Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scenes From Home

We visited Dow Gardens in Midland, and in the Children's Garden there are lots of
scarecrows that the kids have put together. I decided to have some fun with the panorama
function on my camera while we were there.

I caught this slippery little friend at my parents' house and let him swim in some
rainwater for the kids to look at one evening. I'm still a stealthy frog catcher!

Beans is a neat sign that I've often seen and liked from the highway passing Saginaw, I just never had the chance to take a picture of it. Now to just photograph it at night when it's even more fantastic...

This old sign has been hanging around since I was little. It's on Beaverton Clare Road, right smack between Beaverton and Clare, go figure. It's outside an abandoned gas station, but the store itself actually looks more like an old house. Someone has put in a trailer on the property and seems to live there now, the old store is just getting more and more dilapidated. I was always sort of mesmerized by that dinosaur. I used to wonder why there had been a store out there in the middle of nowhere, why it had closed, and imagine going in that store to find a sort of wonderland of neat old stuff.

The horse and buggy parking in Beaverton by the Chemical Bank. I like this, and I like the new sign even more. The horse parking is there for the Amish, they also have some spots at the grocery store where they can hitch their horses.

This lady and her child were travelling with that buggy. As I continued on my walk to the Beaverton Dairy Bar, they were just exiting as we were entering! Amish eat ice cream too!

A horse and buggy on the road near Clare.

Here's a panorama of Ross Lake in Beaverton. As I was looking at the lake, I noticed that little sign in the middle. Have a closer look:

I read it and just about started laughing out loud. What crackpot put that up? Well, for a closer look at the text and the people who put these up, go here or here. I'm certainly not making any value judgements on these people or their causes, but still I find the sign pretty funny.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creature Comforts

I just adore returning to Michigan to go out and find the same old creatures I used to find when I was a kid. For example the snakes that I don't see anywhere but at home always make me feel, well, at home. This little guy reminds me of the baby snake I caught one fall when I was in high school and kept inside through the winter, feeding worms that we dug up and heating him with a warm lamp. I released him in the spring to watch him slither off in the grass toward the pond.

Maybe I just never noticed the red dragonflies, but I was enthused to see this pretty one by the pond a couple days ago.

Here's a very hungry caterpillar, spotted on the milkweeds behind my parents' house. He's working hard to get very fat, then...

he'll hang himself somewhere, like on a plant outside, or at the top of a jar if you catch him and take him into your house in a jar with nice airholes in the lid and delicious leaves to eat...

...and then he will emerge like so! This picture is a bit shaky since this Monarch was spotted by my parents' garden on a windy, rainy day in a white pine tree.

This one, however, emerged in the house in a jar, and then flew out of the jar and made a beeline for those flowers. Shortly thereafter the butterfly was herded out of the house and into the great big world.

I'm glad I didn't notice that crocodile waiting to eat me in the background while I was photographing this little flower, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten such a nice picture! I'm always scared that we'll run into a bear when we go into the woods, but I guess we should be more worried about the crocodiles! Are those pesky retirees who go to Florida in the winter bringing back these large, deadly reptiles with them as stowaways?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vacation Reading

A father speaking to his son:

"...What would you do, Lukey, if I turned into a woman?"

He looked unsure. "I would...still love you?"

"Would you?" I said.

He thought it over. "Sure," he said. "You'd still be you, wouldn't you?"

"Uh-huh." We sat together on the couch for a while.

"Have you noticed that I've been looking more and more like a girl over the last year?" I said.

"Some of my friends think you are a girl," he said.

"That must be hard for you," I said.

"Not really. I just tell them, 'That's my daddy.'"

"Lukey, I need to talk to you about something. I have a condition, it's like when a person's sick, that makes me feel like a girl on the inside, even though I'm a boy on the outside. Does that make any sense to you, that a person's insides and outsides wouldn't match?"

"Sure," he said. "I know what that's like."

"So I'm taking some medicine that is slowly making my outsides more and more like a girl. After a while, I'm going to totally be a girl. I know that might make you sad, but it's what I need to do."

Luke gave me a big hug. "I won't be sad. You said you'd still be you."

A passage from She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan. I hadn't planned on reading this book, but it sort of crashed into my reading list like a freight train. It is a moving account of one man's transition into womanhood and is giving me a look into what kind of identity struggles and difficulties one can have with gender issues. If you're interested in or somehow touched by this topic, I think this book is a good one to read. The above passage made me tear up, and I really, really hope it's true.

And now on to my original vacation reading list!

The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. I love the Talking Heads, so what's not to love about the frontman's accounts of travels with his bicycle and urban cycling? I can't wait to pick this up, or have it delivered by Amazon, I haven't decided which. Amazon is probably the more convenient and affordable choice, even though I love perusing the shelves of bookstores. But I have to say, that is not much fun with 2 kids.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison. Autism is a topic that has fascinated me since I was art director at a summer camp for kids with special needs. This book is Augusten Burrough's brother's account of his experiences with Asperger's since childhood. The neat thing about Asperger’s is that the people who have it are high functioning, so they know they are processing the world in a way that is different from how most people do and can describe what’s going on in their minds.

Fixing my Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions by Sue Barry. This is a personal account from a scientist who had crossed eyes her whole life, and at 48 went through vision therapy and learned to see using both eyes in stereo, therefore learning to see in 3D, which you can’t when your eyes are crossed. This may not seem so fascinating, but when your kid has crossed eyes, believe me, it is thrilling.