Wall Street Journal coverage of Ann Arbor and Retired in Ann Arbor!  Nice!

Ann Arbor has such a strong German heritage (just count the Lutheran churches), that it is pretty easy to see the influence that Germany has on our Christmas celebrations and decorations.

Lovely and authentic German decorations at the Caravan in Nichols Arcade
Unfortunately, we missed Kindlefest this year-- (which is one of our favorite Ann Arbor festivities)-- but we visited many Christmas markets in southern Germany.  Check out some photos from the German Christmas markets here.

Tired of bookstore t-shirts?  VanBoven has the classiest Michigan gear in the world.

Babo market: a great place to pick up lunch and food gifts

Caroling in Kerrytown

Checking out the toys at Mud Puddles
Handmade St. Nicolas at Farmer's Market

Ho ho ho!

The dill pickle ornament:  the German tradition that no Germans seem to have heard of.  :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Late autumn Huron River walk

Rowing club dock
When the sun shines in November, it's time for a walk!

Since we started at 3PM, the shadows were already long, and we knew that dusk wasn't that far off.

We started at Bandemer Park, and followed the eastern shore of the river past Argo park, then followed the mill race to Broadway St.  We headed across the river and turned left on Detroit St. stopping for a couple of minutes at both Treasure Mart, and the new Zingerman's deli addition.  We walked through Kerrytown, and headed back toward the river on 4th St.  Turn right on Main St. for about a block, and cut through the parking lot and across the railroad tracks at Argo dam.  Walk away from Ann Arbor on the nice sidewalk, back to where your car is waiting!

This walk is a little over 4 miles, and it took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes of actual walking.  If it's breakfast or lunch time and you're hungry, stop in at Northside Grill at the half way point-- or just get a cookie or brownie to go, and enjoy on the way back.  Sweetwaters in Kerrytown is also a good spot for a snack or coffee.

Hawk spotted in the Bandemer parking lot

Back to the car, in the nick of time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Fairy village at the Arb

Many people know about the fairy doors in Ann Arbor, but there is a little fairy village in Nichols Arboretum that is not even on the map.  Last time we visited, no fairies were home, but the cottages all looked a little different from the last time-- so the fairies have been working away.
If you enter the Arb by the Gateway Garden, you can find this little village just past the peony garden, on the right, in a grove of trees.

Are you interested in our fairy geneology?

We've just finished hiking the Kerry Way (in Ireland), where I'm sure our fairies originated-- so if you want to see what the "old country" looks like, click here!

Check out the village next time you head to the Arb-- and if you have a couple of minutes, add a room-- or leave a few pennies.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Chela's

There's a new little Mexican restaurant on Maple at Liberty called Chela's, that we recently tried for lunch after one of our walks.  Maybe that's why we threw caution to the winds and ate with abandon!

I had my usual cheese quesadilla-- and it came out of the kitchen with a couple of nice details to spruce up a normally boring dish:  pickled vegetables with a little kick, and a couple of perfect slices of avocado.

The guacamole was perfect, and I also enjoyed the sweetened hibiscus tea.  We liked the food a lot, and it appeared that  the folks eating around us did as well.

Since you order at the counter and pick up your food, this might become our new carry-out Mexican destination.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Never Dull knife sharpening

I was wandering Farmer's Market on Wednesday morning, and, lo and behold, the knife sharpener was there!

Thanks to for this picture
Now I, of course, didn't have my knives with me-- but I was delighted to see that he also sharpens scissors and garden snippers.  Dull cutting utensils are one of the small irritations in my otherwise almost perfect life, so I can't wait to tour the kitchen and garage and collect everything that needs to be sharpened!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Huron River flora/fauna walk

The other day we spent some time in the lovely park by the Argo canoe livery and Argo dam.  This park is often bustling with canoe rental customers, but since it is after Labor Day, the rental facility is only open on weekends--and we had the park to ourselves.

Bright red berries that I'm guessing are poisonous--
nice fungus
You can get to the parking area from Longshore Drive, and if you're there around breakfast or lunch time, stop at the nearby Northside Grill.  This is one of our favorite breakfast restaurants-- and if you go during the week, you can avoid the wait.  The staff is very friendly and efficient, and the food is good quality American diner food.   We recommend the BLT and the oat pancakes-- as well as the breakfast egg sandwiches if you're really hungry!

Praying mantis-- found on the bridge crossing
the river on Broadway

Elderberries, perhaps?
I'm not sure what any of these berries are-- if anyone knows, please leave a comment!  I have eaten wild raspberries and strawberries because they are easy to identify, but am a total chicken to try anything without an expert identification.

Railroad bridge by the Argo dam 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Osher Lifelong Learning

As summer winds down and fall is in the air, I start missing the beginning of the school year.  One of the best parts of living in Ann Arbor, is being surrounded by many opportunities to learn, without the pressure of grades and papers.  

The organization with some of the most interesting offerings is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, affiliated with the University here in Ann Arbor.  

I especially like their charter:
"Non-credit educational programs specifically developed for seasoned adults who are aged 50 and older; university connection and university support; robust volunteer leadership and sound organizational structure; and a diverse repertoire of intellectually stimulating courses."

Seasoned adults.  Yes!!  (You must be over 50 to join.)

After attending their kick-off meeting and poring over the catalog of classes, I have decided to sign up for the following:
  • Popes of Baroque Rome and Architecture
  • Enriching your Life:  End of Life Decisions
  • Stroll through Ann Arbor's Old West Side
  • Monday Art
  • Our Food Supply:  A Complicated Story
This doesn't even scratch the surface of the excellent offerings for this year!  There are offerings in the evening, morning lecture series, local travel destinations, current events, fine arts, literature, personal improvement, sciences, and social sciences.  Interested in learning more?  Check out the offerings at

And there is another real benefit to attending classes here:  the opportunity to make some new friends.  Check out this article on loneliness and friendships on the website lifegoesstrong and see if this could be you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Dam to dam walk: September

Barton pond on a sunny day

It's finally not so hot and humid, so the other day we decided to do the dam to dam walk.  We started at the Barton dam-- and walked toward Ann Arbor, and the Argo dam, and then back again.

Even if you don't have time to do the walk, this is a fun place to visit and bring the kids.  (If you look in the water below the dam, you can see some HUGE carp!)

Very still Huron River

It's easy to park in the Barton Nature area parking lot (off of Huron River Drive, a couple of miles east of Maple)-- where you have easy access to Barton dam, and the path.

Lily pads (watch for dragon flies, frogs and turtles!)

Nice view over Barton pond
Path for this walk
This walk comes in under 5 miles (4.69 miles in 1:35 hours) if you don't take the extra steps to get into Kerrytown, (if you don't need that latte from Sweetwaters or the tour of Treasure Mart).

Black-eyed-susan time!

Crossing the tracks
Fun in kayaks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Dominick's

I admit it-- as much as I hate to drink out of Mason jars, I can't stay away from Dominick's when the kids start returning to the U.  The other day we stopped in at dinner time, and ended up sharing a picnic table in the back yard with some newly arrived MBA candidates.  It was kind of fun listening to them talk about their goals and the corporations that they want to work for after graduation.

It was even more fun knowing that I didn't have to worry about my career any more-- or the 6 figure student loans that they are anticipating.

Is Domino's Pizza named after Dominick's?  Read about the history here.

We liked the selection of beer, and Dominick's is famous for sangria-- but I must also give a testimonial for the "Constant Buzz".  If you like strawberries, you'll love it.  However bring friends when you order it, as it only comes in a 50 oz size-- (and you'll also need a designated driver).

Important note:  Dominick's is not open on Sunday, after 10 PM or December through February-- so don't miss the window!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Why do we live here?

Ann Arbor frequently scores near the top on "best of" polls, and recently, we scored #6 on one of the best polls I have seen to date:  15 best small cities for successful aging, published by
What makes this poll potentially more interesting that the rest?  The Milken Institute looked at 259 small U.S. metropolitan regions, and ranked each one on 78 individual indicators based on publicly available data, not surveys of households or individuals.  This means the conclusion is based on measurable facts, rather than opinion.
If you would like to read the entire report, download the PDF here.

Thanks to Frank Moore from Vintage Financial (our favorite money guy!) for sending me this link.  If Bernie Madoff has made you squeamish about financial planners, be sure and read Frank's advice on "Avoiding the Madoff's of the World", as well as his excellent advice on planning to succeed.  (It works!)

Also, thanks to the brand new U of M School of Art and Design brochure that showed up in our mailbox yesterday, because it reminded me of the other impressive awards that Ann Arbor has recently won.

#1 in Top 10 College Towns (Forbes 2010)
#1 in Educational Attainment in Communities with 100,000+ Residences (Business Journals "On numbers" 2011)
#1 in Best College Sports Town (Forbes 2010)
#2 in 75 Best College Towns and Cities (American Institute for Economic Research 2010)
#2 in Most E-Literate Cities in America ( 2012)
#2 in 10 Great Cities for Raising Families (Kiplinger 2010)
#2 in Most Educated Cities in US (American Community Survey 2010)
#3 in Best Places for Recent College Grads (Forbes 2010)
#4 in Most Creative Cities (The Daily Beast 2012)
Where's our #1 farmer's
market award?!?
#4 in Most Well-Read Cities in America ( 2011)
#4 in 25 Smartest College Towns in US (Daily Beast 2011)
#5 in Happiest Cities in America (The Daily Beast 2012)
#6 in Top Digital Cities (Center for Digital Government 2010)
#6 in midsize cities Top Art Destinations (American Style Magazine 2011)
#7 in Best Cities in America to Find a Job (US News 2012)
#10 in Greatest Main Street in America ( 2012)

We know why we love to live here, but here are many reasons why anyone might like it here--

One more thing:  if you happen to be at happy hour at The Quarter Bistro tomorrow (August 30), look around.  You might see some other friends of Retired in Ann Arbor!  Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All I want is---- "The Last Word"

I'm going to ask the peanut gallery to restrain from comments about my personality-- because what I am really wanting is a new cocktail I recently discovered at a little underground lounge that shares the same name:  The Last Word.

If you're a fan of Boardwalk Empire, or love the romance of film noir, look for the unmarked door under club "Live"-- (at the corner of Huron and Ashley)-- and enter what looks like a speakeasy from a former era.

Flaming orange peel-- for more flavor
Try and get one of the barstools-- for a front row seat of the show!

Open 7PM to close, on Tuesday through Saturday.

Negroni, made from artisan ingredients

Fresh herbs and handmade syrups