Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Michigan -- I have no words...

     Normally I do my best to stay away from politics, but with the genii in Lansing and their 16 bills (20 according to some sources) aimed to destroy so many in Michigan, the time for silence is no more.
     Under the guise of reforming "public pensions," these bills act in a more diabolical manner.  All local control is lost by township, city, municipality, etc to a three-person board (the Local Government Stability Board).  The  members are appointees by the governor and would serve 4 year terms.  The ability of the LGSB to act is broad;  they are allowed to overrule any wavers given out to municipalities by the state treasurer; they determine whether a city or municipality qualifies as a "financial emergency" and can declare so if they do not like a city's plan.  The LGSB meetings would be exempt under the open meetings act.  (edit: and they would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, even though funded by tax payer dollars.)
     I could continue, but I am getting physically sick to my stomach.
     In effect, a large portion of local control is taken from the local government and given to the state, run by a three-person appointed board, allowed complete secrecy.  I suppose I am very much a child of the 1980s, but does this not smack of a place formerly called the USSR?  It certainly reminds me of the Soviets.  To me, that is more disturbing than the retirement aspect, the alleged purpose of the bills.
     Now to be perfectly honest, yes, the retirement aspect will destroy us.  For quite a few years now, we have been footing 90% of the funds going into Mr. C's retirement plan, from his paycheck.  There is no mention of where the money we have paid in will go, but if I understand the bills correctly, it will not be allowed to remain where it is.  I suppose the "State of Michigan" will take it.
     I haven't had a paycheck to speak of, since the Wonderful State of Michigan completely destroyed my field of chemistry.  (I was recently told by an old friend that he hadn't ever thought about coming back to Michigan since he and his wife would not have jobs here.  They are also chemists.)  I could tell many more stories but this is not the place.  Suffice it to say, since 2003, we have had to rely on Mr. C's paycheck completely.
     I'm not looking for sympathy (which resides between sh*t and syphilis in the dictionary, as they used to say at Central Transport,) but I am thoroughly disgusted that any so-called public official can claim to be American and attempt to set up such a plan.  There are plenty of ways to deal with this issue without snatching local control away from local governments.
   
Personal commentary:
     Guess it is a good thing I grew up so poor.  I'll figure out how to re-weatherstrip our 20-some year old windows, and I'll expand the garden.  Glad I know how to patch and sew.  I just hope my kids will never have to learn how a spoonful of ketchup warms the stomach and makes one temporarily forget being hungry.  That's how I made it through college.  Too bad the elected genii in Lansing can't say the same thing.  


Monday, October 2, 2017

"As much as I have learned..." The history of St. Peter Ev. Lutheran Church, Richmond MI

Since it hasn't been announced yet, let me say that the book on the history of St. Peter, Richmond, MI is printed and available!  It is 8.5"x11", 144 pages, and covers early history of St. Peter (ca 1850s) until the 1970s.




This isn't just for the members of St. Peter, though.  In putting this book together, I transcribed and have made available for the first time the tape that Carl Gramzow recorded from the 100th anniversary in 1972.  Speakers then included (all now deceased) Pastor Wilfred Junke, of Trinity, Mt. Clemens; his wife, Eleanor Hahn Junke;  Walter Bellhorn (of the Lutheran Deaf Institute); and former Pastor Albert Knoll.  There are some interesting local stories mentioned in their talks, like the Stier-Knust wedding of 1907, and Denewith's bridge.  I even put a chapter in the back of the things I learned while working on this, as in the oddball facts and stories, all the fun and strange things one learns while working on a project such as this.  While it is a book about St. Peter, it just doesn't mention St. Peter.  My only wish is that I could have put everything in, but had I done that, this would have been the length of War and Peace.

Copies are available from the St. Peter church office, 586-727-9693 for $6 each, or available from me for $5.50 (I'm selling them at cost).  Feel free to email me at billandtina41@gmail.com to ask questions.  If you see me around, I always have copies in my car.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Edison Mina fountain pen review

Disclaimer: Everything that follows is my opinion of a pen that I purchased from Edison Pens.  I'm nothing but a satisfied customer, and I received nothing for writing this review but the satisfaction of talking about a pen that I bought.

I've mentioned in another post or two that besides treadle sewing machines and typewriters, I like fountain pens. There are several American pen companies, and the only one I have had experience with is Edison Pen in Ohio.  Their reputation is well-deserved.  They are wonderful people to deal with.

After 3 Edison Production Line pens, I decided I really wanted a Signature Line pen.  It only took me about 3 years of looking through the galleries and acrylics to decide what I wanted.  You read that right.  It really took me 3 years.  I am not a compulsive buyer ;-)  After much back-and-forth with myself, I finally decided on the Edison MinaI really like the design, and that it doesn't post is fine for me.  I wanted a pen that reminded me of the UP, and then I managed to catch the song "Bobcaygeon" on the radio.  You know, where "the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time."  (Hip alert.)  The Indigo Mesh acrylic looked like it would resemble the night sky.  It does.

 The bottom pen is the Mina, the top is the Edison Nouveau Premiere (Fall 2016 Autumn Embers.)  The Nouveau Premiere is there for perspective. 

You can almost see the subtle taper in the center of the Mina.  When the pen arrived Saturday, I caught myself running the pen through my hands, feeling the taper and the smoothness of the pen.  The tolerances are so tight that one can almost not feel where the cap and body meet.  It is so smooth that I had to really get on myself to put the pen down and get back to work.  (For once on a Saturday the mail came before noon, and I was in the middle of moving the bedroom around and Autumn cleaning.  Good ole Murphy's Law...)

 Looks like the sky up north, doesn't it?  I've never been to Bobcaygeon, ON, but I have seen the stars come out on the Lake Superior shoreline.  This is it.
 I even managed to catch the sparkles in the dark side of the pen.  (Any Pink Floyd reference not intended!) 
This picture is the one I wanted when trying to make up my mind, but there wasn't one anywhere. 

I had a really hard time deciding whether to go with the Extended Mina or the Standard Mina, and I finally just decided I was being ridiculous and went with the Standard.  It was a wonderful choice.  It fits my hand nicely, and it is very comfortable to write with.  I haven't given it the 2-3 hour writing test yet, but that's because things got busy around here with the garden and canning.  I did do a small writing sample (you're not seeing the other 3-4 pages.) 



Done on Rhodia with Pilot Blue-Black ink.

Brian of Edison Pen Co. adjusts the nibs in his Signature Line pens, and I have to say I have never written with anything so nice. He did an absolutely wonderful job on the nib.  I don't have the words to explain how wonderful the nib is tuned.  I have other pens that write well, but the Mina just blows them out of the water!  I've tried this pen on Clairefontaine, Rhodia, and my cheap Staples Brazil paper, and it takes them all on.

I have had 3 inks in this pen already since it arrived on Saturday.  First I used J. Herbin Bleu Nuit, one of my favorite inks, and it wrote be-yoo-ti-fully with it, but it wasn't quite the color I was looking for.  Then I moved to Pilot blue-black, and it wrote beautifully again, and it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  (See a pattern?)  So now I'm mixing the perfect color with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue and Pelikan Black, and I'm getting there.  If I weren't buried in ink, I'd find myself shopping for some.

To say that I am happy with this pen is an understatement.  It makes me want to crawl away and write.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have magical powers to silence my kids (and dog) so I can think, but school is starting soon and quiet time will return.   Thank you all at Edison Pen for my perfect pen! 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

A thought for Thursday

  I know I'm not very good at keeping up on this blog, but that comes from the wife/mother/ now a green belt in karate/ life I lead.  So much to do; so little time; and a rotten internet connection to boot.
  In other news, stay tuned.  "As much as I have learned...": The history of St. Peter Ev. Lutheran, Richmond, MI will be printed soon and will be available.  Those who know me know I have spent a lot of time working on that as well.  (OK, years.)

Today's thought:


I hate computer keyboards.  They are so soulless.
I'm also geek enough that I use fountain pens to write, too. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"With great power" ... comes a realization of how petty I am

  This post was originally supposed to have something of the crafty sort, one of the projects I recently finished, a knitted teddy bear like Mr. Bean's, or perhaps comments about the quilt I'm working on.  Well, this morning I was catching up on the reading I like to do, and ran across this post by SBRE Brown.  If you don't know his work, he mostly deals with fountain pens.  He has written a wonderful piece about the importance of cursive handwriting, and now and again he does a "rant" which I have always found to be far more thought-provoking than rant.  So in his spirit, here's my "rant"...

This has been a rough summer.  We had exactly 39 hours in the UP for vacation to rest and relax due to a bunch of things I won't get into right now, but that's a quick vacation.  (Before you post about how many people don't get a vacation at all, I know, and I realize how lucky I am we got 39 hours of vacation plus 16 hours drive -- but I may as well expose myself as completely petty.)  It's been a stressful summer all around, between schedule issues with Mr. Claraspet's work schedule and the nature of his job.  So we fought and carved out a few days, and had something come up again we all would have cried because July 11th-13th was all we were going to get this summer.  We came home the 13th, and a couple of hours later, this was the sight out the window:



Short version of the story, we got hit with a severe thunderstorm (while all the Detroit newscasters were wailing about Wayne, Monroe and Washtenaw Counties, Macomb County got hit).  Our electrical pole started on fire and gave us quite a show.  At the end, you see me pull away from the window and run.  I just missed catching the arrester blow up on the pole.  Strangely enough, we did not lose power other than off-and-on and a few brownouts.  Others were not so lucky.  One house south of us had a tree go through their garage window, and just to the east of us a tree took down two poles at another house.  There's still trees down in places.


The fried cross brace -- notice the missing arrester on the left -- arrows point to the arresters -- or where they ought to be.

The next day we discovered a hole in the front picture window, and a chip about the size of a dime.  We thought it had been caused by the hail we had in the storm the night before.  Then I found the piece of porcelain arrester in front of the window.  
                                    

 
  I got pretty angry at this point.  I joke that we live in the slums of our township, but we fight hard to try to make our house look nice.  We've spent somewhere around $40,000 in the last 17 years fixing all the things that people did to this house, like putting a hole in the foundation with a sledge hammer, etc.  What we've had to do to this house is a book in itself.  Anyway, I was livid about the window and somebody was going to pay to fix it, and not me for once!

Then yesterday the power company workers came back to fix our pole.  We had power so our pole was their last job out here.  The worker who fixed it said we were pretty lucky the fire stayed at the pole.  It was either a direct lightning strike or one so close it may as well have been direct, and the arrester kept the surge from coming in the house and frying the wires, circuit breaker panel, etc. and causing a fire.  About then I felt pretty petty about a window and decided that a window was a small price to pay considering what could have happened.

No one would blame me for being frustrated, especially if you know what we've been through the last 4 years, with the gas company issues (shaking house) or what we've all had to fix.  But the attitude that "someone was going to pay" for the window, once I calmed down, that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I'm not a vindictive person, as those of you who know me know, but with a lot of things going on lately I have allowed myself to slide down that slope.  I didn't realize how much until now. This is a good reminder to myself to watch out for vindictiveness, and to be more observant when it comes to recognizing the times to be grateful. 

We spent a couple days picking up arrester pieces, and I've saved them, for I am going to make something out of them to help me remember to be grateful in all things and not be vindictive.  I don't know what the window will cost yet, but that's not important anymore.  If my husband lives to come home from work tomorrow morning, THAT'S important.  A window can be replaced.  Family can't.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Glioblastoma sucks!

It's been 48 hours now since the announcement, and I'm still reeling from the news.  Tragically Hip announced Tuesday that Gord Downie has glioblastoma multiforme, aka (in my words) the jerk of brain cancers, the worst of the worst.   I've known two people to die from glioblastoma -- my brother (died 2010), and a friend (died 2009, the week before my grandma).  My thoughts and prayers are with the band and their families, and I send the very best wishes I can from the American side of the border.

The Hip have never had the recognition they ought to have had here in the United States, and I have my private theories about that.  It's a shame because no other music group has given a voice to my generation as they have, and they have done so with integrity and honesty.   

There is so much more I would like to say, but I think I've said all that needs to be said.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Update and Winter Wheat

It's been, well, interesting lately.  I suppose that's a good word for it.  I'm working back into sewing after I had a mishap with my hand crank and a finger, but it was the first time I've ever had a needle through the finger since I started sewing 32 years ago.

I've also been writing again, and after filling 5 notebooks and over 50 pieces of notebook paper, I've put it aside for the moment.  If I had a camera, I'd post a picture of the fountain pens I've been using.  Since I can't, they are (so you can look them up if you wish): Edison Nouveau Premiere in Lilac, Fountain Pen Revolution Triveni Jr in green ebonite, Pilot Metropolitan in purple leopard, Pilot Prera in soft blue (when I discovered that the Metro was too cold on my hand in this weather, I switched the Prera because it was warmer on the hand), and a good old Platinum Preppy (which always work well for me.)  Oh, and on notebook #1 I used an Airmail 67T eyedropper pen (also from FPR).  (Usual legal disclaimers here, NAYY, as we say on Treadle On, all pens and ink I purchased, etc., just a happy customer.)  Inks (because someone will want to know): Noodler's Liberty Elysium (Preppy), custom mix in the Triveni Jr, J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune in the Edison, Noodler's Dark Matter in the Airmail, and Pilot blue-black in the Pilots. 

  Anyway, so tonight I'm a bit blue, long story, part of the problem is I've been watching news again.  I wish the news reporters had to live with their own stories the way I have to live with their work.  The saying about "walking a mile in someone's shoes" says it all.  Well, I haven't read much since the CNV started, so tonight I did.  I read the entire book Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (1944). 

  A little background -- I first read Winter Wheat about 28 or so years ago, when I was around 12.  My grandma had it on her shelf, and living with them on the farm, I didn't see a library as often as I went through books.  Well, when we moved off the farm I was able to claim it as Grandma didn't want it anymore.   It's probably been about 20 years since I last read it.  It's about Ellen Webb, daughter of a Vermont father and a Russian mother, and it leads up to the beginning of WWII.  It takes place in Montana.

  Throughout the story (Ellen's trip to Minnesota for college, then having to leave to teach a year for money) the wheat serves as a backdrop.  It's always there, unobtrusive, yet controlling, and yet it's a friend, even.  If the wheat does well... if the hail didn't get it... if they can sell for a good price... (short version.)  For all the times I've read this book, the optimism never jumped out at me until tonight.  There's lots of bad events that happen in the book, and yet, that wheat is always there to look forward to, and if it's a bad year, well, there's always the next year...

  That theme rings with me, having grown up on a farm.  The type of farming I knew is dead now, a victim of greed and corporations.  It's gone, never to return, and the county I live in, well, let's not go there (also a victim of greed.)  And even as blue as I am tonight, that little flame of hope is still going, "There's always next year.  Things will be better next year."  So, if you need a little bit of earthy comfort, try Winter Wheat.