Thursday, November 26, 2015


I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m a grandfather.

Not having met the child, it all still seems theoretical. Yet I know there’s a little guy with a Ranzenberger face in northwestern Midland County.
Andrew’s relationship with a co-worker was intense and strange, and ended on a bad note. Yet a few months later, along came the little guy. Andrew has stood up, is indeed the father, and now is paying child support. He also has some very limited visitation.
The limited visitation is not uncommon for children less than a year old. The kid hasn’t yet done an overnight at his father’s house, and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to tag along with Andrew. I hope that happens soon.
Being a grandfather is something for which I have very limited role models. My dad’s father died on Christmas Day 15 years before I was born; that event cast an echo of sadness and loss on the holiday season for decades. Mom’s father died when I was 8. I have two main memories of Grandpa Schaeffer:

•  He had taken me along to put flowers on my grandmother’s grave on a Sunday morning in November 1963. He had just bought a new, blue Chevrolet Bel Air, and it was one of those remarkably pleasant, late-November Michigan days. On the way back from the cemetery, we heard about the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald on the car radio.
• I had trouble when I was helping our extremely overweight dachshund, Gretchen, up the front steps. I yelled for help, and he helped me get that heavy dog into the house.

I also remember that his house on Park Street was very cool, and had a very cool banister. My cousins and I loved to slide down the railing. Most of the time, though, Grandpa was a distant figure, struck hard by the death of his wife. Soon, he, too, got very sick and died. I feel as if I never really knew him.
The real role model for me was the kids’ grandfather, Bryce Nimtz. He actually was their step-grandfather, but he filled the role so well. He died in January, and I miss him. He was a true class act.
So what do I do? I want to spend time with the little guy, have him tag along with me, and just talk about what we’re doing. I want to walk with him through CMU’s campus, show him the maroon-and-gold flowers, the labs and the lecture halls, the newsrooms and the broadcast studios, the arena and the football field. I want to take him to Chippewa football games and experience the Chippewa Marching Band’s incredible pregame.
I want him to dream. I want him to know he can make those dreams happen, and learn how he can make them happen. There's a lot of hard work and skill involved in making dreams come true, but hard work comes naturally to this family - and skills can be learned. I want him to know that.
And I want to listen to what he has to say. I want to tell him stories. And somehow, I think he just might want to tell me stories, too.
Just for the chance, that's what I'm thankful for.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

CMU protesters join "Million Student March"

Senior Portia Brown says she tried to work her way through college, but couldn't, and now finds herself buried in debt. 

About 100 students and sympathizers marched at Central Michigan University Thursday, demanding free tuition, forgiveness of student-loan debt, and a $15 per hour minimum wage for campus employees.
Student loan debt has increased to $1.2 trillion, double the $600 billion in 2006, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Tuition has increased at about five times the rate of inflation.
Organizers said marches were scheduled at more than 100 colleges and universities.

Marchers demanded tuition-free college.
Whitney Dzuirka, organizer for the Union of Teaching Faculty, joined the march.
Marchers chanted that their school is not for profit.
Marchers gathered on the Warriner Mall and cheered speakers who demanded free tuition, student loan forgiveness and a living wage for campus employees.
Protesters braved high winds and rain to make their point.
Americans owe more in student loan debt than credit card debt - and the student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or even death.
The march circled the central campus.

The temperature for the protest was in the 40s, with high winds and occasional sideways rain.
The CMU protesters joined students across the country in marching for their demands.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Leaning Tree

A student walks past the Leaning Tree in the courtyard between Moore Hall and the Music Building at Central Michigan University.
One tree, strange and bent, stands out among Central Michigan University's beautifully manicured landscaping.
It's a tree in the large courtyard bounded by Moore Hall, Bush Theater and the Music Building. It doesn't grow straight up, like most trees. This tree leans off the vertical at about a 45-degree angle.
It's been like that for many years. A red dot is painted on the trunk, and I'm not sure what that means.
The tree appears, to a layman, to be solid. There's no indication that I've seen as to why the tree tilts off at that crazy angle.
The conservative, risk-averse part of me screams out, "It might fall on someone! Risky! Risky!"
But the artist in me says this is a cool tree, doing something different just because it can. And somehow, its location among the buildings where musicians, actors, designers, filmmakers, television producers and journalists learn their creative skills seems so appropriate.
Lean in, tree.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Green House

The 3,250-square-foot Victorian home at the corner of Main and Locust streets now has been painted red.
The Green House on Main Street is no longer green.
The fine, brick Victorian home at 500 S. Main St. was built in 1879, according to City of Mount Pleasant records. Some historians dispute that, saying it actually was built in 1876.

In late summer 2015, the job was about half done, with the rear of the building red, while the front remained the color that gave the home the nickname "The Green House."

For many years in the 20th century, it belonged to the McClintic family. The Kowalczyk family bought it in the late 1990s.
These days, the 3,250-square-foot, five-bedroom home houses Community Counseling Associates and a law office. The brick fa├žade of the building reportedly was painted red at one point. That was changed to green, apparently sometime during the 1980s. Now, the brick is back to red. The brick-and-mortar construction is in good shape – Mount Pleasant bricks of the 19th century were made to last.

The home had been red for years before being painted green.

Good things happened to our family in that building. It’s a quiet place of knowledge and wisdom and awareness.

The brick-and-mortar exterior construction reportedly is in very good shape.

And now, it’s the Red House.