Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in Michigan

January 29th, 2017

This weekend was spent with my family celebrating 26 years of winter fun! Zehnder’s Snowfest has been host to one of the top snow sculpting events in North America for the past 24 years. My family has enjoyed larger-than-life snow sculptures and beautifully detailed ice carvings many of those years. In addition, the weekend was full of entertainment for the entire family in the warming tent, a fireworks display, petting zoo and children’s activities. We had a wonderful time attending Zehnder’s Snowfest 2017 … along with 125, 000 of our closest friends!

Our tradition of visiting Zehnders in Frankenmuth began when I was a girl in the early 1970’s. However, Zehnder’s tradition of good hospitality and meals began more than 160 years ago, surviving the prohibition and Great Depression. Zehnder’s still serves the highest quality traditional family style chicken dinners with tantalizing stollen, side dishes and pastries in their restaurant. Although much has changed since my family started visiting, generations of the Zehnder family have carefully guided changes and continued their commitment to the “Tradition of Good Taste.” http://www.zehnders.com/zehnders-history

Wherever you find yourself this weekend, may it be in good taste. And don’t forget to play together. A family that plays together, stays together.

Sunday in Maine

January 27th, 2017

Last weekend I left New York and drove. I crossed the Penobscot Bay and the Deer Isle causeway and drove until I wasn’t able to go any further without being in the ocean. I had reached my destination, the charming fishing village, Stonington, Maine.

Originally settled in the early 1800’s by farmers and fisherman, Stonington, one of the few remaining working waterfront villages in Maine, overlooks a majestic archipelago of more than 60 islands. Most of the downtown buildings that hug the harbor, were built in the 1800’s and retain the charm.

Stonington boasted 12 operating quarries in the 1890’s; some right here in town. They employed stonecutters, blacksmiths, teamsters and laborers. Many were experienced foreign workers from Italy, Scotland and Norway. On Deer Isle, just about every foundation, wharf and road bed is made from Stonington granite. Local granite was also used for the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington Cemetery.

Stonington’s main industry is fishing and fishing related services. Lobsters and clams presently dominate the industry; however, crabs, scallops and halibut are also fished. In 2014, over 16 million lbs. of lobster were caught in these waters, giving Stonington the distinction of being the #1 fishing port in Maine. Because of this, island men are known worldwide for the seamanship, often leaving the island to crew all over the world.

The first tourists arrived as early as the 1880’s. That amazes me. Steamships carried passengers from Mount Desert, who were offered lobster feasts upon arrival. The Hotel Stonington offered hot & cold running water and fine dining at that time. Visitors then, and today, could find entertainment at the Opera House, enjoy bicycle riding, day sailing trips and walks overlooking scenic views.

I feel fortunate that travel to this enchanting island is now easier and Stonington has not changed very much through the years. Here all roads lead to the piers and the air is perfumed by fresh ocean water. My short visit will stay with me long after I crossed the bridges back to the mainland. https://visitmaine.com/places-to-go/downeast-and-acadia/stonington/


Devotions from Baba’s Porch: Uncertainty

January 25th, 2017

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psalm 37: 5-6

As a nation, we are moving into a new administration with a certain level of uncertainty. Some are starting new jobs or relationships. I’m starting a new contract. For some of my family and friends it seems I have stepped from sure footing onto shaky ground traveling to Maine without a signed contract.

I’m sure that’s how Peter felt when he got out of the boat. Along with the other disciples, he was in a storm, but he was used to that and the boat was a place of safety for him. It required relatively little faith to stay in the boat. Despite his fear, he knew what to do to save himself. But the minute he stepped over the side of the boat and placed his foot solidly on the top of that first wave, he was in foreign territory.

Walking on water isn’t something you do halfway. In the same way, you either commit totally to the Lord, or you don’t. Sure, it can be unnerving to find yourself standing in the most unlikely, unpredictable circumstances as Peter did. But I find peace in following His voice. When you put your trust in the Lord and commit to follow Him wherever He leads, you’ve stepped out of the boat and onto the solid rock. God will never allow you to utterly fall when you are living by faith. Amen!

If you are facing a time of uncertainty in your life right now, look to men like Abraham who left his normal routine to follow God’s voice. From that day on, his life was changed. And yours will be too. God never fails us and never leaves our side.

I’m learning more every day how invaluable being still and waiting on Him is. My joy has increased, which has enabled me to live more boldly while I serve various communities of people. I’m able to see past frustrating circumstances that I sometimes have to deal with and into God’s plan for me. There’s a joyful peace in my heart that is not shaken by external things.

My prayer for each of you is that as we move forward together this year, that God’s peace fill our hearts and confidence in Him give us rest.

Friday Funnies

January 20th, 2017

For my last Friday Funnies from New York I’ll share some interesting facts I’ve learned while being in Upstate:

People in NY enjoy Buffalo wings, but they don’t call them that. They’re just called wings here.

Don’t ever compare Wegmans to other grocery stores in Upstate. They’re very particular about the stores they shop at, whether it’s Stewart’s, Hannaford or Price Chopper.

Where does Upstate New York start? I don’t know. You could spend an hour arguing about where NYC ends and Upstate New York begins. Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different opinions.

Do people here drink a lot? Oh yeah. Folks here are a rowdy bunch. Whether it’s out on the farm, at a bonfire event or at a sporting event, Upstaters pretty much make alcohol a part of their lives year-round.

Am I near Canada? Buffalo is a couple hours away and sometimes sarcastically called an extension of Montreal, and Toronto is only a 30-minute drive from the state line, so a trip to Canada is a cinch.

Do Upstaters like the Mets or Yankees? While there are a few stragglers here and there, it’s obvious that most Upstaters pull hard for the Yankees. Wouldn’t you, too, if your local team made the playoffs almost every single year?

 New York Giants or Buffalo Bills? It’s split evenly between the Bills and Giants. You’d be hard pressed to find very many Jets fans way upstate.

The worst and most annoying question to ask an Upstater is “Do you live in THE city?” Upstate NY residents know exactly how long it takes to get to THE city, and can tell you within 15 minutes how long it takes, no matter if it’s summer or there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground.

Are there many wineries in Upstate? The region has what’s been called some of the best wineries in the world. From the Finger Lakes, all the way through the Adirondack valleys, you can get everything from traditional to blueberry, cherry and raspberry wines from one of many vintners who really know their stuff. Locals believe there’s nothing like sipping wine all the time.

When trying to get around Upstate New York you can expect to get directions that involve a barn, a Wegmans and “the third road past the river” when you’re passing through or on vacation.

So if you’re planning a vacation look no further than Upstate New York for beautiful scenery, high quality wines and outdoor activities – keep in mind it might involve drinking.


Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: A Trip

January 18th, 2017

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:11

I had a job in Honolulu for a few hours last Thursday. I have felt an ocean breeze on my face for two years, and it was quite exciting to imagine myself living on a rented sailboat in the marina during my contract. I had filled out the license paperwork on New Year’s Eve. I checked it twice, and would soon be ready to accept a Hawaii assignment.

By the time last Friday rolled around, however, the facility had contacted the board and realized there was additional paperwork that needed to be completed. I would need to print, fill and mail verification forms to each state I’m licensed in. They must fill them out and mail them to Hawaii for processing which is expected to take five more weeks. What I had, instead of a contract, was a dream of a contract and a pile of paperwork to fill out.

Hello disappointment.

Disappointment comes when we don’t get what we expect or when something unpleasant happens that we don’t expect. Unfortunately, life is full of the unexpected and is, therefore, often full of disappointment. Thankfully, there’s good news.

God is always who He says He is, and we can expect Him to do what He says He will do. He will never disappoint us.

Life can be hard, that’s just a fact. Sometimes we’re expecting to pack summer cloths for a contract in tropical Hawaii, and we end up in the frozen northland. But God is still God. We can choose to wallow in our disappointment, or we can believe in the One who never disappoints. And have some fun along the way.

Sunday in New York

January 15th, 2017

In spite of this snowless winter, I spent my last Sunday in New York with a girlfriend exploring two of the many waterfalls in on the Finger Lakes’ largest lake, Cayuga Lake. In fact, there are over 28,000 acres of public New York State forest ripe for hiking and exploring.

Before going on a hike, one must fuel up. Luckily Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City! It’s a delicious statistic that hints Ithacans are passionate about food. Collegetown Bagel, “started with a bagel and a dream,” was just the fuel we needed. After a sandwich served on fresh baked artisan rye bread and a heavenly pastry we were ready to hit the trail to Ithaca Falls.

With a drop of 150ft and width of 175ft, Ithaca Falls is the region’s most powerful and most impressive. By 1817, a half-dozen mills were operating here, their ruins are still visible on the south bank. The plunge pool is famous among anglers for lake-run trout and salmon during season. It was an easy year-round trail to a bridge over Lake Street for an amazing view.

A few miles later we were at Buttermilk State Park, which takes its name from the foaming cascade formed by churning Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake. The Gorge trail was closed, and the falls frozen, since it was bitterly cold today. But it made no difference. We were just happy to be outdoors.

Spending time in nature helps renew and rejuvenate our bodies, minds and spirits. Take a hike, enjoy the scenery and natural world around you.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Houseplants

January 11th, 2017

Come, all you who are thirst, come to the waters. Isaiah 55:1

I’ve come to the conclusion we’re like houseplants. If you don’t water your plants regularly, they will die. Houseplants don’t wither without reason. Water is necessary for plant life, and it’s essential for the human body as well. We can only last a short period without water. And, unfortunately, we cannot store it up for a future dry spell.

One of the symptoms of dehydration in my patients, is fatigue. Without water, our body doesn’t have what it needs to function, and people soon become weary and worn-out. Your spirit is much the same. Does life have you exhausted, making you feel tired all the time? It’s possible that you are just plain thirsty. If so, the Lord said, “Come.”

God knew that we would need Him, the Living Water, to survive in this barren land. Without Him pouring into us, we wither away like a neglected houseplant. We begin to shrivel up spiritually. But all we must do to be replenished and refreshed is to come to Him.

God is a fountain, the water constantly flowing over us. Sometimes we think we are good on our own, so we step away. The problem is that the moment we walk away we soon become dehydrated and weary. Don’t wait until you look like that forgotten potted plant in the corner. If you’re feeling weary, worn-out, or tired, go to God. Drink freely and be refreshed.

Remember to drink plenty of water everyday!

Hidden Figures

January 8th, 2017

Hidden Figures stands out for its ability to communicate the patriotic, nationalistic pride, importance and focus of this country’s unity with the NASA space program. The movies also reflects a different era of American history that many Americans might not relate to, though with great editing, tender and insightful moments that reveal the darker places of America’s relatively recent past.

Set during the transition to the 1960s America was still dealing with Jim Crow laws, the zeitgeist of the cold war, and the pressure cooker of the U.S. space program after Sputnik, it was a time before electronic computing was commonplace. Unimaginably, the math for the orbital mechanics of space missions were being performed with slide rules, pencil, and paper. The revelation of this film is that some of the human “computers” that did this vital work were African American women, who despite their brilliant contributions, were segregated and marginalized because of their color and gender.

The superb cast is led by Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, who are exceptional and nomination worthy as real-life mathematician Katherine G. Johnson and supervisor Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monae, who brings a fresh and lighthearted character into the mix. Aside from quite a few supporting performances from Spencer, I’m not overly familiar with these actresses’ work, but all three of them are terrific in this film. I love the relationships these women have together and I instantly bought into their chemistry, as I did the material with each of the women’s personal lives and families.

Mahershala Ali is terrific as the socially awkward love interest Colonel Jim Johnson. Kirsten Dunst turns in a surprisingly solid performance as a hardened by-the-book supervisor, and Kevin Costner (Al Harrison) thankfully melts believably into his role as chief of the space program. Jim Parsons’ (Yes, Sheldon) portrayal of an overtly racist engineer is sadly wooden, and is the only weak spot in an otherwise strong ensemble.

One of Mr. Harrison’s lines in the film contains a large degree of irony. The line was something to the effect of “How can the U.S. government justify NASA when it is consistently unable to get into and explore space?” The irony is seen in today’s defunding of NASA for, essentially, that very concept. The movie made me sad to think how after the Space Shuttle program, NASA did very little to grow. What made NASA great was the perception of being explorers–exploration excited our society! Once NASA no longer appeared to be focused on exploration and shifted its focus to communication technologies, it lost that public support that was such a part of what brought so many people together. That saddens me, as growing up I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. As a child, I held my father’s hand in a room filled with a massive IBM computer and later the same hand held a real moon rock. We can thank NASA for Tang and Velcro. More importantly, the Space caused us to dream collectively.

Hidden Figures is powerful, beautifully filmed with a message as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. This is robust, big studio filmmaking with memorable real life heroes. It’s an inspiring story of overcoming daunting odds. I am giving this movie the highest rating possible for telling the story of these brilliant women of NASA and dramatizing the human spirit in a positive way. It’s a valuable addition to other films about the space race.


Friday Funnies

January 6th, 2017

Being on quarantine for Norovirus is no laughing matter at any healthcare facility. The residents I treat have experienced just this for the past two weeks and things are starting to get tense. To break the tension I am telling them jokes such as these:

‘I hate to have to tell you this,” said the Doctor in a sad compassionate voice, “but you have unfortunately been diagnosed with the Norovirus which is highly contagious. We must quarantine you and you’ll only be fed cheese and bologna.” “That’s terrible!” exclaimed the distraught patient, quickly sitting down before he could faint. “I don’t know if I could handle being in quarantine. And the cheese and bologna diet? What’s going on with that anyway I’ve never heard of such a diet before!” “It’s not exactly a diet,” responded the Doctor very matter of factly, “it’s just the only food that will fit under your door.” So bad!!

A man who had spent his whole life hospital isolation was finally released and went to visit a friend. He’d never seen a train or the tracks they run on. While standing in the middle of the railroad tracks, he heard a whistle, but didn’t know what it was. Predictably, he was hit and thrown to the side of the tracks, with some internal injuries, a few broken bones, and some bruises. After months spent back in the hospital recovering, he was at his friend’s house attending a party. While in the kitchen, he suddenly heard the tea kettle whistling. He grabbed a baseball bat from the nearby closet and bashed the tea kettle into an unrecognizable lump of metal. His friend, hearing the ruckus, rushed into the kitchen, saw what had happened, and asked the desert man, “Why’d you ruin my good tea kettle?” The man quickly replied, “Man, you got to kill these things when they’re small.”

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Wind Chimes

January 4th, 2017

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Life can get crazy loud. With work, friends, family, household responsibilities, and a hundred other things going on, it can be challenging to carve our time for peace and quiet.

Recently, I stepped out onto my porch to get a breath of fresh winter air and I was instantly bombarded with noise. A barking dog next door. A neighbor running a table saw in his garage. Cars driving up and down the road. Children playing in a yard. I was ready to turn around and go back inside and then a soft wind began to blow.

The wind of change took me back to the walk in the woods I took two weeks ago, I could almost hear the soft tinkling of the beautiful wind chimes that I found hung for hikers to find. I closed my eyes, and as I focused on the song of the wind chimes, other noises faded into the background. The noise disappeared because of what I chose to focus on.

The world is full of distractions, noises, and needs all vying for our attention. These things seek space in our hearts and minds, making it easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves: What is right? Noble? True? Pure? Lovely? Admirable? Then we must choose to focus on those things and let the rest fade into the background.

I don’t want to be distracted by the “loud” things and possibly miss that delicate song that matters.

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2017

The countdown to 2017 is finally over. Many of us are asking ourselves “where do we go from here?” We had our celebration and we stand victorious. I must admit the anticipation of 2017 was beginning to get to me. With all the talk of gloom and doom of who died in 2016, spies and the presidential election. It nearly took a temporary toll on my beliefs that all was well. We encountered this negativity on the tv, radio, and even in the comics.

I’m sure each of us have had to deal with the ‘hoopla’ of 2017 in our own way. And now it’s 2017, what now? Will we continue to fuss or can we put the demons to bed and work together? I find myself hoping that we all have a good laugh and look forward.

So I made a list of “things to think about” in 2017. And, what about the jobs that will be influenced by the year 2017? If I had could write a novel, I would be hard pressed to imagine what the next year will produce. Will we get closer to a cure for cancer or have clean water for everyone?

In my opinion, the miracles that have evolved the past 1000 years won’t be rivaled in the new year. We have made mistakes in the past centuries … but look at what we got right!

Our past cannot be changed, only learned from. As I look forward to the year 2017 I’m going to strive to close my mind to the negatives and all the things that ‘could’ happen. I will continue to love deeply and I will share my visions of HOPE for the coming year.

Will you join me? Here’s to a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year for everyone!

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.