Blueberry Hill

Close up of blueberries on bush.
Ready to pick.

I love blueberries. They’re in my blood. My grandmother Evelyn Ruth Johnson was born in Spring Lake, Michigan where the climate and geography is excellent for blueberries. My father expressed his joy of eating them and I’m continuing the heritage of this good for you fruit.

Blueberries on bush at Blueberry Hill
Blueberries on bush at Blueberry Hill

I planned a short trip with two of my sons, Vincent and Quentin to drive west from Grand Rapids to Blueberry Hill in Spring Lake to pick a bucket or two. So, here it is late-July and blueberries are available. We have had a severe drought this year with very little rain and farms of all types are hurting from this drought. I know we will be paying for it this fall and winter when we need our daily bread but for now, the price of a large bucket of blueberries (approximately 20 cups) is still only $10 as it was two years ago.

After discussing it with their mother for them to be at my apartment by 5:30 so we could have time to pick before they closed at 7, our journey began promptly at 6pm. Someone forgot but I didn’t even mention their tardiness to them at the time. Blueberry Hill doesn’t turn the sprinklers on to get you out of the fields at 7pm so we headed west with drinking water and a large cooler to transport our cache of fruity treasures back home.

I thought that the westbound expressway would be a nightmare on a Friday evening so I had planned to leave early and take the country roads for the ease of driving and beauty of the farmlands that you have to pass through to get to get there. Since the boys were late, I hopped on the expressway near the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts headquarters. Traffic was swift but moderate with politely merging traffic and no slowdowns. As we neared our destination, orange caution signs and traffic diversions were encountered. The Michigan road crews don’t do anything when the weather turns to ice and snow and our road repairs, maintenance, and new exit ramps are built all summer when the weather is nice.

Close up of blueberries on bush

I normally hop off the expressway at M104 to Spring Lake and this trip would be no different except that the exit ramp was closed due to construction. My style of driving where I’ve always gone before had me ignoring the detour signs such as “Exit here you idiot because the next one’s closed” sent us a few miles north, west, south, and then back east to our destination. If I just had seen those big orange signs and taken the Nunica exit before M104, we would have gotten there sooner. Our diversion took us past a beautiful channel filled with lilly pads that I made a mental note to revisit when the flowers bloom and past a beautiful glittering lake and marina between Grand Haven and Muskegon. So we added a few miles and minutes to get to our destination but added some good sights and conversation to our journey.

As we got to the parking area in the midst of the blueberry fields, my son Quentin mentioned, “Hey, that same guy is here” recognizing him from a previous years trip to the same farm. He was one of the workers, a young man about college age who hangs out under the tent trading white buckets for money and directing us where the berries are most abundant on this day and he eased my mind that we have a bit of flex time and he won’t shoo us off of the farm promptly at 7.

Close up of blueberries on bush.
Easy picking, great tasting.

I picked blueberries while taking a few cell phone photos, some macro photos with my real camera, and talking to my mom who called while my hands were massaging the berries off of the branches and into my bucket. The boys combined theirs to get a second bucket of berries in between chatting and throwing a few at me and each other. I ate a few handfuls while picking but the boys ignored my question when I asked them how many they ate.

We paid $20 for two buckets and were heading back to town by 7:15 with a few days worth of blueberries in two large brown paper bags under frozen water bottles in my cooler. We were able to get back on the expressway heading east instead of taking the country roads back to Grand Rapids. We stopped at a fast food place and were over exuberantly greeted by the drive through order taker who I’m sure wanted to sell us some delicious high fructose corn syrup beverages along with our party pack of tacos. Maybe he was trying to win the sales contest but he received zero extra points from our purchase. The dozen tacos were hastily thrown together along with a shortage of tiny taco sauce packets that weren’t really enough for Vince who likes a packet for every bite. Sorry Vince, next time, I’ll ask for six per taco for you.

We munched on our delicious dinner and hung out at my apartment and everyone went into their own world for a while playing Angry Birds on various Android tablets and then we picked out a long movie to watch. I forgot that Avatar was such a long movie. 162 minutes of awesome CGI scenes directed by James Cameron that included intense battle scenes and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking. Kof-kof. I wish Sigourney Weaver coughed when she smoked at the beginning. So nevertheless, we were up late watching in awe as stupid earthlings tried to destroy another world just to get some Unobtanium that is worth millions of dollars but is five years away from Earth. At times I missed a few scenes as I dozed in and out of consciousness. Hopefully without drooling.

Lights out at around 1am. Teeth brushed and flossed.

Two female gerbils eating blueberries.
The girls seem to like blueberries too.

I know my nocturnal gerbils made noise all night clunking the coffee cups that I let them sleep in and running on their wire exercise wheel. Sorry boys, my apartment is small and the only other place I can put them in is my bathroom. Maybe next time I will remember to move their house to the bath. I discovered that the girls love blueberries also. They are much tastier than those dried seeds aren’t they? I’ll be sure to save some for treats for them as long as as possible.

It is now 9:15am and the boys are still keeping their eyes closed while tossing and turning to even out their wrinkles courtesy of the five piece sectional couch in my apartment.

Blueberry pancake cooking on griddle
Mixed and cooking.

Time to make some blueberry pancakes or waffles boys? Real dairy milk, real maple syrup, real butter and real blueberries.

Three cooked pancakes on griddle
Get your plates. Time to eat.

What a nice way to start the day.

Two pancakes on a plate with real maple syrup and butter.
Nice way to start the day.

— Blueberry Hill is family owned and located on Cleveland Street (M104) towards Grand Haven. Just east of 140th on the north side of the road. Open Mon-Sat 9:00am to 7:00pm. Contact phone: 616-842-4950.

Where have I been?

Glad to be here.

I think I’m done losing weight. About 70 lbs is gone actually. I was up to 230 a few times in my life. I went from a size 38 to a 30 / 32. I was there a few decades ago, I just got back but am needing to shop for all new clothes. A good thing I guess. How? Portions. I’m now eating to live, not living to eat. I got realistic and changed my eating and drinking habits. Now to keep doing what I’m doing and increase some other things to improve my body a bit more… That road bike has to get on my trainer soon. But cruddy, cold, wet weather and wearing eyeglasses is a negative point in my desire to get back on the outdoor road with my bike.

Life Cycles

Life CyclesLife Cycles

Photo taken October 10, 2011. In NE Grand Rapids near Knapp and Fuller

How are you doing? Easy to say and not sincerely mean it. What if this person is dying and knows it and really wants to talk to someone? Are you ready to open your heart and listen to them? Some people think we get one shot at life, some might believe you get another chance.

I’ve been aware of the brevity of life for a long time.

How are you?

Sticky Situation

Sticky Situation

Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

Sometimes I just have to get these things out of my head.

This photo illustration came from a previous location I was residing at. I was visualizing a hostage situation so I added the rope to the image but then it started looking like I was going to hang myself. That’s out of the question. I’m glad to be here but know I could go at any time.

Enjoy life. I am.


So I just got untied and have had a chance to do something with it.

What do you think?

Via Flickr:
We have ways to make you talk.

Moonlit Watering in the Acidic Garden

Have you considered that all of these trees around us are our neighbors and they’re keeping our air clean?

Can you identify ten different trees in your area? Five? Two? A maple leaf is pretty easy. What about the three lobed leaves that are similar to a maple?

Pine trees (evergreens) were most likely used in the framing that is holding the roof and possibly the floor together wherever you are sitting right now unless you are in a cave, school, or a high rise building.

I’m not suggesting that we all start hugging trees but we could try to be as aware of our environment as we are of football, movies, or video games.

This was a six second exposure in full moonlight but the moonlight did not show on the top of the frame as I was hoping. I took only one shot while I was holding an LED flashlight in one hand and a spray nozzle set on ‘shower’ so this was only illuminated with a small flashlight seen swirling around as I was weaving in between these three evergreens.

I wonder how this would have turned out if I didn’t use a flashlight? Black? Probably so. Must mean that you need light to take a photograph.

It’s been a very long time since I did tree identification (7th or 8th grade) and it was about this time of year when I got that assignment. I remember that I had to do it pretty fast since it was September and the leaves were changing and falling off of the deciduous trees and I had to collect at least 20 good leaf specimens for a good grade. I’m a little rusty on this since it was ages ago. Time to set aside some study time and refresh my memory on tree identification.

Keep learning.

Who’s Spraying Whom? And with what?


Since the 1940’s or earlier, someone’s been seeding clouds with various chemicals and particles. What are they doing TODAY over our land called America?

You ARE aware that what bugs me is some group is spending a lot of money on this and where is the money trail leading? There is so much need in the world and someone is playing god with the weather and trying to control or modify it.

It’s a Wrap.


Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

This past weekend can be pretty much summed up by this photo of a field of sunflowers blowing in the wind. Fast, colorful, and fun with some adventure ahead.

I toured the central and eastern peninsulas of the Traverse City area, visited a few of their wineries, and ended up cruising with friends for a while on Torch Lake. These sunflowers were near Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Personally, I think I ate too many times but the meals were excellent.

Thank you to Dale DeVries for being a great host, tour guide, and actually a pretty good captain of the yet to be named boat we were safely cruising in.

A great weekend with friends is now in the record books.

Via Flickr:
A very windy afternoon blew us by this sunflower field in Northern Michigan near Elk Rapids, Michigan.



Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

Hey Crew, I’ve called this meeting to discuss the current state of affairs in the company. To be brief. We’re moving up.   :c )

I’ll need your cooperation to make this work.

I’ve been very busy in the workings of this and other stresses and it appears I’ve lost some weight. I’ve been wanting to get into smaller sized clothes…

The green walls that I dared not paint. Are going bye bye. The 7′ 3″ inch ceiling is staying here. New heights are available. New viewpoints and lighting opportunities. Happening this week.