Business as usual at the Rice Paddy
Change is inevitable. It’s also scary, especially when it involves one of your favorite take-out restaurants.
It was last May when Aoy Lachapelle handed the spatula over to employee Nang with the assurance to her faithful following that nothing would change.
If recent comments found on social media are any indication, Nang has lived up to the promise. Besides, why would you change a winning formula, something that’s been 30 years in the making?
Business co-owner and Nang’s husband, Dean Weiger, knows you don’t fix something that isn’t broke. “Aoy still stops in to help us make sure we’re still offering my hometown the amazing Thai food they’ve come to love at the Rice Paddy.”
In addition to a year of training at Aoy’s side, Nang boasts some literal street cred when it comes to what they serve. According to Dean, “Nang is from Bangkok, where she cooked Pad Thai on the street for years.”
The Rice Paddy is still take-out only, and Dean recommends you call ahead with your order. Dean’s favorite is the Buttercup squash curry, but, touting his unique guarantee, says, “try something different and if you don’t like it, bring it back and I’ll eat it”
But what about Aoy? Other than keeping a watchful eye on her legacy, she’s still plying her trade in the kitchen. She caters parties, teaches cooking classes, and is working on bottling and selling some of her homemade sauces.
According to husband, kitchen partner, and fellow retiree Greg Trick, the two are enjoying their time together without being strapped to the demands of the workplace. “So far, retirement has been everything we hoped it would be. The best part is freedom and flexibility with our schedule. We just returned from a family reunion and wedding over Christmas and New Year’s. I also had my first Thanksgiving dinner with my parents in more than 25 years. The TV and restaurant businesses are not forgiving when it comes to holidays.”
Aoy plans to continue helping her hometown schools in Thailand with food and supplies, but, according to Greg, “We haven’t been able to go since the pandemic hit. As soon as things return to somewhat normal, we’ll be on the next flight.”
And like many local retirees, they’re discovering a lot of things they previously didn’t have time for. “We’ve also gained a greater appreciation of where we live. We’ve visited parts of the U.P. we knew existed but were too busy to explore.”
Good for them. F— yeah, they retired…
For more information about Aoy’s cooking classes, you can email her at: email@example.com.
The Future of the Shiras Power Plant Property
If you’ve been down to the Lake Street site where the former city power plant stood, you might be impressed with what you don’t see. As in… there ain’t much left.
According to BLP Director Tom Carpenter, all that remains to be done is some final clean-up in the spring, and then the site is ready for the next step.
And exactly what is the next step? That’s the 64,000 watt question. The site spans about 20 acres, overlooking Marquette Bay… just waiting to be redeveloped.
For those of you hoping for more condos, or for those of you hoping for anything but condos, you’ll have to wait. According to Carpenter, “Any future uses of the site would be decided by the Board of Light and Power, with oversite from the State, to ensure obligations under the current agreements are met.”
There may be the opportunity for public input, but they’re not quite to that point in the process yet. There’ll still be industrial activity there with the unloading of bulk materials during the summer shipping seasons, with ships that are self-unloaders, requiring no special equipment at the site.
But, you ask, what about that big electrical jungle still standing there? If the power plant’s gone, why do we need that?
According to Carpenter, “The electrical substation will remain as it is.” Apparently only a small portion of the substation was related to the power plant. The rest is an essential part of the BLP’s transmission and distribution system.
There’s been some internal discussion about what could be done to change the appearance of the substation to some degree, but this might be a case of “it is what it is.” How about some decorative lights? There should be an outlet there somewhere.
Regardless, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities.
Other than self-care and the recommended protections, there’s not much each of us can do to fight the pandemic. But there is one thing that many of us can do to help the stressed healthcare system, and those who rely on its services. We can donate blood.
Though there are often shortages of blood in our U.P. hospitals, the situation now, as you would imagine, is critical. All types are needed.
If you’ve donated before, you know the drill, or needle. If you’ve never donated, but think maybe you’d like to help, now’s the time.
According to center administrator Rachel Washburn, it’s best to schedule your appointment, but “walk-ins are welcome.” You’ll typically be in and out easily within an hour, depending on how much time you spend at the cookies and juice table.
If you’re on meds and you’re not sure if your blood is transfusionable (don’t bother to look that up), call ahead to check. Not all medications disqualify you from donating.
The center is still operating out of its familiar location on West College. For hours and contact info, visit the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center on Facebook.