marbles brick 9










I’ve been falsely accused of fixating on things and then collecting them.  My adult children are stone cold meanies every time the subject comes up.  They forget that I’m the one who made them hot chocolate and Mickey Mouse pancakes.  It was me who kissed their boo-boos and foreheads goodnight.  Admittedly, my antique marble collection did get a little out of hand, but they are so shiny and pretty and I needed to build up my positive feedbacks on ebay.   These orbs were traded in the school yards  of yesteryear.   So what if I have two tackle boxes that weigh about 75 pounds each and several multi-level displays.  They are my marbles and no one is getting my aces, bloodies, or ringers.

Once I gave in to having a single compulsive collection, the kids had a field day accusing me of other hidden collections that only they know about because I keep them in drawers, away from my husband.

My motto:   He is on a need to know basis, and he doesn’t need to know.

Playing cards is one of my favorite things to do so collecting every vintage Ace of Spade card is only natural.   One time, in band camp on ebay, I ran across old canceled stock certificates from the Pennsylvania Rail Road, B & O Railroad and other Monoply properties and was captivated by the fine artwork that old certificates had.  Now my collection is about 150 certificates, all alphabetized and they proudly represent Americana.


Hey, that’s 150 positive feedbacks.  Cha-ching.

Then there’s the vintage food crate labels for oranges, apples, blueberries and other fruit and vegetables.  I had the idea once to wallpaper an entire room with them and so started my massive collection.  Now I just flip through them and admire the colors, subjects, and simplicity that represents a time, long ago.  Don’t get me started on Smoky the Bear. 

My collecting has morphed into NOT having to actually have the physical thing I adore, but a picture of the thing that attracts me.  This week I’m spending time on the Internet collecting historical Michigan logging photos and pictures of woodpeckers in a folder.  Woodpeckers are my favorite bird.  I saw my first pileated woodpecker this year and almost pooped my pants.



The bottom line that I tell my children antagonists is,

“You should hope to grow up like me. 

I go exploring every day!”



Salmon Pursuit


GO BIG OR GO HOME;  We Are In It To Win It

My son, Adam, will be featured on six episodes of Pursuit TV next year, participating in salmon fishing tournaments in the Great Lakes region where the stakes are high, 12′ waves are real, and men smell like onion armpit after a day of battle on the water.  Captain Adam will have a camera crew on board to film all the action on his boat, “The Pole Dancer”, a 32 foot Boston Whaler.  There will be close ups and monologues and lots of fishing frenzy as he fights harder to survive the competition than the fish.   Mother Nature will be up to her old tricks, there will be mechanical conundrums to solve, and 300′ lines to track where the unexpected is expected.   He is already growing a nasty beard so he can be a real shrimpin’ boat capt’n.  Damn you, Duck Dynasty!

We upped the fear factor by trading our old, red Ford F-350 pick up truck for a dual axle F-350 4X4 Diesel King Ranch with all the trimmings.  First impressions are everything and the thing is obnoxious.  When this tricked out baby rolls into the marina to dump his boat, the other fisherman should hit their knees and pray or  just throw their gear overboard and call it a day.  Some may pee their pants.  That’s the goal, anyway.

Keep your fingers crossed that the fish are biting, the skies are calm, and everyone in the tournaments gets lucky a time or two…on or off the water!




Facts of Life


Whittled away by cancer, he keeps a white bed sheet over his head, like a ghost, so that no one will discover him in bed, dead.  He hasn’t eaten in days; he just can’t anymore.  His daughter arrives at the care facility and gently whispers to the tiny sheet in the bed, “Dad, wake up.  I’m here.”  He whispers, “So I ain’t dead yet?”  “Nope, you’re not that lucky,” she says.  He pops down the blanket, looks at her and says, “This is bullshit.  Why ain’t I dead yet?”  They both smile.  She kisses the hollow in his cheek.  And so begins another day.  And so it goes; this dance.  His journey.

When it is over they will both only remember the good times.  She will think back to their summers together, floating in an aluminum boat.  She is wearing her big straw hat and watching him catch fish after fish with a simple hook and a couple of crawlers.  Chihuahua!   Her mind will drift to Disney World, a month ago, when they were both Goofy.   He will be right beside her as she dreams.

Oh, time…sweet time….the double edged sword.

Sweet Surprises


Jennifer lives about 30 miles away and called on Saturday to say she had a surprise for me, “Come to Brighton.”   An hour later I was lunching at Panera Bread with my daughter and her steady, Will.   I cleverly worked them both over for clues and hints.  Shamefully, I tried blackmail.  “If you don’t give me a clue, I’m going to write about you in The Painted Post.”

We slurped the last of our tomato soup and piled back into the car.  Will headed eastward.  I’m thinking…Novi?

Then it dawned on me…THE NOVI PET EXPO!

Nailed it!

It was so sweet of them to think of me and make an outing of it together.    We spent an afternoon watching dogs jump into a 35′ long swimming pool, run agility courses, and saw all the critters who found their forever homes.  It was a special day.

Back at home, I went upstairs to change clothes.  On the bathroom counter, our housekeepers had left this note.  Another great surprise!



Photo Riff


My rooster-man is in love.  With me.  It started last week.  What a shameless display he puts on when I walk outside.  He races as fast as he can to my side and if my hands are down, he lovingly pecks my palms to see if I have food. He’s a boot licker.  If I turn sharply, I might step on him; he is that close.  He never leaves my side.   We’ve advanced to the petting stage and by next week I think he will sit in my lap.  For those of you who know roosters, you know why they call them cocks.  They are  Nasty Creatures.  You can’t trust them.  But MY rooster-man, he loves me so I gave him some pie.

Take a look at my goats.  This is why we can’t have nice things.  Once all the flowers and bushes exhaust themselves and the weather turns frosty, I let my goats out of their pen to do “yard work”.  They clean up on leaf piles, brush, and do a fine job of trimming.  This year, however, they crossed the line when they gorged on my big pumpkin.   They broke the skin and ate the flesh and the chickens stood at the ready to peck out all the big seeds.

The doorbell rang and standing on my porch was a Vietnam Vet who lives up the road.  He brought me a beautiful basket of garden goods he canned along with a sample of some of the herbs still surviving his winter garden.  In exchange, he asked if he could gather wood on our property to heat his home.   He and I made a deal:  we are going to trade the basket each month.  Next month I’m bringing him some homemade breads, cakes, and noodles and we are going to help him with the wood project.

Went down to “The Joe” to see the Wings play.  It was 60 degrees the day before.  It was supposed to be “a little cooler” on game day.  When we got to our cars after the game…there was a thick frost glaze on the windshields,  I needed a crowbar to get the driver’s door open, and it was snowing.   Thanks a lot.    The apple trees are loaded this year and bow down to the ground.  That doesn’t have anything to do with hockey, but is part of this riff.



Warm Weather is For Wussies


 3rd Annual Airbiscuit Anniversary and Chili Cook-Off

Airstream Rally in Wellington, Ohio

So what if the highs each day barely hit 50 degrees with wind gusts to 30 mph and the lows each night froze our noses and toes.  We saw it as an opportunity to sport our winter flair.  There were bedazzled Stormy Kromers and lots of buffalo check flannels on display.  When it comes to keeping warm, we’re professionals.   Hence, the necessity of the Chili Cook-Off contest.

Folks from far and wide hauled their heavy, black iron dutch ovens filled with spices, mystery meat and those stinkin’ beans to the camp pavilion for the judging.   A sea of buckskin colored Carhartt jackets and insulated overalls swelled back and forth, shifting from foot to foot to keep warm.   The wind blew the heat from the pots right up our noses until our eyes watered.  Trophies were handed out and then the real tasting began.

One of my favorite things about this rally was the “magic” pillowcases that we made.

Watch this on youtube.com!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrYWCma9wgM

These are great for shut ins, children, charity events and as Christmas gifts for people of all ages.  I made mine for my Grandma Vargo who just turned 100 years old on June 5, 2013.  She loves butterflies and gardening so it made my heart happy to sew something special for her.



The campground did a great job of decorating, and sponsored a trick or treat hour for children to walk up to each camper for candy.   Our group had a Halloween decorating contest, a BIG raffle, a HUGE pot luck dinner, a heated party tent, several group breakfasts on a GIANT griddle , and cowboy coffee each morning.  Our rally hosts did a fabulous job with the swag bags and planning!  It was great to see some rally friends from the past and to make many new ones.

When I saw the skeletons in the canoe and the two by a campfire, I texted my cousin, Sandy (like the beach) and said, “OMG…San, that’s us until the end of time!”




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