Thursday, July 31, 2008

A camping I will go...

The family invested in an older model motor home last year, and we try and get out to the state park a few times over the summer for a weekend. Mind you, the park is only seven miles from where I live. But it is one of the overlooked gems in my area. Although Illini State Park isn't nestled amongst sandstone cliffs and canyons like Starved Rock State Park, nor does it have wandering trails that one can traverse for miles, it does have many other natural amenities.

Illini Park, and particularly where we camp is right along the Illinois River, and to me, almost nothing is more relaxing than watching the river flow by. Makes me almost forget that I am bereft of Internet, unless I pick up some stray Wi-Fi signal. But I would never ever take advantage of some lonely strange, not I.

With morning views like this, who needs Internet?

I have every intention of waking up at sunrise while I'm camping so I can take some pictures of the sun as it rises over the river as it streams through the morning mists. But, then there is that "best laid plans of mice and men" and those who barely can make a cup of coffee, let alone frame the perfect sunrise through the camera lens before 6 a.m.

I will try and snap some shots during the weekend and hopefully post some here sometime next week. Until then, "Hi-ho, a derry-o..."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Lion's Tale

I saw this video a few days back, like many others have, I assume. The video has hit viral proportions long before I saw it for the first time. It tells the story of giving up something, then discovering that it can come back to you, if only for a short while.

I apologize for the Whitney Houston back up music, but it does help in the Kleenex department.

Usually, I sit and pick apart most stories like this, knowing that is my friend in calling bull shit...but, I just couldn't with this one. Besides, it is a true story. Also, I don't care if the video is crafted and edited to pull at the heartstrings, for when I see this, my heart plays a bittersweet symphony.

Some days, it's nice to leave one's cynicism at the door and just enjoy, smile, and have a little weepy moment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Second Look

I was re-reading my post about how time seems to "whoosh-crash-trip" at pivotal events of life (well, at least that is how it is for me, call me weird, or at least clumsy...if you see someone trying to navigate down the sidewalk like The Minister of Silly Walks, that would be me). Anyway, I noticed how I placed a negative tag onto every example I used for marking the passage of my eldest daughter's life up to her flying from the nest...with the exception of the band instrument. She played contra bass clarinet, and, yes, it was taller than most of the other band members. But, I'm derailing myself. As usual.

Well, it's taller than her when she's sleeping, erm, I mean sitting...

Anyway, back to subject. Laying in bed last night, waiting for sleep to conk me upside the head, I thought about how unfairly I painted this picture, how I took a broad swoop with the greyest grey paint I could find to color my view of past events.

Maybe, because there was a lot of greys in my daughter's life growing up, looking at it through my perspective. But that I could dip my brush into a brighter color, I could see the events in another hue, I realized that:

Days spent in at school, she learned to be a duck, letting the slings and arrows shot from the other kids roll off her like beads of rain.

Time spent on the bench at soccer matches gave her a feeling of being a part of something that may not always use her skills, but still needed her, for there is no "I" in "team".

Sitting in school meetings taught her that people will advocate for her, even if it was just "mom", and that she could also advocate for herself, and do so articulately and with passion.

Growing up, one has such a tumultuous relationship with the world. I guess I harbor memories of how my life was, growing up, and therefore projected those memories and feelings onto my daughter. But guess what?

My daughter is not me. Not by a long shot.

When she looks at the world, she's holding a paint-laden artist's pallet, full of every color imaginable in one hand, and a brush, heavy and dripping with paint in the other, poised to swoop.

I don't know what color she's using, but it's certainly not grey.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Time is relative to what, exactly?

I've been really hung up on the issue of time, lately. More precisely, the passage of. How can a memory of decades past seem like just a few years ago?

I remember walking out of my daughter's high school on the day of her graduation. As I stood still, crowds of parents and students milling around me, I felt this *whoosh* crash into my back, like a wall of water from an approaching storm. It was all the memories of seeing my oldest going off to school on her very first day, watching her walk to the bus stop. Seeing her walk off the bus, trying not to cry after a bad day. Sitting with the school band, playing an instrument taller than some of the students. Warming a bench at a soccer match, eagerness etching her face, waiting for a chance to play that usually never came. Going to school meeting after school meeting, explaining to her teachers that her "not writing to her ability" wasn't due to laziness, it was due to a learning disorder they never heard of, although I could Google "dysgraphia" in two seconds and tell them all about it, if they only cared to listen.

It was snippets of sounds and sights, of a once gawky, lanky twig of a child turning into a tall, lithesome amber-eyed beauty who would rather play football and rollerblade than spend a day mall-crawling. It was her life viewed through my eyes up to that point, condensed in a millisecond.

For all you Sci-fi geeks out there, it felt like stepping through a rift in time, actually.

They, whomever "they" are, say you see your life flash past your eyes before you die. I say you see the life of your children flash, or in my case, crash behind me like a sound wave, at every milestone of their lives. Because this phenomenon happened again a year after her graduation on the day she was married. And it will happen again if I am blessed with grandchildren.

And it happens on smaller scales also, like when daughter brings home first boyfriend, dad oils up shotgun, hones knives. Daughter gets heart broken, dad stores shotgun and knives away for another day. Whoosh-slam-trip.

So, what is time relative to? The milestones in life that rise from the ground, as they must do, because I seem to be tripping over them a lot lately (the tripping happening after the back-slamming and whooshing). Last month, my youngest turned sixteen, which is totally impossible, since it was only a year ago she had just turned ten. But, that day there was that whooshing, slamming and tripping again, so it must be so.

Either that, or I am the most uncoordinated person on Earth.

Also, another oddity of time...the older one gets, the quicker the milestone appear.

I dare not blink.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"I'll take 'Actions of an insane wife' for $1000, Alex"

Yesterday, a storm blew through town and caused a wee bit of damage next door (which is property we own, and where the step-mom-in-law lives). When I say "wee", I mean a limb fell from a tree and landed on top of a storage portico. When I say "limb", I mean a third of an old dutch elm.

Front view

Back view

So, the tree limb, still attached to the tree by it's bark, more or less, is situated between s-m-i-l's house, and a small house we use for storage. In-between the two houses is the portico. Wedged under the crushed roof of the portico is my husband's trailer.

Real stupid place to be view

Inside trailer is his entire collection of radio-control model airplanes, receivers, and all the other expensive accouterments that go with. Basically, his hobby, his only hobby is sitting under a buttzillion pounds of tree.

So, what do I do first? I sneak under the portico which is sandwiched between trailer full of expensive toys and said tree limb so I can open the door and check if the airplanes are okay. Sneak? Like the tree limb was going to hear me and decide to crash down on my head, compacting the trailer like an accordion?

I only did this so I could call DH at work and hopefully be able to say, "Um, honey, your airplanes are okay, but you know that huge tree in the front yard? Well, a tree limb fell off in the storm a little while ago and landed on the lean-to and your trailer is stuck now...but everything is in one piece".

I slowly open the side door and find that everything is snug as a bug in a rug. Amazingly, everything that could have been damaged, wasn't. DH was able to hoist the roof off the trailer with floor jacks and four by fours, and pull it out from under the tree-laden portico, in perfect condition. Two shingles on the s-m-i-l's house need replacing, and the other house we use for storage fared just as well.

And, yes, I did also check up on s-m-i-l to see if she was alright...but she wasn't at home at the time when all this tree-havoc was happening. I do have some sense of priorities. Sheesh.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lighten up. Just a bit.

I was pondering the recent cover of the New Yorker today... the one showing a cartoon of Obama and his wife, standing in the Oval Office, doing the infamous "knuckle bump", which thanks to a Faux News talking head, I now know not to make this move in public, as it is considered a symbol of terrorism. News to me, guess my girls are terrorists...they've been "knocking and locking" for some time now. I better check them to see if they own any offending scarves.

Back to the cover, and the outrage it has caused. At first blush, I will admit I was aghast with the rest of them. I found the cover to be in totally bad taste. Then, the more I looked at the cartoon...the portrait of Osama hanging on the wall of the Oval Office, the American flag burning in the fireplace, how the Obamas were was so over the top. It was depicting every stupid tin-foil hat e-mail I have gotten since Obama started his run for the White House. He's a Muslim. He doesn't respect the Flag. He supports terrorism. The only thing missing was a copy of the Qur'an sitting atop a desk that he probably would have place his hand upon during his swearing in ceremony if elected, according to the mass e-mails I've received.

To me, at least, it became very obvious that this cover was a comment on the innuendo, rumor, hearsay and out and out fabrication that has overshadowed this campaign. It was a image that pointed out all the gullibility of those who probably also believe in Nigerian money scams.

By the way, my local paper did print a political cartoon depicting Obama typing such and email scam to Clinton. Oh, the audacity!

The essayist Jonathan Swift described satire as "... sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own". Who's the butt of the joke? The subject, or the observer who doesn't get it?

But then, maybe it's me who "doesn't get it". Maybe the cover was in agreement of all those who never give a second thought to sending off a inflammatory e-mail to every contact in their address book in a knee-jerk fit of indignation? But that's what is so great, and maddening about satire. Good satire makes one think, then think again. Bad satire is "Beavis and Butthead". Then again, it's me who doesn't "get it", because I can't see the satire for the crudeness. It's all in the eye of the one holding the glass.

Sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke, and satire is just humor, albeit misplaced at times. I don't think that satire's role is to be humorous, if only to laugh at the human condition, and get it's goat while it's at it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


After years of trying to entice the little suckers to my flower/weed garden, spending money on nectar that it seemed only the ants liked, I look out my window and what do I see?

Is this all mine?

If I had only knew the little birdies preferred home made nectar, I would have made it long ago. But not like the one woman who complained about not being able to attract hummingbirds to her feeders. When asked what she used for nectar, she replied, "Oh, I make my own! Four parts water to one part artificial sweetener..."

No fat hummingbirds for her, so sir.

So, was the wait worth it? Sometimes it's the tiniest things in life that brings me joy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Man and Wife, Woman and Husband.

After about 3 changed dates, a wedding dress stuck in Customs (No, it's in transit! No, it's still in China! No, really, it's being shipped as we speak!), not knowing until two days before whether or not my not as of yet son-in-law (Wow, that sounds weird) would be able to get a short leave for the July 4th weekend, it's, how they say in movie making parlance, In The Can.

So, thank you to the groom's parents who gracefully shared their beautiful yard for the service/reception, a local big box craft store for having a 50% off sale on wedding decorations last week, my old friend who came out of retirement and quickly whipped up a beautiful wedding cake, the same friend who made the wedding cake for my husband's and mine reception almost 25 years ago, family and friends, and Oly the Dog, who gave his blessing by christening the archway before the was a lovely day.

And, thank you to my new son-in-law, for putting a smile on my daughter's face. I hope you both are full of smiles and laughter amid the ups and downs and lulls in life. Because it's the times in between the highs and the lows, the normal, mundane everyday life that can be the biggest test of all.