Book Review: The Rose Code
By Alexis Mercer
I read somewhere the other day “this is my summer of no”. The author (who I unfortunately can’t find again) went on to say that she had reached the point where she was just saying no to any engagements that she didn’t feel like doing. That the pandemic had changed her from an overcommitted adult, unable to politely decline, into someone who was empowered to say no.
I read those words on social media before setting down my phone and diving into the world of The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. This historical fiction novel is set during World War II England with three vibrant women from vastly different walks of life as main characters who all find themselves working at the now infamous Bletchley Park in the top-secret task of decoding messages from the enemy.
The tale weaves back and forth from the days leading up to the marriage of Prince Philip with the future Queen Elizabeth to the early years of 1940.
Osla Kendall, Mab Churt and Beth Finch. Brilliant, strong women who all want to do their part to help with the war. They are pulled together through circumstance, but the course of tragic events rips them apart for years - until one coded message alters that path one more time.
Everything about this book was gripping. The plot, the characters, the history behind the tale. What struck me most as I read was just how realistic it all felt. Of course I could never know what it was like to actually live during WWII, but thanks to the magnificent writing of Quinn I felt the pain, longing, pride and fear of the characters as if it was my own. In the Author’s Note at the conclusion of the story, I learned just how much of the book was based on real people and fact.
This book was so obsessively good, I found myself saying my own “nos” to read it. Instead of rushing around and overcommitting, I gave myself a few hours each day to curl up in a chair and live in the world of ‘The Bletchley Park Girls’. If every book I read this summer is as enthralling, I’ll be finding it easier and easier to say more nos.
A quintet of private grounds & the church garden
One of my ongoing issues with the Home & Garden network (beyond its propensity to provide ideas for remodeling N3 World Headquarters) is that they toss out a lot about homes and way too little about gardens. In fact they should change their name to The Contractors Network since it has evolved into a venue for carpentry types and their innovation oriented partners to cash in on their fetching personalities as they face the inevitable crises inherent in reno projects.
But enough grousing. Here’s some news on actual gardens.
Each year for nearly 2 decades the Fremont United Methodist Church has held their Annual Garden Tour. Last year like many events the popular event took a sabbatical, courtesy of COVID of course.
Thankfully the opportunity to experience some very appealing gardens is back on and raring to go.
Here's the skinny on the tour courtesy of co-organizer Jean Sherman:
Yes, Fremont United Methodist Church is holding their Garden Tour again this year. The garden tour will be held Saturday, July 10 from 9 am to 3 pm. You are invited to tour five gardens in the Fremont area plus the gardens at the Fremont United Methodist Church. Your ticket to tour the gardens will include a free cookie and beverage. Tickets are $7.00 and can be purchased at the church or day of event.
We are so happy to be able to tour the gardens of Amber Wakefield & Curtis Muma, Linda and Chip Wiersema, Kathy Fend, Susan Littich and Patti and Rod Croff. They are very pretty gardens located within an easy drive around Fremont.
The day of the Garden Tour, stop at the Fremont United Methodist church to tour their Memorial and Prayer Gardens. While there look over the garden art made by church members. Also, purchase baked goods and books. Yes, we will have a Christian fiction book sale. We are sorry to say that we will not have the Salad Luncheon. All proceeds benefit mission projects of the Fremont United Methodist Church. Contact church office 231-924-0030 or Jean Sherman at 231-519-2542 for further questions.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”- Claude Monet
Some of the items available for sale at the event
Local author to hold workshop at NADL
The Newaygo Area District Library is hosting a workshop on life storytelling presented by local author Janet Glaser, aka J.Q. Rose, on Saturday, July 10 at 10:30 a.m.
“I have presented workshops on writing life stories for years, I encourage everyone to record their stories for their family and friends. Helping people get started on telling their life stories is a privilege because every person has stories that are important and valuable to share,”
She decided to use the lessons learned from all the years of workshopping and penned her memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir.
“I began my memoir for our daughters to tell them about moving from Central Illinois to Fremont because we had a dream of operating a greenhouse business. We purchased Fairview Floral on the west side of Fremont and opened as the ‘new owners’ on January 1, 1975. The story evolved into a book, so I decided to publish the memoir to inspire others and let them know dreams can come true.”
This class is supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program, administered by LowellArts. Please call the Library @ 231-652-6723 to Register or RSVP on the website @ https://newaygolibrary.org.
The Welcome Return of The Lakeshore Arts Festival
While the staff and residents of N3 World Headquarters & Rabbit Restaurant (once known as our garden) are ecstatic about restrictions being lifted for indoor events, restaurants, entertainment venues and the ilk it is, after all, summer in this bipeninsular paradise and our overwhelming preference remains with the events that take place outside.
And festivals, the kind that bring a variety of activities and cool things to see are among our favorite kinds of outdoor fun.
With a bit (perhaps a tad more than a bit) of much needed rain predicted to make an occasional appearance over the coming days you might want to bring an umbrella or 2 but if you are looking for that wonderful and at times elusive combination of f’s known as family friendly fun? You might want to take a little road trip to our metro neighbor Muskegon this weekend.
The Lakeshore Arts Festival festival kicks off Saturday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and continues Sunday, June 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And here’s a cool thing for those who enjoy a bit of adult refreshment with their festivals.
The new Downtown Social District is located right in the heart of the Festival. And that means guests will be allowed to roam New Orleans style within the social district with beverage in hand. A great chance to sip, shop and savor all that the festival and local restaurants have to offer.
"We are thrilled to bring back the Lakeshore Art Festival,” said Festival Director Carla Flanders. ”This year's event will feature hundreds of juried fine art and specialty craft exhibitors, a Children’s Lane, artisan food market, street performers, interactive art stations, and so much more! The show will happen, rain or shine, so be sure to watch the weather, dress accordingly and come support the many artists, crafters, food vendors and downtown businesses this weekend!"
About 100 booths will be set up in Hackley Park displaying fine art and crafts. The craft and artisan food market will occupy W. Western Avenue from First Street to Fourth Street and down Fourth and The Children’s Lane runs next to the splash pad on W. Western Avenue between First Street and Jefferson Street.
Sure it might be a bit damp this weekend but when these events return from their pandemic produced sabbaticals it’s important for us to get out there and support their efforts. After all it's what we bipeninsularians do, right?
See you there.
More info: https://lakeshoreartfestival.org/
It is Tuesday as this goes to post (not print) and we have officially opened the floodgates of summer fun as today nearly all restrictions have been lifted.
In other words, Time to Celebrate!
We can foresee some fun this weekend and even a bit of a head start on Thursday.
Braunschweiger Blues Band: The Sequel
The Fremont Concert in the Park Series this week features the long awaited return of the venerated Braunschweiger Blues Band. Tanned, rested and ready to rock, the group has been in rehearsals shaking off the rust of a year’s worth of pandemic driven dormancy. .
Lead singer Doug Harmon said, "The band is excited and anxious to once again play for everyone that comes out to hear and enjoy the music."
Yes it’s been awhile since the B3 followers have had a chance to kick up their heels a bit to their ever widening variety of musical genres and intriguing interpretations when covering familiar tunes. So unless dancing isn’t allowed at the park you might see a few folks on their feet, feeling the beat of the music.
Joining Doug in the band is Wade Perkins, saxophone, Randy Seabolt, bass guitar, John Chandonet, drums, Todd Juengel, guitar and keyboard, Angela Burgess, vocals, Lola Harmon-Ramsey, vocals, and Rich Tanis, sound engineer.
Thursday 7pm. Vets Memorial Park. 4 days after the Summer Solstice so….
It’s time, people.
Oh, and show up hungry because the Rotary club of Fremont will be offering a dinner of sloppy joes, chips, cookie, and drink for $6.00 (what a deal!) beginning around 6:30pm. All proceeds from this dinner will go to local Rotary service projects.
The concert in the park series is free and hosted by the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rumor has it the Newaygo Farmer’s Market has opened for biz on Fridays at Brooks Park from 2-6pm. What? Not sure of the locale? You can’t miss it. Just follow the detour signs toward the new route circling the park and look toward your left (if coming from the south) and there it is. Heading south would require a left turn at the light which could be a little dicier on a Friday afternoon, but should the market continue to build on the revival that occurred last year it is definitely worth the effort. Check out Happy Hog Farm’s booth for some righteous pork products (try the brats) and the Soapstress of Little Mitten Soaps (aka Abi Koster) has a seriously fine selection of items designed to help you maintain that healthy, glowing skin you keep getting compliments on.
And if you missed the Newaygo Market you can cruise over to Fremont’s Market Pavilion (block off Main St.) for Opening Day and check out the veggie vendors, fruit traffickers (it’s strawberry season!), and sellers of stuff. Saturday 8am-1pm.
If you want a small road trip the Muskegon Farmers Market is the absolute bomb and make sure you visit the FishMonger’s Wife, the Cheese Lady and Laughing Tree Bakery (see recent story) https://www.nearnorthnow.com/features-and-fun/laughing-tree-brick-oven-bakery
And for a great breakfast with epic bread choices for toast try Carmen’s beforehand. Look it up.
More Outside Tunes
Did your BBB experience in Fremont whet your appetite for outdoor music? Well.look no further than one of our favorite local decks complete with a vista overlooking Croton Pond and attached to the Driftwood Bar. The D-wood has been bringing in some bodacious music for many summers and this weekend you can hear the group Mustang on Saturday and the retro rock sound of Dawn’s Image on Sunday. The tunes generally start mid to late afternoon both days and play into early evening but give them a call for times.
And A Wrap
There it is. More fun to be found of course and if you’re at Newaygo Brewery after hitting the Friday market ask if Nick has replenished the Coconut Brown.
If he has, try it.
And remember fellow bipeninsularians…
We’ve got some long overdue revelry to make up for.
Do you have lots of your child's artwork or crafts all over your house, and you don't want to store all of it but you don't want to throw it in the trash?
By Ken DeLaat
One of the cool things being done around these parts is an initiative by the Fremont Library to bring the magic of children’s art to nursing homes.
I recall the enjoyment of seeing my refrigerator lined with the artistic creations my children did as youngsters. When it stopped it was sorely missed and instead of creative crayon works and fascinating fingerpaint forms the fridge became peppered with post-it notes like “Ken don’t forget your glasses!” and an adjoining reminder like “...and your wallet, we don’t want another ugly scene at the gas station”
When I find myself in the kitchen area of other houses (invited, always invited) where younger children or grandchildren are in the mix I generally take time to admire their work whether it be an exercise in expressionism or a piece from their blue period.
But enough prattle.
The FADL has put together this innovative little channel of cheer by installing an art collection box where the work of future Picassos and Monets can be shared with the folks who reside in our local care facilities. The box is located in the Children's Department (of course) and artistic contributions can be made at any time the library is open.
Well done FADL.
Well done indeed.
Story and photo by Donna Iverson
Hilde Muller had just graduated from a Midwestern Quaker College with a degree in English literature, when a voice in her head said “bake bread.” Did she listen? Yes, she did. And today she is co-owner of Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery.
You can find her every Saturday at the Muskegon Farmers Market selling the bread that she and her husband, Charlie, bake daily at their organic solar-powered farm in Hart, Michigan.
But she hasn’t left her love of English literature behind. Her bakery website motto is “small good things matter.” Asked to elaborate, she says the quote comes from a Richard Carver short story, that her small good things are the baked goods she sells and cultivating respectful caring relationships with her customers and her employees.
Hilde was also influenced by E. F. Schumacher who wrote Small is Beautiful. Among other things, Schumacher advocated for cottage industries and small farms as well as frugality and low-impact development.
Born in Ann Arbor, her family moved to Ypsilanti when she was eight years old. It was there, after college, that she sought her first job at an Ypsilanti bakery. Charlie, the baker, turned her down as she was planning a trip to Kenya and he didn’t sent to train someone who would be leaving for Africa. When she got back from Kenya, she crossed paths with Charlie again and this time he wasn’t saying “no.” They ended up marrying, having three children, and opening the Hart bakery together.
In 2021, they are celebrating the bakery’s tenth anniversary with a solid and loyal customer base, especially in Muskegon. In addition to bread, they sell muffins, rolls, scones, and granola. Their bread has names like Homesteaders Wheat, Finn’s Pecan Raisin, Pilgrim Rye, and Cheddar Peppercorn.
During the pandemic, Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery offers its customers a “pay what you can” price for its bread. And under their Pay It Forward plan, it donates dozens of its bread loaves weekly to area food banks, including the Mission For Area People and Harbor Grace Church, both in Muskegon.
The loaves are paid for my bakery customers who can donate bread at their online website or at the Saturday market stand, Hilde said. The website is http://www.laughingtreebakery.com/
And does Hilde still hear the call to bake bread? Yes, it now says “go out and make some dough.”
Scott Swinehart was out fishing along the river a bit upstream from Mystery Creek Campground in early May. He had spotted a few items such as flip flops the week before as spring revealed some of last year's leftovers along the banks.
On this day however he caught a glimpse of what looked to be a wet bag, completely sealed and tucked beneath the bank.
Inside was a wallet containing the usual pieces of identification and so forth and also $49.00.
Scott contacted the owner, Jamey Nichols and when he got a hold of him said “I have some good news and bad news.The good news is I’ve got 49 bucks for you. The bad news is your driver's license is expired.”
The two talked and the wallet returned.
Having heard the finding version of the story we decided to reach out and see what the losing side of the story might be. Scott contacted Jamey who let us pose a few questions
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from, etc.
I'm from Stanton. I'm an adjunct professor of Psychology at Cornerstone University and also work as a specialized Interim Pastor, currently in Cedarville, MI. My wife, Michelle and I took up kayak camping a few years back. In our enthusiasm, our friend, Josh Herzog of Six Lakes gave it a try, too. He was already fond of backpacking and survival camping, so it was kind of the same but with a twist.
What were you doing on the River that day?
Josh and I set out on a two-day jaunt down the Muskegon River. We put in just below Hardy Dam with no real destination in mind. We simply wanted to enjoy a couple days and nights out on the river.
When did you realize the drypack containing your wallet was gone?
Instantly after I dumped. You see, I had spotted something orange earlier in the day and paddled to the other side of the river just to see what it was. Turns out we'd found a fairly nice (and fairly new!) kayak paddle hung up in some brush in the middle of nowhere. This spurred our curiosity along with a touch of avarice, and we began looking for "river treasures" as we paddled. Just up from Scott's about 100 yards, the river took a hard left. That meant the current ran swiftly against the opposite bank. As it was, a tree had fallen out into the water and quite a tangled collection had accumulated. I paddled over to check it out thinking I would simply sidle up next to the debris pile. I settled into the current and drifted sideways looking to land gently against the upstream side of the pile. Unfortunately, I was drifting faster than expected and directly into the tip of a pointy branch about the size of a baseball bat. It stuck out above the water about 6-8 inches and reminded me of a jousting stick. Since I wasn't interested in having my boat or my body impaled, I lifted the stick and the current wedged me underneath it. There it was. I was stuck. In no time, the accelerated rush of the current was splashing into my cockpit. I was filling up fast! In my effort to escape, I capsized in an upstream direction and immediately discovered the power of the undertow. Everything I had on my deck that wasn't lashed along with everything behind my seatback was washed out and sucked under. I was wearing a life jacket, so I was fine.
Was there a search?
We took a little time to search but it was to no avail. Josh looked for anything that might pop up downstream and I pushed my boat to the island directly across from the pile. I emptied the water from my boat and laid out some things to dry before I swam back to the debris for one final look. It was to no avail, and I determined further searching was hopeless. The river had carved a very deep hole at the bend as the current dove below the accumulated debris. I feared that an attempt to find anything below the surface would be perilous given the force of the current and the likelihood of downward pointing branches that may have snagged a host of other sorts of river debris. We paddled on lessons learned--always be mindful of the way centrifugal force can turn a river from gentle to aggressive.
What was the reaction when you heard from Scott?
Stunned, really. I had already gone through the work of cancelling my cards and restoring my lost license. I'd written it off as gone forever. The dry bag Scott found was the type a person might use for a cell phone. I have a few of them and use them for lots of things including my wallet and chewing gum. Evidently, that particular bag weathered the winter quite well, practically fusing itself together. Scott had to cut it open to see whose wallet it was. My chewing gum was still fresh, and the wallet was bone dry. As it turns out, Scott found the wallet only about 100 yards from where I capsized. I had about $50 bucks in cash and offered that Scott could take what he needed to cover shipping costs, but he didn't. I got everything back and made a friend in the process. He chided me that I should get another of the same bag since it was so resilient but that I should look for a model with a GPS.
Scott’s honesty as well as the effort put forth to find the owner may have delivered the 49 dollars to Jamey, but it also delivered a good story.
Hesperia, MI – How can elementary students help a community? Students in Jordan Bourdo, Denise Short and Angie Pummel’s second grade classrooms at Patricia St. Clair Elementary School learned just that recently when they integrated the Junior Achievement Our Community program into their curriculum. JA Our Community introduces students to the intersection of work readiness and social studies learning objectives, including how citizens benefit from and contribute to a community's success.
Students walk away from the experience learning more about their community, careers, how businesses and government works, taxation, voting and how money flows through a community’s economy. This year, the second grade teachers at Patricia St. Clair Elementary took the learning experience to the next level, creating a true entrepreneurial experience by having the students create and sell a product—donuts!
After learning more about business ownership, the students worked together to design a class donut that would be sold locally. “It was super cool,” said student Haden Burrell. “I really liked designing the donuts.” Students worked on their design and each class then voted on the design that would represent them. Each of the class’ donut designs were then created and sold at Ed’s Orchard Market in May. Students were able to take a field trip to the store to learn more about the process.
“All of us at Ed's Orchard Market were so excited to participate in the Junior Achievement project with the second graders at Patricia St. Clair Elementary. In our nearly 80 years of providing a local shopping experience to the Hesperia community, we have taken pride in participating with many school projects,” said owner Scott Rumsey. “The donut project was unique in that it allowed the students to gain insight into creating a new product for our bakery, presenting it to their classmates for consideration, and getting to see the finished product being made right here in our bakery. The kids were so excited to see their creations in our donut case when they toured the store. It was clear the activity was a great deal of fun for all of them, and for all of us as well.”
“We are so proud of the students at Patricia St. Clair Elementary School for implementing what they learned this year about entrepreneurship,” said Bill Coderre, President and CEO, Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes. “Part of our goal is to make a lasting impression on these students so they will be inspired to positively impact communities in the future with their own businesses.”
Special thanks to the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Gerber Foundation who provided the funding necessary to run these impactful programs in the area.
If you would like to learn more about or support Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes, please call 616-575-9080.
If you saw our article on the HTRJ Patio and want to make a visit to the area’s newest outdoor dining experience we have some great news.
In addition to their eclectic array of pizzas to enjoy this Saturday there will be music!
Not just any music but Marquis & Jessica aka the Bernard Sisters, a duo that delivers some of the finest harmonic tunesmanship to be found in this (and perhaps any) region.
Outdoor dining, mighty fine pizza, and the chance at long last to hear some music in an intimate setting.
What could be better?
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