Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Week 38:

Friday, as part of our Victory Acres CSI share, I  picked strawflowers.  Hopefully these will dry nicely as I was told.

Saturday was Kristie's birthday, and Sam, ever thoughtful, planned a getaway for them. The three younger boys arrived in the afternoon and stayed overnight.
We went for a walk down the road. I let big brother Elijah go on his own to walk around Taylor campus, while the little guys, each with their own bag, kept busy picking up trash, and I just tried to keep up with them. They don't walk. They only run or hop!

Sunday we celebrated two birthdays. Diane preferred the regular/normal birthday song.

And Kristie, the crazy Koch-family rendition.

Photos by Karen Koch
Monday, when I walked out the front door there were still sweet reminders of the day before on the driveway.

Tuesday, Skye and his friend started working for Grandpa, cutting up some of the many fallen trees in our woods. He seems to really enjoy wielding the chain saw. A couple times, though, he needed Grandpa's expert mechanical skills to fix some problems.

Michael has had so much on his mind to do with the upcoming PhyXTGears move to a new and bigger shop, so I am very grateful for the boys help.

I've watched a couple posted videos of the progress being made at MadJax, the team's new home, and every time I'm amazed at all the work that Mike has done to design and plan the entire layout. No wonder he wakes up at unearthly hours to keep working on all the decisions, diagrams, purchasing lists, etc. etc. And he has had many meetings with electricians and others in charge of this project.

He still goes to the Red Barn on Wednesdays. The Pottery room has been well attended. Thankfully a couple of Taylor students are helping regularly now.

There is comfort and satisfaction in structure and routine. My neighbor and I enjoy an hour together every Friday, always so much to talk about. This week we also explored a new shop very close to the cafe where we meet.

Saturday was full of surprises. Two grandsons had sports events at the Muncie Sportsplex that started at the same time. We watched Malachi run cross country and then took in the last half of the soccer game (Elijah #31).

After that we decided to stop by the James Dean festival in a nearby town for food and fun.
We reminisced about the times we were vendors there and concluded that this year it was far more crowded and there were many more old cars.

Canyon coral '57 Chevy like the one Mike learned to drive in.
Those memories and the '50s music must be what prompted us to ride the Giant Wheel!

Then we saw this scary poster!

Needless to say, a very fun day!

Then we heard from friends who visited Serenity at Art Prize and posted photos!

And I posted all our Walk n Wander photos--21 bronzes by Seward Johnson!
Take the virtual tour and let me know which one is your favorite. I may send you a little surprise!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 Week 36/37: Catching up

Parts of two weeks combined--I pick up where I left off in Week 36 to begin writing detailed posts about our vacation, and continue through Week 37.

Finding flowers, even a few, makes me happy.

 And so does coloring flowers.

We enjoy the local festivals too, and connecting with people.
At the Matthews Covered Bridge Festival, we visited with Donna for quite a while, admiring her array of jewelry and more. Check out Heavy Metal by Donna and notice the great variety of art and what each piece is made from.
In our rebuilt home we have two of her prized pieces on our walls.

I really liked the cross wall hanging in this picture, made by her husband. I thought it would go well on the wall above our dining room window, but Michael does not think it fits our overall decor. Hmmm... any opinions?

We also came across some young people we hadn't seen in a while and almost did not recognize. Can you pick out the boy that ran a 5K with me some four years ago?

Grown kids; Malachi and friends some years ago; 2012 Labor Day 5K 

Friday, by the covered bridge, we could not locate our cermicist friend Patricia. However, Saturday, Mike saw her stand on main street, so in the evening we checked out the downtown half of the festival. She comes up from Kentucky every year, mostly because her sons live in the area. We've also corresponded some.

Sunday, 9/11, was SIL Diane's birthday so we took her out to breakfast on our way up to Grand Rapids, MI.

IHOP's birthday special--a small sundae and the birthday song.

The purpose of our trip was to deliver Mike's entry to its venue in Art Prize 2016.

Serenity installed at the B.O.B.
If you have the opportunity to visit Art Prize, it is a worthwhile experience, and you can vote for your favorites in two rounds (9/21-10/01 and 10/2-6). 171 venues, 1453 entries--imagine that!!!

This day was also the only opportunity to take in Seward Johnson's 20 bronzes on display in Warsaw. (More about  Walk n Wander in another post.)

A preview of the Walk n Wander experience

Monday I went back to teaching, a lot of review and catching up after two weeks--the problem of teaching only one day a week and having a holiday fall on a Monday.

It was also Rebecca's first day at pre-school, just one day a week for now, so she can make little friends. (Thanks, Kayla for letting me borrow this adorable pic!)

Tuesday I finished processing photos and writing about our vacation: Days 4 & 5.

Wednesday I had a different writing experience--a poetry Night at The Bridge Cafe.
Two friends from the foursome that used to walk together last year, got together to promote Georgia Goy's Photography. She loves to enjoy nature and focus on a theme. This time it was to capture shadow figures against a nature-backdrop.
The participants were supposed to write a poem based on the photo of their choice. This was mine.

I miss you

Wherever I go
Your fleeting image appears
In unexpected places
At odd moments
I glimpse fragments
Lacey contours
See-through shapes
Though unmistakably you
Forget you, never, I fear
Love you, always, dear
As shadows come and go
Memories sweeter flow.

Comments and corrections are welcome.

Thursday our overnight guests arrived, friends we've known for almost 50 years, and I took them to Ivanhoes where another long-time mutual friend joined us. Mike, as usual, had to be with the robotics team that afternoon/evening.

Bob Craton, Brenda & Dave Babcock

Friday, while the Babcocks were out visiting other friends in the area, I ran errands and met with a neighbor.

Throughout the week Kayla stopped by our house three times and I wasn't home. Rebecca kept asking, "Where's abuela?" So I just had to stop by and see Rebecca. She gave me such a warm welcome and showed me her room and all her toys and books. That little girl is on the go constantly. I don't know how Kayla captured this scene which could not have lasted longer than a few seconds.
I love it! (Thank you, Kayla!) Eventually Rebecca and I will be able to read an entire book together.

More Meemaw moments await this weekend. Will report next week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vacation 2016 Days 4 & 5

We tried the Baymont Inn pool and hot tub after breakfast. Great start to the day.
Then we set out for our next potential overnight destination--Mirror Lake State Park.
Unable to reserve a camp site, we showed up to check availability--one spot left!
Again, fairly close to vault toilets, and not too far from showers. We didn't set up the extra canopy, not expecting rain.
We toured the campgrounds on the tandem and came across many group cookouts and beautiful sights.

Campsite #28; assembling the tandem; preparing Sunday lunch--ham, potatoes, artichoke salad

Michael surprised me (and probably himself too!) when he decided to splurge on a dinner cruise!
At 4:45 we boarded the Winnebago for two and half hours of great music, scenic beauty, a stroll on the walkway to Witches Gulch, a gorgeous sunset, and a fabulous meal.

Back at the campsite we played Kings in the Corner with me practicing the recently revealed subtle secrets to the game. He still won.

There was one more area attraction Mike wanted to visit before heading back home, to relive childhood memories--Devil's Lake with its huge boulders. There are numerous bouldering guides, looks like a rock climber's paradise.

We thought it would also be good for bicyclists. There were several marked bike paths on the map.

So we set out on the tandem, and soon discovered these were meant for mountain bikes and certainly not suitable for tandems!

We came as far as this point and turned around.

Another problem we encountered in the park was the number of people out and about on the paved paths--Labor Day-weekend crowds enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.
Surprisingly we heard several different languages and accents. As we walked around, we'd try to figure out where people were from.

Next best plan: take the driving tour of Devil's Lake State Park, take in the varied terrain and learn the history of the area.
At stop #8 we learned about the Civilian Conservation Corps that operated a work camp for some 200 young men during the Great Depression, completing a variety of projects for the U.S. government.

Then it was time to start the long drive home. I read out loud for hours and we finished our book just as we were arriving in Upland.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Vacation 2016 Day 3

We rose early to finish packing, take down the tent and make it to Ludington port by 7:30 AM. There we boarded the car ferry SS Badger, which was designated this year by the U.S. Department of Interior as National Historic Landmark.

Ship Facts:

  • 410' largest car ferry to sail the Great Lakes'
  • can carry 620 passengers and 180 vehicles
  • travels at roughly 18 mph 
  • makes the crossing in 4 hours
  • 40 staterooms, outside deck and varied indoor entertainment
  • named after the mascot of the U of Wisconsin
  • maiden voyage, March 21, 1953, carrying paper from WI to MI
  • the last large coal-burning steamship in the nation
  • Initially transported railroad cars
  • Now a leisure boat that takes people and their vehicles



Goodbye Ludington

We had a good breakfast in the aft restaurant and then stood on deck in the beautiful sunshine and watched the departure, taking in details of the landscape, the calm lake, and the churning waters of the wake. (How many times had we done that on the M/V Doulos?)

When we wandered indoors through the corridors. I noticed the children's playroom.
(And remembered the poop deck on the Doulos where baby Sam spent many hours.)

At the gift shop we purchased a deck of cards and spent the morning playing Kings in the Corner. Mike discovered a subtle strategy to win every time and I spent the rest of the day trying to guess what it was.

Landing in Manitowoc
As the welcome sign suggested, we proceeded to visit the nearby Maritime Museum, which included a tour of the submarine SS Cobia, now a memorial.

 I couldn't stand back far enough to get a picture of the whole sub. However, from there I looked across and saw the SS Badger.

The tour guide who took the group through the very tight quarters of the submarine, talked very fast. I felt sorry for the Mexican Americans who were trying to interpret for their visiting relatives.

Here are a couple of facts I remember: Life on a submarine = 90% boredom + 10 % terror. Hard to imagine life for 80 human beings living and breathing in those very cramped quarters for long periods of time, some sleeping in bunks directly over the torpedoes.
Another statistic: submarines were only 5 % of  the fleet and yet responsible for 55% of the victories.
A couple of expressions I learned: Go to the head; freckle maker. Can you guess what they mean?

Explaining one of the numerous control panels
 My favorite cubicle was the one that reminded me of my tiny study/office on the Doulos--a converted bathroom--smaller than this.

This day ended with a wonderful meal at a Chancery Restaurant and a night at a Baymont Inn in Mequon, WI.
Oh, and more Kings in the Corner! (I still haven't figured out Michael's secret.)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Vacation 2016 Day 2

On this day, Friday, we did a fair bit of driving, headed North to places we'd been before.

We saw a sign for another lighthouse and decided to check it out. Turns out Point Betsie Lighthouse, (Frankfort, MI) is the most photographed of all. Here, my two-cents worth.

We did not walk far or stay long, and I was not about to climb up another tower!

The door on the right leads to the former Keeper's quarters, now available for rent $2000/wk.
No, thank you, our luxurious tent-bedroom will do.

 Next stop, probably the most popular destination in Glen Arbor--Cherry Republic.

Next we drove the nearby Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, headed for Sleeping Bear Dunes, stopping at most lookout spots to take in the awesome beauty.

Sleeping Bear Dune is very long and steep--a fun downhill run and arduous uphill climb. Beware!

It was impossible to capture the length of the descent in one shot. 

See the ant-size people  s.l.o.w.l.y making their way back up?  I zoomed way in and got this: a few brave and younger folk playing, resting at the bottom, and one beginning the upward crawl.
Needless to say, we did not attempt it, although Mike may have a video of me pretending to climb the last few yards.

Thus ended our scenic drive.

Did you realize that this is a very special year?  The 2016 National Park Service Centennial was August 25, but the Find Your Park celebration goes on all year. Fortunately Mike found his membership card still in his wallet from years ago, and we got in free.

We arrived back at our campsite in time for a quick supper, some packing, and a wonderful stargazing lecture.

Buenas noches.