So, my friend Mari and I were looking for a wee race to run in December, and we found a Jingle Bell 5k.  There are scores of these events across the U.S. put on by the Arthritis Foundation as fundraisers each winter.  This one was December 5 in Northville, Michigan.  Perfect!  The cause is dear to my heart, because my mom lives with arthritis, and the Jingle Bell theme – well, it called out for costumes.

So it began.

Stephen, suddenly discovering unused vacation days, was prevailed upon to join us, and we were to be a flock of three.  Then, in the eleventh hour, a crisis!  Mari had to drop out of the event.  I went on a mad scouting mission for someone to fill her fleece…and found Andy.  We left in the chilly predawn for our event.

And we emerged victorious…or at least we won the costume contest! (Click to enlarge any photo below.)

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(You can also download an iPod version here.)
The boys and I went on nearly the perfect end-of-summer vacation last weekend. A cabin on a lake, a run through vineyards and orchards, wine tasting, good food, gorgeous sunny weather, no bugs, a hammock, a fire pit, early morning coffee in the hot tub watching the mist roll in over the lake. I’m tellin’ ya, it was over-the-top, ridiculously, stereotypically, cheesily grand. Just like the video, which is the sappiest thing in the world and which I will watch all winter whenever I’m feeling blue. Here are a few more photos, too (click to enlarge).

Stephen basks on a rock near Lake Michigan

Geraniums in the late afternoon light.

Sunset over Bass Lake

From my morning at the Eastern Market.  Flower Day comes but once a year!  I, alas, have no wagon, so I just kept returning to my car, over and over again.  The kid in the final shot carried impatiens to my car, too!  He was shocked I asked to take his picture.  “That’s a first,” he said.  I’ll post pictures of my yard when things have grown in a bit.  Happy Spring!

It is snowing like crazy – it’s the perfect day for Winterfest on The Hill, the neighborhood fair featuring ice sculptures, cookie decorating, a pro-am chili cook-off, Coney Islands, smores, face painting, and…wait for it…sled dogs!

Ho, ho, ho!  It was Christmas and Stephen and Jim were in town.  Yes, you can download a silly 40-odd-second movie montage of their winter wonderland photoshoot.  And I have also posted a few gems here.  Please note their sterling, hand-knitted head- and neckwear, courtesy of yours truly this holiday.  (As always, click to enlarge.  The photos, not the knitwear.)

Next to the frozen lake.

Next to the frozen lake.

Theyre frond of each other.

They're frond of each other.

Man, this video just warms the cockles of my little heart.  Hustle on!

Oh, to be unemployed in autumn with a bee in one’s bonnet!  I decided the spacious backyard of my rental house could use a bit of tidying and restructuring, so, with my landlord’s permission, and on a miniscule budget, I set out to give it a wee overhaul.

The original.  Pre-anything.

The original. Pre-anything.

I hacked away at ivy, I edged the lawn, I weeded, I planted perennials…but the major project was the new patio.

I found a boatload of bricks on Craigslist for $40.  Hauled them back to my house in my unhappy Ford Focus hatchback (in two trips – they would’ve all fit, but they were a bit heavy).  I had the smallest possible amount of paver base delivered from my local nursery (along with a loaner wheelbarrow) and, voila, the patio was born.

You can download an iPod/iTunes movie, replete with DVD-commentary-style voiceover, here.  (Please ignore the near complete lack of audio editing.  Clipping there is.  Just didn’t care to do it over…)

The patio in all its glory.

The patio in all its glory.

Mums the word.

Mum's the word.

After!

After! Patio, perennials and all.