Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Road Trip: More Family

Last week, Freys Park was full of dandelions gone to seed, their white heads swaying in the breeze. Walking Bonnie one day, I saw three tiny children, carefully gathering bouquets of the spent flowers, and thought, what is as innocent as children among the flowers?

I love to watch children at church, too. One little guy in our congregation is clearly loved by his parents & siblings. It shows in his attitude toward the folks in the pews in front of him, and behind him - he assumes they must love him too, and rewards that presumed love with the most wonderful smile. It makes me smile just to watch, and I am happy to see children to start out with faith in the world's goodness.

Another child snuggles on his father's shoulder, safe and happy. I heard once that our view of Heavenly Father is informed by our view of our earthly fathers, and I am happy that these children have a good start there, too.

Children also make me laugh outright. I overhead this exchange one Sunday, after a little girl had removed her shoes.
Dad: Where are you allowed to be barefoot?
Daughter: At home...
Dad: Are you at home now?
Daughter: No...
Dad: Then what do you need to do?
Daughter: (after thinking) Go home?
After a day to recover from our trip to Morgantown & Columbus, Jim & I hit the road one more time (and now those blog posts are out of order. Why is that? Oh well, I will let it go. Just know that we really did visit Morgantown before we visited Columbus.).

Sarah & Jon were both visiting their parents in Chicago, so we headed that way, and enjoyed a visit with Joyce, Sarah & her little guy, and Jon & Laura & their little guy (who has grown quite a bit since we last saw him).

A week after that, Paul & Rachelle & some nieces & nephews came to visit us in Kalamazoo. Andy & Annie both happened to be in town, and we were delighted to be able to see them, along with the Plymouth crowd. They suffered through a well-intentioned meal that didn't really turn out as well as expected, and then hung out talking about knitted elephants and reluctant dragons and similarly significant topics.

We took photos during both visits. I'm afraid that very few of them turned out to be any good, but at least you can identify and recognize different family members.

(Someone told me recently that I take good photos, and I replied that I take lots and lots of photos, and then share the 2 or 3 that are good. Apparently on these two occasions, we didn't take nearly enough photos!)

Joyce was very relaxed - no doubt due in large part to having graduated
with her Masters degree that Saturday - congratulations!!!

Jon & Laura will soon head to Nevada, where Jon will spend the summer working for a federal magistrate, and Laura & the little guy will spend the summer relaxing in the pool. Which activity sounds more fun?

And here's their little guy - this is the best shot I have of him, and it doesn't 
begin to show how cute and sweet and curious and loving he is.

Sarah looked great - being a mother must agree with her. Adam was stuck back at home, working, so we didn't get to see him. (Work. It so often interferes with life.) Even without Adam's help, Sarah sang the barnyard dance song for us! (Did Joyce help in that venture? I can't remember...)

Sarah & Adam's happy little guy...

Jim & the young Mr Clemens

Robin & the little guy. 
Of course, the best picture, with young J laughing hysterically, is blurry. 
This is akin to the fisherman's story of "the one that got away."

Rachelle is not blurry at all.

Paul has a blog that I enjoy reading - much more eloquent and thoughtful than mine! - you might enjoy it, too:
(Someday, I'll update my site so it lists at least some of the blogs
I read - but probably not tonight.)

I have, in the past, taken spectacular photos of Andy.
This is not one of those photos.
(But we like Andy, whatever he looks like.)

Annie recently graduated from BYU, and left for her new job the day after their visit here. I enjoy reading Annie's blog as well, and this post tells about her wonderful new job: 

Young Mr N - whose voice sounds remarkably like his brother Andy's voice...

And, finally, Miss A, who did some dishcloth knitting while here, and shows potential as a future Master Knitter.

And now I hear a timer going off, meaning that the last batch of cookies can come out of the oven, and I can start cleaning up the kitchen (although I'd rather just start eating cookies!)

Road Trip: Morgantown

Jim and I recently took a road trip. We drove to Morgantown WV; Columbus OH; home for a day; and then to Chicago IL.

The first installment: Morgantown! We drove down last Thursday. The trip was uneventful, and we arrived in the late afternoon and checked into the Clarion Hotel Morgan.

Hotel Morgan, behind the red building
The building to the left is some sort of art gallery
Hotel Morgan is a historic building in downtown Morgantown. It was built in 1925 and renovated in 1999. We found it pleasant and comfortable, and convenient to downtown.

Thursday evening, we enjoyed pizza at Lori's house, and let her win at Scrabble. ("Let her win" - Hah! She is the Scrabble Queen.) The pizza was from the New Day Bakery, just down the hill from her place. Apparently she orders from them often - when she called to place our order, she gave her name, and the fellow on the phone immediately offered, "we do have fresh tomatoes today!" And I should have taken pictures of Lori's new porch swing (of which I am now jealous...)

After breakfast on Saturday (Jim appreciated that the breakfast room did NOT have a TV blaring), we walked to the library and met Lori. (Lori's comment about the Morgantown library made me laugh: "It will make you really appreciate the Kalamazoo library.")

From there, we walked to the PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) station. WVU has 3 campuses, and this system connects them, and downtown Morgantown. As many times as I've visited Lori, I had never riden the PRT, so we made sure to check it out. It was great! Many students had already finished the term and left the campus, so there were no crowds and we could enjoy talking and gawking. We also enjoyed trying to figure out how the cars operate, and how the track is kept clear in winter - our engineer father would be proud of us! 

Those metal bars, at wheel height, provide power.
The cars are small - there are 8 seats, and 

room for a few people to stand as well.

At times, we had the feeling of being on a 
roller coaster, though of course we didn't
achieve amusement park speeds!
And we were right about dealing with 

weather: embedded piping contains a 
solution to melt snow
The view was gorgeous - spring is further along in WV than in Mich, as these photos show.

Lori & Robin - not really scenery...
Back in Morgantown, we stepped off the PRT and Jim pointed across the street and said, "Look, a yarn store!" Indeed, he was right (he is always right): there was The Needlecraft Barn, and we stepped inside to take a look. It was a lovely store, with a lovely owner, and we enjoyed ourselves, while supporting the local economy.

The yellow-green yarn will likely become a sweater, and the blue yarn (a gift from Lori) will be a shawl. But more about those in another post...!

We walked through town, and visited a coin store - but Jim didn't have as much success there: apparently there was a trade show in Pittsburgh, and most of the interesting stock was there, instead of waiting for Jim in Morgantown. :(

We lunched at Maxwell's, a quiet little restaurant that I think we would never have found on our own. It was located on a little side street, down some stairs (in a basement?). The food and ambiance were wonderful! If I were a more diligent blogger, I'd have pictures of the food. But at least I have pictures of the people.

Lori and Jim, playing nicely
After lunch, we stopped at the Appalachian Gallery (another of my favorite Morgantown spots), and then made our way to the car, and back to Lori's place. We used our time there productively (!), looking up shawl patterns to knit out of the newly purchased yarn. Lori & I finally tore ourselves away to walk Misty (who, at some 10 years of age, is finally slowing down a bit).

In the late afternoon, Jim and I climbed back into the car & headed for our next stop. Stay tuned for Road Trip: Columbus!

Thanks Lori, for a great visit!

Edited 5/25 to fix labels - they've been driving me nuts, since Blogspot had their issues a few weeks ago...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Road Trip: Back Home for a Day

In deference to Jim's comment, I'll add two more pictures, from the Columbus phase of our trip

The State Capitol was built in the Greek revival style. Construction started in 1839, but wasn't completed until 1861. There was an eight-year lapse in construction, and the completed basement and foundations were filled in with soil, and Capitol Square was used as a pasture!

The Peace Statue was intended to honor those who served in the Civil War.
We spent Mother's Day in Kalamazoo. We attended church as usual, except that the meetings weren't at all typical. The previous Sunday, we'd had a special meeting at which the boundaries were changed, and our three Kalamazoo wards (congregations) became two. Our bishopric was unchanged, but many other positions were left vacant, as members moved to the other ward. So this Sunday, with positions still in flux, we only had Sacrament meeting.

This was also the day of the first Kalamazoo Marathon. I took advantage of the shorter church schedule, and as soon as Sacrament meeting ended, I slipped away to try and watch some of the runners. Thanks to Kevin's help, I was able to get to the Winchell neighborhood in time to see Jess. There were 1199 marathon finishers; Jess & Rachel (pictures below) were two of them!

Jess, in the Winchell neighborhood

Jess & her fan club

Other friends of ours ran the marathon as a family; you can read about them at their Facebook page, Mills Family Marathon. Rachel ran the entire marathon; the kids took turns running with her; and Abe choreographed it all.

Rachel and her fan club!
After the Marathon, we put flowers on our mothers' graves (Jim is very good about this), and then relaxed with our friends. Day 4 of our vacation: Excellent! On to Chicago...!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Road Trip: Columbus

More on our recent vacation...

Leaving Morgantown behind, we headed north on I-79, and then west on I-80, to Columbus. There were some impressive downgrades as we left WV and entered Ohio. There were also some impressive rainstorms - so I was glad that Jim was driving! Of course, his driving gave me added knitting time, and I was able to finish an elephant that evening.

The next morning, we headed to Karen & Vic's home, in Hilliard (on the west side of Columbus). Their neighborhood has pear trees, which were in full flower. Jim & Vic opined that pear trees are "messy," but I thought they were lovely.

We visited a bit, checked out the progress of Vic's landscaping in the back, fussed over Deuce (their Springer Spaniel), and then Vic & Karen took us on a driving tour of the area. And, of course, we had to eat, so we went to FirstWatch Breakfast Cafe, which Jim & I really enjoyed. I guess the restaurant is a chain, but it didn't have that feel at all. The menu was extensive, and the food delicious and satisfying (ask Jim about his 5-cheese grilled sandwich...).

After lunch, we went downtown, to the State Capitol Square. The Capitol Square is lovely, very green, and boasts many interesting sculptures and memorials. Jim took lots of pictures, but I'll only share a few here.

This is a beautiful building, located across from the square. We couldn't figure out what it's original purpose was (it appears to house offices today), but someone told Jim that it was originally the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse. It was built in 1887, and was also called the Old, Old Post Office, which delights me - I'd love to know the story behind that name!

Lest We Forget
The Daughters of the Union, an auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), dedicated the GAR sundial entitled Lest We Forget at their 75th reunion in 1941. The sundial commemorated those who served past war efforts during a period when Americans were considering how involved they should become in World War II.

These notes were taken from the Ohio Statehouse website.
The McKinley memorial is a grouping of statues honoring President McKinley, an Ohio native. It includes these statues, representing Peace and Prosperity. Each is depicted as an adult figure guiding and instructing a youth, representing the next generation. The adult female figure of Peace, a palm of peace grasped in her hand, draws a little girl close to herself to confide that the greatness of the nation is in her peaceful pursuits, while the adult male figure of Prosperity instructs a young boy in the use of the tools of industry, the basis of so much of the nation's prosperity.

These notes were also taken from the Ohio Statehouse website.
These Are My Jewels
A series of life size portrait sculptures arranged around a drum shaped base gives recognition to the military and political leaders from the state of Ohio who contributed greatly to the Union cause during the Civil War. The figures include: Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, James A. Garfield and Phillip Sheridan as well as Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and McKinley's commanding officer, Rutherford B. Hayes.

Guess where these notes come from ... yep, the Ohio Statehouse website.

"With God, all things are possible" is the state motto

Not only did Jim get to take pictures of buildings, but we also enjoyed visiting with a group of Civil War reenactors. Karen & Vic & I watched them practice firing the cannon. They had a Civil War-era handbook that they followed, and the process was detailed and precise, and ended with a resounding boom (powder only - no cannon balls flying around Columbus!).

Jim knows so much about Civil War history - a wonderful companion when considering that period.

And here are some folks who were NOT reenactors!

Robin & Karen
Jim & Robin
We left Capitol Square as it was starting to rain (and then pour), and drove through Columbus and to the Franklin Park Conservatory. We decided not to stop there, and I am sorry for that - it looked like a lovely facility, the kind of place you could happily spend a long while visiting (similar to Frederik Meijer Gardens, I suppose). Hopefully we'll have better weather for our next visit.

Buckeyes for Christ
Vic drove us through the Ohio State campus as well, and this storefront church made me smile.

By late afternoon, we thought we'd better head home. That trip was uneventful (although Thelma, our GPS, took some "interesting" side trips), and we were happy to sleep in our own beds that night!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Squirrels: The Sequel

As Jim was leaving to go to church this morning, he stopped to call Bonnie to the gate, and I waited at the door to let her in (we have this tricky setup where she goes through the gate onto the breezeway / porch, and then across that to the kitchen door - it offers prime beagle-escape opportunities, so although she is very good 98% of the time, we tend to be cautious).

She came bounding to the gate, looking excited, happy, proud - and dangling another squirrel from her mouth. We were astonished. Another squirrel? What are those guys doing, playing "chicken" with her?

We grabbed her by the collar, and tried to persuade her to drop it. We discovered that her jaws are every bit as strong as Homer's were, and she is every bit as persistent. I thought about having Jim grab a camera - she looked so happy - but instead suggested he grab some of the sausage slices we had cooked up in anticipation of lunch. She had to think about it for awhile, but finally set down the squirrel, and of course we dragged her away before rewarding her with the sausage, and then picked her up and carried her inside.

Jim took off for church (finally), and I took care of the squirrel (again).

When I came home from church later (I was gone roughly from 9 to noon - poor Jim goes earlier and stays later), Bonnie was not snoozing on the bed, as is her wont. She was waiting by the door, and immediately started dancing on her hind feet, eager to go look for her squirrel. Such amazing focus...!

Anyone have a squirrel problem they need help with?

Bonnie demonstrates her tracking technique
Trader Joe's
All Natural Fruit Jellies:

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Squirrel Episode

This is not a squirrel.
This is Bonnie, during our walk today.
While we were on our recent roadtrip, our friends checked in on Bonnie. One afternoon, they took her home with them, so she could play while they worked in their back yard.

She was delighted: their yard has lots of rabbits, and she had a fine time looking for them. She was a successful hunter, and actually caught a rabbit - not bad for our 10-year-old girl. (And, our friends didn't mind the loss of one garden-attacking rabbit.)

She has previously caught rabbits, and at least one bird. Today, she added a squirrel to her life list. We didn't see the action; Jim discovered Bonnie with the squirrel in tow, shaking and throwing the poor thing. He "persuaded" her to drop it, and saw the squirrel limp around the corner of the garage, while he scooped up Bonnie and brought her into the house.

After a bit, I checked the back yard: no sign of the unfortunate squirrel. Jim did the same, still with no squirrel sighting, so we let Bonnie out again. She quickly ran along the perimeter of the yarn, ending up at the woodpile. I let her sniff a bit, then dragged her back into the house.

Did we then have a typical work day, with Bonnie sleeping on her cushion while I worked?


She sat on the pillow, staring at the office doorway. She lay there, sphinx-like, staring at the door. She paced, whining, staring at the door. She crawled around my chair, under the desk, pawing at me.

And whenever I did let her out, straight to the woodpile she flew. She sniffed, she pulled at logs, she dug underneath, until I again dragged her back to the house.

Even after our noonday walk, when we returned home, she with her tongue dragging, what did she want? A nice drink of water?

Nope - she headed to the woodpile.

Finally, after work, she and I went out back, and dismantled the woodpile. I moved logs, while she stood behind the pile, trying to rearrange them with her teeth. Suddenly, there she was again, happily holding her squirrel. I persuaded her to drop him (again), and finally dealt with Mr Squirrel once and for all, finding a final resting spot for him, beyond her reach.

Life is back to normal this evening. Bonnie has begged for our dinner, tried to steal a piece of pizza, and is now snoring and talking in her sleep - no doubt catching that squirrel again!