Sabtu, 31 Mei 2008

10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag AND mom news

Embarking on an Earthwatch trip requires setting limits on what can be hauled, at least from the car to the boat to the island to the campsite. In a few days I'm headed to No Man's Land, aka Shackleford Island @ the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It will be 4 women plus Earthwatch and National Park Service staff who I believe in this case are women also. Nothing intentional about that - it just worked out that way. None of us know each other. Email is changing that though! The list of what to bring is long and whatever we take we carry. Undoubtedly we each have a big stack of essentials and a too-small pack in which to squeeze them.
The photo is from one of the web sites about the island. There are "wild horses" there and Spirit, the small white horse to the left, was one of them. We're going to study herd/harem behavior as part of a research project. Even though it's a working trip it will be a vacation!

Also, my mother remains in the 10. The plan was to have moved her to a nursing home for therapy on day 5 but that didn't work out obviously. She is weak and confused and medicated. Hopefully she'll be settled before I leave. Regardless, she'll be in good care and Ed will visit without worrying about her. For those who are willing, prayers are welcomed.

Minggu, 25 Mei 2008

Nature's Best

The birds have won and the mail delivery people are quite happy about it. It seemed only fair that we give them some privacy in their new home but I must admit I'm a bit concerned about them having enough air, not roasting in the hot mailbox when the sun starts to shine again, and later, about how they will get out to fly since they'll have to learn to go down through a hole and out rather than hop out onto a branch. Maybe my husband can build a perch for them, kinda a Rube Goldberg arrangement.
We have had MORE rain, probably the tail end of what has swept across the Midwest in the tornadoes. We didn't get the wind, just the water. It does look nice but the creek is defying its intended purpose of being a DRY creek bed. Still I have decided that our yard will not be as soggy as it has been in years past because the water is set to drain into the creek bed. To that end I'm sure we will utter the all-too-familiar phrase, "We should have done this years ago." I hope our resident toads find the creek soon and move out from under the back stairs; they're missing the boat, so to speak.
How nice it is to share Nature with the critters!

Rabu, 21 Mei 2008

I have my work cut out for me.

My goal is to write shorter posts.
That effort begins @ 1:00 CDT today.

Song Titles and diversionary thoughts

Twisted as I am, the "titles" for my blog entries often start out as song titles. Must be my participation in choirs and choruses over the years that causes that quirk. I do my best to avoid using them! Besides when I need to know a song title I can't remember it. Go figure.

Why is it a person's mind gets jam packed with trivial crap, such as being able to visualize the inside of the refrigerator and tell another person exactly where the leftover onion is? Or recalling what the details of a job description from 19-- were? Or knowing what the name of a bookstore in Livingston, MT, or a coffee house in Charlottetown, PEI is?

Then, this same person, self-confessed and namely me, can't remember what setting to use on a camera, doesn't recall the book just finished (title, plot, or actual location!), and on and on. This process of store and recall is an issue that has been passed down through the ages, I'm convinced.

But, these days there is so much more to first learn, then store, finally forget and try to re-establish again. Much of it has to do with stuff. More and more I am convinced every person in America, regardless of status (what an ugly word), has too much stuff. We think about the wrong things all too much and by wrong things I mean THINGS.

We worry about what will happen to our stuff when our last day on Earth is over. We worry about our stuff that we leave behind when we go someplace on a trip. We worry about the stuff we take along. We worry about what other people think about our stuff. We worry about the value of the stuff we want to get rid of because there is too much. We worry about whether we should get rid of it and when we do we start to worry about whether we acted too quickly for we might need that stuff again.

When I see photos of so-called poverty stricken people in other countries I don't see much stuff. They are stuff-poor. They have challenges, don't get me wrong; I see that. But they have a freedom we don't have by not having stuff to manage. They turn their thoughts to caring for each other, for sharing what they have right then and there. They stand in line for a ladle of water-y soup not the latest WII game. There's no shoving. When they get to the counter they are glad to get anything and if it is all gone they are saddened but non-disruptive. Hopefully someone shares. And, there is always the next time, the next line, the next helping hand.

Not here, not so much in this country. All too often our caring doesn't extend beyond our own selves, our basements, garages, kids' suites (really), or closets. It could be that there is some justification to what is going on now as we are learning we don't have to have it all. The more subtle approach of teaching us to save then spend didn't work. Now that our country's citizenship has spent more than it should, not unlike the government itself, we are learning the hard way, like 5 year olds. We have too much, paid too much for it, no one wants it, and we are pouting.

Our country is young by comparison to many others. Our culture is also. I wish we could all look around and see each other, without our stuff. We are all ending up angry and short-tempered because we don't like what is going on with prices. That isn't going to help or make anything better. Maybe we need to learn from people with less stuff that life goes on, that we must return to inventive and THINKING ways to make good things happen, to exist, to assist, to rise above the clutter of minds and places.


Minggu, 18 Mei 2008

Willow Weep For Me

So many sad times right now - yes, the disasters on the other side of the world, yes, the storms here in the USA. And, now I have lost another dear friend, at least till we meet again in Heaven! Plus, a pair of friends are splitting up and although it is the right thing, it is difficult for them and those who love them dearly.

Ah, but the willow??? You can see by other postings that we have a willow tree and it has brought us great joy and amusement this week. Birds have taken it as a perch. They also are robbing the straw covering the grass seed put down following the dry creek bed installation. They use the straw to make a nest. It is in the mailbox.

So, after two days of removing the nest(s) and finding them restored we bit the almighty bullet. We went to the bird (brain) store, bought a ring and started stuffing everything from feathers to dryer lint in it so they can have adequate housing. It is still in the mailbox. There is an intentional hole in the bottom of it. Who knew? So, it is now bound closed with a pink plastic ribbon and a new post and mailbox have been established.

We're crazy, not quite certifiably so, yet, but crazy. Nature restores the soul's acceptance and faith in life and its cycles. It calms and excites. Enjoy it. You won't be thrilled by anything as much as what God gave us.

Sabtu, 17 Mei 2008

From One End CHECK IT OUT!

Here's the easternmost end of the dry creek bed. It's also the northern point. The photo was shot from the middle of the bed. Water from the road and across the street comes down thru the yard, now in the bed, and on into the creek that surfaces on our property and runs down to the river.
Our daylilies and hostas were transferred and other plants were added. Of course, very little is in bloom, yet, but we are certain next year at this time we will have had a colorful yard and everything will flourish once again only bigger and better!
By now you've figured out I'm not posting the before photos. You're all logical enough to know that they weren't as attractive.

And Then the Other

This view is just at the road / driveway intersection. It's only the beginning.

Senin, 12 Mei 2008

Are You Buying This?

Gosh, it seems we spend an awful lot of money promoting products. I don't mean the ads companies pay for but we the consumers paying to further advertise products. An example which is terrorizing the niche of my brain that stores shopping information is the new "Singles" packages of chips. GOOD GRIEF! You can almost hear the bags yelling at you from the shelf, "Single!"; this is not a ski line. These are the same as the lunchbox sizes, just marketed to a more elite (ha) bunch. They are all 1 oz. servings of reflections of starch products, fried, dried, and salted or flavored and salted.

The product itself must be worth all of 1 cent but, ah, the status of the packaging that goes with it makes the bundle of 24 tiny bags worth about $8. If you aren't after the 1 oz. lunch size then you can get the 1 oz. single size in smaller groups. Here I go again though - what about Earth? If that 1 oz. of empty calories still draws you in spite of the surplus of calories and lack of nutritional value, what about all that packaging. You buy a 6-bag bundle, each individually wrapped, of course. Each advertising the product, all placed inside another larger wrapper, labeled. These all go into yet another bag at checkout. And, you get a string of coupons and a receipt. The darn paper you will toss away ways more than all the fried foodstuff inside.

I do like my snacks, mind you! But I work hard to control consumption, for what I hope are good reasons. I hate doing it; it'd be so much easier to snack away and hope God takes care of human health and all that is around us, patting us kindly with a "there, there, I'll make it better." Ain't gonna happen, folks. Gotta look out for ourselves and our surroundings.

That being said, gather all the catalogs you do not want and sit down at the PC, going to Click on the post's title. Remove yourself from the mailing lists. It's going to take a couple of months. I tried calling a trash can's worth last year and got rid of a lot of them but as soon as something is bought and information is required we end up on new lists. And, then, when you figure it all out again, what you purchased leads to more packaging, catalogs, mailers, junk. It's an endless circle.

Don't deny yourself what you need but do something to de-clutter the world and your life will follow the same path.

Sabtu, 10 Mei 2008

What are you barking about?

Now that the days are lighter earlier the dogs want outside around 5 each morning. Since we are getting more and more neighbors in our area we make a concerted effort to get them out and back in before the barking ensues. The days of sliding open the door and letting them yap at the deer and rabbits, distant coyotes and feral cats are all but gone. That's OK for them but it does make us pause and wonder about this world and what changes and challenges it endures. I'm talking about Earth itself. So many homes, so many new buildings and also empty shells of old ones, so many stores full of stuff we don't need, and yet (the universal) we can't stop acquiring, consuming, defying a way of life that is otherwise sufficient and plentiful. Enough is enough. Houses and garages are overflowing with stuff that is shifted around to make room for more. Yet, hearts are hollow.

We have too much stuff here. I admit it. We are drawn to art (ha ha, very punny) and books and critters. There are big boy toys around too. We're not as consumption driven as we used to be but we are more than we intend to be. It's hard work to re-train ourselves. If it weren't Earth wouldn't be in this trouble; we'd all be concerned and doing our part.

So where does the fix start and stop? That's an economical question as well as an ecological one. If everyone buys less, then fewer dollars go into the economy which means job reductions. That leads to greater debt and dependency issues. You know the story - it becomes a vicious circle.

Well, we're trying to do our own part by mowing less often, consolidating trips, making smarter choices, postponing decisions, giving more to others and counting our blessings. It's been a good 4 years since we've purchased anything from WalMart. They aren't suffering but geez, what a racket - that company has hurt everything and everyone. People spend too much on cheap SH** and do too much compulsive buying there. Then the stores with better products and services go out of business. Customers go back to WalMart when it is the only place to go to replace the shoddy wares they got there another time.

And, I try to remember to check labels and see where things are made. Yes, I drive a Bavarian vehicle but I want to avoid junk purchases, especially from China. Has it occurred to our leaders yet that this country is not only taking our money, our jobs, and have an ever-increasing demand for fuel, which apparently is in short supply if you look at the prices we pay? Do we give them other financial aid or just throw our purchasing dollars at them? I understand global economy, more than I understand global warming really because one seems, well, globally in place and the other is still being debated, so it's not that. What I don't get is why we are doing this to ourselves.

It's just time to start looking out for ourselves. Charity begins at home. It doesn't have to be major immediately. Infuse thoughtful living gradually! As luck would have it more of us are starting to spend more time at home anyway so we can get right to it!

I've ranted. Now I need to act. Write a check to charity. Load a box up for a donation event and/or drop off charity re-sale location. Take care of what we have. Plant another veggie or two. Hug and love those around me and as always, yes, count my blessings.

Jumat, 09 Mei 2008

Merry Month of May

Last night was our annual meeting for Friends of Rochester Public Library and I have turned over the presidency to new leadership! Certainly this has been an enjoyable experience but I firmly believe that one person should not "own" a volunteer position or it will not only belong to that person for life but the efforts will suffer, energy will be drained from the organization. We need fresh ideas and we need them often! Our library staff is the greatest and look what they did to celebrate Nat'l Library Week (yes, it was in April). There are posters all over the library! Soon they will be taken down and a new bunch will go up for the Summer Reading program. This is a simple software program they got, probably through a library-only resource. They do amazing things to encourage use of the library.

It's tougher and tougher to find "highlights" in each day. The newspaper, radio, TV - all seem to thrive on negativity. Yes, belts are being tightened across the country. Yes, we're not sure what government at the federal or state level is doing or if those in charge now or in the future have a clue. Sorry I cannot get my arms around any presidential candidate. And, never having had any enthusiasm for the current Illinois governor I now find myself totally disgusted by his pushy, whiny power plays. England had its mad king. We have a raving idiot governor. When he's done (and most of the state wants him out ASAP) he's going to have to change his appearance and leave the state. The exception will be if he's jailed. He'll probably do time in Illinois and we'll still be paying his way.

Thinking about all these challenges and more needs to be limited! Instead I go outside and observe how green and rich everything around us is! We have plants growing beautifully that were damaged in years gone by. They stayed dormant for a year and maybe popped up the next then were hit by the weather again. But everything seems to be surviving and doing well. I take that as a reason to slow down and appreciate what is right before me. It doesn't cost a darn thing to do that either!

Minggu, 04 Mei 2008

Each Year In Tremont, IL

Tremont, IL is up the road a piece. It's the home of the Tremont Turkey Festival (June 6-8 this year) but also we go to their Methodist church once a year to hear a great friend of ours perform. He's a widely acclaimed tenor, best known for oratorio and early music but he impresses us with what he does with classical and spiritual. He's been all over the world to sing but we knew him first in a work environment. He is someone who never would have been told "keep your day job" but he has! He lives in Chicago and treks down to do this annual benefit. His heart is so very good! Just go to the web site by clicking on this article's title. There's audio there. And if you ever get a chance, go someplace to hear him. He also performs with a nine-voice group that is tremendous: Chicago a capella.

Lebst du um Liebe,
O ja, mich liebe!
Liebe mich immer,
Dich lieb' ich immerdar.

Thank you Trevor, for a wonderful Sunday concert!


Harmony didn't debut as a Donation Dog yesterday. The event was "weathered" out - too windy. Then it rain. Then the sun came out but everyone was gone so it was too late.

My cousin has sent me his recipe for Basic Sweet Dough which he turns into cinnamon rolls.
(I love my cuz a lot and hope I don't get in trouble with him for this.) The recipe calls for measurements in 1/6's. Who is he kidding? Here he is, on the right, with older bro, Norm. Granted, this was taken a few yrs ago. Back to the rolls. The recipe mentions a DASH of milk. How does one get that? Maybe a SPLASH but aren't dashes for dry items, quite like a pinch would be? Are pinches now not PC so we are to use dashes? Or, is a dash bigger/smaller than a pinch? In a pinch can I use a dash? Or am I required to make a mad dash for the needed ingredient? This recipe only gets more interesting as one reads further, proving the old adage that it is wise to read the whole recipe before embarking on a new kitchen adventure. The guy wants me to use 5/3 T butter at one point and I guess the remainder later, when I lightly spread butter over dough". This total amount translates - ready for this - to " (2 2/3 T)" or 1/6 cup. I haven't figured that out. Is it 2 x 2/3 which is 4/3 or is it 2 full T and 2/3 T, or is is 1 T (3/3) and 2/3 T? I'm easily confused so if/when I use this recipe I'd go with the 1/6 cup. and wing it on how it is divided out. And, then I am to use broken pecans. Is this because they cost less or was a it a family thing that when these were first made all that was left were broken ones? If all I have is whole ones do I need to break them? Wouldn't it be all right to chop them electrically? I fear this is way too much for me. It involves using yeast and I am not gifted in that area. Nor am I willing to do the conversions on the rest of the recipe to get the 1/6's figured out. Something tells me he is passing along what he was handed years ago - the recipe that started out calling for 25 lbs. of flour - now modified. I'm going to hope that RT comes in from TX on one of his motorized bikes and bakes up a batch of these for me to nibble on, or we have a bake sale, all the while Harmony will be taking his wallet and making a big donation to APL.

It's True: Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

OK, how does it happen that back to back a person (namely me) can read two completely unique, unrelated, over-sized novels, one by a woman who changed her name to a man's name and the other by a man who was just getting started and wrote non-fiction and called it fiction, and find that they share in common topics such as the toy of choice, Etch-a-Sketch, and trips to Russia that they didn't take? Huh? You tell me. One was written before 9/11/01, the other since then. One takes place primarily in California, after starting in Illinois. The other is set in London, with visits to New York.

But, it's not just books, is it? How often do we find ourselves included in a conversation or going someplace or doing something that connects to something we just said, did, saw, or someplace we were? It's downright eerie. You know - it's Twilight Zone stuff. Maybe you've just come from a new restaurant and had some exotic meal and the next call you get is from someone who wants to go there and have that and you have to wonder...or perhaps you were thinking about someone and the phone rings and it's that person or there's an email from them...

The book thing is a bit unusual though. One thing mentioned in two books I can see, even when those two books are read back-to-back. But these two oddities? Hmmmm.

Well, both are good books: THE POST BIRTHDAY WORLD by (Ms) Lionel Shriver and THE HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS by Dave Eggers. He's got a new one out about the lost boys who walked across Africa to get out. I haven't read it. Suspect it tugs at the heart. Their plight is too filled with struggle to wonder whether they got Etch-a-Sketches or have been to Russia.

Sabtu, 03 Mei 2008

High Sea

Well, Ed and I just spent 4 evenings in class and consequently four days studying as we took a crash course in "Boating Safety". Just as when I went skydiving, these instructors, like the jump instructors, regaled us with the dangers of their sport of choice. I suppose it is worth it but I have come close to only participating in a new sport, born out of this last class: Trailer Boating.

You see, one chapter covers trailering. Mind you, this was a sit-stay-read class, no practical application stuff going on here. But, in my twisted mind way, when the guy who was talking about it, who was himself rather funny, put up the words Trailer Boating I went to work with that phrase. Of course I blurted out that I thought he was talking about a variation of boating that we could all enjoy in spite of the gas prices. Other benefits would include never having to back the boat/trailer up, not fearing that some 13 year old driving an uninsured boat while his/her 18 year old sister/brother drinks the family beer would run into us, never having an Asian Carp jump up out of the water and hit you, never getting lost in the fog. There is a substantial list of things that you don't have to buy if you have a boat that never sees the water. Mainly that would be the tools for taking care of the trailer and boat and hitch. Well, you wouldn't need the hitch, now, would you? My point is made.

Additions to just sitting in the boat could be that you pay a neighbor kid to move the sprinkler around while you sit in your boat so you get the nautical spray, you CAN overload the boat with people, stuff, pets and no one gets sick and nothing sinks. You're never far from the home head either. Those who wish may go bravely into the world and perhaps do their trailer boating at a dry dock, rest stop, roadway park, boat sale parking lot, Farm & Fleet, church or post office lots. You could host an Open Boat, maybe have a fundraiser for some needy causes, actually use the boat earlier in the year and through late fall. The boat would not need to be registered with the state so our hugely unpopular governor wouldn't have to concern himself about what pal to give the money to in this case.

There, I've done it, ruined a perfectly good story with a political comment. I'm just going to go look for a photo of our boat and if you see one posted you'll know I found it. Ah! Another benefit of trailer boating: you always know where your boat is and can take a picture of it when you need one!

Jumat, 02 Mei 2008

Having a Humane Childbirth Experience- Is It So Much To Ask?

Studies have determined that women are strongly affected by their childbirth experience, even long after the event has passed. If you’re a mother, you probably remember everything about your birthing experience down to the smallest detail- regardless of whether it took place 2 weeks ago or twenty years ago. Why is it then that so many women are pushed through an unnatural birthing process? We end up being pumped full of drugs to speed labor up or take away pain being told that the side effects aren’t anything to worry about. Well the next thing you know, the baby’s heart rate has dropped and you find yourself on a table under bright lights being sliced open…what went wrong?
Childbirth doesn’t have to be like this. Educate yourself before it’s too late. Hire a doula to help you through your fears before your labor and to help advocate for you during your labor. Yes, cesareans are sometimes necessary (and can still be beautiful birthing experiences), but they are becoming an all too common way we’re forced to give birth. Take a stand and take back your birth experience ladies!

-Danielle Griffin

Kamis, 01 Mei 2008

Earning Our Keep

Earth Day has turned into Earth Week and we certainly have toiled in the earth these past few days. Enough so that my allergies have me housebound for a few hours. Time to blog!

Here's a photo of Tripp, me and 6 yr old future veterinarian, Hannah, at the Take Your Children to Work program at one of the local state offices. I talked about the importance of no-kill animal shelters. Tripp is living proof of their successes. He had a busy month, making journeys to pre-school classes also! He has earned his keep.

He'll be back on the road as a donation dog tomorrow, at the Upscale Sale being held by Animal Protective League. Then Harmony makes her debut on Saturday, doing an Arthritis/Arfritis Walk as a donation puppy. She'll need a nap afterwards. We're not sure what I'll need. Merlot? A nice Burgundy?

But wait, there's more - I've got Ed talked into helping give dog baths to 14 dogs who were part of a "evacuation" of a kennel. And, he's taking a shelter dog to the adoption Saturday while H and I walk.

So PETS are part of the family. And, helping critters is a FAMILY thing. Sure beats slouching around in front of the television. As I used to say to a couple of young boys, "You rarely see the people on TV watching TV.". I'm not so certain that's true anymore. What a sad observation it is if you do see that!

As we enter the merry month of May it will be good to "earn our keep" by being more earthy, tee-hee!