Monday, October 1, 2012

Michigander Monday: Marcia Davis

I'm pleased to welcome Marcia Davis to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Marcia, please tell us a little about yourself.

Marcia:  I'm originally a Jersey Girl and made my way to Michigan via Interstate 80 in a 1974 Ford Gran Torino. My destination was Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where, after three changes of a major, I finally graduated with a B.A. degree in English and a minor in French. Thinking I’d actually teach English as a Second Language, I headed off to the School for International Training in Vermont (you know, where they trained the Peace Corps) and did an internship in Veracruz, Mexico, but decided I hate teaching. By luck or fate, I found myself back in Michigan, where I enrolled in a graduate program at Western Michigan University, earned an M.A. in English, Emphasis on Professional Writing, and voilá, I was a writer. And a Michigan Girl.

For 15 years I worked at office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, Inc., starting in the factory and making my way up to marketing via the test lab and the research group. The year I turned 40 was momentous (read: stressful!): I started a new job in the company as a writer, I got divorced, and I moved to a new house. A couple years later I married my husband, Bill Holm, by eloping to New York City. You can read about it in The New York Times!

In 2009 I started Life Is Fare, a blog for people who are passionate about “happy food”—that is, organic, local, sustainable, and humane. In less than three years it’s had over 90,000 hits.

In 2010 I left Herman Miller to start my freelance writing business called Chez Marcita, LLC and self-published my first cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies, which includes recipes I’ve created or adapted to accommodate my husband Bill Holm’s allergies. During that year I published my first poem, “Kinship,” which appears in the Fall 2010 issue of Driftwood, a Michigan literary publication.

Now I work at home, where our cats, Moo and Fredsy, rule. Every week I get raw milk from a local farm, make butter and yogurt, and make happy food a priority.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book -- and your blog, too!

Marcia:  I started my blog after watching two movies: "Julie & Julia" and "Food, Inc." I always knew I wanted to blog but I wanted it to be a meaningful site with a message, not a focus on me. Both these movies had an impact on me. The first because it inspired me to blog every day. The second because I realized our food system was broken and people needed to know. My blog, Life Is Fare, is based on the premise that you are what you eat. I truly believe if you eat happy food, you'll feel better. At the same time, my husband Bill suffered from allergies to wheat, corn, and pasteurized cow dairy products. Through my blog, and subsequently through my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies, I try to help people see how easy it is to prepare and eat good food, even with allergies, by making simple adaptations.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Marcia:  I'm working on a novel or a memoir. I haven't decided which genre it will become because, frankly, I don't know if the people involved can handle the truth. Isn't that always a memoir writer's dilemma? But I have a good story to tell, so stay tuned. I might just change the names to protect the innocent.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Marcia:  Nothing is scheduled but I'm often asked to lead discussions about happy food and how to make the most of eating local, organic, sustainable, and humane food. I've done a helluva a lot of research on what's happening with our food system and how to procure happy food in Michigan. We are very lucky to have the resources available to us, even in the Snow Belt!

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Marcia:  I love my local library (Herrick, in Holland)  but even more I love the Lakeland Library Cooperative that allows me to order books online and pick them up when they're delivered to Herrick. My favorite bookstore is Reader's World in Holland. It's just an old-fashioned, downtown bookstore that's always been open on Sunday even when the rest of Holland was closed down!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Marcia:  After living in Michigan for about 25 years I decided I was going to stay so I figured I'd better hit every corner of this gorgeous state to get to know it thoroughly. Bill and I took a two-week road trip through the U.P. and hit every part except the very far southwestern corner. I loved Keewenaw Peninsula. It's the first time I'd ever heard of a thimbleberry! The Porkies are gorgeous, too. But my old standby, which I can get to more quickly, is Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes, for the camping, the wineries, and the gorgeous lakeshore. I think I'm just partial to Lake Michigan.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Marcia:  Being a wine drinker, the Fenn Valley Open House in June is a must-do. I also love camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes when there's a full moon. At Good Harbor Bay you can have a fire on the beach as the full moon rises and it's such a beautiful sight. One time Bill and I attended the Detroit Jazz Festival, which was very cool. I loved seeing Detroit come alive.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Marcia:  My new sister-in-law, Debra Wierenga, has written and published some beautiful poetry. And, of course, so has my husband, Bill Holm, a fabulous writer who is also a Book Character in Bob Tarte's animal stories.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Marcia:  Michigan is not "the Midwest" in many ways. For one thing, it's not flat. For another, we grow many crops besides corn and soybeans. It's a four-season state and for people who celebrate nature, it's the place to live. There's something about the Great Lakes that make Michigan unique. It should never be lumped in with Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa as part of the bland Midwest.

Debbie:  Finally, last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Marcia:  Always a Michigander. Just sounds cool. Animalistic in a way.

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Marcia, it's been a true pleasure having you here today for Michigander Monday!

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