Discover Prompts Day 18: New Skill Needed

Many years ago, we bought a vintage metal table and chairs. We have never repainted it, and this year the wear and tear is really showing. Rust is beginning to take over, so it’s time to take action.

I bought a sand blaster, which is actually a walnut shell blaster. I was sure it would quickly take all the rust and loose paint off. Didn’t happen. No matter how I tried and how I went over the same areas again and again, the blaster just wasn’t doing the job. Time to do something more drastic.

I went to the local big-box buy-everything-here-including-stuff-you-didn’t-think-we-would-have-and-you’ll-never-need store. Sure enough, they had what I needed. A grinder. This isn’t just any grinder, this thing will remove paint, rust, dirt, skin, and cut steel, wood, and fingers.

It has taken me three days of work to get the chairs ready for painting. I found that with each chair, I removed more, which made the previous chair unacceptable. I had to go back and redo the first and second chairs I worked on. I used the grinder on every part of the chairs I could reach with the wheel. For the areas I couldn’t reach, I used my Dremel tool with a small grinding wheel. Ready for paint!

I have a nice spray painter, but I’m going to use spray cans because I purchased them before I bought the sprayer. I could take the spray cans back, but that would mean a trip back to the big-box-buy-everything-here-store. I’m going to use the cans. My finger will hurt when I’m done, but that’s okay.

Now that the chairs are ready to paint, it’s time to tackle the table. It’s a heavy piece that’s hard to handle, especially with the glass on the top. It really is amazing the glass has never been broken. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

There is actually a lot more rust on the table than I thought. And I forgot about the ornate scrolling just under the glass. It’s going to be a tough job.

We bought this vintage table and chairs at the Up North store that was in Standish, Michigan for many years. The store was a favorite stop of ours on our trips up north. By the way, up north in Michigan always begins in reference to Saginaw. Up north does not begin until you are past M-61, which is the east-west highway that begins in Standish. Now, I know there will be those who say I’m wrong. They’ll say up north doesn’t begin until you cross the Mackinac Bridge. That is way the heck up north. Lovely, but north begins long before the Mighty Mac.

For example, people in the Detroit area talk about Otter Lake as being up north. Now that is just ridiculous. Otter Lake is not up north any more than Oxford is up north. Look at a map of Michigan. Real up north begins after Saginaw.

Now that we have settled that, it’s time for more coffee.

A Week on Mackinac Island, a Boy’s Dream Come True

The closest he had ever been to the Island was the Mackinac Bridge. Twice during family trips to Marquette to visit friends. Twice on the way to Wawa, Ontario for fishing and hunting.

It was actually his father who did all the hunting and most of the fishing. The hunting wasn’t successful and the fishing wasn’t much better. To be honest, there were actually three trips to Wawa. One hunting, and two fishing. The second fishing trip lasted one day. His father, for reasons only a person with concrete for brains would understand, decided it would be a good idea to include the young boy’s mother and little sister on the trip he knew would include blood-sucking black flies and an outdoor toilet. What could go wrong? The family spent one night in the cabin, packed everything up and returned home the following day.

It was the summer of 1964. This time, instead of heading to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with only vampire flies to greet them, the family’s destination was Mackinac Island. The family had a friend who was a Michigan State Trooper, a man the young boy loved and admired. That summer, the Trooper was assigned by the Michigan State Police to be part of the law enforcement staff on Mackinac Island. Not only would the boy’s family be staying on the Island, their accommodations would actually be inside the big fort on top of the hill, Fort Mackinac!

For an entire week, the boy and his older brother were free to roam the Island, and roam they did! The Trooper arranged for the two boys to use bicycles from the police department. One belonged to the Chief of Police! Since the boys had never been to the Island before, everything was new and had to be explored.

Every day there was a different fudge shop to visit. The boys quickly discovered there were samples to be enjoyed. Horses, buggies, wagons, people and bicycles crowded the streets. The shops were endless, lots of great things to want. The boys wandered the Island and loved the long ride around it. At first, it seemed like the bike trip would never end, but just when it seemed like they couldn’t go any farther, they were back in town.

There was an odor in the air that was different, but not unpleasant. Not having been around horses much before, the boy soon discovered the source of the fragrance. The horses didn’t seem to mind, so why should he?

The boy never wanted to go home. There was so much to love about Mackinac Island it seemed to make perfect sense the family should stay forever. There were lots of people working, his father could get a job, maybe driving one of the wagons, or carrying suitcases on a bicycle up to the big hotel on the hill. He remembered seeing a school, so he could just go there.

The day the boy dreaded finally came. His mother packed his suitcase and the family left the fort for the last time. They walked down the long pier toward the waiting ferry. He felt like his heart would break. He couldn’t stand the thought of leaving.

During the trip back to Mackinaw City, the boy’s mother said, “What’s the matter? I can read you like a book.”

“I just hate to leave the Island,” the boy said.

“Don’t you know all good things must come to an end?” his mother asked.

Somehow that didn’t make him feel any better.

Life has a way of making good things come back. And Mackinac Island, one of the greatest experiences of the young boy’s life has returned. Many times. Even though he’s much older now, he still feels the same way about the Island. There must be some way he and his wife could live there. Maybe he could drive one of the wagons, or carry suitcases on a bicycle up to the big hotel on the hill. He’s too old to be a Michigan State Trooper now, even though he had a deep desire to be a Trooper that started back in 1964.

A week just isn’t long enough for someone who loves Mackinac Island as much as this boy does. It never gets old. From the very first time he stepped foot on the Island that seemed so much like a dream, the dream stays new. Each time he steps off the ferry again, he is young, excited, and can’t wait to sample the fudge again.

Mackinac Island. Just can’t get enough.

They have great coffee there, too.