Last year when I went home for my folks’ anniversary I got bumped on a flight and got some travel coupons. They were good for a year and by the time they were expiring I hadn’t thought of anywhere fabulous and romantic to go so I just went home again.
When I went to take the flight out the security lines at ATL made me glad my plane was a few minutes late. Chatting with folks in line I said something like “We could send a man to the moon but we can’t get a better system–” and the guy behind me said “It’s all these foreigners–every time I look around I see more of them!” which shocked me enough I nearly said “Dude! I thought you were Hispanic!” just, y’know, from his looks (dark hair, dark eyes, stocky)…it’s a story that reflects poorly on both of us. I could also have said “Dude! my grandparents were immigrants!” but since they were from northern Europe he probably would have thought they weren’t the foreigners he was talking about.
On the plane a woman asked what I was knitting (a sock) and sounded a little annoyed that I was allowed to–I explained the recommendations on the FAA website (boils down to “don’t bring the scary needles”) and how it was still up to the TSA guys in the airport, but it didn’t make her happier.
My parents kept asking me what I wanted to do when I was there but weren’t satisfied with my answer: hang out, knit, play cards.
They had stuff to do early in the week, so I got to walk around and take pictures of Spring.
Holland had an early Spring too, so while it was great for me to see the tulips, the Tulip Festival in May might be a Stem Festival this year. Mom had said it had been warm, so I only packed short sleeved shirts, thinking “Georgia Warm,” not “Michigan Warm,” which was overoptimistic of me.
Mom and Dad took me to Grand Rapids, so see the Meyer May house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Most of the other houses in the neighborhood were Victorian, except for another that had been built by Meyer May’s in-laws, who hired Wright’s firm but not Wright himself.
The house had been added to and divided into apartments since it had been built, but when the Prince Corp. bought it in it still had about half its original Wright furniture. The house has been restored to its original condition and is free to go through. Prince uses it for entertaining, but that seems fair. Prince has done a lot for Holland, too, putting a lot of money into downtown development (the downtown is livelier than the mall, imagine) so thanks, Prince, for acting as responsibly as Republicans think all corporations act.
We also went to a small contemporary art center that was encouraging people to draw on the walls:
We also went to Meijer Gardens, where they were having the butterflies.
They have the sculpture garden too.
The little kids were taking turns to lay under that barely-raised back hoof. Dad said Fred Meijer, founder of Meijer’s, liked horses, so there were a few of them in the garden. This one was made of bronze even though it looks like driftwood:
Dad said he’d offered the city additional land to move the zoo out from the middle of town but Grand Rapids voters didn’t vote in the funding. When I met up with my best friend from high school I told her that the biggest things to get used to in Georgia had been the food and the bugs, that the religion and politics were pretty much the same: no new taxes means I haven’t had a raise for four years. Of course, on the other hand from the Princes and the Meijers, there’s a lot of things in Grand Rapids named for the DeVosses and VanAndels, founders of AmWay, which…yeah. Maybe they do have excellent soap powder. And one of the Prince kids is Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater, so there’s that.
At the end of the week we took a little trip, going down to South Bend for Good Friday. We went to the Stations of the Cross service at the Notre Dame basilica:
- all the buildings at Notre Dame look like churches
- outside the basilica is a very large statue of Mary in honor of “the victims of abortion”
- the service was prayers written by Cardinal-now-pope Ratzinger, and had quite a bit to do with the plight of the poor
- protestants genuflect awkwardly, but with 14 stations we got some practice
We saw the “Touchdown Jesus” on the way in and I had to wonder if when it was built anyone thought “a Christ with His arms raised visible from the end zone of the football stadium–awesome!” or if its ref-ness was a surprise to all concerned.
It was cheaper for me to fly out of Lansing than Grand Rapids, so we went there a day early, and went to Potter Park. Admission is $4 for Ingham County residents, and $10 for nonresidents–while we were in line I heard someone say “I wouldn’t pay ten dollars for this place,” but c’mon:
…so, price of a movie? I got no complaints. (Okay, Dad paid.)
I didn’t get a good picture, but there was a small tiny bobcatty feline who stalked around her cage growling I will cut you. I swear I will cut you. and there was this guy:
…who made the naughty teens behind me say “Dude! I can hear faces!”
We also went to Les Miserables at the Wharton Center. This was the new production that eliminated the famous turntable and instead used Victor Hugo’s drawings projected on scrims (coincidentally much easier to take on the road, but let that go)–the last Les Miz I went to had a “here’s yer show, now get out” attitude, but everyone in this production seemed happy to be there.
Les Miz: yes, it is a 2.5 hour earworm. Before I left for Michigan I’d been talking with a professor here about what a dramaturg does–help a theater company understand the play, essentially, and I’d been thinking that might be a cool thing to study as a second career, but I realized watching the show that what I really wanted to be was a Dramatermagant, taking a rolled up newspaper to the noses of characters who annoyed me: WHAP Students! The people never rise! WHAP Marius! Stop being so wet! WHAP Jean Valjean! General principles! WHAP
I do like the show, it’s just…a lot of trouble could have been avoided if Javert died in act one. Also I realized that if I were a dramaturg for Les Miserables I would prolly have to read the entire book, which seems daunting.
On the way to the airport I asked if we could stop at a store so I could buy some aspirin and get some cash for the trip, and Dad handed me a bottle of tylenol and Mom handed me a twenty. Like magic. When I got home the cats were all “What, you? is this the new new normal now?” but we’re okay again.