Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July has always been a favorite of mine…  Wonderful fireworks all around Northern Michigan!  But there’s more reasons that its a favorite.

Happy Boat Dogs

img_6635My favorite wine and a sunset on the water!img_6637Boat time with friends and familyimg_6644Dinner served boatside

img_6656Beautiful sunsetimg_6659My happy place… the captains chair on my pontooon!img_6662Patriotic Boaters

Beautiful skylines and warm nights!

img_6673Beautiful clean clear watersimg_6674Splashing through THE Sandbar… yes…  It’s the world famous Torch Lake Sand Bar.  This is where I grew up… and where I celebrate the freedom of our country every year.   img_6676

Enjoy every minute, and appreciate whats around!  Never take these things for granted.  It’s all great!

Happy Birthday America!

The Rise and Fall of the Shopping Mall?

In the late 1960’s, shopping malls popped up all around the country. I remember, because I was a kid way back then, and one of my favorite pastimes was loading up into the car with my mom, Grammy, and aunties to hit the Paka Plaza in Jackson, Michigan. It was a joy to wonder through the toy department at Sears Roebuck to pick out the favorite teddy bear. If I remember correctly, I picked a somewhat girly bear. My cousin, Erin (yes, thats you dear!) picked the cuddly brown bear with the boy clothes. She was much more of a tomboy than I was back then. (Strange how my memory works!) While my mom and my Aunt giggled about sizes marked with TT… They said it meant “teeny tiny” size!

Then we moved UpNorth.. Rapid City, Michigan… Torch Lake… Aka 3rd most beautiful lake in the world! No malls.. But we took many long drives back to Jackson to hit our favorite spots, along with many relatives and in 1972 they got a wondrous new indoor mall.. Westwood Mall… This quickly became a new favorite, with its extra expansive JC Penney, and Hudsons!

UpNorth shopping was mainly downtown. Traverse City, with its famous Milliken’s Tea Room, among quaint boutiques with unique clothing items. In 1978, the community scored big with the opening of the Cherryland Mall. The community had come of age with its flagship department store, Prange’s, along with Sears Roebuck and Kmart, not to mention Main Street Sports (Kudos to the Gallagher family!). The place was usually packed with happy shoppers, until around 1991, when the community was introduced to the Grand Traverse Mall. Oh the joy of shopping became larger!

Flash forward to today… Milliken’s is gone from downtown. Westwood Mall is still surviving. Cherryland Mall is now the Cherryland Center, struggling to fill vacant spaces. Multiple stores in the Grand Traverse Mall are slated to close, leaving it’s development company in search of new tenant’s. Who is to blame? Some say Amazon.com.

Well.. Amazon is convenient, but… in my recent travels to Raleigh, NC (Crabtree Valley Mall) and Estero, FL, (Coconut Point Mall) I was pleased to find good busy bustling malls with amazing shopping, and very few vacant spaces! My anxiety about the death of my favorite sport is eased! Now… What are these communities doing that our struggling malls can learn from?

Perhaps its quality over quantity? Maybe it’s the economy setting of the communities? What if it’s simply a matter of making time to spend a family shopping day on occasion, instead of blindly ordering something to be delivered to your door?

This is simply one of the things that randomly runs through my brain from time to time

In the meantime… Get out there and hit those local malls… Make memories! Happy shopping, all!

My Latest Obsession: Ancestry.com

There are two sides to everyones family!  So, my dad’s side of the family has been well documented by my Uncle.  Who traced the family way back to pre-revolutionary times in the United States.  This side of the family pretty much traces back to Great Britain, Ireland, with a touch of Italian, French, and Scandanavian, etc….  This side of my family were explorers and founders of the State of Kentucky, migrating from North Carolina to settle in West Kentucky to farm its lush landscape.  It’s a place I’ve become familiar with because I still have family in the area.  Upon tracing the history on Ancestry, I found decorated Revolutionary military, and British Lords and Ladies, and lots of farmers.  Not just small time farmers. But 1000 acre farmers.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Meet my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Major John Finley…

My Mom’s side I was a little familiar with, but the tree pretty much stopped as far as history goes, when my Great-Great Grandparents, Gerardus and Wilhemena (Minnie) Vernooy,  came across to Ellis Island on a boat from the Netherlands in 1900 with their children.

Curiosity set in!  So of course, I went directly to Ancestry.com to get a DNA test kit.  My overall result…  55% Western European.  This is no surprise, since the Netherlands is located in this area.  So I started tracing back this family history.

The Vernooy side was easy to trace, since there are previous Ancestry members who have posted their family trees that match mine.  Dutch!  Tulips, wooden shoes, the works!  My Great Great Grandfather made wooden shoes before he came to the USA.  His profession is listed in the census statistics on Ancestry.  Landing in Waterford, MI, and eventually Kent County, Michigan my family planted their roots.  Good choice!  Who doesn’t love the Grand Rapids area?

My maternal grandfather was a bit more difficult history to track…  I finally broke through when my DNA results came back, and I was able to find matches of distant cousins throughout the country.  I know that my Great Grandparents moved to Michigan from Indiana.  Eaton Rapids is where my Grandfather hails from.  This side of my family has a long history of Military Service, Blacksmith, and Farming.  They also pre-date the USA from pre-revolutionary times, landing in NY in the early 1600’s from Scotland, Great Britain, and yes, the Netherlands.  They migrated from Upstate NY, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, until eventually settling in Michigan.

Death Certificates particulary catch my attention in this venture.  Causes of Death range anywhere from “Old Age”, to Heart issues, obesity, pneumonia, cancer, etc…  Says a lot about my own heath issues!  It even gives me incentive on areas that I can work on.

What surprised me most in this process is my new sense of who I am in the big picture.  I am redominantly Dutch/Irish/British, with a long family history in the United States.  But a visit to the Netherlands has gained a spot on my bucket list!