Entries to Win Afghan

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Quiet Adventure Symposium 2020

The Quiet Adventure Symposium is a really big annual event held at Michigan State in Lansing each year. I'd actually never even made it to one as a spectator/consumer. A little too far away from me for a casual drive. But my friend Robert talked me into going this year and trying to get table space. Even fairly late in the year I did manage to get a table.

I'm leading off with this picture because this is what we all need to be doing to secure the future of resources for outdoor lovers... taking the kids to fun events like this, and then getting them outside. What you maybe can't see is that this booth was for a nature center and the kids were petting a coyote skin.

Quiet Adventure Symposium 2020

There were two chapters of the North Country Trail Association there promoting the trail. We got everyone together for a picture. It was neat to see so many good friends.

Quiet Adventure Symposium 2020

Here's my booth. Notice the brand new table banner. I'm really happy with the way it looks- very readable from a distance- which was important to me. I've been studying other people's and that was one of my priorities. Also, since I was almost exclusively trying to sell the trail books today, I set up a little trail through my "forest" of two fake trees, and put my toy camper girl with her tent under the trees. That was a big hit. Sorry I didn't take a closeup of it, but I'll get one next time. It did draw quite a few people in.

Quiet Adventure Symposium 2020

Robert was there to help me man the booth, and we were really busy talking to people almost non-stop, so it was really good to have more than one person there.

I saw quite a few people whom I know, in addition to the folks manning the NCT booths.

And! I finally got to meet Loreen Niewenhuis (Great Lakes advocate and hiker). We have emailed and spoken by phone for a number of years, but this was our first face-to-face meeting. Another awesome adventurer.

Quiet Adventure Symposium 2020

All good, but I'm temporarily peopled out. I did OK. Sold quite a few books, but it's an expensive venue, and it's 200 miles from home, so you have to sell a lot to make any money.

I'm spending the night near Lansing, and tomorrow I head... somewhere. Stay tuned.

See Patch Jacket Update

Friday, February 28, 2020

Patch Jacket Update

I am with Chuck and Sylvia tonight, on my way to the Quiet Adventure Symposium tomorrow in Lansing. I decided it would be an appropriate venue to wear my patch jacket, but there were several important ones I hadn't sewn on yet.

jacket covered with embroidered patches

Got a few on at home last night, and did a few more here, this evening. I think it will do for this time. New ones added are for completion of the Buckeye Trail, Midland to Mackinac Trail, a New York Trail Supporter patch, Kekakabic Trail, the original NCT End-to-End Patch, Forest Service Partner in Service award, one of the annual conference patches I had missed, and an historic mileage bar that I managed to find.

jacket covered with embroidered patches

There are some really special ones. Maybe some day I'll give you a tour. Of course, here is the "best." You've seen this set before- for completion of the North Country Trail.

North Country Trail End to End Patch set

All the news today was about getting out the door, and I made it. Lansing tomorrow, then... stay tuned.

See Hike 100 and a Fun Surprise

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Newbery Medal Winner 1- The Story of Mankind

You may recall that almost exactly two years ago I contemplated trying to read all the Newbery Medal books. The Newbery Medal annually honors the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award was begun in 1922.

Newbery Medal

Well, I did not put this idea off to some future date. However, it did get stalled. Here's why. The very first winner was a book named The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon. I easily found the text for free at a number of sites.

The Story of Mankind

Here is one of the illustrations. The text version I was reading did not include these.

The Story of Mankind

This book is a complete snoozer, and on top of that, it's long. And...it's incredibly one-sided in its worldview. I just kept getting really angry with how it assumes that everyone has now agreed on one thread of growth for western civilization, and one standard social norm, and one set of values that is OBVIOUSLY the correct one.

I'll be honest with you. I haven't been able to finish the book. I've gotten to chapter 35 out of 66. And, of course, it has nothing after 1921. (1922 awards were for books written in 1921.) I'm quoting the final paragraphs to give you a flavor for the book.

Then came the new age of iron and steel and machinery. First one part, then another of the old ship of state was changed. Her dimensions were increased. The sails were discarded for steam. Better living quarters were established, but more people were forced to go down into the stoke-hole, and while the work was safe and fairly remunerative, they did not like it as well as their old and more dangerous job in the rigging. Finally, and almost imperceptibly, the old wooden square-rigger had been transformed into a modern ocean liner. But the captain and the mates remained the same. They were appointed or elected in the same way as a hundred years before. They were taught the same system of navigation which had served the mariners of the fifteenth century. In their cabins hung the same charts and signal flags which had done service in the days of Louis XIV and Frederick the Great. In short, they were (through no fault of their own) completely incompetent.

The sea of international politics is not very broad. When those Imperial and Colonial liners began to try and outrun each other, accidents were bound to happen. They did happen. You can still see the wreckage if you venture to pass through that part of the ocean.

And the moral of the story is a simple one. The world is in dreadful need of men who will assume the new leadership—who will have the courage of their own visions and who will recognise clearly that we are only at the beginning of the voyage, and have to learn an entirely new system of seamanship.

They will have to serve for years as mere apprentices. They will have to fight their way to the top against every possible form of opposition. When they reach the bridge, mutiny of an envious crew may cause their death. But some day, a man will arise who will bring the vessel safely to port, and he shall be the hero of the ages.

After this initial winner, I can't imagine than any other winner could be worse. Or as long. I'll continue my quest, and share.

If you want to take on The Story of Mankind, you can find it at Project Gutenberg. The Story of Mankind

You may recall, I'd only ever read 16 of these books, both winners and runners-up. Now I'm up to 16 1/2. Whoopie.

It's all other news: I mailed all the preordered books, and submitted my entries for this year's Michigan Outdoor Writers Association. That basically took all day. Tomorrow I have a few more things to do and then pack. Stay tuned.

See Newbery Medal Through the Years

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Quest has Arrived

Look what I got today! 45 cases of North Country Quest!

case of books

We got a tour of the printing plant, Color House Graphics in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was surprisingly like the press and mail rooms at Ludington Daily News, eh? (Maybe if I fail at this author thing, they will give me a job.) They allowed pictures, so I'll give you an abbreviated tour too.

This is the machine that puts the layer of laminate on the cover of the book. It's heat sealed.


Here is their bank of offset presses for doing book interiors. They also have some digital options, but these are the presses my book was printed on.

Heidelberg Presses

This was interesting to me. This is a full set of signatures (the sections) for a book. They are coded so the order can be seen at a glance, and although at this size you can't tell what it is, there is a number so that if something happened, the signature could be immediately identified as to which book it belongs. Those notches are not to hold glue, which was what I thought. They actually are ground off before the binding glue is applied.

book signatures

This machine was running, so it's a little blurry. Ignore the pair of white gloves. You can see part of a cover extending toward you under one of those moving blocks. It's being pressed against the compacted and glued signatures. Now look to the block just beyond and you'll see that the cover is being folded around the interior of the book.

covers being attached to books

At the end of the line, the books are pulled off by hand and packed in boxes.

case of books

My buddy Robert met me there and we filled his truck and my car with books. We went out to eat, and Robert had to show off his reading skills. Don't worry, he's just fooling around. I gave him copy #1 for his help.

man reading a book upside down

The books look great. I'm really pleased with Color House's work and the way I was treated by the staff, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs an offset print run. They don't do print on demand.

OK, I know more about what I'm doing now, but this was a much better experience than when I had North Country Cache printed (different printer). My house smells like fresh book ink!

If you pre-ordered a copy of North Country Quest, it will be going in the mail tomorrow.

If you want to purchase a copy see me, or email me at jhyshark@gmail.com

See Last Time I Saw Robert

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hanne's Birthday Party

Today was non-stop. All good, but way too full to suit me. Nevertheless, the best part was friend Hanne's birthday party. She invited a bunch of friends to Humani-Tea in Ludington. Lots of chatting and wonderful treats. She had the tea of the month... some special thing that starts out blue, and then when you add lemon juice it changes to purple.

Birthday friend

We joked that it was magical and would change her back to age 14. But then we all agreed that NO ONE wants to go back to being 14.

Birthday friends

In other news: Oil change, errands (they never end), bell choir and writers' group. Now I need to try to wind down so I can hopefully sleep tonight.

Oh yeah, and I wrote chapter 1 of The Lonely Donkey this morning. Here we go with the next book!

See Hanne's connection to me

Monday, February 24, 2020

Nature Center Path in Scottville

I thought I was going to share an update on this tiny pathway. I know I was there once before, but I could not find a blog post about it, so maybe I never showed you. This is a quarter-mile nature pathway on Mason County Central school property. I believe it was built by and is and maintained by students.

Ed Malkowski Nature Path

Not many people have been using the space in winter, but just enough that I could tell where the actual path was supposed to be. There are several little resting spots, and also some picnic tables.

Ed Malkowski Nature Path

There's a tiny pond in the center. It would probably be a good place to see wildlife if you sat still and waited a while, particularly at dusk.

Ed Malkowski Nature Path

At the far end before you loop back, there's a bridge that crosses the unnamed stream.

Ed Malkowski Nature Path

I actually walked 4 miles. This little loop was just a blip at the far end of the walk.

Ed Malkowski Nature Path, Scottville, Michigan, Mason County Central Schools

In other news: I spent the morning getting all the boxes assembled and the mailing labels affixed for the pre-ordered copies of North Country Quest. Then I did errands, volunteer stuff, and took my walk.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Extemporizing on Dinner

I usually have a big salad for dinner but I completely ran out of lettuce and wasn't willing to go to the store. So I was contemplating the possibilities. A friend posted a picture of an apple/pecan/chicken salad on Facebook. Aha! I have apples, pecans and grapes. And some yogurt. No chicken, but that's ok. All set for supper, and it was yummy.

fruit salad

I walked my usual 3-mile loop. The temperature hit 40 degrees and I just had to get out for a bit. Nothing out of the ordinary to see. I tried for a picture of a hawk in flight, but missed it. I've hunted a larger version of this picture, but it was apparently completely gone before the camera recorded the scene. I tried...

winter trees

In other news: I wrote my newspaper column, worked on the various projects, and took the walk.

See Let the Harvest Begin

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Talking with Jester

The best part of today was talking with Jester, and in two hours I never even remembered to push the print screen button. What a dope.

Julie "Jester" Gayheart records a podcast that focuses on section hikers of long trails. Although the podcast is audio only, for the recording session we have a split screen where we can see each other. We had a blast making the recording, and saving a picture of it would have been cool.

Anyway, here is a picture of Julie from one of her Appalachian Trail hikes. She lives in North Carolina, but somehow we have to figure out how to meet.

Julie Jester Gayheart

Of course, we were talking about the North Country Trail, a topic on which it is difficult to get me to STOP talking. This will be edited down to about an hour, and the episode will go live around the first week in April.

You can hear interviews with other section hikers at the link below.

In other news: I worked on my projects that have to be done this week. Big ticket item- I managed to clear enough space to store the books that we'll be picking up from the printer. This turned out to be easier than I anticipated; I thought I'd need to spend two afternoons on it.

See Jester Section Hiker Podcast

Friday, February 21, 2020

Neopolitan Sunset

This being good and getting tons of stuff done is becoming quite a bore. Can I hold it together for one more week? We'll see. I am crossing things off the list, but it doesn't seem to get any shorter.

The day ended with a layered sunset. At least the event doesn't occur until almost 7 pm now. The days aren't so depressingly short.

pink and blue sunset

In other news: You've heard it before- cleaning, volunteer work, accounts, and I did finish the design for a new table banner for my sales venues. That has gone to the printer now. Oh, and Om came home from his trip.

See Sunny Solstice Stroll

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ms. Fuzzytail

Just because I don't post about them very often doesn't mean the red squirrels have gone away. The fixes to keep them out of the walls are still holding, but they run across the roof all the time.

This one is small with either an unhealthy or just a fuzzy tail.

red squirrel

Well, they are funny, whether I feed them or not. (not)

In other news: It's all other news- more of the same, accounts, house cleaning, volunteer stuff, marketing stuff. Yet one more day I managed to stay pretty well focused.

See Nano Finds Something Good

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Three Chairs

Here they are - three chairs. What's the big deal?

three wooden folding chairs

Let me tell you about these chairs. They appeared in our life from somewhere, something over 28 years ago. This is what they all looked like at that time. The frames are in great shape but the seats were a mess.

wooden folding chair

The good old masking tape fix-it job. Did I do that, or were they that way when we got them? I have no idea.

wooden folding chair

In 1992, I hunted up some left over vinyl and sewed two scraps together to make a new seat cover for one of them to go to grad school with me. I liked that the chair is small, and I like the non-recessed seat. There is something my back does not like about chairs with butt-depressions. Most folding chairs and other stacking chairs all have them. So, this chair served me well, and I've been using it for all my vendor events because I can sit in it all day without many issues. However, as you can see, that vinyl was quite cheap and it has also cracked. That catches on clothing and is getting annoying, considering how many weekends I'm spending at vendor events.

wooden folding chair

The other two chairs re-surfaced a few months ago when I was looking for something else (of course), so I got my act and the chairs together. Then I found a remnant of vinyl on sale for only $6. OK! All the pieces of the puzzle are collected.

It's a fairly simple project to take the seats off and recover them.

wooden folding chair seat

Done! As you can see in the top picture.

You could make a good case that doing this job was not a high priority in a month that is packed with things that HAVE to be done. But I did need the one chair fixed, and if I was going to do one it would be kinda dumb to not do all three.

In other news: I continued to make some progress with all of my horrible February projects- accounts, volunteer project, cleaning, and most annoying of all- I had to drive to Ludington to get a UPS package that they wouldn't deliver even after I cleared the driveway. But I did get it.

See Kitchen Faucet

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What's Happening?

I couldn't find the older picture I took when this project first started, but something has been afoot across the road for over a year. All the trees were knocked down, and then nothing happened until this month. This was two weeks ago.

leveling dirt at a construction site

This was today.

leveling dirt at a construction site

Interesting that things don't look a whole lot different, but they've been working a lot- truckloads of dirt coming in, leveling and building up a site.

I think I know what's going in there. I've heard rumors that I've had semi-confirmed. But I won't spout off until I'm more certain. I'll just say that on one hand it could be a handy place to have nearby, but I am grumpy about any further commercialization of "my world." My kingdom has been severely curtailed in the last couple of years, which I haven't shared about since it's not a quality topic. I'm thinking about the joys of downsizing, and outmoving to where there is less civilization.

In other news: I ran the snowblower, managed to spend some time on office work, got groceries, ran errands, and had bell choir practice.

Monday, February 17, 2020

More Art

Once in a while I actually finish something. At least I think this is finished. I'm not particularly happy with it, but it was only meant to be a learning experience anyway, so that's OK.

Remember the drawing of a cardinal that I started over a year ago, using the watercolor pencils I got as a Christmas gift that year?

Well, here's where I'm stopping with it. It could use more something, but I'm calling it done. It was based on a photo that I didn't take, which I won't even show you because I've apparently lost all but a tiny thumbnail of it in one of the computer crashes.

drawing of a cardinal

Here are two previous steps in the process... I showed you these before, but will put them here for continuity.

drawing of a cardinal
drawing of a cardinal
In other news: really the best news, is that it was a very productive day. If I could be this disciplined every day, heck... even 4 out of 7 days a week... my life and house would not be such a wreck. I really like the order and having things clean, but not enough to act this responsibly all the time. I cleaned, I did paperwork, I did errands, I took care of a ton of stupid little tasks that had accumulated on my to-do list. I feel so superior to that other self... the one who is a total slob... the one who wins most of the battles around here.

See Watercolor Pencil Play