Wool gathering.

09-27-16a

I finally surrendered to the chilly morning temperature and donned a cardigan.

And long pants as well.

I’m putting on the record that I think bare arms and legs outdoors may be disappearing until about April 2017 … what do you think?

Pulling on full-length pants again felt a little weird, and, I had to laugh to myself, because I was just about ready to abandon the rolled-gauze wraps I’ve kept on my legs while the pesky blisters were getting completely healed up. Try as I may, I could not stretch my socks to reach the top of that gauze, thus, the bandage-filled gap between the tops of the socks and the bottoms of my capris made me look a little like Ruth Buzzi’s character, Gladys Ormphby, this past six weeks.

Before I departed on my walk, I tried to decipher this morning’s weather report, as best I could, since it was wedged in between the many, morning-after stories about last night’s Presidential debate. I needed to hear it to decide just how many layers to don on this especially chilly morning.

Finally, I heard it – 50 degrees.

Just 50 degrees … clearly, there was no time before I left for any wool gathering, a/k/a that annual rite of Fall … going into the cedar closet and rooting out the light wool items to wear on my morning walk on that first really chilly day in September.

First, it is just the wool headband and gloves.

Then, once you can see a trail of condensation coming from your mouth or nose, AND your eyeglasses steam up when you walk inside the house after being outside … well, then it is time to resort to even-warmer duds.

Next comes a scarf, then a hat and finally, a heavier coat.

I had many years of practicing and perfecting this ritual, having taken the bus for decades.

I missed out on a walk yesterday thanks to the rain, and it looks like rain is in the forecast the rest of the week through Sunday. Ugh.  We’re still making up for that long, hot, dry Summer I guess.  The trees and bushes are happy for the rain –but me, not so much.

I don’t just miss the physical exercise of a walk, but I miss the woolgathering as I meander along as well. Walking is peaceful to me, a portion of time to let my mind be a blank, or absorb the goings-on, and, if I’m so inclined, to ponder my next blog post … or life.

Wool gathering … pure Michigan. Woolgathering … pure bliss.

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Covering all my bases.

09-24-16

This morning I was happy to step out of the house, and step away from my radio, where I’d heard the most-recent horrid news story, a shooting at a mall in Washington State. I was still trying to process the facts of this latest tragedy while eating breakfast and getting ready to go out.

It has been an especially tough few weeks for gut-wrenching news stories, both locally and nationally, so, it sure felt good to get out in the cool morning air and let the wind whoosh through my ears, to air out my brain a bit.

Once out in the chilly air, I almost dashed back to retrieve something with sleeves, but decided that once those dark clouds parted, the sun would erupt and it would get warmer. Sure enough, the sun started to filter through the mottled gray sky as I walked by Ford Park.  It was there that I watched a lone Canada goose standing in the middle of the little league baseball diamond at the park.  The goose was bathed in pale sunlight.  It didn’t stay still for long, because soon it was strutting (or perhaps goose stepping) around in the dirt.  There was no grazing done, so I guess it was waiting for the rest of the team to arrive and join him.

As I turned the corner down Emmons Boulevard, the sun got bright and I had to shield my eyes. I noticed the sewer restoration project was over, so the big trucks were gone, but the dirt piles and fresh cement cluttered up the sidewalks and made it a little difficult to walk.

I think every squirrel in the neighborhood was out this morning, and they were pretty bold and brazen in their quest for acorns, as they were dashing to and fro across the lawns and into the street. I couldn’t look a few times when they scurried out and escaped a car tire by a hair.

I was looking for the “Reward for Missing Tortoise” sign that was tacked onto a pole earlier this week. It is no longer there, so hopefully he found his way back home again.

I’ve had to shave off the last long block from my morning regimen the past few days, since the sun is rising so late. Now, I have to leave later for my walk, and still return home the same time to start work at a halfway decent hour.

So, I vowed to cover all my bases and try to make up those miles on the weekend.

As I walked along, my mind a blank, suddenly I saw the flag hanging limply from its pole and instantly remembered Sergeant Steil.

I followed the sad story of this police officer who succumbed to a blood clot shortly before he was to be released from the hospital, just one week ago today. I watched part of the funeral online and was moved by the crowd and the smart salutes by white-gloved officers as the casket went by them.  I watched the anguished look on his widow’s face while she held her young children close, as her husband’s casket was loaded into the hearse, just before he went for his final ride.

It was heartbreaking.

The crowds that lined the street reminded me of the funeral for three Detroit firemen who died in the line of duty, after a warehouse collapsed many years ago. From our office building, high above the street, coworkers and I stood at the windows and watched as the funeral procession travel through the streets of Detroit.  From our perch, we saw the firetrucks, three abreast, and each bearing the casket of a fallen fireman, as they inched down the street while crowds were milling about.

Before I sat down to write this post, I Googled to find a story about those three firemen, thinking there would be nothing online since it happened long ago. But I found some information, and, I learned that the three firemen perished and ten were injured in two large warehouse complexes while fighting a five-alarm fire on March 12, 1987.

Coincidentally, in an eerily similar incident, two firefighters died in an early morning fire this morning in Wilmington, Delaware, after a floor gave way.

But I digressed in mentioning Sergeant Steil and the three firemen, because I wanted to talk about the flag, which made my mind wander a bit as I passed it.

About a month ago, as I travelled down the Boulevard, I saw something new on someone’s porch. It was a large American flag, but it was very different.  The stripes were black instead of red; the background of the stars was black instead of blue.  Notably, there was a thin blue line running horizontally just beneath the stars.

I wondered if it was sign of disrespect or even blasphemy to Old Glory?

I took a long look at it and made a mental note to Google the image of this peculiar-looking flag when I got home.

But what do you Google … “black-and-white-and-blue flag”?

Then, a week or so later, I heard a public service announcement about the thin blue line flag and the organization associated with it. Only then, did it rang a bell with me that the flag was police-related.

I Googled and discovered that:  “the blue represents the officer and the courage they find deep inside when faced with insurmountable odds. The black background was designed as a constant reminder of our fallen brother and sister officers.”

I don’t think I live in a vacuum, and, while I have heard of the Thin Blue Line organization, I’d never heard of this flag.

I found some peace down at the marina, where the sky was blue, the waters were lapping near the docks and the gulls were screeching at one another high overhead.

The man pictured above, also at the marina, found peace in an early morning boat ride.

I sure wish there was peace for everyone in our world.

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“What is an acorn …”

09-22-16

Well, if the above title happened to be the answer to a Jeopardy question, what would that question be?

I’d say “In Autumn, this is something that falls on your head and goes thunk, thanks to the squirrels who scramble around on the branches above where you are walking – what is it?”

In my humble opinion, those mischievous squirrels purposely pelt those acorns at humans, then wear a defiant look when you sneer at them after it bounces off your noggin.

Leaves are not the only things that are falling from the trees these days, and those acorns sure pack a punch sometimes.

Whenever I see an acorn, I am reminded of a book of proverbs and quotations that my mom bought for me many years ago. I’ve often mentioned in my blog posts that I circulated a daily quotation, which I entitled “Thought for Today”, for many years.  This was long before I had a computer at home, and our work computers were dummy terminals, which were networked within our office only.  We had an archaic-style of e-mail communication, but we had no access to the internet.  That would come many years later, after Y2K.  To produce my daily “Thought”, I’d peruse some of my collection of books that were brimming with quotations on different subjects.

One book in particular was chockfull of “country wisdom” and it contained a lot of proverbs. A good deal of the quotations were not attributed to anyone in particular, just sayings or wisdom passed down from generation to generation, like this little gem …

“Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”

I see a lot of oak trees in my daily travels down Emmons Boulevard. It’s hard to believe that these magnificent and sprawling trees, which host their share of beautiful songbirds or sometimes-cantankerous squirrels, all began with a tiny acorn.

But, I’ve been around long enough to watch a few trees in my very own neighborhood, that once were tiny saplings, and now provide beautiful shade to dip under on a hot day. My next-door neighbor, for example, has a beautiful red maple, that one time was just a pesky “helicopter seed” which landed in some dirt and began to grow like crazy, just  like Jack’s beanstalk.  At first, it was a hoot to see how the former homeowners nurtured this maple seedling, first by staking it to a ruler, and putting a small wire fence around it.  I wouldn’t have given it much hope, but, today it is large and takes up most of the City property.  It is especially beautiful in Autumn when the leaves are ablaze in red and yellow tones.

The other day, as I wandered along Winchester Avenue, having been diverted by the detour for the Boulevard’s sewer renovation, I came upon a tall and skinny maple sapling. It was about six feet high, and the base of its trunk remained “planted” in some dirt within an old Folger’s decaf coffee can.  That can was literally rising out of the ground, listing to one side, and was split at the bottom from the expanding tree roots.  On a lark, someone must have buried the entire can with the maple seed inside, never expecting it to amount to much.  So, there was some grit and determination going on when that seedling sprouted and became a young sapling.  Some day it will look just like my neighbor’s tree.

So, are you thinking Fall thoughts as we usher in our new season, on a day where Summer is obviously still in overtime bigtime?

Autumn weather, and all its beauty, will be here quickly enough. Soon, we will be shivering and wishing for just a little of that Summer warmth that we complained about.

As we fall into Fall, on the calendar anyway, it is hard to believe that there are only 100 days left in 2016.

Speaking of falling … Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation does not apply to the acorn pictured above. No apples or acorns were harmed during this photo opportunity.  Nor did they harm a single human.  I saw this drawing last week and couldn’t help but take a photo of  it to use for the first day of Fall.

I miss glancing at the sidewalk to see what colorful renderings the chalk artist has created since I last happened by. I think the only renderings he or she is creating now, are doodles on a looseleaf page with a number two pencil once boredom sets in while class is in session.  I have a few more to share in future posts, because that chalk artist was quite prolific.

 

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Pretty in pink – Part II

09-20-16a

These Summer high temps and humidity hits just keep on coming, even though Fall is knocking on our doorstep.

It was cloudy when I headed out this morning, and it took forever for the sky to lighten and brighten up so I could leave. I was tapping my foot impatiently, as I knew I’d need to hustle if I wanted to get my regular trek done.

I ran the car and was shutting the door when I felt a few raindrops on my arm. Well, the sky did look like rain could spill from those clouds, and, after all, they had called for sprinkles.  I waited a few minutes and it stopped, so off I went.

Unfortunately, Emmons Boulevard was burgeoned by big trucks and work crews that were lined up and down the street for one solid block.  There were detour signs galore due to sewer restoration, so I had no choice but to zigzag and go down Winchester, where several homes were festive with harvest décor.  I must return with my camera and get some photos to share in later posts.

There was more sewer restoration work being done over by the footbridge, and, this time I had no option, but to either traipse through the dried mud and cement dust, or travel through someone’s sprinkler system across the street.

When I got home, before I went into the house, I stomped through the dewy grass to “wash” off my shoe bottoms, then waited for them to dry before going inside. I checked the soles, and lo and behold … I discovered a big hole on the right sole.  That kind of surprised me because I just “retired” my last pair of walking shoes in July 2015, and, at that time I wrote at length about those shoes, as they had served me well, having seen me through 1,650 miles walked.  The current shoes have a lot of miles on them as well, but nowhere close to 1,650.  I suspect it is because I’ve been walking on the sidewalks in Lincoln Park and Wyandotte, and that cement is often pitted or uneven, as opposed to the smooth asphalt perimeter path at Council Point Park.  I’ll return there again one day, but I took a break from that venue after the severe avian flu outbreak last year.  The Park is loaded with Canada geese who walk all over the perimeter path and grass, leaving an abundance of droppings.  I worried about my shoes picking up any avian flu viruses and bringing them home to my canary Buddy, so I’m on hiatus from the Park right now.

I’ve got another pair of brand-new walking shoes in my closet, bright white and ready to take to the streets in my quest to top last year’s 718 total miles walked. As of today, my year-to-date mileage is 550, but I know I will have decreased morning walking miles now that the sleepyhead sun doesn’t put in an appearance until much later.

Before Summer does its swan song, I wanted to share some more beautiful fleurs that have brightened my daily trek along the Boulevard this growing season. I wish I could claim they were from my house, but I’ve resorted to maintenance-free, realistic-looking silk posies because … it’s all about the walking don’t ya know!

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Pretty in pink.

09-18-16

Saturday was sooooo soggy and that wet weather put a kibosh on my walk.

Today was foggy, and even the dregs of the big ol’ harvest moon, did not make it light enough to leave as early as I would have liked. That ethereal setting and 100% humidity made it an easy decision to walk at Meijer this morning.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into the grocery store, was all the school supplies have been pushed aside and the harvest décor, Halloween candy and costumes have been hauled out.

Meijer was hopping this morning since they had some good sales, and I soon found myself weaving in and out amongst the shoppers, to try to get my desired laps in, and it got more difficult as time wore on.

The cider looked inviting, as did the peanut-coated caramel apples, and I spied something new – gourmet chewing gum, flavored like Fall food offerings … caramel apples and kettle corn. If you were thinking Summery thoughts, there was even gum by the name of “Front Porch Lemonade”, something that we could certainly be downing today.

Seeing those seasonal and unique flavors of chewing gum, made me think of the Teaberry, Clove and Black Jack chewing gum I used to enjoy years ago. That gum always arrived in special displays right around Halloween. I was never allowed to chew gum when I was growing up, but, when I got older, and my allowance was larger, I remember loading up on my favorite of the trio, Black Jack, with its unique, licorice-flavored black gum sticks.  Of course, I couldn’t pull one over on my mom who knew right away I had been chewing it, since my mouth reeked of anise flavoring and my tongue would be all black.  She would admonish me by saying “ladies don’t chew dark-colored gum because it looks uncouth … chew Chiclets instead!”

I did some shopping while at Meijer, as I’ve been loading in pantry items for the long Winter ahead, though it sure doesn’t feel much like Fall or Winter out there today. When I came out of the store, it was downright hot.

So, here we are, on this last weekend of Summer. In my recent treks down Emmons Boulevard, I’ve noticed so many pots and hanging baskets are now bedraggled-looking with shrivelled-up blooms, courtesy of the drought-like conditions which prevailed week after week earlier in the Summer.  But , so many of the Boulevard’s houses that rely on sprinkler systems or daily hand watering, still have  blooms, as pictured above, that have weathered the heat and are clearly not ready to yield to the jewel-toned chrysanthamums that are already gracing our local nurseries.

On this sweltering hot day, in the midst of a torrential rainstorm that just popped up, it seems hard to believe Harvest and Halloween are the next events as we soon usher in Autumn.

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Rockin’ the socks.

09-15-16

It was another coolish morning and it’s sure starting to feel more seasonal and hard to believe that as of today, September is half over already.

On this second full week of school, the dread of returning to the grind, and the anticipation of showing off that cool lunchbox to your friends or wearing all those new duds has quickly worn off.  School “daze” has now settled into school days and the rigor and ritual of school has become old news.

Yesterday, when I was on my walk, I watched a little boy dash out of the house, backpack strapped on, as he headed for the car which was purring gently in the driveway awaiting his arrival. But he made a pit stop first, as he scuffed through the wet grass and his dog jumped up on him … twice.  His mom called out the window “don’t get dirty today of all days!”

Right away I assumed it was probably the annual “school picture day” as he was in dress pants and a nice shirt. That made me think way back about my own school photos over the years.  I remembered I had some of those old school pictures digitized, so I dug up this one from fifty years ago.  Talk about Throwback Thursday!  This was my sixth grade school photo, taken in 1966, the year we moved here to the States.  My pals on Facebook and I had a lively discussion and shared some laughs about this photo, because we all remembered wearing a velveteen bowed hairband or those awful cat eye glasses.  At least my furry little mink dog pin was cute and I still have it after all these years.

I’ve been people watching during my treks through the neighborhoods.   I don’t see as many  kids walking to school anymore, so I figure they either have their own wheels or get a ride with mom or dad.  But, the ones that I see walking with their buddies sure don’t remind me of us middle and high school students back in the late 60s and 70s, respectively.

No, everything is all different now … from the clothing, to the backpacks used instead of carrying books in the crook of your arm. And now kids walk along, their heads bowed and shoulders hunched over their phones while reviewing texts or checking social media.  They are moving as a group, but barely communicating with one another.  I couldn’t help but think about my high school days back in the 70s when I made that daily morning trek to school.  This was long before social media of course, and the entire time while my close girlfriends and I were walking, we were talking.  In fact, our mouths were going a mile a minute about the minutiae in our lives, sharing nearly every detail since we parted ways or last spoke on the telephone .

But, that was then – this is now.

So, I was kind of feeling my age … that is, until I saw a much younger girl walking alone, dressed in a short, flippy skirt and wearing knee socks. I thought – well maybe there is a common denominator after all …that would be knee socks.

But, a quick glance at the young girl told me these were no ordinary knee socks like I used to wear way back when. This girl was wearing knee socks that continued above the knees!  Huh?  Something to keep your thighs warm while wearing that short skirt when there is a chill in the air?

Well, I really was feeling old pondering that style.

Knee socks and loafers … now that was a real fashion statement when I was growing up. It was important to color coordinate your knee-high socks to your “poor-boy sweater”, that style of pullover sweater so popular with girls and stylish young women in the 60s.  Poor-boy pullovers were a stretchy ribbed material, with short sleeves that nearly touched the elbows.  They fit like they belonged to your younger sister quite frankly but were a must-have in all colors.  They coordinated nicely with wool plaid skirts and hounds tooth check jumpers (like I was wearing above) plus those matching knee-socks completed the look.

So, that was our back-to-school style a half-century ago (now I am feeling really old).

I’m enjoying that crisp feel when I first set out on my walk, despite feeling a little warmer on the return trip once the sun gently filters through the clouds. I’m savoring these trips because I know Summer is on the wane and Fall officially arrives one week from today.

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Sunrise and scarecrows on a late Summer morn.

09-12-16

My boss was out most of the day, and the perfect weather, and his absence, was an excellent opportunity to go for a longer-than-usual trek.

So, while he wended his way back from the family cabin in Wiarton, Ontario, I headed down Emmons Boulevard, passing through Lincoln Park and Wyandotte, until I reached my destination – the River’s Edge Marina in Ecorse.

At first, I almost wished I’d brought along a sweater for that cool air, but, as I ambled along, I picked up my pace a little, and was more comfortable.

The sun is now rising up one minute later every day, so the cooler mornings soon will become the new normal.

I saw my first scarecrow today, and, no, it wasn’t from looking in the mirror when I first got up. It was part of a harvest display, with mini bales of hay and gourds as well.  ‘Tis the season I guess, and it goes fine with the cooler weather.  Next, I passed a house that had swapped its “Trump – Make America Great Again” sign for some rather ghoulish and ghastly creatures as they were the first house on the Boulevard sporting Halloween decorations.

There were a few more firsts to tell you about …

Finally, after months of gazing into the barren-looking Ecorse Creek below the footbridge, a mallard duck appeared. It was a female, and, with her drab and mousy-looking plumage, she blended right into the muddy-colored waters.  But, there she was, nibbling on reeds and enjoying having the entire cove to herself.

Like the Energizer Bunny, I kept going and going, enjoying the cool breeze and the warm sun. I crossed the railroad tracks and headed for the marina.

The marina was a bit desolate, as no one was in the dock areas … humans that is.

At first it seemed this picturesque area was devoid of birds as well, but then this bird pictured above caught my eye. He glided through the air, then landed on a chain link fence and sat still, just like a statue, for the longest time.  I drew the camera slowly out of its case, so I wouldn’t spook him.  He just sat there watching me warily.  I took a few pictures of him at the fence, then all too quickly, he took a notion to skedaddle and spread his wings and took off for parts unknown.  I thought he was gone for good, so I returned the camera to its case, and then suddenly he flew up over the marina a second time for another bird’s eye view I suppose.  This time my eyes followed him ‘til he settled over by the reeds.  I don’t know what type of bird it is –perhaps a baby crane?  Note how long the beak is, and the extremely long legs and big feet – really big feet!

With feet like that you can really go places, although my feet, encased in their heavy walking shoes trod 4 ½ miles today.

Whether it was a bird’s-eye view or at ground level … it was a beautiful day wherever you were.

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