Badge of Honor

You may notice a little something new over there ---->

For the past couple months I have been channeling my zoo obsession into a project. How obnoxo is the word project? Pretty bad but if you say documentary or film too early – it tends to freak people out. Anyway, it is finally starting to take shape and one of the first stages is to gather interest at the zoo lovers (or haters) level so be a dove and go ahead and “like” our page.

In case you need a good book, I highly recommend Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives.


YaYa at the Memphis Zoo


Door to My Mind

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Unlike the Ziggy treasure box I left behind, I brought this WAIS-R Picture Completion Head-Shrinker tool back from a recent trip to Oxford, MS. It is a flip book of pictures that are meant to be completed by troubled souls looking to put their mental health in the hands of someone that went to Ole Miss.

I’m not sure how to use these but who needs to worry about directions when it comes to insights of the mind? Today, I will start with page one:

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Imagine how you would complete this picture. Well I guess I would make a bad therapist because I shouldn’t even insinuate that the picture needs completion, who knows – maybe it needs subtraction? Maybe we need to take the hinges away from that damned door! Maybe it is a symbol of the barriers blocking my success as a commercial airline pilot!

Assuming it needs to be completed, I drew up the first scenario in my head:

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I’d go and research what this means but I don’t want to ruin the fun yet. Let’s just say that these are the doodles of someone who has sworn to free the cheetahs at the zoo, someone who appreciates luxury and luck, and someone who has an obsession with Nancy Reagan, and now, the USA Network show, Suits.

(ps – there are 20 pictures in all)


The Family Jewels


This is the family that founded the Crater of Diamonds State Park (well they didn’t make it a state park but they were the first miners that found some diamonds). Dad is on the left, mom is on the right.

My treasure hunting friend and I went to the opening of Pink Palace’s Diamonds exhibit on Friday. We had planned on robbing the place of all the diamonds but a bunch of kids were huddled around a giant plexiglas, alarmed-up container holding the really valuable stuff so instead we took a few plastic cups filled with some chardonnay aka: Liquid diamond.

Yet another similarity between diamonds and white wine:


We decide that the next time we went to Crater of Diamonds we were going to use a new “kiss dirt” method to find our diamonds!

Diamond, by the way, is a word that originates from the ancient Greek word, adamas which means INVICIBLE.




Oh my lands!  Molly asked me for my address last week and I thought for sure I was going to get a visit or a saxogram or something but instead I got the postcard map of my dreams!!  A upper-penninsula-revisionist Michigan postcard map! Love it.

Information on the back tells me:

  • Michigan: The Great Lake State Water Wonderland of the U.S.
  • More than 3,000 MIles of beautiful Great Lakes shoreline
  • Entered Union Jan 26, 1837 (26th State)
  • State Bird: Robin
  • State Animal: Wolverine
  • State Flower: Apple Blossom

Only a truly mystical and magical state could have their state animal be the Wolverine.


Animal of My Spirit




I visit these beauts often. We are plotting an escape. I’m a little worried once I break them free they will run off. I need a run-like-a-cheetah training program so I can keep up.


Head Gear


I’ve been trying for a while to get a good snapshot of the washcloth-on-head fashion sported around Memphis in the summer. I’ll have to settle for this look: the hand-towel-on-your head. Not to be confused with a turban or other full-towel-on-your-head looks..

A washcloth makes more sense to me but both are absorbent and unisex. I like either one better than a straw fedora.


The Many Uses of a Mattress


(driving year 20 of 20)

My last post had a bittersweet tone of regret so it is fitting that I continue with another tale of what might have been.

I have wanted to go to the Kiss My Grits Diner ever since I started my job. I usually am annoyed by people that say they have been wanting to do something forever especially if that something is a restaurant and only one mile away, but just forgive me for not going – I just couldn’t do it.

You see I have a friend that works in a nearby office and we were supposed to met there for lunch one day, but the night before the body of a woman had been found in the boxspring of one of the beds in the hotel rooms. Kiss My Grits Diner is one of those hotel restaurants – apparently this woman had been left there for a couple days. People even stayed in the room and slept on top of her without knowing.

So, we just never got the nerve or motivation to go back.

I was driving by yesterday when I saw this mattress sign announcing the closure. Very interesting use of mattress really. It’s not like you are gonna find poster board or anything that wouldn’t fly away in the wind that is big enough to distract from the Kiss My Grits Sign. I imagine the restaurant collaborated with the hotel got the mattress for cheap since anyone getting a room there now probably prefers to sleep on the floor.


So Long URL

I let my biggestbutte url expire this week (who even needs a URL anymore though really). Maybe only a few of you remember my attempt at a wild and crazy travel website. Most people stumbled on it when they were searching for big butts so there is a lot to say for a clever but clear name. I had the clever part down.

The Biggest Butte was supposed to make you think of the magic of driving over a long stretch of desert highway and seeing a bold, lone butte on the horizon. It was about the ever changing vistas of a road trip and the wonder of geological majesty. It was about America!

But I let it expire. 

Onto other buttes!


(scene from the four-corners area of the US, year 15 of 20 of driving)



Best Birthday ever.


That looks like a brown cake. Well it IS a brown cake but it is a special caramel cake (a southern delicacy).

The night before my birthday I dreamt of grizzly and polar bears so I made sure I took a walk through the zoo the next day (despite the heat warning) to look for omens. I was walking in the panda exhibit when a giant bird flew over my head and ran smack into the glass window of the panda house. It fell to the ground and starting waving it’s little orange webbed feet. I screamed “Oh my!” I actually screamed oh my – I think I was trying to be sensitive to the families around even though no one seemed to notice. I didn’t know what to do so --

I took a picture:


…and then I reported it to the woman working the panda gift shop. She assured me that the duck was probably just stunned. I assured her I was stunned.  Then I went to see if the polar bears were out in this heat. They weren’t. They are obviously hiding in my dreams.

Bears and suicidal ducks. What does it mean?



I’m not a plane chatter. I consider those people that like to small talk with strangers during their flight, travel amateurs. I bring lots of stuff to make it look like I am mute and disinterested: literary magazines, ipod, cats cradle, really whatever it takes to not have to hear about someone’s business. Sure some people are interesting but many are not. When I was younger, before I knew any better, I got caught in a one-sided conversation with an aspiring motivational speaker and I’ve been trying to avoid people ever since. Plus, the things that people read depress me. Oh I would have to add that I find those people that get on planes without any reading material or sleeping pills really, really depressing. I’ll take a screaming baby any day over some guy face-forward with his hands on his thighs staring at the cover of the Skymall catalog for five hours. I shiver just thinking about it.

However, on my flight home the other day I was in a section amongst several young guys shipping (flying) off to Air Force basic training and the kid next to me was so young and earnest I had to oblige in a little small talk.  He probably regretted it because he told me he was going into the Air Force to be a Fire Fighter, and my dramatic interpretation of that was that he said Fighter Pilot, so when the flight attendant came to ask us if we were willing to perform the duties of being in an exit row I said, “Are you kidding? This guy is about to be a fighter pilot and save the assess of the whole United States of America. I think he will be able to open that door should we decided to have an emergency landing near Lake Erie.” (the last part might have been exaggerated for this blog)

He was polite enough to later correct me by casually mentioning FIRE FIGHTER in his conversation. I learned he was super good at identifying planes (thanks to a long wait on the runway) and was from a small Michigan town called Dundee and I resisted saying “Oh yeah, Michigan Militia!”

There were two other dudes nearby that were also on their way to basic and I couldn’t help eavesdropping. The conversations were so typical of nervous 18-year-olds that just met each other: what do you like to eat, specifically what do you get on your sandwichs from Subway. Jalapenos, I like those man, I get the footlong and it’s only five bucks. American cheese. Do you like american cheese? One of the guys was talking at auctioner speed, shaking his legs, and looking up and down and at the rows behind hind him. The guy next to him was cool as an Alaskan morning, just interjecting with a I like ham and a mustard is good comment here and there.

After exhausting the subway menu, the conversation switched to spaghetti. The chill guy said he liked meatballs and the nervous guy was like Ha! That sounds kinda gay. You like meatballs. The chill guy was like Yeah they are delicious. Meatballs and spaghetti. The nervous guy leans over and calls out the Dundee kids name and says “Hey soandso, chillguy says he likes meatballs – isn’t that GAY?” Dundee gave him a charity laugh and a small shrug then left them to their conversation.

It went on for a few more sentences before chill guy said, “Hey, you are talking a lot.”  And then silence.

I becha HE is one of America’s future fighter pilots. Less talk. More meatballs.





Ralph Fowler looks a little worried but he shouldn’t be – the little village he founded is still going strong after 175 years. He’d actually be smiling if he knew a former resident was destined to have a super interesting blog like this!

I was looking forward to being in Michigan for the Fourth of July so the fact that my little hometown was celebrating its Septaquintaquinquecentential was just a bonus.

I spent the first couple days of my trip touring Detroit and the Detroit metro area visiting my friends and their little babies. It’s so hard to squeeze in every one you want to see so I made a rule that I only visit people that have 1)Tigers or Lugnuts tickets 2)BBQ & Pool Parties or 3) My nephew & a Septaquintaquinquecentential celebration.  Fireworks are always expected.

Anyway, so after getting all those visits over with I headed to The ‘Ville. My mom is the one who is responsible for me being a museum and tourist activity enthusiast so it was fitting that as soon as I got there we went to the new town “museum” which was a couple tables of stuff set up in an antique shop.  They are hoping to get a permanent home for the historical collection and I hope they do. I will donate my Fowlerville Fair purple ribbon and my senior picture (one of the poses that best shows my Lee press-on nails of course).

Speaking of senior pictures – the museum included a book that had composite photos of every graduating class of Fowlerville High School. There was blank space underneath all the photos for comments. No one had written anything and I kind of regret not filling out my extended opinion of the classes of the late 80s and early 90s. But I did draw mustaches on a few people. Kidding. That would have been pointless since half of the classes back then had those ridiculous mustaches anyway.

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They had all kinds of old village business stuff and info about Fowlerville’s most famous resident:


And we overheard word of a historical walking tour and talked the whole fam into going the next day. It was great because there were people on the tour that were lifelong residents (multi-generational) and added stuff like “I remember taking tap dancing lessons in that basement in the 50s!”

We learned that one of the houses on Grand River was an original Sears Craftsman house so for the rest of my visit every time we drove by we would say “Did you know that is an original Sears Craftsman House?”  Gol darn it is fun to learn new things about your old teeny town.

Before the walking tour I went with my mom to the breakfast at the senior center. They had little kids singing patriotic songs and a quilt being raffled off. I fully expect to win.  



Oh and some church kids decorated the placemats:


AND they had an awesome Ronald Reagan calendar by our table:


If all of that sounds like heaven I have one last magical story to tell you about my visit.

We stopped at the IGA where I used to work (well it is no longer an IGA but a re-done independent grocery store with the same owners) and I saw some of my old grocery store people and mentioned that I was bummed because they didn’t have any sprinkle cake donuts that I know and love. I barely finished my complaint when my old friend went behind the deli to get to work on crafting up some sprinkle cake donuts. “Vanilla or chocolate icing?” Small town service.



I might move back and give ghost tours of the cemetery or maybe a walking tour of all the houses we used to TP or all the trees and cornfields that were markers for keggers. Lots of history in that lil village there – even more than tap dancing in basements, craftsman houses, and famous baseball players. Oh if these donuts could talk…

*the top photos were ripped from the Village of Fowlerville brochure about the Septaquintaquinquecentential. The rest were taken by me. The donuts were mostly eaten by me.


The Works





I do love the Fourth of July and there’s no better place to celebrate it than the north. Our town fireworks started at 10:15 and it was barely dark.




I was home for five days and got to see two baseball games (one major, one minor; our team won both times), three babies (different fams), one historical walking tour, one senior citizen breakfast, one parade, one pool party, one Stars and Stripes festival, and three big fireworks displays. T’was a good time.


Have a Seat


I’m back home. The fireworks (of blog posts) are about to start.