Mid-summer

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On Saturday afternoon, after Katie & Maddy finished work, we loaded our stuff into the car and attached three bikes on the back and hit the road to spend a few days up north.  DH had a class to teach at Peninsula School of Art in Door County, so couldn't join us, but Ali & Kevin were able to come up on Sunday night.

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There were more than a few mosquitoes.  We arrived after dark and had to unload the bikes before unloading the trunk, which meant lots of in-and-out of the cabin, which led to letting in lots of mosquitoes, which led to lots of swatting all night long!  The first night was the worst; it got a lot better after that.

There was a little rain -- in fact, on Sunday morning, we didn't quite outrun an approaching storm and I was baptized on the bike, riding the last half-mile of a 15-mile ride in the rain!

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There was plenty of good weather, too; excellent for biking, canoeing, swimming, sleeping.  I had a most delightful nap on Sunday afternoon in front of the wide-open patio doors.  It's what we do when we're up north!

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That... and this!  The kids asked, "Are you taking a picture because your letters spell 'YARN'?"  I was NOT, but I totally COULD HAVE!  I'm embarrassed to admit, on my own knitting blog, that it was there and I didn't even see it!  (What is wrong with me?)  Then, of course, I COULDN'T rearrange my letters to spell 'YARN' and take a photo because I'd give away four of the seven letters on my rack!

It's the Scrabble board from the big cabin -- the one that was always kept in the third drawer of the dresser in Grandma's room.  We all commented on the old, worn-soft paper bag that holds the letters -- with one big strip of masking tape where the seam had come apart... how many years... how many hands...

And cards -- the kids played various games of Solitaire, War, Crazy 8s, even Old Maid!  I didn't play cards.  I can knit and play a slow-paced game of Scrabble, but it's hard to knit while holding a hand of cards.

We explored.

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Always a big fan of ruin -- sentimental for what was, hopeful and optimistic for what could be again.  I aspire to, and am inspired by, some amazing local photographers who have this genre down pat: Dave Jackson's Simple + Dirty, El TiDY, Big City Al.  *sigh*

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image from www.flickr.com
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image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com
I love that it's necessary to use a broken pitchfork to secure the door of a shed with a caved-in roof.  I suppose the door was initially secured before the roof fell... but, with no prompting from me, even the kids were compelled to lock it up tight behind us.

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I hopped in the car on Monday as the light of the day faded to capture a favorite barn.  The sunset was nothing spectacular and the light was just sort of *meh* -- but it's still a favorite barn and there can hardly be a bad photo.

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Speaking of bad photos... sometimes I take 'em... and sometimes the technical stuff just doesn't matter one bit!  It's the expression, emotion, feeling that speaks the loudest -- and such is the case with this photo of Maddy.  I just love it, but it's possible that that's only because I'm her mother!

Kate and I hauled the bikes to Butternut on Tuesday morning and rode 9.9 miles in that vicinity -- it was a little less hilly than Sunday's ride!  We packed everything back up on Tuesday afternoon and headed back home.  And it was back to work on Wednesday -- which totally messes up one's concept of a week.  This is the second of three-in-a-row 3-day work weeks for me; next week I'll have off the latter part and that might feel more "normal."  Heh.

We had RAIN!  There were flooded streets on the way home from work after late-day rain on Wednesday, something that I rarely see.  Alice Cooper's show in Oshkosh (which Ali & Kevin planned to see) was finally cancelled on Wednesday night and it's a good thing because boomers rolled through again around midnight.  Wow!  I much prefer day-time storms, thankyouverymuch!  I heard tell of a lot of flooded basements.  I saw water gushing from hard-working sump pumps on last night's bike ride.

* * * * *

Oh my gosh, can I talk about the bike for a sec?  It has occurred to me that this biking thing might seem to have come out of nowhere and... well, it pretty much has!  No one is more surprised than me that I've actually gone out, bought a bike, and am riding it.  A good bike is a substantial investment on it's own, but then the accoutrements take it to a whole 'nother level and I'm not even talking bells and whistles (just a figure of speech, a bell actually came standard) -- and all on a bit of a whim!  Inspired by my daughter's near-elation (I want some of that!) after some rides early this summer (after falling a bit out of love with it all, for various reasons, late LAST summer) and by my own falling in love a little with Wisconsin's Rustic Roads, it seemed like it might be a good marriage, if a bit polygamous, of travel + adventure + exploration + photography + fitness.  Lord knows, I've been unhappy and struggling with the fitness part of the equation for quite some time.

Less than half-way through my first "substantial" ride (nearly 15 miles) last week -- huffing and puffing, red-faced, sweating like a pig, barely able to a) keep up with Kate and b) catch my breath no matter how many times we stopped (I can't imagine if I still smoked!) -- I thought:

  • WHAT THE HELL HAVE I DONE?
  • I bought this expensive bike... I can't NOT ride it... Rusty would KILL ME.
  • But do I even like this?
  • OMG!  Do I hate this?
  • I think it sounded better than it actually is.
  • Is it too late to return all this shit?
  • I wonder how much I could get for this bike.
  • Why in the world did I sign up for that damn relay?
  • Can I get out of it?

Well, the second half of the trip went MUCH better than the first!  I had to walk the bike up the last little hill to our house, but I hopped on and rode the last block home and felt such a sense of accomplishment -- 14.7 miles!

I've ridden about 80 miles in the past two weeks.  It's been... if not easier, then maybe less painful to spin those tires.  The second half of the ride is still way more fun than the first!  Katie wasn't up to riding last night, so I had my first 14-mile solo flight, which included some hills (about which I'd have said NO FRICKIN' WAY two weeks ago) and, other than stopping for a photo at my destination before turning back, the only stops were related to traffic.  It is absolutely fantastic and I'm so glad I jumped in feet-first -- and fast so I didn't have time to talk myself out of buying that bike (and accoutrements... most especially the padded shorts).

Whew!  Thanks for reading.  Happy Weekend!


Random (big, huge, catch-up day)

My plate runneth over.  How does that go... about a rolling stone gathering no moss?  My head is spinning a little, so this post is going to be part holiday weekend wrap-up (with knitting!), part looking ahead, part punch list, and part appointment calendar -- a skimmer's paradise!

It's been crazy-(mostly-fun)-busy here and things have been happening fast!  Well, some things -- one really big thing -- may appear to have happened fast -- and even felt like it happened fast -- but it's actually been bubbling and brewing for quite a long time.  And as much as I'd like to have avoided it F.O.R.E.V.E.R, there was no escaping that it just had to be done.

Bear with me... HERE'S WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENIN'

ON SATURDAY, I...

  • Woke up early and walked down to the farmers' market to buy meat (beef, goat) and produce (blueberries, currants), have a cuppa somethin' (lemonade) and visit with the girls.  It was pretty busy!  I also brought home two small rosemary plants.
  • Walked back and hopped into Maddy's car (she had my more reliable car in Milwaukee for the long weekend) to make my 10 a.m. photo session with an adorable 2-year-old.
  • Ran to the store to get a few things that Ali needed before...
  • Heading back by noon to help tear down the farmers' market booth and move the whole show across the road to the Firecracker Run Registration/Expo for the afternoon.
  • Whew!  Have I mentioned that it started to get hot on Saturday?  And humid?
  • Helped Ali at the expo until 3 pm; tore it all down again and put it away... 'til next weekend!
  • Walked downtown AGAIN -- this time, killing two birds by taking the dog -- to retrieve Maddy's car, which had been left behind when we moved the market stuff across the street.
  • Took a shower.
  • Made fruit salad (pictured a post or two ago) for family get-together and cookout at Mom's; Annie, Bri, and the smaller half of their family visiting for the holiday.
  • Agreed to and signed up for the BIKE LEG of a TRIATHLON RELAY in August; Annie will run; a friend will swim.
  • WHAT????
  • Declined the invitation to go watch fireworks; fell into bed.  Zzzzzzzzz.

ON SUNDAY, I...

  • Practically missed the Firecracker Run!  At this time LAST year, watching runners and walkers crossing the finish line, my sister Karen and I talked about participating THIS year... um, that didn't happen.
  • Walked downtown again to watch the UW Marching Band's "5th Quarter" performance -- and just missed it!!  I heard only the last few notes and was bummed.  Remind me next year how quickly a 5K is all run and done!
  • Had another photo shoot -- this time with my sister who has a big hunk o' wall to fill in the hall/stairway.
  • Did some other stuff, made another fruit salad, rode my bike over for another family get-together and cookout.
  • Went to see "Robin Hood" at the movies w/Kate -- one of my favorite ways to escape the heat.
  • Saw some fireworks over the treetops as we left the movie; went home and fell into bed again.

ON MONDAY, I...

  • Took full advantage of the work holiday!
  • Finally watched "It Might Get Loud" (which I've had from Netflix for... a long time) at home!
  • Did some knitting.
  • Looked at and developed some of the weekend's photos.
  • Took it pretty darn easy.

ON TUESDAY, I...

  • Went with Kate to buy a bike rack for the car and a few other supplies (pump, saddlebag, lock).
  • Bought a new-to-me used car on the way home.
  • WHAT????

ON WEDNESDAY, I...

  • Turned the keys for "my" 2000 Saturn over to Maddy; her 1992 Olds took its farewell spin to the salvage yard.
  • The end of that.

The Olds had good provenance and was, for the most part, a pretty good young person car.  It has been plagued for a while now by nuisance, intermittent, and potentially dangerous electrical problems -- the sort that are nearly impossible/expensive to trace/repair -- that have been making driving hazardous -- not just blinking dashboard lights, but complete loss of power and a tricky re-starting maneuver -- it was an accident and/or engine fire waiting to happen.

ENOUGH!!  I've been taking Sunday drives through car lots, hither and yon, for months.  On Tuesday, the stars aligned and I decided it was time to test drive the 2007 Nissan Altima that I've had my eye on.  It had good ZOOM-ZOOM!

fate:sealed

Note:  Madeleine has requested that when I clean out the Saturn, I also remove the "I'd Rather Be Knitting" license plate holder because... get this... IT'S EMBARRASSING!!  Really??  Harumph.

INTERMISSION (enjoy the knitting & bonus new shoes!)

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image from www.flickr.com image from www.flickr.com
The strip knitting is going a lot faster than I thought it would -- it's so much fun!!  I'm needing to think about layout and how it's all going to come together now.  Still haven't woven in a single end; have been carrying Chibis full of needles with me, though, so I'll be ready when I feel the sudden urge.  Heh.

Props to Scheels on the shoes.  I have been needing new sandals for a long time.  I don't have a closet full of shoes -- never did and never will -- I have a pair of tennies, a pair of Birkies, a pair of thongs, a pair of Keen Mary Janes, some wool-lined Merrells for winter, an ancient pair of Eccos (also Mary Janes).  On average, I buy a new pair of shoes about once every 2-3 years.  So a few weeks ago, I stopped at the locally owned downtown shoe store that gets most of my business to find some sandals -- I had Keens on my mind, but I'd take anything that was reasonable (i.e., prolly not Finns) and comfortable.  It was the end of the day and my feet were a little swollen -- which they are/can be at pretty much any time these days (especially in summer), so it's sort of important to keep that in mind.  Most of what I tried was too tight and the salesman suggested that I come back when my feet were not swollen.

Hello????  A little or a lot, it's practically a permanent condition right now.

The saleswoman at Scheels didn't skip a beat, recommending a couple styles of Keens and a pair of Eccos.  The Eccos were cute -- and a neat convertible style -- but they made my ankles look like Great Aunt Verna's.  Not the look I'm after.  Yay KEENS, Venice style in Amaranth & Simply Taupe which goes surprisingly well with my carmine red bike.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Tomorrow, early, I'm heading south for two morning photo sessions -- also to drive the triathlon route (in the car) (later on the bike), then north again -- WAY north.  It works out that most of us will be able to break away for a few days at my uncle's cabin.  The new bike rack -- and the bike -- will get a good workout!  I can't wait!!  My rides have all been pretty residential and I'm anxious to hit the open road -- in the quiet and pine-y northwoods will be perfect.

On Sunday the 18th, I'm going on a field trip with Dawn Koehler and others to Conrad Art Glass & Gardens.  That is going to be utterly amazing.

On Thursday the 22nd, it'll be my first trip (hopefully, not the only trip) to the peninsula this year for the Door County Antique Show with Mom & Kate.

On Sunday the 25th, Katie and I will be riding in the 24th Annual Gourmet Bike Tour to benefit the Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha.  We'll be doing at least the 25-mile route, maybe longer.

Thankfully, other than a a couple of birthdays (Addison-3, Dad-75), August doesn't look too bad.  I'll continue to ride and train for the Waterloo Fit City Triathlon which takes place on Sunday, August 15th!  I'll be part of a relay TEAM with two other people, so need only worry about biking.

I continue to slowly and steadily pick up photography jobs -- which is great, because I still have a full-time job -- so I'll probably have a few more gigs between now and the Labor Day wedding that's on the books!  This is a hastily thrown together example featuring some of my favorite photos from my Las Vegas vacation, but an example of something new that I'll be offering to photography clients -- I'll be able to incorporate video, text, original music... it's so exciting!!

Enjoy!

And thank you so much for reading.  The comment count is slowly climbing to the 16,000 mark... it's ALMOST there!  Prizes await!!

Happy weekend!


Fun day

Art - You Are Here

At the beach - tiltshift

R at the tip of the Door

Cherry Blossom Bokeh, Baby

Cherry orchard tiltshift 

Backlit Cherry Blossom Bokeh

We went all the way to the tip of the Door County Peninsula -- something I haven't done in many years.


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We stopped at Door Peninsula Winery for some tasting and brought home some cranberry wine; had lunch -- breakfast, actually (Swedish pancakes and eggs, some with Swedish meatballs, another with sausage) -- at Al Johnson's in Sister Bay; drove all the way up to Gills Rock and over to Northport, down and around to Rowleys Bay, then meandered our way back to Fish Creek where DH will be stationed for the next few days.  We helped move materials into his classroom, then went to the market for a few things to stock the fridge in his (so adorably cute) cabin, and finished off relaxing by the creek and enjoying a root beer float before dropping him off and heading home.

Maybe I've been going up too late in the season and it's the crowds that make me cranky, because this was a MOST enjoyable trip.  Things seemed more fresh and new or were being spruced up; there were no lines, no waiting, no traffic problems -- the calm before the (Memorial Day) storm -- it was a magnificent (if a wee bit windy) day, too, which didn't hurt.  Fun day.


Sturgeon Bay

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Sturgeon Bay is a weird place. Being in Door County -- the gateway, really -- it's funky and artsy and fun, but not quite as funky and artsy as Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim, Gills Rock; perhaps, also, not quite as hokey touristy, either.  It's definitely more year-round working town combined with seasonal tourist town than any other destination to its north.  It's fun to get off the main drag -- some super-duper old houses, barns... barn-houses.  A lot of old houses, especially along the shore, have met with the wrecking ball to make way for new.  In fact, right next door to this funky barn was a brand new house, definitely of a different era than its barn.

Between photo ops, I got a lot of knitting done on the Trekking sock!  I'm only a round away from beginning the toe shaping and it's really all downhill from there.  We arrived in time to visit both fiber shops on my list.  The first (and the one I was worried about missing) was Apple Hollow Fiber Arts (linked in sidebar) -- a good, basic selection of yarn and books, looms, wheels and roving.  We also visited Temptations, just a few doors down (no website), which I've visited before.  Temptations actually has two buildings -- the second one is devoted to cross stitch and needlepoint.  My souvenir yarn of the day is Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in color 123.  I think this may be the very same stuff I sent to Anne last year (maybe even the same color, too?) as part of a Secret Pal exchange -- I've never tried the stuff, myself, and now I can!  Someday.

I guess there wasn't anything that tripped Kate's trigger -- except for some Malabrigo yarn in the Autumn Forest colorway (perfect for her!) which she resisted (for the moment and only because she didn't have a specific something in mind for it and it's still a bit warm to be thinking of working much with wool) -- until she saw a braided hank (is that the correct term) of roving at Temptations.

"What's this?" she asked.  "How do you knit with this?"

I told her that it was roving and it's for spinning.  "You mean making your own yarn?"

Oh, yes, she was very intrigued by that -- interestingly, not at the shop with all the spindles and wheels and bags of the stuff -- I told her that we could make a drop spindle with a CD, and that her Nana has two spinning wheels (functionality yet to be determined), and that I have a feeling that I'll be hard-pressed to resist the whir of the wheel come October in Rhinebeck, and may even be forced (goaded, at the very least) to experience the spin.  My wall of resistance may finally be caving -- and I resist only because I can't imagine fitting it in.  I did just tell Cara, though, that the more there is to do, the more I get done.

If you ever find yourself in Sturgeon Bay, I recommend the Pudgy Seagull as a place to try for breakfast, possibly a quick lunch, not really dinner.  Really cool sign, though.

Dsc08078"P" could be for propeller -- and if I was a mariner in any way, shape or form, it would be -- but my own, more personal "P" is yet to come.  Intriguing chunk of an old boat, though.  I really did think about the ABC-Along as I shot that picture above.  ; )

I took so many sky pictures, it isn't even funny.


Musing on weekends in June

It was a last-minute decision to head north last weekend -- Wednesday or Thursday night when I shot off an email to check with Dad (our host) and make sure he didn't have other plans.  There are relatively few things clogging up my calendar this summer -- not like some years when it's practically all booked by March (I hate that kind of summer) -- and I'm employing a "take it as it comes" approach.

We left on Friday night and Kate & Al drove the whole way except for the half-mile between gas station and discount store in Wausau where we stopped for a few supplies.  As long as there was light, I knit on my sock in the car.  The girls had control of the audio system and we listened to their CDs until the very last part of the trip.  When we finally switched on the radio, about 15 minutes from our destination, it was 11:00 p.m. and I heard the unmistakable beginning to a national network news update...

297I have been going up to the cottage at least once a summer for my whole life.  My grandparents were one of three families -- siblings -- who owned a big log cabin -- four bedrooms plus a big loft at each end, large kitchen/dining/living area, enclosed porch with a huge swing, also a boathouse on the island across the bridge, outhouse, tool shed, and "the hoodlum" -- that my great grandpa had built in the '30s; each of the three had a whole month of summer to spend there themselves or divvy up amongst or share with their kids.  My grandparents' month was June and, in my memory, they always spent the whole whole month, 1st through the 30th, at the cottage.  One time Great Uncle Gordy showed up on June 30th to get a head start on his month of July and that didn't go over real well with my grandpa -- early fireworks that year.  Great Gramps had actually left the cabin to all six of his kids, but three of them, arguably the ones with the most sense, immediately sold out to the other three.  The remaining owners never put any more into the place than was absolutely necessary, so the plumbing was never upgraded beyond the original outhouse and outdoor pump, except for a cold-water line to the sink in the last couple of years.  It had always been the job of whatever kids were around to keep the two water pails filled -- pumps are never located right outside the door and this one was no exception, located a little downhill, even, and it couldn't have been farther from the kitchen.  In fact, the three owners could rarely agree on exactly what constituted "absolutely necessary" maintenance, so the place was in need of a major repairs and renovation when they finally sold it after some 40 years -- so much work needed to be done that no one in the following generations would touch it with a 10-foot pole.  An uncle bought a different (and smaller) cabin a couple of doors down -- there were about a half-dozen places that were built and owned by various ragtag relations and this was one of those -- and my dad bought some nearby land and eventually built a small place of his own.

287When I was a little kid, Dad had a small plane and we sometimes flew into a nearby "airport" -- which, depending on where we were flying into and the time of day, might actually not have been an airport but was instead the local lumber yard doing double-duty.  Most of the time, though, we drove.  I could usually pull rank, as the eldest, and sit in the front seat between my parents rather than one of four squished into the back seat.  Sometimes I lost the front, but then I'd wrangle for (and usually win) at least a window seat in back.  I remember stopping for gas, sitting by the open window in the back seat, waiting for the attendant to come and pump the gas, wash the windshield, check the oil -- and inhaling deeply -- I loved the smell of gasoline.  I remember my dad's left arm always being much more tanned (or burnt) and freckled than the right because he liked to drive with his arm hanging out the window.  I remember wistfully passing drive-in after drive-in with fluorescent ice cream cone signs -- but I don't remember ever stopping.  We never had anything to drink -- no bottles of Coke or water or Starbucks Double-Shot -- or eat -- no king-size Milky Way or bag of Ruffles -- and I don't remember even stopping to use a bathroom.  My dad's a drive 'til you get there kinda guy now, and I think he always was.

278The minute I heard the jingle leading into the news last Friday night, I was transported.  It was 1968 and I was between mom and dad on the front seat of his white Jeep Wagoneer with the boat being towed behind.  It was a wooden boat, a Thompson, and one year it was suspended in the garage, sanded and repainted.  It was a pretty boat and sometimes I was allowed to drive it.  "The lake" was actually a flowage, though, and boaters needed to be constantly watchful of stumps just below the surface.  I was never allowed to let 'er rip on open water, and I never would have wanted to!  On that day in June, 1968, the news was relentless, constant on the radio -- at every turn of the dial -- with word of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.  I was only 9, but I remember how solemn the mood during that trip.  I don't know if I put it together myself, the relationship between Bobby and his brother, John -- whose assassination just after my fifth birthday I also remember to a degree -- but I'm sure it was put together for me.  I was only a year younger than Caroline Kennedy and that was close enough that I felt sad for her and her little brother that their dad was killed.  I would often look through the book "The Torch Is Passed" that my mom had, and I would look at Rose Kennedy's face and think about how awful it must have been for her -- I think John was the third child she lost? -- and now this?  Bobby?  I was not a newshound by any means, but even I knew that 1968 wasn't going very well, not with Martin Luther King, Jr. have been assassinated a few months earlier.

There was another June, several years later, listening to the chase of O.J. Simpson.  I learned of the death of Princess Di coming home from a trip to the cottage, too, though that was in August (oh! that wasn't our month!).

The pictures are all from the 40s or early 50s, I think.  Picture #1 taken from the island where the boathouse was, to the left (out of the picture) was a group of big marten houses, way over on the right is "the hoodlum" which is now at my uncle's place -- it had wheels and two, built-in, full-size bunks, and was originally hauled around to lumber camps.  Picture #2 is the others side of the cabin -- the shorter lady is my great grandma -- the hoodlum is at far left, the building next to it on the right is the two-seater outhouse.  Picture #3 -- I don't know where they came from, but the Adirondack chairs at the cottage were the most comfortable ever!