Saturday, October 31, 2009

garage update...

We just finished putting the railing up...I mean JUST - about 10 minutes ago. Just wanted to post a new pic.
Still need to do plenty of stuff on our own, but the major stuff seems to be coming to an end. The contractor does need to come out a couple more times to finish up things like grading, etc.

trip to boston, cont'd...

So, to continue with the rest of my fabulous trip to's long and really meant as a reminder to myself of all the things that happened.

Erin and her boyfriend Chris in one car (small SUV) and me in my VW Golf head out to the airport. I brought our walkie-talkies in order to make everything a little easier and good thing I did; Chris drives fast!

They landed at 2:45pm - and were in customs, we were already there out the customs door, waiting. Nick called Erin and said that he and his roommate Brandon were coming by mass transportation and couldn't get their friend Adams truck - so it was a really good thing that I came with my "big" car.
The kids hid me behind the welcome sign and then behind Brandon. Terry looked so surprised to see me and ran directly to me - passing right by the kids to give me a huge hug. All I can say to that is that she LOVES me MORE!!! ;)
The dogs were loaded in Chris (and Erin's) car and the suitcases and Terry in mine. Nick, Brandon and Bill took a cab to the temporary housing.

Pretty nice place for them to live for a month while they look for a house to buy.
We settled in for a nice American pizza and salad dinner. Their kids were very happy the "rents" have moved back - and so close by where they live.

Later I took the boys back to their place and got to check it out. Very bachelor-paddy and nothing on the walls, which surprised me since both of them just graduated from an art school. Nick showed me his paint swatches for the future wall colors. He likes really right colors. We discussed what he could do with the remains of the futon; make a coffee table with the frame.

Then I took Miss Erin back to her house at Wheaton College and stayed one more night.

The next morning I got up, showered and gathered up my things and went out to my car which was parked in visitors/faculty parking. Noticed that I had a bright florescent green violation on my windshield; $30. Bummer.

Drove out to Terry's following a map I printed at Erin's - yes, I can still read maps ;) For some reason, Samantha (my GPS) was not finding 1 Windsor Woods Lane - must be that it's such new construction.

Terry & Bill were nearly ready to go. The plan for today was to do some reconnaissance all the way up to Rockport, MA. It was a beautiful fall day. Terry was busy taking pictures.
Once in Rockport we got out of the car and walked around. Such a beautiful town on the ocean. We had lunch at a cute little restaurant right on the water.
The rest of the day we drove through little towns working our way back to Boston. They were trying to figure out the commute time, train schedule and where they could possibly live.

We were invited to Bill's mom's house in Foxboro, MA for a chili dinner that evening. Bill's brother Brian was there as well. Even though I've met him several times, he didn't remember me - I guess I leave a lasting impression on people - I mean, heck, they've only been married for 23 years and I was the maid-of-honor.

When we arrived back to the temporary housing, there were no parking spots except for under the carports. Bill told me to park there. I said that I wasn't sure that was a good idea. But he wouldn't let it go and said that he wasn't told they were for any specific tenant. So I did. By the second day, Bill brought to my attention that I had a nasty note on my car. Of course it said that the person pays for her parking spot and to NEVER park there again. I said to Bill "see, I told you I shouldn't have parked there" and he denied ever telling me to park there in the first place; weird.
The next two days we went out with the Realtor to look at houses in the Plymouth, MA area. We looked at something like 15 houses. Terry & Bill are very interested in finding a house on a pond (lake) or with views of the ocean. We didn't see many on the water. The one that was affordable needed a lot of TLC, especially on the outside (landscaping). We did see some beauties, but they were not on the water. The second day we went to see the inside of one that was on a beautiful pond. The house looked great on the outside, but needed work on the inside. But the pond was awesome and it's a selling point for Bill. The name of the street is Black Cat - how cool is that? The house was not priced to sell - it's new on the market. The owners have moved on to assisted living.

We needed to end early on the second day because we were going to visit my nephew Nick at his new job; 38 Studios. The drive to Maynard was picturesque! The old mill (Clock Tower Place) that Nick's job is located was transformed into a cool (huge) modern/industrial space. 38 Studios in general was way cool. Nick is designing characters for a new web-based video game. We stayed for a little over an hour and had the full tour. Met his co-workers and the owner of the company; Curt Schilling. When Terry met Curt, she told him that "anyone who knows anything about football knows him" - then laughed and said "I know you play baseball". Very "Terry" thing to say :)

Afterward we went to pick up Brandon and his girlfriend Jackie. Terry & Bill got to check out Nick's place and then we headed to Fabiola's (Nick's "friend-girl" who also happened to get a job at 38 Studios after graduation) place to take a look at what a bachelor girls place looks like. Then we headed into town for dinner. Margarita's was the first choice, but there was an hour and a half wait, so we went across the street to the Skellig Irish Pub. There was live Irish music and it wasn't very busy at all. I had the lobster cakes, which were very good - I would highly recommend them.

Took the kids home and headed back. I would be leaving the next day, so I needed my rest.

On my way home the next day, I noticed as it was getting dark that my headlights were out. I only had my daytime running lights and they were not very bright. I had to drive with my brights on for the last 2 hours of my trip.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

i get knocked down, but i get up again...

I started my new job today. I work for a supplier to Chrysler (again) as a VPM Coordinator (again). This time it's part time (Tuesday through Thursday) and temporary and I know this right up front.

I would say that today I was kept occupied the entire day - this is more than I can say for my last two supplier jobs.

It's a small office; I think I'm one of six people working there.

I found out about this job from one of the guys I worked with at my last job - his wife works at Chrysler and in a conversation she was having with a supplier, found out that they needed a person who knows VPM. She had her husband call me immediately to give me the info and to have me forward my resume. Which goes to show that it's who you know - and what you know is required later.

Anyway, I guess I can say that I'm pretty fortunate that I found something so quickly...when I wasn't even really looking hard...yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

how many times does your sister return to the US?...

I'm sitting in my niece's room at college, using her laptop to make this post. She's going to college at Wheaton in Norton, MA.

I arrived last night after about a 14 hour drive. Normally I would drive through Canada and it would have taken closer to 12 hours, but I let my passport lapse and so, had to drive under Lake Erie.

You may be wondering why I've come all the way out here. Well, my sister Terry and her husband Bill are moving back to the United States after living in Vienna Austria for the past 8 years. And I'm going to be at the airport to greet them! SURPRISE!!!

So the answer to the above question? Um...well, this will be her third time coming back (first time from Belgium, second time from the Netherlands and this time from Austria).

Their children Nick and Erin have been back in the states for the past 4 and 2 years respectively. Terry was feeling that she needed to get back stateside for all those "just in case" moments.

I'm going to have this entry post later, so that just in case she is looking at my blog (yeah, right)...don't want to ruin a surprise.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

happy birthday dad...

Much to all our surprise, the day before my dad's 79th birthday we received an email stating that he SOLD one of his paintings on etsy!!!

A nice lady in New Hampshire purchased "Cabin up North" for her husband. She said that they have a tiny cabin in the mountains of Vermont and she thought her husband would really appreciate the painting.

Little does she know (yet), that she's getting two paintings for the price of one. My dad, nearly always paints something on both sides of the canvas. I guess she can switch it out if she gets bored.

Anyway, you wouldn't believe how the sale of one of his paintings made my dad feel. He was really happy with himself. Which is a nice change of late because of all the drama that's been going on at my parents house lately.

As you may know, my dad has MS and has had it for as long as I am old. He is confined to a scooter now (he doesn't want to ever use a wheelchair - pride) and has aides come throughout the day to clean him, get him out of bed, transfer him from scooter to toilet and then back in bed.

Well, around 3 weeks ago, my mother noticed a small bedsore on his leg and called in the wound doctor. The doctor told them that dad would need to change his habits and only be in a seated position for 2 hours at a time. This meant my mother had to find (and pay) more aides to come throughout the day to get him out and put him back into bed.

The paying part wasn't the worst of it. My dad, who is usually very pleasant and doesn't complain at all (at least to us kids), was now really angry and saying some dramatic things. I mean, if you're feeling fine and you are made to be in bed for the majority of your waking hours - just imagine how depressing that can be. He never had enough time to work on his paintings before he would have to go back in bed.

He is also starting to lose track of time and so sometimes thinks that when he is being taken out of bed in the evening, that it is actually morning and he goes into the bathroom to do his morning rituals.

The wound doctor came yesterday and said that the bedsore is 80% healed and reminded him that he will need to stay off his butt as much as possible. My mom is starting to think about his quality of life and has said to my older sister that she is going to allow dad to make the decision about staying out of bed. If I know my dad, he'd rather stay out of bed and deal with the consequences when they come...just like he did when he was young. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009


Yesterday they added the Paulownia wrap to the columns and other areas. We'll have to fill the nail holes, sand and paint, but it's really added something to the deck area.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

look what they did yesterday...

We have a deck! They're not completely done; supposed to come early today to finish, it's already 9am...

Monday, October 5, 2009

the next day...

We woke up and had a couple fresh wet spots above us on the drop ceiling. It had rained all night and gotten really cold.

We had to roll up the tent and put it back in the car. Since it was raining and since we were the only ones at this motel, I told Jerome to back the car all the way up to the door so that we wouldn't get wet putting the stuff in the car.

So, the huge body bag that we trudged in late last night was now in tight manageable pieces and tucked back into the car.We continued our trip up the Keweenaw Peninsula. Another place that I wanted to stop was the Jampot Bakery in Eagle Harbor. This bakery is run by monks for the Society of St. John. This was another destination that was written in the article I mentioned earlier.
We stopped and got ourselves some Pear Jelly, my mom and dad some Dandelion Jelly and a friend of Jerome's at work some Boysenberry Jelly. It is a cute place with very interesting bakery items for sale.

We continued on and drove past the "Beginning of US 41" sign and drove on the dirt trail for a half hour or so, until it got so rocky and potholey that we decided that our mechanic would be upset enough about how dirty our MINI is underneath.
We went all the way up to the Skytop Inn; 735 feet above lake level and 1337 feet above sea level. The wind was so strong, it was pushing the signs horizontally. We asked the woman who was working there if this was normal for this time of year and she said "no, this is exceptional"...of course, that always happens to us. She was worried her huge golden retriever dog would blow away outside.

Another cute story. As we were trying to get a refund on the campsite the night before, a man was trying to rent out a site. We said that we hope he's got a camper and he said that he would be tenting. We told him he could have our site.

While we were leaving the Skytop Inn, this same guy was walking in. He recognized us and asked if we were able to find a motel. We said yes, and how was your tenting experience? He said it survived the night. It was a bit cold, but worked out fine.

Some people are more built for roughing it than the rest of us.
At one point, we were driving by the water and wanted to get a shot of the angry lake. Unrolled the window and the horizontal rain got the opposite side of the car all wet.
We drove all the way back to St. Ignace and spent the night at a VERY nice motel, that was cheaper than the stinky motel. And left for home the next morning.

It's too bad the weather got so cold and wet, otherwise we would have taken our time.

up vacation...

(It smelled of Fruit Loops and urine - YUM!)
We began our vacation by making a stop at the Oswald Bear Ranch in Newberry. Jerome absolutely LOVES bears, so this was going to be a nice stop.

We were told by a couple of our members that they had stopped at the ranch while the rest of us were doing the Pictured Rocks Cruise. I guess they got out of their cars and started taking pictures. The owner came out and started yelling "if that isn't the rudest thing I've ever seen". And got into it a bit with some of the members. Oops...they were taking pictures for one of our games (the ABC game). Oh well, they decided not to give the ranch a chance after that.

(Jerome getting a big smelly kiss from the baby bear)
(not a concentration camp, but where the bears hibernate during the winter months)

(Black Bear in French)
However when we stopped, it was a whole different story. The owner was extremely nice to us and we talked about his son-in-law who speaks fluent French, etc.

We were headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula - neither of us had ever been up that far in Michigan. Most of the UP seems rather impoverished and sad. We drove through Christmas and stopped to take some pictures of angry Santa and Mrs. Claus.
I had read on the website Roadside America that there was a road side sculpture park called the LakenenLand Junkyard Art. I definitely wanted to stop to see that.

(Little political statements thrown throughout the park)

This was created by a guy that had been unemployed and wanted to do something creative with his free time. He used junk that he welded together to create his sculptures. They are all pretty cool. You can drive through this park. It seems that the Township of Chocolay is harassing this guy because of all the "junk", so he asks that if you want to do anything for him, to send a note to Chocolay and tell them how this park has effected you.

This place was also mentioned in an article I read (and stole) from a magazine in the doctors office (Travel and Leisure)...don't you HATE it when people do that? I know, me too.

We tried to take the same route the journalists took from the article and visit some of the places they mentioned in their article.

Our next stop was the Drive-In hamburger joint in Baraga. This is where we had our frosty mug sensation :).
The trees were changing colors much more in this area than any other area of Upper Michigan (even in the Keweenaw).
We had packed into our MINI the supplies required to camp; tent, sleeping bags, foam pieces to make it easier to sleep on the ground. So, the idea was that we were going to find a campsite and pitch our tent. We did, the McLain State Park. We were at site 90 right on Lake Superior - about 20 feet from the shoreline. It was getting late and we only had about an hour or so of daylight left.

We started putting up the tent - it was a little windy, so we used the stakes to keep it in place. Put the sleeping bags in and opened the window and door so that it would air out.
Jerome got us a couple of Mike's Hard Lemonades and we sat on the benches provided by the park and enjoyed what we could see of the sunset. We could see that off in the distance there were storms brewing, but they were way out at sea. We decided we'd go for a small walk on the beach and then decided that we needed to get some wood from the office so we could have a bonfire that night. We started heading back to the office when out of nowhere, the clouds opened up and it started raining...HARD. It was a sideways, very chilly rain.

Jerome ran ahead because I mentioned that the window and door was open in the tent. When I arrived, it was dark and I couldn't see where we had pitched the tent. Then I saw Jerome struggling. The wind was so strong that it knocked down our tent. The only thing saving it from blowing away (or into the neighbors fire) was a couple of the very flimsy stakes and the weight of the sleeping bags.

We stood there trying to pull the tent back up when Jerome noticed that one of the tent posts were starting to break. OK, that's it, let's just roll this puppy up and shove it into the car and see if we can get our money back.

Then we needed to find a room for the night. Tried to use the GPS to find something and she directed us to places that must have been closed for over 10 years. So, we decided to continue driving - there are motels everywhere along the way, so the first motel we landed on, we stopped. It was a smelly, messy motel. The man running it said not to mind the mess, that they were in the process of moving and getting out of the business. However, this mess was a mess that you can tell was not from "moving" - it was just how they lived. Anyway, he gave us a room in the back corner. It was set up strangely, a huge open area where the bed should have been and then the bed was shoved in the area where you needed to get into the bathroom. The ceiling tiles were bowing and there were dark wet spots on them...right over the bed.

Well, we used the open space to our advantage and pulled in the rolled up, wet tent and set it up in the motel to dry. The drop ceiling helped with hanging the portions of the tent. In the morning it was pretty dry.
I said to Jerome that if anyone was watching us, they would have to wonder what we had in this large rolled up thing that needed us both to bring into the motel room.