Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Raven Hill.............

I try to find things to do with Tristen that are fun and sometimes educational. So what I was looking for was a place that handled animals and things that may be local. Could not find anything but found this place. It is called Raven Hill. It is a place to educate and amuse. So off we went. East Jordan is about and hour or so from here. We had wanted to go up to the farm market because Tristen and Reina wanted to go. They had remembered the tractor that they could play on.
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We missed our turn so stopped at Friske Orchards to see what they had while the kids played for a bit. They had been in the car awhile and time to let off steam. So then we gathered them up and set off for East Jordan. We stopped for lunch. I had a mushroom swiss burger (so did Laura) and it was very good. Kids had grilled cheese and frys and Tristen ate it all. Unusual for him.
SO we got directions while we were there and had no problem locating Raven Hill.
First off we got to see the reptiles. We happened to be there when they had a few other people so that made a nice group. The lady was knowledgeable about her charges. Chequers a corn snake. She was peach and cream rather than brown and cream like our Michigan ones are. Apparently they are colour coded to the soil.
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The snakes are all rescue situations, so they have them usually until they die. The Python we held was a small one but was heavy. There is another in there that is bigger but is cranky apparently because it had been abused. SO he stayed put
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I could not believe that Reina would not touch the snake but held the spider.
After we looked at all the animals in there we let them look around the science section. Tristen liked the musical instruments. He also liked the skulls and things.
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There was much to see and do there. We went on the trails and that was all about the surrounding trees and nature.
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They set up culteral exhibits and that usually is accompanied by lectures but not that day. We just went on our own. The kids loved the one room school house. I pretended to be the school marm. They had to ring the bell outside. I wonder if long ago little kids always wanted to ring the bell?
There were a lot of things we didn't do because it was too hot. After the hike we were rather thirsty and tired. Some of the cultures were Egypt, Easter Island, Native American and African among others. Then on the way back a path through time. That is a dinasaur foot that Tristen is standing near. They have skulls through the ages and other exhibits. Not the best but for kids they are amusing.
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On the trail besides mosquito's we found Raspberries and Blackberries. The Raspberries were ripe and delicious. I bet they get a lot of bear in there, yummy. These were by the old Caboose,
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When we had enough we took the two track off into the woods imstead of going back to the main rd. Its fun to do that. We stopped again in East Jordan, there is a glass blowing workshop there. I usually stop in if I can and we were lucky that they were working. SO the kids got to see how glass is made and blown. It was hotter than heck in there. Tristen told the man he had a very boring job. Whoops. I usually buy something but I was good.
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We went back a different way, along the shores of Lake Charleboix there must be some very rich folks living around there,by the look of some of the homes. We stopped again at Friske orchards and the kids got ice cream and we got coffee and scones, then it was off home all tired out from a fun and active day.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I was contacted by a reporter the other day. Via email at first, he asked for my phone number and I refused. Well we all know better than to give out stuff by email right. Well he said he was from the London Telegraph and I could check his credentials. SO I did........I then gave him my number and he phoned me. Then began a very unusual conversation. His newspaper had been contacted by a lady in Japan. She had found an old autograph book that had been signed by some POW in the camp near her home. Yes, one of those men was my father. Harry Hines. So here is the article.

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Caught up in the devastation the Second World War 16-year-old Yoko Koshida found solace from air raids and food shortages in her music.
But the piano pieces she played at her window also brought comfort to a very unlikely audience – a group of Allied prisoners who gathered to listen through the barbed wire of their Japanese prison camp, just yards away.
So grateful were the men that following the Japanese surrender, they visited Yoko’s home, bringing her family gifts of desperately needed essentials. Before leaving, several of the PoWs signed their names in her autograph book, along with messages of goodwill, with one expressing the hope that “England and Japan can be friends”.
That encounter between supposed enemies stayed with Mrs Koshida – now aged 85 – and when she recently stumbled across the notebook she resolved to find the men she had played for decades earlier.
Her first step was to contact POW Research Network Japan, which catalogues the POW camps in Japan and the men they held.
Mrs Koshida also enlisted the help of The Telegraph, which – following its own investigations – can now reveal what became of the prisoners to whom her music brought such comfort.
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(Harry Hines)
The incredible story began in March 1945, after Yoko and her family left their home in Tokyo, where the firestorms unleashed by American bombing raids on the city killed between 80,000 and 130,000 civilians.
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The family found refuge in the city of Yokohama, in a house overlooking prisoner of war camp 14B. This held around 120 POW’s from Britain, the United States, Australia and the Netherlands captured by the Japanese.
Now a widow, Mrs Koshida, said: “I was very frightened when the prisoners were first brought here because they were all very tall and I had never seen a foreigner before. They were not aggressive at all; they were very quiet”
She recalls that the men, who were forced to work in factories, spent their spare time growing vegetables, though they were not above stealing from her father’s crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and aubergines.
“My father said they were starving, just like us, so he didn’t make a fuss,” she said.
Mrs Koshida, who hoped to go to music college, would practice every day, the pieces she played drifting through her open windows and down over the prison blocks. “One day, I noticed from the window that there were three men sitting on the roof of the barracks,” she said “The next day, there were a few more people with them – and the day after that there were dozens of them.”
Forbidden to communicate with the prisoners, Mrs Koshida did not wave or make eye contact with the men, but after a while she began to recognise a few of her regular listeners.
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Former British prisoner of war Harry Hines before his capture (JULIAN SIMMONDS)
Within days of Emperor Hirohito announcing Japan’s surrender on August 15, Allied aircraft began dropping food and medicine onto the camps, and one evening the men brought round tins of food as gifts for her family. Mrs Koshida said: “The bell rang and my father went down to the door. He came back with some cans of food. The prisoners wanted to give them to me because of my piano playing and they told my father that we were all friends now.”
When Allied forces arrived on August 30 to take away their men, the men made a point of returning to her home with more gifts, handing over sugar, soap and more tins of food. “They were excited,” Seized by a sudden impulse she grabbed her autograph book and asked the men to write their names and addresses.
The yellowing pages of her notebook still clearly show the names of Harry Hines, of Luton; a T. Taylor, of Ponders End in Middlesex, and Leonard Patrick Sheaf, of Enfield, Middlesex; along with that of an American from Georgia and an Australian POW from Tasmania. Mr Sheaf and Mr Taylor penned brief messages for the teenager.
“Thank you for a very nice evening. I hope to see you again. Hope England and Japan [can] be friends,” wrote Mr Sheaf. Beneath Mr Taylor’s name was written August 30, the date of their departure, and the message: “This war was a very bad thing for everyone. I would very much like them to come back and to see them again.”
Mrs Koshida said. “The war was over, they had survived and they were going home now.” Sitting at the same Mason & Hamlin grand piano she played all those years ago – still positioned by a window overlooking the site of the camp – Mrs Koshida added. “I hope they have survived all these years and, after the terrible time they had, that they are all well now. I still think I could play them some Chopin if they were able to return.”
Inspired by her wish, the Sunday Telegraph set out to discover what became of the three British PoWs who signed that autograph book and their story of capture, imprisonment and liberation is as inspiring as her own.
Records show that Mr Hines, who was born in 1917, served in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, having joined as a reservist before enlisting as a Sargeant in 1939, on the outbreak of war. The regiment has been expecting to be posted to the Middle East, but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Mr Hines and his comrades were redirected to the defence of Singapore.
It was here, in February 1942, in what was one of the worst defeats inflicted on the British Army, that Mr Hines was captured by the invading Japanese.
Mr Hines’s daughter Janice recalls: “He had become separated from his regiment and at first my mother believed he was killed when Singapore fell.”
In fact Mr Hines had been taken to Omari POW camp, near Tokyo, before being transferred to Yokohama’s camp 14B. The ordeal left its scars. He was frequently beaten by guards and the poor prison diet, consisting mainly of rice, left him with lifelong stomach problems.
But Mr Hines managed to rebuild his life after the war, marrying his childhood sweetheart Irene Seabrook on his return and returning to his job as a lathe operator for an engineering firm in Dunstable, eventually rising to the position of company buyer.
In 1946 Harry and Irene had Janice, but for several years Mr Hines was haunted by his wartime experiences.
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Former British prisoner of war 'Joe' Taylor aboard a ship after the war (JULIAN SIMMONDS)
Janice Schaub, now married and living in Michigan, said: “My mother said that when he first came back he was an entirely different man. When the first jet planes started to fly overhead he would dive under the table. To him they sounded like the bombers.”
But for all his suffering Mr Hines bore no ill will towards Japan and its people.
“My father lived a life without hatred,” said Mrs Schaub, 68. “He always judged people by their character rather than their nationality. He remembered Japan as a beautiful country and in later years had even planned to go back, because he wanted to see Mount Fuji.”
Unfortunately Mr Hines died at the age of 67, in April 1985, before being able to fulfil his ambition.
His comrade 'T. Taylor’ was, we discovered, Thomas 'Joe’ Taylor, who was captured with his regiment, the Royal Engineers, when the Japanese invaded the British colony of Hong Kong, in December 1941.
Mr Taylor later told his family how he suffered terribly from the cold at camp 14B, having been issued with just one blanket. After the war he stayed in the Army until 1957, when he went on to work for the Foreign Office, coordinating security at embassies. This saw him posted around the world, including Cuba, China and Nigeria, with his wife Hazel, who he married in 1953.
But his favourite posting was, surprisingly perhaps, to Japan, where he served at the British embassy from 1976 to 1979. Mrs Taylor, now 92 and living in Hampshire in a house filled with Japanese prints and decorative dolls, said: “He was very fond of Japan in the end. He got on very well with the people. In fact we made more friends there than anywhere else.”
Mr Taylor never told the Japanese he met that he had once been their POW. His widow, who remains in contact with several of the Japanese friends she taught English during their stay in Tokyo, said: “He didn’t hold any resentment against the ordinary Japanese.”
The story of Mr Sheaf, the third Briton in the group, remains more of a mystery. In the autograph book Leonard Patrick Sheaf gives his address as one in Enfield which records show a man with the same name shared with his father Leonard, mother Alice and brother Patrick before the war.
But Mr Sheaf’s son John, 41, said he knew nothing about his father being a Japanese POW. “I’m sure its something he would have said. We always thought he’d been evacuated to Northern Ireland as a teenager and joined the merchant navy after the war. We don’t know anything about him being in Japan” he said, adding however: “Funnily enough he was a great fan of Japanese culture. He liked how respectful and honourable they were.”
The question remains whether any of the men told their loved ones, on their return to Britain, of the girl who played the piano? It seems not. But their families can easily imagine the comfort her playing brought. “It must have been something for them to really look forward to each day,” said Mrs Schaub. “Something as nice as that.”
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Well that was the article. We talked about a lot more and there is much more to tell.
In brief my father was caught when Singapore fell, he was kept at Changi prison before being shipped (on the death ships) to Japan where he was for a time in Omari. He apparently spent the Spring and summer of 45 in the camp near Yokohama.
If you read the comments to the article some people take issue that those particular prisoners did not hate the Japanese. They assume they were not misstreated, but they were. My dad was beaten on more than one occasion. He told me that he was kept at bayonet point while holding a chair straight out in front of him for a very long time. They were starved and ate rats. He was ducked in a barrel of water, being held under. Some of the Japanese were cruel that is true. The last camp was a little bit better it seems and he worked in a factory for a short time. That is where he heard this lovely lady playing her piano. The other camps were not so easy, if that one was indeed easy. He told me stories but not many. Mainly stories of human interest. Some were not so nice but he said it was War, and it is war that is the problem. He said the Japanese people were no differnt to us. Some soldiers were just men doing what they had to do, others were indeed brutes. So were the Germans. So were we and so today we have that same type of man in our military. Cruelty has no nationality. He taught me to judge people by charactor not nationality or religion. My dad was a good man. Many of the things he saw and did haunted him. He felt some things were unforgivable and it was when he learned about our Saviour Jesus Christ, and how He died that we should be forgiven for those unforgiveable things, that Dad finally found peace with the war years. He wanted to go back and see that beautiful country in peace time but died before he made the trip.
The next picture is of my Dad and two brothers who also served in that war. Their other brother Cecil was still getting out of the army on this occasion, pictured in this picture.....Harold Hines, Harry Hine and Alan Hines I am still trying to identify the other man. My grandmother must have been a saint, she had army men billeted in her home, they had a German POW living with them. She always had a stew pot on the stove. Food was short for them too but she managed all the while her sons, all but one son was away at war. What a time that had to have been.
I am sharing this with Create with Joy, Inspire me Monday
Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Saturday, July 12, 2014

summer days..................

It's too hot and humid today, I was planning on working in the garden but.........well here I am instead. On Thursday Laura, Reina and Tristen went with me to Elk Rapids. There were so many places we wanted to stop but, not with kids. Laura and I need a day off by ourselves. I love the art galleries and the little boutiques and shops. The antique shops and all that..........instead, we packed their scooters and headed out. We got to Elk Rapids and got out the scooters, Tristen headed the wrong way......Reina headed for the playground.
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Its so pretty there and the water levels are up high.
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It was cool so we had no intention of them getting in the water and besides that we were going other places. Some people were making the most of it though
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We bribe them with playgrounds to keep them interested and there was one in each town we were to visit so........
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Wear them out is my motto
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we walked up to the park by the river and watched some baby bunnies while they rode around on their scooters again. They don't look small in the picture but they were, and adorable
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The river was calm and beautiful, some kids were enjoying it.........we went over the bridge so they could ride further
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The town was all dressed out with flowers. They have lovely small gardens that are well tended.
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A nice shady places to sit and rest while shopping.
We left there and went to Alden. I did a post on Alden when I went with Edna. We had lunch at the same place. The kids ate voraciously and Laura and I cleared our plates too. I had promiced to take then in a store where they had some really cool toys and gifts. That was where I got my glass last time. Well we left them choosing a toy while we looked around. The store meanders around in a circle of rooms so we could creep up on them from another direction to be sure they were behaving. Well we want to go back at Christmas time to shop, they stay open until January so we should be able to do that. We bought their toys and before we left we stopped in the Mill house gardens. I just had to show Tristen the skeleton. He hid behind Reina
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He was perplexed and had questions..........then off we went. There are lovely shops. We went in a couple but its hard with kids, so we didn't linger. IN this town they are nice enough to provide seating for those who wait.
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There is a butterfly garden and I always stop
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There is one shop I just had to show Laura. It is expensive and would not really fit in with our life styles. If I had an occasion to dress up then I would go in there. They have just wonderful things. Every single thing is a work of art. The shoes, flowers, bags, jewelry and beautiful boxes. We could not stop because, know, dirty fingers and all that. Had to make them "not touch" I am sure the attendents were very nervous and so were we. Still I had to show her. This shop picks fresh flowers for their door every day.
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We stopped at the park as promiced and we got ice cream. I think they were happy with their day. On the way home we took a detour so we could go look at Lake Skegemog. We took a dirt road. Look at these cool barns.
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What a great place to have a home and boy were there some big houses back there with gated roads. Then cottages along the lake as well. The road wound back through cherry orchards and we saw some Sandhill Cranes in among them. Later we were driving with open windows, we like to hear the birds etc and I was eyeball to eyeball with a mama deer and her baby. We didn't stop in time so by the time we backed up she had taken the baby into the woods so no picture
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She was the only deer we saw that day, and what a beauty she was.
When we left and were on our way home we stopped to check on Alexandra's grave. It was pretty good. We do need to go back and update the wreath. Maybe next week. She is looking pretty for now with the Day lillies blooming and the geraniums.
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The kids are getting tall and I can see him growing up with Reina and it's sort of sad that she is not here to see them. Reina is so much like's amazing.
Sharing with anything Blue Friday
The Dedicated House
I am also sharing with Inspire me Monday at Create with Joy
Thank you to all the lovely people who host these parties
Also partying at dear little red house's Mosaic Monday

Monday, July 7, 2014

When I say I am a Christian...................

When I Say, "I am a Christian," I'm not shouting, "I am saved!" I'm whispering, "I get lost!" That is why I chose this Way. When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that I stumble And need someone to be my guide. When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I am weak And pray for strength to carry on. When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have failed And cannot ever pay the debt. When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect, My flaws are too visible But God believes I'm worth it. When I say, "I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches Which is why I seek His Name. When I say, "I am a Christian," I do not wish to judge. I have no authority. I only know I am loved.
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Gabby's Day................

My Granddaughter Gabrielle lives with boyfriend Tony and their son Cooper. This year they had a BBQ at their place. Their first time entertaining. She was nervous. We got there early because it was going to be tough getting out of town. There was an air show at the beach featuring the Blue Angels. It was packed. I mean, the largest crowd ever. Always popular here doing their show over the Bay, they bring in the tourists like nothing else. Great for local economy but for those of us who live here, well not so nice. Thats how it is in a tourist town. We have to put up with it and we get to enjoy the whole of the rest of the year in somewhat peaceful surroundings. We can go to the beach anytime and walk alone with our thoughts, but not in midsummer.
So we got there early while the show was still going on. Passed lines of traffic heading in to town. Glad we were heading out.
Cooper was happy to see us
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We didn't do much but it was great to just sit, and it was cool enough under the big tree. So we could visit in comfort. We met Tony's mum and some friends of Gabby that we didn't know.
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All was quiet till Tristen arrived. He had spent the weekend at his auntie Laura's again. They went to the fireworks and air show and on Saturday they went tubing down the river. He had a lot of fun. Reina was already there when he arrived and so the noise level quadrupaled. He found he could climb the tree.
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Here we have Todd and Dan (Uncle Todd and Grandpa Dan) enjoying a beer and chin wag.
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This is where all the noise came from
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The teens helped to wind them both up.
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Grandpa Robert (Laura's husband)(Todd is auntie Laura's husband) and Cooper etc playing ball. Waiting for BBQ
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Gabby and her dad (grandpa Dan)
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Laura and Robert and you know who playing in the background. Clarissa is the young girl in glasses, she is Laura Hermans daughter. So she spends time with Tristen frequently.
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Grandma Laura and Gerry (granddad) and some friends of Gabby in the background.
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After we left they all played a game of ball.........Tristen was tired because of a very active weekend. So we took him home and he slept in till almost 8am this morning. He is still tired, but playing nice on his own. I think all the activity wore him out. Now needs some quiet time. Reina will be over this afternoon for a couple of hours and maybe tomorrow we will all have recovered enough to do something fun.
I will be sharing with Cottage style party with thanks.

The Dedicated House

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Day out with Edna..............

Edna had asked me during the week if I wanted to go out with her to the Granery. Esther had asked her to make pies for the Granery. It so happened that Laura was not working and so I asked if she would watch Tristen for me. She was glad to, both Tristen and Reina had a great day. It was a nice day so they were outside all day. At her house they can go out on the street and along the subdivision and play in the hole that had been made across the road. SO he took his little bike with him and took off straight away when Gerry dropped him off. This is his weekend at his aunt Laura's. Grandma Laura was to take him over there because they were all going over for pizza. SO it was with a clear concience I had a day out.
Edna had pies she had made for Esther who owns the Granery.
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So that was our first stop. I didn't go out there last year and Esther (in the picture) had not seen me before without red hair, she didn't recognise me. The Granery is an old farm house with a (yes) Granery that Esther sells hand made things and local treasures. It's always interesting and Is a place I love. It is also a working Cherry Farm. The garage has been converted to an Antique shop and I often find some lovely linens there. I didn't look too close today, I didn't have money to spend. I also resisted the flowers.
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After we dropped off the pies we went to Elk Rapids, but on the way we saw a small farm Market. We stopped.
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I bought some of these
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....and some of these.
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For a small market there was some good stuff. I also bought some Pasties. Beef Pasties. Edna had a cooling bag so they got home unthawed woo hoo.
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I would have loved to have bought some plants, herbs and so on but I didn't have enough cash. That is Edna(above) admiring them. They have some Bay trees. Small ones, I have never seen those before. I recognized them from the leaves.
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So after we enjoyed that little market we went downtown Elk Rapids for a look. There was a man in the park walking a Golden Retiever, It layed down and refused to budge. When we passed them again it was still laying down and he was talking to it. Did I say it was hot today? I dont think that Retriever was going to cooperate unless he took it down to the river for a swim maybe.
Well we went on to Alden. That is another small town. I use the term town loosely. They are villages really. All done out in summer finery. Our area is a tourist attraction, these small town rely on summer visitors and so they spruce up and look their best.
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Both of us wanted to go to The Mill House in Alden. Its a place to get kitchen stuff and they have their own brands of herbs and spices. I may only go out once a year, more if lucky.
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The Mill House has an interesting garden. There was a man sitting in one of the garden chairs next to a skeleton, He said "this guy was waiting for his wife, did you see her in there?" I said "No, but it looks like you bored him to death"
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Mill House gardens
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We had lunch, we walked past the place once and the smell of fish and chips brought us back, it was lunch time. There are cute shops in Alden and small restaraunts.
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Every corner of this little town is decorated with flowers. The shops have benches or seats outside and the men were taking advantage of them while waiting for the ladies.
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Other years there has been a butterfly garden outside one small eatery. It was not there this year, maybe the harsh winter was the reason. I missed it. I have wanted to go to one shop in particular to get some small pretty glass dishes, they are for rings or pills or whatever. I got 3 and Edna got a couple too. So pretty. I think I was a magpie in a former life. I love glitter and glass.
I liked this idea, the planter that is........not a new idea but it looks fresh. It was outside the place we had lunch.
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Well that was pretty much our day, we did stop at Renee's quilt shop on the way home. Again I didn't buy anything. I have been sooooo good today. Renee is a lady who used to teach at the first quilt shop I went to and took lessons. She now has her own place and its beautiful. She is a lovely lady and she and her husband have made a fine store. It had got too hot for the both of us so it was home for the rest of the day.
Sharing with Ivy and Elephants