Last night’s “weather event” made me want to learn “Stormy Weather.” Maybe I will. Stay tuned.

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I want to come back as my cat.

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Up a creek in New Troy, Michigan. This is the view looking east from Pardee Road.

Looking down the same creek.

Twinkle, twinkle, little creek.


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Recalling an earlier time in America when many farms had a so-called “noon tree.” That was where farmers would take their noon meal, in the shade of the noon tree.

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(Lake Township, Michigan) The sun sets behind Warren Dunes State Park as seen from Snow Road during an evening bike ride last week.

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Remembrance of fireworks in Florida in 2014.

Can’t have Florida fireworks without the ‘gators.

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Flyboy trucks on up Dune Road, lookin’ for adventure, or whatever comes his way.

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What do we gain from endless war?

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In summer, in southwest Michigan, the wind is often out of the southwest. But yesterday it was out of the southeast. Go figure.

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(Harbert, Michigan) Amtrak’s Pere Marquette returned to service Monday, June 29, 2020, and your faithful correspondent was there at the Youngren Road crossing to catch all the action. All aboard!

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What we call World War II, the Russians refer to as the Great Patriotic War. I found this reminder along the Moscow subway.

And this one in Goritzy. My point being that we do not need to provoke the Russians.

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I use as my Zoom background this image I took in October 2007 of the island village of Kizhi in Russia. Kizhi is an open-air architectural museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Thinking of Detroit.

Had there been no COVID-19 crisis, I would be finalizing plans to attend the International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous in Detroit next week. Alas, it was canceled, along with just about everything else. Right?  Yes, the new normal is strikingly abnormal.  And so we must do without.  All, of course, in the interests of public safety.  Right? Well, all I know is that I am missing Detroit and hope to travel there this summer.  Detroit is the come-back kid, and having the AA convention pulled out from under their feet was a kick in the teeth.  But that’s just my opinion.  And I believe that we are causing untold harm to small businesses and Main Street by locking down.  Enough already.  Anyway, I feel better, having gotten that off my fingers.  Now enjoy these photos from past trips to the Motor City:

I have had enough virtual tours of DIA. How about opening the doors again?

A ride on the QLine would be just fine.

This is what I am longing to see in Detroit again.

Come on people,let’s get moving again.

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Getting to the Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA for some . . .

. . . healing waters.

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(Harbert, Michigan) I practiced safe distancing Sunday by driving alone to the Monastery of the Holy Cross at 31st and Aberdeen in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.  And, yes, we all wore masks at the monastery and sat at least six feet apart.  Mass was marvelous, although a bit muted by the masks, and the Prior, Father Peter Funk, OSB, gave the Oblates a wonderful meditation on the value of praising God during times of difficulty.  As Psalm 150 suggests: “O praise him with resounding cymbals, praise him with clashing of cymbals. Let everything that lives and breathes give praise to the Lord.”  I certainly kept my focus on God both going to the monastery and coming home. And I went out of my way to go out of my way but not taking I-94 all the way.  Rather, I added the Indiana Tollroad, U.S. Hwy. 12, U.S. Hwy. 41  (Lakeshore Drive in Chicago), and 31st Street to the mix. And that mix made me merry, despite the present difficulties. And, yes, mask on face, I took a reflective walk around Bridgeport after our gathering.  I bought take-out at Zaytune Mediterranean Grill and enjoyed a picnic in a shady park and then retraced my steps back to Harbert where my lovely wife Natalie was waiting to greet me with a kiss of peace.  Safe distance peace to you as well, sisters and brothers!

Destination ahead.

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Thelma Gilbert, a devoted birder from Berrien Springs, Michigan, took her final flight last week. She was 98. Good birding in the Sweet By-and-By, Thelma!

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A waxed Anthony Roth Costanzo waxes poetic in Philip Glass’s AKHNATEN on November 23, 2019 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Met rebroadcast the amazing production on Saturday night, for free no less.

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We Oblates return to our spiritual home, the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago, today. We have been away for months, so we are thrilled to return.

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Hey, Floridians, ever wonder where your good, old US 41 begins? Well, thanks to our Yooper friend Elizabeth Gravitt, we now know it begins in “da U.P.” That would be Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the uninitiated. (Please note that the script on the sign fails to mention the great state of Tennessee. Sorry, y’all.)

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Randy Lober was happy to be at the Tigers’ last home game last season. And let’s hope that’s not the last season.

Travels with Charley:
A Tale of Taking the Tigers by the Tail
by Charles McKelvy
My friend Randy Lober and I sensed last year that not all would be well with this year’s baseball season.
So we made plans last August to attend a Tigers game in Detroit, in September.
On September 26, 2019 to be precise. That was to be the Tigers’ last home game in quite a while.
Who knew, right?
Well, I guessed Randy and I must have sensed that something like the COVID-19 crisis was going to come along in early 2020 and turn the world upside down, including Major League Baseball.
So we sat down one August 2019 afternoon in Randy’s living room north of Kalamazoo and got the Tigers ticket office on the horn: we lined up a couple of ducats for the Tigers/Twins day game on September 26, 2019. Never mind that the Tigers were ending one of their worst seasons ever. We were going to see some serious baseball, because, after all, they were playing the Minnesota Twins who had earned a playoff berth. We reckoned that the Twins would be playing their back-up players to save their starters for the post season, but we didn’t care.
We just wanted to enjoy the game of baseball on a pleasant September afternoon in the Motor City, and we did. And let me tell you all about it:
Beginning, of course, with our drive over to Randy’s pleasant town on the afternoon of September 25. He lives northwest of Kalamazoo, so we took I-94 to Paw Paw and then plied some of the most pleasant backroads in all of Michigan to reach Casa Randy. We had planned to stay there overnight so Randy and I could get an early start to Detroit on the 26th, and so Mary, his wife, and Natalie could catch up and discuss their many topics of mutual interest, including books and their husbands’ latest antics.
So, we had a restful night with our friends, complete with one of Mary’s famous home-cooked dinners. After a bountiful breakfast the next morning, Randy and and I set out in his Buick Enclave for an afternoon of Major League Baseball in the Motor City.
Randy insisted on driving, and I am glad he did, because I do not enjoy driving in Detroit. But he handled it with ease, and I listened with interest all the way to Detroit as he told me of his service to the nation in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Randy enlisted in the army and could have easily gotten orders to serve in Vietnam. But he was ordered instead to serve in Germany, and so he “fought” the Cold War there preparing to face the Red Army in horrific combat.
I, who served stateside in the U.S. Navy Reserve, thanked Randy for his service; I told him he had put himself in harm’s way just as much as if he had taken that long flight to Saigon.
Being men of a certain age, we did have to interrupt our trip down memory lane by exiting the freeway before Comerica Park to make, as we say, “a pit stop.” That put us in a gritty, industrial section of Detroit, and, as we were trying to find our way back to the freeway from our pit stop, we spied a bar featuring “adult entertainment;” we wondered if Mary and Natalie would mind if we stopped there after the game. We decided that was not a great idea, and so we went on with our day which included parking in a garage right across Woodward Avenue from Comerica Park, a pleasant stroll to the old ballpark, and then seating ourselves in the wrong seats, up in the upper deck. At least we thought they were the wrong seats, but the Tigers front office said we didn’t look at the seating chart correctly when placing our phone order. Anyway, they made it right, and we soon settled into great seats on the terrace level, along the first baseline. We foraged for ballpark food before the first pitch, and we both found exactly what we wanted, including a couple of Tigers hats. Yes, I am a lifelong White Sox fan, but I do live in Michigan, and I do root for the Tigers when they’re not playing the White Sox, so—
Well, you get the point, and the point of this story is that Randy and I had a great time at the old ballgame, along with 17,555 other die-hard fans who turned out on a gorgeous fall afternoon to watch the Tigers set the dubious record of tying the 1939 St. Louis Browns for the most home losses (59) during a season in the modern era. The Tigers took an early lead, but they snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory by going down 10-4. But we got to see Miguel Cabrera hit a solid single and try to stretch it into a double until the first base coach stopped him. We figured he said something like: “You’re not that young guy anymore, Miggy.”

Miggy holds at first.

Hey, we were a couple of old guys enjoying baseball with other like-minded old guys in our section. We didn’t catch the orange t-shirts they blasted into the stands between innings, but we hit the pro shop before heading for home and were their last customers of the 2019 season. Randy bought himself a smart Tigers golf shirt; I got myself some hot Tigers pajama pants to wear with the orange t-shirt I received as a result of volunteering at a church function in Detroit in 2017.
It was all good, and we had a great ride home, chasing the setting sun along I-94.
I kept saying we had to do a repeat in 2020, but Randy kept saying one doesn’t know what the future will bring.
COVID-19 and the cancellation or postponement of everything, including Major League Baseball in 2020!
At this writing, MLB had yet to release an abbreviated schedule for 2020, but no matter, because Randy and Charley have their memories of a great day at Comerica Park in 2019.

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Happiness is stopping by the New Troy marsh on an afternoon bike ride in Berrien County, Michigan.

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I, Flyboy the Magnificent, am pleased to announce the publication of my first book, I AM FLYBOY. Write The Dunery Press at P.O. Box 116, Harbert, MI 49115 for a free, autographed copy.

Copyright©2020Charles McKelvy

Volume One: A New Cat on the Block

a cat’s life

by Flyboy the Magnificent*
(*as told to Charles McKelvy)
photography by Charles McKelvy
& Elizabeth Gravitt (Chapter 34)

a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter One: In the Beginning

In the beginning, I was born on March 24, 2019, on a farm in Berrien County, Michigan, not far from the lake they call Michigan.
I don’t remember being born, but I do remember the man from animal control who came and brought my sister, Kitty, and me to the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan. It’s out there on M-139 if you want to check.
Kitty and I were put in the same cage in a row of cages full of kittens. I guess you could call it Kitten Row. That’s where they put us, and they fed and watered us and changed our litter just fine. The staff were all great, especially that guy with the bushy red beard. He was the best.
But then one day these people came and pointed at Kitty and said she was just the calico kitty cat they wanted for their little girl. They wanted a kitty cat to grow up with their baby girl.
How cute.
And Kitty was cute.
And if you’ve never seen a calico cat before, then you should go out and find Kitty, because she is the cutest calico cat you ever did see.
Oh, a calico cat, according to my human’s desktop dictionary, is, by definition, covered with spots of different colors. You could do that with a quilt, I suppose, and then you could call it a calico quilt.
Aren’t I smart cat?
A smarty cat?
Yeah, that’s me.
Anyway, Kitty is covered with spots of different colors, and I can just picture her being happy in her new home.
Good for you, Kitty.
And, yes, I miss you so, so, so, so, so, so, so very, very, very much.
So there!
And when those people adopted you and took you away from me, I despaired and almost stopped eating and drinking. But then one fine fall day, this man with another bushy beard walked by my cage. Hey, I had developed a liking for men with beards by that point. Remember?
Well, I was so excited I reached my little paw out to him and let out a great big MEOW!!!!
He stopped in his tracks and talked that dumb human talk to me. Like I could understand or something.
But I knew he wanted to see me in the Meet & Greet Room, and he did.
And that’s where I met him and his lovely wife, and that’s where I got my way-cool name:

(to be continued)

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Our gentleman caller announces his arrival.

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In loving memory of my father, James S. McKelvy, who was born June 15, 1918, in Pittsburgh, PA. Dad left us September 15, 1985, in Chicago, IL.

Thanks for your service in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Here we are at Rainbow Beach in Chicago in 1951. Dad taught me to swim in Lake Michigan and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Natalie has ridden forth of late in search of Spiza americana, or Dickcissel. Here, she is being rewarded for her efforts on Elm Valley Road near Three Oaks, Michigan.

Dickcissel are common in grassy fallow fields and tallgrass prairies. We have enough fallow fields in the area this year to attract a good number of them.

In search of more Dickcissel on Flynn Road.

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Jason Gresl is the most amazing clarinet teacher I have ever had.  He is always nudging me to new heights, and he leads by example.  Such as:

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We caught up with Vinnie the Turkey Vulture Thursday afternoon along Elm Valley Road where he was dining al fresco in a field of soy beans.

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The Eastern Kingbird, or Tyrannus tyrannus, is common in semi-open habitats with mix of grassy fields and trees. We found this fellow Thursday afternoon, in a field along Flynn Road north of Three Oaks, Michigan.

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The Forest Lawn Road Floodplain and Kesling Nature Preserve along the Galien River are excellent locations to see a variety of nesting woodland species including the Yellow-throated Warbler.

We neither saw nor heard a single Yellow-throated Warbler, but Natalie did get a good look at a female Redstart.

The Galien River gladly posed for a portrait.

This was the place for birders to be a couple of weeks ago when the spring migrants were coming through Berrien County, Michigan.

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