I need to sharpen my neglected photography skills, so let’s see if titling this post “Weekly Photos” will be inducement enough to keep the camera in my paws…

Beach grass on lake Michigan

Snowy beach on Lake Michigan

Saugatuck dunes pine forest

Pines at Saugatuck Dunes park.

John playing Hamlet? (Actually, I think it was solitaire.)

Dave at Fernando's

Dave at Fernando's, or why low-light digital images aren't as cool as grainy film ones.

Jim at Fernando's

Jim at Fernando's.

Jim S. at Fernando's

Jim S. at Fernando's.

Michael plays the Steinway

Michael plays the Steinway

(Click to enlarge.) Sesame seeds; cinnamon, oregano, thyme and cloves; pecans almonds and peanuts; tomatillo, avocado leaf and tortilla.

Stephen and I reunited for Thanksgiving and a bit of a culinary frenzy. Thursday we cooked a sublime feast of tikka-inspired turkey, pretzel rolls, cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Friday featured left-over mashed potato bread (for turkey-cranberry sandwiches, of course) and Saturday we took a trip to Honey Bee Market in Detroit’s Mexicantown with an eye to tackling mole.

Toasting the seeds extracted from various dried chiles (with a bit of tortilla).

Spurred on by the direction in Rick Bayless’ black mole recipe to, “now do something that will seem very odd…turn on an exhaust fan, open a window and toast your seeds…until burned to charcoal black,” we hit the kitchen.

We were there for hours.

Guajillo, ancho and pasilla chiles; now seedless and fried crispy; then soaked; eventually pureed.

We chopped, toasted, blended, fried, soaked, and simmered – much of the time with the fan on and the back door open.

The much-used blender; puree of tomatillos; puree of toasted seeds and nuts; puree of banana, onion, garlic, spices and burnt toast.

And in the end, we got a silky, complex, just spicy enough, slightly sweet sauce that formed the basis of the best enchiladas I have ever made.

Mole in the cooking-down stage; finished silky mole; tossed with cooked, shredded chicken; in the final dish.

Was it fun?  Yes.  Did we set off the smoke alarm?  Only two or three times.  Do I want to do this again in the  near future?  No.  But, fortunately, I still have three containers of mole in the freezer.

Our weeklong vacation to Oregon featured cherished time with dear friends, running at altitude, theatre, dining, drinking, wildlife, beauty, way too much time in the car, yoga, more drinking, meteor showers, giant trees, a lake in a volcano, mosquito bites, untold numbers of deer, the threat of injury and death, winding roads, the Pacific ocean, salted caramels, family, cooking, the Prince of Denmark and more. Did I photograph all of these things? No. I was having too much fun. But here are a few. Click any photo to enlarge.

crater lake

Crater Lake has a little bit of everything. Alpine forest, pumice desert, and the deepest (bluest) lake in North America nestled a thousand feet below the (newish) rim of a volcano that exploded 7,000 years ago.

crater lake

crater lake

crater lake

Stephen, Michael, John and I ran the 6.7-mile Crater Lake Rim Run (there are also 13.1 and 26.2 races in the series). It was, mercifully, mostly downhill and breathtakingly beautiful (or that may have been the altitude of 7,000 feet). It's on a Saturday in August and they close the rim road for the race for the 550 runners who participate. Rather special.

crater lake

After Crater Lake we migrated to Ashland to see shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. On the dark Monday, Jim and I took a trip to the coast to visit my aunts and stopped at the redwood forest on the way back. Mind-boggling in scope, and these aren't even the so-called giant sequoias (merely the coastal redwoods). (Ignore the terrible photo.)


We were fortunate enough to see all kinds of animals on our trip: numerous deer, a pine marten, lizards, a marmot, a fleeting glimpse of a bear, foxes, and this wild turkey who came for breakfast at our rental in Talent and stayed to lunch. We spotted him later in the apple orchard chowing down alongside a doe, a buck, and two fawns.



roses of Sharon

A tiny fraction of the roses of Sharon along the driveway.

hosta flower

Hostas in bloom.


Wee dahlias and false indigo.


Pink roses.

The garden is finally filling in, now that it’s July. (In the back anyway. We won’t talk about the front yard, where I killed my accent plants through negligence in a heat wave.) Mostly this has nothing to do with me. The driveway is filled with blossoms from the neighbor’s roses of Sharon, which form a huge hedge of pink extravagance. Hostas will be hostas, and grow to inordinate size with no help at all from me. I did plant the dahlias, which are annuals I got at Flower Day in May. I also have raspberries (thank you, freecycle, last autumn) and tomatoes (thank you, Maple Creek Farm) coming, too. Come join me for a drink on my patio and listen to the cicadas!
roses of Sharon


Can you find Jim and Stacey in this photo?

Star Trek old school

Star Trek old school game. These dudes are ripped.

Star Trek pinball

Wee Enterprises.

Star Trek pinball

You get three balls to live long and prosper.

pinball players



From a movie-themed game.


Jim gets a K.


Happy Popcorn.


LOTR game was popular and had two towers, a Balrog and everything.


Is Gandalf wearing high tops?




Bobby Orr Power Play! It pits the Chicago Blackhawks against the Canadiens.


Or maybe just vs. the whole country of Canada.


Another self-portrait.



Jim gratified his ten-year-old self by attending the inaugural Michigan Pinball Expo today. I came, too, and shot over his shoulder. I’ve never seen so many pinball machines. They ranged from old school with gas-station rotary numbers, to the latest “Ironman” and “Lord of the Rings” games. Some owned by collectors and loaned for the event, some for sale. $15 at the door gets you unlimited free play. Pretty cool.

Fishflies adorn the house

A new decorating scheme? Only an ephemeral one.

Oh, Stacey, you’ve redecorated! What is that fancy paint finish called…oh…wait…is it…moving? Yes, the fishflies are here, my friends. Forming very large arrays. Hitching rides on hapless runners. Flocking to streetlamps in the night and dying in big smelly heaps. Crunching under your car tires as you drive over their piled up corpses. As bugs go, they’re really rather benign. They don’t bite. They don’t even fly all that much. And they don’t come in the house much – at least not without being noticed. ‘Cause they’re large, you see. The easiest way to remove one is to pick it up by its wings, which are about the size of the pads of your thumb and forefinger, and find it a new location. The only thing really creepy about them, besides their numbers, is they way they all face the same direction on any given surface. Like they’re praying. Or in contact with a great leader. Best not to think about it.

fish flies on the house

While they often cluster on white or light-colored things, they seem to like the blue house just fine.


A sunlit fishflie on the siding. They come in dark brown, ivory or even green.

array of fishflies

They tend to form very large arrays.

fishfly and sock

This photographer was arrayed in fishflies herself while taking these pictures.


They have lovely long tails.


...and lacy wings (also used as handles).

yellow crocusesLook! Look! Spring IS coming.

My crocuses seem to be nightly devoured by rodentia, but they..ahem…spring back…almost instantly!

There are leaves on the trees, and the hostas are preparing to take over the world.

purple crocuses