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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!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

These Boots are Made For...

Monday, Presidents Day, Kathy's birthday, and a day of no school.  The kids and The Player and I headed to Clinton in the afternoon and went for a walk around the lake at Weldon Springs State Park.  I made sure that everyone brought their binoculars for bird-watching.

We saw 2 chickadees and 1 blue jay.  We heard 1 woodpecker.  We didn't need the 3 pairs of binoculars.  But we did need the camera to document the beaver activity, the kids, the scenery, The Player's imitation of an elf, and my new hiking boots!

Why, the better to hear the birds with, my dear.

Sisi just happened to have embroidery floss and a paper clip in case some worms were crawling around asking to be made into fish bait. 

The boy was happy to be out in fresh air and to throw rocks into the lake.  On some very thin ice the rocks bounced around and sounded like birds.  See photo #1 for person ready to listen for birds. 

Busy beavers cutting down trees and keeping picnickers away!

And last, but not least, my new hiking boots.  Shopping at Goodwill can really pay off.  Yes, those are Columbia brand!  Yes they were brand new!  Yes they fit great and I walked 2 miles in them with not one hint of a blister!  Yes, I'm overly proud of myself and my boots.  The last time I bought new hiking boots was 1992 and I paid an arm and a leg for some wonderful Vasque boots that lasted me 20 years, but it's time for them to be put to some other good use.  Here is what I have in mind.  Other suggestions are welcome!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Night Among the Stars

Earlier this winter The Player (*thanks to Peg who pointed out that TP is not a good monicker as some teenagers might try to drape him over a tree*) and I were hiking out at Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove.  We realized that there is a little observatory there and that this is for a good reason...good stargazing!  Far enough from bigger towns to avoid light pollution, and a big open area of prarie in addition to the woods.  We decided that on some clear night with no moon we would take the kids out to see the stars.

Last night it was clear, cold but not miserably so, no moon, and although it was a Sunday no one had to get up early today due to the holiday (President's Day and Kathy's birthday).  So we headed southwest to Shirley, then down old Route 66 to Funks Grove.  From there we drove along a dark curvy road through the trees until we came to the parking lot of the Nature Center.

Indeed the stars were out in their glory!  J-dude called it a "Heaven for Star Watchers Kind of Night."  Sisi got the image of a rabid skunk in her head and stayed in the car. 

I tried to take a photo of the sky.  Hahahaha.  Nevermind that, Gentle Readers.    Here is a  website where you can type in the name of your closest large city and see what the sky looks like on any given night.  We enjoyed that once we were home, after we realized how many constellations we were able to see and how few we were able to name.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Umbrella Day

It's Umbrella Day today!

Here in Central Illinois we do not need umbrellas today.  We need winter coats, hats, gloves, and we need those coats zipped up, those hats on our heads and those gloves out of our pockets and donned properly.  We needed those things to walk to school today, which the grown up people in our household did, and to ride scooters to school which the growing up people in our household did.  All bundled up. 

Winter is finally here.  It's going to get below zero for the first time tonight.  It's about time.  Not that I love zubsero temps (yes, I mistyped that then decided I liked it.  My new favorite made up word this week is now zubsero.)  The umbrella photo above reminds me of something The Player told me about global warming, causing rises in the ocean's temperatures to tip the balance in favor of large population increases of jellyfish.  Don't those umbrellas look like an armed army of jellyfish?  Whew.  I hope I don't fall over the edge of the boat in to that someday.  (Note to self, cancel all cruise plans immediately.)

These moon jellyfish are for your viewing pleasure only.  Do not fall into them, and do not, repeat do not, use one to block the sun or rain.  That's my advice for the day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wave All Your Fingers

As it turns out today is Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbor Day according to the yadda yadda holiday website.  And as it turns out, I did just that.  A new family has moved in next door (renting the house owned by our neighbor Gary who has moved to Virginia and decided not to put his house on the market in this crazy economy and with 3 other houses already for sale on our street of only 20 houses total.  Good news one of those houses just sold!)

I introduced myself to the mom in the family a couple weeks ago.  I saw the teenage son pacing in the street on his cell phone and waiting for a ride somewhere shortly after that, and figured said teenager probably would hide inside his hoodie even further if I waved all my fingers at him.  So I didn't.  I just swerved wide to avoid the appearance of even thinking of driving anywhere near his teenage feet in the street. 

Today the dad was outside having a cigarette before heading out to work.   He waved and I waved.  I think I used all 5 fingers on my hand.  I can't be sure.  Hello!  It was neighborly either way.

So say hello to your neighbor today.  If you don't know who your neighbor is, remember the parable of The Good Samaritan. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Problem with The Words

I promised to review the Super Bowl Ads today.  Some of them were funny and clever.  The cheetah chasing the guy who let him out of the cage to race the car (here is the problem for me...was it an Audi?  a Fiat?  Was that a half-second shot of Ryan Gosling driving the car?) was kind of funny.  The theme this year seemed to be celebrities in the ads.  Elton John, Clint Eastwood, Matthew Broderick, and so on.  I probably napped through some other ones.  My favorite ad, though, was the one in which the family dog does away with the family cat and then bribes the father to pretend he "didn't see nuthin" with packages of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  I am not proud of the fact that this was my favorite.  Just tellin' it like it is.

Now I'm gonna tell something else like it is.  I have a problem singing in church these days. 

I'm an alto, I can carry a tune, I can sort of harmonize when the melody gets out of my range.  But I'm having a hard time with the words.  (Why don't we call them lyrics in hymns?)

Our hymnal is about as hip as a hymnal can get, but still...there is that image of a Being outside of the Earth watching over us that I don't believe in anymore, and I know the majority of folks at my church don't believe in anymore, and yet we sing things like "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."

I don't think He does.   I don't think He is a He.  I don't think He is a She either. Or even an It.  More like an Energy.  Do Energies watch over us?  The metaphors in many of our hymns don't energize me these days.

What does energize me are carefully thought out words, shared in conversation, reflection, writings.  

Music is powerful.  I love singing old hymns in which I don't subscribe to the lyrics, as long as it's clearly a "sing your favorite old hymn from childhood" experience.  I love listening to gospel on the radio.  I find dancing energizing in a spiritual sense. 

I think I will start sitting some of the hymns out.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Big Bowl

Super Bowl 46 will be broadcast today and we will be watching it in my household.  The game itself interests me mildly, as I am neither a fan or nor a non-fan of either of the two teams.  But if it's a well-played game I will probably end up rooting for one of them based on a complicated formula of qualities such as (Color of the Uniform) x 5 + (Fit of quarterbacks spandex pants) x 3 +  Niceness of the coach - (Number of rough sacks of the opposing teams quarterback)*2.

Or something like that. 

But of course the real reason to watch the Superbowl is the commercials.  I will be reporting on those more tomorrow, but according to NPR there are 3 themes to this years Superbowl commercials. 

1.  Throwback to childhood (targeting the baby boomers)
2.  Animals (targeting most of us)
3.  Sex (targeting young men in this case according to NPR...but I suspect scantily dressed females with appeal to most men regardless of age, though the older and wiser ones will not, we assume, be running out to purchase the products mindlessly on Monday.  Though I understand if all men ran out tomorrow and purchased a Chevy then we might be out of the economic slump soon!)

This week I had a major car repair which was major enough to make me consider purchasing a new car instead of repairing the current one.  Once again my car had a major hot-flash and overheated in Lexington Illinois (twice in 5 years my car overheated, and both times in a town I have visited maybe 10 times in those five years.)  This time there was some damage to the head gasket. Ouch!  All is well now with my car and I even put the needed new tires on her, thus committing myself to try to get another 60,000 miles out of her.  (She's at 136,000 now.)  I think we will make it as long as I don't go to Lexington again.

It's Sunday, though after spending 4 hours with the NCC Steering Committee yesterday it's hard to believe I didn't already attend church.   Here is a link to some fine gospel music I heard on NPR yesterday for your Sunday listening pleasure.

Ruthie Foster and the Blind Boys of Alabama

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Really Do Not Like

I really do not like the word "hate" but I came very close to using it in regard to Comcast this week. 

Last fall Comcast (which/who I really do not like) sent out various notices saying that all subscribers to their Cable TV services would need to order a "box" for free for each TV in their home and have it installed by January 24th or we might not be able to receive all of our normal channels.    I ordered said boxes, and The Player (would it be offensive to anyone if I just called him TP now? ) and I installed them.   Well, I installed them and then a few days later TP fixed my installations.

So approximately 35 days later our cable stops working properly and notes appear on the screen saying we should call Comcast (number on TV screen 800-Com-Cast) to "restore our service."

We made said call and waited many minutes to speak to a human being of sorts.  He said he thought he could fix it with some special signal from his location...but no that did not work.

Alas we would need a service call.  Which, since the boxes were now more than 30 days in our homes, would require a service fee of maybe $33 or maybe more...depending...and so on and so forth and ad nauseum.

Same boxes we were required to get by Comcast.

I got a little pissy with the human being of sorts and said to forget the danged service call and I would be thinking about cancelling my Comcast service. 

J-dude said "Let's hook the cable up again without the boxes and see what happens."

I said "WhatEver."

He did that and we now have not ALL of our channels from before but many of them.  Enough to watch PBS, The Weather Channel,  and NBC (which has the Superbowl on Sunday and also Brian Williams' Nightly News which J-dude loves.)  So for a week or so we are happy. 

Then I will get some company which is not Comcast to provide TV and internet and they can take their little boxes and do something with them which I will refrain from specifying so that I can stay in the category of blogs which are not "containing adult content."  But the phrase where the sun does not shine still might appear in my mind or my blog.

I really, really,  really, Really, REALLY  do not like Comcast.  Just ask TP.