Saturday, September 30, 2023

To Build a Dream


Author Greg Hickey sent an email asking if I would read his newest book for an honest review. I said yes and took it with me while my husband and I went away for a few days. Little did I know, weeks later, I’d still be thinking of this story. I even sent him an email telling him I can’t seem to get it out of my head. And for me, that’s the sign of a good story. One that you think of when you’re not reading it and for long after.

I believe in dreams. I use them to my advantage. Not interpreting why the bear is chasing me down the street, but I use them to think out a problem, run ideas through my brain, and to find things. I’ve heard that if there’s something you’re struggling with, make it be the very last thing you think of as you fall asleep and the answer will come in a dream. Even if you don’t know you dreamt it. And I also heard that you can’t die in your dreams. You will always wake up before the parachute doesn’t open or you hit the rocks. Always. Because if you died in your dream it would kill you.  Dreams, are very real.

Timothy Smit is a guy who lived a quiet life while working what he thought would be a temporary job while he explored his options. It is now many, many years later, still in that job and suddenly his life does change. He’s lying in a hospital bed consumed with a very rare (only 12 known cases) lung cancer and it’s literally devouring him. I think because it’s so rare the medical team is not writing him off, sending him home to make his preparations. They are fighting this disease as hard as Tim wants to fight it. But it turns out he isn’t fighting alone.

While he is unconscious from his treatments Tim is experiencing intense dreams. Dreams that take on a life of their own. The dreams are keeping Tim alive along with the medication that’s almost killing him.

It feels like a battle between the disease and the dream. You feel like you are watching the gladiator take on the lion with his bare hands. You know one of them has to lose. But the dream isn’t trying to kill Tim, it’s trying to save him. CAN our dreams guide and take over our physical bodies? There is research that says they can and do. Tim comes to the realization in his dream that he can consciously let his unconscious take over. Let it do what it has to do. Tim will fight on the outside, the dream can fight from the in side.

I really don’t like to hear reviewers say a book would be great for a book club, I really don’t. I think it diminishes the book but boy, if you want a thinker and a talker, this is the one. I kept marveling at the idea of our dreams taking over our life when we are not in control (I don’t like to lose control of me) but I also have it on personal authority that dreams are real. And so is our waking life.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Perfect Sunday

I have a really hard time being inside on a beautiful day, which is any day the sun is shining. Even if being outside means sitting in my chair on the porch with a book.  We've had a gloriously beautiful September so that means the dusting can wait for January. I can't let these perfect fall days go by.                                               We took my new 120 year old cranker out onto the porch.  

                                                   The little pin cushion at the ready 
         and I stitched the afternoon away outside, listening to the birds and enjoying the view

A couple hours later I finished the dresden plates I thought I would stitch by hand while in the car travelling during the beginning of the month. That didn't happen because I worked on two sashiko panels which were the perfect car project.  

Did I say I absolutely love this cranker machine?  It doesn't do anything but go forward, and it only goes as fast as I crank so we are getting along fine. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Whale tale


 Friend Richard asked PH to go charter fishing on Lake Michigan
It's an early start when you do this, and I guess fishermen know this.  Get there early because by noon the fish are looking for a nap.  You can see on the horizon the sun hasn't even woken up yet.
This is the group.  I didn't go.  I get seasick on a pontoon on a smooth lake, on a train, car, plane, subway and swingset. I knew if I went I would neither have nor be a good time.  I know my limitations. 
Well, four people and only one fish.  And Bob was the one who caught it.  This is a king salmon...I think.  I expected much more in whale tales when PH got home but he can't much embellish just one fish. 
PH said once it was cleaned it fit into a couple of baggies. 
There are plans to go again in spring when the salmon are running because apparently, they are all napping now. 
Either way, fish or no fish, any chance to be out on Lake Michigan (or Huron, Erie, Ottawa or Superior) is a good day. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Cheer, Cheer

 Saturday was the first time the University of Notre Dame played Central Michigan University in a football game.  PH graduated from ND and our son and daughter-in-law graduated from CMU so it was a no brainer, as PH would say, that we would all go.  

It's been many years since we've been to a game in person and PH could hardly contain himself with excitement over the chance to go to this particular game with our son and his family. 

I must say, like travelling, it's a lot of work in getting there, but kudos to ND for crowd management.  The parking was nowhere near the stadium but they had shuttles.  The shuttles were all of the school busses in South Bend and neighboring towns so they held a lot of people.  There was a continuous flow of busses from the lots to the campus, they had their own traffic lane so there was no waiting for them, there was no waiting to get on a bus, it was continuous, smooth, so sane, so simple. We were dropped off in the center of campus, just very short walk to the stadium. It was most impressive.

The weather was perfect, a little overcast so we weren't in the full hot sun, t-shirt temperatures.  Could the smile on PH's face be any bigger?
It was a sold out crowd, about 80,000 people.
This is Touchdown Jesus.  The mural is on the tallest side of the library.
And you can see, from inside the stadium the mural is strategically aligned with the goal and of course he is signalling a touchdown. Everybody knows Touchdown Jesus.
We had a wonderful game day, and as you can see, Mike is the only Notre Dame fan in the least for this game. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

I Can't Believe I Did It

 Last year after leaving the U.P. I was glancing through one of those regional news flyers (there are no newspapers in the U.P., everything newsworthy is online) and I saw this ad.  

I was intrigued and also disappointed that we had just been to that town and I didn't know something like this existed. I saved this ad for a year just in case PH was called upon to do this trip again.
This is my little crank machine I've had since I was a little girl.  It's got lots of miles on it and finally just turned arthritic and uncooperative and, well, cranky.  When we knew we were making the trip back up north this was the first thing I packed.  I was going to ask the good people at this shop if they would fix her.

Well.  Stepping into that shop was like stepping into Geppetto's clock shop.  I walked in the door and just stood still, staring, mouth open, at the wonder of what must have been hundreds of antique - some VERY antique - crank sewing machines.  Beautifully crafted machines that have seen their day but are not forgotten by this couple.  I am still kicking myself that I didn't take photos of that place.  But to be honest, I was too full of questions, and the tactile experience of just stroking those beautiful and strange machines, all beautifully restored and cared for and for sale.  

The owners were only too happy to take my little baby and fix her up and then explain the story behind this beauty, and the history of that one, and the differences between them.   Some had regular bobbins like we know, some had shuttle bobbins, some were made to commemorate one of Queen Victoria's daughters, Princess Alexandra, some were Singer, some were other makers, some were incredibly decorative with inlaid mother of pearl, some were 'just' decal, some were completely silent, some had the clickety sound of a wheel turning, some were very, very heavy, some were lighter, some were treadle, most were not, there was one huge industrial machine.   It was like Disneyland only better.

PH wanted to watch his Notre Dame football game so we were advised to go to an Italian restaurant down the road because they had a television and we were also hungry.  We left.  I thought. And I thought.  And I employed my "will you have a bigger headache if you DO buy it or if you DON'T?" philosophy and I walked back to the shop.  I explained my aversion to sewing machines and asked the owners, "is there one that is absolutely idiot proof because I am one.  An idiot." 

And they showed me this one.   As you can see, I fell in love with it and brought it home.  
They insisted I video with my phone how to thread the spindle bobbin, how to thread the machine, just everything.  They spent two hours with me showing me its fine talents and I made a water bottle carrier so I could actually try it before I buy it.   I didn't care about the sound.  They said some people want them to be absolutely silent but I said I enjoy the sound of a typewriter over a computer keyboard so sound was not an issue. 

I can't believe I did it.  I can't believe I did it.  I really can't believe I did it.  But I did.  I would dare anyone to walk out of there without one of these beautiful machines.
Here's the crank.  And to the left is the spindle bobbin winder.  
And the case.  It's called a coffin case because, well, it looks like a coffin.  

It won't launch the space shuttle like the modern computerized machines so many of you have, but those intimidate the heck out of me. This, I can do.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Upper Peninsula

 PH and I have been gone for 10 days on the annual selling trip to the Upper Peninsula.  We drove 2,072 miles.  We tried to think it out and we believe we've done this selling trip for nine years.

I know I've showed you this map before, probably while talking about this trip.  We left the Grand Rapids area and drove to that tip of the mitten where a bridge, the Mackinac (pronounced MackinaW)  Bridge, connects the two peninsulas.  And then turn left.

But first, the Bridge.  Yes, here we capitalize that word.  It's over 5 miles long, it took me until just a couple of years ago to be able to sit up from hiding under the seat to even look while we drive across but now I'm a big girl and can enjoy the view but I doubt I will ever be brave enough to actually drive it.
But the view is magnificent and economically, joining the two peninsulas of the state this bridge was a game changer. 

Back to the map.  We cross the bridge and turn left. and circle the entire western end of the U.P. all the way to the Porcupine Mountains, down into Wisconsin and up to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  The entire U.P. is beautiful, sparsely populated and quiet.  At least till snowmobile season comes, I think.  It gets well over 200 inches of snow a year so you have to either love snow or at least embrace it. You can't live here if you only tolerate it.  They tell us it starts snowing about the first of November and have had snow in May for graduation from the universities. 

We foraged again. If you look at the map, there is a small peninsula just west of Manistique along the lakeshore that juts out into the lake.  It's called the Garden peninsula  because the only teeny village on the peninsula is called Garden.  There is a state park there that used to be a fort called Fort Wilkins. The peninsula is sparsely populated but there is a school, year round homes, more cottages.

Well, all along the peninsula road there are rogue apple trees.  All very old, scattered all over the place.  Some in people's yards and in the fields.  It's always intrigued me and in the past we've picked some.  It's usually hard to do, the animals - deer, bear - get the low hanging fruit and there is usually a drainage ditch that needs to be navigated but I will do it.

This year, the yield on those trees is so full the branches just hang heavy with fruit, making the picking very easy for two old people. 
I mean, look at this tree!!!  They are all lining the main street that goes down the length of the peninsula. We don't go in yards but if the tree is along the road we stop, picked maybe 8-10 or just a few 
We tasted some along the way.  This apple came from that laden red tree.
Some were the size of ping pong balls, some the size that filled our fist.  We only picked the non-wormy ones, too, because this year we actually had a choice!  We picked about a bushel before we had to just stop for running out of room and anticipating what it would take to process them when we got home.

 The Garden peninsula used to grow fruit for Chicago. The way to Chicago is easy along Lake Michigan (in good weather) and Michigan provided a lot for Chicago, our lumber rebuilt the city after their fire, it built the Chicago World's Fair and one of Lowell's own designed the buildings for the Chicago World's Fair - his home is now our museum, and we fed the city with our fruit and sent them Christmas trees. 

I spent yesterday emptying half of them into the pot for apple sauce.  The tiniest apples, the ones that would be hard to peel for their size.

Today I'm going to work on the other half of this yield.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Midnight whispers

Do your quilt projects talk to you in the middle of the night?  Sometimes I just have to attack a pile or project or idea just so I can rest and not think about it.

While I am lazily close to putting the finishing touches on Charlie's Redo, or Charlie's quilt x 2, or Charlie's quilt again,  I just have a few wing tips and the cockpits to reattach and then can move on to the borders.   Again.  And I've decided it has to be quilted by a long arm quilter.  I hate to do it but I know I won't be able to do by hand what I want the finished quilt to be. 

In the meantime this week I broke my cardinal rule of not being inside sewing at a machine on a beautiful day.  There were two things that needed attention, needed to be off my list, out of my brain and at least look like something. And I'm giving in to the things I just couldn't cut...till now.

You all remember this, right?  I loved it and even though I'm not really a Halloween person I am sorta a witch.  My goodness.  I even have a cauldron and a glass eye that's been handed down to me and all of my kids' baby teeth in a jar.  In my grand-daughter's' eyes, I qualify.

But you can't just cut this up.  You have to feature it.
So, I fussy cut some economy squares (this is for you, Robin!) and bordered the family in pinks and blacks.
It kind of looked like portraiture as I laid them out while finishing each one.  That told me to stop right there and arrange them
I wasn't going to stand on a chair for this photo nor was I going to arrange them again on the floor because I finally liked the layout of this photo wall look.  The little girl in dots on the upper left is going to have a small pencil thin darker pink outlining her so she shows up better.  I have no idea what I'll do with it when I finish it but I feel better about the use of the fabric. It does kind of look like a family photo wall.

Then, I happened on some string squares I made ages ago.  Time to get them off the shelf.  I don't plan string squares, I just pull fabric out of the pile and put them down.  Same with arranging them later because there is no reason to them.  

I put them together and discovered there really weren't that many and it was too small and I don't have any babies coming up to make it a crib quilt so I put a big flowery border around them and I like it.  And now these are not speaking to me any longer.   This has to wait for a trip to the store for batting and that's ok, it's way far down the line to be quilted anyway. 

I've quieted the midnight whispers.