Friday, September 28, 2012


In Michigan, Grand Rapids ArtPrize is going on this weekend (and until October 7th) and there is a two-hundred-thousand dollar purse for the best of show.  I'm sorry I can't attend it because if I could, I surely would vote for Tom Kaufmann's Junkyard Music Box. It combines many of my loves into one neat package --  music, scavenging, re-purposing and even friendship.  (Friendship played heavily in the making of this creation because, although Tom conceived the idea, many hands helped him achieve his stellar entry.)

Tom is from my hometown of Hastings, Michigan and, even though in sixth grade he once spontaneously told me that he wouldn't date me even if I were the last girl on earth, I am going to overlook my wounded pride and wish him the Grand Prize that he so clearly deserves. 

If you happen to attend ArtPrize, please take a moment to vote for Tom.  His creativity and musical genius should be rewarded with cold cash.

The Junkyard Music Box
Inspired by Tom's massive and successful project, I decided to attempt to (drum roll, please) assemble a tulip chair for my grandson.  I know it's paltry by comparison to Tom's way-cool Junkyard Music Box, but I have zero mechanical aptitude -- I can't even use a vacuum cleaner without breaking it -- and this seemed as insurmountable to me as making a pile of junk morph into a melodic beauty.

The directions, straight from China, were six pages long.  Still, I plodded through them one step at a time and success was MINE!  I got all the way to the final step before I hit a snafu.  "Now go back and securely tighten all bolts and nuts."  No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the nuts to move all the way up the bolts like they were supposed to.  Both ends twirled every time I tried to tighten the nut.

Since my Grandson will be sitting in this chair, I decided to let my muscle-y husband go back and do the "securing" step.  Above all, I want to be sure the chair is safe to sit in.  My pride is a little bit dinged yet again, but even Tom has a team.
* * *

 UPDATE:  When I was cleaning up my mess, I found this mysterious tool under the pile of instructions.  When I stuck it in the top of the bolt, I was able to use the wrench to truly "securely tighten all bolts and nuts."  So, my team will only have to check my work, not do it.

I'm on a roll!  I think I'll go vacuum...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Tower

It took Brody a long time to complete his masterpiece.  He labored hard to put the rings on the tower of the classic Fisher Price toy.  When he was finished, his mom told him that it wasn't quite right.

Here's a difference between being a mom and being a grandma -- it looked perfect to me.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Brand of Clean

Katie moved to a condo in Charlotte over the weekend, our friend Bill visited the first of the week, and Jessica and Brent are arriving tomorrow with our two grandsons for an extended visit. 

I have post move-out cleaning, post houseguest cleaning and pre-family cleaning all dovetailing into one giant mess of a house.  Naturally I decided to move our bedroom from the first floor to the downstairs yesterday, increasing the drama exponentially.  Why do I do this?

Babies come with a lot of accessories.  My thoughts were that there would be maximum space in the master bedroom for the bassinet, Pack 'n Play and various assorted other baby and toddler paraphernalia.  Living out of a suitcase is no fun either, so drawer space would be nice. 

Although that may be true, nonetheless,  this was a major lapse in judgment.  If I take all our clothing to the basement bedroom, won't we want the stuff out of the bathroom, too?  Otherwise, we'll have to run upstairs to brush our teeth, take a shower or even just put on deoderant.  That doesn't make any sense.  Move the junk out of the bathroom too while you are at it, girl! 

I need to run errands today to pick up baby specific items (like diapers, outlet covers, bubbles, etc.), shop for groceries and hit the library for board books.
Instead, I'm cleaning out the closet under the stairs in the basement. 

On the up side, I've unearthed our Halloween decorations and it isn't even October yet.  There's always a silver lining, isn't there?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting Dressed

You know how sometimes you get up super early and it's really dark out and you don't want to wake your husband up, so you just get dressed in the dark and sneak out of the bedroom?

Well, that didn't happen to me today.  I got up well after dawn - my husband was long gone - so I dressed leisurely in a room that was full of light.  

I was half way through yoga class when my instructor mentioned to me that my yoga pants were on inside out. 

I have no explanation for this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Ever had a conversation where both parties seem to be speaking in English, but there's no actual communication happening?

This occurs most often for me when I am talking to people at call centers.  They usually live in some far off country, are working the night shift and are more concerned about getting me off the phone than in solving my problem, whatever it may be.  They always end the conversation with "May I help you with anything else?" when usually they weren't even able to help me with why I called.

It always surprises me when these conversations happen at home.  I came in from a walk and Kate was watching a YouTube video on tying shoelaces.  I was confused because I thought I taught her how to do that when she was three.

"What are you doing?"

" 'S fairies." she said.

Fairies?  I searched my mind to try to make sense of this comment.  I couldn't find one mental picture of a fairy with shoes on, and even if I had, can you imagine how tiny the little shoelaces would be?


 " 'S fairies, Mom.  I'm trying to learn to tie a square knot."

Did girl scouts teach her nothing?  She could sense my bewilderment. "Mother.  I got leather shoe laces for my new shoes and I want the knots to look cute."  She was getting a little snippy with me because she was attempting to watch a video and also because she felt that she had done enough explaining.

I still was mystified as to what fairies had to do with leather shoelaces but when I picked up her new top-siders, I figured it out. 

"Sperry" is embossed on the back. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Many kind people have expressed their condolences at my loss of my father.  Lots of folks said "May you be comforted by your memories." which is such a sweet, sweet sentiment, isn't it?  Thank-you, everyone!  To lose a parent, no matter what the age, is an awful thing.

My dad was an extremely talented, amusing man.  His memorial service is this Saturday and I know, although it will be a bittersweet affair, there will be lots of stories and lots of laughter.
* * *
One of Dad's favorite hobbies was napping.  He was a champion at it.  If napping were an Olympic sport, my dad would have been a gold-medalist.  His favorite napping spot was our living room couch, which was, by definition, in our living room.  Not the best spot to snooze when you have five kids running around, but it didn't seem to be a problem for him - he was that good at it!

* * *

"Breaker, breaker, Good Buddy!"  My dad was also a technophile and when CBs (Citizen's Band Radios) entered the scene, he had to have one.  After he got it installed in his car, he was so crazy in love with it that some nights he would go out and talk on it while the car was just sitting in the driveway. 

* * *

On one particularly memorable trip, Dad was driving on the expressway just chatting along when the car started slowing down.  It went slower....and slower....and slower.  Mom was alarmed when it finally coasted to a stop, but Dad was just so engrossed with his conversation, that he hadn't even noticed that the car wasn't moving any more.  "Ten - four!" 

* * *

When our son, Dad's first grandchild was born, Dad got a brand-new, state of the art video camera.  This was in the '70s and the thing was enormous and heavy.  He lugged it along to the hospital and took shots of the new baby.  Then, he edited the film and added sound.  The video opens with Dad panning the nursery and focusing in on our beautiful baby.  Meanwhile, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?” is playing in the background.

* * *
Ah, memories!  I look forward to my father's service and the stories that people he loved and who loved him will share. 

Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


At the Masonic Lodge in Middleville, Michigan, there is a "Charles E. Collins, Sr." dining room named in honor of my father, a life-long Mason and a tireless supporter of his Lodge.  He spent many, many nights of his life attending meetings and fund-raising for his favorite organization.

The last handful of years, his lodge fund-raising took the form of selling poker chips at Texas Hold 'em charity tournaments.  This is a Michigan thing and I don't know the ins and outs of it, but I do know that Dad worked until the wee hours of the morning, lately seven days on, seven days off.

When a stroke claimed the lion's share of his vision, he convinced his wife to go with him.  One of the proudest days of his recent years was when his grandson Max became a Mason.  Max, too, would occasionally accompany Dad to work the game room.

This week Dad and his wife Carol had planned a trip to South Carolina to visit my baby brother and me. But "Man makes plans, God changes them" and this time, God called my father home.  After his normal night-shift at the poker room, Dad got to bed about 3:30 am.  During the night, he suffered another stroke and on Labor Day, he slipped peacefully into the next world. 

Dad was a man of action and I am grateful that on the last Saturday night of his life, he was joking around with the guys at the Masonic Texas Hold 'em game.  It was just where he wanted to be.

Way to go Dad, you went out with your boots on. 

I Love You.

Charles Elmer Collins, Sr.
1929 - 2012