Michigan

No Regrets

I said I wasn't going to, but I did.

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Last Friday afternoon, I drove over to check out the Michigan Fiber Festival.

My strategy lately . . .  is to go on Friday afternoon.  The vendors are set up and ready, but the Fiber Festival isn't officially open.  (The workshops and competitive events are going on, though.)  It's perfect for me . . . no crowds, first pick of the yarn, nice time to chat with unhurried vendors, parking is a breeze, and you don't have to pay the entrance fee.  (The downside?  I miss the excitement of being with so many other knitters.  Plus ... the animals are just coming in and getting settled, so seeing them is not an option.)

I haven't been terribly inspired about my knitting lately, so I almost didn't go.  And god knows I don't need any yarn. . . 

But.

I bought yarn.  

I found some really lovely yarn that I am inspired to knit with.  So Win-Win!  (Just need to finish that beaded shawl for Erin first.)  

What I like best about going to the Fiber Festival is finding yarn-dyers and spinners that I'd never hear about otherwise.  This year, I found a spinner/dyer from Cincinnati who works with very unconventional fiber bases and creates absolutely beautiful color combinations.  (I nearly had a serious "falling down" in that booth.  I wanted every skein I touched -- and that doesn't happen much to me anymore.)  And another from Ohio that puts interesting and unexpected "bits" in her yarn (also some very unexpected color combinations).  I found a small Traverse City (Michigan) company that locally-sources every aspect of their yarn production:  local alpaca and sheep, local dyes, local everything.  Their colors are to die for -- and all inspired by Northern Michigan landmarks and Traverse City hot spots.  (Bought some of that, too.)  (I love their "farm-to-needles" approach.)

No pictures.  Sorry.  You'll just have to wait until I knit with it.

And knit with it I will!

I wasn't planning to go to the Fiber Festival this year . . . but I'm awfully glad I did.

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In eclipse news . . . we're busy putting together our old-school viewing boxes this morning.  And my dad scored a pair of official eclipse glasses.  Sadly, we probably won't be using any of our devices.  We're expecting heavy cloud-cover here . . . just around eclipse time.  Oh, well.  We can watch it live on the Internet here at the NASA live-coverage site.


Dogs on Vacation

Although our dogs come up north to our cottage with us all the time, they usually have to stay at home with a dog-sitter when we go on vacations to other places.  It was a Grand Adventure, then, for all of us, when we brought the dogs along to Beaver Island for our vacation.

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Beaver Island is completely dog-friendly - beginning with the island ferry, where the dogs got their own tickets!

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Both dogs did just great on the 2-hour ferry ride out to the island (which is in the middle of northern Lake Michigan).  They were well-behaved and pretty relaxed.  (It was tougher on our way home because the water was really rough that day, and they were somewhat uncomfortable about that.  But still good dogs!)

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On the island, we stayed in a cottage right on the lakeshore for the week.  It was pretty much dog-heaven -- with the water and the woods and the turkeys and the snakes.  So very much to check out!

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One day, the lake was super calm -- barely even a ripple on the surface.  A perfect day for swimming!  

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We had hoped for a dog-swimming-day and planned accordingly, packing water toys -- including one of Jenny's favorite blue floatation cushions.  The dogs LOVED swimming in the "big lake!"

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The shoreline of the island is mostly rocky, so it's challenging to "walk the beach" -- but there are a few bays with sandy beaches.  They are very dog-friendly (unlike most of the Lake Michigan beaches nearer to home, where dogs are not allowed - even on leash) and the dogs were welcome.  We were able to let them off-leash where they could walk along with us, free to explore and roam a little.

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They LOVED it!

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And we did our part to keep the beaches walk-able for everyone. . . 

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It truly was a Grand Adventure for all of us -- J-pups included.

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And, as an update, Jenny is feeling much better.  (She got into the trash at our cabin on the last night of our vacation. . . )  We're still waiting for her to pass whatever "interesting thing" she ate -- but she's eating again, and acting like her usual cantankerous self!


Vacation (Home Again)

We had a wonderful vacation.
(And now we're back home.)

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So relaxing.
(And then we came home to a full schedule of appointments and events and meetings.)

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We did a good job of unplugging.
(But now we're making up for it -- catching up on paperwork and email.)

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We had no distractions.
(But now we're dealing with our sick, garbage-eating dog.*)

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We just listened to the waves and enjoyed the ever-changing shore.
(Now I'm coming to grips with the weeds-gone-wild after 11 days away.)

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We sat around and just kicked back every day.  And ate ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.
(And now we're hitting the gym.)

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We're back home.  And happy to be here.
(But missing the relaxed pace.)

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(And the beach. . . )

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* Jenny eats ANYTHING.  And she ate . . . "something-interesting-but-not-identifiable" while we were on vacation (according to the x-rays the vet took on Tuesday) . . . which will now work it's way through her digestive tract.  (Lucky.Us.)  

 

 

 


A Whirlwind

Last Wednesday, Erin arrived to spend a few days in Michigan.  It was great to see her --- but, WOW!  What a whirlwind!  (Because we had QUITE An Agenda for this visit.)

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We spent some time at the beach (specifically . . . Oval Beach . . . one of the most beautiful stretches of Lake Michigan shoreline in southern Michigan).  We were there, officially, to scope out wedding photography locations.  But the day was beautiful - warm and sunny - so we took some time to play.  (The water was icy -- far too cold to wade in, but the sand was nice and warm.)

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We accomplished MUCH in the way of wedding planning, meeting at the venue to decide details, menu, photography, and flowers.  (Here's where the ceremony will take place.)

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And Erin said "yes to the dress." (But not one of these "lace monstrosities."  Erin has never "done lace," and nothing about that changed when it came time for her to choose a dress.)

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Both Erin and I needed to fortify ourselves frequently -- as the "wedding industry" is pretty disgusting -- and SO over the top.  (Just sayin.)

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We also did a lot of non-wedding shopping so Erin will have a good working-wardrobe for her summer internship at . . . 

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(She'll be doing technical writing and software documentation for LinkedIn in California beginning next week.)

There was still plenty of time for relaxing and eating and drinking; watching hockey with Tom; spending time with Poppy.  It was a great couple of days -- very productive and kind of exhausting, but fun.

Before we knew it . . . 

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she was gone.  (With a big suitcase that arrived Empty and departed Full Of Stuff.)

Definitely a whirlwind -- but the kind of whirlwind I welcome any time.

 

 


On Inspiration

Last week, I went on a gallery hop/field trip to the lakeshore "twin cities" of Douglas and Saugatuck -- Michigan's Art Coast (about an hour from Kalamazoo).

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You know . . . it was one of those things that sounded GREAT when I signed up to go.  But then I got busy.  And last week was pretty jammed.  And I was kind of regretting committing to spending a whole day away in the middle of an already busy week.  (Does this ever happen to anyone else?  Or is it just me that does this kind of thing?)

Anyway.

I got up and dragged myself over to the meeting point for the trip.  And . . .

It ended up being a really awesome day.  Once the bus pulled away (and they put a mimosa in my hand . . . ), I just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed a day near the Lake Michigan shore -- with good company, excellent food, and really cool art.

And it turned out to be a bit of Just What I Needed.

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You see, lately I seem to be a bit . . . uninspired.  About what to draw, what to paint, what to knit, what to plant.  Pretty much everything that requires my creativity.  Usually, I'm bursting with ideas and things I want to try.  Lately, I've been . . . well.  More undecided.  Particular.  Definitely on "pause."  It's not that I'm ambivalent or uninterested.  I definitely want to continue making and creating.  I'm just not quite sure . . . what.

Although it's actually been kind of frustrating for me, I've come to think that it's maybe just a phase in my own personal creative development.  And, eventually, I'll find my way again.  (And maybe an even better way!)  But.  For now, let's just go with frustrating.

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So on this trip, I was able to wander through several galleries and, in a very relaxed way, just let other people's creativity wash over me.

Shapes.  Colors.  Patterns.

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Genres far outside the ones I practice.

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Observing how others . . . find harmony and balance.

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Or play with shadow and light.

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Or tap into a sense of  joy and whimsy and fun.

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It was a good day for me.  A day to kind of . . . fill up my tank again.  

(So glad I got on the bus.)

#the100dayproject

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


On the Trail

Last week, I met my friend Cheri to walk the Kal-Haven Trail.  We were looking forward to catching up with each other -- but we were also in search of trillium.  We'd heard they were already in bloom (a couple of weeks early this year) -- and we didn't want to miss them.  

Our timing was perfect!

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The hillsides along the trail were covered with trillium.

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It was sort of magical.

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There were lots of other early-spring wildflowers in bloom along the trail -- and redbuds floating above.

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It also turned out to be a great day for spotting Michigan morel mushrooms!

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I'm always leery of picking morels when I think I see them -- because I'm never certain . . . Is it a morel?  Or will I die if I eat it?  So I tend to just leave them be.  My friend, Cheri, though?  She's an experienced morel-hunter!  Now . . . I know what I'm looking for.

And we found a bunch  - right there on the trail.  Enough for tasty hors d'oeuvres before dinner.

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Catching up with a friend.  Awesome wildflowers.  And morels.

All in all . . .  a great day on the trail!

 


Running to the Beach

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Michigan.  Chilly . . . but sunny -- and the warmest it's been in a few weeks.

A great day . . . to run to the beach!

Seriously.

Saturday was the Kal-Haven Trail Run -- a 33.5 mile run on the Kal-Haven Trail, a rail-trail from Kalamazoo to South Haven (a Lake Michigan shore town).  Tom was part of a 6-person relay run along the trail.  (He ran the 3rd - and longest - leg of the run -- 8.08 miles.)

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I didn't run -- but I did serve as Cheerleader and Driver.  It's great fun -- especially when the weather is decent.  Because the trail used to be a railway, there are LOTS of places where the trail crosses the road -- so you can drive along, stopping every so often to cheer and encourage your teammates as they run by.

It took just under 4 1/2 hours for Tom's team to complete the course, ending in South Haven - where we all celebrated with Mexican food and beer.

 And then, a walk along the pier out to the South Haven lighthouse.

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The weather was perfect.  A bit windy and cold out at the lake, but really quite pleasant.

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A trip to the beach is always a good idea.  Even when you have to run all the way there!

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How was YOUR weekend?

 


Fall Interlude I

For obvious reasons, I didn't get up north to our cottage much this summer.  (Like . . . only twice.  And that was early in the season.)  Luckily, fall is a great time to head north -- when the days are still pretty summer-y, but fall is in the air.

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In the fall here in Michigan, we often have foggy mornings . . . 

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but the fog usually burns of as soon as the sun rises, revealing those sparkling blue skies from my earlier photos.

It's been great to have this week up here.  I've had plenty of time for reading and thinking and writing and knitting.  The dogs love it, too!  We've had time for swims in the lake and walks in the woods.  And campfires.  Everyone loves campfires.

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Just so you don't think it's all fun and games up here in the fall . . . we're also up here to bring in the boat and the docks for the season (because you don't want to be stuck doing that once the water starts getting really cold!) (ask us how we know. . . ).  And Tom has started a major project:  replacing most of the 102 steps leading down to the lake.  (Yeah.  He isn't creating a "yard-Jenga" game here.)

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We'll be heading home tomorrow -- but we'll be back soon.  I'm going to treat myself to several more fall interludes this year.  (And Tom, y'know. . . those stairs!)

 


A Catchy Town (I Mean . . . Tune)

When I was a kid, I used to "collect" Towns With Catchy Names.  Names that are fun to say -- and just kind of roll off your tongue.  Chattanooga.  Tallahassee.  Timbuktu.  Walla Walla, Washington.  Tuscaloosa.  Minnehaha.  Kalamazoo.

The kind of name . . . you know . . . that might end up in song lyrics.

(Never imagined that I'd end up living in one of them!  But.  Here I am.)

Kalamazoo

Anyway.  This week, Carole asks us for for Ten Songs About Where We Live.  Lucky for me . . . Kalamazoo - one of those catchy-name towns - has been plugging into song lyrics forever!

My favorite?

1 - Gotta Get Away by The Black Keys.

  

2 - Another favorite is Kalamazoo by the Ben Folds Five.  (They performed this during their appearance at the Gilmore Piano Festival a couple of years ago.  As you might imagine, it was a big hit with the home crowd.)

 

3 - This one is quite popular with the home crowd, too.  Kalamazoo by Primus.  (They've performed this one live in Kalamazoo, a couple of times apparently.  I wasn't there - but you can imagine it was a bit hit.)

 

4 - Marylou by Bob Seger.  (Not one of his most popular -- but . . . Kalamazoo.)

 

5 - Down on the Corner by Creedence Clearwater Revival.  (Twangin' out a rhythm on his Kalamazoo.  You bet!)

 

6 - While not about Kalamazoo, this song just embodies the whole Up North/Lake Thing in Michigan.  So, yeah.  It's about about where I live!  All Summer Long by Kid Rock.

 

7.  And, of course.  Especially in Michigan by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  (The link is a "tease."  If you want to hear the whole song, click here.)  (And Carole?  This link should include images that look a bit familiar to you now. . . as it was filmed in Ludington!)

 

8.  Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave.  (Because The Lakes RULE . . . here in Michigan.)

 

9.  Greetings from Michigan . . . an entire album by Sufjan Stevens . . . honoring Michigan.  (This tune, Romulus - a Detroit suburb - has nothing to do with Kalamazoo.  But Michigan.  And nice.)

 

10.  And, of course, no Kalamazoo list could be complete without this one. . .  (yeah, I know) . . . I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.  (Trust me.  I know.  I live here.  I've heard this WAY too many times . . . )

  

How about YOU?  What are the best songs about where you live?

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