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December 2013

southwest michigan’s magazine

Singing for Joy

Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus finds its voice

Good Old Days Taking care of our elderly

Slowing Down

when your world’s too busy

up front encore

love where you live Kalamazoo Community Foundation


2 | Encore DECEMBER 2013





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Singing for Joy

Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus finds its voice

Good Old Days Taking care of our elderly

Slowing Down

when your world’s too busy

Great flavor comes from deep roots.


encore publications, inc.


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Encore Magazine is published 9 times yearly, September through May. Copyright 2013, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:

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117 W. Cedar St. Suite A Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax number: (269) 383-9767 E-mail: The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, you may visit Encore subscription rates: one year $27, two years $53, three years $78. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date.


FEATURES When Life Is Too Full

Author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, Karen Horneffer-Ginter shows others how to find peace in their too-full lives.



Singing for Joy


The Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus is attracting young singers and generating acclaim.


Up Front 6 Wonderful Wall Calendars —– Locally made calendars are great for marking time.

Good Old Days

Exploring a variety of options for helping our elders live out their golden years.


9 Monday Night Live —– Keith Roe and guests stimu late community discussion in weekly TV show. 11 Savor Gadgets for Chefs —– What gadgets local culinary masters would stuff in stockings this season. 14 Enterprise

Sound Business —– Bob and Todd Hartman are behind the sound and lighting for Springsteen, fun. and other big-name artists.

16 Good Works

A Season for Sadness —– Helping those grieving the loss of loved one navigate the holidays.


The Last Word

Seize the Days —– Opportunities to connect are slipping away as our parents age.


34 Meredith Arwady Comes Home

Opera singer returns to her roots for Fontana recital.

36 Gallery Sign of Season

Local artists collaborate for the annual Signature Gallery.

38 Events of Note 41 Poetry

On the cover: Carolina Rodriguez and Alex Madison sing together in a recent Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus practice. Photo by Erik Holladay

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What’s on Your Wall?

Locally produced calendars highlight history, artists by

Marie Lee


hen it comes to how much we use them to keep track of appointments and important dates, the calendars on our computers and phones have nothing on the traditional wall calendar. Despite all the conveniences of digital date keeping, 79 percent of us still use – and prefer – the wall calendar, according to a 2011 study by Promotional Products Association International. There are myriad reasons. A wall calendar can be shared more easily, with each member of a household using it as a primary place to communicate his or her schedule to the others. A wall calendar also is a personal statement. Whether it has Far Side cartoons, Grumpy Cat pictures, tattoo art or scenic photos of Lake Michigan, a wall calendar is a visual way for an individual to express his or her personal taste. This time of year wall calendar choices abound, since calendars are a popular Christmas gift. Many companies and organizations choose to give calendars as holiday appreciation gifts for clients and customers. Craig Vestal, president of Portage Printing, says his company has printed and given away calendars since 1986. However, eight years ago Vestal chose to change the company’s calendar to feature historic regional photos from the John Todd Photographic Collection at the Portage District Library. The resulting calendar was so well received that the company has used historical images in its calendars ever since. “All of a sudden, the calendar became a much bigger deal,” Vestal says. “Now it’s an event. People start calling after Labor Day asking when they can get them. We’ve probably given away 40,000 calendars since we started doing this.” Portage Printing’s 2014 calendar features images picked out by staff members of Western Michigan University’s Archives and Regional History Collection. The images, as one learns reading Vestal’s narrative on the back of the calendar, just happen to have some connection to him or his family. “Those connections were pure serendipity,” Vestal says. “I have lived here my whole life, first in Kalamazoo, then in Portage and now back in Kalamazoo. My family has been here since 1928 so we have a little history here.”

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from top, tists include, nctuary nizations or ar Sa ga d or l te in ca lo Pa by y’s s made Conservanc Region nd s La ou n in Wall calendar ga m hi Lu ic the tM the Southwes ting’s 2014 Calendar and t Suzanne B. Siegel. tis age Prin Calendar by ar Calendar, Port

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The Painted Sanctuary calendar produced by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy is another locally produced calendar that has a popular following. The calendar features artworks created by the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan. The Plein Air Artists are a group of painters who paint outdoors in natural light, explains Pamela Larson, SWMLC communications coordinator. “In fact, 95 percent of their painting has to be done outside,” she says. “For the last five years we’ve opened conservation easement properties – which is privately owned land – to the Plein Air Artists,” Larson says. “The artists have access to these gorgeous private properties. A number of the artists have struck up some really wonderful relationships with the property owners and go back year after year to the same property.” More than 70 works submitted for consideration for the 2014 calendar were narrowed down to 17. The organization prints 1,500 calendars and sells them for $10 each at locations throughout Southwest Michigan. Frames Unlimited sells them at all seven of its locations. In Kalamazoo, the calendars also are available at Nature Connection, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kazoo Books. Another artist who has found the wall calendar a great way to share her work is painter Suzanne Blaine Siegel. Siegel, who describes herself as an “interpretive realist,” has showcased her luminous street scenes in a calendar for the past five years. Michigan News Agency owner Dean Hauck says Siegel’s calendars are a popular seller at her store, which is one of a handful of local shops that carry the calendar.

“There’s a story behind all the images,” Siegel says. “I take these real places and see them in an idyllic state.” One of the images in this year’s calendar depicts Kalamazoo College’s Stetson Chapel, pictured above, which was commissioned by a parent of a college alumnus. Siegel says she creates her paintings from scenes that occur at “the blue hour.” “There’s a 12-minute period at sunset where the sun is six to 12 degrees below the horizon when I make my reference shots,” she explains. “It’s a glittering balance between natural and artificial light.” Siegel will be the Michigan News Agency’s featured artist for the Dec. 6 Art Hop. Her calendars, which sell for $20, are also available at Nature Connection and the Spirit of Kalamazoo.

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encore up front

Monday Night Live

Every voice matters to host of community TV show by

Zinta Aistars

He wants to hear your voice. Whatever

you have to say, whatever your viewpoint, political stance or cause — if you are working to better your community, Keith Roe wants to hear your story on Monday Night Live. Every Monday at 7 p.m. from a tiny studio in downtown Kalamazoo, Roe and his small crew of Anthony Arent, William Lindemann and Roger Pacific produce the community television show. It is broadcast by the Public Media Network on Channel 96, with reruns at 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays on Channel 97.

Like many of its guests, the show has its own story. Monday Night Live began in 1991 under the name My World Today and was hosted by Jim Amos, a retired Western Michigan University professor. How Roe came to be host is another part of the story. Roe grew up in the small town of Wakefield, England, in the district of West Yorkshire. His British accent and genteel manner belie his roots. “It was a small, industrial city, and we lived in a Victorian cottage,” Roe says. “My father was a steam locomotive engineer, what people then called

the respectable working class. In the 1930s, that was an important distinction.” The Bible, says Roe, was the most important family possession, and his father sometimes preached on Sundays. “That earned us a respectable air. I was the only child, and my mother nearly died when I was born at 7 months, four and a half pounds, and (spent) 27 days in intensive care.” Roe’s mind works that way: Details hold, history intrigues, intellect hungers for more. He was coddled and spoiled as a child, he says with an arched brow, but then tells how

Keith Roe has been hosting the community television program Monday Night Live since 2005.

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Bill Lindemann

cleaning windows was one of his household chores at age 7. He recalls a world of postwar Britain, bankrupt and showing the scars of battle, but education was free, he says, as was health care. These are points that to this day stick in his mind and make it to the airways on occasion as well into the discussion groups he so enjoys. Roe studied physiotherapy at the West London School of Physiotherapy, manipulative medicine at St. Thomas’s Hospital, in London, and hydrotherapy at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, in Bath. The Upjohn Co., predecessor of today’s Pfizer Inc., hired Roe at its United Kingdom subsidiary in 1959. In 1980, married and with a family, Roe moved to Kalamazoo to help develop a worldwide strategy for Upjohn’s pharmaceutical business. He earned his master’s degree in industrial psychology at Western Michigan University and in 1990 retired from Upjohn. “It was only after retirement that I discovered this community,” Roe admits. Until then, he says, it was all Upjohn, all work. With more time on his hands, he began to take part in discussion groups and found that he enjoyed discussing with like and unlike minds the lessons of history and how they might apply to today. “History shapes us, but what can we do to keep from feeling helpless? What can I do in this community?” Roe asks. “As Voltaire said, we must cultivate our own garden.”

Keith Roe, left, discusses pre-show logistics with crew member Anthony Arent.

When Amos died, Roe took over, unwillingly at first, as host of the show now known as Monday Night Live. He had been a guest a few times, but in 2005 Roe went on the air to share stories of Amos, as a memorial. He’s been hosting and producing the show ever since. The topics and guests are as varied as Roe can make them. Politicians are welcome, he says, but he discourages party politics. Gloria Tiller, owner of Kazoo Books, is a regular, talking about new books and literary movements. Recent show topics have included the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition, Kalamazoo Public Schools, the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, the history of the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital, the Loaves & Fishes food drive, communicating via

social media, tax reform and millages, drug abuse and chemical dependency, and a new book by Kalamazoo College professor and volleyball coach Jeanne Hess. “Every time you learn something, you build a new synapse,” Roe says, tapping a finger to his temple. Monday Night Live, he emphasizes, “is an amazing idea. No censorship, live and unedited. No wealthy donor pushing us around. My favorite moments are when my guests lose all track of time because they are so passionate about their topic.” To learn more about Monday Night Live, visit or send email to The host welcomes ideas for future shows.

Happy Holidays from your friends at Keystone Community Bank.

10 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

encore SAVOR

The Gift of Gadget

What local culinary masters would give the home chef this Christmas by

Tiffany Fitzgerald

It’s hard to tell whether home cooking is

really gaining in popularity, as indicated by recent studies showing an increase in retail kitchen websites, or if food writer Michael Pollan is right and Americans aren’t gaining interest in cooking but in watching other people cook on TV. Either way, every holiday season millions of shoppers flood kitchen and cookware stores looking for the perfect gift for a home chef. In, fact, there have been more of these shoppers every year for the last three years, according to a report by industry analysts. Navigating the sea of “Seen on TV” gadgets in Bed, Bath & Beyond or Williams-Sonoma can be daunting, so before spending any money on a salad spinner, hot dog and bun combination toaster or that Batman ice cube tray (OK, go ahead and get that), take some advice from four of Kalamazoo’s professional chefs on three must-have items for the chef in your life.

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The non-gadget gadget: A good chef’s knife It may sound simple, but many at-home cooks don’t have a well-made knife, even though it’s essential to a home chef’s arsenal. Chef William Kennedy II, of the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, says this often-overlooked item can make all the difference in a kitchen. “Gadgets are all designed to make your work easier, but if you learn how to use it well, a chef’s knife can do anything a peeler, mandoline, pair of shears, or any number of other gadgets are meant for, only faster and more precisely,” Kennedy says. “One tool, unlimited uses. It saves space, money, time, and you look pretty cool when you’re using it. There is no better tool or skill set to possess in the kitchen than knowing how to become one with your blade.” Kennedy says that if you’re looking for supplementary gifts for a chef, consider a class on how to use a good chef’s knife. “Many cooking academies offer workshops in knife skills, as do many local chefs who offer private instruction. If there is demand, some culinary supply stores even offer classes for their customers, so ask around and make a chef’s knife the best present you ever gave, for your favorite chef or for yourself.” It should be said that pretty much all the chefs we talked to said a good kitchen knife was the best “gadget” in the kitchen, but after some arm-twisting they came up with the following two recommendations:

“These small Japanese cucumber slicers are great to shave small things like garlic, radishes, truffles and, of course, cucumbers,” Hammond says. “They are sold in Japan to slice cucumbers thin for facials – hence the mirror. Plus, they are only $5.” Portable cucumber slicers can be found easily on Amazon, eBay and other online sites. Just be sure to search “portable cucumber slicer” to get the exact slicer Hammond recommends, instead of a more heavy-duty kitchen slicer that will produce thicker slices. Locally, a high-end version of the portable slicer, pictured on the previous page and priced at $30, is available at Kim’s Oriental Store at 3627 S. Westnedge Ave.

The gadgety gadget: A handheld blending wand This item is so popular that two local chefs recommend it. One of the greatest challenges for the home chef is how to blend liquids

easily and quickly, particularly when making soup. A handheld blending wand provides a perfect solution. “I’m not a big gadget guy,” says Bravo! chef and owner Shawn Hagen. “A French knife and a tenderizing hammer can do just about any job, but a wand blender is an awesome machine. It can make a sauce silky smooth or a soup just the perfect chunky texture. It works on a very small batch, in a measuring cup or a huge soup pot.” Fandango chef Will Cantor agrees, adding that this gadget provides convenience too. “It’s my favorite kitchen gadget,” he says, “because you can just blend anything right in the container it’s made in or stored in, whether the liquid is hot or cold. Also, it’s the easiest gadget in the kitchen to clean.” Handheld blending wands can be found at most online and brick-and-mortar kitchen retailers and cost about $40 to $60.

The unique gadget: A portable cucumber slicer Every good chef knows presentation is almost as important as taste. The more fresh and colorful a dish appears, the more appetizing it is. One of the most popular presentation techniques in plating courses is decorative arrangements of finely sliced roots and vegetables. To get just the right fine slice, Food Dance Chef Robb Hammond recommends a portable beauty cucumber slicer.

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Enterprise ENCORE

Sound Business

Hartmans provide sound and lighting for big-name artists by

Tiffany Fitzgerald


ob Hartman points to a glossy magazine photograph of a 2013 fun. concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. His finger circles the massive crowd around the stage. “See these people? All of these people don’t know what it takes to pull off a show of that size in that venue,” he says. “That’s what’s so cool about what we do.” What Hartman and his son Todd do is design, install and sell professional sound, lighting, video projection and recording systems and acoustical treatments for facilities and churches. Hartman started the company in 1975, after he began selling public-address systems out of the back door of his father’s auto accessory business. Now, almost 39 years later, Stage Lighting and Sound Inc., located in Portage, provides lighting and sound design for performers such as Bruce Springsteen, ABBA, Art Garfunkel and fun. The company is on the preferred vendor list for the White House, providing lighting and sound setups for local presidential events. Stage Lighting and Sound also designed and installed the sound system for Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium, which Harman says is currently the largest and most complex acoustic enhancement system in any facility in the U.S. “It’s a long way from selling touch-up paint and convertible tops,” Hartman jokes. He got his start in the industry when his interest in music and hi-fidelity led him to build a portable public address system for a local Youth for Christ music group. After a while, he was selling equipment at a fast enough rate to start his own business, which he named Sound Reinforcement. When Wings Stadium was built in 1974 and the venue decided to host concerts, Hartman looked into what it would take to provide sound for the multi-purpose arena. Before long, he purchased some “Super Troupers,” highintensity xenon lamps used to light arenas for concerts and other events, and the company branched into lighting systems. Bob Hartman, right, and son Todd travel the world installing and running professional sound, stage lighting and video projection systems that they design from their Portage facility.

14 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

He was able to shoulder the cost of purchasing such large-scale it’s their passion and talent for sound and light design that helps the equipment so arenas could rent his equipment instead of buying business retain customers and grow. their own. (The company stores the massive equipment in its facility “Most of the people who do this type of work are coming from on Vanderbilt Avenue.) Pretty soon, Wings Stadium wasn’t the only a telephone, home-sound or paging-system background,” Todd venue taking advantage of Hartman’s business, which was renamed explains. “They don’t understand live sound. You only have an hour in Stage Lighting and Sound. the morning to figure out how to implement a sound system correctly “We were renting equipment in Traverse City, Lansing and for the 12,000 people who paid $75 to see the show. That’s where our Muskegon. Then promoters started success comes from. We understand how calling, asking us to do shows locally and to make that happen.” “People always ask me when on the road,” Hartman says. With the late nights, long hours, As his client list began to expand to expensive equipment and technological I’m going to retire. Why include performers such as Conway Twitty challenges, what drives the Hartmans and Pearl Bailey, Hartman continued to to continue in the sound and lighting should I retire? I’m having offer sound set-ups for local venues, from industry? Both father and son say it’s in too much fun.” churches to auditoriums. their blood. His son started working for the business “It would be really boring for me to -Bob Hartman in the early 1990s, and now the labor is show up at the same job site day after split between the duo — Bob Hartman day,” Todd says. “For me, I like showing up consults with clients, develops quotes and helps set up equipment and knowing that at the end of the day my job will be done and there locally, while Todd Hartman is usually in “the field,” touring with will be this sense of ‘Wow. I did this.’” artists. His father agrees and says the exact measure of what they do Just this year Todd spent two months touring with fun., two weeks can be determined by the reaction of the artists they work with, the in Germany and Italy touring with Bruce Springsteen, and numerous production companies and the audiences. weeks on the road setting up one-time shows. In between all of the “When a group the size of Styx asks your business to come down touring, Todd earned a nomination for a Parnelli Award — Best Audio to Texas for a one-off show because they like what you do that much, System Tech of the Year — for his work on the fun. tour. I’d say that says it all,” Bob says. “The Parnellis are like the Emmy Awards for us,” Bob explains. “Todd As Stage Lighting and Sound continues to grow, with Bob working was nominated by professionals in our field, and it’s an honor just to 12 hour days and his son spending much of his time on the road, be nominated, much less to win.” neither seems to worry about what’s to come. The Hartmans keep up on technology by continuously buying new “We don’t really think of it that way,” Bob says. “People always ask equipment and selling their old equipment, and both are well versed me when I’m going to retire. Why should I retire? I’m having too in the best sound and lighting equipment available. The equipment much fun.” and knowledge help them stay at the top of the market, they say, but

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good works ENCORE

Blue Christmas

Programs help the grieving cope with holidays by

Tiffany Fitzgerald


Holidays can be hard to handle for those grieving the loss of a loved one.

16 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

ost people look forward to spending time with friends and family during the holidays, but what happens when a loved one dies close to the holidays or when the holidays trigger residual grief? Often grief is accentuated by holidays, says Layla Jabboori, a grief counselor for Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. That’s why many people who are grieving experience hypersensitivity to certain things like holiday music or other holiday traditions, and those sensitivities can paralyze a grieving individual, she says. “In November, I’ll start hearing, ‘I wish I could tear November and December out of the calendar.’. Most people want to avoid the holidays if they’re grieving,” Jabboori says. Jabboori — who has been a grief counselor for 19 years and facilitates grief management workshops at Oakland Centre, an adult day services center run by Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan — says that a holiday family gathering can seem out of sync after the death of a loved one. “I liken it to a mobile,” she says. “If you have six things hanging from a mobile and you clip a piece off, everything shifts to a new place. That’s how it is after someone dies – everyone is in a new place. People are uncomfortable with that feeling. They want to move toward homeostasis, and they’re not sure how to do it.” For those who feel unsettled after the death of a parent, child, spouse or loved one or are struggling through grieving, Jabboori and a team of grief counselors and volunteers are available at Oakland Centre throughout the year. Jabboori hosts two grief workshops during December: Grief Connection is specifically designed to help the loved ones and friends

of the recently deceased learn mechanisms for coping with their grief, form a community with others in the grieving process, and share their experiences. Journeys is for children and teens who are experiencing grief and need support through the grieving process. Both December workshops focus on coping with grieving during the holidays. Similar workshops also are offered throughout the year, and all are free of charge. Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan also will host a Moving Forward white elephant party and potluck in December that is targeted at those who have lost partners and are under 65 Laura Latiolais, director of development and community relations at Hospice Care, says these workshops and events represent

“There’s so much misunderstanding about the grieving process, and I take great satisfaction in helping someone see that what they are going through is normal.”

– Layla Jabboori

a commitment that stems from a mandate requiring all Medicare-eligible hospice-care facilities to provide grief counseling for families after the death of a loved one. But, Latiolais says, many hospice centers can’t afford to make this commitment so Hospice Care decided to help fill the gap.

“Even though there’s a mandate, there is no direction or funding to help provide it,” Latiolais says. “Our mission is to offer counseling with certified counselors, not just to our patients and their families but to the whole community. These workshops are something that’s unusual for a hospice to offer, but we’re very fortunate because we receive so much support from our local community.” For Jabboori, providing free grief support to the community isn’t just a part of her job.

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COMPUTER SUPPORT & SERVER MANAGEMENT “This is my life work,” she says. “There’s so much misunderstanding about the grieving process, and I take great satisfaction in helping someone see that what they are going through is normal. It may not be normal for them, but it’s a normal part of the grieving process. These workshops provide a safe place to openly talk about the impact of a death.” Educating and supporting those who are grieving, says Jabboori, allows them to experience a holiday in a new way or try a new tradition and begin to heal. “We can’t just tear November and December off the calendar,” she says, “so this is the next best thing.”

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Karen Horneffer-Ginter is the author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: Nourishing the Soul When Life’s Just Too Much.

Thirst Quencher Author guides others in finding fulfillment when life is too full

You’ve held a full cup of hot beverage in your hands. On cold by

Robert M. Weir

photography by


mornings, it warms your palms. A sip soothes your insides. Yet you handle this full cup with care, keeping the hot liquid safely contained. In life, a “full cup” has become a metaphor for being busy — too busy, too much to do, too much to think about, too much to … What if our too-full cup doesn’t calm or satisfy our inner spirit? This is the question that independent psychologist and Western Michigan University professor Karen Horneffer-Ginter pondered and journaled

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about in 1999 and 2000, when the births of her two children, Nathan and Kenzie, came like dollops of honey for her already full cup: She was director of WMU’s Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness Program. She shared a private counseling practice with her husband, Paul Ginter, also a psychologist. And her mother was in the final stages of cancer. A decade later, she transformed her writings into a book, Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: Nourishing the Soul When Life’s Just Too Much, which was published by Hay House a year ago and is available locally at Kazoo Books, Michigan News Agency and Barnes & Noble. “Even before having my children, I was on the edge of being overly busy,” she says. “I was an over-achieving young person, a perfectionist with an agenda of things I was hoping to accomplish. Suddenly my schedule had to be oriented around these two lovely beings. “When I entered that stage in life, everything was tossed up in the air. All those neat and tidy formulas for how things should fit in my life and how things should work … they didn’t fit so neatly anymore.” Horneffer-Ginter says she was thrilled to be a wife and a mother and have a fulfilling career, but her attempts to balance work and home created tension. “I felt even more desire to quiet down and turn within and connect with spirit, but there was less time to be had. I really couldn’t pull it off anymore.” Life’s full cup became a topic of conversation among Horneffer-Ginter and others. “I found that people were hungry to attempt this imperfect dance of doing meaningful things in the world while not becoming disconnected from their inner self,” she says. “They wanted to fill their lives with pursuits that mattered while not completely losing their sense of center. To some people, this connection felt spiritual, and to other people it simply felt like having a comfortable answer when someone asks, ‘How are you?’” The antithesis of being in touch with your inner self often appears as stress and irritation. It is what a full cup, sloshing over, feels, looks and sounds like. HornefferGinter, as a counselor, counseled herself. She saw the parameters of her situation. She 20 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

Above, Karen Horneffer-Ginter with her family: son, Nathan; daughter, Kenzie; and husband, Paul Ginter. Horneffer-Ginter penned her book, pictured at the far right, about her experiences managing her full life resulting from the birth of her two children, a successful career, an ill parent and other pressures.

became more flexible, realizing that on some days she’d need to trade in a daily hour of yoga poses for a few essential stretches, a half hour of meditation for a few moments of closing her eyes and breathing deeply. Yet, in addition to her ongoing academic writing, she made time to journal. “I found myself creating this narrative about things that happened each day that were often humbling and humorous. And I found that I would lighten up and feel better about the situation. Everything felt less overwhelming.” Those journals became the foundation for Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, which offers a multifaceted message about slowing down and quieting down, about laughing and finding humor while embracing life’s difficulties. The book has drawn a more far-reaching response than Horneffer-Ginter anticipated. When the publisher asked her to identify her target audience, she says, she thought of mothers of young children who, like her, were working outside of their homes. But the people who have purchased her book represent a broader demographic. The passages that address caregiving speak to

people of either gender or any age who are in that role. Retired men say they appreciate the book’s philosophical discussion of life. “It surprises me that they, at that retrospective stage in life, want to hear what a 44-year-old has to say,” Horneffer-Ginter says, smiling. She says it’s been rewarding to connect with readers both locally and internationally and hear how the book has inspired them. Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, The Courage to Teach and Let Your Life Speak, called Horneffer-Ginter a grounded and gifted storyteller. “I love this book so much I read it in one sitting,” Palmer said. One reviewer said reading the book was “like being immersed in a gentle love letter for the soul.” Horneffer-Ginter, who was born in Detroit in 1969 and has lived in Kalamazoo since age 8, has been thinking about matters of the soul for a long time. As a child, she had a Presbyterian upbringing and a keen sense of wonder. “From a very young age, I would sit in church with such curiosity about God,” she says. “I would often think that, all over the world, people were spending their Sunday mornings in different ways and coming together to answer questions of what life is all about.” In college, at the University of Michigan, she read the works of Joseph Campbell and was pleased to see he had articulated thoughts that had been running through her head for years. Many of these thoughts involve the mind/body/spirit connection, a perspective of holistic medicine and mental health that has always fascinated her and that is a unifying theme of her book. She laughs while recalling her first job, at age 26, teaching alternative and complementary approaches to medicine and bedside manner to students and physicians at a medical school in Chicago through a program hosted by Loyola University. “A few people were interested in integrative (continued on page 42) w w | 21




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Good Old Days Care options to consider for living out the golden years


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ld age ain’t no place for sissies,” said actress Bette Davis. She was right. But Maurice Chevalier countered: “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” And he was right too. In the past decade, the population of adults 60 and older in Kalamazoo County increased by 23 percent, from 3,596 to 4,795, and the population of adults 85 and older increased by 33 percent, Judy Sivak, director of Kalamazoo’s Area Agency on Aging, said in a recent address to the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. The golden years of the baby boomers are fast approaching, but right now those boomers are looking for elder-care options for their aging parents. It’s all part of the life cycle that takes us from a time when our parents care for us as children to a time when we care for our elderly parents. That shift can involve a daunting and sometimes overwhelming moment of realization for both adult children and elderly parents. Where do we begin? Where can we find someone to help us help our elders? How do we know when it is the right time to step in? “Look for things not being handled — unpaid bills or home maintenance falling behind, signs of depression or isolation,” says Vicki Martin, quality assurance director at Senior Services Inc., in Kalamazoo. Martin, who has been advising people for more than 30 years on how to care for their elders, says communication is key.

24 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

Here’s to the golden years: Friendship Village residents, clockwise from bottom left, Joan “Chris” Steele, W. J. Hunt, Frank M. Steele and Miriam Finch share a toast in the bar of Friendship Village.

“A good place to start is with a really good dialogue,” she says. “Remember that as people age, they may have lost some physical ability, they may need help in some things, but they are still the same people they were when young.” During that initial discussion between adult children and elderly parents, identify what your elders want and need, then offer options and information, Martin suggests. People want to be treated with respect, she says, and want to feel that they play a part in the decision-making about how and where they will live. “You can’t do things to them, but with them and for them,” she emphasizes. “No one wants to be railroaded. That makes everyone unhappy.” For instance, if living arrangements are an issue, suggest a few places to visit and let your parents choose which ones they would like to see. “Have lunch together, suggest five places for senior living and let them choose which two they would like to visit. It’s just a visit.” Another starting point is Senior Services’ Best of Care Catalog, a publication the organization updates annually that is available at its offices and online at The catalog lists every imaginable resource for seniors. “It’s important to remember that 80 percent of seniors 85 years or older live primarily independently, with perhaps some in-home support. Only 15 percent require assisted living,” Martin says. “By and large, seniors are still cognizant and able to care for themselves with some help. Adult children need to remember to treat their elderly parents as they would want to be treated themselves as they age.”

Aging in place Although many older persons are opting to remain in their own homes rather than move toward residential care, assistance of various kinds may become necessary as their health fades. But they may be able to remain independent by accepting a helping hand now and then. “A little bit of help early on can raise the quality of life and even prolong life,” says Pat Josey, owner of Homewatch CareGivers, a local franchise offering assistance to seniors

26 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

who choose to live in their own homes as long as possible. The group’s national parent organization has been offering in-home care for more than 30 years. “Doctors tend to push the traditional nursing-home type of care, but there are so many more options to consider now,” Josey says. Caregivers from her business are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “No one private individual can offer that,” she says. “In fact, a large part of what we do is offer relief for the family caregiver. We take over so that the caregiver can take some time away.”

Caregivers from Homewatch provide companionship to the elderly, prepare meals, arrange appointments, provide transportation, clip coupons, help with grocery shopping, do housecleaning, fold laundry, clean closets, water plants and assist with pet care. In other words, you name it, and they pretty much do it. The cost is $18 to $20 per hour, with a minimum of two hours per month. “We are not medically trained,” Josey says, “but we can follow through on doctor’s orders and make sure our clients take their medications. We help with bathing, dressing

taxes are paid, and caregiver training. Make sure you have a service agreement so you know what you are getting.”

Home away from home

W.J. Hunt and Katherine Snider pet Molly. Some elder-care facilities, like Friendship Village, allow residents to have pets.

and grooming, eating, whatever the client needs to be able to stay at home. Many of the people who hire us live far away from their aging parents, and they call us to take care of their parents. And these days, we get as many calls from sons as daughters.” David Smith owns a similar in-home senior-care franchise called Home Instead Senior Care. He started the business in 2005 after being a caregiver for his father, who had Alzheimer’s disease. “I had siblings to help, but the experience taught me how overwhelming this kind of care can be for family members,” he says.

Home Instead Senior Care offers in-home services similar to those of Homewatch CareGivers and at similar prices. Services expand or contract with the needs and wants of the client. Home Instead is a private-pay company, so Medicare and other providers do not cover services. Smith says that when people are shopping for a non-medical home-care service, his business gives them a checklist to consider. “Unfortunately, this kind of business is not currently regulated,” he says, “so shop carefully. Ask about background checks, whether the agency is insured, how caregiver

Staying home isn’t always the best option for seniors — or their caregivers. Being emotionally healthy requires social interaction, and day-care services for adults can fill that need. Covenant Senior Day Program, a nondenominational program at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church on Oakland Drive, offers such services. “We specialize in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Lauren Fitzmaurice, executive director of Covenant. The program, she says, is the third-oldest adult day-care service in Michigan, established in 1996 as a nonprofit agency with the goal of keeping seniors out of nursing facilities or hospitals. “Covenant helps you reclaim who you really are,” Fitzmaurice says. “Don’t stay home alone, stay engaged. Seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s can no longer drive, and when you can’t drive, your world gets restricted. We want to knock that door to the world right down.” Covenant has its own fleet of cars, and transportation is not only a means of getting seniors to their destination but “one of the ways our seniors get engaged,” Fitzmaurice says. “It gives them a chance to get out, see the world.” Fitzmaurice is certified as a dementia training provider and as a Coleman Coach in Care Transitions, to support patients and families across care settings. But the Covenant Senior Day Program is open to any senior who may need some supervision. Covenant serves Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Van Buren and St. Joseph counties. “When we care for our seniors, we are also caring for their families,” Fitzmaurice says. “Seniors are often treated as sick when what they are, in fact, is bored. We help them thrive again. We provide a hot breakfast and lunch, but we also provide activities to stimulate their minds, give them a sense of purpose again. We work with the families to develop a plan of care, and we also have support groups and crisis counseling for the caregivers.” The support groups and counseling for caregivers are offered at no charge, but

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day-care services cost $10.50 per hour. “We don’t turn anyone away if they can’t meet the cost,” Fitzmaurice says. Scholarships, donations and grants help offset costs for low-income seniors. The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer, Fitzmaurice says, “but we need to redefine how we view aging. Baby boomers won’t accept services based on the declining of the quality of life. Elder care is undergoing a complete overhaul.”

Continuums of care Robin Desmond, sales and marketing director at The Fountains at Bronson Place, won’t argue with that claim. “We are built on a social model, not a medical model,” Desmond says. “We want our residents to thrive, and we are always challenging ourselves to raise the bar. We get phone calls every day from people looking for a sense of community, and we encourage people to come in for a tour and talk to us, ask questions. We want to know what you want, your needs.” The Fountains, located on 23 acres on the west side of Kalamazoo and managed by Watermark Retirement Communities,

Marilyn Lindbeck, left, discusses the various care options available with Christa Quandt, director of sales and marketing for Friendship Village.

is a retirement community for seniors 60 and older who have a comfortable means of financial support. It is one of three retirement communities in Kalamazoo that are built around a continuum of care. The other two are Friendship Village and Heritage Community. The continuum includes apartments for independent living, assisted living units for those who need occasional help in daily living, and skilled nursing units

for those with rehabilitative and longterm-care needs. A full-service membership fee at the Fountains can range from $15,000 to $75,000. Monthly fees depend on the type of living arrangement chosen. Residents can expect hospitality services that include two meals a day, biweekly housekeeping service, weekly laundering of linens, apartment maintenance, access to health services, local

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transportation, utilities, satellite TV, a full calendar of events and more. Apartments range from studios to one- and twobedroom units, and the landscaped grounds are, of course, dotted with fountains. “The health care here is outstanding,” Desmond says. “We do a lot with memory loss too and Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are also support groups and grief counseling for those who have lost a spouse. We plan to offer specialized memory care in 2014 for those who may be showing signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s — that’s a growing issue among seniors.” Classes, a part of what Desmond refers to as the Watermark University, are designed to keep residents active while giving their minds as well as bodies a workout. “Each semester is different,” Desmond says. “I teach golf classes. There’s yoga, Pilates, jewelry making, cooking, languages. … It’s all about stimulating the mind. There’s something new every day.” Paisley, the resident dog, wanders down the hallway, greeting those who pass by with a lick and a grin. The Fountains allows residents to bring along their dogs and cats at no extra charge. Not far from The Fountains, also on the west side of Kalamazoo, is Friendship Village. Set on 72 acres and managed by Life Care Services, LLC., Friendship Village is the largest senior living community in greater Kalamazoo. Christa Quandt is the director of sales and marketing there, and as she strolls down the halls to her office, she makes frequent stops to chat with residents. “No one talks about nursing homes anymore,” Quandt says. “Seniors lead much more active lives these days. Here we call it life-care living. When you become a resident of Friendship Village, you are making a secure retirement choice that will provide you care whatever financial or health or other issues might come up.” In other words, Quandt explains, you pay for what is called a life-care contract and then you can stay at Friendship Village for the rest of your life. No matter how many years you live or what life changes you experience, the price remains unchanged. Friendship Village currently has about 300 residents. “Our health center is currently undergoing expansion,” Quandt says. “That’s (continued on page 42)


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Kalmazoo Children’s Chorus member Isobel Steele performs during a recent concert.

Singing for Joy In acclaim and size, the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus is growing


Theresa Coty o’NEIl


n an early evening in late September, the first fallen leaves of the season are blowing across the parking lot of Milwood Methodist Church as more than 200 children ages 8 to 18 shed their book bags, bid their parents goodbye and enter a smattering of rooms within the church. Outside, squirrels gather ripened nuts for the winter in the warmth of an Indian summer. But inside, voices rise in harmony, singing about icicles and snow, winter dreams and favorite things that are cuddly and warm. Musicians, especially singers, are often a season ahead of the rest of the world. Courtesy photo

w w | 31

Erik Holladay Chorus Artistic Director Fred Sang works with the students of the Touring Choir during practice.

The Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus members are oblivous to fall this day; they are thinking winter and holidays as they prepare for their Annual Holiday Concert, one of their largest events of the year. The concert, set for 3 p.m. Dec. 15 at Chenery Auditorium, features five of the chorus’s six children’s choirs in individual and group arrangements, and a grand finale with the combined choirs. “We have to prepare far in advance for our Holiday Concert,” says Fred Sang, artistic director of the 33-year-old Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus. ”We think we are very fortunate to celebrate the season beginning in September.” Started in 1980 by Jeanne Fry, the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus began as a 55-member choir created especially for a Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra opera performance. The experience generated so much interest that the group continued, eventually splitting into two choirs. Now the KCC supports six choirs, including an elite Touring Choir, which travels internationally, and its newly launched, tuition-free Eastside Choir. Singers audition to be part of the chorus, with each choir requiring its own audition as students advance. The choirs are supported by fees — from $395 to $445 a year per child – depending on the choir. The organization also receives grant funding and generates

32 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

funds through ticket sales and fundraising efforts. Thanks in part to its biannual international tour, the KCC has a growing reputation. It was cited as one of the best children’s choruses in the country by Francisco Nunez, a noted composer and director of Young Voices of New York City. It also boasts some illustrious alumni, including operatic contralto Meredith Arwady, of Kalamazoo, Broadway performer Blake Whyte and operatic soprano Chelsea Morris. Many more alumni keep in touch through social media and annual gatherings, and each December alumni are invited to reunite with the chorus on stage to sing in the annual show’s finale. “We consider the organization to be a family,” Sang says. “Sometimes we have arguments, just like we have in a family, but

we share a common bond. Everyone feels safe here. Many of our members do not have the time or opportunity to make music at their schools. This is a place where they can come and share their artistry in a safe, supportive environment.” High school sophomore Allison Zyzelewski, of Plainwell, who is in her eighth season with the chorus, echoes Sang’s sentiment. “I can’t imagine my life without KCC,” says Zyzelewski, a member of the Touring Choir. “It’s more than just rehearsal every Tuesday. It’s more like a family reunion every week. Mr. and Mrs. Sang are like second parents, and they always support me.” Sang and his wife, Darlene, form a unique partnership. Sang, a retired Portage Public Schools music teacher and choral conductor, has been the artistic director of the KCC for the past 10 years and a children’s choral director for 35 years.. His wife assumed his former post in Portage — the district didn’t even have to change the name on the door — and she directs the KCC’s Treble Choir.

‘Better than a team’ On Tuesday evenings, the walls at Milwood Methodist practically hum with excitement and energy. In the sanctuary, Darlene Sang conducts the Treble Choir, leading it through the solfege scale with associated hand movements, an exercise designed to make learning intervals easier. “I love working with the children and opening their world to new music,” she says. “The excitement on their faces when they hear themselves creating harmony for the first time is such a thrill.” In the basement, Fred Sang conducts the two advanced choirs, Bel Canto and Touring.

Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus concerts Eastside Choir: 4 p.m. Dec. 8 and 4 p.m. March 23, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 939 Charlotte Ave. Holiday Concert: 3 p.m. Dec. 15, Chenery Auditorium Annual Spring Concert: 3 p.m. March 16 Chenery Auditorium Annual Stage Show: 7 p.m. April 26, Chenery Auditorium Tickets: $10. They can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets by phone at 1-800-838-3006  or online.

the right to rub the shoulders of the person who had been rubbing theirs. “Tenderize!” he commands. “The tactile thing for the kids is important,” Sang says. “They don’t go to school together. They don’t hang out together a lot, but they become very good friends because they share such a deep joy in making music.” And despite the temptation to compare them to a team preparing to take the field, Sang cautions against making athletic comparisons. “We’re not a team,” he says. “We’re better than a team. On a team, if someone is not having a good day, they get replaced. But in an ensemble, we play together all the time. If someone is having a bad day, we have to be able to work together anyway. You have to have stamina. From downbeat to cutoff, you are on all the time. To perform like that, you can’t be a team player. You have to be an ensemble player.” Singing is a multi-disciplinary practice. It involves not only music, but history, literature and foreign languages. As the choir practices There Will Be Rest, a poem by 18th-century poet Sara Teasdale set to music by Victor Johnson, Sang encourages the choir to “go

to the edge,” that meeting place between the emotions and the intellect. “Singing something historical is very different than reading about it in a textbook,” he says. “You can feel it.” The Touring Choir is KCC’s top-level choir. With biannual international tours, the singers are taught to be ambassadors. “When we go somewhere in our uniforms, we represent our community, our organization, our state and our country,” Sang says. “How we behave is critical to our reception, almost more so than our singing. “What happens on tour is just remarkable. They get on the bus to leave, waving a little at their parents, a little sad. When they come back, they are different children. They learn to be self-reliant.” On its tour to Italy this past summer, the choir experienced many memorable moments. After a long day on their feet, the choir members arrived in Luca, the birthplace of Puccini. “The place was packed,” Sang recalls. “We talked about what we needed to do and how they needed to be more animated. And it was electric. The audience response was incredible. The kids fed off that. They will never forget that experience. (continued on page 43)

The Kalamazoo Children’s Treble Chorus performs during the 2013 Spring Concert at Chenery Auditorium . w w | 33

Courtesy photo

He says he finds it a joy to work with young singers. “Let me count the ways!” he says. “I love their energy, and I feed off of it. I love that they can be passionate about life in a way that, as we get older, we may lose a little. I love that they are honest and direct, sometimes pretty honest and pretty direct. I love that they are sensitive. If I ask a question, their answers are thoughtful and insightful.” If students come in sleepy and distracted, it doesn’t take long for Fred Sang to regain their focus. On this Tuesday night, he directs the Touring Choir through familiar paces, but not before chiding them: “You look like you’ve been in a cave all day.” “We have!” a few voices yell, and everyone laughs. “Stretch!” he booms, and while they stretch their bodies, he runs through the night’s plan. “When you sing, your body is your instrument,” Sang says. “In order to make the body most effective, you have to be fully aligned. Good posture is critical to good singing.” After stretching, choir members turn to the left on cue and begin rubbing each other’s shoulders and chatting. “Switch,” Sang says, and the choir members all turn to

arts encore


Meredith Arwady returns for Fontana recital Kit almy


alamazoo native and Grammy Award-winning opera singer Meredith Arwady will come home to give a concert for Fontana Chamber Arts on Dec. 7 in Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. “She’s a local girl who’s done quite well for herself,” says David Baldwin, executive and artistic director of Fontana Chamber Arts.. “In addition to having won a Grammy Award, she regularly sings at some of the most important opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York.” Recently she performed in San Francisco, as Mistress Quickly in Verdi’s Falstaff. But she loves giving recitals too. “Performing recitals is truly one of my favorite things,” she says in an email interview. “ … You get to create the entire experience and control the ups and downs, the discoveries and failures of your character.”

34 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

For her Kalamazoo recital, Arwady will be accompanied by her longtime musical partner, Mikael Eliasen, dean of vocal studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where Arwady earned her Master of Music degree. “The theme of the program is a relationship and its progression from crush to first meeting, through dating ups and downs, marriage satisfaction and tribulations, and a conclusion that looks back upon all that had happened and then looks beyond all that has occurred,” she says. After considering various ideas for presenting this theme, Arwady settled on an eclectic collection of songs. The recital will include Meredith Arwady, a Grammy Award-winning opera singer, will perform an eclectic set of songs in her Dec. 7 Fontana Chamber Arts recital.

Steve Leonard


pieces by Henry Purcell, Gabriel Fauré, Stephen Sondheim and William Bolcom. “I found I could not be limited by one genre of music nor one language,” Arwady says. “My recital partner … and I are both very comfortable in a wide range of styles and feel that we have created a recital in which a song can take a leap of over 100 years and a different language from one to the next without losing connection of story line nor of flow.” Baldwin notes the somewhat unusual nature of the song choices. “What’s nice about the program,” he says, “is it’s somewhat of a departure. It’s not your typical arias and art songs, but rather it’s a more casual and informal setting, … more like a cabaret.” Arwady has performed with many major U.S. opera companies as well as several abroad. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 in John Adams’ Doctor Atomic. In 2012 she won a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for that production. “One of the most interesting things about a life in opera is that throughout the course of my career I will often repeat the same role all over the world,” she says. For example, her most recent role, Mistress Quickly, was one she first performed in 2008 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Despite many similarities between the two productions, her approach to performing has evolved. “My voice and I have become better acquainted as the years have passed, making me feel more comfortable in the chances/dynamics/ dramatic choices I’m willing and able to make live on the stage. Dramatically, a character shifts with each portrayal. Not just from production to production, but from show to show. That is the magic of live theater.” Arwady’s career has its roots in Kalamazoo. “I attended KAMSC (the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center) and Loy Norrix (High School) and spent my formative years exposed to everything from the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra to Kalamazoo Civic shows,”

Meredith Arwady recital When: 8 p.m. Dec. 7


Where: Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU How much: Tickets are $25 to $35, or $15 for students. Limited rush seats are available to students and anyone 25 and under (with valid I.D.) for $5. More information: Fontana Chamber Arts box office, (269) 382-7774.

she says. “I first learned about creating characters onstage and how a show comes to life while performing in the Loy Norrix musicals with such brilliant instructors as Marie Kerstetter and Ben Zylman.” Arwady has made Kalamazoo her permanent home. “It is so special to be able to sing in a location that allows me to reconnect with so many friends and a community that is so important to me.” While in Kalamazoo, Arwady will share some of what she has learned in an informal discussion with vocal music students at Western Michigan University. “Advising young singers is something I have always found to be very enjoyable,” she says. “When meeting with a group, I can only speak from my own experiences. But the questions I am asked and the discussions that take place can be unexpected, and hearing new voices and ideas is always exciting for me. The passion and dedication of young performers is infectious.” 

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arts encore

Signature Holiday

Local artists team up for collaborative gallery by

Kit almy


Courtesy photos

Works including fiber art, sculpture, paintings and jewelry will be among the wares exhibited by the more than 30 artists who make up the collaborative Signature Gallery. (Courtesy photos)

or the past 33 years, holiday shoppers have been able to find one-of-a-kind gifts of locally made art at the seasonal Signature Gallery. This year the gallery will be open Dec. 1-27 in Kalamazoo’s Westwood Plaza, at 4600/4602 W. Main St. It will carry watercolor and oil paintings, pastels, drawings, jewelry, ceramics, glass work, paper art, wearable and decorative textiles, concrete and metal sculptures, wooden bowls, shelves and benches, and greeting cards. The gallery is operated by the Signature Artists Cooperative, a group of about 30 Southwest Michigan artists. However, Brenda Mergen, one of the cooperative’s co-founders, says, “We are not only the gallery. We are a group that meets all year long to help each other and enrich each other.” Mergen, a weaver and knitter, her husband, Paul, who works primarily in metal, and jeweler David Smallcombe founded the cooperative in 1977. “We wanted to have personal artistic growth and also to promote the artists in the Kalamazoo area,” she says. They recruited other artists working in various media, starting out with a group of about 10 people, most of whom already belonged to guilds devoted to a single craft. “We could get feedback from other people in our own area of art,” Mergen says, “but what we lacked was feedback from (artists working in) other media, (which) was very important to the group and very enriching to all of us that were part of the group.” In addition to learning about other artists’ processes, the group discusses business topics. Current Signature president Heidi Fahrenbacher has been a member for two-and-a-half years, and at age 33 she particularly appreciates the opportunity for professional development. “I like Signature because it’s a group of professionals, so they help with the ins and outs of business, and also there’s a strong emphasis on quality,” says Fahrenbacher, who owns Bella Joy Pottery in Plainwell. The cooperative tries to hold membership to around 30 because the artists meet monthly in each other’s homes and studios. When space is available, new members are admitted through a jurying process in which the cooperative’s board and membership evaluate the quality of the artist’s work, making sure to maintain the media balance that distinguishes the group.

36 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

Members also must be willing to participate in group activities because of the cooperative’s emphasis on working together and supporting each other. “There’s a lot of nice people who are willing to share information, which sometimes is hard to come by, but it seems like, as a whole, there’s a willingness to help everyone succeed,” says Fahrenbacher. The cooperative’s original plans included operating a year-round gallery. The members started out by renting a space in the Haymarket Building, in downtown Kalamazoo, for the months of November and December in 1980, Mergen says. “Very soon after, we realized that our goal for opening a full-time gallery was never going to happen,” she says. “We were a coop, which meant we were all providing the hours to staff the place, and that took a lot out of our studio time. Also, there was no way we were going to be able to meet the expense of a full-time gallery so the Christmas gallery seemed the way to go.” After a few years of being open for two months, the gallery was scaled back to six weeks and then to the current one month. “None of us at the beginning had any idea we would have the success that we’ve had, success as far as staying together as a group, success of the Christmas gallery,” Mergen says.

Most of the Signature artists are “full-time” participants in the gallery, having a selection of their work for sale and taking turns working shifts. “It gives us the opportunity to interact with the general public in a way that we don’t normally have,” Mergen says. “That’s very important to artists who are trying to make their living with their art or even just trying to supplement their living as an artist.” This opportunity for interaction is good for the public too, Fahrenbacher says. “It’s important to show members of the community that you can be an artist and make a living. It is important to have the arts in everyday life.” Participating artists: Lorrie Grainger Abdo Melody Allen Susan Badger Gloria Badiner Jan Bloom Carol Caron Mark Cassino Peter Czuk Dawn Edwards Heidi Fahrenbacher Carolyn Fink Jeanne Fitzgerald Sheila Genteman Maryellen Hains Gretchen Huggett Judith Jansen

Eric Joseph Trish Joseph Michael Kifer Katherine Martin Brenda Mergen Paul Mergen Pam Nivala Nancy Payne Eve Reid Susan Rumsey David Smallcombe Nancy Stroupe Randy Walker Tami Young Michelle Zorich

Signature Gallery Where: 4600/4602 W. Main St., Kalamazoo When: Dec. 1-27 Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. MondaySaturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Exceptions: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 24; closed Dec. 25;10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 26; 10 a.m.5 p.m. Dec. 27 Opening reception: noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 8

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PERFORMING ARTS Plays A Christmas Carol — The 34th annual production of Ted Kistler’s acclaimed adaptation of Dickens’ holiday classic, 8:30 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays; 2 p.m. selected Saturdays and Sundays; 7:30 p.m. selected weekdays through Dec. 28, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St. 381-3328. Rumplestiltskin: The True Hero — Fancy Pants Theater presents Johnston & Percy play based on the Grimm fairy tale, 7 p.m. Dec. 6, 7, 12–14, 19–21; 3 p.m. Dec. 8 & 22, Fancy Pants Theater, 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall. For reservations, email Orphan Train — A story about New York City orphans put on trains going West in search of loving homes in the 1920s and one Kansas woman hoping a young boy is destined for her, 8 p.m. Dec. 5–7, 13 & 14, What A Do Theatre, 4071 W. Dickman Road. 269-282-1953. Musicals & Opera Peter Pan — Presented by the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5–7, 12–14; 2 p.m. Dec. 1, 8, 15, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St. 343-1313.

Mamma Mia! — A musical featuring the music of pop group ABBA, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 & 11, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 387-2300. Dance The Nutcracker — Ballet Arts Ensemble and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra perform a semi-staged production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic, 2 p.m. Dec. 7 & 8; 7 p.m. Dec. 7, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. 349-7759. Love to Dance Family Concert — Wellspring/ Cori Terry & Dancers’ event with a performance, audience participation and a 2 p.m. pre-show reception, 3 p.m. Dec. 7, Wellspring Theater, 357 S. Kalamazoo Mall. 342-4354.

A Brass Celebration of Christmas — A holiday tradition featuring the Western Brass Quintet & Friends, 3 p.m. Dec. 8, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 387-2300. Dave Koz & Friends Christmas — Saxophonist Dave Koz and supporting musicians present a holiday concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 387-2300. Vocal, Opera & Radio


Late Night Broadway — Broadway star Lillias White performs in a cabaret setting with graduating seniors from WMU’s musical theater program, 8 p.m. Dec. 5–7; 2 p.m. Dec. 7, Williams Theatre, WMU. 387-6222.

Sounds of the Season — Raymond Harvey and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra present a concert of seasonal favorites, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 349-7759.

Choral Christmas — A concert featuring WMU’s University Chorale, Cantus Femina and Collegiate Singers, 4 & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St. 387-2300.

BeethovenFest! — The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra welcomes guest artists Dylana Jenson, on violin, and David Lockington, on cello, for a benefit concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 28, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 247 W. Lovell St.

Meredith Arwady — Fontana Chamber Arts welcomes back this Kalamazoo native and 2012 Grammy Award-winning contralto for an evening of works from the American songbook and musical theater, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU. 382-7774 (see article, page 34).

Chamber, Jazz & Bands WMU Trombone Choir — The student ensemble performs a free concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU. Orpheus Chamber Orchestra  — The worldrenowned orchestra performs a free concert as part of the WMU Guest Artist Recital series, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU.

I Love A Piano — Farmers Alley Theatre presents a cabaret performance celebrating the works of Irving Berlin, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, 7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28; 2 p.m. Dec 8, 15, 22, 29, Christmas with Tom Wopat — The Kalamazoo 221 Farmers Alley. 343-2727. Concert Band welcomes stage and screen

38 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

star Tom Wopat for a free holiday concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Miller Auditorium, WMU.

Dance for Joy — Early Music Michigan presents a holiday concert of early music of the season, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Holy Family Chapel, Nazareth Center. 387-2300. BachFest Christmas — The Bach Festival Chorus performs with Eric Strand, on organ, and Carl Witt, on piano, 4 p.m. Dec. 8, Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College. 337-7407.

encore events

Miscellaneous The Triple ExMuss Holiday Show — Fancy Pants Theater opens the stage to its actors to let out their seasonal joy or bah-humbug attitudes, 9 p.m. Dec. 19–21; 6 p.m. Dec. 22, Fancy Pants Theater, 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall. For reservations, email theater246@gmail. com. VISUAL ARTS Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU 387-2436 Annual Frostic School of Art Faculty Exhibition — Faculty works in a variety of media, through Dec. 20, Monroe-Brown Gallery. Al Lavergne: Sequences — New sculptures that celebrate the artist’s Nigerian roots and WMU teaching career, through Dec. 20, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 349-7775 Mountains and Waters: Landscape Paintings from China — Paintings selected by guest curator Joy Light from the collection of Joy and Timothy Light, through Feb. 2. Boo! Images of The Macabre — The KIA brings out its most spooky and unnerving works, through Jan. 26. Fantastic Rumpus: 50 Years of Children’s Book Illustration — More than 120 drawings from 31 artists, Dec. 14–Feb. 9. Impressions: Selections from Stewart & Stewart — Works from 30 artists who have had their prints made at this recognized printmaking studio, Dec. 21–Feb. 23. ARTbreak — Free presentations on artrelated topics: Fin de Siecle Vienna: The Genesis of Self-Expression, art historian

Miranda Johnson discusses art critic Hermann Bahr’s crusade at the turn of the 20th century to bring the visual arts of Vienna out of tradition and into the avant-garde, Dec. 3; Al Lavergne: Sequences, local sculptor talks about his work and his Nigerian roots, Dec. 10; Vermeer: Master of Light, documentary on the life and work of the famous Dutch painter, Dec. 17. Guests may bring a lunch to these noon sessions. Public tours — Pay for gallery admission and get a guided tour of selected exhibitions at 2 p.m. Sundays: Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review, Dec. 8; Boo! Images of The Macabre, Dec. 15; Fantastic Rumpus: 50 Years of Children’s Book Illustration, Dec. 22; Impressions: Selections from Stewart & Stewart, Dec. 29. Miscellaneous Art Hop — View the works of local artists at various venues and galleries in downtown Kalamazoo, 5–9 p.m. Dec. 6. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7879 or 342-9837

Great Big Book Exchange — Participants bring a favorite book to give and choose a new book to take home, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Classic Film Fest — It Happened on 5th Avenue, a 1947 film starring Gale Storm, 2 p.m. Dec. 14. All Aboard the Polar Express — Watch the beloved holiday movie while drinking hot cocoa with the whole family, 6 p.m. Dec. 23; registration required and pajamas and blankets encouraged. Miscellaneous Kalamazoo Book Arts Center — A holiday exhibition and sale of handmade gifts from KBAC artisans, Dec. 6–27; opening reception, 6–9 p.m. Dec. 7, during Art Hop. 373-4938. MUSEUMS Kalamazoo Valley Museum 373-7990 Decades of Dazzling Dresses —  An exhibit direct from the museum’s collection featuring unique dresses and accessories from 1880 to 1920, through Jan. 19.

Music at the Library — Enjoy live music at these free concerts: Ken Morgan Jazz Unit, Wild Music, Sounds & Songs of 7 p.m. Dec. 4; GLAMA (Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association) Acoustic Slow Jam, 7 p.m. Life — Explore evidence for the biological origins of music through Dec. 11, Central Library. interactive exhibits and sound experiences, Classics Revisited — A group discussion of through Jan. 5 Selected Stories by Alice Munro, 7 p.m. Dec. Music at the Museum — K’zoo Folklife 19, Central Library. Organization acoustic jam, 2–4:30 p.m. Dec. Portage District Library 329-4544 1, free; Kalamazoo Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra, 6–8 p.m. Dec. 6, free; Beyond Meet the Chef — Ladies’ Library Association Sight, rock band, 7 p.m. Dec. 13, $5; Gemini, members share their favorite holiday children’s music duo, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. dessert recipes, 2 p.m. Dec. 8, Ladies’ Library Dec. 31, $3. Association, 333 S. Park St. Registration required; call 329-4542, ext. 600.

w w | 39



Historical Programs — Discussions and programs dedicated to local history: Charles B. Hays — Home Builder, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8; The Townships of Kalamazoo County — Climax Township, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 22. Films at the Museum — Creativity and talent are explored in Craft in America: Family, 7 p.m. Dec. 20; becoming more fit as we age is examined in Younger Next Year: The New Science of Aging, 7 p.m. Dec. 27.

Buy Local Art & Gift Fair — Dozens of local artisans offer their wares for sale, with food by Gorilla Gourmet, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 14. Winter Wonders Walk — Soak in the beauty of the winter woods and learn about animal activity and survival, 2–3 p.m. Dec. 15. W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

13, 14, 20, 21, W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive. 671-2160. Birds and Coffee — A short hike to search for birds is followed by coffee and a discussion group, 9 a.m. Dec. 11, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave., near Gull Lake. 671-2510.

Have an upcoming event?

Holiday Walk & Market — Tour the decorated Kellogg Manor House and shop for gifts from local vendors, noon–5 p.m. Dec. 6, 7,

Submit information by email to for consideration to be included in Events of Note.

NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 381-1574 Battle the Winter Blahs — Learn about foods and herbs that can boost immunity for a healthy winter, 6 p.m. Dec. 4. Holidays at the Homestead — See the decorated DeLano Homestead and enjoy treats, crafts and live music, 1–4 p.m. Dec. 8, DeLano Homestead, 555 W. E Ave.

Intriguing stories & beautiful images celebrating life in Southwest Michigan.

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poetry encore

Asses of the Developed World

At dawn, they’re nestled in fresh straw. These spoiled geldings who know their donkey history refuse to toil, refuse to sleep standing. Hours after the rooster crows, they get up, wander to the water tank, in which swims a goldfish they may eat one day. In the afternoon, the asses battle, bite to draw blood, rear on hind legs, thrash hooves in the air. When the neighbor’s cockapoo gets into the field there’s a wild ride through the pines. They chase him north to south and south to north running nose to the earth, mule-kicking and snorting, until that dog escapes through a hole in the fence. Sometimes the asses study a rabbit or crow with such intensity they don’t respond to rattling feed pans. Sometimes they face Mecca or contemplate Somalia, where wild ass is meat for soldiers, or Jerusalem, where donkeys toil under burdens in the heat. Sometimes they look south toward Mexico where two fat men smoking ride one small beast up a hill. The asses are hungry at dusk. Lord, they’re hungry. When they finally come tearing into their stalls, chickens scatter. The donkeys imagine they have tossed away

Considerable Cloudiness The remaining residents of the Midwestern city, those who can’t travel south out of the lake-induced cloud cover, are kept hopeful by the weather prophets who promise sun, not today or tomorrow but three days away. The sun will return and the sky will clear to a forgotten blue. Inside, by late morning the furnace will stop its constant cycle of on, on, on, and outside, the cars parked within reach of the sun will warm and people will sit in their cars, surprised by the soothing relief. They will sit in their vehicles, sunbathing. When the third day arrives, the sun doesn’t and the prophets pretend there had never been such a promise. But wait, they say, it’s coming. In two more days the snow will light up. It will hurt your eyes but you will unclench your muscles and you will pause, forgetting to continue your stride. You will pause and watch the winter birds hunt.

kicked through baskets and bird cages in a dusty marketplace.                   

In the shops, tiers of sunglasses hang neatly, ten rows waiting, unneeded.

— Bonnie Jo Campbell

— Deborah Gang

Campbell is the author of the bestselling novel Once Upon a River (W.W. Norton, 2011). She was named a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2009 finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction for her story collection American Salvage (Wayne State University Press). She lives just outside of Kalamazoo with her husband and two donkeys.

Gang, who is originally from Washington, D.C., moved to Kalamazoo to attend graduate school and remained here, for both her work as a psychotherapist and the proximity to Lake Michigan. Her poems can be seen in Literary Mama, The Michigan Poet, Journal/CUNY and The Healing Muse/SUNY.

overstuffed burlap sacks and water jugs and gourds,

Encore invites area poets to share their work with Southwest Michigan readers. For consideration, submit your poetry and a short personal profile by e-mail to or by mail addressed to Poetry Editor, Encore Magazine, 117 W. Cedar St., Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI, 49007.

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Horneffer-Ginter (continued from page 21) medicine and had acquired grant money through which I was paid,” she says. “But 95 percent of the people there had absolutely no interest in anything I was going to share with them.” This experience, though, helped her realize that she wanted to work in a place where she felt supported by a like-minded community. In 1998, after obtaining a doctorate from the University of Illinois, she found that “perfect fit” by moving back to Kalamazoo and into a work opportunity in holistic health at WMU. She found comfort in knowing that her husband, who is nine years her senior, had trained in that program and received his doctoral degree in counseling psychology at WMU. Paul Ginter, whom she had known as a teenager and met again a decade later, also had a job opportunity in Kalamazoo. Besides providing jobs for both of them, the move

allowed Horneffer-Ginter to spend time with her mother. Then, in March 2007, HornefferGinter and her husband, along with Patricia Frawley, started the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness, on Peeler Street in Kalamazoo. With her Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit manuscript accepted by a major New York publisher, Horneffer-Ginter came to appreciate even more her slower-paced Midwestern roots. “There’s a hundred things the publishing industry says you should do,” she says. “Be bold, PR-minded. Play the game and play it big.” “But my personality is still that of a Midwesterner. It’s a stretch for me to deliver my elevator pitch in 20 seconds. Yet, they all say, ‘What’s your brand? What’s your pitch? Say it quickly. Be succinct. Be confident.’ All of this kind of stuff is so different than the softness and humility of being raised here.” Nevertheless, she acknowledges that she is marketing her book via her website, social

media, book blog tours, excerpts and articles on websites such as The Huffington Post and The Caregiver Space, a companion course through the inspirational website DailyOM, Internet and radio interviews, book trailers, a reading excerpt on YouTube, and speaking engagements locally and throughout the Midwest. Yet Horneffer-Ginter defines busyness in her own grounded, Kalamazooan way — in companionship with a supportive and easygoing husband whom she says “is a lovely complement,” raising her creative and active children who are now 14 and 12, counseling clients and educating students who will become the next generation of holistic counselors — and promoting the message of her book, of course. With much on her plate, Horneffer-Ginter still appreciates taking the time to sit in stillness, sip from her full cup and quench her thirsty spirit.

Good Old Days continued from page 29) what people used to call a nursing home, where residents require skilled nursing. We have 57 beds there at this time, but we are adding on a rehab area with 16 private rooms for those who simply need a short stay for rehabilitation therapy.” Friendship Village includes apartments, homes with as much as 1,800 square feet and the feel of a condominium, shops, an art gallery, two libraries, an exercise room, a dining room and bistro, banking, a game room and other features. On the grounds, gardens are available for those who want

to dig their hands into the dirt and grow their own vegetables or flowers, and a path winds through the Village Woods, five acres designated as a backyard wildlife habitat. Transportation services also are available. Plans for the future include a fitness center built specifically for the needs of seniors. “Nothing like it in Kalamazoo,” Quandt says, smiling. “And, like others, we are expanding our dementia area, with four levels of care in assisted living.” Quandt takes a turn down a hallway that looks very much like the cobbled street of a small village. Lampposts light the way, shop

windows sport colorful displays, and the sound of conversation and laughter bursts from a bistro, where it is currently happy hour. Residents enjoy beer and wine or whatever beverage they might choose, and they share time with family members who have stopped by for a visit. “Cheers!” a resident says, raising her glass, and the group around the table echoes her call. It’s Friday night in the Village, life is good, and the golden years are looking pretty golden.

42 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

KCC (continued from page 33) “Those experiences you can’t really have at home. It’s that understanding that you can be who you are and be what you are without apologizing to anybody.”

Branching out It’s those kinds of experiences – and the knowledge that not every child can afford to have them – that have led the KCC to establish a new, tuition-free Eastside Choir this year. Supported by grants from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation, the choir is directed by Julie Davis, choir director at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts, “We wanted children who might not be able to afford KCC to have an artistic and musical experience in their community,” Sang explains. “We wanted them to be able to perform in their neighborhood. I firmly believe that when you make music together, you have a bond that builds bridges and tears down walls.” Sang says the KCC also plans to develop a tuition-free Northside Choir and begin work on a vision for the KCC that includes an endowment to meet the growing needs of the organization. “This organization is on the brink of launching an international choir,” he says. “The number of choirs and the scope of the organization is expanding, and so are the director’s responsibilities. In the near future there will be a need for a full-time artistic director and a full-time outreach director.” Referring to the local Promise college scholarship program, Sang says he also would like to see a “Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus Promise” to help defray costs for overseas trips. If Sang could have a dime for every time someone made a joke about his name and profession, he could probably start his own endowment. Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t pass out money for old jokes. It can, however, be generous to those who work hard and nurture talent. Sang is optimistic, as any choir director has to be. “A conductor has a responsibility to inspire. You teach all the technique that you need to teach, all the mechanics of notes, rhythms, dynamics. You give them something that they can be passionate about, and then you get out of their way.”




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Cornerstone Office Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 CTS Telecom, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Dave’s Glass Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 DeMent & Marquardt, PLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Derby Financial & Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Farmers Alley Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Farm ‘N Garden—The Garden Center . . . . . . . . . . 12 First National Bank of MIchigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Flipse, Meyer, Allwardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Food Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23



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KNI/Southwest Michigan Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Langeland Family Funeral Homes . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Lewis Reed & Allen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28


LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Millennium Restaurant Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Moors Golf Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Nature Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 New Year’s Fest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Oakland Centre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Parkway Plastic Surgery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Jeff K. Ross Financial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Sharp Smile Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Stewart & Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sticks & Stones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Tulikivi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 V & A Bootery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 VanderSalm’s Flowershop & Garden Center . . . . . 23 Varnum Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Woodworking Specialties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 YMCA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

44 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

encore The Last word

The Last Word (continued from page 46) fall asleep. Through these “observations,” he accepted how I earn my living. That was a huge step. We attended funerals of his many friends, an activity that meant much to him and would not have happened had I moved him to Kalamazoo or put him into a home. My reward was hearing people tell complimentary stories about Dad. As he became less mobile, I discovered a small, privately owned assisted-living facility that accepted Dad for a few days at a time, allowing respite for me and my wife. When I asked Dad where he preferred to live, he always replied, “Here, with you.” He would add, “There’s old people there.” His statement confirms that, by segregating our aged, society has lost the cross-generational integration that keeps our senior citizens active and feeling young, that enables our children to better learn from — and respect — our elders. I wish our educational system encouraged the elderly to be a contributing part of classroom activities, for one measurement of a culture’s strength is the degree of collaboration between the elderly wise and the youthfully energetic. Dad and I lived together until he fell. Thud. Thud. On our kitchen floor. Two spinal compression fractures.

That was the beginning of the end. He required full-time care. My attempts to assemble a cadre of in-home aides were futile so Dad did become a resident of the assisted-living facility. He died there 10 weeks later — after our nearly five years together. The rural cemetery where he and my mom and paternal grandparents are buried is adjacent to a two-lane highway. The six homes in which Dad lived at various times in his life are either along or within three miles of that road. Knowing that he spent his final years in a community where he felt “at home” was my culminating reward. My greatest lesson involves life’s impermanence. In my eulogy for my father, I said: “Each night, I kissed Dad’s forehead and told him, ‘I love you.’ Tonight, that will be impossible. Tonight, he will be buried underground, out of reach.” This is why I strongly encourage others — regardless of where their parents and grandparents live, regardless of their employment, marriage or circumstances — to do all they can to be with their elders. Look at pictures. Discuss heirlooms. Recall events. Do something or go someplace your loved one really wants to do or go. Most importantly, if you have something to say — perhaps to express love, gratitude or forgiveness — do it while you can. Seize the days!

Robert Weir has published a book of short stories and poetry called, Dad: A Diary of Caring and Questioning. It is available at Kazoo Books and Michigan News Agency and through Weir’s website:

Have The Last Word Have a story to tell? Non-fiction, personal narratives about life in Southwest Michigan are sought for The Last Word. Stories should be no more than 1,000 words. Submit your story and contact information to

LVM clients work directly with our CFA Charterholders and Certified Financial Planners. Regular personal contact allows us to anticipate client needs and provide the best possible advice. Our clients know that their LVM Team is always available to them.

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS Chuck Prudhomme, Len Harrison

7840 Moorsbridge Road | Portage, Michigan 49024 269.321.8120 | 800.488.2036 |

w w | 45

THE last word encore

As Parents Age, Seize the Days by

Robert M. Weir


ife flows like a bell curve. We enter as a helpless infant, crest at age 40, become geriatric around 75, slip into dependency again, and then we flatline. Babies survive because they’re cute and interesting, the fruit of fecundity, because they represent hope, family lineage, continuation of our species. Old age offers, in contrast, infirmity, incontinence, instability. Yet our elderly are treasures of wisdom, sage advice, history. They can be charming or quirky. They have much to teach about slowing down, being patient, accepting what they can’t control. One thing many parents can’t control is where their children allow them to live when they grow old. Many opt to move the aged out of their homes and into “a home.” Senior living facilities have become as common as child day care and rental storage units. While medical factors might necessitate reliance on others to care for the people who birthed and raised us, I look upon gratuitous conformance with this trend as a loss for our families and our tribe. I suggest an alternative based on my experience with my dad. Martin Weir was born in 1915 on Michigan’s east side. He married my mom, Marguerite Schulte, who died at age 50 in 1966. I’m their only child. Our family owned and operated a farm-implement dealership, country store and gas station in rural St. Clair County. Dad married my stepmom, Marie, in 1983. They enjoyed travel, cards, family gatherings. Dad was in his mid-70s when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s; that’s when he and I began to heed the bell curve’s slippery slope. When Marie died suddenly at age 82, Dad could no longer drive. He would soon

46 | Encore DECEMBER 2013

be unable to live alone. I asked the inevitable: “What should we do?” Kalamazoo had been my home for 30 years, since 1968. Yet I lived in a third-floor apartment. Even if I brought Dad here, I would still have to move. It was easier to move me than to move both of us so I began to pack. Sure, I could have hired in-home care for Dad. I could have taken him out of the house he had enjoyed while married to Marie. But he and Mom took care of me when I was an infant; I chose to return the favor. And that was that. In May 1998, I moved back to the area of my youth and began a most remarkable and rewarding journey. Granted, living with an elderly person can be challenging. It can devastate a marriage, as I discovered. It can mean a change of employment and reduced income, as I experienced. But even these temporary detriments can lead to greater understanding and expansive opportunities, as I can attest. Living with an elderly person involves medications, doctors, geriatric assessments, estate attorneys, senior exercise programs, patience for people who move and speak slowly.

Bob and Martin Weir, 1998, in the first months of their five-year journey into the realm of parental care.

Often Dad and I would stand at the door to our house, coats on, ready to depart when he would say, “I better go to the bathroom again.” I learned to allow extra time — a worthwhile lesson for anyone in any endeavor. Dad and I talked about Mom, their marriage, her illness and death. We discussed our divergent views on religion and politics, and we reached acceptance. We told each other stories and admitted our follies, reminisced over his home movies, played cards, came to appreciate each other in ways we never had. He was a learned man who read newspapers and business documents but never a novel. And I, his son, am a writer. Go figure. So I read my stories to him, and he paid his highest compliment: “How do you get your ideas?” Every afternoon he would shuffle his walker into my office, sit on the couch and (continued on page 45)

Traveling is easier with AZO

Tim Terrentine President, Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce

Fly home. Be home. Travel can be hard—especially challenging when you have to travel first to a distant airport. Increasingly, business and leisure

travelers alike are finding that the ease of flying in and out of

the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport improves their entire travel experience.

Safe. Simple. Convenient. w w | 47

Keep your options open. Your physician has powerful tools to provide you with medical images.

Even an Olympic swimmer with a 7-foot arm span can stretch out in KNI’s high-field open magnet. MRI patients who need more room, who feel uneasy in tight spaces, or who need specialty exams for orthopedic procedures often find comfort in high-field open magnets.

KNI will continue to introduce area physicians to new developments in breast imaging, cardiac imaging, neuroimaging, orthopedic imaging and functional imaging. So, when medical imaging is important to you or your family, learn more about your options at www.kniimaging. com.

KNI partners with Borgess to provide the most powerful and versatile medical imaging equipment available in Southwest Michigan. Working with Premier Radiology, KNI has the medical expertise to provide your physician with the test results you need.

KNI • 1700 Gull Road • Kalamazoo, MI 49048 • 269.342.1099 •

December 2013  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine celebrating the great things, people and places of our corner of the Mitten.

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