One Meal at a Time

One Meal at a Time

In Racing Weekends I encouraged you to find your community, to reach out, and to make the effort to BE part of something bigger than yourself.

What happens if you don’t have a community to call your own? I want to tell you a little about my friend Lisa.

Lisa has a dinner at her house on Friday nights. Someone brings the meal and a group of hungry families get to enjoy time around her dining room table. Those who gather share stories of their week, they talk about their feelings and their frustrations, they laugh at their kid’s antics, and enjoy watching each other’s kids grow as the weeks turn into months which turn into years.

Grace's Table Veggie Tray

It’s a dining room table I’ve sat at many times, sharing life, smiling at small children as they try to stuff whole watermelon slices in their mouths, and it’s where I’ve felt like my true self.

Wouldn’t you like to drop into dinner once a week?

To a place where you’re welcome to enjoy a meal without the facade we have to put on for the rest of the world?

A place where everybody knows your name and likes you just the same?

Me too!

However, this particular community isn’t one where I attend weekly, mainly because of the 150 miles each way! This community, Grace’s Table, has captured my heart and because of that Dave and I partner with Grace’s Table in a variety of ways. We have prepared meals, photographed families, and even wrangled kiddos as their mom’s get a chance to enjoy some adult time with well…other adults. It doesn’t end there. We partner with Grace’s Table financially each month, and have most recently enjoyed helping them with a special project (more on that later) *smiles*

Grace's Table Mom Kids

Grace’s Table is the community that Lisa built. It is a safe place for teen moms to come for a great meal for herself and her children. The moms get time to eat with their kids before joining the group for about an hour to chat about real-life and practical topics, like self-care, relationships, sex, boundaries, and life skills.

Can I sign up? Seriously… isn’t this simply amazing to be able to DO life with others in a place where you can be honest, real, and vulnerable? I’m a little jealous.

I digress…

Lisa, a one-time teen mom, found that she didn’t have a community when she was raising her now 22-year old son. She dreamed (and worked her butt off) of “some day” when she would have a home and a big table to host teen moms who could use a meal served with a side of great conversation.

Grace’s Table’s small beginnings four years ago has turned into a community of over 25 moms and their children AND there is a supportive community of volunteers who help make meals, wrangle kids, build vegetable gardens, and right now there are MANY volunteers who are giving their time and talents to complete a basement remodel so there is more space so Lisa can reach out to schools in the new school year so the word gets out for more teen moms to join!

Grace's Table Windows

Grace’s Table is now much more than Friday night dinners, they give mom’s a night out for Mother’s Day and a family night at Christmas time where the families are treated to a grand dinner with presents! Grace’s Table helps moms with counseling as well as support them during high school graduations, moving into apartments, and other life journeys both hard and wonderful.

So I have a question for you today…

Will you donate to Grace’s Table so they can continue to create a place where a teen mom can find encouragement no matter where the journey leads her?

Please help young women embrace her story with a sense of adventure!

Tax-Deductible Charitable Checks can be made payable to Grace’s Table 835 Richmond ST NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.  Or you can take action here (be sure to add 4% for those pesky credit card fees!)

BE THE REASON young women find a sense of BELONGING.

After you’re done sending Grace’s Table a donation, check your calendar and ask someone to share a meal with you! Great conversation isn’t reserved to teen moms gathered around Grace’s Table… start your own community… one meal is all it takes!

Thank you for your generosity!
Laura

Dave’s Racing Weekends

Dave’s Racing Weekends

First post from our resident Super Nerd, Dave! Enjoy. – Laura
Racing weekends for me is about turning wrenches, replacing, repairing, and modifying parts to make the car run better.  The rewarding part of this is that you will quickly find out which way the fix is going…better or worse.  It is results oriented, immediately, which is different from my day job that takes weeks or months to see results.
There is camaraderie within the race team, listening to the driver’s experience on the track, figuring out which issue is the car and which is the driver and as a team we work to make both work together.  Fixes could be anything from tire pressure, suspension setup, engine timing, carburetor setup, telling the driver to brake less, or try a different approach. 
 
Adjusting the tire pressure and the suspension can help the car drive faster through the turns.  
 
Adjusting the Engine timing and carburetor can help the engine run smoothly with more power and keep the engine temperature normal.  
 
When the team is able to find the correct adjustments for the car and the driver, it is an amazing sight to see the car blazing around the track. No one person can do it all and all can’t do it at the same time either, so communication and trust is crucial.
 
Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong, but either way, you try again and try to do it better.
 
While all this is happening you learn about yourself, others around you and the cars/components.
 
I have learned from this experience and it has sparked an interest to purchase, maintain and drive an old Sports Car.  Not a vintage Race Car, maybe one day, there is interest.  But there is also a confidence that I can learn, I can do it and if I can’t, there are people around that know or know someone that knows how.
 
 
I enjoy driving my Triumph Spitfire because it is a unique car that you rarely see on the roads today. While it doesn’t have the horsepower to compete with the new Camaros and Mustangs, I can push my driving skills with my car without breaking the speed limit.  
 
High power cars are fun until you realize that you just shifted into second gear and have already exceeded the speed limit…those 4 seconds were fun, now what? 
 
With my Spitfire, I will not beat anyone off the line and I have to be near the top of third gear before cresting 50mph, but I can zoom through those twisty turns without touching the brake pedal and that is is a rush.
 
While I am one of the youngest around, I am noticing that I understand more and more and I’m clueless about less and less, even to the point where I can challenge others ideas. While I’m not alway correct, my opinion or information is respected enough to consider.  
 
This pushes me to continue to learn more and ask questions because sooner or later, I will be passing my knowledge onto someone new.
I encourage you to take what you love and know and share it with someone else.
Dave
Racing Weekends

Racing Weekends

A few days ago Facebook showed me the first time I went to a vintage racing weekend, it was 6 years ago and Dave didn’t come with me. To Dave’s defense, I was only going to hang out with my Traverse City family who was coming to the race track 25 minutes from my house in metro-Detroit. The plan was to hang out with family and then do dinner afterward… little did I know that vintage racing would turn into a series of summer adventures, a new found appreciation for a generous and loving community, and a little British car of our own!

Six years later I’m still heading to the track for family AND because Dave loves to work on the race car crew, but I also go because I enjoy the community that supports vintage racing.

Let me tell you a little about my family…
I started going to the race track to cheer on my uncle, Don Kelly, who drives the #9 Bugeye, a blue 1959 Austin Healey Sprite with US Marine colors that outline his #9 and Semper Fi logo.

While sitting under Don’s checker flag tent I’ve met Don’s childhood friends, his extended family, and his racing community.

Don seems to know everyone at the track, probably because Don’s dad raced the same car in the 70’s for a number of years, while Don’s mom helped with behind the scenes activities that keep racing weekends safe, sane, and mostly on time.

Family at the race track doesn’t just extend to who you know… the race track seems to take people and turn them into the most generous community I’ve ever seen.

Let me tell you a little about the racers…

Upon first glance race weekends, looks like a place retired guys drive vintage cars. While the racers aren’t all retired, there aren’t as many racers under the age of 60 and an even smaller number of women drivers or youngins under 40.

A Husband and Wife Racing at Blackhawk 2017.

On second glance the guys who race bristle a little bit as they talk about their vintage car woes, they act tough as they detail their latest track speeds, including the racing conditions, the proximity of the nearest racers, and possibly the exact reason their engine was giving them some trouble.

Many of the drivers bring friends and family to the track so the non-racers round out the family aspect of the weekend with multiple generations represented and all of us dressed in shorts and t-shirts in an attempt to keep cool in the summer heat.

On to my story…

At Grattan Raceway, outside Grand Rapids, MI, on a HOT mid-August day I lazily watched a few races and took a few practice photos while I chatted with family and friends while the race crew was readying the #9 race car (and it’s driver #safetycheck) for the next series.

After taking pictures of the #9 lining up for the race, I ran around the infield (literally) to take pictures of my uncle’s race. The race track is around 2 miles and I noticed that my uncle didn’t come around part way through the 12 lap race. When the race ended I returned to the paddocks.

paddocks: A place where shooting the shit occurs, wrenched on happens, and fine tuning the race car could require a screw driver or a tire iron. It usually looks like a grassy area in the middle of the track where drivers set up tents to cover their race car so they can protect it during the weekend sun (or rain) and have a place to work on the car between races. It’s where the driver and crew park their modern cars, setup chairs, visit one another, and keep their coolers for water breaks and lunchtime cook outs. It’s a place where enthusiasts and those prone to wandering can enjoy the vintage race cars on display.

In the paddocks, the #9 car was being towed and then pushed into its tent. The first thing I noticed were the people from other tents helping push the #9 car into its place along with our driver, Don, and guys from our crew. As I put away my camera gear I heard that the issue had to do with a hole in the valve cover that is on top of the engine and it seemed to be a major issue… like this is the end of racing for the weekend type of an issue. Not a fun thought on Saturday afternoon with 4-5 races left in the weekend.

As the drivers nearby started climbing out of their hot fire protective suits, in 85*F temperatures, they grabbed a cold water and headed over to the tent to talk to Don to make sure he was physically OK and then asked about his car’s ailments.

At this point, I went up to the concessions stand because in truth I also drank a bunch of cold water that weekend and I had to pee. As I’ve learned from these HOT weekends (85*F+) guys sweat out all the water they drink and I do not… so off to the air conditioned bathrooms for me!

When I got back to the #9 race car tent I was taken aback because there were THREE different colored valve covers by the tent post and a bunch of guys huddled around the engine bay.

I later found out that word got around the paddocks that the #9 car blew a hole in its cover so Don’s fellow racers pulled out their extra parts for Don to use if he needed it. Those who experienced similar issues offered their advice, they offered parts, they offered to help, and a few jumped in and got their hands dirty working on the car.

Don’s competitors were helping make the car run and run well?!

Their reasoning said in my own words… They wanted Don to be able to race with them… the equivalent of “can Don come out to play?”

It surprised me and confused me as to why competitors would want to see their competition succeed and over the last several years I’ve heard the SAME ANSWER from DOZENS of these rough and tumble guys.

The overwhelming response from them has been this one… it’s more fun to race WITH someone.

I learned that day that to this group of people, racing isn’t about winning or losing… it’s about being part of a community.

This vintage racing community (VSCDA – Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association) is one who wants everyone to have a great time, to get home safely, and to be able to drive again at the next race. The racers LOVE to out race each other, they LOVE to be acknowledged for their racing, but at the end of the day, I think they would rather be part of THIS community experience than to race in leagues that mainly play for the win.

So what happened to the #9 that day? It was back up and running in the next race and Don raced VERY well, so well that he earned the durability award for the racing season, with many of the points accumulated in the racing following his car’s engine issue.

My encouragement for the day…
Look around and think about people who YOU want to play with. Find people to do life WITH!

Start today by messaging a friend with encouragement (hey I’m thinking of you and I hope you’re doing well today!) or putting out the word of an impromptu gathering in your backyard (bring your own chair, snacks, and beverages!).

Life is best lived and appreciated when we do it together.

Don’t wait until adventure finds you… start your journey to finding your crew and your community right now!

Laura

P.S. All the above stories are my own observations and opinions… I hope the people I’ve described understand my support and appreciation for the community they have created.

Spitfire Road Trip Part 3

Spitfire Road Trip Part 3

Our trip home was mostly uneventful too. We stayed with extended family in Aurora, IL which meant we could leave early on Monday without needing to attempt driving through the night on Sunday.

We stopped for lunch just inside the Indiana border in Dyer at a great BBQ place called Doc’s Smokehouse, it was fantastic!!! The berry, peach, raspberry, and strawberry hard ciders on my flight of beverages were great too. Perks of being the passenger!

I wanted to put my feet in Lake Michigan on this trip home so chose to stop in Michigan City, IN to see the lighthouse and it was beautiful!

The location itself was a juxtaposition with the nuclear plant and industry on one side and the dunes and the lake on the other side.

It was very cool to be able to look across the lake and see Gary, IN (20-30 miles away as the crow flies) and Chicago, IL (40 miles as the crow flies) from the lighthouse.

We were able to enjoy some time walking in the cool waters and feeling the sand between our toes knowing full well we had to put our shoes back on to protect our feet for the journey home. (hot floors in the car)

We also saw a storm crossing Lake Michigan and luckily we had just enough time to wipe off our feet and hop in the car before heading out, but not before enjoying the beauty of the dark clouds, the rain from a distance, and the awe-worthy lightening from across the lake.

Instead of taking the long back roads we chose to drive home on I-94, especially with the storm which was getting bigger and redder on the radar.

The first part of I-94 between Indiana and Michigan is north-south so we didn’t feel like we were making any progress on the storm. When I-94 finally flattened as eastbound we were able to get some good distance behind us and we made it home well before dark. We also found a new route that I’m sure we will take on other road trips this year!
The storm was beautiful to watch… the shape of the clouds as well as the dark and light was amazing to see as we traveled on. It was in this moment that my friend’s prayer of “Praying that you see God everywhere you go. Be on the lookout for Him. He loves you.” This was definitely one of those moments where we could safely watch a storm and we could see the beauty of nature’s power.

On this trip home, we made many choices… we chose to stay longer than intended visiting with extended family. We chose to enjoy our trip home and stop for lunch instead of grabbing something quick. We chose to enjoy Lake Michigan and when the storm came we chose to take the direct route home. We chose our adventure AND we chose to accept that not everything worked out to plan, resulting in an enjoyable and less stressful trip together.

On future road trips, I hope we can adventure off the interstate more often and I hope we can appreciate the time together because it was SO much more enjoyable when we rolled with the journey instead of trying to keep everything predictable.

I’m off seeking my next adventure… what about you?

Laura

Spitfire Road Trip Part 2

Spitfire Road Trip Part 2

In part 1 I left you in a cute little town where we fixed the 1979 Spitfire. We were somewhere along our journey from metro-Detroit to South Beloit, IL.

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

Most of the way across Michigan we made our road trip “official” with the sighting of a Bronners sign in a cute little town called Tekonsha. For those who aren’t from Michigan… Bronners is a HUGE Christmas store/warehouse located in Frankenmuth (Michigan’s little Bavaria) and they have signs near all the major highways and entrances into the state of Michigan. In some ways it’s not a road trip until you’ve seen a Bronner’s sign… so this is where our trip became “Bronner’s official”. LOL.

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

After a short time, we also found ourselves on Route 66! The Michigan Route 66, not the US-66, but still! Our first Route 66 trip was in progress (for about 10 miles).

Our next planned destination was the longest covered bridge in Michigan and once we arrived it was nice to get out of the car to stretch our legs. Dave wrangled my “real” camera out of the tightly packed truck, out of my stuffed backpack, and then miraculously put everything back into place to be able to close the trunk!

Wrangled… yes that’s the right word. Success would also be another word I’d use for whenever we’d get the trunk to close the first time. Woo hoo!

We spent a bit longer at the bridge than I think we needed to just because I wasn’t ready to go back in the car and it was a REALLY pretty summer-type morning just before it got too warm.

Back on the road we found beautiful tree lined areas and stretches of road where we didn’t see a soul.

We entered a town it must have been a big town because it had a Dollar General AND a Family Dollar in the town. <<that was sarcasm in case you missed it! *smiles*

As we were passing through this “big town” of Cassopolis we found a replica Sinclair station! It was SUPER CUTE! 

This is where I actually yelled at Dave — PULL OVER RIGHT NOW!

He was glad that I did even if he wasn’t too happy that I asked for my “real” camera again since we had put it back into the trunk after the covered bridge… oops!

My favorite pieces of the station were the oil cans, the bright colors of white, red, and green AND the big brontosaurus!

Dave’s favorite part of the station was seeing the passion of someone to capture a time period. It felt like you were transported back in time.

I figured it was time to get a selfie of the three of us… Dave, Me, and the Spitfire.

Some people say we should stop and smell the roses, but I say we should stop and snuggle the brontosaurus… too bad he was up on the roof!

With these little detours we missed the gladiolus fields Dave had found as a destination on our journey, but I was getting hungry so we continued onto the beach town of New Buffalo, MI where I saw neither beach or Lake Michigan… hmmm… must have been getting tired in our 6 hours of journey to not head to the lake.

In New Buffalo, Dave let me wander a touristy shop where I got some cute summer weight Snoozie slippers and looked at EVERY shirt to see if it was something I’d wear, they were not very cute.
We wandered another two shops trying to get decent cell phone service trying to find a place to eat since the destination in New Buffalo was the wine store and we weren’t that excited for wine by the time we got into town.

We found our way to the restaurant Stray Dog, which we have been seeing signs for on I-94 on all of our travels from Michigan to Milwaukee for years and years. It was great food and great atmosphere! The benches at the table were cool and comfortable and not the car. I’m glad that it wasn’t SO comfortable that we fell asleep because we still had a long ways to go!

 

Once we were on the road again we drove thru Michigan City, IN where we were surprised to see the nuclear plant right along the route. We typically drive I-94 along this stretch of Indiana so I forgot that there was a nuclear plant here at the base of Lake Michigan.

By this time we were a little more than half way to our destination and the temperatures had risen to 91*F. The roads we planned next were smaller highways with lots of traffic lights. I was tired, HOT, and getting cranky… very cranky.

At one point I said we WILL pull over at the next gas station and I lucked out that it was a Speedway with a Beverage “cave”. I surprised the delivery guy who was restocking the cooler shelves. I stammered that I came in the little two-seater car and it was VERY HOT. He said “I don’t blame you. I don’t work here, you’re not bothering me.” Dave eventually found me and cooled off with me… Can’t all wives be found in the cooler right? Hahaha

After that we stopped every 45 minutes or so because I was simply overheating, mostly at my feet. We later found out from the car guys at the race track that the exhaust blows right in front of my feet on the other side, in the engine compartment and there wasn’t really a “heat shield” to protect my tootsies. Owie!

Little did we know that the WHOLE car had heating issues and our bags were hot too… it MELTED Dave’s gummy vitamins and our deodorants wound up in the refrigerator so we could salvage them (they were nice and chilly the next morning when we used them!). Once I found out that the car melted gummy bears I didn’t feel like such a whiner.

We had initially avoided the big interstates, especially I-94 going through Chicago because of the traffic congestion, but US-30 was miserable as we hardly moved from one traffic light to another and we chose to get on the interstate so we could just be MOVING.. Once we got on the interstate the wind helped cool us down as we zipped north to Rockton, IL, where our Airbnb was located.

I love that our Airbnb hostess had been chatting with us the whole day so she knew we had a hot road trip. She turned the air conditioning to very cold and added fans in front of the vents. AHHH! It was a relief to get out of the hot car after 12 hours of travel and enjoy our air conditioned accommodations!!

All in all our trip was fun! We made some loose plans to visit places like the Covered Bridge and the town of New Buffalo and we let some plans go like the gladiolus fields. We were flexible in our time so we could stop at the Sinclair Station, enjoy a long lunch break, AND make a cooler stop to literally cool our heels.

I’m surprised that the Spitfire is so comfortable and I’ll be happy to head out on another road trip (maybe on a cooler day!).

Life is all about capturing the little things and enjoying the moments that make our adventures meaningful. I hope you’ll take some time this summer to adventure a little and to let yourself explore more than usual… who knows you might even find a brontosaurus!

Laura