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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Up All Night

Well, not all night but much of it.  Jeremiah got sick.  Child caring in the night time is sad for the kid but sweet for the mom, unless it is worrisome for the mom.  This seems to be a little stomach thing and hopefully won't turn into something worrisome.  He is a trooper, for sure.  Carpet cleaning in the middle of the night is sad for the mom.  Heck, carpet cleaning any time is sad for anyone, except the professionals who do it for the money, I reckon.

So now it's blogging time and I have what is called in Spanish mala noche.  Literally bad night but used to describe the hungover-like feeling of way too little sleep.  I don't know what the word for hangover is in Spanish because in Ecuador everyone uses the Quechuan word chuchaki (pronounced chew-chalk-ee, accent on the chalk).   

I was planning to blog about The Reverend Dr. Robin Meyers today but I think I am too mala-noched to do the workshop justice.   Here is a link to the  Pantagraph article  about the events.   I would like to say, though, that I had a fabulous little chat with Jim Pruyne of the Jim-and-Gwen-Pruyne-Lectureship-in-Progressive-Christianity fame during a short break in the workshop.  I vaguely knew Jim as a teenager through our family church University Christian Church.  I sat down and told him yesterday that I wished I had known him better when I was in high school because if I could have talked to someone like him I might not have left "the church" for so many years.  He warmed my soul with his response, "but I like how you came out of those years.  You are a fantastic person."  And I said, no, but I do have a fantastic life.

And I do, and I am grateful for it.  Dirty carpets and all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Dog and Pony Show is In The House

The Reverend Dr. Robin Meyers of Tulsa Oklahoma gave the inaugural lecture of the Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lectureship in Progressive Christianity last night here in Normal Illinois where the Weather Channel Temperature Icon tells me it is a balmy 40 degrees  Fahrenheit this morning. 

That's a lot of capital letters for an opening sentence, doncha think?

The lecture followed the themes of his book which I'vetalked about and quoted from a great deal in this blog.  It was well-received and then a few people who didn't agree with him or are struggling with their understanding of Jesus asked questions.  He was kind and eloquent in his discussions with these people. 

After the lecture and a chat with Kathy, I thought about my parents and I felt great admiration for the work they do every year at Sager-Brown in Lousiana (where they are right now and when they read this blog my mom will start to cry, and my dad will just smile.)  I thought about Susan's recent reflections at church where she showed us how the parables of Jesus, read carefully, turned the common wisdom of the age on it's head and showed his followers then and now how to live in the light of God instead of in the shadows of self-absorption.

Then I got tired and went to bed.

But no worries, because this morning I'm off to a 4-hour workshop hosted by the...(insert lots of the capital letter words from line one, here) and I think I'm going to be personally challenged in a good  but possibly exhausting way by whatever it is we end up discussing.    

Jim Pruyne was beaming at the end of the evening, and coincidentally, when I mentioned I was buying a CD of the lecture so I could share it with my parents, he said, "Why don't your parents just move back here?"  And I said, "If you would find a buyer for their house in Tennessee then they will do that."  And he beamed again. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Act of Congress and some Leaky Pipes

In the way that only stubborn Cub fans can, I'm going to blog about them even though we are into the World Series (Giants up 2-0 in case you have been in a coma for the past 2 days and didn't notice) and of course the Cubs are not in the World Series, which you would suspect even if you've been in a coma for the last 100 years. 

Item one on Cub list today:  The US Congress voted to rename the Post Office in the Lakeview Neighborhood after Steve Goodman!  Go Congress, Go!  That PO is just a line drive away from Wrigley Field, of course.  Finally the government is attending to the needs of the People.

Item two:  I noticed today that when I start up my computer, the Weather Channel web site magically appears and tells me the weather at Wrigley Field.  Today it also comments:  No Games are Scheduled Today at Wrigley.  Well, duh.  It's late October.  Comatose people do not use laptops. 

Right now a little icon on the toolbar is flashing, courtesy of the Weather Channel site, and letting me know it's only 28 degrees Fahrenheit outside where I live, which is not at Wrigley Field, but of course in Normal, Illinois.  If I had paid attention yesterday to the flashing temperature icon I would have worn a warmer coat when I took Wolf out for a spin.  Today I will definitely put on a warm winter-type garment before venturing out.

The Cubs news is over now, you can open your eyes. 

I had scheduled a visit from my plumber, Greg, today to fix a leaky pipe in the downstairs bathroom closet.  I had arranged to leave a door unlocked for him to get inside the house if I wasn't home.  But when I arrived home yesterday afternoon, his van was in the driveway.  Hmmm...I hadn't left the door unlocked on Thursday because I had notes all over the house reminding me to leave it open for him on Friday.   He must have found the "hidden" key.  I also noticed the van is brand-spankin' new.

When I got in the house, Greg was sitting on the couch writing up the bill for what had turned out to be a rather complicated repair job because as he put it, "a fatter plumber would have had to take out part of a wall to get at the problem."  Greg was able, by some act of contortionism that I don't want to think about, to access the faulty pipes through the ceiling of the downstairs shower.   He claimed that he would have a stiff neck later.  I said that as a PT, for exactly the amount of the plumbing bill, I could fix his neck.  He laughed and handed me the bill for...what I'm sure is the monthly payment on that new van. 

Actually my plumber is a great guy.  We chatted about sump pumps before he left.  Based on the prices he mentioned, I'm thinking he must be sending several kids to college soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I read yesterday that Courtney Cox will be dressing as a sunflower for Halloween and her daughter will be dressing up as a bumblebee. 

Just in case you were wondering, my kids will be going as a ninja and a scary version of the grim reaper, using parts from costumes of Halloweens past because I bribe them every year and say they can earn $5 if I don't have to buy them a new ridiculously-expensive costume.  My son tried to fit into his Incredible Hulk costume three years running but last year he had to give up and get the grim reaper with the flashing eyes because even a costume that is supposed to look like you are bursting it at the seams with your "big guns" will be outgrown when you are in a serious growth spurt.  Sierra made a ghost costume one year out of a 25 cent thrift store pillow case, too. 

They have been trying to get their $5 early this year, but I wasn't born yesterday so they will have to wait until they have successfully tricked-or-treated Sunday evening.

Two years ago I put together a costume and tried to trick-or-treat with them.  I was "dr quacko" and you saw the mask I wore on yesterday's blog.  I had a big cat-in-the-hat style hat, a matching gigantic tie (pink with yellow polka dots) and a long white lab coat that was wrinkled from being stuffed in the dress-up box for a couple of years.  That year they ran ahead and pretended they did not know me.  But this year they want me to dress up but they don't want me to dress up as dr quacko.

Maybe I will go as a garbanzo bean.  Garbanzo Quacko!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Group

Tuesday night I hostessed our women's book group at my humble home.  It was the first time Sweet P-Dub had been to my home and so I was happy to give her the tour.  I asked all the women to step into the upstairs bathroom and vote for a new paint color by writing their name on the color swatch of their choice.  I have never seen a group of women congregate in a bathroom before and I must say it was pretty interesting.  Usually we gravitate toward the kitchen. 

Here are the results of the vote:

Pam - Soft Iris
Janet - Purple Passion
Susan - Lavendar Sunset
Phyllis - Watercolor Lilies
Suzi - Wild Lilac
Kathy - Lavish Lavendar

So now I'm just going to use the color I like best, which happened to be the same as P-Dub's pick.  Watercolor Lilies it is!

We did discuss our book at length...The Used World.  Seven thumbs up!  Next time we will be reading Loving Frank by someone whose name I no longer recall.  I've slept since then.

After the official meeting was over some silliness ensued.

And then a little more silliness.

Sorry I didn't remember to get out the camera earlier in the meeting because I think P-Dub would look great in this little get-up.  I think I will be dropping by the Ryder household with my camera this week. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More about Pee

Yesterday Jeremiah and I were taking Wolf for a walk.  Jeremiah was extra fascinated watching how Wolf would position himself not just to pee near poles and fire hydrants but actually pee on them.  I told him dogs try to pee high up on the hydrants to show other dogs how tall they are.  Jeremiah said he knew an interesting fact about dogs and pee, too.  He said that dogs can tell what other dogs have had to eat by the smell of their pee.

Well, I said, we humans can do that sometimes, like with asparagus.  (If new to this blog, Gentle Reader, please review:  Kathy, Ellen, and Connie's comments about asparagus )  Jeremiah said he doesn't really like asparagus.  I said I love asparagus and I would be glad to make the sacrifice to eat some so he could smell that special smell. 

EWW gross, Mom!

Well, needless to say at Jewel in the afternoon he found some asparagus and begged me to buy it.

The story has the kind of ending you probably can imagine.  Mom eats the asparagus.  Kids question her "does it smell yet?" after every trip into the bathroom.  Mom says no a couple times then...yes!  Kids run with fascination into the bathroom sniffing the air.  EWW gross and thanks, Mom!

Mom tells daughter that she is going to blog about it this morning.  EWW, Mom!

All together now...Pee Eww!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ding Dong

Yesterday the doorbell rang several times in the afternoon.  First it was a guy who was...whoa! good looking!..but asking for my ex-spouse.  Moved, I reported.  Oh, he said looking at his list and then I saw the Debbie Halvorson sticker on his shirt and I said, I'm the voter here and I support Debbie Halvorson and he smiled and shook my hand and said thanks and went away. 

About two minute later I remembered that he was good looking and that I should have pretended to be on the fence and invited him in for coffee to convince me to vote for her but I didn't because I am completely inept at that sort of thing.

Next what seemed like a herd of elephants rang the bell and then came in without waiting...that would be Nick, Maya, and EJ coming over to play with my kids.  I sent them to the backyard where herds of elephants are allowed to play at my house.

Finally the pizza delivery guy rang the bell.  Francisco had come over to see the kids by then and he and Jeremiah were in the driveway shooting hoops.  I asked the delivery guy if any of those men in the driveway had offered to pay him and he said he'd asked but they claimed to be "just the employees."  I said, Yes, I have hired my own basketball players.  Isn't that great?  Here's 20 bucks.

In exchange I got a wonderful pizza and a smile. 

Whoa, wait!...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Juan Two Three

Juan Uribe was put in the Giants lineup last night for his defensive skills at third base.  He was replacing the usual third baseman who needs to drop a few pounds so he can bend over and field the baseball.  Juan, however, hit the game winning home run and was the big hero of that game. 

There was almost a fight.  Benches cleared but level heads prevailed when Jonathon Sanchez took out his frustrations about how bad he was pitching by yelling something stupid at Chase Utley.  Oh, yeah, and Sanchez had just hit Utley with the pitch.  And all Utley did was gently toss the ball back to Sanchez.  I think Sanchez might be related to Carlos Zambrano.  The good news about the almost-fight was that no one did anything but mill around and argue a bit, and the delay gave the Giants time to get a relief pitcher ready so they could take Sanchez out of the game right away.

Personally this was my favorite game of the post season this year, so far.  I saw the first 3 innings when both teams scored 2 runs and the almost-fight occurred.  I napped from somewhere in the 5th to the 7th inning.  I woke up to see the score was still 2-2.  I then saw all the excitement of the last 2 innings, including the aforementioned home run, the relief appearance of Tim Lincecum (who is 26 even though he looks like he is 17),  and the final out of the game.  I'm not sure, but I think it was the nap that made it my favorite.

Other than watching the game, I had a pleasantly busy day yesterday.  The kids got up early and did their homework and then we watched How to Train Your Dragon.  I was dreading watching it and only did so because Sierra insisted.  So of course it turned out to be a wonderful kids movie that I think is now one of my favorites.  The underlying theme is that of the Golden Rule and it tells the story of a kid who is different from everyone else in his community but that difference is what ends generations of war.  If Jeremiah can apply those lessons soon he might get that iPad! 

Later in the afternoon I did some more wall-paper scraping, some errand-running including picking up paint color samples to keep me inspired in the scraping project, some vacuuming, some bill-paying and paper shredding, and some dog-walking in the rain.  I listened to some delightful thunder, the far away kind.

Beginning Wednesday the Giants will be facing the Rangers in the Y'all Classic now.  I will be rootin' and tootin' for the Giants this time around.  So fasten your seat belts, it's World Series time!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parents and Teachers and Rangers

Parent-teacher conferences were held at the kids' school yesterday.  First we met with Jeremiah's teacher.  According to Mrs. Freitag, Jeremiah walks on water.  Cool.  But he needs to review his math facts.  No problem. 

On to Mrs. Groff, Sierra's teacher, who has been teaching 23 years and told us that this year she has the largest class she has ever had.  For a woman who spends all day with 29 7 and 8 year olds, she smiles a lot.  She thinks Sierra can turn water into wine.  Which I 'm sure she's glad to have at the end of the day.

No, seriously, the kids both got glowing reviews and the only scary thing I heard was...Mrs. Freitag is pretty sure Jeremiah has a future in politics.  Ack.  I was really counting on being the mother of a pro baseball shortshop.  Oh well, I'll survive.

The Yankees did NOT survive to see another World Series this year.  The media is calling it "The Y'all Series"...I love it.  The Rangers have never been in a World Series.  I love that, too. 

If only they were playing the Cubs.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baseball in October

I do love me some baseball.  Even when I don't follow or much care about any of the teams playing in the postseason, I watch some of the games then pick my favorites based on absolutely absurd criteria such as 

1.  Are they NOT the Yankees.  - then possibly my favorite
2.  Did they win the World Series recently?  - then NOT my favorite this year, though I may have liked them previously.  I think this is due to my innate Cubfanness which requires I root for the underdog in all situations.
3.  Is one of their players one of the steroid-hyped-mean-aggressive-types?  If so then probably NOT my favorite team.  Fortunately this year we are not seeing quite so much of that.  Whew.
4.  In the final series, the so-called World Series even though it includes only one team from a country other than the US, I tend to root for the National League team.  I think that's because I am more likely to know the players, because I don't like the DH, and also in most years you can see item #1 on the list.

Naps are an important part of my regular season game watching routine.  The postseason games, however,  are on so late that I often just go to bed while they are still on.  I miss that experience of waking up in the 8th inning and seeing the end of the game.  Since I don't have to get up early tomorrow, I might stay up to see the end of what I hope will be the Yankees final game this year. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Week in Review

More photos from the week of the broken computer are finally available for your viewing pleasure and comment.  Let's start with some shots of that fabulous suite to which I was upgraded last week, where my computer met the floor in an unpleasant and expensive fashion.

Well, you get the idea.  More hotel room than I could normally afford.  Of course, adding in the cost of the computer repair, it came out about the same.

Next onto Starved Rock for a few more nature shots:

and finally, a picture from a state park I'd never visited before called "Buffalo Rock State Park"

Whoa, that's not a rock! 

Back home again you may recall the bathroom wallpaper-removal project.  Here are some scenes from that episode:

These are my helpers in the project.  Thank goodness I'm not in this alone!

And last but not least, movie night with Captain Kirk:

Gnarly Head indeed!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lagniappe of the Day

I got my computer back and uploaded some photos from my trip.  That made me even happier than usual.  Whatever the usual amount of happiness is, add about 6.  Pretty great.  It would have been more like adding 50 except for the expense of getting a small, costly, but important piece replaced in my computer which I busted up in that little dropping incident at the B&;B.  Tomorrow I hope to have some more pictures in my blog but for today, enjoy this one of some leaves at Starved Rock. 

Chickpea Flick

I did not have lunch with Jesus yesterday.  But I did have dinner with Kathy, which was delightful, of course.  I made hummus, garlicky and pine-nutty, which we ate with pita bread and fresh vegetables. We drank red wine and also ate some spicy peanuts that she brought.  We watched the movie Cold Souls which I blogged about months ago but couldn't get my hands on until recently to actually watch.  Here's a quick link to that blog entry from March:  Chickpea Soul

In all honesty the only reason I wanted to see this film was because it seemed quirky and the actor Paul Giamatti plays an actor named Paul Giamatti in it.  It also features a chick pea.  Yes, the main ingredient in my beloved hummus.

Both Kathy and I were prepared for the film to be mediocre or worse.  What we weren't prepared for was how much we loved the film.  Kathy now has my Netflix copy in her possession so she can watch it again with Tony.  I love those kind of surprises in life.  Like reading a book about which you know almost nothing and it turns out to be pure poetry.

Wolf fell asleep during the movie.  I guess not everyone would like it as much as Kathy and I did.  Consider yourself warned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lunch with Jesus at the Bluestem Restaurant

Yesterday I ran across the word "bluestem" 3 separate times.  I am sure I've seen and heard this word before but I had not paid it the attention it was clearly due.  So the Universe brought it to my attention.  It's a prarie grass so named for the color of the stems in spring (blue, of course) but later it turns a beautiful orange hue and maintains that color even through the winter.  So this winter when I'm driving through the snowy Illinois countryside and I see a little orange plant poking through the top of the drifts I will say to myself, "Self, that there is sure to be some bluestem."  And then I'll drive on.  Perhaps there is another reason bluestem has been brought to my attention by the Universe at this time and perhaps I will figure it out.  But so far, it seems to be one of those random interesting facts that I now carry around in my brain. 

I awoke this morning with the memory of a little email survey that went around a few years ago among friends asking questions to help us get better acquainted.  One of the questions was, If you could have lunch with anyone in history, who would you choose?  I answered Jesus.  Which blew my friends away because this was in the days of my pre-return-to-church-going.  I still would choose Jesus for lunch, I think, because I still have a lot of questions to ask him.  But the lunch I imagine now would be a different affair than what I envisioned 10 years ago.

Ten Years Ago:

K:  So, did you really walk on water?
J:    What?  Who said that?


K:  Would you like to order the hummus?
J:    No, just a slice of bread please.

Well, I can see this has potential as a short story, so I'd better stop here.

I hope you all have a grand day, and have lunch with someone you love if you get the chance!

Monday, October 18, 2010

'Tis a Gift

This weekend was full of pleasant surprises as well as those of the unpleasant wallpaper-removing kind.  On Saturday Sierra had a birthday party to attend.  I asked Jeremiah what he wanted to do during those 2 hours.  His answer was to shop for ideas for Christmas for Sierra.  And that is what we did.  We wandered around Target (I know, I know, the boycott!) and we looked at all kinds of items and he pointed out 2 or 3 things that she would like.  He didn't ask for anything for himself, although we did do some price-checking on a Wii game I know he wants.  His advice was very helpful.  I thought that was a very generous way for him to spend his 2 hours. He  has kept our trip a secret from his sister which is not easy for a 9-year old boy. 

On Sunday afternoon I attended the screening of Living Downstream at the Normal Theater.  I was moved by the film, the sheer number of people attending the film, the audience's responses to the film, and getting to talk with the author of the book and the film maker afterward.  Most of you who read here know what it's about, but for those of you who don't here is a link:  Living Downstream.

I felt inspired to continue my quest to feed my kids and myself more local food, more organic food, and to try to educate others when I can about these issues.  I am trying to find some materials that might be appropriate to suggest to my kids' teachers about the environmental and health issues related to pesticide use.  I've read about a quarter of the way through the book and will be dedicating my reading time to it until I'm done.  (This weekend I also finished my re-readings of The Used World for next week's book group, and of Saving Jesus from the Church for the study group at, where else, church.)

The weather was yet another pleasant surprise, as was the sunrise I watched Sunday morning while walking Wolf.  The sky was dotted with backlit fluffs and the horizon had a red glow as we turned a corner to head east.  Wolf was more interested in the pleasant fall smells on the ground, so I enjoyed the sky for both of us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Last night I went to the Mennonite Church that is only 4 blocks from my house to hear a speaker, Kathleen Kern, from Christian Peacemaking Teams.  This is an organization that has volunteers/employees that go to places where there is armed conflict and stand or walk with people to try to stop the violence and keep innocent groups safe.  They currently are at work in Colombia, northern Iraq, and the West Bank.  In the past they have been in the Congo, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and Haiti.

Kathleen has worked with this group since 1993.  She is a Mennonite woman in her 40's who, I'm sorry to say, is a very disorganized speaker.  BUT her enthusiasm and sincerity for her work more than made up for her lack of polish, her love for the run-on sentence, or her inability to answer a simple question in less than 5 minutes.  I left with a great deal of information and respect for both the work that CPTs do, and respect for the difficulty of doing it well.

The obvious challenge, for me, would be the bravery necessary to do the work. They use the bravery of people in the military as inspiration, thinking of all the soldiers who have put themselves in harms way and sacrificed their lives for what they believed in, while advocating non-violence themselves. One member of a team in Iraq was kidnapped and killed while working there. Faith in God is a big part of what sustains their teams, according to Kathleen.  She mentioned that sometimes even when the teams don't know what they are doing, they succeed.  She said that, for her, this is a sign that God can work through people who are clueless just as well as those who seem to know what they are doing.  And that now when she reads the New Testament about the early movement of the church, she sees that same thing in the work of the apostles.  That made me smile.

After more than 20 years of work this group is far from clueless.  They have worked through a lot of organizational struggles including how to promote their work without a great deal of self-aggrandizement, latent racism in teams working in other cultures, and how to promote peacemaking among people in other religions while maintaining a Christian identity which, according to Kathleen, is critical to their work.  They do it all with a level of self-reflection I found inspiring.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Iron-ic Story

Removing wallpaper that was apparently not applied for easy removal is, well, not easy.  I extended the rental of the steamer from 3 hours to 24 hours so I can use it until about 9:00 this morning at which time I will have to let it cool down then drive it back to Weaver's Rentall.  The steamer turned out to be a bit more heavy-duty kind of unit than I had imagined.  I have bitten off a bigger project than I can chew in a few bites.  Suffice it to say that you will be getting updates on this project for a little more than the 2 days I had imagined.  Apparently my imagination was lacking in all kinds of ways in the moments before I grabbed a loose edge of wallpaper and started pulling.

I didn't imagine how sore I would be this morning from craning my neck upward and holding a heavy steamer in one hand, scraping moist wallpaper backing with the other, balancing on the edges of the tub, and trying to avoid touching the hot steamer hose to any of my body parts. 

I'm going to confess something really ridiculous I did after steaming about an hour yesterday.  I thought to myself, "Self, why couldn't you do this just as easily with your little lightweight steam iron that is somewhere in the downstairs closet and that you never actually use to iron clothes anymore, since like 1977?"

Self went down and got the iron, filled it with water, plugged it in, picked it up after it heated up, flipped the steam button and voila!  There was steam from a small lightweight object with no hot hose to avoid. 
Self forgot, having not ironed clothes since 1977, that when you turn the iron vertically it stops steaming as a safety measure.

Self unplugged the iron and set it aside.  Later in the day the boy asked me what the iron was doing upstairs.  To be honest, I'm surprised he even knew what it was called.

Next time I announce in my blog that I am going to undertake a household project larger than say, doing the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, would someone please remind me of this?  Because my memory might be even worse than my imagination!

Friday, October 15, 2010

We are All A Work in Progress

Yesterday afternoon I started stripping wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom.  It is a little tough to get off, requiring a fair amount of water and elbow grease.  I've only got a relatively small area done, and I think today I will shell out $18 to rent a steamer for 3 hours.  That seems steep to me, but that's what Weavers RentAll charges and I don't know anyplace else I can rent one.  Plus Weavers is good, they have everything I have ever wanted to rent and if you say something didn't work exactly right they make it right.  

I think if my computer was working and I could post a photo of the bathroom right now, you would all feel so sorry for me that you would come right over to help.  It looks downright pathetic.  If you feel like taking my word for it, I'm planning to arrive with the steamer about 10 a.m. after getting kids to school and stopping by to see if Susan's pelvis is aligned properly with the stars today.  (That's gonna be my new career PT-Astrologist!)  (Not.)

Sierra doesn't like change.  So when she got home from school and saw the work in progress, she started to cry.  "I loved that wallpaper.  Can we get the same paper to replace it?  Can I have that wallpaper in my room."  Tears.  Finally acceptance.  Later walking in and out of the bathroom over and over and fake-crying when she stepped in the room and stopping when she stepped out again.  Over and over.  Then looking at the uneven areas of removed paper and pretending she was looking at clouds and saying what the shapes looked like. 

I think she's gone through the 5 stages of grief now and we can move on to picking out the paint color.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm Back!

Immediately upon arrival at The Brightwood Inn I was given some great news.  Because I had asked for an extra bed or cot to be put in my room for the first night so that my friend Cindy would not have a share a bed with me and be subject to my tossings and turnings, we were bumped from a regular room to The Aspen Suite.  Golly gee, it was grand.  I have pictures of it on my camera.  But you won't see them on the blog yet, because of the bad news I'm about to share with you.

Immediately upon entering my suite at the Brightwood Inn I dropped my computer.  And now the screen is so dark that it isn't possible to use it.  Hence no blogging while on my R&R.  I'm now home and using my work computer, which is fine except I can't upload my photos to it.  So you will have to use your imagination.

The suite was very nice, lots of light, and a small balcony facing Matthiesen State Park in the distance, across the cornfield.  There was a small kitchen area, a sofa that made into a bed, a gas fireplace, and a separate bedroom with the world's most comfortable bed!  The bathroom had a jacuzzi tub as well as a shower.  It was fabuloso!

I hiked at Starved Rock State Park twice, Mattheisen, and Buffalo Rock State parks during my 3 days there.  The colors were beautiful, especially in the canyons at Starved Rock.  And I ate like a pig while I was there.  A great porkchop sandwich on Tuesday for dinner, omelet for breakfast Wednesday, a delicious pastrami sandwich for lunch Wednesday, and this morning I had the world's best french toast.  I ate nasturtium flowers with my breakfast both days, too.  They are spicy, if you can imagine, and just a little sweet at the base of the pistils. I think I will grow some next summer in my garden just for the fun of munching on them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

R&R at the B&B

I'm heading off to the Brightwood Inn Bed and Breakfast today for a couple days of rest and relaxation.   I'll be taking books, camera, and my computer.  So, Gentle Readers, you will get to hear about the delicious breakfasts (I wonder if they serve hummus?), the colors of the trees at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks, and whatever else I happen upon in my not-very-far-from-home travels.  My friend Cindy, a work friend from Chicago, will join me for part of the trip.  (You may remember her from my trip to Chicago in March with Sierra.)

I have been to the Brightwood before.  It's built in the style of an old farmhouse but it's really new.  The other time I visited there it was winter, icy outside, and I did most of my relaxing indoors in front of the gas fireplace in my room.  This time I'm counting on doing some hiking and sitting outside on the porch as well.  And I'll probably complain that it isn't even cool enough at night to turn on that fireplace.  But I shall survive.

I hope I will come back rested and relaxed.  Actually, I feel rested and relaxed already.  But I like the idea of getting away a couple days so I don't spend my entire week off from work either 1) fretting that I'm not doing any of the countless house-and-yard related projects that are on my mental to-do list OR 2) actually DOING one of them.  Just kidding.  When I get back on Thursday I hope to start getting rid of the upstairs bathroom wallpaper and paint the walls a pretty shade of lilac. 

Lilac reminds me that about 2 weeks ago, in late September, I saw a lilac bush over on Highpoint Street (one of Wolf's favorite pee spots) with a small area about the size of a quarter with new blossoms on it!  It bloomed for several days before fading away.  I couldn't reach it to get a dose of that wonderful scent, but every day I saw it, it made me think how wonderful and full of surprises life can be.  All I have to do is slow down and keep my eyes open to strange and beautiful possibilities.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

By several strokes of luck, I was able to keep the surprise trip a surprise for the kids up until the very moment we pulled into the parking lot at Grizzly Jacks!  It went something like this:

Jeremiah decided he didn't want to come to Sunday School on Sunday morning.  That meant that after church I headed home, loaded up the car, took Wolf to Willemina's Dog Spa and then drove over to pick the kids over at their dad's house.  We got in the car and I told them Francisco and I were taking them to Starved Rock for a surpirse hike, wasn't that nice?  And they fell for it.  Francisco followed us in his car (he had to leave last night to work today) so I told them he was going to do some shopping alone after the hike at the mall in LaSalle-Peru.  And since they know their dad loves to shop, they didn't bat an eyelash. 

As we got closer to Starved Rock, Jeremiah announced he had to go to the bathroom.  As we turned onto the road where Grizzly Jack lives, he announced he REALLY had to go to the bathroom.  So I said we would use the bathrooms at Grizzly Jack's.  He didn't like that idea, thinking that just peeing by the trailside would be quicker.  Well, I pulled into the parking lot and said, "Kids, I have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is you HAVE to use the bathroom here whether you like it or not.  The good news is we are spending the night here, too."

At first they didn't believe me.  When they finally accepted this as the gospel truth (interesting choice of words for someone like me, eh?) this is what happened:

Sierra squealed, Jeremiah started laughing and they squeezed their little muscles to hold in the pee long enough for me to snap a photo:


The rest of the day and today as well were great fun, and the kids were unusually appreciative.  I had lots of help packing up the room, unloading the car and unpacking at home, and they said Thank You about 1000 times.  On the ride home Sierra said when she's a mom she will take her kids there for a whole week of vacation sometime because it was so much fun.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Triple Tens!

I had a very nice birthday yesterday.  My son found a way to get channel 23 on the downstairs TV so I even got to watch some baseball last night!  I thought that I didn't care about any of the AL teams, but Lo and Behold I got to root against the Yankees (to no avail, the won anyway) and during the Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs Texas Rangers game, I caught a glimpse of W in the stands and remembered that he was once the owner of the Rangers.   I have to say that I then took great pleasure in rooting for the Rays.  (The devil made me do it.) And they won.

W wasn't just anywhere in the stands, of course.  He had a primo front row seat. 

I would imagine that W has not read what I was reading while I also watched the game.  I was reading chapters 8 and 9 of Saving Jesus from the Church.  Chapter 8 is titled "Justice as Covenant, Not Control" and chapter 9 is "Properity as Dangerous, Not Divine."  I think W would benefit from reading those chapters but I'm not sure he would understand them.  He'd probably have to have Dick Cheney explain it to him. 

Dick has been remarkably quiet during this pre-election season.  Whassup with that? 

I am taking the kids to Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge today and we will be coming home tomorrow afternoon.  They don't know yet, it's a surprise.  I have swimsuits, PJs and clothes for tomorrow packed.  I have snacks and drinks in the fridge.  I have toothbrushes ready.  I have a reservation for a "kids cabin suite" which has bunk beds for the kids.  Willemina is going to keep Wolf for me tonight.  It should be a great two days, and I will be back to blog by tomorrow evening!

Happy 10-10-10 everyone!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

If Wishes were Horses

Last night the kids and I watched the new Karate Kid with Jaden Smith (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's son, who also starred with Will in The Pursuit of Happyness) and Jackie Chan.  It was a good movie and the kids are hoping to watch it again this morning before we have to return it to Family Video later today.

Will and Jada P produced that movie.  What a great thing to have your parents produce a movie so you can act with someone like Jackie Chan.  I wish MY parents would do that for ME.   Then Susan could have Sweet Pea-Dub produce a movie for her to star in with George Clooney.    Kathleen would probably choose to act in a Star Trek movie with Jean Luc, if her parents produced a movie just for her.

Well, back to Planet Earth...

I will be attending the Evergreen Cemetary Walk this afternoon.  It is supposed to be in the 80's and sunny.  I understand I may see Sweet Pea-Dub and Peg there.   Wouldn't that be loverly.  I know I will see Kathleen portraying Helen Stevenson today and I know that will be delightful.  I am taking Jeremiah on the Walk for the first time this year, and that will be a memory made for both of us.   

Maybe we will see Jackie Chan, George Clooney and Patrick Stewart, too.  Or maybe we will just ride horses...

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Devil Made Me Do It!!

Be it ever so hummus, there's no place like home.

That has nothing to do with anything but it popped into my mind as I started to type today's blog.  Or perhaps it came to mind because yesterday's word of the day was homebody.  Who knows?  The Shadow Knows,  And the devil made me do it!

Hey, that makes me wonder.  Whatever happened to Flip Wilson and his alterego Geraldine?  Inquiring minds want to know!


Back after a short break from reading up on Flip Wilson.  What an amazing life.  He died in 1998 of liver cancer.  But before that he had an amazing performing and comedy career for an African American born in 1933.  He stopped performing as much in 1979 to raise his kids after winning custody of them in his divorce case. 

Click here:  The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress
to hear a vintage Flip routine that will take you right back to 1973 (or thereabouts!) and if you are alive and breathing will make you laugh your happy behind off!  There are several other clips from his show on YouTube.  Treat yourself today and watch a couple of them.  Then laugh about them all day and if anyone asks what you are laughing about, just say:

 Honey, What You See is What You Get!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Fine Sweet Day It Was

I usually get on my computer about 6:10 after getting my happy behind out of bed and making my coffee.  I read email, then head to Blogger and read the new posts from the blogs I follow.  This morning there were several new ones to read.  I have learned so much this morning and it is only 6:45 a.m.!

I had a busy and happy day yesterday.  I went to the doctor in the morning, for my usual 4-month-lecture about my blood sugars and my LDLs.  My doctor was 45 minutes late to my appointment but then she spent a long time with me, as she must with everyone, so I didn't start seeing my own patients until 11.  Finished about 5.  Came home to eat, walk the dog, then went over to Francisco's for a while to see the kids, then went over to work on Susan's to drink a glass of wine and work on her aching back.  I saw P-Dub, and gave her a new nickname.  Sweet-Pea-Dub.  I like it.  It's right up there with Uppity Town Normal!

I came home and tried to see if any of the MLB playoff games were on the tube.  Now here's the thing.  My kids seem to have an uncanny ability to lose remote controls.  I had one in the upstairs TV room a few days ago and now it is NOWHERE.  The playoffs are on channel 23, which I seem only to be able to get to by pressing 23 on my remote.  If I just scroll up or down with the controls on the TV itself, the durned thing goes from 22 to 24.  So I couldn't get to see any baseball.  The downstairs TV hasn't had a remote for months.  (Do they EAT them?  Flush them?  WHAT?)  So I had to read.  And gosh, that was so nice.  I got under the covers and read for an hour, then went to sleep. 

It was a fine, fine day.  This weather doesn't hurt, either.  So sunny and warm-but-not-hot.  Perfect! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Son, the Archivist

Jeremiah is so excited about the idea of saving printed out copies of my blog for him and for Sierra.  He thinks we should print 2 of each one so they each have their own copy.  I voted to wait on that, feeling badly enough about how much paper I am using to do this.  (I bought 100% recycled paper so guilt is slightly reduced.  That stuff is expensive!)  Anyway, I think what he really likes is...stapling.

He is always stapling papers together.  He loves to staple.  Is there a job in the Library of Congress as the Official Government Stapler?  If so, he is almost guaranteed to win that job.  He is neat and efficient at stapling.   See for yourself:

Of course he is good at lots of other things.  But yesterday morning he got up early to work on stapling-the-blog-project.  He is a dedicated stapler.  The only other thing I can recall he has gotten out of bed early for is to go on vacation.  I think he is a Zen Stapler. 

He is also a bit of a Zen Athlete and Zen Sister-botherer.  But those are stories for another day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hey Is It My Birthday Yet?

Oh, no that's Saturday.  I got confused because I got 2 birthday wishes on Facebook already.  One of them was in Spanish from my niece Rosita.  We are Facebook friends on 2 different continents.  Wow.  She said she was "late" for wishing me a birthday.  That's what confused me.  Then I thought maybe I was confused about the word for late or early in Spanish.  But no, she's the one who is confused.  Well she works a lot and has 2 little kids so I totally understand. 

The other early birthday wish was from my friend Jodi who calls me "Simone" from back in the days when we used to go backpacking and made up alter-ego names for ourselves, complete with personalities.  Simone is French and doesn't give a rats a** for anyone but herself.  But she says it more elegantly than that with a cute accent because after all, she IS French.  She bathes daily, though, unless she is backpacking and the river water is too cold.

Well, it's not yet my birthday.  It's only October 5th.  I have to go back to work today after a glorious 3 days off.  Yesterday Jeremiah loved being on Safety Patrol.  He will be doing it all this week, then a few more weeks later in the year.   He also enjoyed Fishing Club even though he didn't catch anything.  I arrived at 5:00 to pick him up and noticed that Mrs. O, the cute blond teacher that is in charge of the club, was having much less fun than anyone else.  Herding cats is easy compared to getting 23 4th and 5th graders to put away their fishing gear.  At least that's how it looked to me.  She announced that the weather will determine whether there is another outing this fall.    She looked like she might actually be praying for early snow as she drove off in her van.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Cutie Pies and Cone Heads

Here is the picture of my new daughter Sierra.  She looks like the previous Sierra except for the clothes.  Check it out:

She is so proud of that outfit and you can see why.  In spite of being all dressed up she decided to ride her bike to school today.  What a gal!

Jeremiah started his week on Oakdale's Safety Patrol today.  The last I saw of him this morning he was standing across the crosswalk wearing an orange vest, carrying a clipboard and citation forms in his hands,  looking very official.  His Safety Patrol partner Ben was standing with the orange cone on his head and dancing around.  I wonder if Jeremiah will try to write Ben a citation.  I doubt it, since Ben is a friend and also much bigger and Jeremiah is counting on Ben's dad to drive him to fishing club today at Miller Park, after Ben and Jeremiah do their Safety Patrol duties again after school.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SIU 38, ISU 17

Yesterday I took Jeremiah to his dad's house while Sierra and I went shopping for clothes for her.  Particularly for clothes for fall and winter that fit.  She was down to 2 long pair of pants that fit that she liked that did not have big holes in the knees.  So we went to Kohls and stocked her wardrobe again with long pants, a couple long-sleeved shirts, socks, and so on.  The shirts she chose are actually feminine.  The pants are comfortable but actually look like girls clothes rather than the baggy unisex style she previously favored.  We'll have some photos of this new girl, soon.

After the trip to Kohls, Francisco and I swapped kids.  He spent the afternoon with Sierra, while Jeremiah and I went to the ISU football game together with Shamelle.  ISU lost but Jeremiah enjoyed the game anyway.  Mostly because

1.  I bought him a program so he could read about the players before the game, during the time outs, and at half-time.

2.  I bought him a hot dog and fries at the concession stand before the game and he said they were really really really good.

3.  They were so good that he had aother hot dog and fries at half time.

4.  In the 3rd quarter I dropped my water bottle down to the ground below our bleacher seats.  He got to climb down around there to retrieve it and impressed the 5 year old kid sitting in front of us.

5.  We saw some pretty cool plays up close even though we had cheap general admission seats we were very close to the field on the 40 yard line.  Both teams blocked punts then ran with the ball for touchdowns.  One of those happened right in front of us.

6.  After the game we got to go down on the field.  The plan was to try to meet one of the players whose grandmother works with me.  She couldn't be at the game, though, as she had to work, and so we never did find him or get to meet him.  BUT Jeremiah played football on the ISU field with a bunch of kids who started a pickup game.  That might have been the highlight of his day.

Today is Sunday, pro-football on TV day, of course.  The Bears play tonight.  We've got our fingers crossed that they play better than ISU did yesterday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday Night with the Queen

On Friday's sleepover party last night we watched, what else?, Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door.  Then I suggested we watch one of the two movies that I had rented yesterday afternoon, either Marley and Me OR Just Wright.  Marley and Me was voted down immediately, "NO!  Marley dies in the movie.  Too sad!"  Okay, OKay, OKAy, OKAY!  No dying dog movies.  Jeez.  (The truth is that they are afraid I will cry in front of them.)

They didn't want to watch Just Wright either, but I told them Queen Latifah is in it and that she used to be a Rapper.  Well, they agreed to try it for 15 minutes and then if they didn't like it we would turn it off.  After about 2 minutes they were hooked.  Whew.  I really wanted to watch it.  Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist.   I was proud to have her pretending to do what I really do for a living.  I'm sure she made a little more than I do, though, pretending to do what I do on the big screen.  That's kind of odd, isn't it?

The movie gave the kids and I a chance to talk about sincerety in relationships, how money or success can influence they way people treat you.  Then we had Mint Moose Tracks Ice Cream and went to bed.  A successful Sleepover Party.  Again!

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Rocks!

October first makes me think of lots of things.  Some silly, some serious, some happy, some spooky.  Try to Remember the First of Octember by Dr Seuss comes to mind first.  Silly.  October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and also Physical Therapy month.  Serious.  October is the month of my birthday.  At my age, very serious.  October is the month of my sister Jill's birthday.  Happy!

October is the month of the anniversary on Sierra's adoption which happens to be on October 31st, also Halloween of course, and her favorite holiday in a tie with Christmas.

This year I am taking a week's vacation in October just for me.  I'm spending most of the week at home doing things I feel like doing.  Not working and eating lots of hummus.  And I'm going to a B&B near Starved Rock for a couple days.  One of those days my friend Cindy from Chicago will meet me for some hiking if the weather is good or some coffee and Scrabble games if the weather stinks. 

I plan to do a lot of reading that week.  Our book group will be meeting in late October and so I will be re-reading The Used World.  I also want to read Living Downstream in anticipation of the author visiting Bloomington-Normal in October for a screening of her film and to talk at Wesleyan about the environment and cancer.    If there is time I might start Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana after hearing him speak yesterday at the Bloomington Public Library and being quite impressed by him and hearing many raves about the book from members of the audience.  And of course in October there is the Robin Meyers Dog and Pony Show which I will be attending both Friday night and Saturday morning the last weekend in October.

Well, if you want to find me or fix me up with any nice men, you can send them to some of the above events to meet me.  I'll be living downstream in the used world while waiting for snow in havana and trying to save Jesus from the church while simultaneously turning 53 but looking much younger of course.

I'll also be attending the Cemetery Walk, an ISU football game, and Interfaith Panel featuring the fabulous Susan Ryder, and Lord knows what else this month!

I love October!