Saturday, August 1, 2015

Panic Plus Angst Equals Pangst

I am not by nature a worrier. I'm a blue-sky kind of girl who tends to take my cues from Bobby McFerrin. Don't worry. Be happy.

I have faith in my world and yes, things happen. But there are things you can do something about and things you can't. I try my best not to let those things that can't rent space in my head.

Of course, there will always be something that does. The illness of a friend or family member that one can't change or "fix." Or for that matter, your own health. A financial issue that seems overwhelming. Rebuilding a life or a home after a disaster. But these are big worries.

I'm worrying for a few weeks. Why? Because as I've mentioned before, my fabulous biker boy Rick is off on a biking and camping trip, riding from Lansing through part of Canada. This is his route, if you care to take a look, for the scale if nothing else. It will cover over 700 miles and last about two weeks. He also has a very clunky bike-geek blog-like thing and if you're into it, you can follow him HERE. The updated table of contents is at the bottom of the page.

Did I mention he was doing this solo? Did I mention that much of this area has no internet availability? No cell phone signal? No wifi connection? Did I mention that he is totally geeked up about this and has no fear, no worries? Did I mention that I am scared to death?

Now, Rick has been doing this since he was a kid. When he was 16, he and his brother rode from Toledo to -- where? For some reason I'm thinking Columbus, though Rick and Tim would probably correct me.

He's done long day/weekend trips, including one just a week or so ago, taking three days to come down Michigan's beautiful eastern Lake Huron coast. And yes, he was alone on that one. But not far, really. Not in the wilderness.

He will be seeing some of the most beautiful country in North America (so I am told by those who have actually been in parts that he will come through). Just him and his little tiny tent, two wheels held together by a few pieces of metal. He vows to be as determined as the postal service, through wind and rain and bears and ticks and lack of showers and whatever else, nothing will stop him from his appointed rounds.

I will pick him up in Toronto after he spends a day or two with clients (he's doing that elsewhere on the route. Other people would be able to write off the mileage on their car and their meals. I don't know the IRS rate for pedaling. Boxed mac and cheese, Clif bars and coffee probably won't make much of a dent in the deductible meals category). And then in two weeks time, I'll haul his sorry little suntanned bones home in the car so he can get ready for his 400 mile DALMAC ride from Lansing to Mackinac over the Labor Day holiday.

And while he's gone? I will make art. I will swim in the lake. I will spend time with friends. I will go to the Great Lakes Folk Festival. I will make pesto and water my garden and head to Canada where I will spend my birthday with my friend Suzanne on the way to getting Rick.

But I bet I won't be sleeping all that well. Just a hunch.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Christmas in July

Christmas in July? Really? It's barely turned summer. Should our thoughts be of snowflakes? Especially when one isn't all that fond of snow?


Well, two things prompted me to get on the bandwagon (or start one)! The first was a gorgeous post by Patty at Magpie Tales on her Christmas in July collage. Just about everything Patty does inspires me; her blog and technique are both wonderful.

Then I was invited by the folks over at Patience Brewster (they make the incredible cards and wonderful holiday ornaments) to join in on the Christmas and July celebration. I love the work of Patience Brewster and thought, "Well, I was already thinking of it..."After all, if you've followed me for any length of time you know I am a Christmas nut. I have to start preparations early just because if I don't, life gets in the way. I always do a show in November with friends which includes not only my regular card and gift inventory but Christmas-related items as well.

The trouble is... what to post about? And when, in my crazy July, do I get the time to do it?

The answer to the first was pretty simple. I've been trying my best to channel my inner Kristen Robinson and put into practice what I learned in her plastering class (see this post for more on that one!). I had decided that I wanted to include some of these boxes in my November sale. While I was using Kristen's techniques, I also wanted my work to reflect me and not be a copy of hers (which a: felt unethical and b:
who can copy Kristen?).

There are lots of sweet ideas for holiday-themed boxes. I decided to venture into the Christmas department of my basement (trust me, that's what it feels like -- about one quarter of the basement has all the Christmas trees, wrapping, ornaments, wreaths, decorative pieces, creches, candles... you get the idea. We don't photograph this area. If we were smart, we would declutter it. In fact, if we were really smart, we would actually put everything away from last year so next year it won't be so hard to find in December!). My mission: The bottlebrush tree collection!

Once you get the right elements, you are on your way with this project. I plastered my boxes, painted them and then started adding the embellishments.

The first of what I hope will be a series of holiday treasures!

And here are a couple of others that cross the seasons! The seaside is welcome at any time.

And who doesn't love a little love?

While I am at it, I am also making some flat pieces, which we also did in Kristen's class. Mine are leaning toward using natural objects and a nature theme -- at least so far. Here are a couple that are finished.

As former blogger Leann used to remind us early on, the time between now and the holidays really starts to fly. And while I'm not all for getting out the trees and tinsel this early, I know November and December are always on the crazy side and at least in terms of creating and planning ahead -- well, now is the time!

As for Lizzie, as long as she gets two square meals a day and her crunchies, a few toy tosses and lots of love, she's a happy camper any time of year!

Are you getting a head start on the holiday or is it just way too early to think about it?! Meanwhile, I'm headed back to the lake for art camp with Kate and more Christmas (and other) boxes! For my most recent "postcard from the lake" check it out here!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Postcards From the Lake, 2015 Edition

I'm a little late to the summer catch-up party between the blog events for Paris In July and Vanessa's Tea Party posts. Plus pulling together Rick's birthday party which was last night. But nonetheless, a postcard from the lake.

Rick rode his bike up -- camping halfway and was here for a week. I stayed on after he headed home, enjoying mostly glorious weather apart from one storm.

This was the first two weeks of July and the weather was drop-dead gorgeous for two weeks, apart from a rain/wind storm that took down two (and a half) of the screens that Rick and I labored to put up on our porch a few days before. Actually, he did most of the labor. I was more like the screen sous chef, holding things in place and untangling the spline. That said, I re-did much of it solo, as he left for back home and work. I've been doing homeowner repair. I do pretty well till I get to the tall part. Too short and too much vertigo to stand too high!

The fireworks were lovely, of course. We have a ringside seat, as they shoot them off straight across the lake from the cottage. Personally, I think last year's were a little better, but they beat most displays I see and no arguments or complaints.

Big arguments or complaints about the neighbors. They are on the other side of a wooded lot and starting at 8 p.m. on Fireworks Night (which was July 3 for us) they ramped up music so loud I swear they could hear it a half mile away. It wasn't bad for awhile (well, it was, but you could cope) but when we went to bed around midnight it was just as loud and lots of bass, even with the windows closed. Our neighbors on the other side were having a pleasant bonfire. Chatting and all but nothing obnoxious. They said they were up till 1:30 and it was still going strong. I feel for the people directly on the other side of them.


The fourth was a lovely day. We did our traditional picnic -- Rick rides 50 miles. I bring food in the car and we meet for what I call the Lake Woebegon parade, have lunch and take our own ways back. A very long parade, with flags, candy-tossers, kids, queens and Moses.

A nice visit from Kevin and Molly added to the fun of that first week, after which they managed to squeeze Rick, his guitar, computer and bike into this somehow and took him home.


I've been enjoying the Ducksters -- mom and eight babies who float by and hang out for awhile. They float in formation and when mom marshals the troops, off they go.

Then there was the magical day when 40 Canadian Geese gracefully moved across the lake -- a peleton of geese, I think, all in formation. It was magical. (There was also a brief moment of panic, the one we all have when they decide to come up on your beach and it turns into the ultimate litter box!)

I've had meet-ups with two Lansing friends who have moved north, Maura and Gretchen. Maura and I had a good long catch-up and lunch and it was hard to say goodbye! Gretchen surprised me with a second visit and the surprise offer of a boat ride. It was the first time I'd seen the lake from the lake in ages and it couldn't have been a more glorious experience.

I touched base with mom's best friend who lives here and finished my fifth seventh book.

And yes, a little bit of art, too. Well, a lot of that, but I'll save that for another time. (This is actually better now that I've gone back and played with it, adding a bit more Lizzie touches to it. Might repost it later!)

I leave you as we began, with a sunset.


I hope you're having a great summer. I'm taking part in the Paris in July posts (so lots of looks at all things Parisian) and Vanessa's Mad Hatter tea party, so if you're interested in those things, scroll down the posts a bit!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Paris In July: Paris on the Bookshelf

So many of you wonderful Paris In July bloggers have written about remarkably complex, eloquent and classic books related to Paris and my "to be read" list is growing by leaps and bounds. This list is a tad more routine, perhaps -- or maybe not! It includes a number of my recommendations (and not-so-much) of Paris-related books.


Let's start with a favorite, "Paris," by Edward Rutherfurd. I love this historical fiction writer's style, taking a region (or in this case, a city) and following it throughout history through the lives of several families whose lives intersect over the generations. With Rutherfurd we step onto the scaffolding as the Eiffel Tower is being built, back to the court of Marie Antoinette, through the revolutions and the World Wars, and much in-between. His handy family tree chart in the front of the book guides you as he jumps from one period and then back to another in a somewhat non-linear fashion. That took some getting used to but once I did, I was hooked and read like a crazy girl! Good writing, good history, good characters!
 Another favorite, "Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman" by Alice Steinbach, has enough about Paris to say that it qualifies. Steinbach says that she had fallen into the habit of "defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me." The book is her quest to find out who she was apart from those people. Her travels take her to Oxford, Milan and of course, Paris, where she finds not only her soul mate but a wonderful group of travelers and terrific experiences. She is a marvelous writer and I heartily recommend this one as a travel memoir.

David Downie moved from San Francisco to Paris in 1986. "Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light" chronicles his life as a new Parisian,  He breaks the city down into categories such as Paris Places ("The Luxembourg Gardens," "Ile Saint-Louis," "Place des Vosges," and seven others); Paris People ("Coco Chanel," Les Bouquinistes, "Midnight, Montmartre and Modigliani," "Paris Artisans," and six others and Paris Phenomena ("A Dog's Life," "Why the Maris Changed Its Spots," "Life's a Cafe" and eight more).His writing style is engaging and whether you relate to the topics because having been there -- or because you'd like to be, I think you'll find it most enjoyable.

And now for something completely different, "Death in the City of Light" by David King. This true story focuses on Dr. Marcel Petoit, a serial killer who charmed Paris during the Nazi occupation. He preyed upon the city's most vulnerable who were seeing to escape the city and the Gestapo and subjecting them after death to a different crematorium -- the one in his own basement. It is well written, shocking and fascinating.

Finally, one I didn't like so much -- "A Town Like Paris" by Bryce Corbett. OK, I think this is a case of age coming through. Corbett moved from a routine London job to a relatively routine Paris job, simply to try something new and live in Paris for a bit. He was young, twenty-eight and living the wild and crazy life that lots of younger people do -- work, party, party some more. For awhile it was entertaining. After awhile I just wanted to say "grow up." And he finally does, sort of. But not soon enough for me. Might be your new favorite, who can say?

There are others on my pile I haven't read yet, not the least of which is David McCullough's "The Greatest Journey." His writing usually falls into the "favorite pile." Hopefully this one does, too!

This post is part of Tamara's Paris In July blog event. For more posts related to travel, books, movies and Paris history, photography and more, check the right-hand column of her blog at Thyme for Tea!

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