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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tears were nearly spilled.

Oh, my goodness. My son is pretty particular about his daughter and how quickly, or not, she is allowed to grow up. Mind you, Miss M is only 5 but he's already told her in no uncertain terms that she will NOT be dating. And in his mind, he means it. Miss M may have different ideas and although she's pretty outspoken with daddy (and the rest of us), she's still his little girl and is eager to please him. He has not wanted her to get a haircut. He likes her hair long and insists that her hair is a part of her and does not need to be altered. Daddy has insisted and Miss M has willingly gone along with this. Haha...until this weekend when it was three ladies ganging up on daddy. I started it (bad grandma), momma chimed right in and then Miss M instantly climbed on the bandwagon. Daddy conceded the loss and suddenly, Miss M was getting a haircut. Oh my...
This is where she started. It's curly so hard to tell, but if you straighten those curls her hair comes nearly to her waist. That's a lot of hair to be taken care of and she can't do it herself.
Here we are negotiating the length. Daddy is about to get bamboozled by a very wise momma who knows her husband well. Momma's hand is on the left and she chose her length first. Daddy's hand is on the right making sure we don't take quite that much off. After the first cut, momma looked at daddy and said, "that's where I wanted it anyway." Daddy has clearly been bamboozled. Momma's also wise because she knows to take baby steps with daddy where Miss M is concerned and knew she should only take a little bit off. Well, except for that part where she said, "oops, cut it crooked," and had to trim it up a little more. She's smart, I tell you.
Here goes...
Daddy's clearly not liking this. He picked up this curl, which you can barely see in his hand, and said, "two minutes ago, this was a part of her and now it's not. Can we glue it back on?" I laughed and said it was just like cutting her fingernails, but then momma laughed. She said daddy never liked her to cut Miss M's fingernails when she was a baby either, for the same reason. Really? I did not know this about my son.
Oh my...all done. But wait, doesn't she look suddenly grown up? That's not what we wanted, not one little bit. She was only supposed to get her hair cut, not look so much older. Um, can we glue it back on?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home again...

B and I thought we needed a little mid-winter break; North seemed like a good idea.
Sunrise over Lake Huron. We stopped to sleep in Mackinaw City the previous evening as we follow an ancient unspoken rule about never being in a hurry when one is heading North. (Okay, I might have made that part up.) Since the beach was so close, we couldn't imagine missing a perfectly good sunrise even if it was frigid cold on the water. 0 degrees frigid. Brrr...
Soon, I was home. I don't really live in Grand Marais, but I would...if I could.
We dropped our belongings in our room, donned snowpants, boots and hats, and promptly headed for the beach. There was no sand and rocks today, no crashing waves, no sound of laughter as children played happily on the shore. No, there was only deep snow to be trudged through and ice to be scampered over if one wanted to see what there was to see. We were the only souls on the beach. Those dunes in the distance? In the summer we hike down the beach with snacks and beach towels to spend hours climbing the dunes, playing in the river and exploring the waterfalls. Today, it took all our effort to get over the ice without falling...too many times. I have a couple bruises because I simply had to explore.
Looks pretty desolate doesn't it? I assure you, it was anything but.
I'm grateful for my 70-300mm lens for close-up pictures of the lighthouse. It didn't take long to realize that if you slipped on the ice you would go over the edge and there was no way out of the water, so no, we didn't go out there. I'm not nearly as close at it seems.
The channel, full of ice. It was all so fascinating, the way the ice piled up on top of itself, the holes that were formed from the waves, the patterns from the wind and spray.
We did some exploring in the woods too...I love Birch trees, the different tones and how the bark curls around itself.
Amazing shadows as we were driving along in the woods.
I might have to print these for framing.
We did manage to find a windblown open area close to the pier. See what I mean about the patterns?
A small cairn was built in honor of my visit to the beach.
I don't read bones, but if I did, I think these sticks would say something profound.
Oh, alright, I admit...we did look for agates for just a little while. B found the only one and it was really nice. I'm not sure I should have showed him what to look for because he's prone to finding better ones than me now. Hmmm...
This little treasure now graces my souvenir bowl at home.

Three days, that's all we had and it was time to head south again. Drat! But there's always summer to look forward to. Yes, my beautiful home, I'll see you again in a few months. Until then, be kind and be well.
Sunset over Lake Michigan on the way home. Wow!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I was pretty proud of myself.

I was, truly. See, I've been playing around with paper folding and found a simple tutorial online for a folded heart in which I could write a message inside and then mail it to F.M.S. in Taiwan. I thought I was being very clever writing the note inside. I thought I was pretty good at what I made. Don't you think it was clever and good?
I thought so too, and I loved the stamped heart image on the outside. Really, I was feeling quite proud of myself and maybe a little bit smug. Mm hmm, until I got home last night and found a package waiting for me. Upon opening it, I found this...
Oh my... The package was from the lovely Megan who spent time in Taiwan working in the same school as F.M.S. and I stalkerishly followed her every move through her blog. She's a darling.

These pieces came from Mrs. Kuo who creates folded paper masterpieces out of recycled boxes. Now when I compare my heart with what Mrs. Kuo made, well, it's sort of like comparing a 2 year-olds writing with someone fluent in Spencerian Script. ~grins~ Now don't get me wrong. I love what I made for F.M.S., and I'm sure he'll will be happy with it (he'll at least humor me), but Mrs. Kuo's work shows me I have a lot of practicing to do before I can truly get to the smug part of paper folding. Not to worry, I don't feel the least bit bad about it. I laughed when I held the little teapot up next to my heart. And here I was thinking I was all that...ah, yes, it's good to laugh at oneself. Now where's that tutorial on how to fold paper like a rock star?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snowy Walk in the Woods

I spent the weekend with two Littles, two dogs and two cats whilst the parent's were away. Whew...I am soooo not used to that anymore. ~grins~ It's one thing to have them stay with me in my home because they're in my element, but staying with them, in their home? Oh my, it's a whole different game. By Saturday afternoon, I was ready to pull out my trusty, no-fail secret weapon. Ahhh, the woods. We (meaning me) were ready for some serious outdoor adventuring because there is nothing like a little trailblazing to take the edge off excess energy. Let's go!
This boy would spend his life in the woods if he were allowed. There is nothing he doesn't like about being outside, in the woods, preferably on an adventure.
For as girlie-girl as this one can be, she holds her own out here too. She's one tough Chick-a-bee and thinks this is a grand ole time. She's right, you know.
Trail blazing is a must when you find snow this deep. Oh, there are trails here, but it's always more fun to blaze your own path. Besides, the rabbit holes, fairy rings and animal tracks aren't on the trail. They're off to the sides so that's where we must go. We did have to talk about being aware of holes that one might tumble in to and where the trail ended and the edge of the lake began. From all the holes in the ice close to shore, it appears some people weren't aware this is a spring fed lake and therefore, thin ice. The littles took note and stayed back.
"I think we have to go this way, but I also think we're lost," said she. I pointed out that the trail we were following went along the edge of the lake and as long as we stayed close to the lake, we wouldn't get lost. The world seems so big when you're so small.
He always finds a hiking stick when we're in the woods. Smart boy. It comes in handy for getting through deep snow, climbing over fallen logs, giving a boost onto various benches and testing how deep holes are.
You really meet all kinds in the woods, seriously. A x-country skier actually suggested she should walk the whole trail (2 miles) in snow this know, so we didn't wreck the trail for skiers. We politely suggested that he should go find a designated ski trail and stay off the hiking know, if that was an issue. I was a bit incredulous over his request. I wouldn't have taken them hiking on a designated ski trail. Note to the littles, don't be like that guy in the woods.
I think the fresh air and the hike are working. He's looking calm, serene...
She's tired. We made it nearly to the end of the hike before she asked if we were almost there yet. Yes, darling, nearly there.

See, it's a trusty, no-fail secret every time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day

They said it was going to be historic. They said it was going to be epic. They said it was going to be snowmageddon. I woke yesterday morning, looked out my window to see pavement on my driveway and cried, "wolf!" Yep, then I went outside to shovel. Haha...I couldn't get into my garage to get the shovel without going over a drift that was thigh deep. And that was just the beginning. Oh, we got snow, finally! I happen to live in an area that gets threatened with bad weather all the time, but the storm front always splits and goes North and South of me. That's not cool for someone like me who looooves inclement weather. I love this snow. I think we're going snowshoeing tonight. Hope so.

I couldn't get out the front door. There was too much snow in the way and this stuff was heavy to shovel, but it sure is beautiful outside.

Oh yes, it was definitely a snow day. Practically the whole city was shut down, which was fine with me because look what I got to do...

It's a sewing machine cover with fabric from Sew Mama Sew. They always have such lovely goodness there and I can usually find what I want on sale, you know, being the thrifty person that I am. The cover wasn't all that difficult to make following these directions, but it was my first time with free motion quilting. Yeah, I was scared, I made a few mistakes, my technique was rough, I broke a needle and I had to oil the machine before I was finished, but I did it. And it fits, and it looks great if you don't look too closely to see where I started quilting again after oiling the machine, but without adjusting my settings. Oops. The thread is a little bit loose in one area. I should also mention that I ran out of thread and had to switch to a different color - because it was a snow day, after all, and I was pretty sure my fabric store wasn't open for me to bop in and grab another spool.

Here's a sewing hint for you if you are working with two pieces of fabric, one of which is a straight piece (Piece 1) that needs to go around a corner or a curve to attach to the second piece (Piece 2), like the picture above. Always start with Piece 2 on the bottom so that as you are sewing, the edge of Piece 2 is your guide and you can ease Piece 1 into the curves and move any excess fabric out of the way and behind the needle. It's much easier this way as you can see what it is you are moving rather than trying to see underneath Piece 2 to make sure you don't have bunches of fabric going all wonky from Piece 1. If it's a corner, stop at the corner with your needle still in the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn your fabric (Piece 2) 90 degrees and move all the excess fabric from Piece 1 to the back. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing. Does that still sound complicated? I suspect that if you follow along as you are sewing, it will make more sense.

Look who stopped in for a visit a couple days ago...
It's a Cooper's Hawk in the tree next to my garage. I often see these hunting in the neighborhood and as much as I would like to stop them from killing, I know it's nature's way and I let it go. The time that really bothered me was when both hunter and prey slammed into the side of my house during the chase and tumbled down onto the driveway about 15 feet away from me. The prey was stunned and the hunter took full advantage of it. I think he looked at me and dared me to stop him. I didn't even try.