Stop me before I read again.

Those of you who know me at all, know of my love of reading instructions – only for a laugh – never to actually, you know, assemble anything.

I also read a lot of things that I really could take a pass on (“but, if someone went to the trouble to write and publish something…”).  Here are three things that have drawn my attention during the past week.

This has a better ziplock than my deli cheese.

This has a better ziplock than my deli cheese.

1. The first one is not so much instructions as just a curiosity. Why do packages of men’s briefs have a reusable ziplock top? Do you only take them out as you use them and want to keep the others fresh? I didn’t see an expiration date. I have heard legends about men and their underwear and none of them have involved the concern for their “freshness”. I am waiting to be enlightened – perhaps Hanes can help me out.

Packed with love?

Packed with love?

2. Target up&up lunch bags. I read the packaging and thought that this could also describe me in a strange way. “Giant Size, Self-standing, Flat Bottom, Easy to Open, Packed with love.” I think someone went to way too much effort in the copywriting department, but I guess the graphics department was out having Tazo tea.

3. My third entry is the box for some Tazo Green Tea.  I was sold at, “This bright green tea blend has a kick from ginger and a sweet note of pear.”  I did not realize that this was no ordinary tea. Drinking this tea would send me on “a journey that spans continents and centuries…Each cup is a story, unfolding with every sip.”

The living history of my ancestors?

The living history of my ancestors?

This is not tea that I should drink while still in my bathrobe – I should get dressed and have my suitcase packed before I toss that teabag into the steamy pool of clear filtered water in my mug made from the sacred clay brought down the mountains by royal llamas.

Or at least have fresh underwear.

Local Governing, like Math, is hard – but important.

In keeping with my curiosity about Byron Center and how it’s changed over the last 30 years, I went to a Township Board meeting.

Byron Township Hall - still like new.

Byron Township Hall – still like new.

The first thing I noticed as I walked up to the “new” building, was that I don’t recall ever seeing a building in Chicago that had a place to wipe the mud off my shoes before I entered. Just part of the overall clean and orderly look of a town still dominated by Dutch sensibilities.

No smoking and clean your shoes/boots before entering.

No smoking and clean your shoes/boots before entering.

I was the first visitor in the meeting room and was soon joined by a high school government class. They sat in back at some tables. They had brought laptops and iPads and I’m certain were totally paying attention to the meeting for the entire hour. It was a good meeting to show the details of local government and the passion of issues that strike home – or in this case homes.
An upscale development was entering phase two and there was an issue about lot size. (Forty years ago “upscale” and “Byron Center” would not ever be used in the same sentence.) The builder/developer had come with architectural posters and a lawyer. The President of the Homeowners association was also present. The lawyer spoke on how there had been no promise of specific lot size and the builder needed to add 6 more lots to make the development profitable for him. The HOA president countered that all 37 buyers involved had the same understanding of the larger lots and had all come to meetings in the past explaining that. The board voted 5 to 2 in favor of the homeowners.
Next was something involving drain maintenance. It was especially appropriate as that morning we had 5 inches of rain in 3 hours. The Drain Guy said this was a 500 year event. (Really? We had that in Chicago every couple years. Highways flooded, O’Hare closed, power out for days.) I was amazed by the precise formulas that took into account how much of the drain was in each township or county it went through, size of homeowner lot, and I think if you were at the end of the drain or beginning. It would cost each Byron homeowner along the drain an assessment of $3 – which could be spread over 2 years. I tried to imagine how long it took to work the original formula and then get it passed by the governing entities. I thought if I had been in on those meetings I be the one spinning around in my chair with pencils stuck up my nose. Guess my dream of being in politics was correctly abandoned. The measure passed.
Thank you Audrey and the Board for dealing with boring but really important stuff and also making decisions that Solomon might have wanted to take a pass on.

This is the entrance of the women's restroom. This wreath would also look great on my front door.

This is the entrance of the women’s restroom. This wreath would also look great on my front door.

 

Tractor Envy at the Fair

For many years growing up, my year was driven by the 4H Fair. I didn’t have any cool animals like horses or cows. My area was sewing. I have been this tall almost since birth so making my own clothes was necessary, and I enjoyed it (both being tall and sewing). In fall I would get to pick out a pattern and the fabric for the outfit I would work on all winter. My mother insisted on plaids as she said they were harder to work with and would impress the judges more.

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Getting together with the other girls in my 4H group every week, the goal was to work on our project and help each other. More talking than work was done – and we were giving up watching The Monkees on TV that night. So as spring arrived, we had a fashion show to prepare for. It was the week before that all the work got done. There were tears and ripping out of seams and redoing to make the stitches neater. But, then the Saturday would come when all the 4H groups from the county would get together and we would model our fashion projects.

I could make a mean plaid outfit!

I could make a mean plaid outfit!

We would be judged and blue (1st place), red (2nd), and white (3rd) ribbons would be awarded. Then couldn’t wear our clothing until the summer 4H fair judging and display. I can still describe all of my projects.

I was curious how the Hudsonville Fair, which included 4H exhibits, would compare. I did not go until the last day of it. The animals and the care needed for them was the same. Camping out at the Fair and sleeping on straw with the animals still goes on.

 Prize Beet

Prize Beet

The sewing projects were all very simple (no plaids) and were either in glass cases or out of reach. The food items had been on display all week under plastic in open-air buildings and most had developed coverings of mold. The vegetables and flowers were droopy and withered. There was a whole building for businesses to have booths – like a local convention area.

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There were the usual Fair Treats – various items involving frying and sugar – the stuff that will not only kill you but make you suffer as soon as you eat it. Several churches had areas where they served food and had tables to eat at. I went up to one order area that listed pie. I asked if it was homemade as kinda the whole point of this fair was to highlight local and homemade. “No, we used to have homemade, but we can’t anymore because of government rules,” the woman at the order window informed me. Sigh.

I did enjoy the heavy equipment display.

This I could use for clearing snow off the driveway.

This I could use for clearing snow off the driveway.

There were no window stickers like on cars, so can’t even imagine how much they cost.

Could use this in pothole season.

Could use this in pothole season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way out, stopped by the rabbit barn. I had rabbits growing up, just as pets, not as fair exhibits. I had a white rabbit, Petunia, as a pet and we “loaned” it to Mary Post so “it would have babies”. Mary brought me a baby rabbit, it was so cute. I asked her when Petunia was coming back.

Not Petunia

Not Petunia

She looked a little puzzled, “We ate it.”

 

I remember it bigger.

Another visit to a building from my past. After attending Deb Sportel’s gallery showing, I stopped by my old elementary school. Blain was one of the “feeder” schools that were built in the early 60’s to accommodate baby boomers.

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There were several around the district and they had four rooms – one for each grade – first through fourth. Blain was pretty much on the other side of some hills that made up the acreage of our backyard. If there could have been a path cleared through woods and prairie, I could have walked to school instead of being the first one picked up by the bus and the last one dropped off (not that I’m bitter). Deb (Maier) Sportel was my best friend in grade school at Blain. I would go over to her house and we would put on musical shows in the barn.
Blain has been abandoned for several years. The playground area is overgrown and all the swings, monkey bars, and huge pieces of concrete pipe that we used for “safe” when playing tag – those are all gone.

 

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A new elementary school was built a couple miles away and has more than four rooms in it. It’s used by the kids and grandkids of my classmates at Blain and the many other people that have built the big new homes in the area that used to be farms and fields.

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