Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Snappy oranges and shrimp

Our daughter and her family had friends visiting from Minnesota and Saturday they came to spend a couple of days here to enjoy the beach. The plan for Saturday night dinner was a shrimp boil on the beach. Patient Husband and I were very nervous about getting all of the food, 6 adults, two babies and beach supplies down 140 steps. Very nervous! We were going to pull out our "we're old" card, but the neighbors in the next neighborhood (which is right next to our house) graciously allowed us to use their ramp so we wagonned our supplies, including the very heavy propane tank and burner, HUGE pot already filled with water, all the food, six adults, two babies and beach supplies down to the beach. After that, things only needed to be taken to the water's edge. I was picturing cooking over hot rocks and was very happy to see the propane tank!

Fun in the sun! Hot from the pot!
Notice Elizabeth right in the middle of the whole thing. She liked the sausage and potatoes best. She kept passing corn to Adelaide. It was a yummy beach evening.

Snappyfriends challenge is something orange. I didn't realize I had so many pictures of orange things till I started thinking about it.

The night I stood on the bluff to scream at the lake, this is what the lake gave back. I apologized for the scream (thought I really meant it at the time.)

Then I noticed this picture of Patient Husband's beer the day we went to Fiberfest and we ate at this restaurant, gliding our way through lunch (see previous Fiberfest posting for the glider lunch.) Why did I take a picture of a glass of beer? I don't really have an answer for that but it fits with orange so I'm glad I did!

These felted pumpkin heads were at Fiberfest and I thought they were cute. The exhibitor was teaching passersby the technique of felting and she showed me, but honestly, I'm not in the market for yet another hobby. I thought they were fun, though. The variety of expressions reminded me of apple head dolls.
I AM quilting. I'm quilting with perle cotton the pink flowered scrappy quilt that Elizabeth claimed. She inspected it over the weekend and pronounced "it's good." I will have the next chapter on the saga of Christine soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A better day

Patient Husband and I took today to wander. We were headed to an outlet mall about an hour away (if you start and finish and don't get distracted) to buy my shoes for the year. There's an outlet store of the brand I like at this mall and every year I get two pair, one brown, one black. This year I bought three. We shopped a little for the babies, and had lunch, visited a winery and then went to Notre Dame's campus because we needed something at the bookstore. By the time we came home we had a wonderfully relaxing day. I wish I had my camera with me. When I have it, there are no pictures, when I don't there are dozens.

As we drove through the small towns that dotted the county roads we were on (stay OFF the interstate!!) we saw the cornstalks were yellowing and commented on the quiet country homes and I imagined normal quiet lives going on inside. Lives that only worried about what to fix for lunch or when to hang the laundry on the lines out back or how many m0re tomatoes would be picked from the vines turning scraggly next to the house.

We saw hawks and ducks and dogs and horses whiling away the day. A group of guys leaning against the back end of a pick up truck, talking. A man painting his porch, another mowing his lawn. We noticed an old tractor for sale in a driveway. Many, many produce stands selling melons and early squash and tomatoes. We bought white peaches at one but left the Mackintosh apples because I don't care for Mackintosh. We heard a flock of geese heading south.

We noticed the stands of sunflowers with heads bowed, altogether, as if in prayer, and I listened hoping to hear them.

The sky was so blue, the air so crisp, the shadows starting to tilt toward September. It almost took me away from my angst. Almost.
We met friends for dinner at a small country bar that serves a really good hamburger, we laughed and laughed and they took me away from myself for a few hours and for that I'm grateful.
I needed this good day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Are we allowed to be less than perky on these blogs? Are we allowed to rant and rave and scream and shout and kick the couch? Can we cry and pout and feel like we've been dissed? By everyone and everything and not be told to suck it up? Can we just have a good scream here and not feel like we're over-reacting? Because if we are then I'm doing it and I'm doing it right now. About everyone and everything in my life. Right now. Right this minute. This very second every single thing and person (except Patient Husband and Good Friend Sue who I had lunch with today) in my life is getting tantrum kicked. I want to go stand on the bluff and scream to the lake.
A few days ago (maybe weeks by now) I was reading Kate's blog from Foxs Lane.
She was sharing about a wool festival she went to. I do believe in things being put in front of your face that have a message for you, something is put there and if you are open to seeing it or hearing it and it's meant for you. An omen. A sign. Well, on this particular page about the wool festival, she showed a picture of a banner strung across a wall that said "It Will All Be OK" and it stopped my breath and made me instantly feel better. I commented to Kate that it was an omen and I thanked her for sharing that particular photo because it was there for me. And it settled me. For awhile. Till today.
But you know what? Everything is NOT ok. Not at all. The list is long. And I don't know how much longer this fake smile is going to last.
I stopped at a grocery store this afternoon, feeling like I feel now I wanted to punch some melons. I saw an elderly friend of mine and we talked. She shared her fears and frustration and a few tears about her husband who has Alzheimers and sometimes can be violent and she's scared - not for her own safety, but for what is coming. And the lack of help she's getting from her family. We talked a long time. And I couldn't and didn't tell her "It Will All Be OK" because she and I both know it won't be for her. Or him. Was she there today for perspective? The signal that "It could always be worse?" Am I sounding like 'it's all about me?' Or was I put there for her?
When you're like this it IS all about 'you' because there's nowhere for all of this angst to go but inside. Her doctor told her that her blood pressure is up. Well, duh. I think between the two of us today we could power some very large machine. Or punch some melons.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fiber Fest Finds

Last Friday Patient Husband accompanied me to Fiber Fest. This is a touchy feely festival for people who love felting, knitting, weaving, spinning and all that goes with it. I don't felt, weave, spin or knit much but I love going to this festival. Sometimes I look for specific things while I'm there and sometimes I just wander the aisles of exhibitors (there are BUILDINGS of exhibitors!) and wander through the animal pens petting sheep noses.

This year I was looking for things to weave into my garden loom especially come spring when the birds are busy building their homes. I wanted rovings in colors and anything else I could find but I didn't want highest quality considering the outcome of the purchases.

I found what I was looking for and made a really good contact I plan to confirm tomorrow. This person, when I showed her a picture of my garden loom, said she will send me a box full of yarns that are cast offs. She is a sales rep for a yarn company and she LOOKS for ways to get rid of her yarns! Imagine!

This is what I bought:

Aren't these beautiful dyed locks? They are SOOOO soft, they look like a freshly permed head of hair! I think they'll dangle off grape vine tendrils...

These are the dyed rovings. I looked for springy colors and there is a nice green combination in there, too.

I have a couple of very talented neighbors who do woodworking. I asked Friend Walter if he would make a couple of wooden needles. I needed them to be about a foot long, big eyes, tapered ends for weaving things in my garden loom. This is what he came up with and they are perfect. Perfect.

After Fiber Fest we stopped at a restaurant called The Grill House for lunch. They have these wonderfully comfortable gliders on the patio and if you are lucky enough to get one, lunch can take a very long time. What a relaxing way to eat a meal! I had the most amazing tilapia wrap with peach salsa. OMG it was good! Patient Husband was looking over the beer selection and settled on one called "400 Pound Monkey"

Creative space this week saw me finishing those long unfinished projects. I finished the Christmas block for the retreat I'm going to in October, I am putting the binding on the sampler that I took my very first quilting lessons on (!!!) and pinned the batting and back to the scrappy flower quilt Elizabeth wants. The gingerbread men are done, too. There is a new development in the saga of Christine. I'll talk about that another time. I have to make sure she understands.

Monday, August 16, 2010

snappy clock

It was a good idea a few weeks ago and I still think it's a good idea. The Snappyfriends assignment for this two weeks is clocks. Clocks tell time. Well, as I was standing on the pier a few weeks ago the Friends Goodwill tall ship was just leaving the channel and along zipped a jet ski as I clicked the frame. I thought " Wow! If this doesn't represent the passage of time I don't know what does!!" I love that this accidental picture happened. And I do think it's a clock.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Did you know it's almost impossible to find string? Not twine, jute, sisal or rope but a simple ball of white string. You know, the kind we used to tie bakery boxes with. I've been everywhere obvious and no one, not even those huge hardware stores big as 7 football stadiums combined have a simple ball of string.
I'm in a bit of a pickle. Elizabeth likes to take string and tie up my room. It's cheap entertainment for a 3 year old and last week as I tried to untangle her tangles ( I found an end,) I was really surprised at her thought process as I revisited her ties and tangles. But in the end, after she's gone, I have to take scissors to it to reclaim my room. But I need to have string on hand for her or she tries to go after my good perle cotton which has much prettier colors, she tells me. She even empties my snipped bits box of quilting scraps and incorporates them.

Elizabeth was a little upset that Adelaide got herself tangled in the "string art" as she calls it, but
what's a baby to do when she tries to get out of a web?

Who would have thought it was a retro thing you can't find anymore? One guy in one of the hardware superstores actually asked me what it's used for!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A summer evening's entertainment

I love the feeling of a summer evening. There's a softness to the air, breezes have slowed or stopped and if it's a clear night the stars are close enough to touch. To be dining outside on a summer evening is happiness. To be enjoying an evening's performance by a great performer on a soft summer night is pure bliss. Last night was such a night. I don't know if anything could have surpassed the pleasure of last night.

We were at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids to enjoy an outdoor performance by Garrison Keillor creator and star of Minnesota Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion program.
The perfect warm evening began with standing in line for about 1.5 hours before the show to insure good placement. I know it sounds preposterous to wait that long just to get in the door, but this was important to both Marilyn and I and we wanted the best postition we could get. It's an outdoor amphitheater setting, seating is in very low beach chairs or blankets, food is allowed. Make an evening of it! We brought a picnic of breads, buschetta, salami, cheese, hummus, veggies, and shortbread cookies.

When the show started it was just about the most fun I've ever had in one evening. Garrison Keillor's road show version of his radio program Prairie Home Companion is called Summer Love Tour and included singer Sara Watkins. Together they sang bluegrass, gospel, folk, a little country. Stories were told about Lake Wobegon. There was a stellar performance by his sound effects man Fred Newman. We sang, we laughed, we applauded with enthusiasm and appreciation. By the end of the evening we had been treated to almost 3 hours of stellar unsurpassed entertainment. What an evening!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm sick, it seems. This morning after literally prying open glued together eyelids, I called the doctor and drove an hour in to the (bigger) city to be diagnosed with something other than "ouch."
Turns out I have a "highly unusual in adults" ear infection (and now I know why kids cry when they have them) and a sinus infection that is draining through my eyes!!!!!!!!!!! If it sounds disgusting, it's more painful than that.
So, until I can open the eyes wider than a mole, no quilting. Yesterday I did finish those cute little gingerbread men! Gosh, I think it could be as long as 7 years since I started them but I really don't remember! How does one date a quilt that's been hanging around in a drawer that long? If I made it now it would be a totally different quilt. It's interesting how our taste and expertise changes.

That learning sampler is almost finished. And I was going to put the sashing on the flower quilt Elizabeth wants but it will have to wait a couple of days till I can see. I figure taking three UFOs out of the drawer qualifies for a new project! Oh, yeah, but then there's Christine over there in the corner.....sigh.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New baby, child photographer, etc.

We have a new baby grand-daughter! Her name is Cecilia and she's perfect. We are so excited to welcome her to the pod. Her big brother, Charlie, is going to be such a good big brother. He's very helpful and proud (and she looks very much like he did when he was born.)

I'm introducing myself to her.

And speaking of Charlie, was I nuts to give a four year old my very expensive camera and let him "play" with it during his t-ball practice? Probably, but the photographer/grandma in me had to let him. I was amazed at his eye. Of the most basic things to learn: 1) don't move the camera when you press the button and 2) composition are two elements he seems to have a full grasp of...for a four year old. Though the don't-move-the-camera-when-you-press-the-button part my grandpa never figured out. Till the day he died any picture he took had headless people in it. But Charlie was surprisingly natural about it. Here are some of the pictures he took. I'll caption them, but they do tell their own story.

Kids were arriving and talking to their coach.

This was their last practice before their last game so the coaches decided to have the coaches/parents vs. the kids game.

Even Grandpa got into the game, and yes, Charlie took this picture with the zoom.
The game is in full swing, kids are up to bat. For the first half they played with a "T" for the ball, but then switched to coach pitch.

Game over, sun setting, time for the popsicles.

After practice we went for something to eat. He took these, too.

This was the toy ball machine directly behind our booth.

Pretty good, don't you think? He took 69 pictures. I spared you most of them, but I did want to share my budding photographer's shots.

Remember this quilt from the Years Ago post? Well, when Elizabeth was here wrapping my room with a ball of string, she found this quilt sitting, oh, somewhere in here. She told her mommy that she really liked it and hoped Grandma would give it to her when it's finished. I demured a bit and said that I might keep it here and she can use it whenever she comes. She was very sad and said she "really, really liked flowers" and she really wanted this quilt!

I bought the book TheFarmer's Wife Sampler Quilt - Letters from 1920's farm wives and the 111 blocks they inspired by Laurie Aaron Hird today. I've had my eye on it for ages and it was never in the bookstore when I was, but today - there it sat, right in front like it was waiting for me.

I also bought 97 Orchard - An edible history of five immigrant families in one New York tenement by Jane Ziegelman. I'm very interested in the experiences of the immigrants in the early part of the century and use a magnifying glass when I look at the pictures of Jacob Riis. Plus, hey, it's about food!