Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This past weekend I was in Grand Rapids with family. We were enjoying a wonderful dinner together after spending the day taking in the art downtown. Eva received a call from Nay Nay, the young Burmese refugee that she mentors and guides through this new world here in our country. Nay Nay was just finishing her shift as a housekeeper in one of the downtown hotels. She was waiting for the bus that was suppose to arrive a little after 7:00 to take her home to her daughter and her apartment. The bus hadn't come and she was worried. We finished our dinner and kept in contact with her via cell phone. About 8:00 the bus still hadn't arrived so Eva and I went down and picked her up to take her home. Some of you have met this young girl and know her story. I was touched by her new path in the work world and how challenging her daily life can be. I would like to share a bit of it with you today, just my little reminder of how my LITTLE struggles with life are really tiny.

She wakes up early enough to get her daughter off to daycare by 7:00. She doesn't drive so the provider picks up Dorthy. Then she leaves for work via the local bus. It takes her about an hour to arrive at work. She works all day, cleaning rooms. She cleaned 19 rooms last Friday. Then she gets on the bus, usually about 7 or so at night for the hour long ride home and goes home to her daughter and fixes dinner. The next day she gets up and does this all over again. All this she does for $7.50/hour.

I am truly humbled by this little soul that is finding her way in this world with her daughter. I am impressed with Eva's commitment to this young ladies life. Eva's work with the refugees in the Grand Rapids area is humbling too. She has touched the lives of so many people. I have taken a year of my retirement to learn a new way for me. I think it is time for me to find a new way to reach out to others. I will keep you posted. I hope that maybe this posting has inspired someone else to reach out. Eva reminded me that there are people all around us in our lives that we could help if we opened ourselves up to them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Busy weekend and LOTS of pictures

Bud and I went down to Grand Rapids Thursday evening. We were planning to attend a wedding on Saturday and took an extra day to spend it with Eva and Jessica attending the Grand Rapids Art Prize downtown. It was a rainy morning on Friday but Eva and I set out for downtown. This is one of the outside displays.
This display and all the sculptures are made from bent nails. It was very cool, with lots of details when you looked at it.

Some of the displays were inside. This piece was in the BOB, a building downtown. It is made from different
Jessica took the afternoon off and joined us. The weather improved and we continued to explore. This is a sculpture that was outside. It was made from leftover metal.

Bud went to visit a friend in the morning and joined us for lunch too. Look in the background and you can see a profile sculpture. I can't remember what it was made from but we decided this would make a funny picture.

This was one of the inside displays, a paper mache' (sorry I can't spell that word) It looked so realistic and beautiful. I felt it captured the grace of the animals well.

Here we had a 'sound exhibit' which Eva and Jessica relaxed and listened to.

This piece had a message. In the background you see two children carrying water. All around the pool were plastic bottles that are used to carry water. The bottles had messages about clean and safe water for the world. Art with a message can be very powerful.

Here we have a penny sculpture made out of different pennies that have aged into different tones of copper.

This statue is made completely from toothpicks that were shaped into this mermaid.

This carving was down by the river. I looked at it from above and thought of Sara. I think this would be one that she would find fascinating.

We looked at this piece on Sunday when we went back down for lunch. This is made completely from Rubix cubes.
That is it for the Art Prize experience. If you are interested in seeing more of the pieces, you should google it and check out the details of the pieces. I am glad that we were able to go and enjoy it with Eva and Jessica. I think it is a great thing for Grand Rapids and would recommend it to anyone.

Well, Bud wasn't into the art as much as us girls so he joined us for lunch and did some chores for Eva. Here he is working on cutting down a fence that Eva is thinking of using as a headboard in the upstairs guest room. It was kind of dirty and a bit unstable. He put a stabilizing piece on the bottom and cut it off. It was ready for Eva to 'do her magic' when she is ready. I am always amazed at her ability to take 'found objects' and turn them into something that looks great in her house.

He also installed a new vent for the downstairs bathroom and inserted a 'privacy' covering for that window so that when you are taking a shower, people can't see in. The window goes out toward the back yard but you are a little exposed if someone decided to look in the window.

There was a little excitement on Friday morning. I mentioned that it was a little rainy and windy that morning. Well, a BIG tree in the woods behind the neighbor's house split in the wind and fell down. This one large branch fell in their backyard.

Another branch fell toward Eva's house but got caught up in the trees. It is now 'hung up' there waiting to fall or for someone to come and cut it up.

The branch is resting right in the corner of the yard.

You can see it right up in the trees. Eva found out who owns the property behind the house and a neighbor is looking into how to get this taken care of soon.

The third branch fell into the woods. It will leave a little hole in the trees but I am sure that it will fill in soon.

Sunday we went downtown again for lunch. Doug was able to join us. He had a rugby game in Ohio on Friday. We celebrated his upcoming 40th birthday with lunch.

Funny birthday cards are part of our family fun.

The Victoria Secret bag should have been a clue to the gift enclosed.

Doug and his 'ruffled' birthday gift. It was fun.

Lots of fun and birthday treats closed out our weekend in Grand Rapids.
Saturday afternoon and evening we did attend a wedding south of Grand Rapids. That was a beautiful and fun event too.

I guess I slipped this picture in here because we did visit this exhibit on Sunday after lunch.
It was a great weekend. So many pictures but I did have trouble picking the best. I encourage you to go to the Art Prize website and find some more information about he wonderful and creative artists if any of these pieces were of interest to you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ruffle fun for the birthday boy

I decided to be creative for Doug's birthday. He laughed at me when I was talking about my birthday present from Bud which was an attachment for my sewing machine that makes ruffles. I warned him that he may receive some gifts soon with some ruffles on them. Well, I was true to my promise today by making him some nice ruffled boxers.
I thought this look would be quite 'formal' but seductive. The nice gray stripes/plaid are really quite conservative. I thought the touch of ruffled red ribbon (alliteration for those of you that are into that kind of thing) would add that 'seductive' look. He could wear this for an evening around the house and not feel like he was too sloppy, just a little suggestive. Anyway, I had a great time with this little treat. If any of you guys (I'm not sure that any guys read this blog) want me to provide some of these for you, just let me know. Or if any of you gals want a pair for your mate so they look a little more dressed up as they lie around on the sofa, just let me know.
I am not planning to post a picture of Doug in these boxers but maybe I will post a picture of him receiving them this weekend.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Activities

Yes, the trees are starting to turn and we are getting our bay view back, bit by bit. If you look through the trees, you can see a little bit of the bay. I took this picture yesterday but today it equally nice. I received a call from Glen on Friday and he said that there was snow in the air in N. Dakota. I told him he could keep the snow. He was in Washburn, watching Cody play football. At least he wasn't out plowing which was what he said that Eva feared when he called her. It is way too early for snow here. However, Bud is doing 'boat chores'. Yesterday he took the sails off and put some things away. Today he and Walt are back over on the boat doing some things to get it ready for winter storage. Another short season is over. We never seem to spend enough time on the boat but that is our fault. We just need to try to get out more, that is usually the promise we make at the end of every season. I am thankful for the times we did get out. We often go out with the Nobles so that is a great way to spend some time together while everyone is home for the summer.
Fall also reminds me that it is time to start making soups. Last week I made vegetable and beef soup. We ate it several times during the week. I ate it more often than Bud because he was gone a couple of evenings. Today I made my famous squash soup. Last year Jessica gave me a wonderful blender that I can put right in the soup pot so it is MUCH easier and less messy to make this wonderful soup. We will have squash soup for dinner. I will freeze it too. I made this soup with the squash I got from my last instalment from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group that I was a part of this past year. I really enjoyed receiving the wonderful fresh vegetables every week. They are not doing it again next year so I think I will just use the local farmers market next year and see how that works. We have a market downtown every Wednesday and Friday. All of the produce must be local so it is very good and convenient.

I also spent part of today working on my latest baby quilt. All the fabrics in this quilt are different dotted fabrics. The background is pink because the baby it is for is a girl. I will make a pink teddy bear too. The quilt is turning out cute and definitely a good quilt for a baby girl.

We also did some cleaning today. Cleaning is my LEAST favorite chore but it needs to be done now and then. Bud ran the vacuum and I did the rest. I still need to dust but will save that until tomorrow. I am retired and I really shouldn't do too many of my chores in one day. If I do too much in one day, I don't have anything saved up for the next day.
I hope your day was filled with some beautiful sunshine this fall season, some delicious treats from the harvest season, some fun activities that you enjoyed and YES, maybe even a few chores that you didn't enjoy but felt the need to do anyway.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Megan's birthday

Today is Megan's birthday. Yesterday we met her for coffee across from Bud's office. She is busy today with classes. Megan is finishing up her Associates Degree from NMC and is planning to go on to Grandvalley soon. This is a new look for us but we all admitted that it has been too long since we saw her and it really isn't that new of a look. I think she looks great.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I know that this may seem like a strange topic and an even stranger picture but my feet have been on my mind lately. Many of you know that I have 'difficult' feet. I have tried many things to relieve the pain that I feel when walking around every day. Mostly, I have learned to live with it and try not to let it consume my life. Now that I have retired and am not on my feet on cement floors, I am not as uncomfortable but it does keep me from any exercise program ( that and my laziness). I used to walk about 2 miles a day almost every day, just to keep in shape and now I only walk to get from one place to another. I have tried many remedies which include seeing 3 different podiatrists to be fitted with 3 different orthotics for my shoes, acupuncture, surgery for a nerve problem in one foot, MANY different shoes with various amounts of arch support and finally going down to Ann Arbor to see a neurologist and being refereed to a doctor that injects my feet and calves about 4 times a year with botox to relieve the cramping and involuntary movements. The botox does take away the involuntary movements but not the uncomfortable feet. SO, a friend of mine who is a runner suggested I try one more alternative method of healing. This man specializes in "helping people who are frustrated by the inability to find relief for muscular pain and malfunctions as well as nerve entrapment's which may cause those difficulties." He has a couple of articles on a blog if you are interested in reading further. www.zemper.blogspot.com is his blog address. Anyway, I have received 6 sessions with him and am becoming a bit optimistic at this point. This treatment isn't for the weak because it involves deep tissue massage that is very painful. Everything he preaches goes the opposite of the podiatrists recommendations but my feet are feeling better. I do think that I suffer from what you would call plantar fascia but the podiatrists recommend 'immobilizing the arches and he is working on stretching and giving me more mobility plus getting rid of scar tissue that may be causing the problems. It is interesting because the orthotics that I put in my shoes (they were pretty expensive) always seem to hurt my arches but they told me that they were suppose to work. They never were comfortable though which is why I kept going to someone new all the time, looking for a different answer. This new therapist recommends wearing more flexible shoes as apposed to rigid shoes so I am taking this ones step at a time (pun intended). Like I said, if you are interested in further research about this topic, check out the blog articles. I will let you know if this problem goes away totally. He is more optimistic than I am but I have been at this for many years. I am giving him as much time as I think is necessary to try and solve this problem before I resort to amputation.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dry spell

I have hit a dry spell on blogging. Maybe it is the nature of the time of year or maybe it is the strangeness of the world around us lately but I just don't have too many words to say.

Time of year:
School started and fall is upon us. I am SO glad that I am not going back to school but it was such a huge part of my life for 35 years. It causes me to reflect. Children enter the classroom with new clothes that are really too warm for the outside temperatures but they want to wear their new outfits the first day anyway. Bright shining faces, full of energy, greeting the new school year.

Fall weather has descended upon Michigan. The temps are in the high 50's at night and into the low 70's in the daytime. We have beautiful sunshine, followed by a brief rainstorm and then blue skies all in a 10 minute time span. I have already noticed a few trees just starting to turn. It is a beautiful time of year but time to put away the sandals and tank tops. The long sleeved shirts come out of the drawer and we find our long jeans again. Those shorts go in the laundry and get ready to be packed away.

Fall vegetables are in abundance. I am savoring those ripe red tomatoes that taste so delicious this time of year. I could eat sliced tomatoes every day for every meal except breakfast and you know what?? I have been doing just that. We had corn on the cob twice this week too. Fall harvest time is a wonderful treat for the eyes and stomach.

Strangeness of the world:
The 24 hour news cycle is wearing me out. I sometimes think I need to turn off the news for a while. I listen to NPR most of the time but even that news outlet is spending too much time and giving too much attention to people that really don't have anything to say. For a country founded on religious freedoms, we seem to fall short far too often.

Everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame. I think that the inflammatory statements of many people, from all sides of the political debate, make so many people look like fools. When individuals assume that they can speak for all Americans they make an ASS out of themselves but also try to paint their view as the view of all Americans. I do not hold their views as mine and wish they would keep quiet for a while.

Sara did a much better job of expressing herself on the topic of our strange world. Please follow the link to her blog and read it.

WELL, that is it for today. I hope that some beauty shines in your life today and through this weekend. September is a wondrous month, full of beauty, crisp nights, falling leaves, ripe red tomatoes and the bounty of the harvest. Enjoy the beauty of the earth. Enjoy the beauty of your friends and family. Bask in the glory of those who inspire young students every year and wish them a wondrous new school year, both those excited little faces and the teachers that inspire learning every day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Erik is home

We received a surprise call on Sunday night, letting us know that Erik was in Grand Rapids for the weekend. We decided to drive down on Monday and spend the day with them. Meijer Gardens was our first stop. It was raining but we took coats and umbrellas so that we could enjoy the gardens. I hadn't ever visited the gardens but there was a special exhibit in the gardens that Eva wanted us to see. It was a very worthwhile visit even if it was raining. There were art pieces displayed through out the gardens. The artist, Chihuly, did a spectacular job with the glass pieces in the flowers.
The flowers were beautiful too. This is a kind of orchid (I think)
Eva was enjoying the flowers and the company.

This is one of the featured pieces. It is all made of glass. In the background you can see a boat with glass sculptures coming out of it right on the water.

The sculpture garden is great too. Doug posed to add to the beauty of this sculpture.

Here is Erik in the rain and the waterfalls behind him. The bright balls are glass.

Brother and sister enjoyed the time together.

After the gardens we went back to Eva's house and enjoyed a late lunch. Burgers on the grill and sweet potato fries were on the menu. Jessica cooked the great burgers and we just relaxed together, enjoying each other's company.

Good food and GREAT company for the day.

After eating Jessica and Erik relaxed on the floor to let their great meal settle.
It was a wonderful day with family. We sat around and talked and relaxed. People napped on and off while we caught up on Erik's happenings, listened to stories of the 'Adventures of Erik in Cambodia' and just enjoyed the company of family. It was a great day. I am glad that we were able to drive down and spend time with them.
Rain or shine
Sunshine or shadow
Gardens or sailing
Family is always the best
We were blessed with a wonderful weekend.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sailing with the Nobles

This afternoon we took Red Sky out again. That boat has been busy the last couple of weeks. Sue, Charlotte and of course Ringo enjoying the afternoon.

It was a little cool out but we had fun anyway. Brittany was home for the weekend. She is doing well her first few weeks of medical school.

Charlotte decided to try and keep Ringo warm by putting him under her sweatshirt but I think that Ringo was keeping Charlotte warm instead.
Bud drove on the way out toward the island and then handed the helm over to Walt for the drive back. It was quite windy on the way back and we had to tack back and forth across the bay.
Dinner was pizza and good conversation. Jack was able to join us for dinner. He didn't get to go sailing because he was doing his summer homework, reading the first 150 pages of his Biology book. School starts on Tuesday and that assignment along with 2 books and book reports kept Jack at home.
We finished the day with birthday presents for Sue. Her birthday is tomorrow.
It was a GREAT day with family.