Rare Sighting

Posted by jdg | 7:09 PM





photo credit: zan mcquade

As my last post suggests, you're more likely to see a ring-necked pheasant humping a peregrine falcon on top of the Penobscot Building than spotting my wife and me out together at a bar in Detroit (we've each been to D'Mongos a few times, but never together). Our friend and new neighbor came over for a few hours last week and watched the kids while we showed Zan our limited knowledge of Detroit nightlife.

God, I hope that arm is in motion.

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The Easel

Posted by jdg | 1:10 PM





photo credit: zan mcquade

I bought her this easel for Christmas last year and it's become a permanent fixture in our living room. She probably spends two hours a day drawing, and like anything a kid loves to do, it involves a constant need for parental acknowledgment. "Look at this," she'll say. "See? See?" If my eyes are on the computer or I'm cleaning up the kitchen and I mumble "Mmm Hmm," she always says, "But your eyes aren't pointed at it."

Here Zan captured a moment where my eyes are pointed at it.


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View from the Passenger Seat

Posted by jdg | 3:43 PM





photo credit: zan mcquade

It's strange seeing a view of your own life through someone else's camera, particularly when you're so accustomed to being behind the lens yourself. This past weekend we had a wonderful but all-too-brief visit from our friend Zan as she headed to Ohio's north coast for a family reunion. This week I'm going to share some photos she took during her visit to Detroit (as the week's daily photos). Here I am driving her around some of the places I've written about in the past, with that beautiful overgrown shop I've never even noticed before out the windshield (as hard as I've tried not to, you grow numb to some of these things, which is why visitors are a wonderful way to help keep my eyes fresh). Here are more of her pictures.

[Zan also wrote a really lovely post about her visit; and just this week a wonderful family from Oman came to Detroit only because they read about it on this blog and they even bought a home here, raving every time we saw them about how wonderful Detroit is, especially its sense of community). I think Zan captures it well.]


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Gram at Seventeen Months

Posted by jdg | 11:00 AM |





I totally forgot to do my monthly photo of Gram for July. Well, here he was on the 21st, just a few days past the seventeen-month mark. His mama made those pants (and the patches have proven surprisingly useful). The shirt came with our visitors from Paris.

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To be completely honest, this house isn't even vacant, let alone feral. The people living there are either squatters or they've got bigger things to worry about than lawn care. The cats were hungry, and like tourists we fed them. This one isn't far at all from our house, and the cats have tried to follow us home on the bike.

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Here are the kids inside Michael Hall's "Amaranth" (1980) (obviously this was before kindermullet removal proceedings were initiated) during the trip to Cranbrook that produced this alphabet book.

What's blowing my mind is that it's been nearly three years since my first trip to Cranbrook, when I took this photo. Fruit flies like a banana, etc.

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One Less Playground

Posted by jdg | 11:41 AM | , ,





I used to brag that there were six playgrounds within two blocks of our front door. Now, there are five. A nearby school tore its sweet 1960s jungle gym out of the concrete and left it to sit like this in the parking lot for days, a weird piece of unintentional modern art (it was later squashed down further by construction equipment). This morning I saw a scrapper trying to fit as much of it as possible into his minivan.

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When it comes to ivy, Detroit is in a league of its own.

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The old backyard

Posted by jdg | 2:02 PM





A few years after my sister and I moved out of the house, my dad started turning the backyard into my parents' personal Eden. Outside the frame in the foreground (and to the right) is his closed-system river with two natural waterfalls. He's got fish bigger than our dog swimming around in the lagoon at the bottom of one of the waterfalls, and this year he apparently bought 2 million flowering plants. All this from a guy with no landscaping experience; he repairs antique automobiles for a living. There's a playground for the kids and a primordial forest behind his shop that he has refused to sell to developers even as the house he bought in the country turned into a house surrounded by other peoples' subdivisions.

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I went back to the abandoned zoo the other day to see how things were holding up. A lot of the trees are dying and when they fall they crush fences or boardwalks, but other than that things were quiet and wild as ever.

In the lion/tiger cages, this little plant seemed to be opening the door to come inside.


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. . .but it was yesterday that we stopped by the Heidelberg Project to find a bunch of dudes from Brooklyn trying to convince Tyree Guyton to drape a gigantic American flag over a house (and he was buzzing with excitement about the idea).

While our French friends wandered around the project, the kid just ran around under the flag. That dress is from Paris. She wore it to camp yesterday and we had to beg and plead to convince her not to sleep in it. She only agreed after we told her we'd wash it overnight and have it ready for her this morning. She's probably getting mud on it right now.

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A great thing about Detroit is that a dad with two kids on his bike is far from the strangest two-wheeled sight you might see on an average day. Take these two on their Townie, flying ahead of me all the way down Cass, ripping through red lights like nobody's business. Or these guys, blasting the classics wherever they go.

And did you read our neighbor's New York Times opinion?


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Ripe Mulberries

Posted by jdg | 10:17 AM | , ,





It's urban gleaning season here in Detroit again. A few days ago I discovered a half dozen giant mulberry trees (and a few seedlings) in that abandoned swath of land around Jane Cooper school. There are four mulberry trees within a few blocks of our house and we filled a basket from them yesterday (harder than you'd think: Gram eats them as fast as I can pick them). I can see the pears growing on the trees where we'll pick them in a month or so, and the apples are starting to take shape as well.

Makes me miss Puerto Rico, where we picked starfruit and grapefruit every morning for breakfast, where we saw bananas growing wild in the jungle. These things last for a few short weeks here, and then it's on to the next fruit, and then a long, hard winter. That's why we make sure to enjoy it while we can.

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