Exploring My Hometown

After my visits to Sedona and southern California, I traveled to my hometown in Michigan and just got back yesterday. I’m sorry I’ve been slow to respond to blog comments and am behind in my reading. I didn’t want to post online that I was going away, so I couldn’t warn you that I would be taking longer to reply. What an exhausting trip. My parents have moved into a retirement community and are putting their house up for sale. Lots of stuff going on, and it’s been difficult for them.

But what a beautiful time of the year to visit Michigan.

In the city

In the city

Hard to believe such a lovely spot on private land is visible to the public.

The blocks below are from the old synagogue that no longer exists. They have been erected at the site of the current synagogue.


The “cathedral” still towers over the highway, I was relieved to see. I never attended services there, but we did hang out on the grounds after football games.


It was fun and a little stressful visiting the old haunts and houses.  Meeting my new great-niece for the first time was best of all! She’s as cute as a bug’s ear. I don’t want to post her photo because she’s not my child, so I don’t think I should make that decision. But trust me: you can’t find a cuter 6-month-old anywhere!

As we drove to the airport out of town, we passed by Amish and Mennonite farms.


This week, I plan to catch up on my blog comments and, especially, reading your blogs!!!


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs

50 responses to “Exploring My Hometown

  1. Gorgeous pics! Sorry to hear about your parents but I hope it all works out for the best.

    • Yes, it’s very hard for my father to give up so much and make this change. It will be better for my mother and also he shouldn’t be driving on the ice this winter. Luckily, their new place is very nice.

      • You know what though – I think there’s something to be said for being able to say a formal goodbye to such things. My FIL is in the hospital and it is very possible he may never see his home again, and it makes me sad to think of all his stuff still sitting around the house as if he was going to come back to it, like selling the house and the belongings at the right time might actually provide one more closure than just never getting to really process it. It just made me realize that when I reach a certain age, I would want to do that and give my home a proper goodbye. But that’s just me…

        • That’s an interesting take on the situation. Wow, that would make a great blog poll. I bet people are really split on this.I think I would like to do some organization, too. I’m so sorry, C, about your FIL. It must be so tough for him and for all of you.

  2. I’m hoping your exhaustion fades fast. It truly looks lovely to see the fall colors. A retirement community and a baby, both ends of the spectrum, not wonder you are spent 🙂

    • Thanks, SK. Good point. It sure was most relaxing to see the baby! I was so sorry to miss going in the summer when I could have gone on boat rides on the lake, but actually I had forgotten how beautiful the October colors are.

  3. Wow! I did not know how close to Ohio you were traveling, Luanne! Gorgeous photos and thoughts about hometown, too. Hope that you are going to recuperate and feel rejuvenated from the exciting events and travels from this time. Lots of ‘fodder’ for posts and your memoir, too. God bless your having safe travel mercies… hugs, Robin

    • Robin, yes, I don’t think rejuvenation is in my near future, but I will settle for some rest! Yes, very close to Ohio, but I was actually in Indiana, too, as we flew in and out of the Indianapolis airport. That is a growing city. On the way back, somebody opened our checked baggage and threw in an orange liquid. It’s washing out of the washable clothes, but I am worried about a few dry clean only tops. I think it’s possible Southwest might pay my dry clean bill for those, but I will also have to dry clean the dark sweaters and pants because they were wet, but the orange is not visible on them. Glad to be home! And I missed my blogger peeps like you, Robin :). xoxo

      • I was so sorry you had this incident with orange dye! Definitely would submit a bill to Southwest Airlines, Luanne! I am glad you had some chances to work on your book and memoir, too. It is a priority and those who write understand how hard it is to juggle everything! Take care and don’t worry about visiting too often, I appreciated your recent comment, Luanne, but don’t expect them, knowing how busy you are! Hugs!

  4. I’m writing this from our daughter’s house in Grand Blanc, Michigan, where we’ve been since Saturday night. We passed by the towers you have pictured here and will do so again later today on our return drive to Illinois. And you are so right about the beauty outside here in the Midwest right now! 🙂

    • Mark, I was so surprised to see I made it in time for the colors! When they started up a few/couple weeks ago, I thought I would arrive a little too late, but no, it was lovely. And I was in Indiana, too, and the color down by Indianapolis is just blooming this week. Aren’t the towers of the cathedral a hoot? When I was in high school, that building was all that existed, although as you know, now there is another large building attached to it. I trust you had a wonderful time with your daughter! Enjoy the drive!

  5. What a really wonderful surprise to see you pop up the first thing this morning on my reader!! Your photos of Michigan are very beautiful – fall colors are fabulous – to me, as Granny Selma would say. 🙂
    Taking care of our parents is an act of love and respect and a way to honor them, but it is also one of the most stressful transitions we experience. I hope your folks adjust to their new setting and learn to love it there. For all of your sakes!
    Take care of yourself, kiddo!! Welcome home.

    • Sheila, what sweet words! Yes, a very stressful transition all around. I hope they are happy in their new home. I worry about my father feeling too confined, but he’s keeping his pole barn so he can still drive out to the lake and do his thing. Thanks so much for your welcome! xo

  6. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures, Luanne. I love the Amish buggy photo! I hope you’ll have some time to rest up from your trip. It’s nice of you to help get your parents settled. It sounds like they’re in a better place now, it will just take time to adjust. By the way, smart move not posting you’ll be out of town…I’m amazed when people do that. Rest up! xo

    • Yes, as much as I would have loved to have warned readers that I would be gone, it seemed like a dangerous move. Good to remember that even in this warm and wonderful space we sometimes call the blogosphere we are out there in full view by anyone. Jill, I’m glad you enjoyed the buggy pic. We went by an Amish funeral and I would have loved to have gotten some great pix. Hubby who, as you know, usually says I’m bugging him with the camera was urging me to take them! But it seemed rude and disruptive. So I stuck to the buggies and barns, for the most part.

  7. Nice to learn a bit about Michigan from your photos here. I also liked your expression “cuter than a bug’s ear.” In Boston, where I just moved, they say “she’s wicked cute.” 🙂

    • That expression I used goes way back, I’m pretty sure. I remember my grandmother using it. So did my mother. And I guess so do I ;). “Wicked cute” is not one I’ve heard very often. I wonder about its origins! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. What lovely photos, Luanne! You’ve made me homesick for my childhood home in upstate NY. Fall was always my favorite time of year, in part because of the colors. I hope you give yourself time to rest from your trip before you tackle your blog 😉

    • Marie, oh no! I’m sorry about the homesickness! Oh, I bet it was lovely there. Fall is so gorgeous. I remember how it was my season when I was a child. And then spring. As an adult I thought I favored summer, especially July in Michigan. But now being in the fall again after so many years–fall, hands down!
      I thought I’d be able to catch up today, but I am so slammed with work-work that catching up will have to wait. And I do wonder when I will rest haha.

  9. Where is that first pic with the bridge? If I may ask….

    Also, Christ the King Cathedral was decomissioned by the Episcopalians some years ago due to lack of money to keep it up. It was bought by Kalamazoo Valley Church, a “megachurch” in Portage. That was a big deal with lots of commentary in the Gazette.The Episcopalians moved into a white clapboard church (also former garden store) at Texas Corners. They have abandoned that site already. From Wikipedia:

    “The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan is somewhat unusual in that it has no cathedral, but is headquartered in a diocesan center in a high-rise office building [the Skyrise] in downtown Kalamazoo. From 1969 to 2007, the Bishop and the diocesan offices were located at the Cathedral Church of Christ the King, a prominent edifice near Interstate 94. However, this building was sold in 2007, and the congregation of the Parish Church of Christ the King moved to Texas Corners where it remained until January 2012, when the congregation disbanded.”

    Here’s more about the cathedral:

    This article refers to the cathedral as ugly. How wrong that assessment is! It was also fascinating, though not comfortable, inside. I once attended a Medieval music event there that I will never forget for its utter beauty.

    • What a wonderful image–the Medieval music at the cathedral. I really love the very idea of that. But this article is a little distressing. First of all, no, it’s not ugly. It’s just very very different. Then, I do wonder about a congregation that would go through so many unusual changes over a relatively short period of time, only to disband!!! And then there is the point that the cathedral wasn’t consecrated until 1977. I suppose that is a good thing since our hanging out did involve a little alcohol and it was before 1977. I now remember hearing a bit about what was going on with the cathedral (maybe through you?), and so I was actually worried that it had been torn down!
      Oops, almost forgot to answer about the pic. It was somewhere in a beautiful neighborhood in the older part of Kalamazoo. I want to say it was in the Long and Short road area, but my ability to place the different neighborhoods between downtown, WMU, and Portage (that whole section) has deteriorated drastically. Maybe hubby will remember.

  10. Mom

    Oh time off is well deserved dear…and since you took us all along with this beautiful batch of photos (that BRIDGE!!!) I think it also qualifies as a working break. Loved it!

    • Mom, I love your justification ;)! I should have thought of that. I wonder if I could get a tax writeoff for my trip ;)!!! Thank you so much. Have a great week. I saw my great great grandfather’s house in person for the first time in many years and will post photos of that on The Family Kalamazoo later this week.

  11. Lovely pics Luanne. Thanks for sharing! Sorry to hear about that stage of life with your parents. Mine are well on their way now too, although at least one of them will deny it. It is so hard when you are far away, I know.

    • Andy, yes, the denial is tough to deal with. Although the acceptance can be tough, too!!! I guess it’s all hard. And, yes, being far away makes everything so much more difficult. In some ways our mobility today is wonderful and enriching and other ways it’s just awful.

  12. I hope things go smoothly for your parents. I suspect you will be thankful they took this step.

    • Oh, CM, I hope you’re right! I think my mother will be glad. I do worry about my father. But I’m relieved he won’t be driving my mother around on the ice in the dark this winter!!

  13. Luanne, I was just blogging to Denise about Sedona. I used to go there every year!!! I loved it there. “They” say 2 weeks in Sedona is like 6 months elsewhere in terms of emotional growth. It’s good to have you back. I have been remiss on my blog catch up and don’t have an excuse other than the fact that I had a heck of a time uploading a video on my last blog. The Apple store couldn’t figure it out, but I am proud to say, I did it all myself! I hope your parents are okay. I know what a worry that is.

    • Were you uploading a video from a Mac or was it your iPhone? Everytime I think I know what I’m doing, I forget something crucial. This weekend I forgot the plug pulls off the iPad cord to become a USB cord LOL. Haha, I felt so stupid–in front of myself. Gee, and now I’m outting my stupidly. Oh well. Yes my parents are ok. Thanks for asking, Hollis. But it’s hard on them.

      • I have a Mac, but I used Foxfire as a browser rather than Safari. (My idea, can you believe it?) and voila! It happened. However it stopped for a while. Had to renew Flash, whatever that is, did it and my video is up and running again!
        Sorry about your parents. I remember…..

  14. Loved seeing pictures of your hometown, Luanne. I love how you captured the changing colors of the leaves – a transition I miss in the desert.

    • Rudri, I forgot how much I love fall back east. The minute I got back to Arizona I got a catch in my throat and couldn’t drink enough water. I’m just really not a desert person.

  15. Oh dear – in a good way! I like to scroll ‘creative writing’ tag occasionally looking for interesting bloggers. Tonight ( way past bedtime ) I find you. With a past hometown in Michigan, a website called ‘family Kalamazoo’ that mentions Grand Rapids, Caledonia and Zeeland – all within a stone’s of my past hometown – about 30 miles east of Kalamazoo right on I-94.

    As if that ‘s not enough, scrolling through your blogs I find more delucious online magazines for personal narratives, memoirs and creative non-fiction.
    I’m a novic (half-year new) blogger who loves reading blogs as much as I love posting on my own!

    I look forward to exploring your previous posts and staying up to date with new ones. Colorado has been my home for over half my life, but half my heart remains with my Michigsn family.

    • Sammy, hey neighbor!!! Are you from Marshall? I love getting your comment here. How exciting! I have also been away a long time. I was figuring it out the other day. I think I was in Kalamazoo longer than I’ve been away. It won’t even out until I’m 70! So nice to meet you!!!

      • LOL i AM from Marshall!! That’s too funny.

        Where do you live now? I might have missed that on your website. I gather from other comments that you just helped your parents with a major life move. I am lucky mine are still slive in relatively good health. We already moved them from homestead to a condo. The next move will be harder, but hopefully not in 2015.

        Great charting with you :/)

  16. I totally understand, Luanne. Best of luck with you parents and take as long as you need to unwind xxxx

  17. Lovely photos Luanne, love the Amish buggy. I would love to visit this part of America, to me it epitomises true ‘Americana’ which I adore. Hope you are getting caught up and feeling more rested. Looking forward to catching up 🙂

    • Michigan really is true “Americana.” I think I am getting caught up–well, at least I am making some headway, though far from caught up. But I’m not getting rested. Soooooo draggy. I look like an actual zombie.

  18. Great photos. I love the horse and carriage. Michigan is very beautiful.

    • So beautiful, especially at this time of year. Though I will say that July in Michigan is lovely with the tall green corn surrounded by purplish blue chicory. And the winter after a fresh snowfall. And in the spring . . . . hahaha. Thanks, T. Gene. It was wonderful to see the Amish still riding their buggies and dressed in their black clothing.

  19. Enjoyed your blog with the lovely pictures of Michigan. I’m in southern California — completely different way of life, yet we’re all Americans. You certainly can’t paint America, its people, climate, geography with the same brush.

    • Oh, so, different. I actually lived in southern California for 15 years. I felt as if I had moved to a different country when I moved from Michigan 24 years ago. Everything was new and exciting in California. Gradually I came to recognize that I had also left so many wonderful aspects of living behind. They are both wonderful. Now I live in arizona. It has its positives, too, but I think I prefer both Cali and Michigan to Arizona.

  20. Thanks for sharing these photos and memories of your old home town Luanne, hoping your parents settle in to their new home.

    • Thanks so much, Andrea. I hope they do, too, and learn to love living there. I think my mother will like being able to get her hair done on campus, stuff like that. My dad might be chomping at the bit pretty soon.

  21. I love that first photo!

  22. Ellen Morris Prewitt

    Here is one of the problems with getting blog posts only once a week: I now see the source of your exhaustion. It sounds like you returned from a difficult trip and found much waiting on you. I hope you can find some space for that which gives you rest.

    • Yes, and I’m still exhausted. And I think my husband got too exhausted and is now crabby, on top of it all! Thank you. I need a vacation from my vacation. It doesn’t have to be much–just away from everyone :).

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