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The times are changing.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Once upon a time families used to sit down and eat dinner together. Not just sit down, but sit at the table. Talk about their day and enjoy the companionship that is family.

People went to each other’s house to visit, or write letters by hand, and send greeting cards via the United States Postal Service.

And yes, children used to play outside for hours on end, neglecting that thing called the television

Heck, some of us used to leave our doors unlocked and windows open, and not just when were home, but when we ran to the store or to run other errands and even as we slept.

People used to write checks or even paid in cash!

Telephones were objects that were used solely for talking, and that was it. And remember when your phone would just ring? Like with an actual “Brrrrrrriiiinnnnggg”?

Boy, have the times changed.

Families are too busy to sit down and eat together as a family anymore. For some, it is a success when they can come together at least ONCE a week or for others, if they can eat somewhere other than in front of the TV. Lives are busy, children are in sports, band or other activities and parents are working day and night to help provide for the family. These are the times we are living in!

It is nearly impossible to leave doors or windows open anymore, unless you are home, but even then, that can pose a risk at times. Emailing or texting has taken the place of sending a personal, handwritten note or greeting card, which is kind of sad. But at the same time, it is easier and quicker and we just do not have the time anymore to do the things we used too.

Technology, for all of its benefits, has many drawbacks as well. Children would rather have their face in an i-pad or playing video games than go outside in the fresh air and create new and exciting adventures using their imaginations.

Why talk to someone face to face or even voice to voice when you can send a short, abbreviated message to them over your phone?

Some stores have stopped accepting checks as payment and require cash or credit card only. We are still check people as my wife is VERY leery of paying online. After the recent information stealing that occurred this past holiday season, I see her point.

I am sure people WAY back when had these same conversations when the automobile, television and microwave over were invented.

Our way of life changes on a daily basis as we try to stay safe and keep our lives in order. That will be a constant.

And while I am a big supporter of technology (I use computers; I have a cell phone, an ATM card, etc.), for me, my life does not revolve around it.

I totally understand the convenience and thrill of using technology, but it is pretty easy to see, in my opinion anyway, that not all of the innovations regarding technology are necessarily advancements. Yes, everything that comes out is advancement. But I am referring to society and how we act and talk to each other and what we expect from others.

Technology is a great tool and resource, but for me, I guess I am slow to accept it as a new way of life and communication. That may take me some time. A long time at that.

Snow, snow snow.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

With the amount of snow that has fallen so far this winter, the piles of snow that line our roads, driveways and sidewalks has grown from small hills into impressive mountains. Some of those heaps of snow actually towering over the people and vehicles that they surround.

After one of our many snow storms, I actually stopped shoveling the driveway to marvel (and maybe cry a little on the inside) at how high the snow banks were getting. At first, it was amazing to me that the mounds of snow were taller than my four year old. Then they eclipsed my seven-year old.

And while they are not quite as tall as me…yet…shoveling the driveway has become more of a workout than I ever anticipated.

Instead of just tossing snow up on the piles, I now have to hike it up and over because of the height of the snow.

Back when we first bought our house in 2004, a co-worker of my wife’s had a riding lawn mower for sale. Being that our house is on two lots and the yard is the biggest in the neighborhood, why not purchase the riding mower, right?

We did purchase it and then ended up giving it to my father-in-law several weeks later. I wanted a push mower. I grew up using a push mower and that is how you mowed a yard, in my mind. Besides, it would be one of my few sources of exercise, so why not buy one of those instead.

I have had a push mower ever since. And no, I do not question my decision whatsoever.

Later that same year, one of my co-workers informed me that they had a snow blower for sale. I bought it. Snow can be pretty wicked at times, especially the wet and heavy kind, so I liked knowing I had a snow blower in case I needed one.

Winter came and went and I never used it. Believe it or not, I opted to shovel, rather than use the snow blower as again, this is all I knew. Interesting or just plain crazy?

We gave it to my sister-in-law the next year. She has put the machine to good use, especially this year!

One of our old neighbors always asked me if I wanted him to plow out the driveway. Every time my answer would be “no thank you”.

I told him that I did not mind shoveling, and I don’t! Funny thing is, one year; our daycare provider’s husband happened to be in the neighborhood after a particularly heavy snowfall and plowed our drive, without even asking or being asked. They are just those kind of people! When my neighbor saw this, I can only imagine what was going through his mind.

Last Wednesday, upon returning home from school, there was a man cleaning out our neighbor’s driveway. After we were settled inside, I looked out the window and he was doing OUR driveway. A few minutes passed and I decided to go outside and see what was going on.

The man told me that he felt bad because as he was plowing out the other driveway, he was throwing snow into our yard and thought he would help us out a little.

Thanking him, I did mention that the snow didn’t really matter, we can’t escape it! What a nice gesture from a total stranger.

And no, I still do not want a snow blower!

We are now a minivan family.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Shortly after my wife and I were married back in 2003, the first thing on our agenda as a newly married couple was to go car shopping. It was time to replace my Mercury Tracer.

I went a little crazy with cars in my early years, thinking I needed a new one every year or so. I purchased one, but I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I traded it in for another. After about a year, that car did not seem to suit me, so on to another one. According to my wife, and there is some truth to the story, a friend of ours told me that my Chevy Crosica was an “old mans” car and that prompted me to trade it in.

As you can imagine, my bottom line suffered a little bit due to my actions. Because of my poor choices, I was bound and determined to drive my next car until it died as it was paid off and I quite enjoyed not having a car payment! But it was time to say goodbye for both economical and safety reasons!

As we walked into the dealership I saw the car that I wanted, pointed it out and said “I want it” before I even drove it. Heck, before I really even looked at it!

I obviously broke a cardinal rule in car shopping, which did not make my wife too happy.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting, time consuming, frustrating and liberating experience all rolled into one nice package. Of course, in vehicle terms, a package may include heated seats, DVD player, 4-wheel drive and a built in espresso maker/cell phone charger/GPS dashboard unit. You take your pick as to which package suits you best!

I assume that the only people who actually enjoy looking for a new vehicle are those that can stroll into a dealership, point to a brand new “off the line” car, lay down a wad of cash on the salespersons desk and drive off the lot in their shiny new toy.

For the rest of us, it may not always be a certified good time, especially when you buy used, like we do. There can be a lot of haggling when it comes to used cars and fighting for the best deal.

In any event, with the impending birth of our third child coming in the next few months, the time had come for us to begin thinking about our next mode of transportation and start the process of shopping for one that would fit us all comfortably and safely. In other words, for the first time in 10 years, we were on the hunt for a new (used) car.

Figuring out the type of vehicle we wanted was the easy part. Since we are becoming a family of five, a minivan seemed like the most logical choice and it was something that my wife and I both agreed upon, so why tempt fate, right?

Once Christmas was out of the way, my wife hit the internet to search for our perfect van. With a wish list that included low miles and a great price as our top two factors, she hit just about every dealership site in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, to help us narrow our search.

We were under a time crunch, but at the same time, we did not want to just take the first available van that caught our (my) eye. My wife still harbors a little resentment toward me regarding our previous purchase, so I agreed to be more cautious this time!

I know salespeople have a tough job, but we also like our space and to look around. As we pulled into one dealership to just look around, someone was already heading out to our car, and we were still driving around the lot! Not cool in our books.

At another dealership, the salesperson was talking to us about financing options before we even discussed whether we even LIKED the van that he had shown us.

We finally found what we were looking for at about the fifth dealership we went too. The salesperson asked what we were looking for, showed us to where to go and gave us time alone to look them over. I appreciated the very hands off approach that we were given. That might not be a good thing for some, but for us, we loved it. No pressure. When we were ready to talk, he was ready to listen.

For us, it made the whole process a much easier and almost enjoyable thing to go through. A good friend of mine laughed at me when I said that I actually do not mind driving a minivan. In fact, if we had the van during our trip to Florida last year, it would have been a much more comfortable trip!

Whitney

June 5, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

WhitneyWhat’s going on over there? My name is Whitney. I am a black, spayed female cat. My eyes are very yellow. I am on the small side, and I just love people. Please come in and see me and make me part of your family. My docket number is 11916, at the St. Joseph County Animal Control Shelter located at 652 E. Main St., Centreville, MI. Animal Control is open Monday – Friday, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The first Saturday of each month AC is open for adoptions from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. Their phone number is 269-467-6475. Please visit the Animal Rescue Fund website at www.arfund.org to see more adoptable pets. NOTE: ARF will pay for the spay/neuter of ANY adopted pet from animal control. This is done at the Humane Society in Kalamazoo. If the owner wants to go to a local vet, the same amount will be given to that vet. This is for a limited number of adoptions, so come in and take advantage of this helping hand from ARF. Up-Cycled Pets needs reliable foster homes so some pets can learn more about living in a safe home before adoption. Go to www.upcycledpets.com for more information about how to help this group. Also, a rabies shot is available free of charge through the Kalamazoo Humane Society by contacting Animal Rescue Fund (269-718-3775). There are 10 shots available on a first come, first served basis. No substitutions are available. The Kalamazoo Humane Society is the only location for the offer.

Out and About – Week of June 2nd

June 3, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

We are now in June, which means that the chances of snow are slim, even though this is Michigan, and we all know what the weather can do in the “Water Wonderland”. You may now put away the snow blower for at least three months. Just think, in eighteen more days, the days will start getting shorter. I don’t think I’m ready for that.

Water Festival happens next week. If you are unaware of this, I’m interested in knowing where the cave is that you’ve been living in. The highlight of Festival for me is the parade on Thursday evening, or, if it rains, on Friday evening. Speaking of rain, if it rains Saturday evening, the fireworks will be Sunday evening. Back to the parade. There are fifty entries for the parade, and it will begin, as always, at the intersection of Douglas Avenue and West Michigan Avenue. It will run east to Main Street, then head north and end at Lafayette Park by Ruth Hoppin School. Please remember to watch your children and make sure they stay on the curb of the street. Do not allow them to run out into the parade route to retrieve candy. This is how accidents happen and children get hurt.

I haven’t mentioned the Carnegie Center for the Arts for quite some time. Director Donna Grubbs assures me that the Carnegie is open and active for all to enjoy. The big attractions now are the works of Fiber Artists, the West Michigan Glass Art Center, plus an individual show by Don Marek. I won’t take the time to describe these exhibits, but will strongly suggest that you stop in and check them out for yourself. These exhibits will be on display from June 8 through August 9, with an opening reception on Sunday, June 8, from 2 to 4 PM. The Carnegie Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to stop by the Carnegie and have caught Donna Grubbs when she wasn’t too busy. She’s a very interesting person with an endless wealth of knowledge about the Carnegie. Another nice person to know.

The Carnegie Center is located at 107 North Main Street, in historic downtown Three Rivers. Should you have any questions, you may call Donna at 269-273-8882, or visit the Carnegie’s website at www.trcarnegie.com. The Carnegie Center for the Arts is another family attraction that is FREE.

It was a little over a year ago that my wife had neck surgery. During her time of recovery, I was able to do things that I normally don’t do. For the first time, we went grocery shopping together. We continue do this about every week. She’s a fantastic shopper, a talent she learned from her father, who did all the grocery shopping for the family, while my wife was growing up. I appreciate how much effort goes into shopping for a family of two. I’m sorry; I mean a family of three. I forgot about our cat. Gone are the days when a family of three can survive on fifty dollars a week for groceries.

Our roles are about to reverse. Sometime after the middle of July, I’ll undergo back surgery. Hopefully, this will mean that I can eventually get rid of the cane. Anyway, after surgery, I’ll have a few restrictions that I must adhere to seriously for about six weeks. No bending at the waist. If I turn sideways, I must turn my entire body, and no lifting any more than ten pounds. If you happen to see the two of us at the grocery store, I’ll be the one in the motorized cart. Life is good!

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh vegetables that have never seen the inside of a truck. In other words, fresh home-grown veggies are the best. Unless you have your own garden, the best place to shop for fresh vegetables is the Farmers’ Market, located in Scidmore Park, with their entrance off West Michigan Avenue. The Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday from 1 to 6 PM through Labor Day. Vegetables are not the only thing available at the market. Local artists have some of their works on display also. Probably the best thing to do is to stop by and check everything out for yourself. You’ll be amazed as to what you find, plus you’ll have the satisfaction in knowing that your money is being spent locally, which is a deal in itself. There’s plenty of free parking and an abundance of smiling faces just waiting to make your visit one to remember.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Black Lab

May 29, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Black LabHi. I’m a black lab mix with some brindling in my coat and I have a very cute, small, black muzzle. I am ideal for a family who wants a dog who isn’t too big. I am a male about 1 year old and have already been neutered. I’m very sweet and take treats gently and love attention. I’m also very good with walking on a leash. Please come in and see me and make me part of your family. My docket number is 12068, at the St. Joseph County Animal Control Shelter located at 652 E. Main St., Centreville, MI. Animal Control is open Monday – Friday, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The first Saturday of each month AC is open for adoptions from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. Their phone number is 269-467-6475. Please visit the Animal Rescue Fund website at www.arfund.org to see more adoptable pets. NOTE: ARF will pay for the spay/neuter of ANY adopted pet from animal control. This is done at the Humane Society in Kalamazoo. If the owner wants to go to a local vet, the same amount will be given to that vet. This is for a limited number of adoptions, so come in and take advantage of this helping hand from ARF. Up-Cycled Pets needs reliable foster homes so some pets can learn more about living in a safe home before adoption. Go to www.upcycledpets.com for more information about how to help this group. Also, a rabies shot is available free of charge through the Kalamazoo Humane Society by contacting Animal Rescue Fund (269-718-3775). There are 10 shots available on a first come, first served basis. No substitutions are available. The Kalamazoo Humane Society is the only location for the offer.

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