Friday, July 29, 2005

Template Changes

Just as I rearrange my furniture, I am rearranging my blog. Please bear with me as sometimes I move the furniture several times and then move it back to where it started.

The blogroll will be completed once the template changes are satisfactory. My old template would not publish the Titles so I had to add bold titles. Both show up on this template. Again I will make fixes after I find a "skin" I like.

Update: Now this post has no title.
Update 2: I tried several looks but couldn't get my favorite to work with blogger archives. More changes to come.


Yoop, you're right. We were "fudgies" in the UP. We camped on the shore of Lake Superior in Whitefish Bay, infamous for the number of shipwrecks, including the Edmund Fitzgerald. We had incredible weather for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - highs were in the 90s and lows were in the 50s. Usually the lake is much too cold to swim in, but it was bearable in the heat of the day. Of course, that didn't stop the twins from swimming until sundown.

I brought back quite a few stones for my garden, and have started planning (you know, that dream stage of planning) a new water feature - rocky stream and falls down the hill into the existing pond, with paths, low bridges and a bog garden.

Free speech for whom?

Free Speech as per ACLU - I can't say I'm surpised.

Aging Gracefully

I have been blessed to have personal role models for aging gracefully, but there are so few examples in the media. Here's an exception.

UPDATE: Nina talks about frumpiness in this post, physical but also intellectual and emotional, and here's an interesting site documenting "what it's really like to get older."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Next Vacation Clue

A few minutes after I snapped this shot of Ricky, a storm rolled in. And rolled is the operative word here. The low cylindrical cloud was spinning at an incredible speed across the lake, with a few tendrils dripping beneath it. You can't tell from the picture but it was very close to the lake and the other clouds were very high. When the spinning cloud reached us on the beach, the wind immediately reached 50 to 60 mph. Then it rolled over us and was gone.

This was a July storm; I wonder what it would be like "When the skies of November turn gloomy"?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You could see the sunset right through the waves. Can you tell that I'm an earth girl, not sea girl, nor sky girl, as mesmerized as I am by the sun and water? Posted by Picasa

And I didn't photoshop the colors - this is what I saw. Posted by Picasa

Another cropped shot Posted by Picasa

Close-up Posted by Picasa

Clue Four: The sunsets last forever

I took quite a few pictures of the sunset through the waves. These are some of my favorite

Clue Three

Actually, not much more of a clue except the trees in the background. Ron asked for his own tent. When we got there, he promptly erected it and started the fire. He wasn't too comfortable sleeping, though, as he neglected to rid his tent site of pine cones before he set up the tent.

Vacation Clue Two

Here's another clue to where we were last week. This is Ricky after a long swim. Follow the path up the dune behind him and you will find our campsite. Hint: The sun is setting on his left, so he is facing which direction?

Did you know you could click the picture for a larger view?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Where Have I Been?

Quiz: Where have I been?
Using the clues from this picture, can you determine where we vacationed last week?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Up in a Swing

Through a link from Ocean, I found a poetry site and the poem of the day is one that my siblings and all of our children and grandchildren recite as they swing. It still evokes the thrill of swinging in the huge swing that Dad built us when I was child. I suspect Mom was appalled by the eyesore, but she never let us know since we took so much pleasure from the swing.

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Basil Deee-lish

Every time I walked past the basil in my garden (I used it as an ornamental plant), the scent was so deee-lish-us that I decided to harvest some today for supper. I made a pesto sauce and added it to pasta, broccoli and carrots. Mmmm, it was deee-lish-us.

So when Ricky sat down to the table, he wrinkled his nose and said, "I'm not eating any of that." It seems that teens decide on a whim what they like and don't like, whether it is food, clothes, activities. So rather than confront him with our old mantra, "You have to try it before you decide you don't like it," we took the tack of enthusiastic endorsement of his decision not to eat. Then we proceeded to eat our portions with much delight. Soon he had a helping on his plate, gushing about how good it was, and remarking on how nicely the table was set.
When I almost ran down Michigan's governor on vacation, I thought I heard her mutter something, but couldn't make it out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I have been using Hello by Picasa to post pictures. It has been quick and easy and dependable, but didn't give me enough flexibility in titling and layout. So I tried Blogger's photo tool in the Boreal Forest post below. It was easy and appeared to be flexible but took a LONG time to download the pictures. I messed with the text so that the paragraphs aligned with the pictures just so and then published. What happened? Photos moved next to each other and text wrapped funny. I wonder if it appears different on different browsers and settings. So do I stay with Picasa or use Blogger or search for another photo tool or just forget photos?


Driving Update
Driver's training is done. One son is doing well and the other needs more practice. Here's a clue to which son is which.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Boreal Forest

The boys went on a trip with their youth group last Thursday through Saturday so Steve and I took that opportunity to have our first vacation alone in over ten years. We headed north, north to the woods, north to the rivers. Specifically, we went to the Pine River in northern Michigan, about a six hour drive.

Thursday afternoon we set up camp (the Taj Mahal) next to the river in Manistee National Forest and purchased a permit to canoe the Pine River for the following day.

Then we headed even further north. First stop was at the Cherry Hut in Beulah for some world famous cherry pie. We would have avoided it as a tourist trap except we read about it in the Sunday magazine. As we were walking to our table, I had a close encounter with Michigan's Governor Granholm as she was leaving; yes, I ran right into her. I'm just glad it happened on the first day of the trip instead of the last day, as primitive camping means primitive bathing.

And then on to our destination - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

"From here you can see several of the National Lakeshore's key features including the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Manitou Islands. The names of these features have their origin in American Indian legend. Ojibway Indians tell of a mother bear with two cubs on Lake Michigan’s far shore. Forced into the lake by a forest fire, they tried to swim across but the cubs tired and drowned just short of this shore. The saddened mother climbed a high bluff, turned, and lay down to watch for her cubs. Manitou, the Great Spirit, took pity and reclaimed the cubs, transforming them into the Manitou Islands. He saved the mother as the Sleeping Bear Dune, still watching her cubs."

The little signs mark the restricted nesting area for the endangered piping plovers. They nest on this little spit of land plus one place on Lake Superior. The last time we were here with the boys, a researcher was watching the nests with a telescope and she let us look at the nests and birds. Since then we have followed the fate of these shore birds with interest.

Steve was making interesting patterns in the wet sand as the sun set. Our pockets were full of rocks. I started it and when my pockets were so full I had use both hands to hold my shorts up, Steve asked me what I was going to do with them. I explained my idea for a water feature in the garden using the rocks we have collected on vacations through the years. He then started collecting the most interesting rocks.

Friday morning we got up early and staged the canoes for a four hour paddle down the Pine River. I can't describe the beauty of this river as it cuts through the pine forest, sand dunes and flower-filled meadows. The current is fast with some white water to make it challenging. Well, it challenged me enough that I ended up in it. I made a mistake and scared us both, but emerged unscathed. We came across four biologists studying the fish population since the removal of the dam and creation of a quarter mile riparian buffer zone. The result is a very scenic and fast river, and improved fish population.

Saturday morning we broke camp and drove an hour north to canoe the Platte River, a fast and gentle river that dumps into Lake Michigan. It was crowded but there still were stretches of solitude.

The end of the Platte River and the beginning of a great lake. The end of our brief vacation and the beginning of the drive home.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Semi-annual ER Trip
Last night I was determined to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but at 8:30 Ricky came in the house from playing catch with his brother. Ricky was bent double, moaning and holding his nose. Yup, that bloody nose was already swelling and turning blue. His brother throws a mean fast ball. Luckily, Ricky slowed it a little with his glove before he stopped the ball with his nose. Off to the ER. It's not a good thing when you recognize the ER doctor. She thought for sure it was broken but the x-ray did not confirm it. We came home with a diagnosis of Nose Contusion. It looks better tonight, so he and his brother will be leaving in the morning for a three day trip with the youth group to Kings Island. I may let you know what hubby and I do while they are gone.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fourth on the River

Fourth on the River
We took the paddlewheel boat downriver to Leo-Cedarville to watch their fireworks last night. There was a thunderstorm watch and the sky looked ominous as we launched with drinks, snacks and raingear. As we plopped downstream (plop goes the paddles), other boats joined us, including two Amish boys on a jet ski (!) and an overloaded pontoon of Amish. It never did rain, but the front brought in welcome cooler temperatures. We anchored at the edge of a river bend with a direct view of the fireworks launch and waited two hours for the fireworks to start. There were wild pink roses blooming on the shore, frogs croaking and herons flying overhead. To pass the time, we played Independence Day 20 questions. Since there was a theme, it started out pretty easy, but dh Steve stumped us with aluminum dust which is used in fireworks. I then stumped them with "Red, White and Blue" because they did not expect colors.

I wasn't too successful with my digital camera, but a few interesting shots are posted below. The reflection of the fireworks in the water was a double treat, but I couldn't capture it too well with the camera. The other cool thing about watching fireworks in the river is the sound of the booms traveling up the river valley. It sounded like jet fighters as the sound traveled in the distance.

After the smoke from the grand finale dissipated, we let the other boats leave and then slowly paddled upstream, with all hands looking for logs -- floaters, deadheads. Several boats had powerful spotlights for this purpose, but we have better luck getting our night vision and doing it with only the dim light of the night.

Some type of alien creature was spotted over the Saint Joseph River last night. Posted by Picasa

I tried using the night feature of my digital camera for the first time last night. How did I get this dimensional shot?  Posted by Picasa

Bluer than blue Posted by Picasa

What type of flower is this?  Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005

These were the first pictures I saw of my sons, in April of 1995. They were five years old and Ricky had already lost his baby teeth.  Posted by Picasa

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten Years Ago Today
This is part of the story I told my sons for years about this day, ten years ago.

Early Saturday morning, Daddy and I loaded into the Explorer; remember the blue Explorer? We had a two hour drive ahead of us, all the way down to Indy. As we drove, I kept asking Daddy, "What will my first words be to my sons?" You see, most mothers coo over newborns and welcome them into the world. I had to figure out what to say to five year olds. Were you as scared as I was? Sometimes my stomach would hurt and I teased your Daddy that I was having morning sickness and contractions all in the same morning.

The day before was my 25th anniversary at the place I worked then. Daddy took the day off and joined me for the celebration and we went home at noon. Shortly afterwards, Sue called us. Remember Sue? She was your favorite social worker and a wonderful woman. She asked if we wanted to meet Ricky and Ronnie the next day. What? We had not been interviewed by her; we had not heard anything about you for over a month; we only had sketchy background. We knew you were five year old fraternal twins ready to be adopted, but there were many families interested in adopting you. No wonder! We talked to Sue, we talked to your foster parents, and we said YES! YES! YES!

We got there early because we so wanted to meet you. We had to drive around for a while before we went to your foster home. We pulled in, knocked on the door and Helen answered. She is another special woman in your life. How lucky you were to be in her home since you were infants. We walked in and I saw you, but I was still chit-chatting with Helen. I was nervous, I suppose. Both of you were playing with toys in front of the TV across their large family room.

I knelt down and you, Ricky, came running at me full speed ahead. You almost bowled me over! I grabbed you in my arms, stood up, and swung around as you gave me one of your famous hugs. My first words to you? As we hugged, I whispered in your ear, "I love big hugs."

While I was hugging you, precious Ricky, your Daddy was getting to know Ronnie. We switched boys and he came over to you while I walked over to Ronnie.

Ronnie, you were much more reserved. I now know that this is your personality. You observe, you think, and then you act. So I sat on the couch and you sat on the footstool looking at me. Then you smiled. My first words to you? I leaned forward and gently touched your dimples, "You have dimples just like Steve." This pleased you a lot and you broke into your beautiful grin.

We brought you a gift. A book for each of you, inscribed with your name, the date and "Love, Mommy and Daddy." It was a book of Bible stories and you learned every story and, Ricky, it was the book that you learned to read first. You absorbed those stories and amazed your Sunday School teachers with your knowledge.

We went to a nearby park and played. Daddy and Ricky played catch while Mommy played catch Ronnie as you dashed from swing, to slide, to fort. You were everywhere. And you were so happy playing. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temperature mild. It was a golden day in every way.

Then we went to find some food in the small town outside of Indy where you lived. Ronnie, you directed us right to a pizza place. Later I learned that you had never been there! That was our first experience, Ricky, of trying to encourage you to eat. You were more than a picky eater; you just wouldn't eat anything. Your foster mother had told us about it and we learned she wasn't exaggerating. On the way out, we let you play a basketball video game. You randomly hit the controls and squealed with joy.

We took you back to your foster home and arranged to have you spend Monday night with us in your forever home. It was hard saying goodbye but I knew I would hold you again in a few days. And that's another story.