This isn’t the only day upon which to adopt an attitude of gratitude, but it’s the only day we have, right? Right!!!

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We prefer to park below this tree at the Aldi grocery store in Benton Harbor, Michigan, because it reminds us that we’re saving the green. This lovely locust tree, by the way, put on a brief but fabulous fall color show.

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(Harbert, Mich., November 24, 2020) Our first real snow of the 2020-2021 winter season. Time to get out the snowshoes?
Flyboy made a few tracks and then beat a retreat.
This isn’t the forecast I ordered. Let me in, Dude!
Dust off the deck chairs.
Stopping by woods on a snowy morn’.

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Natalie trucks on down Dune Road.

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It’s so November in Michigan. Wear orange when walking in the woods, and keep your powder dry.

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Living on the so-called “West Coast of Michigan,” has its advantages, particularly in the golden sunsets over Lake Michigan we get most evenings. Here is a recent example.

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World-renowned clarinettist Anthony McGill (left) hung out with yours truly a few years back after his concert at Western Michigan University. Please attend to his latest work, which follows.
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Good thing about digital cameras is that there is always “film” in the camera.
One more for the road.

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A stranger put it to me this way the other day: “Friend, or foe?” I said, without hesitation, “I am a friend to all.” I pray that I act like I am.

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Natalie and I got out and about the other afternoon, and we did something we hadn’t done in a long, long time: we took a walk on the beach. It was a lovely November afternoon, and we walked with the sun at our backs, and then back with the sun in our eyes. But the November sun is softer somehow, and the lake was in a gentle mood, and the two- and four-legged creatures we encountered were all friendly and full of folksy joy. Why not be full of folksy joy? We can’t stop the collapse of the American Empire. So why not take an afternoon walk on the beach and leave the running of the government and the economy to our fellow old-farts? Why not, indeed?!?

Natalie surveys our watery domain.
What’s not to like?
One way of looking at the lake.
Another way of looking at the same lake.

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This is our idea of a coastal range, here in southwest Michigan.

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Flyboy and I returned home the other evening in time to catch the afterglow from the back deck.

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If your county has a road named Hillandale, check it out. You will find Berrien County’s Hillandale Road in Sodus Township. In Michigan, of course.

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We remember our dearly departed friend Kirk Schrader on the first anniversary of his untimely death in November 2019. I last saw Kirk in January 2019 at Riverside Cemetery where he was cheeefully doing his sexton duties, namely filling in a grave in shirtsleeves. I asked Kirk if he needed help, but he said he was fine. I am glad for that last, fine memory of Kirk. He was a fine friend and a great birder, and so I want to celebrate him here with two photos, one of him at Riverside Cemetery, in Chikaming Township, Michigan, and the other of the Northern Saw-whet Owl he spotted in the course of his duties as sexton. Kirk alerted the local bird-brains, and we all came out and spotted said owl, which seemed almost tame enough to touch. But Kirk insisted we not touch his owl, and we did not. But we were certainly touched by you, Kirk. Rest in peace with all those heavenly owls, my friend.

“It’s right up there,”
Kirk says. “You can’t miss it.”
The Northern Saw-whet Owl nests in tree cavities, and, in this case, favors cemeteries like Riverside in fair Chikaming Township, Michigan.

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November is a month for reflection. So why not reflect on the mighty Galien River, here in southwest Michigan?

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What’s a drive in the country around here without a climb up Hochberger Road in Eau Claire, Michigan?
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Today, I salute my friend and U.S. Army veteran, Randy Lober. Thanks for your service, Randy.

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Nothing could finer than to be taken on a sunset cruise with your cat. Yes, Flyboy likes to lead the hikes.
Look, but don’t swim. Unless you’re a dumb dog.

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This just in: the Sunset Coast of Michigan living up to its reputation, yet again.
Day is done; gone the sun.

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The Monastery of the Holy Cross, which faces west, basks in a glorious November sunset along 31st Street in Chicago.
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Corn on the stalk one day, gone to market the next. It’s Indian Summer here in southwest Michigan, and we’re lovin’ it.

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The Fisher Building is a 20-story, 275-foot tall, neo-Gothic landmark building at 343 S. Dearborn Street in downtown Chicago. This is the view of the building from the CTA station at Dearborn and Van Buren.

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Chicago’s Loop, so you know, is so named because the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA’s) elevated tracks loop around a rectangle in the city center formed by Lake Street on the north, Wabash Avenue on the east, Van Buren Street on the south, and Wells Street on the west. Five of the CTA’s eight L lines use the Loop tracks, namely: the Brown Line, which we knew and loved as the Ravenswood or “Raving Mad,” the Orange Line, which serves the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Bridgeport, the Green Line connecting the South Side with the West Side and Oak Park, the Purple Line to and from Evanston, and the Pink Line out to Berwyn. We have ridden them all, at one time or another. And once, when I was working in the Loop, I “looped the loop” at lunch-hour by purposely picking a tavern on each of the four legs of the Loop and stopping in for a drink or two. This was a Friday, mind you, but my employer was none to happy to see me return in a seriously inebriated state from my premature “happy hour.” Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. And perhaps to make amends for that and other past sins committed in and around the Loop, I introduced a fellow Michigander to the Loop earlier this week. Here are some photo highlights of our epic journey:

An inbound Orange Line train comes to collect us at Halsted Street.
Elevated traffic over Wells Street. You must wear a mask to ride the CTA.
We had no trouble finding seats.
Station stop over Van Buren Street.

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While we are anxiously awaiting the results of the 2020 Presidential election, particularly here in Michigan, let us take a walk in the park. Specifically in the 26.60-acre Palmisano Park in the heart of Chicago’s historic Bridgeport neighborhood. My friend Mark Barrett and I were in Bridgeport Monday to celebrate ALL SOULS’ DAY at our Monastery of the Holy Cross, and we allowed some time for sightseeing before the Requiem Mass at 6 p.m. But we found most things closed due to the latest COVID clamp-down, including the fieldhouse at adjacent McGuane Park. But Palmisano Park was ours to enjoy, and enjoy it we did, on a splendid fall day in Mayor Lockdown’s Chicago. And, yes, I am of an age to have remembered when Palmisano Park was Stearns Quarry.

Mark Barrett, high atop Chicago, in Palmisano Park.
A path through the prairie. Yes, we even saw a garter snake.
Feeding the ducks in Palmisano Park.
Top of the world, Mom.
No, this is not Kansas, but rather the heart of Chicago.

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All Souls’ Day at the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago.
All Souls’ Day at St. Mary of Perpetual Help, also in Chicago.
All Souls’ Day in the Loop. All was quiet before the election.

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Wall Street will certainly win Tuesday, regardless of the outcome.
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Halloween at our house in Harbert, Michigan consists mainly of carving the pumpkin and then illuminating said Jack O’Lantern by the fireplace. Only this year we didn’t roast the seeds and eat them. Too much oil, you know.

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Here’s our pick for “Best of Show” in the 42nd Juried Regional at the Midwest Museum of American Art in Elkhart, Indiana: “Boats Against the Current,” oil on canvas by Dwight Luna of Elkhart. The show runs through December 20.
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Fall bike rides in Michigan are fabulous. This is looking south on Flynn Road from Kaiser Road.

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Our late, great cat, Jacqui Jackson, had no use for football either.

I am pleased to announce that I flunked football. Never played it; never will. Why? Because we had a pediatrician who was way ahead of his time by telling my mother in the late 1950s that she should not allow her sons to play football, under any circumstances. Thank you, Doctor Corcoran! You the man! My brother and I not only did not play football for the Morgan Park Mustangs in Chicago, but we swam for the good old green-and-white. We thus graduated from high school without any crippling, gridiron injuries. No regrets then and certainly none now, especially now that I am swimming four times a week and training to swim 70 lengths of the club’s 25-yard pool to honor my 70th birthday in 2020. I would have done it sooner, but the health club was closed for a spell due to the COVID Clamp Down. But lane 2 is there for me now, and I am getting the old mojo back, and, as I swim, I thank old Doc Corcoran for prohibiting football. And just the other day I ran into a friend at the post office and heard how his 11-year-old son had been badly injured in—you guessed it—a frickin’ football game. Are you kidding me? Football?!? It’s good for absolutely nothing, and if you think that has changed, then notice this weekend—during the endless games—how they switch to commercials as soon as some poor soul is mangled on the field. It’s no field of dreams out there, friends. So do not let your sons and daughters play football. Teach them to swim instead. That’s a sport they can enjoy the rest of their lives, injury free. That’s my opinion from the lofty perch of 70 years, and I’m stickin’ with it, especially when I swim those 70 lengths for my (belated) birthday celebration.

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