Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Time

 We are having a lovely summer here in mid-Michigan, the middle of the mitten.   Lots of fun with family and friends.   Work occasionally gets in the way, but no sense complaining about the fly when there is so much honey.  :)

I have probably mentioned that I am a Sock Person.  I love colorful socks, and often buy them as souvenirs when I travel.  I give a box of socks to my son and daughter in law almost every Christmas, if I can find any that are gift-worthy.   But no one has ever given them to me, which is not such a surprise since socks that suit my taste are not that easy to find.   So I was touched and surprised when a friend brought me a set of brightly colored socks the other day, saying that he had noticed my fondness for color on my feet.    Happy socks.   Happy me.    :)

I spent some time a little south of here the last couple of weeks, down in the Detroit area.     My sister and I got pedicures on one of my trips, from a more expensive but much more gentle place than I have used here at  home.   I got the usual pink toes (yawn).   I know, boring.
My sister, on the other hand, went for iridescent navy blue.    Yowser.   No one will accuse her of taking the conservative approach!    

Seeing my sister is always the occasion of a cocktail, something I never have otherwise.   She could have used another one when we went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a movie that I contend was HER choice, although I doubt she will ever admit it.    She was not a fan and she made her views quite clear both during and after the movie.   Which made me laugh.
We had a fun afternoon with her adorable little granddaughters, spent some time in their swimming pool,  and went for a boat ride on the lake.   Nothing says summer like being in and on the water!

A friend and I spent a day recently at the Detroit Institute of Arts and ate in Greektown, places I used to spend a lot of time before I moved two hours north.   Most of the exhibits that I remember being always there have been replaced by different paintings, which made it an adventure for me, not knowing what would be around any corner.   What a fun day, more fun than ever since I was sharing it with someone whose company I enjoy.  

Back at home, the Littles and I tie dyed shirts and hats, although I got as much dye on my hands and feet as we did on the fabric!

We also made chocolate "fried eggs," one of their favorite food crafts.     We worked some more on the fairy houses and I listened to a long conversation between the two children about whether fairies have their children by laying eggs or through live birth, each of them quite insistent about their differing beliefs.

But it wasn't only junk food that got eaten that day.    I picked some tomatoes from my garden, washed them, and set them down on the table.    When I turned around just seconds later, all that was left were the stems!    

My granddaughter is the tomato nibbler -- her slightly older brother still thinks tomatoes are poison, lol.   Both of them enjoy Michigan cherries, though, and the wonderful sweet corn we are enjoying this month.    And of course we grown-ups enjoy seeing them eager for healthy local produce,  just as we are.   At this moment, in this place, I am grateful.  Life is good.  :)


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!


Happy Independence Day!   As my sister likes to say, today is a very good day to have a very good day.  :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

CW Success

Well, girls and boys, I finally did it.   I went on the air alone with CW (Morse code) this week.  As you may (or may not) recall, I got my amateur radio license last year and started to learn Morse code after a couple of guys jokingly told me that the perfect woman would know how to use CW.   It's been a lot harder than I expected, and I have had a couple of short conversations with strangers, with an "Elmer" (a mentor or coach) sitting next to me and copying what the other person said because I was too freaked out to do it.   Although they are in my log, I can't count those as real contacts because, tho I knew what I was saying, I had no idea what the other person said in response until my Elmer told me.  But I finally went on the air with it all by myself this week, with no one standing next to me, all alone in my house.   Of course, I wasn't talking to a stranger this time.   I called a friend on the air, he answered, and we had a conversation of sorts.     To the best of my knowledge, leaving out all the call signs and abbreviations we use, it went like this --

Me:  keying his call sign and mine so he'd know I was trying to reach him
Him:  'Wow!  Strong signal here. How are you?'
Me: 'Scared to death.'
Him: 'Try not to be so scared.  Relax and have fun.'
Me:  'Maybe tomorrow.'
Him:  'Wow! First CW with you.  Great signal from saginaw city.'
Me: 'My keyer needs to be adjusted, I'm starting to freak out.'
Him: 'Your keyer can be adjusted later, for now just keep using it.'

Then, from my point of view, it was all 'Blah Blah Blah Blah' (as I'm freaking out and not able to copy anymore, at this point understanding nothing.)

Me: 'OK, total freakout now, need to sign off.  Hugs and kisses' (and then I said my call sign and got off the air.)

The next day I saw a note my friend wrote that said, "by the by, I sure had fun with (me!) yesterday on CW.  Dat gal knows how to Dittybop!"   And here I was worried that he wouldn't respect me after he had his CW way with me (blush).

So perhaps not the most impressive use of Morse code, but this is something that has truly terrified me, something I was not sure I would ever be able to do, and this week I did it.    My virgin voyage, so to speak.  It's been on my list for just over a year, and now the first step is done.   My friend promises me that I will get better and more confident as I use it more, and although I'm not sure it's true, I'm trying to believe because he hasn't lied to me yet.  Except maybe about Morse code being the key to becoming the perfect woman.  


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Good Times

I finished another baby blanket!   And a couple of burp cloths!    And found out today that another person I know is pregnant!   With the scraps, I made a little purse for my granddaughter's American Girl doll.   My finally-fixed sewing machine is becoming my new best friend.  :)  And since I actually started and finished a few things in June, however small, I am linking this into Barbara's June NewFO Linky Party at Cat Patches.    It's rare that I get to party with the big kids!
 I got a call last week asking me to accept a nomination to the Board of Directors of our search and rescue group.  What a flattering, happy surprise!    Of course I said yes -- it was a nice phone call to get.
At their next meeting, I was elected to the Board.  I was already working a bizillion hours a week on SAR matters and now it seems to be filling the nooks and crannies of my life.  So far, though, I am enjoying it!
My foot still hurts a little but a purple bandaid makes it better.   And yes, gentle advisers, I will definitely find a new place to have my toes done.  :)
The weather here has been lovely lately.   Enough rain that I haven't needed to water my outdoor plants for a couple of days, and enough sunshine to lift my spirits.   My emergency radio group took advantage of the great weather on Thursday to have a "fox hunt" where we used our hand-held radios and homemade yagi antennas to find hidden transmitters at a small local airport.   I am not very good at this activity, but it was a ton of fun and was a great excuse to spend time outside!
On Friday, a friend of mine went with me to visit my brother this week and we got a chance to kayak for a couple of hours.   I caught the usual fish of the usual size.   It is good that we don't rely on me for food.   But such a lot of fun!

On Saturday,  I performed another marriage ceremony, and hope the lovely couple will have a lifetime of happiness.   Maybe a more realistic hope is that they have a lifetime together, working through any of the disappointments and disagreements that come with any relationship.
And on Sunday, my friend and I put up an antenna for my new HF rig.  As tends to be the case, we worked on it all day with plenty of material-failures and trips to the hardware store along the way.   But we also had breakfast and lunch and ice cream, got sunburned, had a lot to explain to the neighbors as we were stringing wire up through my trees, and laughed like crazy.   I was able to listen to the CW net tonight from the first time from home -- could be that someday I will actually check in, but I'm not rushing that.  Morse Code still terrifies me!   But it was the best day ever and a really nice weekend.   It is good to find time for fun.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

SNAP!

This weekend has flown by.   The weather has been unexpectedly chilly lately and absolutely beautiful.  I am enjoying these cool mornings and evenings, with sunshine and blue skies in between.  I've been trying to walk as often as I can and sitting out on the patio in the mornings and evenings, just to enjoy the fresh air.   Perfect weather for me.   

I knew I would be outside part of the weekend, and wanted to wear sandals, so I decided to get a pedicure.    I often go to a walk-in place, where the techs are a little rough but they do as good a job as the double-priced spas nearby.    I was in a hurry, I hadn't planned ahead, so in I went.   A young girl worked on my feet and was, I thought, doing a decent job.   All of a sudden, before she was finished, an older woman started to shout at her in a language that I do not speak or understand, ordered her away from my feet, and, after walking away for a moment, returned with a microplane grater.   Oh yes, exactly the same kind that I have in my kitchen.     
She wielded that grater and carried on an animated conversation in the language I do not know or understand, while I spoke in equally animated terms telling her that I didn't want my feet shaved, or grated, or whatever.   Apparently I spoke in a language that she did not know or understand because, as she continued to talk, she grabbed my foot and began to saw.    By the time I got her to stop, the toe on my right foot was bleeding.    My toenails are pink and lovely, but the actual toes, not so much.    They're still ouchey two days later.   I'm going to have to reconsider my money-saving strategy.

This weekend was a local hamfest, sort of a garage sale for amateur radio, so I met a friend early on Saturday for breakfast and then we went to see what was for sale.   Some of the tables were inside and others were outside, and we spent our time shopping for bargains.  It is funny, I felt like it was taking me such a long time to become a part of this community, but only a year after getting my amateur radio license, I knew almost everyone there.    

I bought a used transceiver for my home base station, an Icom IC-738, as well as an old Versa tuner.   Although the 738 supposedly has a tuner built in, the guy told me it didn't so it might not work.   Too soon to tell.   We plugged it in at a friend's house and made a couple of contacts by voice and CW so I'm hoping it will turn out to be a good rig for me.  Of course, I won't know for sure until I get a little more antenna work done and fire it up at home.  

I was also shopping for a new mobile antenna.    The past couple of weeks I've been bopping happily along, enjoying my new mobile antenna and talking to all sorts of people, when all of a sudden, on a lovely, happy night last week, I came home and forgot to fold it down before driving into my garage.   Snap is exactly what I heard and the next thing I knew, I wasn't mobile any longer.   Bummer.   I wasn't able to find another second hand antenna for my car at the hamfest, so had to order a new one on line.   Until it arrives, my radio-cruising days are over.  And to add insult to injury, the replacement antenna is costing me a lot more than the second-hand antenna that I broke.     :(      I guess I can't think about retiring until I pay off all my expensive new toys!      

Saturday was a ham-filled day -- besides the hamfest, I tagged along to a Region 3 amateur radio meeting where I listened and learned.   We did find time for dinner and squeezed in the last couple of episodes of the old TV series (HBO?) Carnivale, which we've been watching on Amazon.    What a disappointing ending to a fascinating series!   But I didn't stay disappointed for long because I saw my first fireflies of the season!   I love seeing them!   Between the fireflies and the full (or mostly full) moon, it was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Today was quiet.   I spent a little time with my son, the wonderful father of my wonderful grandchildren.    We had lunch together and then I walked home to make lists of chores I should (but didn't) do.   And now it's time already to get organized for another work week -- time is just flying by!   I'm planning to have a very good week, and hope that you will, too.  :)




Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend

A fun and busy weekend!     On Saturday we had our monthly search and rescue drill, always a fun and educational time.  Unlike our usual wilderness searches, this month we had a couple of outbuilding that we could use to set up staging and the command staff -- luxury!  :)   I helped with planning this month, a very stressful part of any well designed search, and was reminded again how much I have to learn!     We will have a debriefing of the drill at our team meeting on Tuesday, where I will undoubtedly learn even more.   

This weekend I also performed marriages for two lovely young couples, the first on Saturday, with blue skies and very warm weather.    Perfect wedding weather!     I wish Erin and Bryan a long and happy life together!

The second wedding was on Sunday, and the temperature had dropped over 10 degrees.  Perfect wedding weather!  :)   The Bride's dad arranged a fly-over with congratulations for the new couple.   Fun!


I should have my sewing machine back from the shop sometime late this week.    I have sewn on and off with a machine since I was in middle school, and have done embroidery and hand-sewing since long before that, but I've never thought of myself as much of a seamstress.   In fact, I've gotten worse over the years and it's been a long time since I've been satisfied with my finish.    So it was an oddly wonderful surprise when the sewing machine repair shop called to tell me that my bobbin case is slightly bent and probably always has been -- and that, the man said, is the reason I've never been able to get my tension right!   I can't wait to get the machine back to see whether I might, just maybe possibly might, be better at sewing than I think.   Wouldn't that be a hoot?!

When the machine comes home and becomes my new best friend, I will start sewing baby blankets and burp cloths for my anticipated new great nephew -- it's going to be a boy!   His big sisters and mom and dad and my sister the grandma are excited!   I also learned last night that my great niece from the west coast will be visiting in early August -- she is one year old and this will be my first time to meet her, so it would be fun to sew something cute to welcome her to Michigan!

This will be another busy week -- work, meetings three nights, and two days of watching the Littles, who will be out of school a couple days before their mom finishes for the summer.   That will be fun, and I am trying to think of clever crafts to do with them.   Busy hands are happy hands, as my mother always said, so no sense complaining that these busy hands are hoping for a day off soon just for quiet.    :)    But no worries, I am sure I will have strength sufficient to the day, and the weather is so lovely lately that every day feels like a good one.   I hope the same is true for you.

Friday, June 6, 2014

This Beautiful World

 The weather here in the middle of Michigan's mitten has been absolutely beautiful these past few days.   It is cool enough in the morning for socks and a light jacket out on my patio, where I sit and drink my coffee as I inhale the scent of the late-blooming lilacs in my back  yard.   


I've cut a bunch and have them inside the house, too, so I can enjoy the smell of spring everywhere I go.   Intoxicating!    

My house is in the city and on just a simple city lot, but if I ignore the houses I still see nature's beauty everywhere I look.      I hung a fish-shaped wind chime in my overgrown 'garden' area, hoping to keep the squirrels away from my tomato plants.    We'll see how long it takes before it drive me, or my neighbors, crazy!
I am still enjoying local asparagus and rhubarb and lettuce from the Farmer's Market, and bought a peck of raspberries there yesterday to eat after my supper of new potatoes and fresh dill.   I love the tastes and smells of spring!  :)    The afternoons have been mild enough for the Grands to be out in their yard, playing with squirt guns and hoses.    I've been walking and sitting outside every free minute, enjoying these perfect days.

And look what I saw when I was driving through town the other day!    I drove down a residential street in the township when something caught my eye.   There was no traffic so I stopped to look and when I did, this peacock turned to me and opened up his tail.   I rolled down the window and told him he was beautiful, and he pranced a little bit, in obvious agreement.    There were three peacocks in the yard.  Besides this white one with black tipped tail feathers, there was one all white and one the traditional blue.   I wish I could have seen them all in full glory!    Maybe next time, because you know I'll be driving by again!
There's been happy news of babies this week -- my nephew's wife is expecting again (yay!) and my daughter in law's brother and wife had their second child on Wednesday, a beautiful baby girl.    
Serendipity, I saw the rick rack receiving blanket tutorial on the Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog the same day and immediately made one of these practical, simple blankets.    I am not much of a sewer, but it was so easy to do, the pinning took more time than the sewing.  :)   My kind of project!   

I used flannel that I had on hand but immediately ordered the beautiful Riley Blake flannel from Fort Worth Fabrics that Lindsey used in the tutorial.   It was on sale and cost only pennies more than the "cheap" flannel I had at home, and I know from experience that the Riley Blake fabric is a joy to work with.     I didn't have enough flannel at home to make the coordinating burp cloths but will be doing that soon, too.   I love giving homemade gifts!   I can't show a completed photo because I ran into a(n ongoing) problem with my sewing machine when I was doing the final top-stitch and had to pull the stitches out and set the blanket aside until the machine gets back from the shop, where I dropped it off this morning. I am not a perfectionist and I've put up with the messed up tension for weeks, but baby blankets are so sweet that I just (finally) wanted to do it right.     But this project is so quick and easy that I know I'll be done 15 minutes after the machine comes home, and the next one will be done in an ordinary afternoon after work.   Fort Worth Fabrics is so quick to deliver -- my package has already been shipped! -- that I will have the new flannel a couple of days before I get the machine back, so I'll have the blankets pinned and ready to sew when the machine comes in the door.

The last couple of days have been spent aimlessly, finishing little projects and doing odds and ends, with no real schedule to follow and no demands on my time.    A little boring, but nice.   That lull ends today.   I am performing two weddings this weekend, have one wedding rehearsal, and have two search and rescue activities, a planning session and a recovery drill.   I like being busy but this weekend is so full of activity that I had to turn down dinner with a friend!   Feast or famine, I guess.     I hope you all have a wonderful weekend -- I'll be back in a couple of days to post photos of my newly married couples.  Love is in the air.  :)