Category Archives: Photography

Stage Nature Center

It has been a little while since we have indulged in one of our favorite lunchtime pastimes: finding a new city park to explore. We tend to do this a little more in Tallahassee, but we have found that there are quite a few local parks in Troy which are beautiful and fun to explore – particularly in summertime. Today, we returned to the Stage Nature Center – where we had seen the mink earlier in the year – to see how it looks when everything has had a chance to green up.

This is the Rouge River, as it is here in Troy, a little more than a creek.

We only had about 30 minutes to spend at the park during my lunch hour, so we made a quick trip around the Sugar Maple loop. It was really neat to see the different colors of green in the leaves and how the sun lit up the trees. The part of the loop that we walked also had a display of the various stages of tree/forest lifecycle, with logs in various stages of decay and decomposition.

The nature center has programs in the winter/early spring where you can rent a tap for a sugar maple tree, then collect the maple syrup produced from the sap.

We spent a few minutes at this crossroads in the paths to watch some chipmunks. They are FAST little ones! One of them ran up a tree and started chittering very loudly for quite some time. At first, I didn’t know what was making that sound and ended up recording it on my Bird ID app. I’m not sure if he was mad or excited, but he certainly wanted everyone in the forest to hear what he had to say!

Just as we were about to move on from the chipmunk area, we spied four deer running parallel to our path. Donald’s phone has much better zoom on the camera and he was able to get this incredible photo.

A view of the Rouge River from the other side of the Sugar Maple loop.

We just did the short 0.4 mile Sugar Maple Loop today, as I only had an hour for lunch. It was really pretty and we want to come back after work one day to see what animals are active in the early evening, as well as spend more time in the back half to see if we can spot our mink friend again.

I love seeing all the different colors of green!

This was a very BIG bee on this flower. It’s in an area of the nature center which has been planted as a monarch butterfly migration station.

I love when parks make boards like this to help people know what kinds of flowers and plants are indigenous to the area, and to promote planting native plants in gardens. Sometimes, you will see a companion board, where they will inform you of invasive species in the area and ask people visiting the park to help remove the invasive species if they are seen during your walk.

This was just a quick out and back visit, but we had a lot of fun. It was great to take a break and get away from the house for a bit, as well as to enjoy the warm, sunny, non-humid weather while we have it!

You can now listen to our blog via our podcast! It is available from Anchor via Spotify, but we are also working to get it published to other podcast platforms. Don’t worry, we will be working on our audio quality as we go! Enjoy!

Quarton Lake: Lunchtime Walk

It has been rather chilly in Michigan these past few days, and while the temperature was still on the low side, the lack of cold winds and bright sun made it feel good to be outside.

So, when lunchtime came, Donald and I decided to make a quick trip down the road to Quarton Lake for a walk around the water.

These bright blue flowers were blooming in yards surrounding the lake. Siri thinks they are called Scilla. πŸ˜€

The birds (mostly robins) were chirping away and foraging, and the squirrels (both black and red/gray) were having fun running in and around the trees.

Quarton Lake is in the middle of a residential area in Birmingham, surrounded by large houses of varying architectural styles.

There are so many different species of pine tree here in Michigan. This one reminded me of the Torreya pines in Florida which are very rare. However, the needles on this one were a lot softer than on the Torreyas.

On the Maple Rd side of the lake, there is a small park that includes this white fish sculpture. And, of course, the waterfall. πŸ˜€

The watershed from Quarton Lake feeds into the Rouge River (or so I would assume from the signage on the bridge 😜). Some of the houses in the neighborhood were lucky enough to have the river on their backyard.

I’m no nature expert, but I think these yellow flowers may belong to a Forsythia bush.

This pine tree had thin, delicate branches with soft, short needles. Very pretty!

At the south end of the lake, there is a grist wheel and a plaque to let people know that Quarton Lake used to be called Mill Pond and was the site of a grist mill which ground grain into flour for the Birmingham community.

Just a couple of the beautiful houses surrounding the lake.

Looking back at the park entrance and Maple Rd
Yet another species of pine tree. This one had cool pinecones forming.

This view is from the north side of the lake. Our lunchtime walk took us completely around the lake. It was great to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy the sun on our faces!

Love, Jenn and Donald

Florida – Lake Ella

After work today, we decided to get out of the house and spend some time at Lake Ella. We stopped by Black Dog Cafe and got a couple of their Lattes of the Day and some small snacks. We sat on their deck (which has a new roof/awning) and enjoyed our bagel and pastry and read awhile. Once our pastries were finished, we wanted to walk around a little.

Muscovy Ducks that live by Lake Ella
All of the trees are greening up with the new growth of spring
Spanish moss in the afternoon sunlight
Plants at the edge of the water near the gazebo
View from the east side of the lake, looking west
Cypress tree with all the knees – so pretty!
Bench swing

We stopped for a moment and sat on this bench swing, taking in the peacefulness of the afternoon. We saw a couple Spin scooters nearby and I joked about renting one for another ride. They are a lot of fun, but after Donald’s near-miss and my accident (which I’m still recovering from), we think that we should invest in some helmets (and perhaps other protective gear) before we ride the Spins again.

View from the bench swing
Low-hanging branches, near Black Dog Cafe

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of our photos from our walk! We will certainly have more adventures to share soon!

Love, Jenn and Donald

Doing Something I Love

Last week, I had a meeting on the main medical campus and took the bus there from my office. On the way back at the end of the day, I got extremely nauseated – I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and die. Instead of commuting home right away, I thought to take some photos of the fall leaves in the Arboretum. But there was no great place to park, and I wasn’t up to a lot of hiking, so I eventually decided to go to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens instead, with the idea of walking through the woods there.

I didn’t make it that far. I went into the Conservatory, and started snapping away with my iPhone. I’ve photographed Matthaei a bunch of times, but I always enjoy it. Here are (some of) the fruits of my afternoon:

I even edited my photos, uploaded them to an actual album on Flickr, and made them into a photo book via Blurb. It’s nice to do something you love to do, every now and then. πŸ™‚

Clawson Fireworks

Every year, Clawson puts on the best fireworks display! πŸ™‚ I love living close enough to be able to walk to the park (and miss the gridlocked traffic after the show)! This year, I got to share the evening with Ross and Chelsea.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the evening:










































As always, you can see the rest of my photos on my Clawson Fireworks Flickr page.

Fun at the Zoo Boo!

Sorry, everyone…. I’ve been quite sick lately, so EVERYTHING has fallen off my plate. Pretty sure I dropped the plate, too. I’ll try and catch up, if I ever get better. πŸ™‚

Krystin invited me to the Zoo Boo with her family. It was so cute to see Evie as a bee, especially when she would tell us that a bee says, “Buzz!” Dad Jerad was quite the trooper, carrying his little girl most of the way. It’s always awesome to be around parents as excited and involved as Krystin and Jerad. πŸ™‚

It was raining on the way over, but by the time we parked, the rain had stopped and we could see some blue sky peeking in:

The Detroit Zoo had set up a short walking course dotted with candy stations manned by Zoo personnel in various Halloween costumes. Along the way, we got to look at tons of carved pumpkins and other visual delights.

Look at the cute Kutler family! Ready to get CANDY! πŸ™‚

Evie-Bee getting ready to get candy at the first stop:

She looks a little unsure, but Daddy’s right there to keep her safe!

Then, she took off running!

We found a maze made of hay bales and chased Mommy through that.

On the way to MORE CANDY, Mommy and Daddy helped their little bee fly!

Treat Station #2

Oh, Look! Another bee!

And a Snowman Pumpkin!

They didn’t seem to be as interested in looking at all of the pumpkin sculptures on the side of the walkway — at least not as much as I was. πŸ™‚ These things were CUTE!!!

Okay, this one was kind of freaky…

Cheezing for the picture:

A family stroll:

The Toy Story characters were there…

Getting a family picture…

The Reptile House was set up like a Haunted House of sorts. Really, they need to get creepier?!?

Now, it was starting to get dark, but we were still able to take a look at the camels and deer.

See how Daddy picks his Evie-Bee up?! πŸ™‚

Mommy and Daddy leading Evie to the next candy station:

Glow sticks — sold for a King’s ransom. Needless to say, we didn’t buy any.

Aww! Polar Bear Pumpkins!

I like this picture:

They needed to have this drink station more in the middle of the walk, not the end….

Zebra and Giraffe and Elephant Pumpkins!

Yay! This was a fun Zoo Boo!

The penguins watched us leave….

Goodnight, Zoo!

Stunning Sunrise

This morning, I’m struggling to compensate for how much pain I’m in, so I have cute clothes on, hair arranged, make-up on, got an iced chai at Starbucks and blasted happy music all the way in to work. God apparently went along with this plan, because He gave me an amazing sunrise to watch. I mean, just LOOK at these colors!


The photo is grainy and stuff, but when you are merging from one highway to another and working with a point-n-shoot…. πŸ™‚

Here’s another “lovely” shot…


And here’s an “action shot,” taken over my shoulder out the window. πŸ™‚


Finally, I pulled into the parking lot of a nearby hotel and walked as close as I could to the highway to get a clear shot.

I’ll give you some more shots, so you can enjoy it, too. This is straight out of the camera — no edits.


This is also straight out of the camera, but I started playing with some of the color settings. πŸ™‚




Hope you have a blessed day!

A Blessed Day

I’ve been wanting to go to confession for several weeks now, but at every turn it seems that something would come up. The longer I went, the more I wanted to go. I used to go about every 2 weeks to my pastor for confession, but lately have been going to confession Friday evenings after work at Christ the King. However, after being frustrated in my attempts for so long, I wanted to go to confession to a special place.

Don’t get me wrong, God’s grace is God’s grace no matter the location or the priest who channels his grace.


I’m not the kind of person who *feels good* after confession. I don’t feel “light as a feather,” or anything like that. I just feel like me. Although, when I go to St. Bonaventure’s for some reason, I feel God’s love and mercy more than usual. It’s not uncommon for me to exit confession crying. For some reason, there I have a better sense of my sin, and therefore an increased humility and gratitude for what the Lord is willing to forgive me.

After confession today, the day just seemed to … slow down, in a way. I lingered over sights and appreciated everything that I encountered.

First, I spent some time in prayer before the tabernacle.


Then, as I was exiting, I noticed a garden space. At first, the door to go in was locked, but one of the priests saw that I was trying to go in and opened the door for me. The flowers inside (outside? The garden was an interior courtyard with no roof) were beautiful.







When I first arrived, there was no one in line for confession and no priest in the room, so I had about 30 minutes to kill before the next scheduled confession time. I wandered through the exhibit on Fr. Solanus and then wandered through the gift shop. I ended up getting a rosary bracelet and a couple of postcards.

On the way out, after my confession, I took a couple pictures of the door.


The building stone:

And Sister Death, which is a sculpture of this twisted black piece of a tree.

The sense of peace, quiet joy and reflection stayed with me throughout the day. It was wonderful. I felt His love surround me wherever I went. And I kept receiving signs of love throughout the day. I wish I could hold on to that feeling forever. πŸ™‚

South Haven 2012

Yesterday was the family reunion, and from the time that I heard it was going to be so close to Lake Michigan and South Haven, I wanted to take some time and head over there. I love being by the water and 15-20 miles is NOTHING to me! πŸ™‚ The only question was if Mom would go for it.

We spent the night in Paw Paw. In the morning, I dragged her to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for Sunday Mass. It was a cute little church right by the court building that we had looked at yesterday. All around the church, the sidestreet parking was clogged. We managed to find the last parking spot in the tiny parking lot, but people were already creating a middle line of cars where it wasn’t legal to park — just to be able to get in to Mass! A good sign, right? πŸ™‚

We were a little bit late, and so we took a seat in one of the back pews, like any good Catholic would do. After Mass, I snapped a couple pictures to prove I was there and grabbed my Mass ticket (parish bulletin). I was surprised to find that it was only 4 pages long! At both my parishes, it’s usually more like 12!


Next, we headed out of town. I didn’t have a lot of charge on my phone, so instead of using the GPS, I just found my way to M-43 and headed west. I wasn’t going to stop until I hit water! We had heard that there was a Blueberry Festival in South Haven this weekend and thought it would be good to check that out. We pulled into town and ended up on Phoenix Street. Just past the downtown area, right before the road dipped down to go towards the lighthouse, there were barricades for the festival. Luckily, there was also on-stree parking RIGHT THERE! We couldn’t have asked for a better spot!

We were on the southwest corner of the intersection, and on the northwest corner was this sign:

I liked looking at all of the boats in the marina. If I could, I would love to live on the water and have a boat (or two or four) of my own!

As we were walking down to the pier, we saw this big, pink flower. It was huge! Probably 7-8 inches in diameter! Even though it doesn’t really look that big in the photo.

And, finally, THE BEACH!


And the lighthouse:


With sailboats on the water!

We read all of the graffiti on the lighthouse. I saw one that said “Hannah was here” and wondered if it belonged to Hannah Ekblad…
Hannah Was Here

I even got Mom to take a picture…. And she was happy that I didn’t push her in the water! πŸ™‚

I tried taking a self-portrait, although it turned out a little funny because I kept squinting in the bright light.

We didn’t take the time to actually swim on the beach, but I did sit down on the edge of the pier and dangled my feet over the side!

More pictures of kids playing in the sand:

Seagull footprints:

Even though I had my good running shoes on, I still walked across the sand to take pictures of the waves. These are tiny compared to the waves of the ocean, but I will take what I can get! πŸ™‚

All of the water and boats actually looked like this:
I added contrast to most of the other shots, but it was kind of cool as they were normally, with almost nothing to tell you where the sky ended and the sea began….

Like me, you might be wondering why my mom was looking at her feet so intently. Well, it appears that where she was standing, when she took a step, the sand would shift and “crackle out” about 12 inches away from her foot.

The Ubiquitous Seagull Shot:

Another look of the beach, pier and lighthouse:

I took pictures of some treats for Erwin:

And for Lindsay:

Amy had suggested that we eat at the Phoenix Street Cafe while we were in town. So, after browsing through a couple of neat little shops, we did just that! I’m not sure if my brother or my dad would have enjoyed it as much as we did.

Here is Mom’s Asparagus Sandwich:

And my Spinach Burger (no meat was harmed in the making of this burger!):

Right next door to the Phoenix Street Cafe was The Blueberry Shoppe. I got 5 pounds of blueberries to take home, some mix to make Blueberry White Chocolate cookies, blueberry jerky, blueberry truffle, and we each tried a blueberry drink.

Mom got the Blueberry Lemonade (which was the better-tasting of the two):

And, although I would have preferred the Blueberry Lemonade, I opted to try something different and got the Blueberry Jelly Belly soda.

Our quick vacation to South Haven was now complete, and we headed back home. Plus, our 3 hour time limit for parking was about over…. πŸ™‚

Independence Day Fireworks!

This post is going to be rather picture-heavy. πŸ™‚

Yesterday was quite warm, so I spent most of the day inside in the air conditioning. My 4th of July tradition is to go up to Clawson to watch their fireworks display. For a small city, they put on quite the show!

Since I live only about a mile away, Lindsay and Erwin met up with me at my house and we walked up to the park (expecting a gridlock of traffic post-fireworks and wanting to avoid that). We met up with Brian, whose grandparents have a house in Clawson. By this time, it had started to rain. When we made it to the schoolyard across from the park field where the fireworks were to be fired from, we were soaked.

Luckily, the rain stopped in time for us to lay down our sheets and blankets and get ready for the show! The ground had been so dry that it soaked up all the rain and wasn’t soggy, although we remained damp for the rest of the night. We did get to enjoy some ice cream, while we waited for it to get fully dark. πŸ™‚

Here is a small sample of what we got to see. The full set of pictures can be found here.




















We decided to have dinner at Friday’s to conclude our evening. Food, fireworks and friends: who could ask for a better Independence Day? πŸ™‚