Good People, Good Neighbors

I am a lifelong suburbanite of Detroit. With the exception of my college years, I have called this place one hour north of the “D”, home. Despite thoughts about skipping town for something more exciting in say San Diego or Turino, Italy, I can’t turn away.

The draw is more than world-class sports teams, superb shopping, exceptional restaurants, Stony Creek Metro Park, beautiful shorelines, scenic bike paths and cultural opportunities. The one reason I stay rooted here is the people.

While growing up in Rochester, I was fortunate to reside in a neighborhood where splendid friendships were forged swapping stickers and Tiger Beat magazines, pretending to be Charlie’s Angels, hanging out at the Rochester Cider Mill after school, or skating on a common ice rink in the middle of someone’s veggie garden.

I now live in a Shelby Township neighborhood that boasts the company of good, caring people. In addition to sharing dog and child sitting duties, a number are runners and fitness enthusiasts. I love how we all encourage each other to run those 5ks, attend boot camps training sessions and give Zumba a try. Plus, the bus stop just wouldn’t be the same without the exchange of parenting tips, recipes, and style ideas.

The love my neighbors have with one another is rare and irreplaceable. One plows the sidewalks so that school children are safe walking to the bus stop, another hosts an annual holiday open house to encourage fellowship, a third organized a meal plan for a family experiencing the loss of a spouse and mother, and a fourth is rallying all of us to save the life of a child.

I am in very good company, indeed. And, I don’t want to leave.

Cards Wanted for Boy with Leukemia

This young man attends school with my daughter, Issa. While we don’t know him personally, a number of my neighbors do. One of them provides him with home physical therapy services.

Cards Wanted for Boy with Leukemia.

Sunday Night Football: Lions Go Yellow

Despite the numbers reported from the bookies in Vegas; and despite the naysayers writing their pieces all over the Web, I held onto my belief in the underdogs. After all, I am lifelong Detroit Lions’ fan. And, I do believe this current team has it; the magic that will eventually turn them into a championship-level contender.

At 8:30 pm, when the Detroit Lions took the field at the Superdome to contest New Orleans’ Saints my adrenalin surged. But, excitement at Stafford’s prowess quickly turned to dismay. A number of his teammates continued to undermine his repeated successes with driving the Lions to touchdown territory.

From the first possession, yellow penalty flags flew. Personally, I like the blue and silver colors the team carries so well. Yellow is such a cowardly color. Watching the punches and stupidity play out was like suffering through replays of that match-up against Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day. But, this time, there was not any extended family or pumpkin pie to help put me at ease.

When will maturity and discipline come to Suh, Young, Logan,  Burleson, and Pettigrew? Do these players realize what they have cost the team and its fans? Only time will tell.

Thanks to losses elsewhere a wild card slot is still possible. If the Lions are lucky enough to clinch this honor, will the five named previously step up with professionalism and focus to the challenge of a playoff run? Or, will the loyalty of Lions’ fans continue to be smashed into the turf?

Related previous posts…

I Love Football

NaNoWriMo: The Week After

Well, it’s been almost one week. I have ignored my characters’ pleas to change their scenery or edit their dialogue. In fact, I haven’t even peaked at their story.

I figure it’s the winter holiday season; and I do have two school-aged children chattering non-stop about Santa, Rudolph, and our temporary live-in elf from the North Pole, Neptune. Retracing my steps through Jakarta, Melbourne, and Capri will have to wait for those frigid January days when I am looking for a warm-up.

Looking back on my first 50k experience, the circle of writers I came to know — some strangers and some long-time friends — was the most valuable takeaway. MB, my childhood friend, was really the catalyst for my participation. I truly appreciated having a pal rooting for me to come away with full pages each day. Three new acquaintances I made a long the way include thesweetkitten, talin401, and limebirdbeth. The first posts about Brussels, Belgium. I was drooling over the photos and the delicacies detailed there. The later two are about writing, which I now follow for insight and inspiration.

This first 50k, was indeed, an enriching experience.

The Love Continues

My love for football and the Detroit Lions burns deep in my soul. Five weeks, five wins, and no losses. The tradition of having to select an alternate team to carry me to the Superbowl is on indefinite pause.

I am hopeful. My fingers are crossed that this is the Lions’ year to make that turn so many are longing to witness. Going further, perhaps the Lions’ continued success will inspire the city of Detroit to make its turn toward better days.

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I Love Football

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Love to My Big Beautiful Family

A few weekends ago, my Aunt Kate and I sat around a bonfire at her lake house. We discussed many subjects. One was our big beautiful family; and the importance of maintaining connections with one another. We agreed, no matter where we end up in life, the love we have for each other and each family member is a bond to treasure and nurture; because we are fortunate where many are not.

kateschannel — grandparents celebrating unity

So, I am proud to be a part of so many.  My immediate families are small, my extended ones are not. They mix a number of ancestries, but mostly Italian and Irish. My mom is one of nine. Most live in Michigan. Others live in Florida, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Then, there is my dad. His parents — my grandparents — immigrated from Pinerolo, Italy. So, many from his extended family still live there as well as Torino, Milan, London and California.

A big, beautiful family such as this is generous in its contributions to each other as well as to the world. Some are business owners, horticulturalists, engineers, innovators, sales people, creative forces, market researchers, therapists, ornithologists, public employees, artists, barbers, personal trainers, artists, musicians, and entertainers. Others parent, pray, write, create jewelry, advocate, design web sites, build custom motorcycles, repair cars, keep track of numbers, educate, play the piano, sing, comfort, give care to people, save animals, cook, protect green spaces, play baseball, hunt, fish, study, and make orange bourbon slushes to refresh family on hot July weekends.

kateschannel -- part of the big, beautiful family

There is faith, love, strength, talent, intelligence, beauty, athleticism, ambition, fun, generosity, strong work ethics, integrity, humor, kindness and attention to detail. We unite often to drink, eat, party, play, remember, give to others, support, overcome and prevail.

In the Middle of Beautiful

kateschannel -- in the middle of beautiful

Quiet lake tucked away from the hurried pace of now. My Aunt Kate picked this respite and often shares her treasured spot with family and friends.

What a way to spend a couple vacation days. She invited Tracy, Issa, Riff and I to join her in the middle of beautiful. Her break from the world on a small private lake named Lake Taho. Take note. I did not misspell. There is no “e” and it’s not located in Nevada or California. No plane ticket required. It’s located a couple hours north of my home, near Clare, Mich. where harmonious breezes mix with peace.

Loons, lily pads, tall trees, birds and insects co-exist. We kayaked, fished, played and enjoyed each others’ company as well as a connection with nature in its purest sense. A full moon lit the lake on the first night of our visit. Lightening and thunder woke us all early the next morning. But, breaking storms yielded to some blue and we took a quiet boat ride. We took a closer look of some loons swimming on the lake.

kateschannel -- kayaks provide fitness and fun

We have visited many other times when sunshine and warmer temps. made use of the lake more inviting. But, the weather is always secondary, really. The company — whether it be for an intimate re-connection with just my crew or raucous reunion parties with our big, extended family — my Aunt Kate’s place is always in the middle of beautiful morning, day or night; during rain or sun.

The Quest for Stanley

Well, tonight, the Detroit Red Wings face-off in the shark tank in round two of the NHL play-offs. Game time is 10:00 pm. Good thing tomorrow is Saturday. There is a better chance of being able to sleep off the adrenalin rush from watching the Wings tear up the Sharks.

Here's to winning the first game in the Shark Tank

There is something to be said about living near the “D” during the Wings’ annual quest for Stanley. The something is that all people — who consider Michigan home — unite for the common purpose of rallying behind the greatest professional hockey team of all time. A momentum of epic proportions takes over. Skies seem to clear to a brilliant blue for this occasion alone; and the promise of summer-like temps beckons fans to light up the barbeque and to share a few barley sodas.

In 1997, I recall driving home from Port Huron after a wine-and-dine date with my soon-to-be-husband. That was the night-of-nights for Wings’ fans everywhere. After years of failing to capture Stanley, the quest ended triumphantly. People stood at street corners ringing cowbells, scores of drivers honked their horns in unison for hours, and screaming fans chanted happiness for a change.

Tonight promises to be a contest for Wings’ players and fans. I am eager to see the Wings bring their game and to set the tone for this second-round series. Winning at the shark tank will not be easy. But, I believe and I am hopeful for a successful 2011 quest for Stanley.

Bus Stop Chatter: What Not to Say

What can I say? My girlfriends and I had just put our angels on the school bus; and I was only half way through my venti-sized coffee — mixed with So Delicious coconut milk.

One of my girlfriends mentioned the big pile of donation bags for the Vietnam Veteran’s Association sitting on my front porch. She and I have been on a mission to clean out all unnecessary material possessions from our closets, garages, attics, bonus rooms, etc.

Not thinking, I casually mentioned the upcoming neighborhood garage sale — scheduled for May 19, 20 and 21 — for those of you who know where the Woodside Village and Shelby Orchards neighborhoods are in Shelby Township, Mich. I didn’t say I was a sure thing. But, I did mention my daughter’s interest in trying to sell some of her stuffed animals and toys.

Before I could take another swig from my coffee mug, my two girlfriends reserved space in my garage, discussed merchandise labeling, requested a couple of kid-sale tables for the driveway, and suggested we grill and sell hotdogs. Come to think of it, some of my spicy rum lemonade would be the perfect beverage for this event.

So, I’ll let you know how our impromptu garage sale party shakes out. Maybe we will see you there.

Out-to-Lunch: Memories Starring Deniz

love all of my friends….just letting folks know that i think of them often – even if you don’t hear from me, i live in memories of good times and smiling faces or some great advice…thank you for being you.

— Deniz Conger

When I started writing this entry, the title was Out-to-Lunch: All About the People, because it is. But, there is one person who has a recurring role in the lunchtime escapes featured. That person is Deniz. Hence, the above quote, which I shamelessly ripped from her FB status this morning. So, here it is, Out-to-Lunch: Memories Starring Deniz

Before children, I developed written and visual communication tools for Syntel, a leading global provider of integrated information technology and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) solutions. My cubicle was located in the company’s headquarters in Troy, Mich., and was surrounded by others occupied with creative forces much like myself. For a visual think: The Office minus Steve Carrell and whoever his replacement is going to be.

For the most part, we were and still are communication mavericks, who often gave up our lunchtime recesses to polish lead generation strategies, finish deal-winning presentations, write speeches for the CEO or beat a needed-it-yesterday proposal deadline. But, every now and then, the opportunity to break out of the dull and the gray cubicle confines presented itself.

Here are my five favorite lunchtime escapes — starring Deniz — listed in descending order.

1. Sushi crash course at Noble Fish. Until this noble day, I didn’t know sushi. In fact, I hadn’t tried it before. My co-workers Deniz and Rob took it upon themselves to educate me with field trip to the sushi counter at the back of Noble Fish, a Japanese grocery store, at the corner of Livernois and 14 Mile Roads in Clawson. This encounter taught me proper sushi etiquette and about how much wasabi is needed for an endorphin rush.

2. Black bean burrito day at Good Food Company. Again, upon recommendation from my co-worker Deniz, we went to the deli at the back of the Good Food Company at 15 Mile and Livernois Roads in Troy. Sadly, anyone who has not eaten here never will. It went out of business and closed in 2009. Talk about a dagger to the soul of the best in natural, organic, vegan and vegetarian cooking. The head chef would even check with all diners to ensure all meals were as superb as she intended.

3. Pita House (now Lebanese Grill) on any weekday. Deniz and I escaped to this locale shortly after she began working at Syntel. It’s one of the few places I introduced to her. All people I know, have a weakness for the food and drink served here. The Lebanese Grill, which also has a location in Shelby Township (lucky me), makes the absolute best smoothies, lemonade, and Middle Eastern food in my part of the planet. Plus, the prices are reasonable and the wait staff is always attentive.

4. Style hunting and Macy’s lunch counter. It wasn’t Macy’s back then. It was Dayton Hudson’s and then Marshall Field’s. But, on this day close to the holidays, it provided us with much-needed fuel on a style hunting mission. Before, hunting Macy’s for outer wear accessories, Deniz and I stopped at the lunch counter for a turkey wrap with brie and cranberry sauce. Delicious. I believe we made at least three trips back to the lunch counter that same week because those wraps were like crack; and we needed a fix.

5. Royal Oak/Birmingham spring breaks. Have you taken a walk outside yet today? In my part of the planet, it is beautiful. This is no time to be sitting at a keyboard. But, here I am. Most of the time, lunchtime escapes to Royal Oak or Birmingham were on days just like today. The need to breath the warm air and see sunshine was just too great to ignore. Plus, how can one pass up the opportunity to people watch and to style hunt? Both Royal Oak and Birmingham serve up plenty of each.