Friday, June 26, 2009

Suddenly Summer

In summer, we are often too busy living life to properly document it, so here are some quick updates:
  • Leland Harbor is still not open for business. The earliest we expect to have slips and fuel is July 3rd, with showers and full service maybe July 17th. If you came into the harbor, you would see docks but no fuel or pump out available, and every second plankon the docks is loose, so that the workers and inspectors can get at the underside.
  • Strawberries are out, the garden is in, rhubarb was a hot seller again this year.
  • I set another hen on eight eggs and ended up with two new chicks. She was a real good mom, but the rooster is apparently not giving his job its due.
  • It rained in Chicago, so we never made it to the blues fest. But I spent a day letting Anna learn how to navigate the subway and bus and how to handle an umbrella on a busy sidewalk. It was fun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Choir Concert Tonight

The Leelanau Childrens Choir concert is tonight, 7:30 at Northport School. I'm going early to drop Anna off and then taking Richard out for barbecue at the new place just south of Dog Ears Books. Hope it doesn't rain.

(Image borrowed shamelessly from Books in Northport. Some days are pretty busy......)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lots of News, No Pictures

The wine fest is tomorrow, and the parking lot is ready in the nick of time! Wednesday night I was at work on break when I read in both the Northern Express and the Leelanau Enterprise that the community of Leland was so resourceful and cooperative that we had figured out how to hold the wine fest at the harbor despite the delays in actually finishing the harbor project. Rains on Monday and Tuesday had meant further delays and the wine fest site on Wednesday had looked like piles of dirt with curbs. As I went back to work I worried that the printed congratulations may have been premature.

But then I saw the project foreman watching some guys play a slot. I tapped him on the shoulder.

"Do we have asphalt?"

"Tomorrow. Eight in the morning."

Asphalt went down as promised, and set up for the wine fest should be going on as I type. I have no picture, as I am in Evanston today, picking Liz up after her junior year at Northwestern. We'll miss the wine fest, but we intend to take in the Chicago Blues Fest tomorrow. (See The Leland Report for a crazy photo)

Liz wanted baby chicks when she got home, and I finally got a hen to commit to brooding a clutch in time for the first two little ones to hatch out yesterday morning. I hope she'll be a good mom and keep them safe until we get home. I wanted to download some pictures, but this morning my computer had an ominous "System file 22 corrupted" message on the screen. Good excuse to leave town and come back with Liz and her computer. It was a beautiful day to travel. Life is good.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Leland Harbor: Four Days Til Wine Fest

And it's raining at Leland Harbor. The parking lot must be graded and paved in order to host the Leland Wine Fest on June 11, and they were still pouring curbs and gutters late last week.

This drama is as good as any reality TV series. At our last Town Board meeting we decided to extend the completion deadline to:
  • Parking Lot Paved -- June 11
  • Operational Gas Dock -- June 26
  • Building Substantial Completion -- July 10
We could have refused to grant any extensions and collected penalties and fees from the contractor, but having the harbor open, even provisionally, is worth more to us.

The docks have been in use already, almost from the moment they hit the water. Even over Memorial Day, when they were just floating in the harbor, unattached to land, there was a sailboat that spent the holiday on their own little island out there. As Anna and I left on Sunday, we saw some power boaters pull into a slip, tie up, and walk over the "Dock Closed" sign on their way to shore.

Our mission Sunday was to photograph the north side of the building, which is now almost completely covered with the grey shakes that were chosen to mirror the look of the vintage buildings of Fishtown. I have to look past the construction equipment and imagine the front porch, but I can see the building eventually feeling like an extension of Fishtown.

Even before I was elected I heard a lot of opinions about the size and style of the harbor building. I talked to people who came late to the process complaining that the building would be too big and tall. I talked to the Harbor Commission members who had put the design together based on the input from public hearings and the constraints of the site and the funding process. I went from being skeptical of the design to being a big fan. But I was also struck by the way the the people who came in late to criticize the design were talking to only each other. I had always thought of a public hearing as a mechanism for the public to make their views known to the powers that be. Now I see the public hearing as a useful forum for the various stakeholders to hear each other and figure out how to compromise. The harbor building had to accommodate the boaters' needs, the classic Fishtown architecture advocates, the pedestrian traffic, the playground crowd, and myriad state and federal agencies. Nobody was getting everything that they wanted, but the Harbor Commission did try to come up with a design that was responsive to all concerns.

Right now it takes a lot of imagination to erase the construction equipment, the tool trailers, , the piles of dirt. You have to visualize the grey shakes darkening in a few seasons. The seagulls are already depositing their own patina on the red roof. One day the flag pole will be up again, the noisy machines will be gone, and we will be standing in the harbor with seagulls flying through a stiff west wind, watching a small boat entering safe harbor, and all will be well.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 05, 2009

Stefani on "The Early Show"

Watch the video here

I wrote about Stefani Pentiuk in a Leelanau Childrens Choir inspired post a few years ago. That post ended "Life is too much to believe," and not much has changed. Stefani and her parents were on The Early Show this morning with her heart doctor, the man who reassured her before the heart transplant that she would not only survive, but he would "take you to your prom." Dr. Ackerman then showed up, ten years later at the Leelanau County Prom to surprise Stefani and fulfill his promise.

I was thinking of that scene while reading recent commentaries about proms and the expensive gowns, limos, hairdos, hotel rooms, etc that some communities indulge their kids in. Our prom is a three-school affair that takes place in the showroom at the casino where I work. The event is organized by a student committee advised by Sutton Bay business teacher Stan Pasch. You don't need a date, or a new dress for prom; you can shop second hand or rework an old dress. (I used to like to go visit prom on my breaks. Of course my own kids hated seeing me, but the neighbor kids were always glad to hug me.) Flying in your heart doctor is the most extravagance I've ever seen associated with the Leelanau County Prom, but it made perfect sense.

I've told Stefani's story a lot lately. There's not much to do when you turn eighteen in this town, so lots of kids come out to play at the three dollar blackjack tables once they're old enough. During the transplant and recovery years Stefsni seemed to have lost a few years of growth and a lot of people ask "is she old enough to be in here?" I like telling her story, as it perfectly illustrates my oft-repeated line "Casino luck is the most overrated kind of luck."

Stefani graduates next week and sings in the choir concert the week after. We are all charged with taking whatever luck we have and using it to serve others. She will start at Hope college in the fall, studying to become a nurse.

I was apprehensive about The Early Show gig, but they did a wonderfully understated job of telling the story. I'm looking forward to hearing Stefani's account of her trip to New York.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Leelanau Children's Choir Upcoming Concert

This year's Leelanau Childrens Choir concert is entitled "The Last Five Years", referring to the musical of the same name and also describing the choice of music, all of which comes from recently debuted Broadway shows. They are singing selections from "Spelling Bee", "Spring Awakening", "Billy Elliot", "The Light in the Piazza", "Mary Poppins", "The Last Five Years", "Wicked" and probably some others that I haven't heard yet.

So much new music means that the kids have a lot to learn. Anna has been sitting at the piano evey spare moment working out the melodic details of each piece. The song in the video, however, has taken over her imagination; it is the song she sings to herself when she doesn't even know she's singing. Anna's voice is suddenly sweet, strong, and mature, as if the person upstairs singing is a young woman, not a twelve year old girl.

The video is a YouTube production of an anonymous voice singing a capella, illustrated with stills from various productions of "Light in the Piazza". It seems you can find anything on YouTube these days. The concert is on Friday June 19th at the Northport Community Arts Center. The concert begins at 7:30 pm.