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Rebecca & Dale

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Morbid but heartwarming!

The holidays were a little rough on me this year–I was keenly missing my mother–and Dale’s mom knew it so she checked with Dale and then gave me quite a Christmas present: an urn that I’d been eying to put my mom’s ashes in.

Previously, mom’s ashes were in a temporary home designed to dissolve in water for what was supposed to be a memorial service that laid her ashes in Lake Superior or Lake Huron. At any rate, I had a falling out with my stepdad and realized I was not so interested in parting with mom’s ashes!

Needless to say I was deeply moved by Dale’s mom’s gift and it was very touching to me that she recognized how difficult the holiday season was. She’s the best! Dale’s family is exceptional to me–and to us! We love you guys!

My mom’s wedding photo to my dad is in the frame in the picture! And I have to say thanks to Rebecca P. for helping Dale transfer the ashes to their permanent home.

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Christmas Morning…

We had a lot of fun going home to Flint to see friends and family! We spent Christmas Eve at Dale’s dad’s and Christmas day we hung out at Dale’s brother’s house (until we headed to Uncle Randy’s). The day after Christmas I got to hang out with my dear friend Meghan and Dale got to hang out with his dad and grandma. I also got to see my very dear old friend Michelle while Dale hung out with Chase and Greg! We also spent time with Dale’s mom and she kicked our butts at Scrabble!

We just had so many great visits! One of the highlights of our trip was Christmas morning at Wayne and Lisa’s watching the kids open presents. Dale took the following pictures…

We stayed with Dale’s brother’s family on Christmas Eve! They had an adorable Christmas tree all lit up! I thought it was adorable.

Lauren was up and ready to open her gifts! She was excited; can you tell?

Ian was also eager!

Lauren and Ian opening a joint present–Twister! They were so cute. When they got a “shared” present they each took a side and politely ripped open their end of the box.

And each time a present was opened, thank yous were voiced all around and hugs given freely. Even when they gave presents to each other. Here they are thanking each other for their mutual gifts! So cute!

The kids made hand print garden stones for mom and dad.

In the midst of unwrapping–it was quite a scene!

Daddy Wayne gets to thank Ian for his hand print garden stone.

Lauren and Ian love to play sports and they both were very excited with their new gloves and balls.
Ian opens another present! He was so cute. He loved to open presents!

Dale posted a gallery of images from Christmas morning! You can see them by clicking here.

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Dale's Mom and Grandma Visit!

Aunt Linda called the night before Dale’s Grandma and mom arrived to warn us that Grandma has “slowed down” so we just have to walk a little slower and make sure we let her rest if she “gets a little tired.” What Linda did not do was tell us that what grandma lacks in speed she makes up for in stamina–the woman wore us out. At 84 1/2 I think we were the ones slowing her down.

Here they are at the train station when Dale picked them up. This is Dale’s mom on the right and his grandmother (his dad’s mom) on the left–an unlikely combination of visitors but honestly they could not have been better.

Dale really wanted Grandma to see where we live without having to be stuck in a car on a sunny day. He also wanted to show her that we live in a nice neighborhood–a lot like hers at home–so he hired Rick’s Rickshaw to drive them around and tell them about the area.

This is Rick of Rick’s Rickshaw peddling them in front of a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Apparently, Oak Park was formed by some folks looking to escape the cesspool of sin that is/was Chicago. They came and built a bunch of churches.

Hey! Look over there! It’s another Frank Lloyd Wright house!

After the rickshaw ride, we got manicures and pedicures–it was a first pedicure for both Dale’s mom and grandma!

Nails drying…

Our fancy toes…

Later that night we made dinner and relaxed at our apartment in Oak Park. We heard some Hawaiian music and discovered that the retirement complex that is our backyard was putting on a summer Luau right outside. We went out and enjoyed the show, of course–how often do you open your back door to find a Luau?

On Sunday we went to the Art Institute of Chicago and saw the Thorne Miniature Rooms. You can check out some of the miniatures by clicking here. There are nearly 70 rooms that capture the spirit of interiors of Europe and America from the 13th century to the 1940s. In fact, they are so detailed you can’t entirely tell they are miniatures in photos.

Rebecca took this one…
The detail in the tiny rooms was like nothing we’ve ever seen. That’s a real embroidery project all right! It might have put the Fairy Castle to shame if the Fairy Castle wasn’t so entirely awesome.

The rooms are set in the wall, as above.

It may look like we are resting here but actually Dale was resting and also shooting photos. We were just nice enough to sit still.

Another shot of us relaxing at the museum.

Turns out we took a couple of art critics to the museum. They were more than happy to share their opinions of the masters. They quickly dismissed Van Gogh’s as looking like a “paint-by-numbers”, Monet looks blurry and Picasso is just “stupid”–many of the greats were dismissed with, “who would want that?” followed with an eye roll!

Inspecting a naughty painting!

Our in-house critics seemed to favor realism. Dale waited to catch a photo of them studying this painting–in fact, for being such harsh critics of the classics, they studiously read all the plaques and considered many paintings carefully before making their pronouncements. While standing in front of the one above, they discussed posing for such a painting sometime in the future. I think they were serious.

Dale insisted we stop by his favorite garden spot outside the art museum. We’ve been there before. Seriously. It’s a beautiful and quiet spot that seems to not be over-run with tourists no matter how busy the day. Boy did his Aunt Linda lie to him! Grandma was going on like the Energizer bunny and Dale was longing for quiet nooks to relax in.

A lovely photo of Dale’s mom!

A very funny photo of Dale’s grandma waving at the camera.

We also took them over to Millennium Park and, of course, Could Gate, better known locally as the Bean. You can see the skyline reflected on the bean itself.

With the Chrysler Building behind us–you might know it as the Adventures in Babysitting Building, assuming you were 12 in 1984.

On the train on the way home for the day… and another chance to play some highly competitive Scrabble. Not to toot my own horn but I won the two games I played! Quite the accomplish when this time last year I couldn’t even figure out how to get double points.

It was a great visit! We were so happy to have them stay. Dale probably doesn’t like to admit it because he doesn’t want anyone to worry but he’s been homesick this summer and this visit was just what he needed.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my (Rebecca’s) mom’s 59th birthday. We lost her last winter but she is still with me all the time, in all kinds of unexpected ways.

I thought about her all day and I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge her and post this super cute picture of her as a wee one. I remember my mom teasing her own mother about this picture–particularly her sloppy hair and lopsided barrette.

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Granda Cutcher's 90th Birthday!

Last weekend we made a quick trip to Michigan to go to Dale’s maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday party! It was a huge success–everybody was there! Dale took some photos to commemorate the occasion.

Dale’s grandmothers! Grandma Cutcher and Grandma Murray (his mom’s mom and his dad’s mom). It was sweet of Grandma Murray to come to the party; Dale was excited to have both his grannies in one place.

Grandma Cutcher’s brood: (top) Beverly, Donnie, Genevieve, Jackie, John, (bottom) Darlene, and Grandma Cutcher.

Grandma’s portrait for the local paper…

Lauren (our niece, for those that don’t know) and Grandma.

Grandma Cutcher and her sister.

To see all of the pictures that Dale took, check out our gallery by clicking here.

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Repurposed Speaker Cabinet!

Dale’s dad found a new purpose for Dale’s old speaker cabinet! We have one that’s currently being used as a plant stand but this takes it to another level! He calls it his “Urei Cat House” and the email he sent to Dale explaining the amazing transformation is below…

From Wayne: “Done!!! Painted the inside “Hunter Green”, made a shelf, got some scrap carpet from Sam [a neighbor) but had to buy a 12′ length of transition strip to hold the carpet in place. I tried carpet tape but the carpet was too stiff and kept pulling loose. I would think the cats will think they have died and gone to heaven, we’ll see. I know this, the cats won’t knock the thing over. It must weigh in at 30+ pounds.”

Dale and I think it’s pretty nifty; we’re tempted to make one for our kitties!

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Dale’s Speaker Project

A post from Dale:

I have had the below set of speakers for about 16 years and though these 20+ year old speakers are not exactly attractive, I absolutely love the sound and it would cost an absurd amount of money to replace them. Why? Because I am NUTS!

So, like most men, I prefer function over style so the big ugly boxes did not bother me much until Rebecca noted they were an obvious eyesore. She reminded me of this OFTEN – and I realized I had to do something about them.

I launched a scheme to wrap the original black boxes in new wood in an effort to make them more attractive. It did not take long for my nutty mind to decide I needed to build brand new cabinets out of walnut and take what was supposed to be an easy project and create a major endeavor over the Christmas holiday.

I managed to get Dad to agree to all of this – I think he just might be a little nuttier than I am; thankfully it did not take a whole lot of convincing, honestly. He is a pretty easy mark, sometimes.

View below exhibit A, the 24-year-old ugly black box:

Following are a few shots of Dear Ol’ Dad working his hide off on yet another one of my projects. Thankfully he has not charged me for glue and fasteners over the years or I would be in the poor house.

Think we have enough clamps on it? Honestly I think we could have used a few more of them but we made do.

Here is 50% of the finished project – sans the finish. The other one was in the confines of about 10 clamps allowing the glue to dry. Pretty darn hot looking if you ask me.

Yeah, about the finish; Dear Ol’ Dad left me to fend for myself in that regard – I must be losing my touch with him. Actually, he is smarter than I give him credit for because finishing these SOB’s was a lot more work than I had originally imagined they would be, which is usually the case.

Here they are on the dining room table – note the subtle orange wall in the background – waiting for the walnut banding to cover the plywood edge.

Test fitting the banding before permanently attaching it.

Now here they are really coming together, each cabinet has a couple coats of Danish Oil to really bring out walnut figuring. This is what I had in mind when I selected this wood – great looking grain and a deep warm color. It is just a shame that I will be covering the front of these with fabric.

After getting three coats of hand rub polyurethane on them it was time to take them for a test drive; I am pleased they sound and look better than ever.

Here they are completed with vintage fabric fronts. As mentioned above, my goal was to get these to better fit with our mid-century modern style and I think I have successfully done so. In fact, a coworker saw this picture on my computer and asked, “What’s with those old speakers?”

I honestly think this past Christmas has been one of the best; I got to spend a ton of time with my dad doing something we both love – working with wood – and I will be able to see and use these speakers everyday for years to come. Nothing beats the pride of accomplishment.

Of course, working on speakers was not the only thing I did over the holiday; I also managed to whip my mother in a few games of scrabble, which rarely happens. No doubt she is chomping at the bit to reestablish her dominance on the scrabble table.

Nothing beats doing what you love with people you love.

Now I wonder what project I can sucker my dad into next year…

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Cousin Chuck Visits…

My cousin Chuck stopped in for a visit recently with his boyfriend Travis. Chuck is taking a photography class and Dale was nice enough to show off all his camera equipment.

And this is Chuck’s roommate Mander or “Mandy”. Our cat Sidney decided Mandy had a good lap for napping. Mandy has a place just the next town over, in River Forest. When they come to town, they occasionally meet up with us. Great to see them!

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Wayne Bowls 800 Series

Dale’s dad reached a personal best recently and got a write-up in the Flint Journal!

You can see the article on Wayne’s (Dale’s brother, not his father) blog by clicking here.

Pair roll 800 series in same league on same lanes

GENESEE COUNTY
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION

Sunday, February 03, 2008 Journal Sports Writer

…Cox, who surpassed a previous high of 767, connected on the same pair of lanes (7-8) where a few weeks earlier he’d watched Wayne Murray reach two personal milestones in the same league.

Murray, bowling for Monogramming by Martha, followed a 300 opening game with scores of 226 and 279 for 805.

The perfect game was a first for Murray while the series exceeded a previous high of 803 set last season in the Duane Clinton Senior Classic at Galaxy.

His 29-strike performance made the Grand Blanc resident one of only a few area bowlers to boast multiple 800 series in Flint Senior Bowling Association leagues.

“I think this one was more satisfying than the other 800 since I had to come off a 300 start and stay focused for the next two games,” Murray said.

“I didn’t want to do what I have seen happen so many times when a guy starts the day with a perfect game. He loses his focus or gets too caught up in the moment or something and crashes.”

Although delighted to have recorded a career high, Murray believes his series should have been higher. He did not miss the strike pocket and left only single pin spares.

“In the second game I rolled the ball as well as the first game,” Murray said.

“You begin to wonder, ‘Am I doing something different?’ It’s funny how things happen and how luck plays in scoring.”

The 300 game completed for Murray his “big five” of accomplishments on the bowling lanes and golf course.

In golf he has recorded the rarest of shots, a double eagle, while also having made a hole-in-one and eagle.

His double eagle came at Willowbrook Golf Course in Byron.

“It was 20 years ago, a blind shot with a two-iron with a lot of luck from about 220 yards,” Murray said…

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More Christmas Photos…

Dale finally gave me the pictures he took at Christmas. More family pics below…

I took this one–Dale and his Grandma Murray on Christmas Eve.

Grandma Murray helping Ian with his new keyboard.

Ian unwrapping an exciting present.

On Christmas morning we went to Wayne & Lisa’s to play with kids. Lauren kicked my butt while playing Operation!

For dinner we went to my Uncle Randy & Aunt Diane’s. Here’s a picture of my cousin Randy with his boys, Jack & Colton.
Jack & Colton playing with my Aunt Diane’s mom in the background.

Our last stop was to stop in and see Melissa & Matthew, our niece and nephew from Dale’s stepbrother, Tim.

Melissa and her very pretty long-haired kitty!

This is Bruno, Dale’s mom’s dog. He’s a beauty! And was very affectionate and excited to have company.

Dale’s mom asked for a new Better Homes & Gardens cookbook for Christmas. She said her old one was “worn out”–she was NOT joking!