Saturday, July 31, 2010

Training, Shopping, and Museum Hopping

This morning we conducted a training session for the new building cleaning program at church (We’re on our own to make sure our building is spic and span from now on. Yikes!). While we didn’t get a lot of folks out, those of us who could make it had a good time. Afterwards, Steve and Brenda and we went to the annual Village Sidewalk Sale and did a little gazing at the wares for sale at the stores. From there we picked up Ryan, who is staying with us for the next few weeks while he finishes out his med school rotation here, and headed over the Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum. Finding that the fair cost money above our museum entrance fee, we opted to just go to the museum as Ryan, Steve, and Brenda had never been. Lots of people were there, more than we’d seen in many times attending. This was both good and bad: Good because of the different attractions the museum doesn’t always have running, and bad because we lost the boy in the crowd. A kind lady found him for us after a harrowing few minutes, so all was well. Landon had a hard time going down tonight because his mouth hurt from teething his last baby molars. Poor little guy!

Landon geared up for the day. Good thing he was wearing something memorable! We knew exactly how to describe him to the security people, down to the mohawk.
Driving the corn harvester. This and the Allegheny 1601 steam locomotive are two of Landon's favorite machines.
Building a Lincoln Log mansion.
Steve, Brenda, Ryan, and Mike getting trained on how to work on an assembly line by watching Lucy and Ethel wrap chocolates on a classic "I Love Lucy" clip. As you can see, we were entranced.
We completed our run on time and under budget. Yes!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Love this old house. The pipes, not so much.

We enjoy our house and the many bits of character that come with it, such as the wood floors, the Victorian molding, and the beautiful afternoon light that fills the downstairs. However, underneath all the charm lies THE BASEMENT.

Even the basement is OK, but our plumbing is not so hot, as evidenced by a couple of issues we’ve dealt with since our return.

Last Monday, Hallie came up from the basement asking if it was normal for one of the pipes to be leaking onto the basement floor as much as it was. The dishwasher was running, and soapy water was streaming across the basement floor into a drain about 10 feet from our main waste stack. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on: a three foot section of our cast iron pipeline had finally given up the ghost and split. While it was a big deal, we figured we had a bit of time to find a good plumber and get the issue resolved.

Our neighbors suggested a handyman they knew, and he came by on Tuesday. Sure enough, the stack needed replacing, so he took care of that and a couple of other items on Thursday. However, the repair did not go as planned. The cracked pipe was only part of the problem. It turned out that the fitting around the portion of the stack that goes under the foundation was also corroded and had itself cracked at some point. If the repair to the pipe above didn’t cause the break, it would have happened soon.

We weren’t happy that the plumber did the one repair and didn’t follow up to make sure everything was in order, and now we had a new problem. We called the insurance company and started looking for new plumbing/excavation estimates. In the mean time, Mike wrapped the stack with an old towel and duct tape. So much for the bad. Mike, frustrated at the repairs either left undone or not quite right, took care of a faucet problem in the kitchen and replaced a leaky spigot in the basement sink.

One small victory. Hooray! Anyway, enough plumbing.

The hot and humid weather has finally broken, so Mike went out this afternoon to do some work in the garden. Mother Nature had accomplished quite a bit in his absence. Our neighbors had looked after the garden in our absence, which basically amounted to them keeping it watered. While this meant the plants had flourished, it also meant they had run rampant. We have lots of frozen raspberries in the freezer and plenty gone to waste on the vine. We have some monster zucchini, a few small green peppers, a few cucumbers, green tomatoes getting ready to ripen, red leaf lettuce gone bitter for the moment and going to seed if we don’t cut it back, and a cute green pumpkin dangling on the vine. The garden is not pretty, but this is the best one we’ve had!

Fruit of the vine.
Out of control zucchini, squash, and cucumbers.
Monster cukes.
Wee green tomatoes.
Our little pumpkin.
Our other little pumpkin, decked out in his Sunday best.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fun In A Week

It has really been a whirlwind month, but the last week was icing on the cake. It all started with a trip from Grandma M. Here are a few things from just the last couple of days.

Landon needed a haircut so Mike finally gave him a mohawk. Yeah!

Landon and Grandma cruised the alley. Didn't last long--with the humidity we started to melt.

Our new prize possession. A model of the Bluenose. It now sits proudly in the window.

Our hall of fame wall, just in case you have never seen it.

After six months of looking we finally found our pillows for our couches at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. Poor Landon was up to his neck in stuff on our way home from Nova Scotia.

Grandma M. and Hallie made a blueberry pie from scratch. It was actually quite good. Thanks Brad and Marie for the recipe.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mackinaw or Mackinac, you say it the same

Hallie’s mom has been in town to visit, so we have shown her the sights and taken her to a few fun places. On Thursday and Friday, Hallie and Marilyn drove up to Mackinaw City and visited Mackinac Island. In the mean time, the boys played at home!

A pastie from the Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Company in Mackinaw City.
Taking a ferry to Mackinac Island.
View of the island from the ferry.
Inside Ryba's Fudge Shop.
Even the UPS guy goes by horse on Mackinac Island--no cars allowed!
Meanwhile, the boys went down to the park kiddie pool.
Landon splashed around like crazy.
The girls loved all the beautiful floral displays.

Hallie outside the Grand Hotel.
Views of the water from the Grand Hotel.
Marilyn tooling around.
Landon horsing around.
Views of the lounge chairs and the lake from the hotel. The girls' weather improved as the day went on.
Views of the ducks from the docks at the park. Mike and Landon had to seek cover indoors as the weather turned from sunny to stormy.
View from the local library where the boys waited out the rainstorm.
Meanwhile, the girls viewed the world through their own arch (Arch Rock).
The downpour as seen from our front porch.
The gorgeous skies as seen from Mackinac Island.
The following day, the girls stopped by McGulpin Point Lighthouse.
View of the Mackinac Bridge.
Along the beach.
While we waited for the girls to get home, the boys took a bike ride to the local elementary school playground.
Landon is getting to be an expert at riding on two wheels.
Wait for Papi!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hallie Called Mike with Big News!

(We're still hoping for the day it's that big news, but this is still cool):

Somerset lures new stores despite slump

(Read the article to find out why Mike's so excited. Hint: it has to do with a side trip on our trip home)

No more shop-at-home for Mike!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Well, we're back home. About 4300 miles on the car, over 800 photos, too much money spent, but what memories! We drove back through Canada from Rochester, NY, to Sarnia/Port Huron. Along the way we stopped for our customary road lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwiches at Gage Park in Hamilton. It had a nice little water feature, so we let Landon go have a little fun. While I sat watching him, a guy named Joe struck up a conversation with Mike. Nice guy. Another happy memory from a country that generally does a great job making you feel like home. Speaking of home, we arrived to find our porches, some interior trim, and our downstairs bathroom all repainted and gleaming. Hooray! Back to the grind tomorrow. . . .
Landon having a ball at Gage Park.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trip to Nova Scotia, Day 18

Our last vacation day! Because it was basically on the way, we headed down to Enfield, CT, home of Lego’s corporate headquarters in the US. This amounted to us taking pictures of large Lego bricks outside a closed office building in the middle of rural Connecticut. However, on the positive side, the rain had held off all morning until we got there, and literally after we had gotten the pictures, it began to pour down. We drove through fairly heavy rain until we reached our lunch stop, where the rain lessened up enough for Mike to make sandwiches. After a little while more on the road, the skies cleared and we were left with a mild summer day as we trekked to Rochester, NY, for the night and for our stop at the Hill Cumorah Pageant. When we went to Palmyra with Hallie’s parents two years ago, we just missed the pageant, but we saw all the sights and sites. This time we just concentrated on attending the pageant. After recuperating from our drive at the hotel and getting a bite to eat, we drove over to the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, NY. Mike expected more traffic and people than there turned out to be. It was busy, but not overwhelmingly so. The pageant was due to start at 9:15, and we arrived at about 8 o’clock, found seats about half way back, and enjoyed the visits we had with several cast members before the pageant began at around sunset. The pageant told stories from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion to the Bible, written in the Americas by ancient prophets and preserved by them for people in modern times. One of those prophets named Moroni (more-OH-nye) came to a young man named Joseph Smith who lived in the area in the 1820s and showed him where the ancient record had been stored for safekeeping. Joseph was given power to translate the record. The Book of Mormon tells how a small group of people left Jerusalem right before the Babylonian Captivity (~600 BC) and sailed to the New World. Here they established a civilization, worshiped God, taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, had wars and so on, and were visited by Jesus after His resurrection and ascension into heaven as recorded in the Bible. The people eventually became wicked and one faction killed off the other faction, which included Moroni and his father, Mormon, the book’s compiler and namesake. Moroni survived long enough to hide the record in the Hill Cumorah and keep it from being destroyed (about 400 AD). As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons because of the Book of Mormon, we believe the Book of Mormon to be a companion to (NOT a replacement for) the Bible that supports the literal reality of Jesus Christ, His life, His teachings, and His resurrection, one that stands as another witness for the divinity and mission of Jesus. I for myself know it to be a true record as a result of my own experiences reading the book and reflecting on its message, and as a family we invite you to read it if you have not already done so. We got back to the hotel at around 11:30 and crashed for the night. All in all we have had a busy nearly three weeks!

The huge Lego bricks that mark the entrance to Lego Systems HQ.
The other sign across the street. Real low key.
The US Sales and Marketing Headquarters for Lego.
Outside the entrance.
More giant bricks. Mike left feeling a little underwhelmed. At least the weather held.
The crowds at the Hill Cumorah Pageant.
Party crashers with their own message to give.
One of the performers in costume.
We met this couple of performers who had come up from Snowflake, Arizona.
Landon burned off quite a bit of steam with his sidekick, Bailey Bear.
Beautiful sunset colors.
Opening fanfare.
Lehi's family finishing their ship to sail for the Promised Land.
The prophet Abinadi suffering a matryr's death.
Christ's appearance to the people at Bountiful.