Friday, July 30, 2010

WeekWord: Braid

Hennie Mavis on her Runs Rampant Blog has a WeekWord "Braid."
  Here is my contribution.

The drawing above I did on my iPad to go with story below.  I spent most of my time working on the story.  If you click the image, you can view it larger.

What follows is a brand new chapter from novel in progress, Disappearing.  I'd been thinking of giving the protagonist braids and the prompt of the week convinced me.


Terry leaned over, blew out a moist breath, rubbed the dusty mirror with a piece of toilet paper and looked at herself. The light coming through broken window of abandoned house number six was greenish from the leaves that hung over the window like a curtain. Green, brown and gold, for dead and dying leaves dangled among the live ones. She wished she had a camera and could capture the face she saw. She wished she could paint herself in soft water colors or even bright pastels. She could see the possibilities developing in her mind, but of course, she had no camera, paint or pastels. She had nothing.

She liked this strange green-gold reflection. It looked more relaxed and girlish than her reflections had for several years. She looked happier, more like herself. How could that be, when she had no money and didn't know where her next meal would come from? Why did she feel safer here, in this abandoned house, in this apparently alarmingly unsafe neighborhood, than she had at home?

Terry leaned over and peered at the top of her head. Dark auburn roots showed at her part, a good lot of them. The frosted strawberry blond done by Eileen at Mr. Curl was growing out. She held up her head and looked at the hair that fell just below her shoulders. When had she last been to Mr. Curl for a trim and a do? It had been a long while. She hadn't even brushed her hair for days. She opened the medicine cabinet. There was a ratty old hairbrush, a comb, a bottle of aspirins with maybe seven aspirin in it, along with a little pile of aspirin dust, and some hair bands.

On the side of the tub was a nearly empty bottle of shampoo. She reached through the tattered shower curtain with its dried mildew and rust stains and turned on the water. It sputtered, stopped, started, shot out gobs of lumpy brown goo and rusty water, and then ran clear. It was cold, of course, with no gas or electricity to heat it. She didn't understand why the water was still on, but wasn't going to worry about it, as long as it worked. She jumped in, lathered her hair and her armpits (they were hairy, too) and using the shampoo as soap, quickly washed herself, watching sheets of dirt-laden water slough off her body and stream toward the drain.

The water got colder and colder. She moved faster and faster, lathering, rinsing and then leaping out. Water dripped onto the linoleum floor in puddles. She shut off the water. Then opened the cupboard. She hadn't thought to look for a towel. Crumpled in a corner was a small hand towel covered with mouse droppings. The towel was frayed with age; a mouse had chewed one edge to threads to make nest at some point in the past. Using the cleanest- looking portion of the towel, she wiped herself off. She was still damp, but felt great. Miraculously clean. Her blood was chugging through veins and she felt astonishingly alive. She looked in the mirror. Her cheeks were rosy red, even in the green-gold light, and amazingly, she looked kind of pretty. Thinner, younger.

As she put her clothes back on, she realized she would need to wash them as well. Then it occurred to her she had been standing naked in an abandoned house where anyone could have walked in on her, and had not been afraid. And still wasn't, unless she really thought about it. And why bother worrying? There was nothing immediate she could do to fix her situation. After removing old hairs and dust from the brush and rinsing it under a hard gush from the tub spigot, she brushed her hair and then decided to braid it. She wondered if she'd remember how. As a kid, she had worn her hair in braids. For years, her mother had done it for her.

Then, one day, Simon's friend Sienna Weaver's mother, Annie, who was an artist, asked Terry to sit for her. Terry had arrived for the sitting with her hair down, because she thought it was prettier that way and that Mrs. Weaver would want her to look pretty. Mrs. Weaver asked her to braid it. When Terry told her she didn't know how. Mrs. Weaver acted as if she were a cretin.

"How old are you?" she'd asked.

"Thirteen," Terry had answered. Mrs. Weaver had to know that, since Sienna, her daughter, was a year younger and a grade behind her.

"And you can't braid your own hair?  You let your mother do it for you? Every day?" Terry felt a rush of shame and anger wash over her.

Mrs. Weaver braided Terry's hair in soft loose braids for her portrait, different than the tight way her mother did it. But though her mother always held the hair tightly, she did it with love and kindness. Mrs. Weaver moved more softly, but was not as gentle as her mother. Terry wanted to squirm away and run from the little play yard with its white picket fence where Mrs. Weaver had asked her to sit for her portrait. But Terry had promised she would sit, so she sat. The braids looked nice for the portrait, but fell out as soon as Terry began to run around afterwards.

Mrs. Weaver had entered the portrait in an art show where it won a green honorable mention ribbon. Then, she had given the portrait to Terry. It both looked and did not look like Terry. The eyes were
wrong—they looked more like Sienna's eyes, like Annie Weaver's eyes, than hers. They were slanted and almond shaped rather than oval and level like Terry's eyes. Terry could never decide if she liked the
portrait, with its strange mix of bad and good memories. The portrait was probably, still at her parents' house. She was sure that her parents would not have thrown it out. She was not sure if she wanted it or not, if she survived her current problems.

The evening of the afternoon sitting with Mrs. Weaver, Terry asked her mother to teach her to braid. Her mother tacked three thick ropes to her bulletin board and showed her how to cross the upper outer rope into the center, and then the one on the other side. Terry practiced.  Then, she practiced on her hair. The braids she wove were not as nice as the ones her mother made; like Mrs. Weaver's they came loose and fell out.

"It works better if the hair is wet," her mother advised, so Terry tried that.

She tried for days and then for weeks. Meanwhile, she avoided Sienna and her mother because she didn't want either of them to ask if she braid her own hair yet. Sienna was kind of stuck up anyway. She was beautiful, like a movie star, with long curly blond hair, dark eyebrows and eyelashes and stunning blue eyes. Terry, with her straight dark auburn hair and violet blue eyes was pretty enough normally, but when she stood beside Sienna, she looked like Quasimodo.  Or perhaps she just felt like Quasimodo.

Every morning, Terry combed and braided her own hair, looked in the mirror, rejected the imperfect braids, and asked her mother to do it. She watched how her mother pulled the handfuls of hair tight, how she held the slippery shining stands, how she looped them over each other, pulling them tight again and again, how she dampened the hair and her hands.

Her Mom had to dampen the hair because, at that time, Terry didn't shampoo her own hair and her mother didn't do it for her. It had gotten so long that she could easily sit on it and was thicker than anyone else Terry ad ever met. Her mother had made arrangements to have it washed. Once a week, Terry went to Mr. Kilgore's beauty salon to have him shampoo her hair. He was Rod Kilgore's father. They lived on her street and Rod was friends with her brother, Simon. The abundance of Terry's hair was hard to handle. Mr. Kilgore was as gentle, kind and sweet as her mother. She wasn't sure why her mother permitted this weekly apparent extravagance when she was tight about finances in so many other ways. Maybe she wanted to help Mr. Kilgore by supporting his business. Maybe it was a small way of saying she loved Terry.

Later, Terry learned to braid her hair while it was still wet from
showering, which helped it braid tighter and stay braided longer. But
back then, they had to manually wet the hair. Every day, she watched
her mother and paid attention to the tension of the hair. The next
day, she would try again, fail, and ask for help. Her mother, who was
often cranky and irritable, was a paragon of patience during the braid
learning difficulties.

It took months, but she finally got it. Her braids were never quite
as neat and perfect as her mother's, but at last she could do it
herself. She was almost 14 when she finally did her own braids every
day before school.

Three months later, at the end of June, she cut her hair. That fall,
she would enter 9th grade, which, at that time at her school, was the
beginning of high school. Even in eighth grade, no one else wore
braids. Terry was an anomaly. People laughed at her. Gary Sommers
called her "Horsehair," which wouldn't have been so bad, except for
the mean way he said it, and the fact that the other boys had picked
up on it, too.

Mr. Kilgore cut off her braids. He was sad. She never went back to
him for shampoos, because now she could wash her hair herself in the
shower.  With her pixie cut, she went to him every two or three months
to have it re-cut and styled.

Terry realized something she had never understood back then.
Probably the reason it had taken her so long to learn to braid her
hair was because of her dyslexia. She always had particular problems
with things that involved right and left. She was so used to living
inside her own skin that she thought she was normal. But there were
times when her dyslexia puzzled her and made her embarrassed and
ashamed, particularly when she didn't understand the problem. Or,
perhaps it wasn't her fault. Perhaps Mrs. Weaver was at fault for her
lack of understanding. It was possible that she didn't know Terry was
dyslexic. But she didn't have to be quite so mean about it. After
all, Terry wasn't stupid. She was a lot smarter than Sienna, at
least in school.

Terry grasped her hair, used the rattail on the brush to make a part
in the back, and braided each side. Her fingers moved automatically,
without thinking, even though it had been years since she'd braided
it. She did remember. After she put the pony bands from the medicine
cabinet on the braids, winding them round and round, she studied
herself in the mirror. She smiled, a big happy smile. She remembered
that girl in the mirror and liked her. She liked her better than the
girl she had become these last few years.

Of course, she wasn't really a girl any more, not in the sense where
girl implied child, not legally or biologically. But right then, she
felt like a girl, and liked the feeling.

Her new braids were only a few inches long. The ends swept the top
of her shoulders. They were thinner than the substantial braids she
had as a kid. She remembered now, Mrs. Weaver, just before she had
braided her hair for the portrait, running her hands through Terry's
hair, admiring how thick it was, smiling at Terry, her criticisms
forgotten in the glory of the luxuriant hair. Well, her hair wasn't as
thick as it had been, but it was still nice. And it was hers. Her
hair, her braids. Her life.

In the Dark

We have no bathroom lights in the upstairs bathroom. Something happened and they blew a fuse and BB hasn't been able to make them work yet--though he's been very busy with a series of other problems--it's fine during the day, but a problem at night.

BB left piles of light bulbs on the sink and I was knocking them down in the dark, having forgotten they were there. :-( (Grrr!)

I've been using a headlamp since then to use the bathroom.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Car Repairs

The car is temporarily fixed--a scary notion indeed--when will the brakes fail again--at 75 driving across Canada? BB says I need a new car soon, that the cost of replacing all the brake lines is more than the car is worth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homesless and Hungry #100726-1313

New Art piece: I thought I would continue the theme I seem to be going with of homelessness. If hunger goes too far . . .

Pen and ink with watercolor, click to view a little larger.

Another sunset in the Porkies, for UP Trip

The sunsets were spectacular. This, by the way, once again, looks washed out here compared to how it looked before I posted it--I wonder why that is happening. It's happening a lot lately. I don't have time to try reposting it. I hadn't adjusted it in anyway because it was so brilliant and saturated just as it was. :-( Click image to view larger.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Heart monitor and harvest

Here I am yesterday with my heart monitor.  It was a pain at night!  I
ahve to wear it all night.

The second picture is yesllow squash and okra from the garden.  We've
been getting squash every day since we got back from vacation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation Day 7, July 5, Preque Isle River Falls Hike

Monday, July 5, 2010, Presque Isle River Gorge and Falls

Partly cloudy, warm and humid. Birds singing. Quiet but for the
occasional slamming of car or bathroom doors. No wind. We can hear
someone pouring dry cereal into a bowl. It seems very peaceful here.

Keith is going to get fresh water while Mary watches the stove which
us heating water for Keith's coffee. The water pump is down a trail
in the woods and is an old-fashioned hand pump that Keith says
requires about 60 pounds of pressure. He takes off his wedding ring
to operate it. Mary remembers pumping water at least once last time
we were here. Watching the old Coleman stove that used to belong to
Mary's parents means pumping it up every few minutes.

But the stove goes out even with pumping and when k returns, he adds
more gasoline. We have out usual breakfast. Mary has oatmeal and
vitamins; Keith has Graham crackers and coffee. We clean up and sit
and enjoy the silent forest, silent but for the soft sounds of daytime

We discussed how many days we were staying here and how we would
arrange the return trip but failed to make any decisions except that
Keith would shop and Mary would stay behind because of her pain. Just
as Keith was getting ready to go, Mary had a pain emergency and k
drove off without saying goodbye, something m was hoping to avoid
having happened. He also had her pain meds with him in the car. :-(

Mary crawled into the tent and retrieved her cell phone from the
pocket of her shorts (she has to wear long pants here because of all
the stable flies and other biting insects), so she could call Keith to
bring back the pain meds before he got too far, but there was no
service. So now, for two or more hours, Mary will have one story and
Keith another. Mary's story will contain more pain than she would

Keith has been reading a book, but Mary, who so far has been the one
recording the story, can only say it is a black book. She will have
to remember to ask. On past trips, both of us have worked on the trip
journal. But since it is on the iPad and since Keith has been doing
most of the driving, fire building and water fetching, he has yet to
edit and add his portion of the story. Keith also took the backpack.
He took neither the pain meds, nor the backpack on purpose, we just
use the car for storage and of course, he needed it to get groceries.
Mary thought she might pack up a few things and move down by the water
to read, write and paint while he was away.

The breeze blowing over the campsite carries the smell of fresh wood
smoke, light enough to be pleasant rather than burdensome. Sun
filters down through the thick canopy of leaves, causing sunny spots
in the ferns and ground cover. A few insects buzz by. The
mosquitoes, knock on wood, seem to have diminished and for the moment,
even the stable flies have calmed down. Quiet distant voices, the
high voice of a child, the lower voice of an answering adult, drift
through the trees. An occasional axe sound, but mainly birdsong.
Mary sits very still in her chair, trying not to exacerbate her pain.
She listens and waits.

To occupy herself without moving (because of the pain), Mary reads a
chapter in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and a chapter in Winnie
the Pooh; both books reside in the iPad.

She watches the man who comes to clean the pit toilets walk in with a
long pincher to pinch out things people have thrown in that will clog
the pumps. It would be good if those people were made to fish the
soda cans and bottles and diapers etc out themselves a few times, so
that they would not be so inconsiderate. Mary feels bad for the
guy--the insides of the lower parts of the pit toilets are really
gross!! Now he walks in with rolls of paper towels (for cleaning) and
toilet paper (to install). Mary has worked as a maintenance person
and has had to clean bathrooms (though not for many years) and feels
sympathetic toward the plight of the worker. Mary occupies herself
watching him carry things in and out and do his job. She wonders if
he's a "Yooper."

Mary is cold. She puts on her red corduroy jacket (An LL Bean jacket,
from Sara), but is still cold. Her hat and coat are in the car. She
would walk, maybe warm up, but the workers is still cleaning the
potties, and she would like to pee before she walks. She reads four
poems from Winter Morning Walks, by Ted Kooser. All the poems are
nice, particularly some of them. Here is the poem she likes best so

November 22

Sunny and cool, thin clouds

In his drab gray overcoat,
Unbuttoned and flying out behind,
a stocky bullet-headed owl
with dirty claws and thick wrists
slowly flaps home
from working the night shift.
He is so tired he has forgotten
his lunchbox, his pay stub.
He will not be able to sleep
in his empty apartment
what with the neighboring blackbird
flying into his face,
but will stay awake all morning,
round-shouldered and glassy-eyed,
composing a poem about
paradise, perfectly woven
of mouse bones and moist pieces of fur.

What a cool poem and a propos to Wesley the owl. Super!

Keith came home sooner than Mary expected him. He said the store did
not have a very good selection of vegetables. He got some "ehn"
mushrooms and some ground round, pork chops and t-bone steaks.

They were demolishing a very large building in the town of Wakefield,
which had behind it another large building with a collapsed roof that
looked like it might have been in a fire, and he stopped briefly to
check out a peculiar building on the outskirts of town, some sort of
trestle-like building, but he couldn't determine what it was. He got
gasoline and poked around in the store and got ice. Some enthusiastic
young man was helping him with his cart and ice. The man said for 75
cents, you could get 5 minutes of water for a shower nearby.

Keith is reading his book in the shade in a T-shirt and Mary is still
cold with her jacket on and keeps moving into the sun. Mary read a
chapter in Wesley the owl. Keith's reading Blasphemy, by Preston and
Childs. (Mary read that.)

We spent the entire afternoon hiking the Presque Isle River gorge,
starting at the upper bridge and hiking down to cross at the lower
bridge and the hiking back up the other side. There are three main in
waterfalls, all of which have Ojibwa names, as well as other smaller
falls, cliffs, rock formations, potholes, wide and narrow gorges, and
lots of lovely ferns and wildflowers. Of course, we took a bejillion
picture of everything, including each other.

One of Mary's favorite parts of the whole trip was one the way back,
when she took off her shoes, socks, jeans, overshirt and sat for a
long time with her feet and legs in the root beer colored Jacuzzi
under one of the falls. She would have liked to submerge her whole
self, but the water current was very strong. The fast moving water,
full of bubbles, was very refreshing and felt good. We'd gotten all
sweatified walking. There was also periodic mist from the falls that
was cooling. Mary had fun watching and popping the big bubbles that
formed from the little underwater ones.

Of course we loved the many different vistas of the river, the gorge
and the falls. And we loved the wildflowers. We saw musk mallow,
fireweed, blue bells, wintergreen, flowering raspberry, honeysuckle,
ox-eye daisies, pyrola, and many others and LOTS and LOTS of mushrooms
and fungi of many varieties including fly agaric (Amanita muscaria),
artists conch, varnish shell, and tons of others. Keith says, "We saw
a whole lot of cute yellow mushrooms in various stages of growth,
decline and fall."

Another thing Mary really LOVED about the walk is the further she
walked, the better she felt--her pain issues subsided while walking.
We did a lot of scrambling up and down steep hills and climbing over
things, which seemed impossible, but worked out fine.

Now we are back at camp and Keith is cooking dinner. Hamburgers and
veggie stir-fry. Mary cut up the veggies, Keith made the hamburgers,
chopped the wood and started the fire, Mary will wash the dishes.
After dinner, potato chips, beer and books. Some one, some the other.

When the dishes are done, the fogies sit together in their folding
chairs and read. Keith reads Blasphemy and Mary reads Winnie the
Pooh, Pride and prejudice, Wesley the Owl, and Winter Morning Walks.
We rarely speak, but occasionally look up and smile at each other. It
rains very lightly and we go on reading. It stops raining and we read
some more. It gradually gets darker and we keep reading. When we
stop at a chapter break, we hear the soft sounds of other campers
talking and the crackling of their fires. Our own fire has died away
to coals.

We're still operation on EDST, but we've crossed into a new time zone,
CDST, and it is staying light alarmingly late. We walk over to see a
pale pink sunset in little ribbons among the vast grey of cloud and
lake. When we return from sunset viewing, we batten hatches, Keith
reads to Mary from Kitchen God's Wife, and we retire for the night.

Mary's pain issues were worse than normal in the morning and better
than normal in the late afternoon and evening.

Nawadaha is the lowest falls at the mouth of the Presque Isle. The
next two up are Manido and Manabezho. Actually, it's the other way
around. Manabezho is the lowest falls, and also the biggest, (not
counting the smaller falls in the narrow gorge), and Nawadaha is the
upper falls, and somewhat smaller by still impressive and step like.

Click images to view larger. See two more shots from this hike here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

what Ryan saw

This wretched condition I have requires sitting in a tub of hot water. Multiple times a day.

I heard a knock at the door at 10 PM. I was in the bathtub reading with glasses and a headlamp—I thought Keith'd accidentally locked the door and it was Graham coming in. Trying to come in. I wrapped a bathrobe around me without tying it and went down, but the door wasn't locked and it wasn't Graham—it was Ryan on his skateboard. He was all sweatified because he'd ridden his skateboard over and he lives a LONG ways away. He wanted Graham and he wanted a drink of water. I gave him some water, but I didn't know Graham was. I must have looked a sight in the bathrobe, headlamp and glasses dripping wet. Our bathroom lights are very dim, chosen (not by me) for beauty rather than function. I'm a function kind of gal! That's why I love a good headlamp. I have a whole collection of them now.

Dale's Home

Sam and Keith are talking to Dale, a homeless man in Detroit, about where he sleeps in the winter (an empty deserted factory) and how he eats and stays warm. This is a companion piece to the one I posted yesterday. It's on the facing page.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking Homes from the homeless

If anyone knows Detroit, this is down near Eastern Market--it was a few years go. The bundle under the bridge is Dale's belongings. Now it is my understnding they made a walking trail there, so where is DALE? Where is he living? It's cold in Detroit in the winter--and hot in the summer.

Pen and ink and water color.

July 4, Day 6 of the Upper Peninsula Trip

Sunday, July 4, 2010, Lake Superior and Presque Isle River

Another camp-breaking day. Because it was Sunday, Keith made bacon
and eggs for us while Mary started the camp-breaking process. Keith
called Mary over--a juvenile deer mouse was crouched inside the
Coleman stove. Before it escaped through a hole in the bottom, we
both took pictures of it. Keith's breakfast was delicious, camp got
broken and packed up, and we were on our way after a health delay,
around 11:35 or so.

It was cloudy and a bit threatening when we first got up, but has
since cleared, though it's a little hazy. Blue sky, sunshine and not
too hot (yet).

As usual, Keith is driving and Mary is recording the morning's events
on iOla the iPad. Keith is doing a running commentary about the
drivers around us, the one riding his brakes and the one driving
absurdly slow etc. We just passed Hog Island state campground, where
we camped last time we were here and where Mary camped the year and
time she met Keith. Mary thinks about her unfinished novel, mystery
at Little Hog Island.

The scenery here is gorgeous, long beaches, curving bays, whitecaps
rolling in, spires of balsams. The traffic is steady at about 60, 65,
and fairly thick. We keep passing the slow ones at the passing lanes,
but since there's so much traffic, you can't get ahead. It's sort of
like the Adirondacks, only the roads are much straighter. And no
mountains, or course, not for many miles yet. We'll be turning inland
soon, no more lake views for a while.

No more views of Michigan or Superior, that is! There are lots of
other lakes, some of which are quite large.

We drove and drove and drove and drove, twisty backcountry roads and
lots of turns needing navigational attention. We were looking for a
place to picnic and pee. Finally stopped and peed and got gas at a
Mobil station.

Then, it clouded up and started raining. When at last, we found a
roadside park overlooking Lake Michigamme, it was raining too hard to
eat outside. We desperately wanted to stretch our legs. But we sat in
the car and ate our lunch. When we had nearly finished, it stopped
raining. Mary took a couple of pix of the view, one with Keith in it,
and we headed off down the highway toward L'Anse and Ontonogon and
points beyond. Now that we are on the road with food in our bellies,
it's barely drizzling.

Keith is driving again (he's done all the driving so far, although
Mary reminds him occasionally that she IS WILLING to drive) and Mary
has been reading two of her birthday books, Wesley the Owl and Winter
Morning Walks, by Ted Kooser. Wesley the owl is cute and funny so far
and causes some out loud chuckling and chortling. Winter Walks is
evocative and haunting. Mary guesses that Keith will also enjoy
reading Wesley the Owl.
We keep passing places we'd love to explore, but since this is a
long-hop day, and we will get to the Porcupines late and have to set
up camp, make dinner and hopefully walk, we aren't stopping to
explore. And it is raining off and on, sometimes hard.

On the way into the Presque Isle campground (it's a LONG ways in!!!),
we saw two does, each with two spindly-legged fawns. With spots.

Mary is sitting not too far from the fire as Keith makes dinner. It
is damp, been raining off and on all day. Keith split the wood and
built the fire while Mary cut the veggies--we tossed in some salmon.
We're almost out of food and the little hick-town stores up here were
all closed today.

We got camp set up, walked down the stairs to Lake Superior, and
around the corner to the Presque Isle River and the island K wondered
if it might be Presque Isle. On our walk, we saw lots of crayfish
claws and shells, lots of pretty rocks (rounded cobbles of various
sizes, colors and patterns, a goose eating seeds off the end of tall
grasses (it had an injured foot), lupines (in flower), the white,
woodland oxalis in flower, flowering raspberry with white flowers and
not quite ripe fruit. We saw the river gorge with its small falls and
rapids, its brown water and potholes, and its swinging footbridge.
And of course, we took pictures, though toward the end, it was getting
pretty dark. Mary was wearing shorts and sandals (keens) and the
stable flies were biting her feet and ankles. In the woods, there
were mosquitoes, but not too many.

We are in campsite 20, two campsites down from where we were last time
we were here. The whole campground area is open and park like, but we
are in the edge of the woods and have a little bit more space and
privacy than the people in the middle. There were no places left
along the shore of lake Superior when we got here. This site is
large. It is surrounded on three sides by a park-like climax or near
climax forest of tall sugar maples with a dew other species mixed in.
As it is getting dark, different sets of birds are calling. I also
think we heard some grey tree frogs high in the trees. Keith is
reading and Mary is heating water to wash dishes. (K put the water on
the fire and Mary is watching it, washing the dishes, and battening

Mary has just had one of her horrible, almost unbearable pain
episodes. It has subsided only slightly, and is still wretchedly
stabbingly burningly painful. Meanwhile, mosquitoes are humming and
the sun is pouring honey gold light over Lake Superior. Mary got
Keith out of his chair and we are standing together watching the
sunset over the water. It's the best sunset we've seen this trip,
spectacularly colorful and pretty. We talk to some of the other
campers. We take several pictures. The sun sets and people leave,
but of course, the best and most flamboyant colors come after the
sunset, as usual.

Mary is wearing shorts and sandals. The stable flies are biting and
biting and biting her ankles. That, combined with her pain, sends her
back to camp to change her clothes. But when she can't find her
socks, she sits in the tent. Keith returns to have "dessert," beer
and potato chips. He sits out in the dark crunching and slurping.
Mary's stomach growls and she feels sad. :-(

One of the people we were talking to was what Keith called the genuine
"Yooper" article. He spoke slowly and with a cadence and said, "eh?"
at the end of every third sentence of so.

Mary had a worse pain day, though it started better in the early AM.

The first two pictures are from the lake where we stopped for lunch and it was raining too hard to sit at a picnic table so we ate in the car. The lake was pretty. For some reason, the pictures look washed out. They looked better than this before I chose to mail them. :-(

See two more pictures from July 4.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why is this woman HAPPY?

YAY! I got a Moley! Woohoo!

I have Willie's Moley now! It just came! It blew me away--everyone's work is SO FINE!!!!

Treasure in the pocket--BOOBIES! Birds! And wonderful art, and lots of it.

On the top right are some of the things I've done for Willie's pocket! YIKES--I'd been putting them into an envelope, and I didn't realize how MANY there were!!

The previous artists are fantastic. Amazing! Wonderful.
I hope I can do a reasonable job on my part.
(Click image to view larger.)

Trout Lake

We took these during the day coming back from the Porkies, but on July
3rd, we saw them at Dusk--I wish I'd photographed them then--the light
was striking--pink and gold, and saloon was all lit up and people in
Stesons were coming and going--trucks, lots of activity.  But we were
tired and hungry and I wasn't feeling well.  I didn't even think of a
picture until after we left.

The Foam Devils

Here are the "foam devils" I refer to in my journal. (see next post)

Day 5 of vacation

Saturday, July 3, 2010, Tahquamenon

We woke up (many times, earlier, but "officially" [our "official" wake
up is when Mary takes her morning meds]) at 8:00 AM but didn't really
get up until 9:00.  We had a leisurely breakfast of Graham crackers
and milk and coffee for K and oatmeal for M.  M washed dishes while K
drank his coffee and we cleaned up, battened the hatches (although it
is sunny and blue)(just in case) and headed out on backcountry park
roads toward Tahquamenon Falls.

It was lunchtime by the time we got to Tahquamenon.  We moved a picnic
table into the shade and ate our bag lunches.  Then, we hiked (slowly,
because of pain), up to the upper falls, stopping at all the overlooks
to take pictures and reminding each other that this was where the
miracle of our meeting took place and reminding each other that we
love each other.  It was a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold.
Sunny and blue and breezy.  We hiked along the river and down into the
gorge, photographing scenes and butterflies, each other and other
people.  We sat with a family at the top of the gorge, listening to
them interact.  We took picture of other people with their cameras and
they took pix of us with ours.

One of the things we discovered and enjoyed watching and attempting to
photograph were the "foam devils." They are like dust devils, only
with foam from the falls.  They whirl around in a mini tornado shape
and then "explode" like a fountain.  This is sort of an inversion
process, which we've not noted with dust devils.

Then we decided to eat dinner at the restaurant, because we wanted to
go to the lower falls and it was a long drive back to camp and
besides, this was where we met.  We had a lovely dinner.  Keith had
the broiled lake trout and Mary had apple smoked pork chops and wished
she'd gotten the lake trout.  (The pork chops were good, but the trout
was better.)  We even got dessert.  It was a forest pie (bumble
berry!!) with ice cream.  Mary ate the pie and Keith the ice cream.
This was not on Mary's diet.

Then we drove to the lower falls and hiked up to the falls overlook
area and sat around people watching and taking pictures, hiked along
the river trail, and back to the car.  It doesn't sound like much, but
it was a long day, and we are tired.

Keith is driving now, back toward camp at not Little Hog Island (it's
called Lake Michigan Beach--duh, Lake Michigan is HUGE!). Mary is
attempting to remember and record the day's events on iOla the iPad.
The sun is setting.  We're attempting to go back a different way and
we hope we don't get lost.

Keith says the salient feature of the day was Mary's day-long
(week-long) distress.  It has been pretty terrible, spoiling parts of
our vacation.

Keith also remembers the botany lessons Mary gave him--She was showing
him Tsuga canadensis and Abies balsamea (hemlock and balsam fir) and
explaining how to distinguish them, also spruces and yellow birches
and pyrola (shin leaf) and wild lettuce, or what Mary thinks might be
wild lettuce.  We photographed a wood frog and a black swallowtail on
pink thistle, a strange kind of thistle, maybe the rare one they have

We are stopped now in Trout Lake, which seems sort of like a Wild West
town-- seriously--wooden front taverns, stores, general store, all
kinds of redneck types with 4 x 4s and boats, people drinking and
whooping it up in the tavern.  We stopped for ice to keep the salmon
we were supposed to eat tonight fresh, we hope, until tomorrow.  And
off again down 123 toward Moran and Brevort Lake.  And our home away
from home, the tent on Lake Michigan near the highway.

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

"A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth." Einstein, from a letter to a friend in 1901 when he was 22

"The fist is more than a sum of its fingers." Margaret Atwood

 "Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint
or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth." ~Madeleine L'Engle

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton


Vacation Day 5, Tahquamenon

We had a friendly butterfly in our campsite, surely a good sign.
Tahquamenon is where me met, so we celebrated and ate dinner there!

View from our campsite

I wrote and "sent" this while were there.  We're home now.  

I do not have the device required to download photographs to the iPad, so instead, I made a quick sketch on Omnisketch.  This is the view of the forest behind our campsite as the sun lowers to near the horizon and shines into the trees.

Since we are camping in a wilderness area and have no phone service or Internet, this will not go out until we do, but I'm writing it now in real time.  Sent from my iPad

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation, Day 3

We crossed the Mackinac Bridge and drove along Lake Michigan and stopped to camp at a Lake Michigan Campground. We took a stroll along the shore at sunset.

We kept a journal of our travels which I may post at some time--BB needs and opportunity to review it. See the sunset from this walk here.

Double, double, toil and trouble--doing art on the iPad while camping.

Working on a lighted iPad as it got dark produced eerie effects.  photo by BB

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Voracious Predatory Chipmunk

While We were at Bay Furnace Campground Near Pictured Rocks, and Keith was absent from the campsite, Mary watched a drama unfold. A chipmunk who had been nosing around the campsite all morning suddenly aroused the ire of a little chipping sparrow, who chipped madly and fluttered around sort of like a killdeer trying to lead a predator away from it's nest. The chipmunk paid no attention to it and began nosing around the area of open piney woods where the chipping sparrow was.

The sparrow then began attacking the chipmunk, pecking vigorously at its head. Then, Mary spotted a baby chipping sparrow fluttering about in the tall weeds and sparse tall grass. The chipmunk spotted it, too, and rushed after it and there was some furious scuffling where the baby was trying to flutter away, the chipmunk was trying to catch it, and the mother was pecking the chipmunk vigorously. Then, the chipmunk grabbed the baby by the throat and killed it and ran off about 20 feet and started eating it. Mary, who was trying to reposition herself to see better, accidentally scared off the chipmunk, who left the dead baby under a pine and never came back for it while we were still at camp. The mother chipping sparrow kept
searching and calling and searching and calling up until we left.

When we got back from our expeditions, hours later, we both checked, and the dead baby bird was gone from where the chipmunk left it. Since the chipmunk had already killed the bird, we hope he ate it.

This is not the first time that Mary has observed a chipmunk being predacious. She has also seen a chipmunk kill and eat a large water snake, big enough to have eaten it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sketch pro #2

And here is my second attempt with Sketchpad Pro in the middle of the night last night. Sent from my iPad

Sketch pro #1

I am trying a new iPad Sketch program, which I did during a bout of insomnia last night.  It seems to work pretty well.   It's called sketchpad pro.  Sent from my iPad

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vacation, Day 2

We dropped of CB (Choir Boy) at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and drive up to Sleeping Bear Dunes. On the way, we climbed many stairs for a view of Lake Michigan.

See one more shot of the day here.