Thursday, July 12, 2018

Latest Project(s)

When the clouds gather and the wind shifts direction.... this is what my kitchen looks like.

Thanks to the upcoming Michigan TOGA, I'm working with a vengeance on sewing machines.  The idea was to get one ready to sell, but dang it, I'm getting attached to it, this lovely critter, a 1918 New Home with mismatched decals and botched up wiring.  It is now a hand crank.

But of course, I can't just work on one machine, right?  I mean, really, with the fruit production around here right now, this is not the time to get sucked into multiple machine-cleaning and restoring.  Therefore, this is my other project, an 1889-90 New Home.

It's not a very promising machine with heavy decal wear and rust, but I got it from my now-deceased "neighbor" Chuck, and let's just say, it's a tribute machine to him.  I've had it for long enough, and I guess it just had to hang around long enough for me to see its potential.  That and it has a decal set I had not seen before, what's left of the decals, anyway.  It came in a complete cabinet, with full set of attachments and all.  Can't wait to get to the cabinet.  As some of you may remember, part of the cabinet has been at my inlaws for a while now.....  Very soon it will come back here, and I'll be able to call Chuck's wife and say, "Come see your sewing machine...."

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Fourth of July thoughts

Which way does this picture go? This way ----

---- or this way????

I thought of this picture when my neighbor, "The World's Best Neighbor" TM, was over the other night. She found out the hard way that she no longer has internet service. The tech was at her house to set up another service and told her she has no internet. That was news to her, as she has had it longer than we have, and she's had better connection speeds, too. She can't get it back, as the house next to her managed to grab it, and there's only enough signal for 2 out of 4 houses.  Oh, and dial up is now her only choice.  Yes, folks, in 2018....

Some of you reading this may remember me talking about the fun of living on a main road without any real choice for internet. ATT DSL is all that we have, other than going back to dial up.  ATT recently asked me to find another provider and leave them -- at $125 a month, I would think they would want to keep us -- and I informed them I would gladly leave if I had anything else available here. (We live on a main road, a main artery between Canada and Oakland County.)

"Oh." That was all the employee in Missouri had to say after telling me to take my business elsewhere.

There is this "trompe l'oeil" (fool the eye) in our society, like my picture above (taken in 1998), of two worlds. The news/social media/etc would have everyone believe that EVERYONE no longer uses cash, is connected 24/7/365, and lives in a perfect house with multiple bathrooms, marble and tile and spits money out like trees suck in carbon dioxide. EVERYONE lives in a manicured neighborhood where the houses are miniature compounds, with personal gyms, movie rooms, or whatever else floats your boat.

Then there is the real reality. The world where, in Michigan, laws were passed in 2014 that make it easier to throw customers off of landlines (and apparently DSL internet, which travels over said landlines.) It's called, "Michigan Public act 52 of 2014," people.   You know that real world -- the disgusting one where people turn their heads and look at their feet if one implies that it exists. The world where a poor college student with good grades can't get a scholarship because said student had to work to live to get through high school and couldn't play the required sports.  The one where a news reporter, who makes much more than $19 an hour, can imply the Detroit Police are overpaid if they make that.   The one where if a political candidate dares to show up in certain areas, he gets nervous quickly and disappears because he was scared to have us "northenders" talk to him. (To be fair, lately we have had some decent state representatives, even if this one is afraid of using my sledge hammer.)    

Strangely enough, this all fits in with today, the 4th of July. Just yesterday my 16 year old informed me that he does not believe America ever gave people a chance to succeed, because even a hundred years ago and more businesses still ran everything. I can't completely agree with him, and yet he is right. I know my family had chances here they never had in Prussia, but they also had agriculture open to them. They were farmers, and the businessmen hadn't taken that away yet as a profession. I remember well when I wanted to follow in my grandpa's footsteps and farm, and I remember him telling me that those days were gone. He was right. The day of the small farmer is gone.

Thomas Jefferson, who died 192 years ago today, was a visionary when he wrote to James Madison in 1787, "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."

However, it is Benjamin Franklin who nailed it when he wrote,"Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry."

By the way, the 2nd picture is the correct one.  That is Deer Creek.  I grew up playing around there.

From the Great Nothingness, Claraspet.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Happy Birthday, Treadle On

20 years ago today a place called Treadle On was created.  Internet Archive can show you how the site looked, for it has changed since then.  I joined in the 8th year (2006) and so was not around at its inception.  I will say the mythical place of Olde Treadleonia has often been a refuge for me in this crazy world.

That said, I celebrated today in proper style.  I sewed on my Minnesota C treadle -- aka Uncle Charlie's treadle.

So what did I work on?  Well, some years ago, a wonderful Onion (Treadle On members are called "Onions" -- long story) posted a link to a book of embroidery patterns that looked neat.  She said she's never do it but thought someone would enjoy looking at them.  Well, I did and I bought the book.  Helen at Bustle & Sew had designed a series of Rosie and Bear for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

My grandpa had died some months before, and the book made me think of my grandma, who died in 2009.  So I read the book, and a nagging thought "I could do this" kept running through my mind.  Grandma taught me to embroider when I was about 10, but it was something I didn't do because I wasn't very good at it.

I had that book for a year and read it faithfully.  Then CNV (choroidal neovascularization) struck and I lost my eyesight in my left eye temporarily.  Let me tell you it is no joke that there are times one's life goes before one's eyes.  Mine certainly did, in the 3 days it took me to pull it together and get my desire to fight back.  So, in 2015, once my vision had responded to the shots, I began embroidering (and I found out I was better than I thought.  I think.)

I am only talking about a few blocks here.  The rest (including the unfinished USA) can be found here:

I got a lot of questions while working on these.  I was asked if I was Canadian a few times.  Not the first time I've heard that!  (Mostly I was asked when I was around Oakland County.)  I live in Michigan close to Canada, and we can get some Canadian tv channels, but that's about it.  (It's Hockey Night in Canada right now!!  Woo-hoo!)    I've been accused of sounding Canadian once in a while, too.  I guess there's something weird about an American embroidering blocks from around the Commonwealth.

Anyway, here is Canada #1:

Then the finished Canada:

Notice anything??

I had finished the block by the time The Tragically Hip played the August 20, 2016 Kingston show, but I wanted to commemorate it.  A maple leaf balloon with "Hip '16" in silver seemed like the best way to do so.  One of Gord Downie's suits was silver during the tour.  (I watched the show on CBC.)  Yes, Virginia, I am a Hip Head.

I ran out of time today and so the only block I have left to finish is the USA block.  If I didn't love some of the other things, George Washington would have been reason enough to do this project.

I'll post the finished picture when it is done.

It's actually fitting to have worked on this today, Treadle On's anniversary.  I have gotten to know people from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain (where one of my former school mates now lives.)   The Canadian flag fabric was a gift at my first Michigan TOGA from some of our Canadian members, so only fitting I used it.  

Happy Anniversary Treadle On!  May there be many more.

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 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.