To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Entertainment

Yes, on my bike again. Exploring more of the city and finding that people are loving the heat and the fabulous weather and are really taking advantage of being outdoors. Every night of the week I find things of interest and entertainment somewhere in the city. Look at what you can do when it's hot outside.

You can admire the beautiful birds. Seriously, are they gorgeous or what?

You can express your inner artist by chalking a masterpiece or you can express your inner child by blowing bubbles. These are out all the time and available for anyone use. Isn't that a brilliant idea?

You can perfect your form at hula hooping.

You and your sweetie can show off your best dance moves to an approving audience.

Or you can dance in the fountain because it's hot, and there's water, and there's music, and you're with your best friend...

You can even roll around in the fountain...because you can.

You can pack yourself a delicious snack, grab your lounge chair and search out the best spot to watch a free concert. Actually, you can find free outdoor music every night of the week in my city. I love that.

You can lose yourself in a good book.

You can catch up on the local news.

You can dance around the flowers with your babe.

And you can take your longtime love on a romantic outdoor date in the park surrounded by all your friends from the city.

With so much to do, it's no wonder I'm never bored. No, instead, I'm always wondering how I'm ever going to experience all the fun and joy my city has to offer. Summers really are made for living!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not just the bike.

I've been doing other things as well. Seriously, I've been crafting and journaling and gardening and petting the cat and arting and cleaning and purging and cooking and walking and knitting and felting and reading....and sewing. Yep, it's been a very productive summer.

I needed another storage bag so I made one out of the thrifted pillowcase. I didn't realize you could squeeze so many projects out of one pillowcase, and I still have another case.

Hot summer days require headbands, don't you think?. This one isn't my style, but I wanted to practice on material that I wouldn't mind if I ruined. After trying the pattern, I can tell you that there is no way to mess up the headband. It's too darned easy and the headband is done in about 30 minutes. Oooh, I think I'll make another out of pillowcase fabric too. That's more my style.

I put more of my Taiwan fabric to use. Funny how I made all those other pincushions, but gave them all away. Why do we do that? Why do we make cool things for everyone else, but not for ourselves? I'm worth it, I'm special, and I deserve a pincushion, dog gone it!

These burp cloths were fun! Made from prefolded cloth diapers and I stitched the dinosaur fabric right onto the middle. Oh, I know, you've probably all made them before, but I only saw them recently when a friend showed me some that she had made. And then I just happened to need a baby shower gift...

My lovely swift needed a lovely bag to protect it. Recognize the pillowcase fabric, again?

It's been so hot and humid that I've been reluctant to work cellar is nice and cool...woolens needed washing...knitting needed I spent a pleasant morning in the cellar working close to the washing machine. That's where some cleaning and purging took place.

I was in need of a bag for my winter walks to hold a second camera lens and extra batteries if need be. Love this bag. It's a mobius bag from Cat Bordhi and this one has an extra pocket knit in the side. Awesome!

These, my dear friends, are Christmas presents. They are now knitted, felted, blocked, dried, packaged and ready to be given to the recipients. They're coasters and I'm delighted to have these complete in July. I'm going to have a fabulous holiday season (she said with a big grin) because my gift giving is far ahead of schedule.

I heard someone say the summer was flying by. I would graciously like to disagree because I feel as if I've accomplished so much and there are still 5 more weeks left. Oh, what fun things shall I do next?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer in Michigan

I've had many conversations these past few years with friends who grew up here that go something like this, "do you remember when...?" Generally, those conversations entail reminiscing about the summers of our childhood and wondering if the weather really was hotter back then, or were we just remembering snippets and focusing on the heat because that's where the fun was. You know, swimming in the pond, slurping popsicles on the front porch, lying on sheets in the shade of trees to read, riding bikes, playing whiffle ball in the field while grasshoppers jumped out of our way. Ha! No, this summer finally truly offers us the weather of our memories. Hot, sweltering, melt you into the ground days. Goodness!

I've been sharing my bike riding explorations lately as that seems to be my preferred mode of transportation. This past weekend I got the brilliant idea to ride my bike to Rockford. I wanted a new pair of shoes from the Hush Puppies Outlet and thinking it would be a waste of gas to drive that far... Hmm, note to self, if it's too far to drive, it just might be too far to ride as well. Yep, round trip was about 30 miles and it's a darn good thing I didn't know that until later. Still, as I was riding in the quasi-coolness of the morning, I tried to imagine my youth and was consciously looking and listening for things that reminded me of my childhood. I found plenty. Join me for a journey back to the days of my youth.

Always, always fields full of Queen Anne's Lace and Tiger Lilys. The fields are generally hot, dry and dusty and not good for photos, which means I had to take many of these photos in the shade. You must also imagine the stillness of the air, the heat as it tries to stifle your breathing, the buzzing of cicadas in the distance (which always makes me smile), crickets chirruping and birds singing in the trees. Red-Winged Blackbirds, Cardinals and Robins are the birds of my memory. Here we go...

In Michigan you never have to look far to find a pond or stream to cool off in. I spent many sweltering afternoons splashing and exploring in the cool, knee deep waters of Buck Creek as a child.

Sweet peas growing wild, tendrils twisting and twirling around everything they touch.

The rusty red cones of Sumac. Some types are supposed to be poisonous, but I've picked the red clusters all my life and never had a problem.

No idea what these are, but they certainly mean summer to me.

Ponds surrounded by cattails and covered in duck weed.

Wild grape vine stretching, creeping until it covers the trees and bushes.

Options, that's what summer means. Do I want to go left or right? Do I want to go swimming, or play ball, or ride my bike, or read in the shade?

Black-Eyed Susans.

Oooh, the plague of poison ivy. Again, I've never had it, but I have seen it's victims in torment.

Pretty morning glories growing wild over the fences.

Not a clue, but when you find these blooming beauties, you know you're in the height of summer.

A new find. What in the world is this tree? Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen it before, but it has the subtlest sweet scent and the flowers are amazing. I must find out and plant one in my yard. Does anyone know?

Oh yeah, I would lie in the shade of this tree to read all day long. The scent permeates the air around it. Just lovely.

Here's to the summers of our youth. May we always have pleasant memories and reminders of how lazy and wonderful they were.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I rode my bike to Niagara., I didn't. I'm not crazy except for maybe just a little. It was muggy, melty hot over the weekend and I tend to get a little testy from high heat. We drove, but we brought the bikes, and cameras.

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge about 6 a.m. Saturday and proceeded East, but since we're not the sort of people to take the direct route, we veered and ended up driving along Lake Ontario while stopping frequently to enjoy the sites.

This was a 'stop the car, I have to have a picture of that' sort of moment. How could I not when the name isn't common at all? In fact, I made the name up only to find out that it was already in use. Still, I had to have a picture.

Hmm, somehow we ended up at a winery too, although I have no idea how that happened. Two hours, two bottles of wine and two bundles of local cheese later, onward...

Crossed over to Niagara, NY about 2:30, checked into our room and promptly hopped on the bikes to do some exploring, but found we weren't allowed to ride along the river in town because of all the crowds. Did I say crowds? I meant to say hordes of people. We apparently weren't the only ones to have thought the long weekend would be a good time to see The Falls. Eventually, we rode across the bridge onto Grand Island (?) where it wasn't quite as crowded.

Oh my gosh, the photo ops are amazing here in that everywhere you look there's another view so we kept hopping off our bikes. That's okay, we were in no hurry. In fact, we found a huge boulder in the woods along side the river and we climbed up to have a rest while enjoying the moment. B took a short nap and I played with the cameras and tried my hand at sketching. Yea, it's pretty darned hard to draw a river and waterfalls and have them look even remotely like they should. Mine did not. I had mentioned that I bet the locals took The Falls for granted, but seriously, by the end of our time there we were being very selective about what qualified as a good view and was worth taking a picture of. How wierd is that?

Okay, well this was definitely a good view. Taken from the Canadian side after we walked over Sunday morning. Standing on the bridge was wonderful with the view and the cool breeze, but once we cleared customs it felt like we walked into a blast furnace. We didn't stay long, but I did get to meet Number 5's cousin.

I wanted to get my picture taken with him, but he kept "Short Circuiting." ~grins~ I know, I know, I have to work on my humor.

It was ridiculously hot in town so we gave up on the touristy site seeing, went back to the hotel for a brief, but refreshing nap and then hopped on the bikes again to explore the bike path. This was the best idea as the path wound up and down through the woods and along the top of the gorge beside the river. Shady, fabulous breeze, stunning vistas and hardly any people. Oh my! That's why we brought bikes.

Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Where shall I ride to next?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Watch those turns!

Riding along, minding my own business, enjoying the cool air rushing past my cheeks when suddenly, my bike veers across the road and whips me into a parking lot whereby 'it' zips along, bears a hard left and then stops with such a lurch that I am nearly tossed headlong over the handle bars. Fortunately, as I've experienced this maniacal behavior frequently in recent weeks, I was prepared for just such shenanigans from my new found friend. Apparently, we've found something of interest...good thing I brought my camera.

Many of the walls are crumbling like this and I'm wondering how long it can stand.

Hey, I've seen these stars at antique shops being sold as candle holders. Now I know what they're really used for. Okay, I don't really know what it's purpose is, but at least I see it being used in it's true purpose.

Leitelt Iron Works made the door. I tried to look them up online to get an idea of how old this building is, but LIW has had a few name and location changes since they were founded in 1862. They're still operating so my search was no help, yet. I can't help that I like to know how old old-looking buildings are.

I thought this space would be a lovely place to park my bike, but even though it's completely open and empty, it sort of felt like I would be trespassing, so I didn't. Next time I'm near here I'm going to be absolutely rebellious and ride my bike right down the middle and out the end...just to say I did.

Old electrical things and what are those pipes coming out of the right-hand side?

Door for the coal chute?

The squiggles in the glass are a reflection from the wall across the drive. I love the old rippled glass.

I want this door. I need this door. I think it goes perfectly on the barn next to my cabin in the woods. You know, the cabin I don't have...yet.

That beam at the top of the door was used to support heavy loads as they were moved out of the factory to load onto wagons. B told me that. This just gives me a vision of chestnut-colored horses attached to the wagon, frosty breath blasting forth with each snort and their shoes pinging noisily on cobblestones that are long since buried as they stamp their feet against the cold morning mist trying to seep into their bones. Perhaps it is just my imagination, but I can see them...I can hear them.

What are you exploring lately?