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Tigers, Tires, and Twitter

You can’t really begin to explore and understand Detroit without experiencing our sports teams and their history here in the D. Now, I’m all for watching the games at home or in a bar but being there in person is something special.

My husband had never been to an American professional sporting event and I hadn’t even been inside Comerica Park. That is until the lovely people at Belle Tire held a contest on Twitter. And I won! Not only did we win tickets to watch the Tigers play the Yankees on April 27th, but we were also going to be in a suite. Sah-weet!

We had a quick bite to eat at Cheli’s Chili before the game and then eagerly went into Comerica Park as the gates opened. It’s a beautiful ballpark that is modern but celebrates the history of our beloved Detroit Tigers.

When we were in Corktown for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we walked by the remains of Tiger Stadium. My husbands’ emotions surprised me. He is English but couldn’t get over the fact that all those iconic players stood at that plate and now it was gone. The love of Tiger Stadium isn’t just for the people who grew up with it, apparently is spans the pond.

With that said, Comerica Park is a family friendly ballpark that has already had a World Series. It’s clean, spacious, and modern but it doesn’t lack character. I adore the tigers and bats that adorn the stadium. The history of the players and the organization is riddled throughout.

The suite was located right behind first base and it was awesome! We are now spoiled: private bathrooms, free food and beverages, and a gorgeous view. The weather was perfect and the Tigers beat those rascally Yankees (of course, they lost the next two games in the series but we won’t go there).

The fountain, supporting the Big 3, as it goes off after a home run.Yes, this is how you are supposed to spend an unusually warm evening in the spring in Detroit. This is what I was pining for when I was back in England.

Tickets are relatively inexpensive for the bleachers; you just may need a loan to purchase food or drinks. $8.75 for a beer! $17.50 for a Little Caesars Pizza that we all know we can get for $5 outside the park. Yes, we were very happy to be in the Belle Tire suite.

Belle Tire has some pictures on their blog of the evening, we're the first picture. Thank you to the Detroit Tigers, Belle Tire, and Twitter!


Disneyland in Hamtramck? 

Hamtramck Disneyland. Can you spot Mickey?My family hadn't ever heard of Hamtramck Disneyland, even though my mom grew up in Hamtramck and they still go down there to pick up Polish kielbasa and bread. Some of my friends had heard about it, but no one told me. I found out about Hamtramck Disneyland on the internet. I wasn’t looking for it and, oddly enough, I think I found it on a knitting site. I’m not a knitter and have no idea how my travels through the interwebs led me to that site but I was happy to find this little nugget of Folk Art.

Dmytro Szylak, who is from the Ukraine, built Hamtramck Disneyland from 1997-1999. It’s located in an alley north of Caniff off Klinger Street, it's in the alley on the west side of Klinger just before Carpenter. It makes you wonder who would do this, spend all this time building this, and why? The answer seems to be, because it made him happy. And, honestly, you can’t help but smile when you look at it.

“It looks like a carnival for gnomes.” Lenaya Lynch, former tenant.

We were there in the daylight and the lights and the contraptions weren’t “on.” Apparently, it lights up and the propellers and other objects move. It’s very kitch but definitely worth seeing. I think we’re going to try and capture it at night when it’s on over the summer. That is, if Dmytro still turns it on.

Do you see this as an eyesore or as personal expression?


Live Music in Your Living Room

Where do you go to see live music? Most people would say a bar or club, a stadium concert, maybe a music festival. What if you could have a concert in your living room, or in your friend’s backyard? How about a strangers basement? That's what we did, we went to a house concert in a stranger’s basement.

An old college friend of mine, Peter Mulvey, is a fabulous acoustic musician who seems to constantly be on tour. I was looking up his tour schedule to see if he would be in Michigan and I found that on February 15th he’d be playing in Clarkston. I didn’t recognize the name of the venue, Carrick House, so I did some research. And that is how I found myself at a house concert.


House concerts are a great way to see live music in an intimate setting. The hosts of these house concerts are music lovers who open their homes to their friends, strangers, other music lovers, and the musicians. Our hosts, Craig and Nicki Carrick were warm and welcoming. It was $15 per person to see the gig and the money goes to the musicians, so it’s a great way for the musicians to make money and reach new audiences.

There were about 50-60 people crammed into the Carrick’s basement. There was a small stage set up with lighting and the gig was being simulcast on an Ann Arbor radio station. Drew Nelson, a Michigan musician based in Grand Rapids, opened the show, Peter played a set, and then they played together. At the beginning, you felt like you’re parents were going to come down and bust the party up, grounding you for a month. However, as soon as the music started you forgot you were in a stranger’s basement.

When I asked Peter about house concerts he said, “I try to turn them into parlor concerts. 'Parlor Concert' sounds better.” Whether you call them house concerts or parlor concerts, the result is the same: great music in an intimate setting and much more interaction between the artists and the audience.

Peter Mulvey and Drew Nelson

"The subtle power of his voice, a husky, hushed baritone... understated, at once sophisticated and intimate... as cover-worthy as Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and Dar Williams." The Washington Post on Peter Mulvey.

It was a fabulous evening, listening to music, meeting new people, and drinking wine. If you are interested in attending or hosting a house concert, this guide has great resources.

So, would you go to a stranger's house to listen to music? Would you invite stranger's and musicians into your own home?


The Englishman and the Full Irish

I had never been to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, until last Sunday. I've lived in  Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and England and I had never been to a St. Patrick's Day Parade. I’m not sure they even had a parade in England, not where we lived anyway. St. Patrick’s Day, to me, meant going to a bar and drinking. That’s it. It’s always dark and people are drunk at unusual hours.


So this year, it was an unusually warm Sunday afternoon, and we decided to head down to Corktown in Detroit for the parade. My husband, the Englishman, even seemed quite eager to go. Which is odd considering, well, he’s English and St. Patrick’s Day is obviously an Irish thing. In case you didn’t know, the English and Irish haven’t always played nice and, in some places, still don’t. Of course I did do what any good woman would do, I bribed him with a Full Irish.

The husband is very fond of his “fry-ups,” as they’re called in the UK, and a Full Irish is close enough to a Full English to appease him. It consists of Irish sausage, which isn’t at all like our breakfast sausage; bacon, which is more like Canadian bacon because it’s all hammy and such; eggs, black and white pudding, and toast. Sometimes, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes are thrown in. I’m not going to describe the black pudding or white pudding. Let's just say pig's blood and/or liver is involved.

We were downtown and we followed the Corktown race for a bit and then we went down Bagley because we were going to Baile Corcaigh. We saw all the green and revelry on the parade route and headed toward the festivites. We went to the address of Baile Corcaigh on the parade route. It didn’t exist, the address, I mean. There was a 1422 and then a 1436, or something like that. But 1426 wasn't there. I was confused and called the Irish pub, I got through to voice mail.

But we were hungry. And then, like a beacon, I saw the sign that would make everything ok. Yes, at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Corktown we went to White Castle. Which is my Englishman’s favorite fast food. And we ate sitting on the curb.

Have I mentioned yet that we were completely sober? Neither of us had a drink the entire afternoon. I probably shouldn’t have admitted that, we broke the unwritten rule. Sober and St. Patrick's Day don't really go in the same sentence, do they? We might not be allowed back next year if word gets out. Sshh, we'll keep it between us.

Oh, yes, the parade, that's what it was all about. It was lovely, it was festive, and it was a bit silly at times. It was everything it was suppose to be. Sans the beer. They threw candy and beads, I didn't know they did that. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Even sober. But I must ask, do they let anyone march in this parade? Green dogs, storm troopers, Deloreans, and homeland security; we saw the lot.

Leaving the parade, I noticed we were walking down Michigan Avenue, not Bagley. Yes, we went to the right address on the wrong road. And that is why the Englishman didn’t have his Full Irish.

*Update: I just read in the Freep that Baile Corcaigh is no longer open.*


The Ducks Told Me

Today is the first day of spring. However, in my family, spring arrived two days ago. How do I know? The ducks told me. You see, for the last 25 years two mallard ducks, a male and a female, have migrated to my parents pool each spring. And on Wednesday, March 18th, they arrived. They will stay until June, they only spend the Spring with us.

Now, I can’t say for sure that it’s the same two ducks, we don’t have tracking devices on them or anything. I surely don’t know anything about the migratory habits of mallards or, if they, like swans and some humans, mate for life. But I’d like to think so. Now that I'm actually thinking about it, what is the lifespan of your average duck?

So, I don't know much about these ducks. I do have some questions for them, though:

• Where is their winter home? Are they Floridians, Georgians, or maybe they prefer the Carolina’s?

• How did they pick our pool and why come back to it every year? It’s very slimy right now and won’t be open for at least a month.

• Where do they go once they leave us?

I’ll never know the answer to these questions and I’m ok with that. I'm starting to think it's all some odd duck timeshare and these poor ducks picked this house because there is a lovely golf course about 100 yards away. Maybe that is what brought them to us originally.

What I do know, is that they are the harbingers of spring for my family. We don’t need the calendar to tell us it should begin today. The weather forecasters get it wrong just as much as they get it right. The ducks, however, are never wrong.

So, happy spring Detroit! The ducks are here and so is Spring. Spring is renewal, regrowth. Plant some flowers, hope, and positive energy in our community.

What does spring mean for you? How do you know it has arrived?