Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Amaryllis bulbs at Downtown Home and Garden

It's time to start your holiday bulbs!  Every year I plan to have blooming amaryllis in my holiday centerpiece, but don't think of starting them until it's too late.  This year I got a jump on starting my bulbs, and have high hopes that they will be ready on time.

The best selection of bulbs that I have ever seen in person, is at Downtown Home and Garden, on Liberty and Ashley, a block from Main Street.  (It's not an exaggeration that Mark is called the Amaryllis King!)

If you don't have a green thumb, check out the amaryllis planting session that they are hosting in Saturday Nov. 21, from 10:00-1:00.  This is one of the most fail-safe plants you can ever grow.  (And BONUS!  At the same time, you can try a sample of smoked turkey from the big green egg.)

Uncle Bob doing what he likes best-- along with growing amaryllis bulbs!

Each Christmas I send my uncle in Florida one of Mark's bulbs, and it has resulted in a delightful tradition.  After his bulb has finished blossoming, it gets planted in the landscape of his condo complex, resulting in a dozen naturalized amaryllis that blossom each spring in "Bob's garden".  What a nice way to share the joy!

I also like to give kits to those who spend the winter in Michigan.  It's a little ray of sunshine to see those big gorgeous blossoms open up in the dead of winter.

Get planting!

Looking at this on a mobile device, but want to see an index of all the places we've visited?  Check out the right margin of our web version at, or use the link at the bottom of the post.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Argo Pond Walk

 Our favorite walk in Ann Arbor is around Argo Pond.  It is 2.58 miles, and is an excellent walk in all 4 seasons (unless it is icy!).

As you can see, we took our time, and it still only takes an hour.
 We like to park in the inner lot of Bandemere Park (not as many cars), so when you enter the parking area from Lakeshore and Barton, keep going across the one lane bridge (5 MPH), into the inner parking lot.

After parking, we like to walk back down the driveway we just came in, and across the river.  Follow the river path until you walk under M-14.  (I prefer to get this part of the walk over as soon as possible, as it's fairly noisy.)
I turned around to shoot this photo-- the river will be on your right
 After you have passed under the highway, the path turns into a very nice boardwalk that follows the river.  (In the spring and summer, look for turtles sunning themselves on the logs.)  Check out what it looks like in March, here.

Toward the end of the boardwalk are wooden stairs that go down on the right.  Take these to continue on the path that follows the river.
I'm shooting backwards again-- river is on your right

This is the most natural part of the walk, and is beautiful in all seasons.

Watch for the rowing club across the river.

The path eventually turns into a sidewalk, and passes the canoe livery.  This is a good spot to see ducks, geese. and swans, and there are a few picnic benches around if you want to rest for a bit.

As you approach the dam, you get a great view of the new mill race (Argo Cascades) on your left.  (Or if you're hungry, follow the path along the mill race to the Northside Grill!) If it is kayak weather, it's fun to watch them go down the rapids.

Walk across the dam.  The views are great both ways.
You are just about half way-- so if you're ready to head home, follow the sidewalk between the river and the railroad tracks, away from the dam.  If you still have lots of energy, cross the RR tracks (there is a sign warning not to cross, but there is a path worn from all the crossers), go through the parking lot, and you can follow Main Street toward Kerrytown.  Or if you don't want to cross the tracks, follow the cascades to Broadway, and turn right to head downtown.

Follow the sidewalk back to Bandemere Park.  Looking across the river, you will see where you just walked.  About half way back, you will walk by the rowing club boat docks.  You can get some great pics by walking out on them.

You can either stay on the sidewalk all the way back to your parking lot, or you can take the path that veers off to the right into the woods (after the rowing club), and walk along the disk golf area.  It's nice, especially if there are bikers on the sidewalk.
Not much plantlike to see this time of year-- but there are still some beautiful plants, if you look closely.

So what are you waiting for?  Call a friend, and make a walking date.  Or just go by yourself.  You'll feel great!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Blank Slate Creamery

 Now that the time has changed and the firewood is stacked for winter, it might seem like a weird time to blog about an ice cream shop-- but it's less crowded when you visit businesses off season, and their shop is a cute place to sit.

This is homemade, natural ice cream-- so it beats the socks off of any soft serve type.  I'm usually a dark chocolate/nuts or peanut butter fan (like their PB chocolate or Wolverine Tracks), but on occasion, the interesting flavors at Blank Slate have actually lured me away from chocolate.

Check out today's flavors here

I'm a fan of Blueberry Pancake (fresh blueberries swirled in buttermilk-maple ice cream)-- and I'm thinking of buying a quart of Vietnamese Cinnamon to go with Thanksgiving pumpkin and apple pies.  Or maybe Salty Caramel Coffee.....or Roasted Pistachio?......or one of the 2 vanilla flavors?

Maybe I need a pint of each.

Old style counters to sit and enjoy the ice cream, with chalkboard tops.

You can find them at 300 W. Liberty Street, 2 blocks west of Main.
Check out their hours here.

(I couldn't resist a little advertising on their counter)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ann Arbor: A perfect place to keep growing in retirement

"Retirement is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of new opportunities. Comfort zones should be places where we go to relax, reflect and rejuvenate. They should not become permanent retirement destinations where we passively allow time to slip away."  Jonathan Look

Click here to read the entire article

Ann Arbor is full of opportunities to explore and learn new things.

I have barely scratched the surface, and I have learned to row,

taken a sewing class,

traveled the world while hiking, biking and river cruising,
taught a class on FaceBook, attended many concerts, and sang with the UMS chorus at Summer Sing.

What are your plans for this summer?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shakespeare in the Arb!

Last night we went to see A Midsummer Night's Eve at Nichol's Arboretum-- and I would highly recommend it to everyone.  There is something hilarious about traipsing around in the woods, watching a play where the characters spend lots of time traipsing around in the woods!  

If you love Shakespeare, you will enjoy the sheer beauty of the surroundings, as well as the play-- and if you're not a huge fan, you may be surprised at how much you enjoy the play itself-- and how FUNNY it is!  Shakespeare spoofs actors and audiences, as well as the aristocracy.

To add to the atmosphere, the peonies are also blooming
One of the parts that I loved best, was walking from scene to scene, with fairies running around in the woods-- and other fairies playing music.

 Be sure and bring a folding chair, if you don't enjoy sitting on the ground.  It may be possible to catch a ride on a golf cart rather than walking-- but I would call first and inquire.

The play runs Thursday through Sunday, until June 28.  Senior prices are $17, or with a Matthaei-Nichols membership, a reserved ticket is $15.  Read all the details here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ann Arbor action-packed weekend!

If you are planning on visiting the peony garden, now is the time!  This photo was taken today (Friday June 5), at noon, and the garden looks perfect.

This is the largest peony garden in North America, and has been open to the public since 1928.  Curious as to how it got here?  Check out this link to read the history.
On Sunday at 2-3:30 PM, hear Chinese flower songs performed in the peony garden (details here)

And what better Shakespeare to see in the Arb, but A Midsummer's Night's Dream-- the play that 14 years ago, began the tradition.  On now, through June 28, Thursdays through Sundays, at 6:30 PM.  (details here).

YA'SSOO!  Greek festival-- Greek food and dancing, all for a good cause.  Basically, a huge Greek party!  Lots of fun for you and the grandkids.  11- midnight on Friday and Saturday,  noon to 6 on Sunday  (details here)

Water Hill neighborhood yard sale-- Saturday 9-3  Your chance to check out this cool neighborhood on foot, while walking the yard sales.  (map here)

Motawi Tileworks summer mega sale!  Saturday 10-3 (details here)

There are many other fun activities, including nature walks, history events and art shows and sales.  Want to see a more complete list?  Check out The Calendar from The Ann Arbor Observer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer in Ann Arbor!

It seems that every year someone asks me, "how can you retire in Ann Arbor where the winters are so cold?"  After explaining that I am a Michigan native, so I love snow and cold weather, I then admit that my enjoyment runs out of gas somewhere at the end of January, and we leave.  (One of the beauties of retirement.)

And now we're back, the garden is in, and I am overwhelmed with all the things to do in this great town that we call home.  Of course, Michigan is one of the most beautiful spots to be during this time of the year-- and I am inspired by the beautiful gardens in the Arb, the wildflowers that are showing up on the walk along Argo Pond, and my own back yard!

Our calendar is filling up with all the "can not miss" summer activities, such as German Park, Top of the Park, the Art Fair, Wednesday's Farmer's Market and Sonic Lunch-- and it's time to start re-acquainting ourselves with the fantastic happy hour venues in Ann Arbor as well.

I'll be posting the fun things we do this summer-- and I hope you join in.  If you think I'm missing something, please let me know--  maybe we can post together!