". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Visiting Lansing

Last weekend I set foot in Michigan for the first time ever. The occasion was (what else?) a chess tournament in which my son was participating. (I think I have done more traveling in the last 8 years of taking him to chess tournaments than I did in the 35 years of my life B. C.--Before Chess.)

The tournament was held downtown at the Radisson, just a couple of blocks from the State Capitol.

While Trevor played chess, I enjoyed some down time (definitely one of the benefits of being a "chess mom"). Not only that, but I met up with some kindred spirits! I subscribe to an email list for Lutheran homeschoolers (a. k. a. "Loopers"). It's a great group, and we are always looking for opportunites to meet in person. When I discovered my chess chauffering responsibilities were going to be taking me to Michigan, I put out an ALB ("all Looper bulletin"). I was thrilled to get three takers from among the Michigan Loopers! We met at the hotel, ventured out for lunch, and then returned for visiting and chocolate in my hotel room. It was wonderful to make three new friends and share homeschooling & mothering stories.

Brain-addled mommy types that we are, we failed to draft my son to take a picture of our whole group while he was between rounds. So we had to do two rounds of photography.

Pictured are Becky S., you-know-who, and Becky D. Oh yeah, and if you look very closely, you might be able to tell that there's a little S.-on-the-way snuggling in his mommy's tummy.

Now you see me, now you don't! Jeannette M. has taken the middle spot.

It was such a pleasure to meet these ladies. I'm already looking for another chess tournament so Trevor and I can make a return visit.

The weekend did have a few down sides, however. It was interesting that I didn't find the weather on the drive there to be too terrible, yet there were multiple cars traveling at slower-than-the-limit speeds while flashing their warning lights. It was not snowing at the time, and the road conditions were not bad, so I was puzzled as to why they were going so slowly. On the other hand, on our drive home through blinding lake effect snow (with me driving 25-30 mph much of the time) we were routinely passed by cars going much faster. And I'm afraid some of those cars may have come to regret their carelessness, as we counted at least 10 cars off the road on our drive home.

Am I missing something here? Do you Michiganers (Michiganites? Michiganians?) have different snow-driving protocols than we do in Illinois?

Trevor and I also had the truly scary experience of almost getting run over by a snow plow. We had just stepped out of Jimmy John's (it was the one meal for which we had sufficient time between his rounds to actually venture outside the hotel, and it being Sunday, all the more interesting and distinctive establishments were closed). As we stood just steps outside the entrance, a sidewalk snowplow in back-up mode almost ran us down. We had to literally run to clear his path. I don't think he ever saw us.

Then there was that Saturday morning round. It was the first game of the tournament, and even though Trevor and I had lost an hour due to the time change, we were there early and Trevor was ready to play. I guess I have turned into more of a Chicagoan than I realized, because it annoyed me to no end to have to wait not 15 minutes, not 30 minutes, not 45 minutes, but almost an hour for the tournament to start. And I wasn't even the one competing! Apparently the tournament director decided to start late due to the weather. My feeling was "Come on! Don't you Michigan types drive in this stuff all the time, just like we do in Chicago? Let's get this show on the road!"

Minor complaints about the hotel: I think they need some high powered humidifiers. My hair was as flat as a pancake. (Or a board. Take your pick of tired metaphors.) And I got so very tired of being shocked every time I went to press an elevator button, open a door, turn on a light, etc. I was hoping for a relaxing weekend, not an electrifying one!

Also, the hotel needs to work on its Internet filtering. I was blocked from several online sites for questionable reasons. One occurred when I tried to read an anti-anti-Semitism article. The filter didn't like one of the phrases in the article, failing to realize that the article was being critical of anti-Semitism, not promoting it.

These are minor complaints, and nothing compared to the fun of meeting those classy and fun ladies pictured above. But I am glad that we made it home in one piece!


Elephantschild said...

I vote Michiganians Were any of them named Micheal Finegean? Did they have whiskers on their chinigans?

Ok, I'll stop.

Big Doofus said...

It's just too bad that your first time in Michigan was in the winter. You really should go up to Lake Michigan some time in the summer. It's one of my favorite places to go.

Did you think of searching for "pro Semitism" Just a thought.

Deirdre said...

Michi-ganders. I have heard that word in use.

I guess the counterpart is a Michi-goose?

Kathy said...

YIkes! My heart goes out to you for the driving part. I had that same drive on the way home from my Grandma's funeral two years ago. I will never forget taking 11 hours to get home from Frankenmuth after it took me only 7 to get over there. And it was just me and my two girls. Chicago's dry roads never looked as good as they did after hours of driving on sheer ice in blinding snow. Michigan is VERY nice in the summer!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting pictures, Cheryl! It was wonderful to meet you and your son. Hope you come back to Michigan...preferably in the summer. It really is beautiful on THIS side of Lake Michigan! And, I hear that Calvin College is hosting a great HT conference. :)


Glenda said...

We had just stepped out of Jimmy John's (it was the one meal for which we had sufficient time between his rounds to actually venture outside the hotel, and it being Sunday, all the more interesting and distinctive establishments were closed).

In our book, Jimmy John's is never a let down and is considered one of the more interesting establishments.

Cheryl said...

EC, the scary thing is, I know that song.

BD & Kathy, even in the snow that drive along the lake was gorgeous. I would love to see it in the summer, and I just may.

Deirdre, good one!

Jeannette, it was great meeting you, too! Hope to see you again soon!

And Glenda, I wasn't knocking Jimmy John's. We like it, too. But Phil had looked up some nearby restaurants for us that were not chains and would have had more of a local flavor. We can go to Jimmy John's in Chicago. I had hoped for something a little different. And I did get that with one meal--the one I had with the ladies at the railroad restaurant (can't remember the name right now). But I was hoping for one more of those non-chain meals for me and Trevor!

Becky S. said...

Thanks for posting the pictures, Cheryl. It was a joy and a blessing to meet up with the loopers. We are indeed called Michiganders and please return in the summer months. Glad you made it home safely though w/ a bit of excitement.

Karen said...

Years ago when I moved to Michigan from Chicago, people from Michigan were called Michiganders. About 25 or so years ago the official name is Michiganians. Was the railroad restaurant called Clara's? I always go there when we attend our state homeschool convention in Lansing. There is an even cooler Clara's restaurant in Battle Creek!

I'm really sorry that we weren't able to connect this time. Maybe we can some time when I'm in the Chicago area or the next time you're in Michigan.

Christina Roberts said...

Wow! Some of the women I admire most all in one place! Please do come back to Michigan - we would love to have you visit Grand Rapids!