Monday, July 28, 2008

More pretty pictures

One of the things we did on vacation, was take a glass bottom boat shipwreck tour around part of Lake Superior - it was really cool. We saw a couple of wrecked schooners from the 1800s and a barge wreck from the late 1700s. In the wreckage of one of the ships we could see the captain's toilet and bathtub. Unfortunately, those pictures didn't turn out, but I do have some lovely pictures of the Grand Island Lake Superior shoreline.

These are sandstone caves along the shore.

This is the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island which is in the process of being restored. Over the years it fell out of use and people from the mainland used to use the ball on the top for target practice. Near the lighthouse is a pair of nesting bald eagles and we saw the babies take flight.

The following day we went to Kitch-iti-kipi. Translated it means the Mirror of Heaven. It's the biggest spring in Michigan and yep...the water really is that amazing shade of blue-green. The water was so clear we could see the huge trout swimming around 45 feet down. I could have stayed there all day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaack

I was without internet for an entire week and lived to tell the tale.

I was also without cell phone service for the majority of the time, too. We had to drive 20 miles to use the phone, but it was actually nice to disconnect and just get away.

Last Saturday, hubby, the boys and I drove 7 hours from our house in West Michigan to stay in an itty-bitty cabin in the middle of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My dad and stepmom rented three cabins at a beautiful, little lake called Boot Lake (about six miles south of Shingleton for those who know the UP) and my brother, stepbrother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, uncle and sil's dad were there too. It was a little cramped at times, but a blast nonetheless.

My dad and paternal grandmother used to take me and my brother to this same lake when we were kids and I've always loved it up here, so I was thrilled for my boys to get a chance to spend some time here.

The drive up here was absolutely gorgeous. Highway 2, which follows the Lake Michigan shoreline (on the UP side of the Mackinac Bridge) is, hands down, my favorite place to drive. It's got everything - sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, forests, lighthouses and little resorts, many of which were built in the 1920s and 30s. Of course, there were also the prerequisite tourist traps, pasty shops and dilapidated homes, but I love it.

This is our cabin - little, but clean and plenty of room for the four of us (and assorted nieces and nephews) for a week. The first couple days were spent swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddle boating and exploring the woods.

This is the view from the front door. The weather was perfect (except from Friday - which I'll get to in another post) Mostly sunny and in the high 70s with just a bit of a breeze.

This is a really pretty road that leads to three nearby lakes - Clear Lake, Cowell Lake and Crooked Lake. I brought all the kids to Cowell Lake to try out the water there. Corwin and my nephew Adam built sand castles and Killian dug a trap for Corwin - the old dig-a-hole-and-cover-it-with-brush trick. It didn't work. My niece Allison looked for pretty rocks, shells and boys who weren't related to her.

This is the view of Boot Lake from our dock. The fish weren't biting as well as we (especially my dad and stepbrother) would have liked, but the mosquitoes, black flies and deer flies sure were! My feet and ankles are bit up, but it was worth it. I had so much fun hanging out with my kids and the rest of the family. I'm hoping we'll be able to do it again next year. This is the first non-working vacation we've taken in six years!
Tune in tomorrow for the Glass Bottom Boat Shipwreck Tour.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So much to little time

Well, Bob showed up and fixed my washing machine for all of 15 bucks - YAY Bob!!!

Now, I'm desperately trying to finish laundry and pack for our week in the U.P. I'll be gone from tomorrow morning until next Sunday night. I have no clue if I'll have internet access. I may lose my mind if I don't...yikes!

Today, I got together with a friend from high school that I haven't seen in nearly 20 years. It was so great to see her and find out everything that's happened since we last talked. I can't believe how quickly three hours passed.

Okay...back to packing and child herding. Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Waiting for the Repairman

Know what sucks? Wringing out beach towels, a blanket and a sleeping bag by hand. For the second time in a month, I'm waiting for Bob, the washing machine repair guy. A few weeks ago, my washing machine wouldn't agitate. Now the freaking thing won't drain. We're leaving for vacation in less than 48 hours and I have tons of laundry to do.

Yes, I know, I could go to the laundry mat, but I'm a certified Weirdo Magnet. If there's a mentally unstable person in the vicinity s/he will immediately be attracted to me. I'm convinced I have an invisible beacon on my head that sends out the message, “If you wear tinfoil hats and converse with aliens, please come and talk to me. And never stop. Ever.” A couple summers ago, I was in line at McDonald's and the gentleman behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said...

Guy: Ya know, I’ve got (some-sort-of-long-complicated-name) silk moths eating my mulberry tree right now. (great conversation starter, huh?)

Me: I’m sorry.

Guy: No! This is great!!! Don’t you see? They’re extinct in the wild, they’ve only been bred in captivity for years now. But I’ve got them in my back yard.

Me: Cool.

Guy: It’s great. Ya know, I could work for the FDA, but they won’t let me, because I don’t have a well-rounded education. But I know everything there is to know about moths and butterflies all over the world. Seriously, I used to trade butterflies with Khrushchev’s son. I threw a bunch of ice on that cold war in my time, but now they (I assume he meant the military) don’t want nothing to do with me. And let me tell you, Khrushchev’s son knew exactly what he was doing. He’s got American citizenship now and everything.

Me: And butterflies, apparently.

I come by this trait honestly - my mom and sister have it too. Cait calls us Fly-Paper for Freaks.
Once I was sitting in a bus station with my mom waiting to go back up to see my husband who was going to school in the U.P. and a guy came and sat with us. He told us all about his girlfriend who was a prostitute and wanted to know if we thought she was cheating when she was working. As I was boarding the bus, he was trying to convince my mom to take him home with her because she was "such a nice lady."

So here I sit, waiting for Bob and hoping that it's a quick, easy, cheap fix. Also hoping it doesn't need to be replaced. I think it was three summers ago that we had to replace the dryer. I should have known something was up when the cats sat around the dryer in a semi-circle staring intently at the dryer...and yet, I turned it on anyway. We were positive there was a problem when the laundry has been came out of the dryer smelling like dead fish. Dead fish that have spent the better part of a week in a sunny landfill. In Jersey. Turns out a possum had committed suicide. In my dryer.

So yeah...I'd really like to do some laundry right about now. Oh Bob? Booooooooooooooob? Where are you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Love Live Music

(Don't fall over, Kel, but it's the third blog post in a week)

So, last night was absolutely fantastic. My baby sister Caitlin took me to a concert. We saw the amazing Catie Curtis. She's a folk singer from Boston and Cait introduced me to her music earlier this year and I heart her. A lot. She reminds me a little of Dar Williams, but she's wonderful in her own right. She sang several songs that made us cry, one about her dad that reminded us of our grandpa and Red Dirt Girl - an EmmyLou Harris song that's probably the saddest freaking song I've ever heard. Cait and I sat there crying like lunatics.

It was an open air show at a camp on the shore of Lake Michigan and I took pictures of the amazing view. Sometimes I forget how incredibly beautiful this state is. Check these out - and oh yeah, some of Catie, too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Today is a Special Day


Because it's the birthday of one of my favorite people...Jennifer Armintrout!!!

So Happy Birthday Jen!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What a week...

On Monday and Tuesday, I was informed repeatedly via nasty phone messages and email that I am the "meanest, most selfish person in the world." I was also informed that if the toxic person I jettisoned from my life resumes her self destructive behavior, it's all my fault. I'm not buying into this pile of crap, but I can't say it doesn't hurt.

On Wednesday, my husband and my youngest son and I went out to the boy scout camp for family night and the Order of the Arrow ceremony. The boys chosen for the Order of the Arrow are called up in front of the entire camp, spend the night alone in the woods without shelter, remain silent for 24 hours and perform a service project - the project in this case was chopping wood for 8 hours. Both my son Killian and Brynn's son were chosen to take part. The ceremony was really cool and I'm so proud of both of our boys. Personally, I can't believe Killian stayed quiet for 24 hours, but apparently he did.

Check out Brynn's blog on the subject of camp over at Hitting the Hot Spot. It's great.

On Thursday, I got a frantic phone call from my daycare girlies. Usually they call me at around 10 AM when they wake up and I pick them up and bring them back to my house. This morning they called at 8, screaming and crying that someone was trying to break in. They called the cops and I raced over there to find a very frazzled handyman who was hired by the landlord to do some work on the house. Unfortunately the landlord never bothered to call and let the family know that someone would be doing work.

After the police left and the contractor stopped freaking out, I took the girls home with me and we took Corwin, my youngest to the orthodontist where we discovered he needs two phases of braces. yay. Then we picked up his two best friends and they spent the night.

On Friday, the overnight guests stayed 'til suppertime when I happily dropped them back at home. Then I got ready for my RWA meeting the next day. Since Brynn was still at camp, I had to run the meeting. I think it might have been the shortest meeting in RWA history - under 15 minutes.

After the meeting was finished, I picked up Brynn and we drove downstate and had supper at the lovely Cindy Spencer Pape's house (her husband is an awesome cook) Isabelle Drake and her husband were there, as was the delightful Kaener Langford and one super awesome Dakota Rebel. I'd met everyone but Dakota before, and I'm happy to report, Dakota is just as freaking fabulous as she seems like she is online. I laughed 'til I cried and had an all-around wonderful evening.

This week, I'm doing piles of laundry, prepping for our family vacation and writing like a mad fiend.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dusting Vampires

I don't know why I have such a hard time understanding this concept, but there are some people who will just never be happy.

No. Matter. What.

They want more that you can possibly give. You could open every vein in your body and it still wouldn't be enough.

To top it off, they tend to be emotional vampires. Sometimes I think it would be easier if they were actual vampires. A stake to the heart and a broom to clean up the mess and the problem would be solved. Unfortunately, real life doesn't allow for any great Buffy moves.

However, real life does allow for speaking your mind and standing up for yourself. If you're a confrontation avoider like I am, it's awful, but it can be done. And I'm pleased to say, I recently did it. Unfortunately, I'll be experiencing the fallout for some time to come, but I believe the end result will be worth it. Life is too short for toxic people.