Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sometimes Michigan is Cooler than Indiana!

At least the weather can be. My family and I spent the past week visiting Grandma in Michigan. We had a delightful time, partly because the highs were in the mid eighties early in the week and the high seventies later. It was even 49 degrees the morning we left to come home! I heard lots of chatter from Bloomington about what a steam bath it was here, and I’m glad we missed it.

Vacations for me are a chance to break my rhythms and try something new. On the drive up I decided I needed a nice sketchpad to develop ideas for some new compositions. I don’t have all the distractions when I travel, and the boys had lots of people and toys for entertainment. I found some 140-pound watercolor paper in Bay City, which Grandma bought for me as a present—thanks Grandma! Usually if I have such fancy paper I reserve it for watercolors, but this time I decided to be decadent. I augmented my pencil crayons with Grandma’s substantial set that got her through geography class in college. Even my husband Jim fondly remembers the pencils from coloring maps alongside his mom when she was working on an assignment. I got to pick the colors I wanted and just relaxed and let the ideas flow through my brain and onto the paper.

The highlight of the trip for me was collecting materials for dyeing. Tommie, Jim and I crossed the railroad tracks (narrowly missing the train—really!) and found the mother lode of purple loosestrife in a farmer’s field. It’s a nasty weed that’s highly invasive, even if it is a pretty flower and a beautiful color. I just heard recently that it changes the local soil pH such that amphibian won’t undergo metamorphosis, so that’s another reason for me not to like it. I started cutting big purple racemes and stuffing them into a bag when I got a nasty bee sting. Wow, did that ever hurt! I also sent Jim off to pick staghorn sumac and Tommie went on a butterfly-chasing mission, so everybody had a task. We were all successful, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the sumac. It wasn’t the dark red that stains your hands that I was looking for. Luckily, I knew the location of a secret sumac grove with dark, velvety flower clumps. Jim and I slipped off on a romantic dye-material cutting trip and got our hands stained on a highly successful venture. I even left some gritty red materials behind on the bar of soap in the kitchen, which Grandma unfortunately also noticed. I made up a good story about how it was like Lava soap and how it would help scrub the dirt off her hands. When I got home the sumac went straight into the dye pot. Tomorrow I’ll get to see how it looks after boiling.

Of course the trip wasn’t all about art and collecting. I got to go to the beach, too! Grandma, the boys and I headed off to Caseville for a little castle building. Tommie was banished from the sands because of his broken arm, so he and Jim went to the pier and caught all the gobies they cared to reel in. It was extra work for Jim because he had to do all the fish removal and hook baiting. After a couple of hours of jumping waves and beach combing, we all regrouped and headed to the local Dairy Queen. Before I could stop him, Jacob ordered the ginormous brownie earthquake. I guess he needed some replenishing after swimming in Lake Huron.

Back at Grandma’s, Jacob and Tommie did some driving around on Daisy Mae, which is the golf cart that ferried Grandpa around when it became too difficult for him to walk around the back yard. Jacob did most of the driving while Tommie waved his net around, directing Jacob to the butterflies and hopping off when he was in range for the capture. He got a few nice pictures of butterflies that he didn’t yet have in his collection, so all was well. They got as many passengers on the cart as possible, since they could extend their range if an adult was on board. Jacob wore his ‘driving glasses’ much of the time, which actually were the 3D glasses from the movie we saw in Kawkawlin (Cats and Dogs—the Revenge of Kitty Galore).

All good things must come to an end, and now we’re back in Indiana with a big new store of fond memories. To top it all off, I got a letter from the Columbus Art Fair folks saying that I ranked in the top 20% of exhibitors according to the day of show judges. That means I get an automatic invitation back to next year’s show! Yippee, I’ll see you next year, Ohio!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

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