Our first priority on Saturday was to clean up our yard. After a quick stop at Starbuck’s for coffee and pastries (where, to John’s dismay, he discovered that you still have to pay for Wi-Fi), we headed over to Bordine’s Nursery and bought a dozen bags of mulch, which just about filled the back of the Subaru. We spent the next several hours giving the yard a makeover. John cleaned up the front yard and mowed in back while I mulched the flower beds, trimmed back the overgrown burning bushes lining our front walk, and made a vain attempt at pulling up the myriad dandelions populating our yard (most of which had already gone to seed, which means that our lawn will probably be more dandelions than grass by the end of the summer). We cut back the huge viburnums growing along our side fence and tied them up so they wouldn’t hang over the path. I looked around the backyard for my Michigan natives, which I have been slowly adding to the garden over the past few years. Most of them seem to be doing great without any help on my part – the wild geraniums and meadow rue in my shade garden were over 18 inches high, and my sprouting clump of Joe-pye weed is bigger than ever. I do have to admit that I miss my garden. We stopped for lunch midday – sub sandwiches and fries at Penn Station – and finished up around six o’clock. After dinner (I can’t for the life of me remember where we ate) we were feeling awake enough to go see Spiderman 3 at the AMC Theater in Sterling Heights, our first movie out in nearly a year. It was great, although we agreed that Spiderman 2 was better.
On Sunday we had breakfast at Panera (which has free Wi-Fi), where I ran into our former neighbor - the one who was supposed to be watching our house. She was very surprised to see me (she hadn't gotten my e-mail yet saying that we were coming for a visit) and explained that they had moved into a condo because her husband's health was declining. She apologized for not telling me that they had moved out and promised to drop off our house key this weekend.
After breakfast we headed up to Waterford Hills to check out the track event. As most of you who read my annual holiday letter are aware, John’s boss at Chrysler rents out the Waterford Hills road course for one day every year, and a few dozen select invitees get to go and satisfy our need for speed by driving around as fast as we can. In recent years the neighbors living around the track have upped their noise complaints, so there are severe restrictions on when you can drive and how loud your car can be. We figure that eventually the neighbors will complain so much that the track will be shut down, so we are taking advantage of it while we can. This year’s event just happened to be scheduled for while we were in Michigan (I swear this was only a lucky coincidence).
Visiting the track was a bittersweet experience, since we had no car to drive. My Audi A4, which I had to sell before we moved to Germany, is now owned by some guy in Royal Oak who doesn’t know a stick shift from a broomstick, and John’s Mitsubishi Evolution is under wraps in our garage, resting on bald tires without a battery. So for the first time ever we were mere spectators, hoping nobody noticed the hideously ugly vehicle that we arrived in, watching jealously as various Chrysler and GM employees whizzed around the course. It was good for us to be there, because John got a chance to socialize with friends and colleagues. We brought our helmets just in case we could bum a ride or two, and I finally got to go for a ride in John's boss' Viper (that's me in the top photo). The Viper is a very fast car and John's boss is an experienced racecar driver, so this was, shall I say, a thrilling experience. I actually think he should consider offering it as a chiropractic service, as I definitely worked out a few neck kinks in the process. He found it quite amusing that they offer rides in a race-ready Viper on the Nürburgring for 250 Euro per lap – I suggested that he could make a pretty good living doing that if he ever wanted to give up designing cars. John went for a ride in the Viper too, but I caught him looking longingly at another guy's Mitsubishi Evo (bottom photo).
We ran some more errands in the afternoon and then walked over to Nina & Brian's house for an excellent hamburger dinner, with entertainment provided by 18-month-old Tommy.