Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He also collected bottle caps

I shared my husband's belt buckle collection from the 1970s.  He also collected bottle caps in the 1970s and early 80s.  The bottle cap collecting was a Big Deal.  He wrote to beverage manufacturers to ask for samples, and went on search missions in parks and picnic areas.  He and his sisters formed a bottle cap collecting club. They even had a theme song.  It cracks me up to hear about this chapter in his life.  I love his stories about the club meetings.  He is the oldest sibling, and the only boy, so he took complete charge.  His youngest sister was not allowed to be an officer in the club.  (I think she might hold a grudge to this day.)  I love to picture my mother-in-law sitting quietly in the kitchen, listening to her children in the other room as they called the meeting to order and sang the theme song.

The collection is a bit grungy, but still interesting to look at.  Back in the day, my husband mounted the caps on giant sheets of styrofoam, which is old and icky now, and explains the poor lighting for these photos--I didn't want to carry the crumbly styrofoam to a better-lit part of the house, so I just photographed the collection in the basement.

I guess we'll hang on to these and let our children deal with them someday!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Up North

We went on our annual Up North vacation a few weeks ago to Sleeping Bear Dunes.

I always take way too many sunset photos.  As I'm taking them, I am thinking to myself You already have a million sunset photos just like these, but I can't help myself.  I want to capture the colors that change by the minute, and the sense of peace and awe I feel.  This series is all from one sunset, shown here in the order I took them, and you can see how the water and the clouds and the colors change minute by minute.

My son isn't very reverent during sunsets.  While I was enamored with the changing scenery, he was goofing around with our other camera.

We rented a stand-up paddle board for a few hours one day.  Sleeping Bear Bay was really calm, so it was a good  moment to try one out.  Here is my daughter way out in the bay with the dunes behind her.

I didn't have much luck when it was my turn.  The waves kicked up, and I couldn't steer the paddle board.  I was washed back to shore!  That was a little bit humiliating!

We had some company one day.  These two baby raccoons showed up on our walkway one morning.

They somehow found their way to our second-floor deck, where they tussled with each other for a good long while, then curled up and napped for the rest of the day.

One day we hiked to Pyramid Point.  The water was so blue!  While we were there a small plane flew south along the coastline.  It's always hard to show in photos just how high and steep the dunes are, but you can get some sense of our altitude when you see that the plane is lower than we are!

That orange speck is the plane.

We always see something fun at the Empire Beach.  We saw the amphibious car again, but this time at night, with the headlights on!

And we saw this fabulous sand sculpture at North Bar Lake:

A sleeping bear dune!

Our trip home was not very smooth.  Our check engine light went on during our last evening, so instead of spending our last day on one last hike or kayak trip, we had to go to a Honda dealership and sit there for 3 hours while they diagnosed and fixed our problem.  Then, on the drive home, with 150 miles still left to go, we blew out a tire!

We were on a two-lane highway, but managed to pull into the parking lot of an abandoned store.  When we got out of the car, we realized we had company:  clucking chickens in a pen, and a tethered, bleating goat with a very full udder!  We also realized we had parked in a pile of horse manure!  This was all stuff we could work around, though.  We got the spare tire out and jacked up the car, but our wrench was too short to give us enough torque to loosen the lug nuts, so we were helpless after all, and had to call for roadside assistance.  While we waited for the tow truck, a horse-drawn buggy carrying an Amish family went by, followed by a few Amish men on bicycles. One of the cyclists  hesitated, then looped back to see if he could help us.  When he realized our wrench was too short, he went to his shed and brought back a pipe that we could fit over the wrench to give it some length and the leverage we needed to loosen the lug nuts.  Changing the tire was quick work after that.  It was kind of ironic to have an Amish man help change an automobile tire, but we were grateful he took the time to lend a hand.  The drive home was slow-going after that (150 miles at a top speed of 50 mph!), but we made it without further mishap.

I leave you with this 10-second video of Lake Michigan on a beautiful July afternoon.  The sound quality is not ideal, but I love how the water sparkles in the sunlight.  I will watch this in the dead of winter and count the days until I can return again.

P.S.  More vacation photos in this Flickr set.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Belt Buckles

We are in the middle of a summer-long basement project, and we're uncovering all kinds of fun things down there as we sort through our belongings.  We're getting rid of a lot of stuff, but some things you just have to hang on to, like my husband's 1970s belt buckle collection.

From The Henry Ford Museum:
Anheuser Busch (I suspect his Missouri relatives gave him this one):
7 Up (an American soft drink, not sure if it's available elsewhere in the world):
University of Michigan:
And a Union Army belt buckle (a replica, I'm sure!):
I hate cleaning out the basement, but finds like these make for moments of fun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tote Bag Tuesday

I know today is Wednesday, but yesterday was Tote Bag Tuesday at my house.  My daughter has been asking me to make her a tote bag like this one, in fabrics she selected, and I finally got around to it yesterday.  This is the Forty-Minute tote from Purl Bee, but I timed myself, and it took me forty minutes just to cut out the fabric, and a full two hours to make the thing start to finish.  Why am I so slow?

Anyway, here is her bag:

Isn't it pretty?  Those shades of blue and green are her favorites.  I'm not sure how durable embroidered batik will be for a tote bag, but she is thrilled.

Then, since I had the sewing stuff out, I decided to sew another tote bag that I've been wanting to make for a friend.  This one is Alicia Paulson's Jane Market Bag.  It's fun to select fabrics for these bags.  I made a bunch of them a few years ago when the pattern first came out, which you can see in my needlework set on Flickr.  I like the brown and pink color combination in this one.

The Jane bag took me three hours to make start to finish.  I didn't remember the earlier ones taking quite so much time, but maybe they did.

Five hours on two tote bags yesterday made the day earn the title Tote Bag Tuesday.  It was 100 degrees here yesterday, so it was nice to have an excuse to sit inside and keep cool.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flashback Friday

 I am joining Lynn in her Flashback Friday series, just for this week. I don't have many old photos digitized, but my dad emailed me these two photos.  This is me, circa summer 1969, in the backyard of my childhood home.
These photos were probably taken right around the date of the first moon walk!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday (45!!!  Sake's alive!!!).  Weekend birthdays are awesome because we have all day to do something fun.  I chose to go to The Henry Ford to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit.

I thought the exhibit was well done.  They really made it personal, and seeing belongings of the passengers, things like purses and combs and necklaces, made me feel connected.  One hundred years ago, someone selected that particular brooch for her voyage. She carefully packed it into her suitcase.  It's a brooch like any other woman's brooch of that era, except it's not, because it was part of that disaster.

They didn't allow photography in the exhibit.  I was okay not photographing personal effects of the passengers.  Those items are private and need to be respected.  Items from the ship itself, though, just begged to be captured. I was captivated by a sink from a first class bathroom. It had an emblem on it that was still pristine, very fancy and stately, and the hot and cold water faucets were gorgeous.  I wish I could have photographed it to share here!

I was also fascinated by the silverware and the table settings.  I find everyday things from long ago so intriguing.  I can sit in a restaurant now and pay no attention to the spoons or the forks or the coffee cups, but when I see a table setting from years ago, I am all agog.  I can't really explain why I find it so engaging.  Maybe it's because such everyday items form a personal connection to the people of another era.   I love to look at old neighborhoods, old books, old toys, old dishes, old silverware, old jewelry.

When you enter the Titanic exhibit, you are handed a boarding pass with the information of a real passenger printed on the back.  I was traveling 2nd class with my husband and 8 month old child to begin a new life in Idaho.  

My daughter was given the boarding pass of a woman who was also traveling 2nd class.  My husband and son were both given passes of passengers traveling first class, which they lorded over us a bit.  My husband's passenger actually was a lord!  I figured that my passenger, as a woman in 2nd class with an infant, had a good chance of surviving, but I wasn't sure about the fate of my husband's and son's first class men.  At the end of the exhibit, you find out if your passenger survived or perished, and amazingly enough, all four of us had passengers who survived.  We definitely defied the odds.  

My paternal grandmother immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 1914, just two years after the Titanic sank.  She was 5 years old, and her family traveled 3rd class.  It is scary to think that if something happened to her ship, she and her family likely would have perished.  She spent the whole journey crying because she was so frightened.  When they disembarked (at Ellis Island), the immigration official thought she had a communicable disease because her face was so blotchy from the crying, and he almost denied the family entry.  

When we finished our tour of the exhibit, we went outside to walk around Greenfield Village for a bit.  I like being there during holidays, because they always make it look so festive.  Right now everything is decked out for Fourth of July.
In the evening when we were home again, my daughter surprised me with a cake she and her friend baked for me.  It says "Happy bday Mom."  They baked it at her friend's house, and kept it hidden there until the big reveal.  So not only did I get a nice surprise cake, but my kitchen stayed clean in the process!  Happy Birthday indeed!