05 October 2009

P is for...


I'm proud of Daughter. Yesterday we were at the Morton Arboretum for their Fall Color Run. I did 5K, and she did a half mile.

I'm not proud of her because she finished first - she didn't.
I'm not proud of her because she was the best dressed there - she wasn't.
I'm not proud of her because she ran the whole half mile in record time for her- although that was cool.

I'm proud of her because she didn't quit. Daughter has a tendency to quit things when they become difficult. She has a past littered with dance classes, gymnastics classes, art classes, etc. When they got too tough, she didn't want to do them any more. At the race on Sunday she forgot to drink any water before the race and ended up getting what's commonly referred to as a stitch in her side. Even though it hurt a lot (there were tears after the race was over,) she didn't give up, she kept on going to the end and finished as fast as she could. She did mention that she was never running again, but after the investment I made in shoes and running shorts, she's going to keep running for a while, I assure you.

In case anyone's interested, I was 22 seconds faster than last year. I ran it in 31:55 and came in 754th out of a field of 1562. Among the women in my age bracket I came in 46th out of 126 competitors.

Before the race started, in the giant crush of humanity.

At the quarter mile.

Near the end.

Within moments of finishing.

How I did, approximately.

29 September 2009

O is for...


Today is Tuesday. Tomorrow at 3 Daughter and I will be driving to Indiana and one of the items on the agenda is to give a new mom a sweater for her new baby.

Yesterday, before I had the second sleeve started, I was a little concerned that this wasn't going to happen in time. Today I'm feeling fine, and even planning on putting on the optional hood. This is the Wonderful Wallaby made using Bernat Camoflage yarn. It's supposed to have a pocket on the front, but really, what newborn needs a pocket in her sweater?

After I finish the sweater this evening I can start to feel optimistic about having the house in some semblance of order before Mom and Dad get here on Saturday. Have I ever mentioned that the guest room is also the yarn storage room? And when it's been a while since we've had guests it starts to get a little... cluttered? And we haven't had guests since Christmas?

22 September 2009

N is for...

New Shoes

This year I'll be running in the Morton Arboretum 5K run again. I'm hoping to do at least as well as I did last year. I got a late start on training, so we'll have to wait and see how that turns out.

When I filled out the registration form, I asked Daughter if she wanted to run in the kids dash, which for her age group is a half mile. To my surprise, she said she'd like to. Since then she has been training, sort of. Every few days she goes out and runs around our block, which is close to a half mile. She's also mentioned that she would like to keep running so that she can run the whole 5K with me next year. After I regained consciousness, I figured that she should probably have some actual running shoes, rather than her super-cute school gym shoes.

We went to Dick Pond and the sales guy measured her foot, had her walk around in her socks so he could see how her foot hit the ground, then he earned my loyalty by first checking in the "Last year's model" bin. He found some nice ones that fit her well and were comfortable. I told her that it was OK that they weren't a color she really loved, and I managed to convince her that running shoes don't have to look nice. We got her shoes and as soon as we got home she put them on and went out to run around the block.

I figured if she had new shoes, it would also be sensible for me to get a pair to replace my old, beat up shoes. I went back and picked up a pair from another very helpful salesman who also started in the "Last year's model" bin. Mine ended up being one of this year's models, but they were still very reasonable. Both hers and mine are the same size. Daughter finds this terribly exciting, as it means it will be no time at all before she can steal my shoes.

Here's the irony of the situation. My shoes are the ones on the left. The purple ones. Daughter's favorite color.

19 September 2009

M is for...

Mantis on My Mailbox

This is the second praying mantis I've ever seen in real life. The other one was on our front porch last year. Maybe it's the same one?

18 August 2009

I've Been Everywhere, Man

You know that Johnny Cash song, right? The one that the hotel chain bought and uses? The last couple of weeks have felt a lot like that song.

I've been in Chicago.

That would be the backyard, and the shawl. I got to the end of the first skein of yarn and haven't moved on since then. For reasons that will become clear momentarily.

I've been to unincorporated Chocolay Township.

That's Nephew at my parent's house with a little copperbelly snake. He and Daughter are both into snakes, niece not so much. (And no, I don't mind them myself, although Son caught this one.)

I've been to Little Presque Isle.

Little Presque is usually not very busy. Naturally on the day that we went there were 3 tour busses full of people at the beach. And yes, I realize that in other places of the world this would be nothing, but it's the UP people, we don't do crowded.

I've been to Presque Isle, specifically the Black Rocks and the breakwall.

That's Daughter at the Black Rocks. It was foggy that day. Really foggy. Foggy like I don't remember ever happening in Marquette. Stephen King fans will know why this might have been concerning.

The breakwall was built to keep the waves down in the harbor so it's not so much trouble for the ore boats to go in and out. There is actually a lighthouse out at the end of the breakwall, and Daughter and I were going to walk out to it, but whatever was causing the foggy conditions was also causing ever fly in the area to congregate on the breakwall, so we only made it out to where it turns to the left in the picture.

I've been to the Dead River.

The water was low; normally those smaller rocks are underwater.

My favorite place on the planet.

I've been to Lakennenland

It's a "Junkyard Art" sculpture garden. You can drive in off the highway or ride in on the snowmobile trail.

Daughter enjoys the fact that you can play on the art. Sadly, it was very hot that day, so she would sit down, then jump up 3 seconds later yelling, "Hot metal! Hot!"

I've been in Detroit.

Visiting Brother and picking up Nephew and Niece. They're spending the week with us.

Which is why in about an hour and a half I'll be in Chicago, at the Shedd Aquarium. I'll be the one with the 3 unruly kids and looking like I've been drug all the way around Lake Michigan and back. Say, "Hi" if you see us.

30 July 2009

L is also for...


OK, so after I finished my homework I played with my new yarn.

I might actually have gotten a little carried away and stayed up late to work on this. It will end up being a stole. I'm using the same pattern as I did for this one.

I'd stay and chat longer, but I'm falling behind on my knitting.

29 July 2009

L is for...

Look at me, being responsible and all.

I'm working on this:

When what I really want to do is play with this:

27 July 2009

Yankee Springs

Recently Brother purchased a 13 foot Winnebago trailer.

He's spent the last few months fixing it up and it was finally ready for its maiden voyage this past weekend. He checked out the internet and found a Michigan State Park that was about halfway between his house in Detroit and our house in Chicagoland, so we all set off on Friday and met in the middle.

Having never been to this particular campground, none of us knew which were the good sites. Luckily, when Husband, Daughter and I showed up, the man in the guard shack told us that we could take a drive through the place and pick out whatever looked good to us. There were some sites that were just pretty terrible, but there were also a nice selection of good sites as well. We were actually rather surprised at how scarce the campers were. We've been to places that were wall to wall with people by Friday night, but apparently Yankee Springs Deep Lake unit isn't one of them. We found some nice deep sites near a water pump, the outhouses, and a swingset.

Brother and his crew arrived a couple of hours after us, by which time Daughter had discovered that there were a lot of toads and tree frogs in the area.

Nephew was especially enamored of the frogs and caught 8 or 10 of them over the course of the weekend.

One of the points of interest in the area is the Devil's Soupbowl, which is advertised as a glacially carved kettle. On the map it seems to be a pretty impressive feature. After making the 2 mile hike to get there, we have all determined that it needs to be renamed the Devil's Disappointment. It's a large low place to be sure, but it is also full of mature trees, making it impossible to really see it. Even though it was slightly less than impressive, we did climb down to the bottom, just so we could say that we had.

Other than a trip to the beach (sans camera, sorry) we spent the remainder of the trip hanging out at the campfire. There was a lot of cooking,

and eating,

and children playing in the dirt.

So after a couple of good nights' sleep

it was time to wipe down the tent (because naturally it rained like heck the night before we left)

and head back to civilization. And as I stare at the pile of laundry that needs to be washed, and look at the decimated refrigerator contents, I'm wishing I was still relaxing in the woods.

23 July 2009

K is for...


Well, really, what else did you expect me to say?

There's sock knitting

and lace knitting

and sweater knitting

and I love them all.

17 July 2009

J is for...


We're not really much of a sports house. No one watches much football or basketball. No one ever watches golf or baseball. Husband will watch tennis if it's a major tournament and someone he likes is playing.

Daughter and I, however, prefer hockey. Because her first experience with hockey was when the Red Wings won the Stanley cup last year, they are her favorite team. She's been asking for a hockey jersey for a while now, and on her birthday she finally got a Red Wings practice jersey with "Datsyuk" on the back. As far as I can figure, he's her favorite because she likes yelling his name: dot-SOOOOOOOOOK. (voice as low as you can get it on the second syllable, oo like zoo, not book.)

I like the Blackhawks because I live in Chicago. Also, they have a very good, very young team. In fact the captain of the team turned 21 on the same day I turned 41. When he attempted to grow a playoff beard, other members of the team were heard to call it "embarassing." So in honor of Johnny Towes (pronounced taves) I have a #19 jersey.

J is also for Jerseys because I couldn't think of anything else besides jeans, and though I wear them constantly during the cool and cold months, there's no way I'm taking a picture of that for the blog.

14 July 2009

They'll Fit, Really

** Knitting Content **

I'm in the midst of making a pair of socks. I'm making them for a man, which in and of itself is a challenge. They don't really make yarn in "man" colors. I looked all over the internet to try and find something that a man would be willing to put on his feet. I finally settled on Socks that Rock in Shadow. The next hurdle is that all I know is the shoe size of the intended recipient. I don't have easy access to the feet in question, so I have to guess on number of stitches and such. Here's what I've got:

Sadly, that is my foot, and it fits me just fine. This leads me to believe that there is no way that this will be a comfortable fit for a 6 foot, 200 pound man. I may have to go back to the drawing board on these.

08 July 2009

Socks, in a Manner of Speaking

So Son came upstairs yesterday and said, "Look Mom, you're not the only one who can make socks."

I'm so proud.

04 July 2009

I is for ...


Like many people, I occasionally suffer from an inability to sleep. My problem is not in falling asleep, but in going back to sleep if something should happen to wake me up. Once I'm all the way awake, it takes me 2 to 4 hours to get back to sleep. It doesn't happen a lot, which is a good thing because it's all kinds of annoying when it happens. I've adapted several strategies for dealing with it. Most of them do nothing but pass the time.

1. Counting. Usually heartbeats. Most commonly every 4th one. Or use the same number for four sequential heartbeats. Start over at 100 or you'll start getting numbers that are too long. I used to try to imagine the numbers being drawn on a chalkboard, but my chalkboard hand couldn't keep up with the heartbeat tempo.

2. Breathing. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Same thing you do every day, only now you're thinking about it.

3. Plan tomorrow. I don't often use this one because I figure the more active your mind is, the less likely you are to fall asleep.

4. Mental vacation. Picture a beach. Picture yourself at the beach. Picture whoever else you want to have at the beach. Or go with a waterfall, or a rainforest, or whatever relaxing location floats your boat.

5. Talk to God. Or yourself. What was good in the day. What could have been better. Same problem with this one as with #3.

6. Word bubbles. This is actually what I do most often. Clear your mind totally, then let a random word or short phrase (no coherent sentences or thoughts) bubble up to the top. Metacarpal, dungeness, factorial, esplanade, quixotic, fundamental, fungible, retardant, multiplicity, ectoplasm, frothy, hammerhead, winnow, darling, preternatural, etc, etc. Nothing that makes sense, just whatever random thing pops up to the top. For some reason my words all seem to have a lot of sylables.

7. Blog. When all else fails, think up an entertaining entry for the blog, preferably something that will move the ABC-along along.

03 July 2009

Ah, The Sweet Sounds of Birdsong

Location: Crouse House, somewhere in the Chicago suburbs

Time: 30 minutes before the 4 day camping trip hits the road.

Characters: Me, Husband, Daughter

We hear water running in the background, then shut off. Moments later Daughter enters, dripping wet and wrapped in a towel

Daughter: Mom, I just threw up

Me looks at Daughter completely nonplussed.

Me (to Husband) Well now what do we do? If we leave now and she has to come back home because she's really sick what will we do? We can't take two cars because the mid-life-crisis-mobile you bought only seats 2 people, and Daughter is bringing DBF with her. Do we call the whole thing off? WHAT DO WE DO NOW!!??

Me and Husband spend 15 minutes discussing options, making phone calls and taking temperatures.

Me: Oh the heck with it. We'll just go. If she needs to come home later we'll figure it out then.

Turns out whatever she had was a short term thing. She got sick once in the car on the way to Devil's Lake, then one more time in the afternoon and then she was done. Good thing too, because I really don't know what we would have done if she had to come back home. I imagine that Husband would have been left stranded with no car for a couple of days.

This camping trip is an annual affair, with a large group of friends and neighbors who go out into the wilderness for a long weekend, usually near the end of June. This year we were staying at Devil's Lake State park in Wisconsin. We let Garmin tell us how to get there, so we got to experience something that we had never done before. We rounded a corner and the pleasant GPS lady told us, "Board Merrimac Ferry."

We've never been on a ferry before. Husband panicked became concerned and had me look at the map to see if there was an easier way to get to the other side of the lake. (I think he was concerned about how much this was going to cost.) I checked the map and determined that the fastest way for us to get where we were going would be to bite the bullet and take the ferry across. Turns out it only added about 10 minutes to the trip and didn't cost a thing.

We arrived at the group camp site around 5:00 and commenced setting up the tents.

Husband and I slept in the blue and gold tent, Daughter and DBF in the green one. If we should ever have a similar setup in the future, we'll put the girls tent a little farther away, as it turns out that two tent walls don't have a lot of noise reduction properties.

There was a path just behind the girls tent which led about 100 yards to the shower building. This building is surrounded by 80 foot pine trees, at the top of which nest Blue Herons. Turns out that when Blue Herons nest, they like to do so in large groups. This is certainly the case at Devil's lake.

The treetop photo isn't a great picture, but I have a less than perfect camera for this kind of photography. In any case, the birds were there, a lot of them, and they vocalized pretty much all day and a good part of the night. Because it was continuous, it wasn't hard to tune out after a little while. The larger problem came at night when the turkey vultures would come and try to raid the nests. At that point there was a lot of screaming and shrieking. Because it was midnight when it was happening, I'm not sure which species was making the noise, but I would guess it was the Herons.

We spent the weekend doing a lot of hiking


And hanging around the campfire.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend.