Been an exciting day.

I took my car to a new place – and finally after a year and a half driving around without anti-lock brakes I think they’re fixed – even though the other place said they wouldn’t be able to do any more work on them unless taking the entire computer system apart.  So far, so good, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile, my brother and I headed west (well, a little bit west) to visit Ronald’ Reagan’s birthplace in Tampico. I’ve visited presidents’ homes all around the country and have been to Reagan’s Dixon childhood home at least three times, but never made it to Tampico.

Downtown Tampico was quiet when we arrived – in fact, only one person was in sight – a lady sweeping petunia petals from in front of the birthplace. As we walked across the street, she put her broom down and welcomed us inside. The downstairs had many tables with a lot of memorabilia in plastic. I guess people come by and give the museum Reagan “stuff” they have acquired over the years.

Anyhow, our guide was very thorough. She told us about the town and how she grew up on a farm – and how she lives in the house where Hugh Downs’ wife lived as a child which was sort of an unexpected non sequitur in a tour about Ronald Reagan.

Ronald was born upstairs in the apartment over the bank. (You can also tour the bank which has original wood, marble and even checks from 1920. The guide gave one to each of us – so now they have two less original checks.)

We went upstairs and again had a grand tour of all the rooms which our guide says is a much more impressive place than the Dixon house. In the back of the apartment was a room lined with windows – sort of a second-floor sun porch – the room connected to the apartment in the building next door.  Ronald’s babysitter lived in that apartment – so his mom would simply hand him through the window.  In the picture, I am coming through the window from the babysitter’s.

After wandering around a little more, we went outside and took some red chair pictures – which if you know my brother, you’ll understand – if you don’t know him – well … he likes to take pictures of people sitting in the red chair.

As we drove away, the guide (still the only person in sight in downtown Tampico), went back to sweeping her sidewalk.

We drove about a block away to see the house where the Reagans moved after leaving the apartment. I would’ve taken a picture, but a lot of stuff was out front and it wasn’t all that picturesque. As we headed out of town – we looked back and saw our guide sitting on the bench in front of the museum waiting for her next visitors.

So, why not stop by and see her?


So, I was working on a post about my weekend – how the brakes went out in my car on Thursday and I needed to get my mom on Friday morning and take her for eye surgery and the kids were out-of-town so I had no backup plan and I totally didn’t know what to do – so I mowed the lawn.  And I prayed that the Lord would help me figure the no-car thing out logically and as I was mowing I could see the house down on the corner. Not close enough neighbors to get to know, but close enough to see their house. They had moved in a few years ago and fixed it up with new doors and a well-tended lawn and new windows.

And now they were being foreclosed. Why do banks literally feel they have to put all a person’s belongings on the front lawn? Is there not a more humane way to do this than to visually announce to the neighbors that a family is losing their house?

I know a lot of times it’s the people’s fault, but I also know that sometimes it isn’t. A husband is disabled and the wife loses her job or whatever.  I heard about the foreclosure earlier in the day before I got home and by the time I arrived, cars lined the streets. There was also a U-Haul and some other trucks, so obviously they had a lot of help.

Seeing that changed my perspective. We were not losing our house.  Our furniture was not on the street. I had a car problem … and I already had an appointment to take it in this week for another problem.

So, I had a choice.  Rent a car or chance it. When I looked at the car rental place online, I saw that it had already closed, so all I had left was to chance it. I had to get my mom to her eye surgery – no options.

Which I did. And I made it. I did stop in and see a mechanic and he told me I probably had about 200 miles before my brakes completed fell apart and I’d be stranded somewhere (but he didn’t have time to help me out), so I’m carefully watching my miles (have a little under 100 left) and braking about a quarter mile from each stop sign much to the joy of the people behind me.

But being that my mind wanders and I wasn’t really into writing a post on brakes, I was waylaid by an interesting discussion on Facebook. I am a member of a group that focuses on the area where I lived as a kid – a most beautiful corner of the world.  One of the people asked me to post any pictures that I have since we lived in one of the more well-known houses in the area. Which I’ve been doing. Which has produced comments. Lots of comments. What’s here now and what’s there now, etc., etc., etc.. And my uncle bought your field and do you recognize this?

Me at Gideon's Spring

Then I got to thinking about having Facebook in heaven.

GIDEON: And then God spake to me and saith my men shouldest drink from the waters of the spring.

ME: Hey! I’ve been there!

GIDEON: Whereof do you speak?

ME: Your spring. I saw your cave and the place where the men drank. I have a picture of my drinking from the same spring.

GIDEON: Thou seest it?

ME: Yes, the scholars have authenticated the location –  in the Ma’ayan Harod National Park.

GIDEON: Verily, what is a National Park?

ME: Well, it’s a place where people go to relax. They have a swimming pool, a basketball court, a volleyball court and …

GIDEON: Thy words are too difficult for my ears.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm …

Think about it. Think how interesting a conversation that would be.

Yes, I know this was a rambling blog post – but hey, I am transportationless and therefore, restless.

And why is it dark before eight o’clock?


Welcome to my guest blogger: Rebecca Gates

Rebecca and I went to Moody together and knew each other well enough to say “hi,” but that’s about it. ,

But we both liked to write. (I DID know that about her.)

A few years ago I was speaking at an Awana conference in Indiana and mentioned something about being a Moody graduate, and aftewards, Rebecca’s husband came up and asked if I knew her.  Then Facebook happened and we have become Facebook friends – I mean – not just “friends,” but friends who comment a lot on each other’s posts.

I think it’s that liking-to-write-thing that has connected us.

So here is Rebecca’s list of things to do in Indiana.  (Just a side note – the best place I ever visited in Indiana was Goshen Hospital where I had my adorable daughter.)

1. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo – rated one of the Top Ten Zoos in the country.

2. Science Central – inspiring and fun hands-on science education for people of all ages.

3. Jefferson Pointe Mall – the finest shopping, dining and entertainment options in a refreshing, open-air shopping environment or Glenbrook Square (indoors)

4. County Extension Display Gardens on the Indiana University/Purdue Fort Wayne campus
Festivals – including Riverfest, the Three Rivers Festival, and the Johnny Appleseed Festival (Johnny Appleseed’s grave is also here)

5. Hyde Brothers – an intriguing used book store

6. Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory – Featuring a showcase garden with lush seasonal displays, a tropical garden with orchids and palms, and a desert garden

7. Memorial Coliseum – home of Fort Wayne Comet hockey, concerts and other events

8. Tin Cap Stadium – exciting downtown site of our minor league baseball team

9. Fort Wayne Parks – beautiful parks with well-maintained flowers and features. My favorites include Lakeside Rose Gardens and Foster Park. There are golf courses, biking and hiking trails, and children’s playgrounds and water pads throughout the city.

Rebecca Zimmerman Gates


Sometimes at work, the ladies in the department want to go to a restaurant we affectionately call “the tree place.” My brother says it’s to restaurants what chick lit is to books.

Well, Saturday we (me, Connie, Kelli and girls) went to another chick lit restaurant: Emerson Creek Pottery and Tearoom.

Very chic!

One fun characteristic is how it is hidden in a frame of cornfields, and you forget you’re surrounded by subdivisions.

The tearoom menu changes each week, but they always have their signature dish – the flowerpot salad which is raspberries, cheese, etc. in an actual pot. Connie and I both had the salad (delicious) and Kelli had a cheese sandwich with pears in it – which she also said was good.

You can wander around the pottery gift shop where they have pottery (that’s convenient) and other charming gift-type items.

A quick way to escape and feel like you’re far away on vacation.


So after wandering around the thumb area of Michigan’s mitten, we headed back to town.  The next morning, we headed to Bronners for some more wandering.  No place better to be on a hot summer’s day than the huge Bronner’s store with Christmas tree lights blinking and carols playing in the background.

Then we met up with Mary Lou and headed for Applebees.

Now – check out this picture: This was taken many moons ago – make that years – actually you could even throw a couple decades in there.

So – the plan was to meet up with these ladies again. (However, Grace, the lady in the red sweater was away on vacation so I didn’t get a chance to see her – and a couple other ladies NOT in the original picture were also present last week.)

Six of us sat in a booth and we ordered. The server brought our drinks – I had ordered iced tea – and then our food. Mary Lou ordered soup and a sandwich – so as the server was attempting to hand the plate to her – I took it. I was being conscious of the soup – not wanting to spill it – but I didn’t realize the plate had a bottom rim that made it a lot thicker than I thought – and in a split second – my entire LARGE glass of iced tea was in my lap – every last drop, every last ice cube. Talk about cold! I was soaking wet and the server sent me to the ladies room to dry off by the hand dryer. Which was a great idea, but the hand dryer was broken.

They brought me towels and I blotted the front of my pants – but pretty much I spent the next hour and a half sitting in a puddle of iced tea and ice cubes on a vinyl seat – in my white pants!  Fortunately, any impression to be made on these ladies happened years ago.

So, we all just had a good laugh.  Here is “us” last week. I am sitting where Grace is sitting in the first picture (I was taking the first picture), but thought it funny that otherwise, everyone (coincidentally) is in the same place.


We went back to the house and Barb’s daughter and grandkids had come down from “up north.”  Good to see them again.  After supper we headed out to V and M.L.’s for some great conversation and VANILLA ICE CREAM with their homegrown raspberries – MY VERY FAVORITE food at their house

Good friends ...


Been an interesting week in many, varied ways – and one of the taking-over-the-week events was the falling tree.

Nothing like opening the door one morning, half asleep and noticing that someone/something moved the apple tree!

Literally – the tree simply fell over.

So lots of time since then has been spent sawing and gathering branches and picking up apples, hundreds of apples … because there’s not much to do to save the tree – just cleanup. Getting there – and finally at least unearthed the huge pot of petunias that had been buried under the branches. I think they just might live.

Can’t say the same for the tree, though.


We had found two great indigenous restaurants in one day – what was the chance of us finding another one on the next day?

The day was rainy and getting rainier, so we were meandering back toward our starting place. At lunch time the rainier rain got even more rainier, and the clouds even cloudier as we drove through Port Austin looking for a place to eat.

Thus – we came upon The Bank 1884. And so we stopped. The Bank is a National Historic Site and has been a restaurant since 1982. I didn’t think the food was quite as good as the other two places, but it was good and the place very bank-like, so once again, we hit indigenous.

This was also the stop where we saw the sign in the bookstore window… enough said.


The next morning we headed north around the thumb. (Michigan is a mitten, you know.)

The day was cloudy. The sky was gray. The lake was gray. The pier was gray. (The outhouse was spidery.)

And it was here we had the mystery of the bikes. Why was a perfectly good kids’ bike lying in the water?

Why was a perfectly good tricycle even further out in the water?

They were a distance from shore – but not so far out, someone couldn’t get them?

Barb decided that a dad got upset with his whiny kids and tossed them.

Or maybe they floated up from a shipwreck?

Though it could be they fell off a boat?

I guess we’ll never know. In the distance, you can see the Harbor Beach Lighthouse, but we couldn’t get close to it because it wasn’t Saturday and you can only get close to it on Saturdays when they have boat tours. The lighthouse is a mile out in the lake.


We waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

And headed for our hotel which was a free night with points earned.

As I checked in I asked the clerk if he would recommend any good places to eat for supper. (I am always looking for “indigenous” restaurants – just ask anyone who has ever traveled with me.) At the same time I knew we had already had a unique experience at lunch, so was doubting anything else would pop up!  But the clerk told me about two – and one sounded interesting, so we headed back downtown.

We waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

Seeing we were close to the lighthouse, we decided to stop and get some pictures from the land side of it – however, it was surrounded by an ugly, wire fence because they were revamping it. Got as close as I could and then we headed back to the road to search for the restaurant.

And we waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

Seriously, Racine has a drawbridge right downtown, but I don’t think I waited for it more than a few times in 13 years. This one was like a teeter-tooter.

We found the restaurant and what a treat!

Originally built in the 1800s, it’s been a grocery store, a drug store, a farmer’s market and a butcher shop – then the current owners bought it in 2008 and created the Atrium Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor. They also own the antique shop next door and the restaurant is filled with antiques – many of the chairs are theater seats, windows are from churches and a giant (paper mache?) bird named Miss Ruby sat over Barb’s head. A Christmas tree and lights added to the atmosphere.

I ordered a vegetable-stuffed baked potato which was delicious and we split a piece of carrot cake because the guy at the hotel told us “you have to have their carrot cake.” And of course, we always listen to hotel clerks.

As we were eating, the owner himself stopped by and answered some of the questions we had about the decor and then went to another table and serenaded a little boy who was celebrating his birthday.  When I got home, I looked it up online and saw that the owner greets just about everyone who eats there — and that just about everyone who eats there enjoys the experience.

So two restaurants if you go to Port Huron: The Raven and The Atrium.

Could not believe we found two unique places in one day.

And we waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down – and headed back to our hotel.