Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fly me to the moon

Skies were clear over central Michigan as the moon went into total eclipse Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.

October's full moon featured a total eclipse during the early-morning hours. The eclipse was visible across North America, and conditions in central Michigan were nearly perfect to watch the moon slide into the vast shadow cast by the Earth.

The moon didn't disappear, but shown with light reflected back from the Earth's surface.

It turned a dark red in the skies behind Kesseler Hall at Central Michigan University,

The campus was quiet in the predawn darkness as the celestial show went on.

The moon remained in eclipse as twilight began overtaking the sky.

As the sun rose and the moon set, the full moon remained in shadow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Matthew and Amanda get married - #FuzzyNAmanda

Amanda and Matthew Ranzenberger emerge from Amanda's family church near Holland, Mich., after being married Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.
Amanda, welcome to the Ranzenbergers.
I looked it up: In 2000, the latest data available, the census bureau found just 154 people in the entire United States with the last name Ranzenberger.
Talk about unique. More than 318 million people live in the United States, and only about 150 of them have the name Ranzenberger. I did the math. It’s not a one-in-a-million thing. It’s a one-in-two-million thing.
You have joined, Mrs. Ranzenberger, a very exclusive society.
Let me tell you about the benefits:
• You now can tell people your name is Amanda Ranzenberger-Let-Me-Spell-That-For-You.
• You get to watch people’s eyes get real big when they read your driver’s license
• You might not be able to have your name fit into one column in a newspaper or some credit cards. Ask your sister-in-law Katherine about that.
• and, you always will know that if you run into someone else with the name Ranzenberger, you know there’s some connection out there, somewhere.
Amanda, on behalf of the family, we are so glad to have you. I hope you’re glad to have us. Really. You are bringing up the quality of the family – I want you to know that. You are the best thing that’s happened to that kid of mine, and we love you.
Matthew, Amanda, you love each other. Keep it up. Don’t lose the faith. Don’t lose the love. Carry that name proudly. And, please … spell it right.
To Mr. and Mrs. Ranzenberger!

Before the ceremony, Matthew and groomsman Andrew rush to attend to last-minute details.

In the bride's room of Graafschap Church, Amanda simply looks radiant.

Ringbearer Logan is ready to rock.

Flower girl Kendall looks a bit worried.

Bridesmaid Katherine has it together.

And they even managed to get the father of the groom into a suit.

The congregation is ready to celebrate.

Matthew awaits the arrival of his bride.

And I now pronounce you husband and wife.

Photos! A perfect spot on the dam on the Rabbit River. Really?


The Ranzenkids.

Andrew is pleased.

Kissy Missy plays her role perfectly.

As does Kay.

Uncle Arnold sees his first nephew get married.

Grandma Kay and Grandpa Bryce enjoy the reception.

The off-and-on rain ends, and a rainbow appears.

Obviously, the wedding cake is delicious!

The couple seems pretty serious about this.

And Sunday morning, the Ranzenclan gathers for brunch.

From Facebook:
Amanda Ranzenberger: I’m the happiest I've ever been in my life. I have a hot hubby and a last name twice as long to prove it. I feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing parents, friends and family. I don't think I've stopped smiling in the past 24 hours!!!
Matt Ranzenberger: Everybody keeps saying "Fuzzy's been tamed,” but they're all wrong. Amanda is just wild enough to run with me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The family

A funny thing has happened since Robert became a Marine: I care a lot more about the Marine Corps, individual Marines, and the military in general.
"Look around you," the officers at Robert's boot camp graduation in San Diego said. "See all those people? They're all family members of Marines.
"Well, they're your family now, too."
I wondered how that would work. After all, I'm a short, fat, gray-haired white guy who teaches college - media! - in the Upper Midwest.

This doesn't exactly fit the stereotypical demographics of your typical U.S. Marine Corps recruit.
But that doesn't matter.
Long ago, the Corps made the decision that where a Marine came from didn't matter. It didn't matter who your grandmother was. It didn't matter where you grew up. It didn't matter how rich or poor your family is. You're a Marine, and that's all that matters.
I grew up in the Vietnam era. There was an attitude, largely unspoken but still there, that the only people who served in the military at that time were people who were too dumb to dodge the draft.
A lot of very bright baby boomers managed to not serve in the military, despite the fact that the Selective Service was determined to get as many young men into uniform as possible.
The military ended up troubled. It took more than a decade to fix that mess.
The Marines weren't immune to this. But along the way - and the First Gulf War and 9/11 had a lot to do with this - it became respectable to serve. "Thank you for your service," became something Americans said, and Americans actually meant it. 

The Corps now comprises nearly 180,000 enlisted Marines, along with nearly 22,000 officers. Each has a family. Obviously, I've never met most of them, and I won't.
But we've all got something in common. Someone we love is a Marine, and that makes us family.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A house close to the land

The Eastman homestead at 2954 County Road 405, Old Engadine Road, Newberry, Mich.

It's the house where Kissy Missy grew up. This is a home about 7 miles outside of Newberry in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and it's a really cool place. It features 20 acres, woods and fields, a two-bedroom house and outbuildings.
It has definite signs of the family history here. It was built largely by Kissy Missy's father, who lived close to the land, and it's the perfect place for someone who also wants to live close to the land. It's now up for sale. Take a look.

The living room of the Eastman homestead.

It's a snug house, and kept the family warm during cold Upper Peninsula winters.

The kitchen of the Eastman homestead.
The rear bedroom features plenty of closets and built-in storage.
The front bedroom has great cross-ventilation. New carpeting also has been installed since this photo was taken.
The entire Eastman homestead features plenty of closet space and built-in storage.
The lower-level den.
The barn at the Eastman homestead features enough clearance to park a recreational vehicle or a tractor with a tall stack.
That's in addition to a two-vehicle garage and shop - and there's even a root cellar.
A total of 20 acres of land, a combination of woodland and fields.
The Eastman homestead includes an orchard, where apples, plums and other fruit trees grow.
 While the orchard is old and needs work, it still could be productive.
The price? $69,000. More photos and details here from
The MLS ID is 14-592

  • Coldwell Banker Schmidt Newberry

  • (906) 293-5055

  • Agent:LuAnn Scheerer

  • If you've ever considered an up-north place, or a place to get close to the land, you might have found it. Call LuAnn.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    Mobil comes to Mount Pleasant

    A sign company crew updates the pylon sign to reflect Mobil fuel at the 7-Eleven store at Mission and Bluegrass in Mount Pleasant.

    Mobil gasoline - or as it once was known, Mobilgas - has returned to Mount Pleasant.
    The brand has been absent from most of central Michigan for many years, but recently has begun returning. The 7-Eleven store at Mission and Bluegrass has been rebranded from Citgo to Mobil. Numerous other Saginaw Valley 7-Elevens that sell fuel also have undergone the rebranding recently.
    Two stations in Remus recently were rebranded as Mobil and its sister brand, Exxon.
    Will it make a difference in price in Mount Pleasant? Doubtful. It's a major brand with the additional overhead that goes with the brand. It's a great, high-traffic location with a solid co-brand in the 7-Eleven convenience store, and no nearby competitors. From a retailing standpoint, there's no reason to be aggressive on pricing.

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Military Occupational Specialty 5534

     Robert, the rookie clarinetist, practices in the kitchen in Lake Isabella. He was in seventh grade, and didn't even have a music stand at that point.
    PFC Robert Ranzenberger has come a long way from the band room at West Intermediate School. This week, he began his formal training at the U.S. Navy School of Music in Virginia Beach, Va., for his Marine Military Occupational Specialty 5534 - Musician-Clarinet.
    It's not easy to get that MOS. Eight years of playing clarinet in junior high, high school and college, two years as a drum major of the Mount Pleasant Oiler Marching Band, two more years playing with the CMU Marching Chippewas, qualified him to go through multiple auditions before learning he had been accepted.
    Then he had to become a Marine. Thirteen weeks of boot camp - the longest and toughest in the military, followed by Marine Combat Training. Every Marine is a rifleman, and each of the Marine bands also is a rifle platoon. PFC Ranzenberger is rated "expert," and says he loves to shoot the M16A4.
    Now, he'll undergo another 30 weeks of intense music training at the Navy's music school, preparing him to perform in a variety of different ensembles and genres. Eventually, he's likely to end up in one of the 10 Marine bands stationed around the United States and the Pacific.
    He's got the passion for it. I saw the same passion for music in Robert that I saw in myself for journalism - and rock'n'roll. He's taking a very different path, but it's the right one for him. Semper Fi. 

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    The Ranzenhaus at Easter

    It was a rare occasion - all four of the Ranzenberger kids were in one place at one time. It was Easter at the Ranzenhaus.
    With friends and significant others, there were nine people around the table. That was magic.
    The meal was a mix of tradition and new stuff - spiral-sliced ham, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, peas and tomatoes in herb butter, salad, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
    But with four kids all in their 20s, all with their own lives, it's challenging to get them into the same place. It happened for Easter.

    The family. Front row: Deb Hoseit, Ashley Bailey, Kissy Missy and The Old Man. Second row: Andrew and Robert. Back row, Katherine, Matthew, and Amanda Cooper.

    Amanda, Katherine and Matthew share a laugh.

    The meal was a mix of tradition and new recipes - including asparagus, peas and tomatoes sauteed in herb butter, prepared masterfully by Robert.
    It's spring. It's Easter. It's family.