Winter Brings Vengeance

I can feel the cold. It surrounds my house; seeping in through the crappy windows installed when we built knew more than a decade ago. Isn’t it amazing how a window company stays in business for decades when they manufacture crap windows, have crap retail service and send out crap installers to put in their windows? I don’t know how they pull it off. Anyway, my rant today isn’t about crap windows; or maybe it is. My rant is about winter showing up with all of its vengeance in southeastern Michigan. The blustery bitterness makes me long for the amiable tranquility summer offers.

Blustery bitterness comes to my corner of the world.

Blustery bitterness in my corner of the world. Photo credit: kateschannel

Amiable tranquility during Summer 2014 at Myrtle Beach, SC. Photo credit: kateschannel

Amiable tranquility during Summer 2014 at Myrtle Beach, SC. Photo credit: kateschannel

Last Days of Summer: Katniss, Beautiful Revisits, Classic Rides, Missing Husbands and Fifty Shades of Fudgery

It’s been a while. My hiatus wasn’t even intended. But, then I looked. My most recent blog post is dated  July 26. I compare this blog community faux pas to those ancient days when I failed miserably as a snail-mail pen pal. While I like writing, I am just not a letter-writer.

So, that’s my first excuse for being such a lousy summer blog pal. The next five are …

1. Katniss Everdeen stole my attention for seven days as I devoured Suzanne CollinsHunger Games Trilogy. As I finished each book, I had to start the next. With the exception of maintaining my job as family chauffeur, chef, and referee all other responsibilities went out the window. That’s what summer break is for, right?

2. Beautiful revisit with my husband and children to my aunt Kate’s lake house in Claire, Michigan. For one weekend, we relaxed, fished, boated, swam, and hunted for snakes.

3. Classic rides lined Woodward Ave. for Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Our time was mostly spent in Birmingham’s Old Woodward district, which gave us plenty of classics to drool over.

4. Missing husbands aren’t all bad. While mine was in Baltimore for several weeks, the kids reveled in the last couple weeks of summer vacation. They visited family friends in Canada, slept in, watched too much television, and ate hot dog dinners. The bonus for me: less mess, no sharing, and uninterrupted time with Mr. Grey and Miss Steele (see no. 5).

5. Fifty Shades of fudgery tied me up for three days. It was one day for each book in the trilogy detailing the kinky, over-the-top, hearts and flowers romance between Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. It is the only story I have ever been interested in rereading; and with the same level of interest as the first read-through. Note to those with lovers: minus some of fudgery, the trilogy is a guide to either re-igniting the fire; or to keeping it lit.

Lovely Sisters

 

Last week

Progress on my reading list is sometimes slow. That’s why I just stepped into the highly addictive Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. I’m sure most will agree that the gripping stories Collins’ weaves — featuring Katniss, Peeta, and Gale — do not allow one to stray for long.

In the Midst of Addiction

With the exception of caring for Issa and Riff, Collins’ saga about the reaping, Hunger Games, and revolt taking place in the 13 districts have held me captive for nearly seven days. In the midst of my addiction, two lovely sisters from the blogging world nominated kateschannel for a couple of awards.

Two Lovely Sisters from he Blogging World

Cathy, from Inspired Design, nominated kateschannel for One Lovely Blog Award. Like me, Cathy resides near Detroit, loves her Italian-Irish heritage, and enjoys looking back at the ’70s and ’80s. I urge my followers to read her posts about Michigan treasures. Also, be sure to take a look at what her eyes and camera lens captures.

Lea, from Lea at Sea, selected me as one of her seven picks for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Lea’s blog shares her favorite books, discusses her passion for writing, and captures some amazing nature photos. Recently, she shared an excerpt from her book, Tree of Roses. I truly consider her a sister in that she inspires me to create.

Both of these awards carry rules for me to follow upon acceptance. The rules are:

1. Thank those who nominated me. Done

2. Tell seven things about myself that you do not already know. Hmmm.

3. Nominate seven blogs for the awards. Look for my nominees, Friday.

7 Daily Craves

It was taking too much time for me to come up with seven things to share about myself. So, since this post talks about addictions, I figured why not list what I must have each day to fend off insanity.

1. Social time with adults. My fix is met through my blogging network, talking with friends or family on the phone, chatting with neighbors at the bus stop or at the store, or dates.

2. Exercise. My preference is walking because it’s not just about moving. Walking also clears my head of negative thoughts.

3. Writing. In earlier posts, I refer to writing as my therapy. It is. When I write about feelings connected to whatever stress I am carrying, those tensions go away.

4. Cheez-Itz. I do not know what Sunshine puts into those little squares of salty, cheesy goodness. But, I could easily polish off a box during my late-afternoon break. Good thing Issa and Riff love them, too.

5. Ice cream. This addiction has genetic links to my mom. She always has a half-gallon on hand to help her survive a day. While she prefers the low-fat, low-calorie versions, I go for the loaded stuff. My preferred brand this summer is Hudsonville. It’s made on Michigan’s west side.

6. Facebook. It’s so easy to connect with family and friends. It saves me minutes. It gives a common place to view photos from events and places.

7. Issa and Riff. Really, I am not making this one up. When they are away for an overnight at my parents’ home; or if I am away I miss hearing their voices.

Finally

My sister created this beach-themed birthday cake for my niece and nephew in June. The palm tree was made from rice krispy treats. Photo Credit: kateschannel

A post about Lovely Sisters wouldn’t be complete without mentioning I have one. She is my one-and-only sibling; and I am glad she graced the world with her loveliness back in 1973. Like me, she loves to create. While she is a skilled writer, her preference is for painting, crafty ventures, and cakes. She and her family will be visiting mine next weekend. Issa and Riff look forward to spending time with their cousins; and I am looking forward to having some quality-time with my very Lovely Sister.

 

Twisted Hues

Having a blast at the Color Run’s post-race color fest. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lott

Yesterday, at 8:38 a.m., I participated in my first Color Run. While the race encourages people to live healthier, this 5k promotes diversity, creativity and community and not speed, competition or athleticism.

I ran the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor course with my second cousin Jennifer and her sister Katie. Thousands danced to Top 40 hits waiting for their wave in the race to begin. Dressed in mostly white, racers were blasted in a rainbow of non-toxic, paint powder after completing each kilometer. At the finish line, racers experienced a post-race party with beautiful hues of powder.

Prior to race day, preparations focused mostly on creative aspects not training runs. On the eve of race day, we gathered at Jennifer’s apartment to transform ourselves into the Twisted Hues. The team name represents our ideology that all colors are beautiful and that our inner warriors carry us through even the toughest of life challenges. Twisted Hues is hopeful that more family members and friends will join the team roster at future, active events that promote healthy living, unity, peace, and charity.

Twisted Hues (L to R) include my cousin Jennifer, her sister Katie, and my cousin Meghan, who created our look for the event.                       Photo Credit: kateschannel

Twisted Hues’ race style was mostly created around the idea my cousin Meghan had. She inspired and taught each of us to make rainbow-colored tutus. She planned to take part in the Color Run event. But, unfortunately, at the last moment was not able to join us at the start line. Her contribution to the Twisted Hues resulted in boosting our self-confidence as well as plenty of style kudos from fellow Color Runners.

What a finish. Katie, Jennifer and I enjoy watching all the beautiful hues. Photo credit: Jennifer Lott

I believe the next event the Twisted Hues will be signing on for is the second annual Run and Play for Ariana Mae at the Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, Mich. The event begins with a 5k run and one-mile walk, followed by a Candyland Scavenger Hunt. The event supports the Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) Program. Proceeds from this year’s event will fund the addition of a new play structure at Fitzgerald Park in memory of Ariana Mae. To learn more about the event, register, or make a donation visit www.arianasrun.com.

School’s Out: House Guests and My Big Beautiful Family

Unannounced House Guest

Cozy spot to snooze. Photo credit: kateschannel

If you’re like me, house guests sometimes drop in unannounced. This one showed just before Fourth of July festivities. He/she decided an outdoor storage cabinet was the place to sleep for a spell. Perhaps he/she learned our patio is a prime location for watching firework shows. Fortunately, I discovered him — and not Issa or Riff — before retiring for the night. Issa and Riff love all creatures. But, some do not survive due to overzealous curiosity.

My Big Beautiful Family

Good times in the middle of beautiful Michigan with cousins and in-laws. Photo credit: Joe Duris

Several members from my big beautiful family reunites in the middle of beautiful Michigan each summer. Thanks to the generosity of my Aunt Kate (my namesake), we all meet up — with plenty of beverages and food — at her lake house near Clare, Mich. Kate is my mom’s sister and is one of six. My mom also has three brothers. For up to seven days family members race kayaks, have water gun fights, fish, watch my cousin Kyle do cannonballs into the lake, play euchre, drink and eat.

My cousin Jen bonds with her mom/my aunt Linda. Jen lives in Florida. The two appreciate time together. Photo credit: kateschannel

This year, highlights include …

Crack.My Aunt Gerry made these fabulous, highly-addictive, chocolate-covered saltines. Who knew crack could taste so good?

Warning: Highly addictive substance. More habit-forming than crack. Wait a minute. It is crack.

Water wars. My late grandparents used to host a mini-version of the Olympics — during annual reunion parties — at their home in Cohoctah, Mich. In their memory, we still partake in the water portion of these games. There are no teams. It is a free-for-all. Each competitor is responsible for their own protection.

One of our valiant water warriors takes aim. Photo credit: kateschannel

James Bond-style water guns.Take a look at this kick board. Swimmers beware. When you see someone entering any body of water with one of these, be prepared with some kind of weaponry. Not only this be used as a swim aid, it also unleashes a torrent of water at innocent bystanders.

This stylish kick board doubles as a water gun. How genius is that? Photo credit: kateschannel

Big vs. little. Too bad I missed this fishing expedition. My cousin Joe took Issa and my niece out on the lake to fish. After waiting patiently for a bite, a little bass finally took Issa’s bait. Just as she started to reel it in, a big bass ate the little bass; and then escaped.

Cannonball run. My cousin Kyle shows off his extraordinary cannonballs each year. Look at the eyes. Olympic hopefuls cannot compare to this level of focus and mental readiness.

No stunt doubles here, people. This is the real deal. Kyle is going for it.

Sunk like a brick. Photo credit: kateschannel

The water depth is less than four feet.

Lots of characters. We are a mix of families, genders, ages, personalities, ideologies, political leanings, athletic abilities, beverage preferences, and more. But, the unique traits we all bring to the lake make the times we spend special. Plus, it’s pretty awesome to see how carefree everyone can be for a few days in the middle of beautiful Michigan.

My cousin Jen visits with aunts Susan (my mom) and Gerry. Photo credit: kateschannel

Drink It: Vinosesso De Angelis Cantina del Vino 2010

Can you tell I like reds? Photo credit: Joel Goldberg, Ann Arbor Chronicle, Oct. 2010

I am partial to anything vinted or brewed in Michigan. The Mitten produces extraordinary wine and beer. With that said, I recommend Vinosesso De Angelis Cantina del Vino 2010. This combination red is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Franc.

Life Replays: Those Sailing Scenes on the Great Lakes

Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
My love is rotten to the core
Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love
Just like I told you before, yeah before

Alex Van Halen, Edward Van Halen, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth

Some songs trigger replays or even fantasies. Van Halen‘s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love is one that places me on any number of Michigan’s infamous beaches; playing in the sand and surf while drinking Bell’s Oberon on a hot, sunny, beautiful, summer day.

With the approach of summer and vacation from school I thought it appropriate to announce a temporary departure from my College Life Replay Mini-Series. Instead, I will share glimpses at summertime childhood memories.

My Dad is a Sailor

Sailing the Georgian Bay at 10 months. kateschannel

Before marriage and children, my dad purchased Veliero, a 32-foot Galaxy. He raced and cruised Veliero from Bayview Yacht Club until 2009 when he sold it at age 80. His love for spending breezy, sunny afternoons sailing the waters of the Great Lakes took hold of me before I learned to walk and talk. I was only 10 months old when he secured me to stern in my baby walker for a sailing trip to the Georgian Bay.

As my sister and I matured, my dad took us on countless day trips as well as some lengthy cruises to escape the summer heat and humidity. He only expected minimal help from us. So, we learned the benefits of being pampered passengers rather than expert crew. Our job was to feel the splash from the waves while riding on the bow, take a snooze while sunbathing, read a book, eat all the snacks, or to entertain guests who had been invited to join us. When I look back through my collection of childhood memories, those sailing scenes on the Great Lakes rank at the top. Here are some of my faves.

Getting hosed in the buff in Grand Traverse Bay. My mom, dad, sister and I were into week one of a three-week cruise of Lake Huron and upper Lake Michigan during the summer of 1978. On this given day we had just dropped anchor off the Grand Traverse shoreline near Charlevoix and we were going to have some play time on the beach. I was eight, my sister was five. While getting our dingy ready to row ashore, my dad says mom is preparing a big surprise for us. My sister and I exchange glances; and then start trying to guess the surprise. Screw going to the beach. We want the big surprise. That’s all we can think about.

We should have known better. First, our Dad likes the beach. But, not when it’s crowded with other children. He prefers quiet walks on the beach at sunrise or sunset while looking for Petosky stones. Second, my dad’s preferences for spending quality time with his daughters included teaching us how to row the dingy around a peaceful inlet or looking for fudge shops while we were in port.

After spending a half-hour at the beach with us, my dad gives into our eagerness and rows us both back to the boat. There my mom ambushes us on the stern. She orders us to strip. Then, douses us with a few buckets  of ice-cold lake water and soap while my dad uses a couple towels to give us cover from eyes of fellow boaters.

David Lee Roth centerfold in Tiger Beat magazine. My sister and I were settling in for the night. It had been another fun-filled day on our three-week cruise during the summer of 1978. She was thumbing through her Tiger Beat magazine — our intro to tabloid celebrities — checking out John Schneider (Bo Duke), Scott Baio, Ralph Macchio, Ricky Shroder and some of the guys from Menudo. Whatever I was reading seemed to dull as I watched her flip the pages. Finally, she let me have a turn. There, in the centerfold  was David Lee Roth; all blond and hairy in a hot pink, rainbow-striped body suit. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.

Using the head during a severe thunderstorm on Lake Huron. Going to bathroom while battling rough waters requires above-average balance. On this particular day, our time at sea started calmly but with overcast skies. No big deal. But, soon enough, we were in the midst of a heavy downpour along with thunder, lightening and strong winds. No port was in sight. My mom had just cautioned us not to touch any metal when duty called. The mast went right through the head. Usually, this provided extra balance support. But, grabbing onto to it would have been like a death sentence. Somehow, I managed. It’s interesting. When you’re 8, 9 or 10 there is little fear about anything. I knew all would be okay. Dad was at the helm; and he was a very competent sailor.

Drip castle mania in Lexington. When in port, my sister and I spent many afternoons on the beaches building drip castles. To make these one must have the utmost patience, some sense of design, imagination, focus, and the ability defend against creetons seeking to destroy.

One overcast afternoon we found ourselves in Lexington, which is north of Port Huron. We ended up at the beach and began creating. Three boys entered our domain. Their interest appeared to be friendly and non-threatening. We splashed in the lake with them for some time; and then showed them how to create drip castles. What transpired was a masterpiece. Too bad I don’t have pictures.

Then, in minutes, the three turned into monsters. They and some other beach creatures combined forces of evil, picked up their big hairy feet, and ran full-force into our beautiful, carefully-constructed drip city. Our great hall of justice, imperial palace and spa were smashed to oblivion. Drip city streets lay in ruin. Needless to say. My sister and I were pissed. After some choice words and gestures, we told these fools to scram or else. They scrammed.