Chicken with Glockenspiel

You know on Lifetime when people are making out and get interrupted, and then after the interruption they say, “Now, where were we?” and go back to making out? That’s us after yesterday.

When we were last making out, I was telling you that when I was in Michigan last week, a fact I clearly cannot get over, I got up with my college roommate Dottie. Back at Michigan State, even though we were very involved with our studies [drinking], she would inevitably stop everything and command that we turn down the Yaz

and listen!! because there was always a baby vole squeaking outside that she needed to find and feed with a dropper or what have you. She had, like, wildlife bionic ears.

Dottie lives in a big ol’ farmhouse in the country now, which comes as a giant surprise. She married someone we met in the dorms, someone who is very good-natured about coming home to an injured fawn lying on the couch with a pillow and a tall drink.

A good midway-ish point between her house and my mother’s is Frankenmuth, this very touristy German oompah town where I always loved going.

Milk, milk, lemonade. Turn the corner, fudge is made.

If there was some big event, like a grandparents’ anniversary dinner or what have you, we’d all head to Frankenmuth to one of the restaurants that inevitably serve chicken. Which, really? Chicken. Let’s drive out and get chicken.

But? Chicken with Glockenspiel!

And that’s where Dottie and I met last week: under the glockenspiel. I filmed this 20 seconds of glockenspiel glory from my car’s open roof, and I have to tell you that seeing this Pied Piper story was SO EXCITING, because it was exciting when I was 2 and therefore remains so. RATS AND A PIPER THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS OH MY GOD. It buries a fawn on the couch.

It pretty much went without saying that we’d go to Bronner’s, The World’s Biggest Christmas Store® right there in Frankenmuth! Sometimes people can’t believe how lucky I was to grow up where I did, but it’s luck of the draw.

Once I was having dinner with some friends in LA, and this one friend I really like a lot was stunned I’d never had the dish we were having. “But they always serve this on flights to Switzerland,” he said, incredulous.

BUT HAS HE BEEN TO BRONNER’S??

Every boyfriend I’ve ever dragged home from Seattle or LA or North Carolina has had to go to Bronner’s. Only one actually liked it, this absurd artist I dated in Seattle and with whom I am still friendly. In fact, on Instagram the other night he commented: “Need more Bronner’s pictures.”

So here we go.

I showed you this yesterday. This was in the store entryway and I believe it deserves a second look. Because…

What you must understand about Bronner’s is it’s THE WORLD’S LARGEST Christmas store, which means you dream of an ornament? They have it. This one inspired me to have a Pope, poop and pop tree next year. What say you?

“This is the sort of thing someone would send me, thinking because I like cats and gaudy, I’d also like a gaudy cat,” I pointed out to Dot.
I have a friend who owns a plumbing and heating store. It’s been in her family forever and I believe it’s the only job she’s ever had. I was wildly tempted to get this for her but I worried it’d fall under the gaudy cat-egory.
“Oooo, a mirror!” I said, and that there is my epitaph.

Honestly, the store goes on forever. And you’re all, Did we already see this or am I having a fever? It’s a lot. A lot to take in.

We posed in front of the Christmas trees. “Let’s make this our Christmas card this year, from both of us, your kids and husband be damned,” I said. What was with that whippoorwill hair I had on one side? Our card is ruined.
“What’d you do for Christmas?” “Just hangin’ with Jimi.”

In this riveting video, you can hear CHRISTMAS MUSIC IN JUNE what even is this? It was so weird, it really was.

Once, in college, Dottie and I were leaving to walk to a party. “Wait, I have to go get a jacket,” she said, and on a shocking note I was impatient. “Oh, you do NOT,” I said. “IT IS JUNE.”

Except it wasn’t. It was still May. But I was so insistent in that moment that then we stood on our front stoop giggling like idiots. So when we were listening to Christmas music last week, I said, “IT IS JUNE.” My hilarity never ceases.

Anyway, obviously we needed sustenance so we sat down for some coffee and chocolate cream pie. This is not us, above.

Then it was time to wrap things up, so we headed outside.

I have approximately 97 photos of me doing this through the years. It never gets old. For me.

Anyway, because it’s tradition, we headed outside and Dottie said, “I’d better go back in and run to the bathroom first.” I did not yell at her that it was June, because that would make no sense.

But what I did do was sit on a bench, the kind they set out for dudes who are so over shopping for ornaments. I can’t recall if I looked at my phone or stared blankly into space, but what I do know is I didn’t notice the —

“OH MY GOD!” whisper screamed Dottie the millisecond she got to where I was sitting.

Octavia Spencer bird.

Right next to me was a baby bird. I’d spent five minutes next to it without noticing and Mrs. Green Jeans, over there, saw it immediately. We saw the mom over in the rafters, looking on, and we Googled it, and this bird was old enough that it was going off on its own and then going back to the nest. Just in case, though, we went back in and spoke to the front desk person who has to stand next to that terrible cross/tulip/Christmas/July 4 configuration and asked her to please check on the bird in a while and she seemed very concerned and said she would.

“I was so tempted to take that bird back with me,” said Dot, and this? Is a surprise to no one.

So that’s my trip to Bronner’s, and NOW I can stop with my trip to Michigan.

Ornamentally,
June

78 thoughts on “Chicken with Glockenspiel

  1. “. . . someone who is very good-natured about coming home to an injured fawn lying on the couch with a pillow and a tall drink.”
    Sorry, even a glockenspiel doesn’t put that fawn in the corner.

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  2. I love reading about you going home. How you make time to squeeze in as many friends as you can. Unfortunately I am to lazy for that and I have a huge family so that takes up all of my time. Tell us more.

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  3. Is there a law that all small German towns must have a giant Christmas store? One of the German towns here in central Texas has a Christmas store that goes on and on. I love it. I would have bought the Pope AND the Jimi ornaments. But I also have a thing about clocks. I want, covet a great cuckoo clock. I love those clocks with a bird for every hour and the sound is that bird’s call. And my aunt has some gaudy clock that every hour the face breaks apart and spins around and plays a selection of music before it settles back into its rightful face again. And I want one of those clocks so BAD!

    I loved your trip. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Your visit to Frankenmuth reminds me of the Alpine town of Helen in north Georgia. What began as an idea to transform a small mountain town on hard times to an Alpine village was originally a fine idea. When our family visited it on vacation when I was young, it was quaint and cute. Fast forward 50 years and it is a busy tourist town complete with T-shirt shops, souvenir shops, fudge shops, a Christmas store and who knows what else. At least, there were good German restaurants the last time we visited several years ago.

    Mr. Sadie’s idea of the Christmas store is the same as kelincol. To him, it’s the opposite of Heaven.

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    • That’s the very reason I could never drag my husband to Helen, GA. His brother loved the place and we never understood why.

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  5. Just thinking about Frankenmuth! I am not sure how old I was when we first went there for dinner but I remember thinking – wow – we got all dressed up to drive 40 miles to dinner where we sat around the table and ordered “family style” chicken. It seems it was roasted with gravy and mashed potatoes and dumplings! Wow. And probably biscuits too. And you know, it was exactly what we ate every single Sunday night at home. But maybe without the table cloth. What an experience. (tongue in cheek! ) Sigh. I know I went to Bronners but it made me anxious – toooo much stuff!

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  6. Is everyone being sarcastic, or do they really like that store? Cuz if I keep up my wicked ways, it is where I am going to go when I die!

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  7. I didn’t hardly get past the Pope ornament. All I could think of is who would spend $31.99 for an ugly ass ornament of the Pope. Then I came back to life when I saw the purple tree and the Hendrix ornament and I can’t imagine them not playing Purple Haze as the tree twirls slowly around with the Jimi ornaments scattered on the tree.

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  8. I went to Carmel High School and the public school kids called us Fudgies. This shop looks like an experience. Not sure it is for me. I was not very consistent buying my kids ornaments every year, but I sure as Hell bought enough of them that I have a ton. They like to compare and see who has the most ornaments (because some have additional gifts from other people and ones that they made).

    Dottie sounds a lot like my animal lover friend. She went to a hockey game where they showcased rescue animals and she came home with one. Last spring when we discovered 4 baby raccoons under my deck – I called her. Once they were retrieved, she brought them to the rescue. Then she texted me for a few days to give me updates on their condition. I am not an animal hater, but I was like ‘OK – glad they are gonna make it. This can end now.’

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  9. Well, shit. Now I need a Jimi Hendrix Christmas ornament to go with my ornaments that look like donuts. Because when I think of Christmas, I think of donuts and Purple Haze.

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  10. Loved the post. Although, I would not enjoy the store, it’s a bit overwhelming to me. I don’t usually enjoy shopping, I hurry in and get what I need and I’m out of there. However, I can spend time in junk/antique shops. I loved that Dottie instantly saw the baby bird.
    Tee

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  11. Oh. Speaking of Christmas this reminds me of a tourist place in my home state of Colorado…the North Pole. I don’t believe I ever went actually, but out of town guests always had to go.

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  12. I grew up in Saginaw County but have since moved to PA. Some of my coworkers took a vacation just to go to Bronner’s. Hilarious to me because I took it for granted. I have many a personalized Bronner’s ornament in my tree. My best friend still dresses her family up and takes a photo at Bronner’s for her Christmas card every year. Easier than setting your own tree up early I guess.

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  13. Despite living in Michigan for many years; I have never been to Frankenmuth. You make it look fun

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  14. I’m so old I remember going to the ORIGINAL Bronner’s downtown Frankenmuth when it was MUCH smaller. Mom and I would go ornament shopping and/or pick up cute package wrap and decorations. Fond memories, that. Have only been in the big store, maybe, three times (I moved away for 25 years, so…), But it is a place I think everyone should add to their bucket list. Just because…it’s CHRISTMAS!

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  15. You have inspired me to go to Leavenworth, the touristy German town near Seattle that you must have visited when you lived here. From the photos, I don’t think it holds a candle to Frankenmuth but it is fun to visit every so often.

    I grew up in Eastern WA and going to Leavenworth was a big deal back in the day. So much so that I made my husband go there on our honeymoon. It was a hot day in August, the sidewalks were full of people and he waited for me in the little park while I ran into the ornament store. When I came out, he was singing at the top of his lungs to the piped-in polka music: “das ist der Lichtensteiner polka mein schotts!” (Or something like that- he grew up in WI where everyone had a neighborhood polka band.) Twenty-year-old me was horrified and wondered what the heck I had just done, marrying this guy. People loved it though and we are celebrating our 26th anniversary this summer. Time to go back to Leavenworth!

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    • On my honeymoon, I insisted Marvin go to a bar in the middle of the day, which he would never ever do otherwise. They were playing that one song that goes, There were big alligators, and long-necked geese… And he wouldn’t sing along OR do the motions, like the alligator motion. I remember secretly thinking I’d married the wrong person and feeling dread.

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  16. I would love to visit Bronner’s, mostly to purchase the Jimi Hendrix ornament. However, it kind of looks like he might have bunions. Dottie is my kind of people.

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  17. I love Christmas shops but need no more ornaments! But I might need that gaudy cat. The sign above the window says Hummel collectibles. Really? You can’t give them away in NC. When Mom died I gave her collection to an elderly friend of hers who thought they were so valuable that she said she’d consider them a loan, not a gift. When she moved to a retirement community she gave some back. Anyone want them? I kept only the Hummel pharmacist (grandfather owned a pharmacy) and the angels.

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    • Cardinal’s mom had ALL the Precious Moments and the one thing he was looking forward to was shooing them all in the head with a BB gun, but some family member took them instead.

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  18. I have one kid who *hates* Halloween but loves Christmas. We make a pilgrimage to Bronner’s every year around Halloween just to bring kiddo some relief (and joy). Also, too. When this kid was born, we lived in GA. A good friend gave me a Baby’s First Christmas ornament personalized for him. She was a bit confused when I started laughing because of the attached Bronner’s tag. I had to explain that I grew up about an hour away from The World’s Largest CHRISTmas Store.

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  19. I love those Xmas stores, but don’t usually buy. Same with the tourist-town fudge shops. I would have bought Princess Kitten for sure.

    There was a house near-ish to me that decorated every year like that front entry pic. Santa, Disney, Baby Jesus, manger scene with additional animals, a slide, the whole shebang. The best was the glitter ball…woo hoo!!! Loved that house on the annual Xmas light tour with my friend Anne. The gaudier the better, ’cause it looked like it was done with such joy and love. And now, sadness, as someone else lives there, and no show for a few years. [sad face]

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    • We have a house near us that has a manger scene with Santa kneeling. Strange! Oh and also they have lighted polar bears cavorting right next to it. In Alabama, the home of the polar bears.

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  20. I grew up in Michigan also and everything about this post is so relevant to my childhood. I haven’t been to Bronner’s in years but it looks exactly the same. I remember I used to get a black licorice smoking pipe in the basement candy store of one of those chicken places. I love black licorice but honestly I mostly loved walking around with a pipe, thinking I was fooling people. “Look at that young lady in the Garanimals smoking a pipe!”. Thanks for the memories!

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  21. One of the great things about having long time friends is the jokes. You can say, IT IS JUNE and the other person knows exactly what you’re talking about and you both laugh and laugh.

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  22. I like German things, the food is great, potato dumplings! I have always wanted a coo coo clock. I met a woman, a pharmacy tech at Walmart. She had the most fabulous miniature coo coo clock watch pendant on, nice size, realistic down to the things that hang from it with tiny pinecones on the end. She got it in Germany. She was a world traveler when widowed twice in between husbands. I kind of wanted to have been her! She worked two jobs when single to pay for have travels. She was quite cool. I’m not because I still call things cool.

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  23. Also too…our German friend Sandra got an ornament from Bronners as well as some Frankenmuth candy…

    “DON’T SIT ON THE BABY JESUS!!!”

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  24. Paula and I had the same lovely tradition. And like Paula I finally declared “enough” and went out and bought ornaments that I LOVED and now they all piss and moan every year about “tradition”. They all have their own houses but want to come home and see “their” ornaments on MY tree.

    Lovely post June! Somehow I thought the Pied Piper was more into kids than rats – did I read the wrong version?

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  25. NotChloe and I went there a few years ago and also took some obligatory outside pictures. We were waiting our turn at the manger when some lady yelled at her kids “DON’T SIT ON THE BABY JESUS!!!”

    “DON’T SIT ON THE BABY JESUS!!!” The official Hulk Family holiday greeting since 2016.

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  26. That first picture at Bronner’s looks like Apollo Creed’s house at Christmas.

    And the picture of Frankenmuth’s and your caption reminds me of this charming little joke my kids found hilarious in their youth: “Did you hear about the Keeble Elf that was so excited to be promoted to head Fudgepacker?” Followed by peals of giggles. (And an eye roll from me.) Ah, the things they learn in Catholic school.

    This may surprise you: I am on Bronner’s mailing list! I know! Probably because I had the (stupid) tradition of giving my kids an ornament every year (on Christmas Eve with their new Jingle Jammies for Christmas morning), in the hopes that when they moved out, their trees wouldn’t be bare. Of course I tried to get an ornament appropriate to what they had done that year (sports, graduation, new job, etc.), which is why I needed some place with a selection such as Bronner’s. Well. Now they are 28 and 30 and haven’t moved out and I got goddamn sick of hunting for a freaking thematic ornament for their sorry asses. So much so, that a few years ago (I think when the second one hit 25), I declared ENOUGH. I sorted and boxed up their ornaments, put their names on the boxes and stopped that tradition, thank the sweet Baby Jesus. Now I give them rolled up apartment listings with their Jingle Jammies. (I kid.)

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  27. I love Christmas decorations! German stuff, not so much. I think German things are ugly. That faucet ornament was amazing!

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  28. Okay, so here is where I part with the crowd. I do not enjoy Xmas stores. I will sit outside on the bench with the old men.

    However, I did enjoy the glockenspiel.

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    • I get sick of the Christmas store experience quite rapidly too. I am a Grinch. Christmas in July seriously annoys. I saw a thing for Summerween with carved watermelons the other day. That is one I can get behind.

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  29. My goodness, that was a fun read. I’m not generally drawn to Christmas stores even in season but I would definitely have to check out a store that carries a Jimi Hendrix ornament. Apparently they love decorating for Christmas in Japan even though they are still figuring out where the Christian and commercial aspects overlap. I heard there was one a department store display of Santa…on a cross.

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  30. Is everyone being sarcastic, or do they really like that store? Cuz if I keep up my wicked ways, it is where I am going to go when I die!

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  31. Dottie must check in now, with FRADW on the baby bird!
    and also now I must road trip to MI and Bronner’s bc that place looks MAGICAL.

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