Friday, April 20, 2018

Look Who's Squalking!

Harry the Heron is back!

Actually, he's been back for awhile. My first sighting was earlier this month. However, every time I had my camera with me, he was elsewhere. But a small detour on the way home from the dentist brought a sighting. I had the camera with me so I quickly parked and tried to follow him up and down the ditch. I almost missed him!

He was far from the footbridge and blended quite well with the environment.

I love a zoom!

He posed rather dutifully for awhile...

...and then he took off!

I never am ready when he starts to fly -- between digital delay and sometimes not having the camera on when he goes, I usually miss it. And he often goes the other direction! (Check out that wingspan!)

But today he was on sport-shoot and I followed him along! (Fuzzy pix -- it's hard to hit a moving target!)

I wasn't quite sure of his path, but hey, no complaints!

When Harry returns, it means spring really is here... matter how brisk it is!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

One of Those Weeks

A little bird told me it was time to come up with another post!

I've been juggling things around the house and decided to rearrange the living room furniture. (And what a mess when moving the couch from against the wall. Lizzie has a whole new menagerie of cat toys that were underneath that sofa!) I've also been reading (up to book 24 now!) and painting, too! I need to do a wrap up one of these days!

My good friends Linda and Larry Stone were in town last weekend. Lin used to be my theatre teacher in high school and after graduation we formed a wonderful friendship of peers. Larry just received an award from Michigan State so we're attended the awards with them. (By the way, take a look at this display the caterers did with those IKEA modules. They had different snacks on each but what I liked was the baskets on the end. This would be a great idea for a craft room or art studio.)

On Friday we went to visit MSU's theatre scene shop. When both Larry and I worked on shows, he in the '60s, I in the '70s, we were dealing with a very small, tight construction area, poorly ventilated and lit. There's a new shop now and we really enjoyed seeing what these students can work with. All kinds of equipment...

...and room to paint! Some of the scene painting class projects were in progress and that was extra fun for me to see.

When I was in school, it was anything but state of the art. Now, it is that and more! For me it was extra fun to see some of the scene painting projects students are still working on. Plus, they've really emphasized the safety elements. That's our chair, Kirk Domer with me and Larry. Two of the best guys I know!

The awards, of course, were fun. They were at my old TV station and it was fun to see my colleague Ken Merley's EMMY-winning set for the station's political show, "Off the Record." Larry and all the others gave great speeches.

It was a fun event but even more fun was breakfast with Lin and Larry, their son Bob and his family, Jennifer, Kate and Ben. I love these people!

The weekend included meeting up with another blogger -- but this time it was Rick's blog friend, although I have read and admire the writing of George the Cyclist very much. George has cycled all over the world and wild-camps most of the time, carrying everything on the back of his bike. He was a real inspiration for Rick's bike hikes! He's also a serious film goer (who cycles to Cannes every year, among other festivals) so there was movie talk, too. Rick made his wonderful buccatini pasta recipe and I offered up salad and dessert. Dessert was Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. (Cookie recipe on package made large; big scoop of French vanilla and rolled in nuts!) Super easy and really good! Rick, George, a couple other cycling friends and I saw enjoyed loads of good conversation!

The weekend brought enough rain to float an ark -- and ice too. I call weather like this "basement water watch." (No problems!) But there are signs of spring -- not many but you grab them when you can. Mini-daffodils in the yard...

...bigger ones from the market.

And frozen ones from our ice storm.

Yes, more snow and ice. To my friends in snowy and icy climes, I feel your pain.

So do the birds!

And I have to say, they've been packing away the food lately.

Although, maybe this guy is partly to blame. I heard if you mix cayenne pepper with your bird seed it will keep the squirrels from eating it and not affect the birds. Half of that premise is right -- the birds are fine. The squirrels seem to have genetically mutated to take cayenne with a grain of salt. Or pepper, as the case may be.

By the way, my blog buddy Tristan Robinson Blakeman (Enchanted Revelries) is retiring and closing out his art design business -- and while doing so selling off some fabulous mixed media supplies on his Ebay page HERE. This is a great opportunity to get a good deal on supplies -- many of which are unused and looking for a good home. I'm sorely tempted...!

I leave you with loads of thanks to those of you who went over to Modern Creative Life to check out the link I included in my last post titled Meeting My Old Self in the Photo Albums and leaving heartfelt comments there as well as on the Gypsy post. Many of us had different versions of a shared experience and the comments and some of your follow-up emails really touched me. I'm behind in replying to comments on Gypsy posts (if I have your email address) but they are so very much appreciated. And I replied at Modern Creative Life on the posts there. Thank you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Meeting My Old Self...the Ultimate Selfie

For whatever reason, I can't seem to get my blogging act together this week. But I have been writing over at Modern Creative Life and I invite you to link over there and read about "Meeting My Old Self in the Photo Album."

The theme of the Modern Creative Life issue in recent weeks has been "Selfie." And boy, it was pretty tough to look back at the past and how it made an impact on my present, especially when it came to battling weight, an overbite and an introverted personality in an extroverted profession. Let's just say, I let it all hang out.

Oftentimes writing about ourselves can bring up baggage that we thought we'd checked at the door, only to realize we are still carrying it around. Most of the things I write on this blog are pretty happy -- and that's because I'm a pretty happy person. And I also consider myself one of the luckiest people I know.

Four years ago when I was very ill, I told Rick that -- I was one of the luckiest people I knew -- and he thought that was very weird because for all purposes, there seemed to be little right with my life. I was horribly sick (but I had docs that were on my side and good meds); my job that I had loved for years had taken a drastic downward turn (but I had a job); my house was a mess (but I had a house -- and a cottage). Most of all, I had wonderful friends and Rick right there by my side. Luckiest girl in the world.

Another round of IVs in February 2013. Retirement followed seven months later!
So, instead of showing you the yummy-looking ice cream sandwiches I just made, the mini-daffs in my yard that are a real sign of spring or tell you about several of the really good books I just finished; instead of sharing something new I painted or something crafty I did, I'm going to share with you what may (or may not) be my greatest accomplishment.

Coming to terms with myself. C'mon over to Modern Creative Life and check it out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Life in My Hood

Just another old schizophrenic spring here in Michigan. One day it's sunny (not warm, but sunny). The next gray and gloomy. Then it snows. Then it melts. Then it snows some more. I look at old photos of the lake, flowers, summer, just to remind me it does exist. Then it snows again. Just enough to be annoying.

 The birds are hungry, socking down food in their feeders like they're expecting a lockdown of undetermined length. I had to move one of Lizzie's main feeders because Bushy the Squirrel (the big one) chows it down at an abnormal pace. (So does his little, smaller squirrel buddy with the cute white belly but he's a lot lighter!) So, Lizzie has had to switch to a slightly different viewing space, made all the more complicated by bringing the outdoor flowers inside!

But she's most attentive.

Last week I had a bit of a snit with the Board of Water and Light's tree trimming service, Wrights. Their motto should be "Wrights: It's All So Wrong." They're trimming (read that cutting down) trees all over the neighborhood that might go down on power lines in an ice storm. (Yes, we can get those in April, but you'd think they would have done it a little sooner). A few days ago they were taking down trees in my neighbor's yard. I happened to notice this when I noticed their workers in MY yard, throwing all the branches that fell from their trees.

Did they knock? Ask if they could be there? No.

Did they tell me when -- wait for it -- one of the big limbs that came down took down a four-and-a-half foot hydrangea bush I'd been nurturing for two years?

Nope. The neighbor's yard went from this (with the tall trees on the other side of the fence)... this.

Well, I can't help what they do to the neighbor. The trees were near the power lines and if they'd cut them down to clearance and left the tall trunks, that would be ugly too. But I did have issues with the hydrangea and called, really expecting to get not response. I sat back and waited!

I have to say I was pleased. The same day I called, the site supervisor and his boss came out, looked at the hydrangea and said they would replace and plant it. I asked them not to replace till they dealt with the trees coming out of my yard and I wanted to be present while they were working. We'll see. But I felt the response was more than appropriate.

I have been painting a bit -- trying to get a friend's dog just right.

Not there yet! But close. And hitting the theatre and one of my favorite small towns, Chelsea, last seen HERE. The occasion was seeing "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes and the Elusive Ear" at Purple Rose Theatre with a group from MSU Friends of Theatre. This professional theatre company was started by Chelsea resident and actor Jeff Daniels. They're known for doing wonderful productions and this one did not disappoint. A special highlight was a talk-back with director Guy Sanville and the excellent cast of this premiere comedy.

Our field trip included a the bus and lunch at the wonderful Common Grill, and MSU prof Dan Smith provided context for the play en route and a lively discussion on the bus ride home.

Now onward to a new adventures!

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Southern Exposure: Huge Sun Face!

When spring comes, my pals and I head to Southern Exposure for our creative workshops and to ease our wniter-weary spirits. At no time in the year is it more welcome to visit this Michigan herb farm, enjoy a lovely walk in the beautiful gardens and one of Chef Elsie's dinners than in the spring. It's so welcoming to see tulips and bleeding hearts, daffodils and forsythia blooming up our winter white world at long last.

The photo above was taken last year. Our first visit this year coincided with cold and snow (which arrived after we safely returned home) and nary a bloom, apart from those on the beautiful dinner table.

For those who are relatively new here, Southern Exposure is what I call a destination experience. A working farm, the owners host creative sessions which include dinner and then a project. It may be a wreath, a floral arrangement or a decorative project. Tonight's project was called Huge Sun Face! More on that in a minute.

Jan, Kate and I arrived and after checking in headed to the gift shop, which is always filled with fabulous "forever flowers" (I can't remember which of you named them that but I love that name!), beautiful pillows, vessels, urns and decorative elements.

I am SO making these herb markers -- and soon! It's not like I don't have a few wine corks hanging around!

Then onto the Milking Parlor, the original cow barn, for dinner. Milking Parlor, you have come a long way!

Here sixty of us enjoyed Chef Elsie's Peruvian dinner and fabulous dessert. It would tie in with our project, an Incan-inspired sun face.

As usual, the room is beautifully lit and decorated.

I loved the idea of the wreath-in-a-frame look. (I need bigger and more walls.)

And I also loved the forsythia-draped chandeliers.

Then it was on to the Craft Tent where our 50-pound sun faces were laid out on bales of hay. We had a container of clear coat poly, gloves and a brush and it was off to work.

Our teacher, Micah, explained the process. The Southern Exposure staff had prepped these for us, aging them with a mixture made by letting steel wool sit in vinegar for at least a week and applying that to the surface of our sun faces.

They all rusted or picked up color in different ways, so each was different in coloring.

We brushed the rust down a bit and applied the clear coat, which gave it some shine and would also protect it from the elements. In Michigan, you have to protect from the elements!

Voila! Done!

I'd lift this up to show you but -- well, I can't! It's wide and heavy, definitely a two person job. Fortunately, they loaded them into our cars for us and that's where mine is till I figure out where it's going and Rick can help me unload it!

I'm scheduled for two more workshops this spring -- Log Planter and one making tin kitchen planter we'll fill with herbs. And next time, I should be able to share some beautiful blooms for real!

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