April / May 2015

0 814

Story By Jill Lorie Hurst | Photos by Heidi Bowen

Hummingbirds. Colorful, diverse, independent…they are the perfect summer addition to our community. And it’s not all that difficult to get them to be a part of Ferndale’s summer celebration year after year.

As you read this, it’s a lovely time to be here. The front yard gar- dens are shaping up, the wind chimes are chiming and the memo- ries of slipping on the winter ice are fading. The big Michigan sky stays light late into the evening, the sunsets and thunderstorms are amazing. And there’s a possibility you will have the chance to get acquainted with those small, pretty visitors feasting on nectar out of various specially designed feeders or diving into delicious plants and bushes planted especially for their enjoyment. Yes, the hum- mingbirds are hovering in Ferndale. We, as good hosts, should en- courage them to stay.

Most hummingbirds arrive in our area in May and leave in Septem- ber, which right there makes them wise creatures. They fly upside down, know a good “sweet” when they taste one and never forget a reliable food source. My new heroes.

Some facts about those hovering hummingbirds:

– According to Native American tradition, they are the symbol of spreading life on the earth.

– Early Spanish explorers called them “flying jewels.”
– Five types of hummingbirds make their way to Michigan; the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the Broad-billed Hummingbird, the Green Violetear, the White-eared Hummingbird, and the Rufous.

– They can fly sideways and upside-down, at up to 35 mph.

– Most hummingbird species flap their wings from 50 to 80 times per second, and have heart rates as high as 1260 beats per minute!

– They do “hover” and perch because, although they have feet, they can’t really walk.

– Most are brilliantly colorful, but there are some albino humming- birds spotted every year.

– Their brain is 4.2 percent of their body weight.

– They remember every flower they encounter, can see and hear better than humans, but have no sense of smell.

– They use their W-shaped forked tongues to lap up nectar.

– They eat seven times an hour for 30 to 60 seconds.

– Their favorite color is red.

– They do indeed hum, due to the rapid beating of their wings.

– Hummingbirds are known as the “promiscuous species.” They do not form pair bonds at all. The male doesn’t help raise the babies. The female builds the nest all by herself, then generally lays two eggs.

– Every year, ruby-throated hummingbirds make a 500-mile, non-stop migration flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

– One species, the bee hummingbird, is the smallest bird in the world. Adults weigh less than a penny.

– They feast on the sweet nectar from gardens and the feeders especially set up for them, and on insects for protein, but because they are so tiny, their natural enemy is an insect: the Praying Mantis.

– They have a cake named after them. “Hummingbird Cake” is a spice cake with pineapple, nuts and cream cheese frosting. Southern Living Magazine said it’s their most requested recipe.

There’s a lot of information available on the web and at the library if you are interested in growing a hummingbird garden or putting out a feeder. A few basic tips:

– Plants and Flowers Hummingbirds Love: Milkweed, morning glories, lilacs, sage, snap dragons, bleeding heart, day lilies, delphinium, foxglove, fuschia, hollyhock, hosta and honeysuckle.

– Hummingbird feeders: Two cautions when you make or buy hummingbird nectar. Even though red is their favorite color, the red dye that is usually part of their nectar can make them sick. Also, do not use honey, syrups or artificial sweeteners. The best nectar is made of one part plain white table sugar (Do not use brown sugar, “sugar in the raw,” or turbinado sugar; the iron content can harm them) to four parts water. Bring mixture to a boil and stir for two minutes while it boils. Then remove from heat and once it has cooled it can be added to your feeder.

– Clean your hummingbird feeder every three to four days with either warm soapy water or white vinegar.

When I started researching this article, I typed in “Hummingbirds in Ferndale MI” and found that a band named The Hummingbirds will be performing here this summer. I look forward to hearing them and seeing what they have in common with their feathered, brightly colored counterparts!

Something else I read on a website called “World Of Hummingbirds” made me understand why hummingbirds are a great addition to Ferndale.

“Hummingbirds don’t read books on what they are supposed to do and tend to do what they want”.

Come hover with us in Ferndale, hummingbirds! You’ll feel right at home.

Multi-Talented Artist Jimmie Thompson Draws From A Big Bag Of Tricks…And Deep Artistic Roots

Story by Jeff Lilly | Photos by Ed Abeska

You could easily apply famous clichés to Jimmie Thompson. You could say he wears many hats. Has a lot of irons in the fire. To expand on that thought, you could say he paints many canvases, draws many cartoons, designs many floats, sculpts many sculptures, builds many shadowboxes… and teaches others how to do it all, too.

“I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family of artists.” Jimmie says, one sunny morning in mid-March, curling himself into a chair in his living room. The room is comfortable and eclectic and almost every square foot of wall is covered with art, most of which Jimmie has a personal connection to.

“My grandfather was an artist,” Jimmie says, pointing to a series of landscapes hanging next to the piano. “His nickname was ‘Birdseye Thompson’ because he used to paint buildings, what they would look like, before they existed. The ones done by computer today, he did those by hand. My father was a commercial artist. My mother was a classical cellist.” Jimmie’s wife Jane and daughter Jenny are artists as well, and his son Ray a musician and songwriter.



His own art has its place in the room, too. On the back wall is a huge 3D shadowbox, filled with dynamic, colorful, cartoony figures. Jimmie’s own style, to a T.

“I’ve loved to draw ever since I can remember. As for direction, at different times I’ve been a cartoonist, an animator, a puppeteer, an illustrator, and I am working on two childrens books.” Jack of all, and master of all of them, too. Right now, his bread and butter is “special events,” or translating others’ ideas into floats, decorations, character balloons, and installations for parades and festivals. He’s worked for 26 years on Detroit’s own America’s Thanksgiving parade (with a brief hiatus), starting as a designer and sculptor, moving up to art director and finally Vice President of the parade company. His designs have been a yearly sight at the Festival 500 Parade on Memorial Day in Indianapolis. He also currently creates designs and teaches workshops for the Festifools and Fool Moon events in Ann Arbor.

He shows me a photo of his favorite creation, a “Jack & the Beanstalk” float from a past Thanksgiving parade. “We had a height restriction because of the People Mover. So I rigged it with a hydraulic system so that after we cleared it, the stalk would shoot up.” He smiles. There’s a good helping of the mad inventor in Jimmie, too!

“I love character development.” He says. “Everything I do stems from that. Often, people come to me, and they have an idea but don’t know how to do it. I can help them, find out what they like, what they don’t, and translate their ideas into something that appeals.”

He leads me to his basement workshop as he talks about some projects on the table right now, including working on a design for a snow globe. He’s an artistic Swiss Army knife! His studio is neat and well-organized, but crammed full of portfolios, supplies, and materials. A drawing board has several pages of inked designs taped up. There’s a spacious workbench, and hanging from the ceiling is a 3D wire frame of a cartoon animal, which I promptly bump into. That’s a piece for the class he’s currently running for Festifools, teaching others how to build sculpted luminaries. Another shadowbox leans against a wall. On a desk are designs for the kind of stand-up displays where tourists put their heads through and have their pictures taken. A paper maché sculpture leers impishly from a corner.

In a large black portfolio are examples of Jimmie’s cartoon work. We talk about the impact of political cartoons, and their ability to pack a profound message in a deceptively innocuous wrapper. “It’s a very powerful medium that’s been used throughout the centuries.” Jimmie says. “I’ve known politicians through the years who have wanted to befriend cartoonists.” He smiles knowingly. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer!

I ask Jimmie if there’s anything he hasn’t tried, a medium or a project he’s always been eager to tackle. He pauses, and his voice grows eager. “I would very much love to start and be a part of an event here in

Ferndale. Something immersive, along the lines of Festifools. I’ve got some ideas, but haven’t hammered them out yet. We have a lot of great events here, but I want to do something that’s a little more… well, that people walk away from and say, ‘I haven’t seen anything like that!’”

With Jimmie Thompson involved, that would be a sure bet. Let’s give it a go, people! Give him the keys and let the Jack of all Dreams take us to places we’ve only imagined.


Jimmie’s new comic strip debuts in this issue. Check it out!

NICHOLAS SCHROCK, THE AGENCY OWNER OF ALLSTATE INSURANCE in Ferndale, has been brainstorming some innovative new financial solutions for LGBT clients. On Wednesday, May 13 2015, Schrock and his colleague David Smith will be hosting a free presentation in the main Community Room at the Ferndale Public Library. The presentation will run from 6:00 P.M. – 7.30 P.M., and will specifically outline life insurance and investment/retirement plans for the LGBT population. Registration is open to both residents and non-residents of Ferndale alike (see details on registering and the presentation schedule below).

Schrock has been offering his financial expertise in Ferndale since 2011, and he anticipates hosting LGBT-oriented presentations at least every six months. Smith, who is also with Allstate, has been a financial planner since 2004. The combined powerhouse of knowledge available at the upcoming event is certainly impressive.

Schrock and Smith recognize that the needs of the LGBT population, as a whole, are unique. In particular, Schrock explained, many companies do not recognize an LGBT partnership in the same way as a marriage. Therefore, funds are often not transferred to partners correctly.

Fortunately, there are some great new plans available which protect LGBT partnerships from being negatively affected financially. An overview of all these types of plans will be covered during the presentation, in addition to free reviews of your existing plans (brokers usually charge extra for this service).

Schrock and Smith will also provide complimentary guidebooks/organizers to help attendees keep track of their important facts and contacts.

The evening will begin with light refreshments at 6:00 P.M., followed by the main presentation (including questions from the audience) from 6:30- 7:30. P.M.

This an event you can’t afford to miss! Seats are already filling quickly for this highly educational event. Reservations can be made via phone at the main office line: (248) 547.4010, or by emailing Schrock directly: nschrock@allstate.com. (Walk-ins are also welcome until room is at capacity.)

Nick Schrock & Associates LLC 248-547-4010 23225 Woodward, Ferndale nschrock@all-state.com

Story by Jeff Lilly | Photos by Bernie Laframboise

It was a nippy night in late March when I marched into the Bizarre Bazaar. Not the opening line of a short story or a movie pitch, but a fun evening for a deadly serious cause.

The Michigan AIDS Coalition held its second annual Bizarre Bazaar at the Twist Night Club on March 26, a silent auction of goodies donated by individ- uals, stores, and organizations to raise money to continue their important mission. Artwork, framed posters, jewelry, home accents, furniture, and other items were on display. One end of the room was taken up by a selection of clothing and cards from Just4Us, our own dearly departed Kevin Rogers, still helping a good cause from the other side.

I spoke first with Terry Ryan, CEO of the Michigan AIDS Coalition. He quickly gave me the title of this piece, and told me it was the most important thing to remember.

“AIDS is not over! You don’t see AIDS covered much on the news anymore.” AIDS began as a terrifying and unknown killer. Once its transmission and risk factors were understood, and the fear began to be replaced with practical suggestions, there was a tremendous drop in new AIDS cases. Combine that with advances in anti-retrovi- ral drugs, and today AIDS is now seen as merely another chronic, manageable disease.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.42.16 PM

Almost. “Younger people need to know the risks.” Terry says. He fears an upswing in new cases due to lack of education. The same rules still apply; always wear protection when having sex. Don’t share needles.

MAC serves the most vulnerable populations, high-risk populations in poorer areas who generally lack good health care coverage. MAC sends trained outreach teams into bars and, with assistance of the management, provides a safe, anonymous area where people can be voluntarily tested. The staff circulate, chatting casually and letting people know they can be tested. The reaction is generally positive, Terry says, and the testing is simple. A quick finger prick is all that’s needed to test for AIDS. This year, MAC has expanded their testing to include other STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia as well.

I next spoke with our mayor, Dave Coulter. Mayor Coulter was affiliated with the Michigan AIDS Fund, which in 2009 merged with the Midwest AIDS Pre- vention Project to form the current Michigan AIDS Coalition.

“I have a passion for HIV prevention.” the Mayor explained. He echoed Terry Ryan’s sentiments, saying “There are a lot of young people now who don’t know anyone who’s died of AIDS. We have to keep awareness alive, at a time when people think the crisis is over.”

Local author Clay Boura is on cloud nine with the success with his first book on idioms.

By David Wesley | Photos courtesy of Clay Boura

FOR AS LONG AS HE CAN REMEMBER, Clay Boura has always been fascinated with the English language. Between all of the rules, silent letters, words with multiple spellings and meanings, and all of the colorful sayings, it can be quite a complicated fascination for anyone, especially for a young child learning to read.

As he became an adult and his first child began learning to read, it occurred to Clay how literal children can be at early ages. Thus, an idea was born!

“Leave it to Beamer” is a children’s book series about a young boy, Beamer, who dreams up wild, imaginative ideas for where he believes English idioms and other figures of speech may have come from. In the end, Beamer also learns the true meanings of these silly sayings. The series is humorous, adventurous, and educational, and appeals to all demographics of readers.

Ferndale Friends: How long have you lived in Ferndale and what’s your relationship with the city?

Clay Boura: I was born in Ferndale back in 1978. I attended grade school at Taft Elementary, middle school at Best Junior High School (which is now Kennedy Elementary where my kids go to school) and I later graduated from Ferndale High School. I lived in Ferndale up until about ten years ago when my wife (whom I met at Ferndale High School) and I moved to Oak Park. So as you can see, my entire life, and now my kids’ lives, have centered around Ferndale!

F.F. Who are your biggest influences artistically?

C.B. Ever since I was young, I have always loved to write and draw. Initially, my dream was to become a cartoonist and have my own cartoon strip in the newspaper. My biggest influences were always Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Jim Davis (Garfield) and Bill Amend (Fox Trot). Then I started having kids and realized how much enjoyment I got out of sitting and reading books to them. I decided that I wanted to write and illustrate my very own children’s books. On that front, my biggest influence is probably none other than the Doctor himself, Dr. Seuss.

F.F. What has the reaction been to your children’s book series Leave it to Beamer?

C.B. So far, everyone I have shown the book to has loved it. A handful of people even told me they want to buy the rest of my series (and this is only my first book!) I have honestly been blown away by all of the love and support that I have received. So many people have shared it through social media and sent other people to me to buy copies and offered words of encouragement. It has been tremendous so far.

F.F. Do you have any future projects in the works?

C.B. Yes, “Leave it to Beamer” is definitely going to be a long series of books. I just finished and published my first book in the series “Don’t Let the Cat Out of the Bag” and my second book is already completely written. I just have to complete my illustrations and hope to have that finished later this year. Since my series deals with English idioms, the possibilities are endless. I currently have about a dozen other ideas for future books typed out and every day I hear some sort of idiom or silly phrase that I think could be another book idea! I am also going to be donating a copy of my book to the Ferndale, Oak Park, and Berkley public libraries and I am working on setting up book signing events at a few local bookstores.

Twitter @ClayBoura

Boura’s books are now available for sale at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale, the Book Beat in Oak Park, and Paperback Trade Inn in Clawson. Boura will be signing and selling books at this year’s Oak Park Summer Fest on August 8th and 9th.

0 535

Story by Malissa Martin

Heather Cutlip, owner of Little Lotus Wellness, says that yoga is a brain training exercise that “forces your mind and body to be calm in a stressful situation.” Cutlip began doing yoga as a way to cope with her stressful job as a restaurant manager. The benefits of yoga, she said, led her down the path to discover the world of wellness. “It really does start to apply to your everyday life. So you can kind of take it off the mat and learn to be more reflective instead of more reactive.”

Later, she enrolled at Irene’s Myomassology Institute in Southfield where she received her license in massage therapy. Soon after, she began looking for a space to start her business. Friends suggested Cutlip check out 195 West 9 Mile. “As soon as I found this location, it totally made the decision for me,” Cutlip said. Originally from the East Side of Detroit, Cutlip said she always loved Ferndale. “I just got the vision in my head right away and said, ‘okay, this is it,’ and everything just flowed really easy from there.”

Little Lotus Wellness opened in May 2014, and business has been growing thanks to word-of-mouth. “I think intimacy is what draws a lot of people here.” Cutlip said. The average number of students per class is five, but the studio can hold eight per session. In addition to Cutlip, there are four other instructors at Little Lotus. The Yoga Basics and Yin Yoga classes are the most popular at Little Lotus right now. Cutlip iintroduced a new class in January at her studio called Rebel Warrior, which she describes as “yoga on steroids.” Classes change seasonally to provide a variety of options for students.

Creating a calming atmosphere for each session is very important at Little Lotus. Music, candles, dim lighting, and a small bamboo fountain are just a few of the tools Cutlip uses to construct a stress-free environment for students.“We wear all these labels every day. So when people come into class it’s time to start shedding these labels. Just get down to you. In here you’re not a co-worker, you’re not a mother, you’re not a husband or a wife. You just kind of focus on yourself.” Cutlip explained.

Yoga classes and massages can be purchased in packages. Yoga packages come in sets of 5, 10, and 15 classes. There’s also an unlimited yoga package available for $99 a month.

Private yoga group classes for bachelorette parties, office parties, and more are now available and can be catered to the group’s needs. A meditation class meets every Sunday at 11:00 A.M. The class is free, but donations are appreciated. In addition to yoga and massages, Cutlip has many guests from the wellness community, such as life and health coaches, performing workshops at Little Lotus. Other workshops include intro to essential oils, mala bead making, and stress reduction. There’s also movie night, once a month, where a film about yoga is shown in relation to its history, new practices, health benefits, and more.


Contact Little Lotus Wellness at 586-344-6587 or check out the website at www.littlelotuswellness.com for more information.

CJ Forge’s artistry brings blacksmithing into the modern age

Story & photos by Jeff Lilly

You’d miss the place, 99 times out of 100, if you weren’t looking for it. Driving along Ten Mile Road, just west of John R in Hazel Park, among the row of humble and nondescript industrial buildings, it’s easy to look over the graphic of the anvil, the sign announcing “Blacksmith,” one of the oldest of trades.

A blacksmith? Here? In the 21st century? Yes, indeed. The art and the craft of forging tools, accessories, and decorations from steel, coaxed from a stock piece by fire, muscle, and sweat, is alive and well for this generation and many to come.

What is a blacksmith’s shop like? It’s a bit different from the depictions you might see in historical reenactments or in fantasy films. It mainly looks like a modern machine shop, with rack of tools and benches. A power hammer and mill take up a lot of the space. But the anvils are there, and the hammers, and the forges piled high with coke, hissing and orange. When I shake hands with the three men inside, all of them have steel-hard grips and big smiles.

“Blacksmithing was the center of life.” explains Owen C. Creteau Jr., master blacksmith and one of CJ Forge’s founders. “People today think it was all about horseshoes.” While shoeing horses was indeed important, the blacksmith “made just about everything of metal. Every tool, every hook.”

“If you were building a house,” chimes in Kevin Keena, master blacksmith and CJ’s other senior member, “you had to go to a blacksmith and have all of the nails made.” No hardware store, no big box store. In the old days, Owen adds, people used to burn down their old, dilapidated houses just to recover the nails to re-use in another structure.

Today, there’s less need for horseshoes, but plenty of demand for skilled, durable metal. A display on the wall shows the kind of work they do. Coat racks, hooks, fireplace sets, toasting forks, trivets, hinges, wine racks, and even furniture. Kevin shows me the skeleton of a coffee table, ready for a marble top. Owen points out a hanging pot rack, based on a customer’s drawing. “If they can draw it, we can make it.” He says.

I walk over to the workspace of Donnie Miller, a younger fellow with a full beard. He walked in a few years back, looking for information on working metal, and ended up working, period. “I told them I’d do whatever I had to. Sweep floors, clean toilets.” He laughs. An old-school apprentice in an old-school trade. I watch as he thrusts a steel bar into the pile of glowing coke (a medium-size job will consume fifty pounds of the stuff,) heating it until it glows bright orange. With his hammer, he taps and shapes it into a leaf. Hanging on a rack next to him is a work in progress: a mirror frame, decorated with steel vines and leaves. It’s a wonderful mix of beauty, ruggedness, and simplicity. Like everything CJ Forge makes, it will doubtless last a lifetime and will hopefully become an heirloom. Art and practicality, meeting in the best possible way.

Owen, meanwhile, is working on making a pair of tongs for another blacksmith. It’s amazing to watch him shape a featureless bar into a precision tool. As he works, he tells me how he used to give demonstrations at Greenfield Village. They don’t any more, sadly, as the blacksmith shop there is now just a static display. But blacksmithing as a trade is alive and well, he assures me. There are organizations for promotion and training. Classes are offered, and CJ Forge makes the rounds to many art fairs and exhibitions, where they are always a popular draw.

As I get ready to leave, Donnie hands me a gift. It’s the leaf he was working on, the stem twisted around a key ring, still warm to the touch. A reminder of a great day that will no doubt outlast me!

CJ Forge is open on a by-appointment basis (to protect patrons from flying sparks and loud noises) and they’re eager to talk to you about your design needs. Phone 248-543-4010 or visit their web site at www.cjforge.net

0 572

Column & Photo By Becky Hammond

FERNDALE’S GREENEST SPOT: There is a list of reasons that Ferndale’s Library is our top local green spot, besides that conspicuous roof. The Oakland Press ran a story last month about the library’s United States Green Building Council award recognizing the building’s silver- level ranking, listing LED lights, awnings, reflective roof materials, geothermal heating and cooling, watering the grounds with collected rain water, energy-efficient glass, and CO2 sensors that automatically open vents as green features.

But libraries in general have always been green. When we share materials we reduce amount of resources used, and libraries provide a great deal of information for green and local living, as well. A walk through the Ferndale library last Saturday revealed an impressive variety. Michigan guidebooks are shelved in the 917s (local travel is green travel) and include guides to hiking, canoeing, scenic drives, and breweries. Look under 632 for gardening books, including natural pest control. Natural health is shelved under 615-616. Between 796 and 799 I saw books on urban biking, and hiking and fishing how- tos. Books like the Eco-Living Handbook and Cradle to Cradle are under 333. There are even books on outdoor and handcrafted weddings (395).

The DVD collection has crafts like knitting, and acclaimed series like Planet Earth and Blue Planet. The magazine section has Mother Earth News, and some indirectly- green offerings, like bicycling (as long as you don’t fly to bike), Vegetarian Times, local travel resources like Midwest Living and Lake Superior, and Utne, which always has something related to the environment.

Bikes and Helmets Department: According to NPR, California is considering a bill making bike helmets mandatory for adults. 21 states and DC have helmet laws, usually for

riders under 16. There are 49 local ordinances nationwide, including two in Michigan, in our Metroparks and in the town of Starkville. NPR mentioned that 91% of cyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. No doubt helmet laws save lives. Yet Michigan repealed our motorcycle helmet law in 2012. Only a fourth of Michigan motorcyclists ride helmet- less, but they accounted for nearly half the deaths in 2013.

Ferndale is a bike-friendly city, with lanes, an abundance of downtown racks, and our Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop. Would we ever join Starkville in making helmets mandatory for adults? When we do all get our bikes out, we’ll be dodging plenty of potholes. Our bad roads and the weird inability of Lansing to just deal with funding road repair remains a puzzle.

Backyard Habitat News: Gardening is the only American hobby more popular than feeding birds, and we Americans spend, according to Wikipedia, over

$3 billion a year on feeders and seed. With the ongoing concern over rats, maybe relocating feeders could help. High places like balconies could be used as feeding stations to keep the inevitable spilling of seeds off the ground. I’m putting seeds in shallow dishes for ground feeders like cardinals and juncos and bringing them in at night. Apparently trays are available that hang beneath feeders to catch falling seed (and the seed that some birds seem to enjoy flinging). I notice a steady decline in number of birds at my feeders the last few years and it worries me. Hawks will clear the yard instantly, but hawks are not around every day; they patrol different spots in the hood. Anyone else notice less birds? By the way, if we poison the rats, we poison their predators.

Seed Department: Western Market has organic seeds for sale, both vegetables and herbs. They have heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, and some favorite hybrids like Roma tomatoes.

Warming: NASA says 2014 was the warmest year on record. Climate Central in New Jersey states that 13 of the 15 warmest months occurred since 2000, and the odds of that happening without man-made greenhouse gasses are less than 1 in 27 million.

Although Michigan had what I personally considered to be a wonderful winter, NOAA has declared the winter of 2014-15 as the warmest on record. And Don Wuebbles, a professor at the University of Illinois, points out that 2014 being the warmest on record is surprising given that it was not an El Nino year. Sobering news about a change happening faster than expected.


Becky Hammond still thinks Michigan is a great work of art. She hopes that this remains kind of a secret, though.