Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Camp Day

Before I go any farther with this post I want to acknowledge and thank Bruce Doll for the generous use of his photos.  Bruce is Lowell's unofficial official photographer and not much happens around here without him recording it.  His photos are always perfect, published on his FB page and I think everyone secretly hopes he will catch themselves in the act. And he probably has because he is everywhere.  I didn't get the chance to tell him yesterday to warn me first so I could suck in my stomach, so of course there are no photos of me in here.  I was busy cooking so couldn't take my own photos so thank you, Bruce.


Yesterday the museum held its day camp and this year's theme was the lumbering era here.  Each camp is very well researched, conducted by the education director for the museum and her husband and sister and it's always a fun day for the kids I think because it's so hands on.  Being a museum sponsored day you might expect to hear, "don't touch" but that never happens.  

The day began with the explanation of marking logs because when you see photos of a log run in a river, well, when those logs end up at a mill the lumber company wants its money so the ends of the logs are marked with a brand that identifies the lumber company.   Here they are shown a branding hammer
                                                                    How it's used  and 
                    then it's given to the tiniest peanut of the day and she tries her hand at it. 
Their activity was to design their own brand and mark a cut off

Aren't they just the toughest looking bunch of lumberjacks you ever saw?

Last year the theme was the Civil War and it was a huge hit with the kids so these soldiers were asked back to give the kids another lesson.

Again, no one said "don't touch" as they examine a typical soldier's kit
And speaking of kit, look who made themselves right at home!  This young kitten/cat found the camp because I think it smelled the bacon cooking.  The kids played and played with it and as you know cats will do, they stop, drop and sleep just about anywhere, the more inconvenient the better..

I was camp cook and lunch was pancakes, bacon, donuts, cheese cubes, apples, watermelon.  I was a cooking fool, let me tell you.  That's why I had to rely on Bruce's photos because it took a long time to cook bacon and then pancakes for this group.  I cooked four packages of bacon and two boxes of pancake mix.
And I surely made a mess doing it.   One of the things that surprised photographer Bruce Doll was that I was cooking the pancakes in bacon grease.  He had never seen that before.  I told him it's how you get the crispy edges. Everybody likes crispy edges on their pancakes, don't they?   

               In the afternoon there were activities, some crafty and some soldiering

At the end of the day it looks like kitty was either settling in or hiding from the kids, probably just as tired as the kids were!


Saturday, July 13, 2024

A Special Place

 This one is picture heavy but the place was beautiful so you might want to endure.

This is us.  We were at the fort, which affords the most beautiful views of the island because it's the highest place on the island
This restaurant is called The Woods and it certainly was.  A hidden gem off the beaten path up in the woods it was gorgeous and delicious and we had so much fun. This was our anniversary dinner. 

PH and I sat out the ride around the island.  Turns out it was a good choice.  Son-in-law is a bike rider and he led them half way around on this nice road but then cut up through the middle of the island - up hill, no gears. Ugh.  I opted for the bookstore and PH took a walk. 

This was our Inn.  Madame LaFranboise is special to Lowell because she built a fur trade post here in Lowell and took over the fur trading business her husband started before he was killed.  She was Native American, he, French.  She is credited with being the first business woman in Michigan.  The house was built after she retired from the fur trade and lived permanently on the island.  
She built a school and a church and was respected for all her days.

Evenings on the porch of this beautiful place.  Thank goodness we are all good porch sitters. 

These roses attracted us all, like bees, we all stopped (by all I mean everyone who walked past them) for a sniff and a smile before walking on.

After the old fashioned foot races and relays for the kids and the booming of the cannon the Declaration of Independence was read.  After that a volley was fired for every state in the union.  When it was Michigan's turn all nine muskets were fired together. 
At the fort, which is painted white on all outside surfaces, the geraniums bloom.  Geraniums all over the place.  Do you see that peek of yellow umbrella on the left?
That's part of this porch that insists you stop, have a drink or a snack or lunch and just relax and soak in that view. What's the rush?  
The fort is on the highest part of the island, with good reason.  This lawn was once the food garden for the soldiers at the fort and now it's an island park and where we watched the fireworks.  Since the day trippers were all gone (the ferries don't operate past 10 p.m.) we had this park pretty much to ourselves. Not many more there for the fireworks than you can see now. The island sets them off in two places so it's extra beautiful.

Turn and this is the view to the right.  The town - Main street right along the water, where the fudge shops, t-shirt shops, bike rentals, many restaurants and PEOPLE are.  Go one block up, to the street that runs perpendicular to that oblong structure (which is a reconstruction of the first church on the island.) You can just see a horse drawn wagon turning onto the street, and it thins out considerably and is the part most people miss. This is such a beautiful place if you just get off that main street.

OK, you get the idea, blue is your favorite color when you leave here.  Sky, water, this place is a gem.  If you visit Michigan and wonder what to see and do, people will usually say number one on the list is Mackinac Island.  And if you are lucky enough to stay ON the island overnight, it's extra special. And that's what this trip was, extra special.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Lesson Learned

 Do you prewash? I will have to admit to the Quilt Police that I don't often. Just sometimes and I don't know why I don't.  Do I like the feel of new fabric?  Do I not want to take the time?  I can't say it's because I can't wait to cut into it and use it.  Some of the fabric in my stash is decades old.  Who knows?

This morning I woke up thinking of Charlie's quilt and that dense, deep navy blue and that niggling in my brain telling me to prewash it.  I did and was stunned at the dye that came out of that navy.

Elizabeth's Baltimore Album will have a lot of red in it. She specifically said she wants red, green and yellow to predominate.  I pulled many, many reds out of the stash and put them on the thinking bed.  So, this morning I paid attention to the brain niggle and put them in the sink and ran hot water and I was horrified.

I know the rule is to wash reds but, head hanging, I admit I don't.  And look what happened!   The sinks looked like Kool Aid. One of the batiks ran dark orange to yellow. And I mean RAN.  I started with the batiks and as I was watching in horror I thought of how much I had already used on quilts.  
Holy cow.  When I die I am going to have to leave strict instructions with the recipients of these quilts to use BOXES of Color Catcher.   The water looked like a rag wash out after a nose bleed.    

Some of them even stained the sink!  Needless to say reds will always be washed after this.  And here I sit looking at some of the quilts I've made with red in them.   And no, I don't usually wash a quilt after it's been made.  Some people put that last stitch in and immediately wash it. While I like a crinkled look of a quilt that has been washed and scrunches up on itself, I like that clean, smooth look better. 

Yesterday the weather was iffy so I spent the afternoon forgoing the nap and instead thought I'd better get THIS pile off the thinking bed so I can devote myself to the Baltimore Album. People, when I say I am math challenged I am not kidding.  I can't do it till I can SEE it.  Forever and always I have been a "show me, don't tell me" person. If I can SEE it, I can DO it but don't try explaining it.  I can read the map but don't try to give me verbal directions. That sort of thing. 
With the Daffs I don't want a straight on setting, I want the diagonal look.  Well, like I told Friend Barb yesterday, my mind pretty much works up and down, but diagonal thoughts can make the circuits in my brain spark. 

I started the Baltimore Album quilt and I thought if I started with the Hamilton logo it would be the easiest.  Well.  Not.  I bought a batik for the star because batiks don't ravel and I needed to make those points without doing paper piecing.  But Hamilton was regular fabric and looks like a giraffe so he came off as soon as I put the last stitch in.  I will get a batik in mottled black for him.  And yes, I will wash that black first!

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Mackinac Anniversary

 PH and I just returned home from a three day trip to Mackinac Island as guests of our daughter, son-in-law and the girls.  This trip was to celebrate our 50th anniversary, a pretty special milestone, if you ask us. 

Mackinac Island is a pretty special place, too.  It's held dear to the hearts of we who live in Michigan, it's unique, and strives to be so. 

If I knew how to draw an arrow or circle on this photo I'd do it, but I don't so, focus on the very tip of the mitten. Do you see that little orange square and across from it that little red dot?  Look to the immediate right.  That little island labelled Mackinac I.  That's it.  To get to the Island (by the way, Mackinac is pronounced MackinaW, the C is silent and the surest way to announce you are NOT from Michigan is to pronounce that C.  So don't.

The entire island is a state park and 8.2 miles around and the very first thing bazillions of people do when they get off the ferry that transported them to the island is to rent a bicycle to cycle around the island. Some brave the hills and ride through the middle, too.  There is no camping on the island.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.  No cars (there is one ambulance and one firetruck kept well hidden for emergencies) and not even electric bicycles.  The charm and draw and uniqueness of the island is that there are no motorized vehicles.  The ONLY way to get around is by your own feet, a horse's feet, or a bicycle. 

The horses are Percheron draft horses who are coddled and spoiled.  They do all of the work so they deserve to be.
They do ALL of the work!   There are ferries that bring hordes of people to the island every 30 minutes, most are day trippers but if you are staying at one of the hotels or resort homes you bring your stuff with you.  The horses bring absolutely everything from the docks to the people who need it.  
Our daughter ordered a taxi to take us to dinner Wednesday night.
Of course, this is the price of living in the Old West!  Years ago there was a scientific investigation into why the fly problem was so bad on the island.  It was determined that if you were diligent in cleaning up the deposits you would take care of the fly problem.  It was obvious but extra diligence was what did the trick and now the flies are gone. 

Listening to the clip clop of horse hooves on the street can have a napping effect on a person. 

The other way to get around is by bicycle.  We ( read: I ) tried to imagine how many bicycles are on this island.  There are so many lists to consider:   the bike rental businesses,  the 1,000 workers who each own about 2 bikes,  the 500 year round residents who have who knows how many because there are no cars in their garages,  the individual hotels and Inns have a stable of bikes and the many people who bring their own bikes on the ferries.  We stopped trying at around 7,000.   There are many.  

You can walk down the middle of the street and not fear cars but the people driving the horses do NOT veer for you, you just have to be smart enough to get out of the way of two Percheron draft horses.  The people on bikes are more of a hazard.  They get off the ferry, race to the nearest bike rental and off they go, zig zagging down the street trying to take selfies while riding, not thinking there are people out there who are NOT on a bike.  

Mackinac Island homes 500 people year round but is open for business and visitors for about 6 months, April through October.  After that the main street tourist fudge shops, t-shirt shops and all restaurants but two close up for the winter.  In that approximate 6 months the island hosts two million people. 

The people who work in those shops and restaurants and drive the carriages and keep the place running for our enjoyment come from all over Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S.  The young people travelling here have 4 month work visas.  They come to work, learn English, travel a bit before going home and applying for the next summer.  

OK, that's the background. I'll share a couple of photos another day of our fun. If you've ever been to Mackinac Island, when you hear the name you smile. If you've never been, then, well, maybe someday.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Chookshed Challenge July and Charlie


I don't know about you girls but my Chookshed Challenge list is so discombobulated I don't even know where I am anymore!  I've had to rearrange my numbers and projects practically each month so the list is full of cross outs, arrows, rearranged numbers.  But this morning I was thrilled to see number one chosen because I did number one months ago in preparation for this day:

Number one on the list was Charlie's quilt.  It was machine quilted and needed to have the binding sewn down (that was the easiest one on the list.)  Well, number one wasn't being chosen by the spinning wheel so I had to move it up the list. 

Back to the quilt.  Charlie chose this design.  When he was just a tot he saw the Blue Angels for the first time and it was love at first sight.  I am not sure but I think he's seen them every year of his life since then.  

The middle of this quilt was just a square from a much larger quilt in the photo I showed him.  I tried to contact the person who had the pattern but got nowhere.  Emails not answered, phone calls not answered, so I went to Friend Barb for help.  She did the math for the section, drafted a full size pattern for the planes and we measured to get the border size I wanted.  

As I worked the quilt I told you the stories about putting the land and sea border on upside down so the planes were going in for a crash landing,  how I was so nervous about the intense blue outer border I washed it and washed and washed to get the color to calm down, and then had to take the planes off to wash THEM because they were the same fabric.....I essentially made this quilt twice. 

Because it had so much open space I knew I had to have it machine quilted because I just couldn't do what I wanted by hand and do it justice.  The woman who quilted this did a masterful job.  It's what you machine quilters call custom quilted.  She made the light blue sky look like clouds with movement, the grass and water are Baptist fans and the outer borders linear.  It is stunning up close.

So, by my reckoning I am going to continue trying to make some progress on a few other UFOs before I meet with Friend Barb to discuss and plan Elizabeth's graduation quilt.  I told you she wants a Baltimore Album and again, the help I need I think is more mathematical. I am personalizing the individual squares for hers with motifs that mean something to her. 

And that brings me to the rest of the challenge numbers.  I think there are only three left, there are three things not crossed off and three months till October so three it is.  BUT this Baltimore album will more than likely take up the space.  Depending on how many squares I end up going for this one will take up all of my time....till next June!  As I said, I look at my list now and one of them is a stranger.

Wish me luck on the BA.  I know once I get my ducks in a row it will be fine.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mid month accountability

 Mid-month accountability for Chookshed Challenge number ten. 

This is the early history 'map' of Lowell - I'm making it up as I go along.  It won't be too crowded because well, there weren't a lot of people here then.  I will trim it, especially the sides after I've declared it finished.  I'm getting close.  There needs to be some bears, foxes, etc. represented.
I broke my fast and went to a fabric store because I needed something that could be interpreted as a white pine tree, it's Michigan's state tree and I needed to show it somewhere.  Couldn't find anything but then I happened on this fabric that had ferns scattered throughout and I thought, well, from the street they can look like white pines.  
The cornstalks have beads for the ears of corn - I'm still working on them as they recede to the back. Probably I will forgo the beans.  The Three Sisters will be twins instead of three.

But I have been working on the daffodil blocks by sewing on the front porch with the cranker machine, appliqueing a message on a pillowcase for college bound Charlie, also.  Picking my battles.

AND I informed the next one to graduate that she needed to give me a year to do a graduation quilt for her.  It can take me years to start to finish a quilt so saying I need a year is speeding things up in my life. Well.  In the back of my mind I knew what she was going to choose.  That's how well I know this kid.  And I was right.  She chose a Baltimore Album quilt!!!!  Oh, my. Instant panic mode and emergency outreach to Friend Barb who has no quilting fears and works fast and made a stunning red and white Baltimore Album.  I've looked online for examples and they run from super fussy to more sparsely decorated.  I am going to go with continuing to look for a couple of weeks, gather motifs that interest me and meet the requests of granddaughter and during that time get these current projects underway. this one will be completely hand appliqued.

This is going to blast the Chookshed Challenge right out of the water.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Days are Long, But the Years are Short

 This is a year of big changes, big growth leaps for the grands in our family.  Everyone is moving on, moving up, just plain growing up and nothing brings that into focus like graduations.  Just the word itself means change. 

When you are holding your newborn in your arms for the first time you aren't thinking of this day. But there is a something grandparents say to new parents, "don't blink." 

Because when you aren't paying attention, when you are living those long, tiring days, this day is suddenly upon you and you are bursting with pride and wiping the tears from your eyes at the same time.  
Charlie is our first grandchild.  That doesn't make the other four less significant but he put us on the map as grandparents and his firsts are all of ours.  
Our Ceci had her last dance recital last week.  She has opted to do the pom squad as she enters high school this fall.  She loved dance but the schedules aren't compatible and as she moves on to high school she wants to be a part of all that entails. No one can blame her for that!  As one leaves high school, the next one enters. And we know how fast this time will go.
And then there's this guy.  He's now done with elementary school and entering middle school. I fear middle school like I fear spiders but this guy and that smile, well...

This is all just this past weekend and just our son's family.  The locals here are having milestones for themselves, but that's later.  

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Better Than Christmas

Today is the day. I wait all year for first picking and it's truly better than Christmas.

                                        We picked 8.5 pounds of strawberries in 15 minutes

 Came home, took two cooked crusts out of the freezer and made these two fresh pies, one for us, one for daughter's family down the street. 

We pick often and not lots at a time because I do not make jam, I make these pies.