Friday, June 30, 2006


In my last post, I incorrectly identified Brooke as the one who ran off to play. It was PAIGE who ran off to play, and Brooke who is in the separate picture putting her Monet touches on her artwork. Sorry. Can't believe I didn't realize that was Brooke and not Paige, since Paige wore a pink headband that day and Brooke's hair was pulled back in a ponytail and fastened with a flower clip. (I wanna be a flower girl, Grandma!) I am the one who dressed them and did their hair and boy do I feel stupid right now.

Backyard Artists

Chantze, Brooke, and Paige stayed overnight the day after we got back from Wisconsin. We went to the beach which was fun, although the water was quite cold. Then we played miniature golf with Aunt Jamie. She bought them each a huge sparkler, too! Wish I had thought to put new batteries in my camera! The next day we set up a table in the backyard, dusted off some old terra cotta planters I found in the garage, and got out the acrylic paints. They worked hard on them, as you can see. And they turned out so beautiful! Brooke used Monet colors on hers, but she ran off to play before I could get a separate picture of her. Paige's looks like sunshine and blue sky. Chantze used blue polka dots on orange, whimsical and cute. Tonight I am going to put a satin finish on them so they can plant something next time they come over. Viva la summer.

Error Message

Just a few lines to let you readers know that I have been unable to successfully upload pictures to my blog. If they upload, I get an error message that says I can't publish my new post. If I just write apparently there is no problem. Don't know what the glitch is (me or the website) but even though I uploaded about 4 pictures in the post below, only one published! GRRR! I'll keep trying since I have more to write about our trip to Wisconsin, the people we were with there, etc. But soon it's going to be old news. I already have a few pictures of the kids doing things that I want to get to, and I have promised to write a post about things my kids did when they were younger, since they seem bent on embarassing me with their recollections of my past! So I am going to keep trying. Sorry if you are disappointed, I am, too.

Pictures of the Badger

The darkest picture shows the semis that were loaded last. This picture was taken just after the ship pulled out of its berth in Manitowac. The picture of Fritz onshore and again on the bow were taken in Ludington.

If you are wondering why I haven't published the pictures of our trip, it's because the last few times I have tried, the pictures haven't appeared on the blog when I upload them. Don't know why, but it's some glitch that just cropped up in the computer while I was gone. Here is the best I could do, but if they appear out of order it's because some will publish and some won't.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Getting Home

The Badger car ferry is a marvelous way to travel. Being somewhat neurotic and queasy on trips, I admit I was anxious about traveling at all, but aside from having to take dramamine, it was great. Leaving Michigan we were able to get on the ship and cross over in mostly daylight. Approaching Wisconsin, as the sky darkened, our first glimpse of land appeared as a strobing white light which turned out to be the beacon on the top of the outer breakwall marker in Manitowac. Much to our surprise, in the middle of harbor, the Badger did an amazing 180 degree turn in order to back into the berth.
Unloading was also surprising. The cargo deck is like a highway with a sharp hairpin turn at the far end. First the driving crew puts in the passenger vehicles. The campers, motor homes, and semis go in last. Because they are too long to make the turn, they have to be backed in. When the Badger was moored and the sea gate lifted, the semis just rolled out of the belly of the boast as if continuing down a highway. But the cars being unloaded was actually funny. A driver would manuver the car out of the ship, park it, jump out, and run like the hounds of hell to get his or her next car. When several of them would be running back to the ship at the same time, it was like a foot race. The passengers were standing behind a barrier waiting for their cars, and since there were a great many, having the runners to watch made a long wait entertaining.
Going over, we had the recent bereavement on our minds and although it was a good trip, I will tell about the trip back because it was more enjoyable. After saying a reluctant goodbye to our family, we left Whitewater, Wisconsin plenty early, and picked a different route which would involve fewer transitions. It was a sunny evening after days of variable rain and sun. The farms we passed seemed to be thriving, with lush fields of wheat, corn, hay, and other crops. It wasn't warm, but the coolness was the pleasant kind. What amazed me was the beauty of the farms and country homes. Their yards were so well-kept, they had the appearance of golf courses. Even in places where the houses were far apart, that beautiful green lawn was neatly mowed between each, and far to the back of the property whether it bordered crops or woods. Much of this area was once under a glacier, and the deposits it left made it perfect for farming. But even so, it was some of the loveliest country I have seen, partly because the owners take such good care of what they have.
We arrived in Manitowac early and spent some time at the docks in the terminal, enjoying the model ships and informational displays on the history of the Badger and the car ferries on the Great Lakes. We finally boarded, and went straight to the stern on the middle deck so we could look down and observe the loading of the vehicles. No less than five huge semis were loaded at the very last, although one of the pamphlets we read said that the car ferry was built to carry many railroad freight cars, fully loaded with cargo. So even though it looked heavy laden, the Badger was lightly loaded. We watched the crew remove the metal walkways, take off the mooring cables, chain the fronts of the semi's, and unlock the docking mechanism. With no more than a slight jar, the Badger moved out of the berth, and a widening swath of water boiled up between the cargo deck and the dock. The sea gate didn't come down until we were fully underway.
The lights of Manitowac faded, but, very very slowly. We enjoyed sitting on chairs in the stern that were fastened down along the guardrail, watching the wake and lights behind us. On a trip to the bow, which is open and contains many more lounges and chairs, we could see little but misty darkness ahead, although we could see stars in the black sky above us. Most of the passengers must have headed to the staterooms to sleep, although a few wandered about on the decks. Some ate at tables near the snack bar, some got drinks from a tiny bar, others lounged in theater chairs and watched tv until they fell asleep. I even saw a few stretched out on cafeteria benches and outdoor benches. The truck drivers found various places to loll their heads back, fold their hands on their potbellies, and snore their way across. The night trip was quiet, none of the Bingo games and kids activities that keeps things bustling on the day trips.
A large computerized screen amidships showed a graphic of Lake Michigan, with the Badger as cursor slowly edging its way east at 15 knots. We enjoyed checking on our progress from time to time.
Fritz visited the onboard museum, although going down the narrow hallway to a small, very warm room with no windows wasn't my cup of tea. I read a Reader's Digest kindly given me by cousin Pam in the tv area while he did a little exploring. On the lower passenger deck, we could step out onto a covered promenade and open any of a number of windows to get some fresh air and see out onto the lake. If we wanted to visit the bow, we had to climb a stairs and walk a long way down an uncovered promenade to an observation deck on the bow. Exposed to the wind, this higher deck has a higher guardrail, but is a great place to be when the ship approaches port. While on this deck, we could see tiny lights far off in the east. We thought it might be a ship worth seeing, so we stayed and watched. Soon, we began to see other tiny lights. We wondered if what we were actually seeing was lights from land. So we trudged back to the stern to see if we could still see the strobing light of Manitowac, and sure enough, even though it was weak and very faint, we could still see it. Back in the bow, the tiny lights to the east became stronger and soon it became apparent that we were seeing Ludington. So, 30 miles out, in the middle of the big lake at one if it's narrower breadths, we could see lights at both Manitowac and Ludington! Having said this, it still took two more hours to get to port, so seeing the lights certainly doesn't mean you are close to land.
Dawn broke as we were docking, and this time we were ready for the 180 turnaround, which took place with much squealing, thumping, and shuddering. As it backed into the berth, you would swear it was going to crash into the pilings, or scrunch into the wall. But the few feet of deck that butted up to and then locked into the dock mated like a hand in a glove, so gently you would think the ship was made of paper. It sure was impressive, and it gives you a lot of respect for the wheel man. All of the crew did their jobs well. It was a great trip. Once we claimed the car, we just drove away, and got a McDonald's breakfast in Ludington. We drove across Oceana county as dawn turned into day, and got home in Muskegon county about seven in the morning. It's good to be home. After several hours of sleep in my own bed, I just want to say, it was a wonderful visit in many ways, but home is home. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

And the Weiner Is:

Thanks to all of you who responded to my Believe It Or Not. Here are the correct answers:

1. True. A lady who owned a motel asked me to do this since she had such a weak stomach. The vomiter was a bachelor renting a room by the week, he got drunk and she discovered the mess when the police came and hauled him off for some petty crime. I needed the money, and also wanted to see if I could do it.

2. I have no birthmarks.

3. I was engaged at 16 to a Viet Nam vet I met up north while staying with my cousin Kay. Everything I wrote was true. He died many years ago.

4. False. I did ride an elephant. Never knew my legs could spread that wide! I'm not kidding.

5. False. My mother did injure a finger once, but I felt bad about it, not repulsed.

6. False. All 4 of you who participated got this one wrong. No, I most certainly did NOT steal a lipstick from my aunt! There isn't a shade made that ever looked good on me and I have always had the sense to not wear it. However, thanks for the vote of confidence!

7. No, I never dropped one of my grandchildren, but it sounded true, didn't it? Ray was right, I would have confessed.

8. False. I never cheat when I play a game. But you knew that, right?

9. True. I needed to buy plates and insurance for my car and after arguing with me, the guy at the desk gave me a chance to "establish credit."

10. Of course its true. Anyone who didn't cry at least once while watching Lassie is probably cold-hearted. That plaintive music wrenched at the heart, too.

And the weiner is! A tie. Technically, Chill got the least amount wrong but he didn't attempt to answer number 2, so to be fair, he got that one wrong and tied with Short and Yoob at 3 wrong each. Trophy, you were a real close second, and since you put my picture on your blog, I am going to give you a 2 point handicap because you haven't known me all my life and declare you the conditional winner. Any complaints about that, take it up with my secretary who is out on sick leave for the next century.

And here is a response to Yoob's list of things I supposedly did that I forgot to mention. And you do know you are tagged, Yoob, so next time, why don't you use that brilliant memory of yours and write a list of things we could believe or not?

Yes, I set the woods on fire, but so did you, so na na na na na.

I never set a brother on fire. If I did it must have been my alter ego whose actions I neither remember nor take responsibility for, because nothing like that ever happened. I do remember a brother who threw lighted matches on me.

The vomit thing...h aha ha! I think that is true. I do remember that. Good one, Yoob.

Yes, I did drop you, and for the umpteenth time, I'M SORRY! Sheesh, get over it.

Gum scraping...for those of you who haven't tried it, be prepared to gag. I learned this from a friend and passed it on to others so they could enjoy gagging, too.

The bleach squirting thing did happen. Only it was a witch's brew of stuff that included bleach. It was called INITIATION. It wasn't just random juvenile delinquincy.

There was no vigorous campaign. I put HHH on the back of my red windbreaker as a protest against the presidential candidates I didn't like. I heard Hube's speeches and they resonated with me. Why, I don't remember now. But I got attention, which was probably the real reason.

The Mason jar burial I don't specifically remember, you may be getting confused with the football game squirting episode. Are you sure it wasn't a cat I buried and dug up years later?

Preemie cats. Yes, but there was no macabre intent, I really was intrigued and felt the phenomena should be documented.

The dummy thing. Well, I had plenty of help on that one! But I guess you could say I was the ringleader.

Binoculars. These gave superpowers to the powerless. Still love 'em!

If you are referring to our brutalizing our downtrodden neighbor children, please be kind enough to admit I later was the one who stuck up for them on the school bus. If you are referring to me picking on you, SORRY!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tagged and Gagged

Okay, let's play Believe It Or Not! Only some of these incidents are true. Which ones? And by the way, I talk so much about myself that I am sure most of you know which ones are true and which ones aren't.

1. I once cleaned partly wet, partly dry puke off a mattress for ten bucks.
2. There is a birthmark on my body that I can only see by using a mirror. It is shaped like a bowl (or half moon).
3. The man who very nearly turned out to be my first husband got shot up in Viet Nam, hit by a train, then got diabetes and cancer.
4. I have ridden a horse and a camel but never an elephant.
5. When I was very small, my mother injured her hand at work and showed us the wound and stitches. It freaked me out so bad I didn't like her anymore, and I avoided being near her and her hand until it started looking more normal. (I don't think she noticed, though.)
6. After filching a cool lipstick from my aunt, I felt guilty, so the next time I was in her car I hid it in the back seat, but she didn't find it soon enough and the sun ruined it.
7. I once dropped one of my grandchildren by accident: they slipped right through this shiny blanket material when I thought I had a good hold on them. I never told anyone, but they didn't get hurt anyway, just shook up a little.
8. Several times I have studied the Balderdash cards and memorized as many words as I could. Same with Trivial Pursuit. I just hate to lose.
9. I once got a loan for $60. from a loan company and paid it back in 3 installments of $22.
10. The show Lassie just about made me cry on a daily basis.

Okay, no fair sharing info. Everyone is on his or her own. I really sucked at guessing Chilldaddy's true or false, although I really didn't think it all through. Maybe if I had taken more time....wah. But maybe I can stump a few people with these.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Fritz!

This is Fritz sitting across the table from me at Brann's today. The prime rib was good, but watching a movie together with home-made pizza later will be even better. It's a small way for me to show him that I appreciate him and all he has done for our family on Father's Day.

Now, I would like to proclaim to all who read this blog that Fritz was single when I met him and didn't have any children of his own, but from the day we met some 17 years ago, he has always treated my three children like his own. When I say "like his own," I mean he did everything a father would do. That means helping to keep cars on the road, loaning money, offering a place to live free of charge, supporting their activities in many various ways, and so on. As they were going through the many changes of young adulthood things could become rough, even tragic, but Fritz was always there to be supportive and do whatever he could to make things better. And then came the grandkids! And that meant changing diapers, plunking down the cash when I picked out everything from clothes, outdoor toys, gas money, fast food, books, movies, art supplies, toothbrushes, whatever the grandkids needed or wanted at our house. When I become somewhat obssessed with my grandkids (as I often do) he quietly steps aside and lets me be Grandma, not asking for anything for himself, and not complaining when he doesn't get it.
So, today on Father's Day, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU fand I LOVE YOU for being such a great stepfather to my kids, a great step-grandfather to the grandchildren (which I consider "OURS") and for letting me be, and helping me be, the best parent and grandparent I can be. I couldn't ever have done it without you.
I would also like to send out a huge hug to all the dads in our family who work every day at jobs that aren't always pleasant or easy, who give up time they could be doing something for themselves to do something for the family instead, and who don't drive flashy cars or buy the latest toys for themselves because it makes them happier to see the family get what they want or need. For your sacrifices, for your love, and your unwavering support and dedication to your families, I wish you a wonderful year ahead full of blessings and God's grace for health, prosperity, and happiness! You are creating a present and a future that is making the world a better place to be. Love you all!

Here are a few pictures of the party for Mike, Wayne, and LuWanna. The fire was great, it was just cool enough to make you want to draw up close and put your toes on the perimeter of cement blocks to get toasty. Mark outdid himself with his guitar playing and singing. Mike and Val did some great harmonies! Ken made his outstanding crowd-pleasing lasagna, and the other guests with their various talents rounded out an evening of music and chillin' out.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hanging Around With Grandkids

Here is the one picture I could get them to hold still for! We are going to enlarge and print it and use it for a spinner. That will help to settle disputes, or who has to do what on the chore list. Or who gets to stay up late!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What We Did Today - And Last Week

It was so good to have all the grandkids here today, even if they were a little testy at times. Gosh, we forget, they have their little madness and moods too! We had a pleasant picnic at Heritage Landing, which is closing in order to prepare for Summer Celebration, so I am glad we went today. Of course I snapped a few pictures, one that is really funny, which I plan to put on here as soon as things slow down. Nor have I forgotten the party pictures. Thought it would be tonight, but I am doing extra babysitting plus a graphics job for a friend that has to be done tomorrow. So I am behind in my pictures, but only for now! the ones I wanted to put on here of the party are still in the camera. So tonight I will post a couple pictures I took at the beach on a not-so-hot day. The water temperature was somewhere around 53 I think. The girls screamed when they went in the water, but you couldn't keep them out! We are all ready for beach season around here, and it's so great we live only five minutes away from a really nice one.

The party was great. Sorry I haven't updated, but it turned out to be a very busy weekend and is still rocketing along like blue blazes. I have about 5 minutes tonight to blog, so I am going to post the label I made for the bottle of tequila Shortn'sweet and I bought him to celebrate his birthday. This isn't an exact replica, I had to change the size to fit the bottle, but oh well, you get the drift! It was a great party, as Yoobee mentioned in one of the comments. I have pictures to prove it, but they'll have to wait a day or two! Val did a great job hosting, she was the bestest hostess ever. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Big Birthday Week!

So, here are the birthday babes. Wayne, Mike, and LuWanna! So send them a card, or call them and wish them a Happy Birthday.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Cast Poses

Here are the cast members in their costumes.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Impromptu Play With Much Drama

Thursday turned out to be quite an eventful day. I was awakened to the news that Chill and Trophy had been in a nasty accident. Although they weren't severely injured, they were bruised and sore, especially Trophy, who ended up being put into a neck brace. So after they were treated and released from the hospital, they took me up on my offer to pick up the kids and keep them for the rest of the day. I had already planned to pick up three other grandchildren that day, so the short one and I ended up with all 6 grandchildren. Keeping in mind Bunnyjo's significant other had been in the emergency room the day before with an injured neck due to a hit and run accident, the kids had a chance to connect while giving all the parents some needed time to themselves. To say nothing of the fact I have missed them all and really needed to spend some time with them.Well, after a big dinner together, the kids all went to play in the basement, where I keep as many different amusements as possible. And they decided to put on a play, complete with costumes, a little music, and lots of drama! The basic plot was that Em was bewitching and foiling Haile, Grace, and Chantze, as they attempted to prepare for an attack from formidable enemies. There were many attacks on each other, falling to the ground from terrible injuries, and ganging up on the bad guy (Em). Brooke and I were the audience, while Paige played the part of a poor cold and hungry child. It was very dramatic and fun to watch. I am proud of their efforts, and the fact that they rehearsed and worked out many small details, which allowed them to play it almost all the way throught with hardly any stage whispering! I think some of these pictures show the intensity of the drama.