Wednesday, April 25, 2012


                                                      THE DETROIT ZOO!

 Oh boy! What a beautiful day for a trip to The Detroit Zoo! All because my darling husband paid attention to the local TV news! When Carl heard that all senior citizens could get into the zoo (and hopefully out again), for free and with free parking, his little mind started planning our big adventure. 

Planning a big adventure requires a stop at Sonic Burger.

Wow. This band is really old.

Senior Citizen Day at The Detroit Zoo was a blast! The zoo had planned all sorts of activities that they thought seniors might enjoy including a band consisting of seniors playing old music from the 1940's, a big tent filled with local companies promoting healthcare and retirement homes and assisted living for seniors, and of course, what would a "senior citizen day" at the zoo be without, BINGO! Yep. They had a BINGO tent! Hey, I wanted to stay and play but Carl insisted that we go and see the animals!  And just like some of the "seniors", a lot of the animals were asleep! Heck, it was warm and sunny and they had their breakfast and now they needed at nap. At noon. Wait a minute, just like Carl usually does!

 You have to remember that Carl and I are both native Detroiter's, born and bred. He in 1947 and moi, in 1950. We both started going to "The Zoo" way back in the mid-1950's. Carl told me that his parents always took him to the zoo. Of course! They could afford to do that! He was an only child! I was the oldest of five children and thank God for the Brownies and the Girl Scouts! If not for being a member of the Girl Scout organization, I probably wouldn't have seen a thing or went anywhere! All I can remember about "back then" is that were hoards of children traipsing through the zoo...the scout troops, the grade schools, and dozens and dozens of yellow buses unloading hundreds of kids. Every square inch of The Detroit Zoo site was filled with kids and their chaperones. It seemed so enormous and always so busy! There just wasn't any room on the 1950's lifetime calendar for a "Senior Citizen Day"!

Today's "senior citizen" isn't much like the old timers from back in the 1950's. In the 1950's you looked and acted old at age 40! Although the zoo today did have a fair share of seniors that were wheel-chair bound, the rest of us had grand-kids in tow and we were bookin' over that 100 acre site! Carl and I saw everything from one end of the zoo to the other end of the zoo including the Polar Bears! My favorite animal was the Red Panda! It really was red! Sort of! I loved that little Red Panda so much that I made Carl buy me a stuffed version of it at the gift shop! I mean, where else could I buy a little replica of a Red Panda if not at the zoo gift shop! We also loved the Giant Anteater! It doesn't eat giant ants, it's just giant sized! And who doesn't like an Indian Macaque and their cute little bald behinds! Being older gave us a whole new perspective on visiting the zoo! We could just be kids again and nobody would give a hoot!

Me and my new little pal. The Red Panda! I named her ZOE!

Carl and I are like the Macaque...we're always picking on each other!

Carl's little buddy the Prairie Dog! What's up dude?
I kept trying to make this Brown Bear wave to me but he wouldn't. 
Well, all in all, Carl's idea to go to the zoo really paid off. We spent three whole hours walking outside in the beautiful fresh air and we didn't yell at each other even once! We were having so much fun it was like a mini vay-cay! When we got back to the truck I was so relaxed. Imagine if we could ever take a real vacation together, like in the Bahama's or someplace romantic! Things could get a lot wilder than the animals we saw today at the zoo! 


Monday, April 16, 2012

BEST DEAL IN THE "D"...Kenny! Our Curbside Mechanic!

As you all must know by now, when you are old and trying to get by in today's Metro Detroit local economy, one must be a really SAVVY SENIOR! I dress like a million bucks in my Value World clothing, I "split" dinners with my family and friends (a good way to keep my girlish figure), and I look for "two-fers" coupons and "groupons" online or in the papers. My college tuition is free because I am over sixty years-old and I live in Wayne County! And don't tell anyone but, I bring my own booze to bars in a small silver purse size flask! I'll order a diet coke or a cranberry juice and add my own expensive Vodka or Spiced Rum! I have to. I really can't afford to actually DRINK at bars! I wish I could. That's life. I try to make things look good. But the best thing I have EVER discovered in Detroit to save money was finding the greatest guy I have met in a long time, KENNY! THE CURBSIDE MECHANIC! 

I know what your asking yourself right now, "what's a curbside mechanic"? I coined that term for the men who own their own mechanics tools and will come to your house, or you can go to theirs, and they will fix your cars. Carl and I have had several "curbside mechanics" throughout our lives. Our first guy was when we lived in a small rural town in Florida. His name was Curtis Youmans. Curtis was about 19 years-old, five feet tall and full of moxie. He wasn't academically smart, but that kid was a genius when it came to car repair. When I had to buy a used car, I brought Curtis along! I wouldn't have had it any other way. Our next "curbside" mechanic was John, who lived in Southwest Detroit. John didn't actually have his own car, but he did own a lot of tools! I loved going over to John's totally dilapidated house where he lived with his mother because it bumped up against the old Woodlawn Cemetery, and I do like cemeteries! John's house was surrounded by automotive recycling centers, or junk yards as they are more commonly known! Between the grave stones, the old cars and the barking dogs, it was quite the experience. I can't remember how we found Curtis, but John was referred to us by an artist acquaintance, Marty Hirshak! Although John was a great mechanic, he did drink a little too much and we soon had to resort to finding another guy to fix our vehicles. That's how we came to need Kenny. Do you know how amazing it is to have a mechanic you can depend on?

Kenny is a world-class mechanic that we found on Craigslist. We have been using Kenny for about three years now and he has never let us down. We usually get a "free estimate" from a top dollar dealership like Belle Tire so Kenny has an idea of what is wrong. Carl usually goes with Kenny to get and pay for the parts. Kenny then comes back and does his job and then we pay him a fraction of what Belle Tire would have charged for the labor and the parts! Kenny is honest and trustworthy, and you don't find that in too many people these days. We go to his place for repairs sometimes, but mostly he comes to ours. Kenny has done our brakes numerous times. Oil changes, exhaust work, front end work, power steering, electrical, whatever you need when ever you might need it. Today he did a tune up on Cara's 1999 Camry for about $150 including a lot of extra parts and labor!! He just doesn't do engines or transmissions.

I am now turning YOU on to Kenny! You can go on being foolish and pay top dollar for your car repairs, or you can be savvy like me and CALL KENNY! You will not be sorry that you did!



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SYNCHRONICITY...In unexpected places!

 A mini-miracle happened under the most amazing of circumstances and in the most unusual of places: at a "Drum Off" in a turn-of-the-century building. Located just outside of downtown Ann Arbor, the old Pittsfield Union Grange Hall was indeed an interesting place with a lot of history. Framed photographs of some of the founders of the area, plus pictures of students from a former one-room school house were all carefully attached to the walls. I was mesmerized by their haunting stares, their period clothes and the accessories of the times. The old "Grange Hall" was still in remarkable condition with original floors and a very old stage. A great  place to bring together people of all walks of life, especially drummers.  

                                               PITTSFIELD UNION GRANGE HALL

The coordinator of this event was Kim Maki, a successful rock and roll blogger who has a lot of supporters in the music industry. Kim coordinated what started off as a competition between  drummers  from  metro Detroit, but it  turned into a spiritual awakening for us all.

Personally, I had been in a disagreement with Kim for a while over something silly, but we had extended an olive branch to each other via Facebook and cell phone calls. The Drum Off would be the the first time we would be seeing each other in person in a long time. The encounter was easier than I thought it would be. Bygones were bygones and we happily embraced. Kim and I are both Aquarians, and that in itself can be very combustible, but the day progressed smoothly. 

Then came all the drummers, ages seven through, well, kind of old! Everyone worked together and set up the kits, and helped to place chairs throughout the hall. Everyone! The locally and internationally famous drummers and the soon-to-be-famous drummers were there too! Kids from School of Rock. There were no attitudes here! Just an air of doing everyone's part. I wondered if that was a common trait among drummers, who mostly have to sit in the background hidden by all of the gear, guitars and the front man! This was supposed to be a competition, but every single drummer was just amazing and kind. The "competition" element of the event was soon discarded and it became a huge drum jam session instead! The drummers and judges were all so wonderful and cooperative that who could ever choose a winner! Now on to the mini-miracle!

Look at this group of stellar Metro Detroit musicians! Wow!

 One of the drummers who came to jam was a musical child prodigy, Julian Pavone. Only seven years-old, little Julian had the face and demeanor of a reincarnated spiritual master. A little saint! He was truly gifted and born into a family who was able to encourage and support his current stay on earth. Another drummer present was Steven "Maruga" Booker, an internationally acclaimed and accomplished drummer in his late sixties or maybe early seventies! Maruga is also an ordained Orthodox priest.

As the event drew to a close, everyone was was cleaning up and putting away chairs. Julian and Maruga hovered near Carl Lundgren's "souvenir stand" at the back of the room. I knew immediately that a photo op was there. My camera was broken, so I beckoned (hurried) the event photographer to to get a shot of the two! I orchestrated the picture and moved the Coke bottle and other junk from  the scene. Maruga and Julian were now on their destined path.

Julian and Maruga. Maruga still has on his Firth drum key.
 I did not actually know that Maruga was an ordained Orthodox priest, but I had an inkling. I thought he was a really groovy old dude in a cool hat dressed in black wearing a silver cross necklace that was trying to "look like" an Orthodox priest!. So (you know me), I simply asked him! Maruga answered that he was indeed a priest and his name was Father Steven! He pulled out his white cleric's collar from under his top coat and then showed us all his "real" Orthodox cross necklace! Maruga tells us that the silver cross he is wearing outside of his jacket is really a DRUM KEY! All the while, little Julian is staring at and touching the drum key, listening to Maruga's every word.

Everyone that had stayed late also hovered around the pair. Julian then drew close to Maruga, who I now addressed as Father Steven. Child and priest are now engaged in a conversation about the silver "drum cross". Father Steven tell us it was a Firth! Firth is a drum manufacturer. One of Julian's sponsors is Firth. Maruga tells Julian that the drum key was a Christmas gift from his wife and tells him he has owned this key for a long, long time. The pair keep chatting, then all of a sudden, Father Steven removes the the drum key from his neck and offers it to the little boy...then the magic began.

Father Steven "Maruga", wants to give Julian the silver cross key and dramatically placed it around the little boy's neck! Julian tells the priest that he cannot accept such a precious item, but Father Steven insists. He then hugs the boy and tells him that he wants Julian to have it. Julian and Father Steven embrace. Father Steven then makes the "sign of the cross" and blesses the little boy. The boy and all of us are now involved in a very mystical experience. The priest tells Julian how special he is and how he will be a great man when he grows up. Julian looks up adoringly at the old man. Spiritual Father and blessed child! There isn't a dry eye in the house! I'm serious. We were all sobbing unabashedly! 

So beautiful! Are you crying now too?
 At the end of the event, Kim Maki called me her lucky charm. Her event was memorable and even better than anyone could have expected, all because of the love and forgiveness Kim and I were able to show each other. I am so grateful for this. As we approach the glorious Feast of The Ascension, Easter Sunday, it is now time for renewal, spiritual and otherwise. For all of us. Peace to you.