Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Peace and blessings on you and yours for 2010. It's shaping up to be a very interesting year around year.

But then, it's always interesting around here!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at our house is always, well, odd. We do the same things pretty much, but without my Mom and Dad to visit, it still seems odd. They've been gone 10 years now, but it seems like yesterday. We do miss them so much.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, we got to sleep in until 6 a.m.. A real record for us. For several years we were up at 4 a.m.. The pile of stuff under the tree gets smaller and costs more--a phenomenon known to all parents of teens. DD had a wish list that totaled over a thousand dollars, and FTD asked for one game. I really pushed FTD to come up with something else he wanted, but all he could ask for was the game. And it's Wii Music, which he said he wanted because the whole family can play it together. Way too sweet. (As a side bar, I went to the store to pick it up, and the price dropped $30! So then I really felt crappy for being so cheap with the kid.) We had already ordered DD's Lionel Legacy Remote system, even though he doesn't yet have a train that will run on it. But he got a couple of nearly Christmas Eve firewood sales and ended up with enough cash to order his dream engine: the Lionel Heritage Series Katy Legacy Engine. Sadly for him, it's back ordered so we have no idea when it will arrive. It will run with his new remote. He's thrilled and frustrated all at the same time, knowing the stuff is ready and oh so close. There's a train show tomorrow and he still has some cash in his pocket and is ready to blow it all. Sure beats some of the junk upon which he could spend money.

We did get FTD a Garmin Nuvi thingie. He's a map geek, and even though he will probably never drive, he's still our Chief Navigator. He's been able to read maps even when he couldn't read a book or tell someone his own address. One of those quirky autism things. Last night he set up the Garmin, currently named Greta Pam, to guide us to the Monroe Duvendack's for Christmas dinner with family. And unbeknownst to us, he set it to get us back home safely. We actually had fun trying to trick it, but it recalculated and by jove we mad it safe home. And while the thing belongs to FTD, DH and I will use it.

One of the lessons that we learned years ago about having kids with special needs is that we should try to engage them in real-age appropriate activities, even though their mental/spiritual ages are much younger. We've succeed so far with DD--he can be a geek at any age about Nascar and trains. The adults involved with both of those activities get a kick out of him, and really try to include him. We haven't been so lucky with FTD. Yes, his Scouting activities are great, but when he's home by himself, he doesn't turn to say, BSA online games, he goes to pokemon and you-gi-oh. I would argue that these are not age-appropriate, although I'm finding out that several of his typically developing buddies still play them. The difference is that they are dating and driving cars and visiting colleges, while he isn't. I'm still hoping that he can find something else in his life about which he can be a geek and still a socially accepted geek. We tried baseball and nearly succeed, when one adult at his school sent out a seriously negative vibe, and in one sentence turned FTD off from baseball geekdom. (BYW, I still think the teacher who told him "no" should have to come over and play pokemon to make it up to FTD. Jerk.)

The good news is that FTD seems to be very content with his games and videos. He's still kind and compassionate, just quieter than ever. On one hand he seems to be withdrawing more and more, but in reality it might just be that his friends and brother are becoming more and more outgoing. I hope at least.

Tom and I "exchanged gifts" at the hardware store one day last week. That's a fun story and I'll include pics for that one.

I hope you and yours have a pleasant holiday--as a liberal, progressive Christian, I wish you the peace that comes from the spiritual realm. "For unto us a Child is born." What joyous words indeed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bout and BadAmyKnits all in one post

The Glass City Rollers won their first bout ever and they did it before a sell out crowd at the Toledo Seagate Center. How cool is that! My hat is off to those women for ramming around and having all that fun. Check them out here.

And my daughter's stuff made the front page of Etsy! Etsy is an online storefront for crafters and sellers of vintage stuff. BadAmyKnits has been plugging away making sock yarn bags for sale for about a year, but she made the front page with her knitted candy canes. They are so darn cute! But I think the teeny tiny sweaters are the bomb. Way way way too cute. I'm a sucker for knitted winter woolies so I'm totally in love with her stuff. So here's where you find the bestest stuff:
BadAmyKnits on Etsy. You can also find her on Ravelry at BadAmyKnits.  She has a discussion forum, and most of her new stuff is published there first.  Go on, you know you wanna look!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Ready for the Bout

My Christmas shopping is 99.32% finished, the stockings are hung, I can't find the special treat we brought back from Montana just yet, but everything else is coming along. So it must be time for. . . . ROLLER DERBY! Yep, its time for the Glass City Rollers second home bout. Seagate Center, 7:00 Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, tickets available in several Toledo locations. I picked a lime green shirt at the thrift shop tonight, and felt to make banners for each of the girls--really cheesy ones, of course. I'm still amazed that I like this so much. Must be my alter-ego at work.

The Whitehouse Library Home Tour was loverly again. Raised some good money for a good cause. I'm pretty seriously considering having our house in the tour next year. Unless 6 other homeowners just jump at the chance, I'll do it. This year, I'm keeping it simple. Just the bestest ornaments and a few garlands. Okay, there is my Yooper Christmas Village that's taken on a life of its own. YooperVille and ranger-y stuff cover my cutting table, which is taking up all of my foyer, the Acadia Cool Damp & Foggy Village is on the buffet, and there are some other pieces here and there. I could only find one new piece that I liked this year, and a bunch of new people, including Rangers on horseback. They do need to be 'snow painted' though so they fit in. I'll have my crafty corner up and maybe running by Christmas. DH and newest nephew-in-law worked all afternoon in the basement again today. DH has put in a couple of hours here and there. I'm hoping the paneling goes up in the Crafty corner tomorrow or the next day. I'm taking over then. The drywall is up for the 'river portage' wall mural. Yours truly just has to mud and tape the seams and holes. Arg. We have 7 years experience doing this. All 7 years were spent trying to finish the kitchen ceiling in the old house. Finally, I just painted the dang thing, dimples and all. Hey when the house is over 160 years old, who cares about drywall dimples?

I've also been offering unsolicited advice for my daughter's Etsy Store. If you actually prefer handcrafted, made in the USA gifts, check out Etsy and BadAmyKnits. Tons of cool stuff.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Autism and Alzheimer

A friend of mine wrote in his blog about how hard it is to visit with his Dad, who has Alzheimer's. (Birding with Kenn and Kim: Giving Thanks) . I have long, long maintained that when we find a cure for Autism, we will find a cure for Alzheimer's. Conversely, when we find a cure for Alzheimer's, we'll find a cure for Autism.

Living with folks with either sounds a lot alike. They forget who you are. They forget where they are. They say inappropriate things that they don't mean. They forget to eat. They eat too much. They sleep too much. They don't sleep enough. You know they want to express themselves because you can see it in their eyes. You can't tell what they want because they don't look at you anymore. They have receded into their own world and didn't take you with them. You rejoice for those tiny moments of cognizance--they are few and far between. It's hard to be with them. You grieve every day. Every single day.

So all you researchers out there: get cracking. Cure one or the other, I don't care which, but do it soon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Back to That Eagle Scout

I created a mini-movie for FTD's Eagle Scout Court of Honor (COH) and finally found the time to upload it to youtube. Of course, in order to do that, I've had a new hard drive installed in the computer, so now my 6000+ pics don't slow me down so much. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to ditch the cruddy experimental movies. And now, with the new Canon, which shoots in HD at professional speeds, I have tons of geysers-going-off video. Sheesh.

I also tried uploading from youtube to here and here to youtube, with no luck. So you'll just have to click buttons for yourself.

Here's the link, I think:

I'll get that 40 minute video of Great Fountain up pretty soon. . . . .

Monday, November 23, 2009

And so it ends

Our park house on Jeffers Road is the first house ever built in the township. It was built by William Allman, sometime after he purchased the property from the US Government in 1834. By 1860, he sold the property to one of his sons Daniel Allman. He owned it until the 1910s. It went through several owners until 1940, when it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. William Nobbe. They were from Virginia, where they had re-habbed several old homes. When they moved to Toledo for Mr. Nobbe's job as an attorney with Owens Illinois, the largest glass producer in the world, they looked for a home they could work on. During the early part of WWII, they used it for a get-away home--it was the distance they could travel on Mr. Nobbe's gas rations. In 1942, they moved to the house permanently. They added indoor plumbing, heat, and a "spacious" bedroom with its own bathroom. The Nobbe's sold it to the Boston Family sometime in the late 40s or early 50s. Boston's sold it to the Park District of the Toledo Area about 1970 or so. DH moved in by 1975 and lived there with his daughter, who was about 7 at the time. We were married in 1983 and lived there until just before he retired in 2002.

It's an original structure with well established history and provenance. It's on its original giant oak timber foundation. And it's about to be torn down.

If a wealthy family had ever lived there, if it were a log structure, if there was any connection in any way, shape, or form to the Underground railroad, it would be saved. But just hard working farmers and others lived there. It's a simple frame house. Why the hell worry about it.

This is a shame and damn near criminal. The Park District says it's an attractive nuisance. Some asshole kids from Swanton burned the barn down a couple of years ago and got a ticket. Whoopie. So board the house up and let it go to ruins naturally. The District should have done some work on it after we moved out. But no. That would require foresight and creativity.

There really isn't an excuse for this. It's a tragedy. A real tragedy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fine Art of Solar Drying

One of the things I miss most about Wyoming and North Dakota is solar drying. Every time I put a load of stuff in the dryer here in Ohio, I cringe. Out west, I timed my laundry days to be those days when I could get a load or two of laundry in the washer before I left for work, out on the line during my lunch break, and off the line after work. This year, it took a little more creative scheduling (no thanks to Ranger Jerk You-know-who). To make this work, I had to be scheduled at Madison, my all time favorite place to work. Working in West was exciting this year, but it ain't no Madison Junction. Not to mention, I couldn't make the solar drying thing work on those days.

I love that there are some folks who live completely off the grid. But I also love that I have access to electricity. I can flush inside because of electricity, read in bed without so much eye strain with electricity, and check with my FB peeps because of electricity. No, I couldn't live off the grid. But I sure wish I could live without the electric dryer. Of course, in the dead of winter, I can warm up my towels in the electric dryer, so it stays.

When we lived in the Old House on Jeffers Road, we had a clothes line. DH and I dug the massive poles up from a house I used rent in Maumee and transplanted them out here. I could only use it a few days a year, because here in NW Ohio, if you hang your laundry outside, it will come back in wetter than when it went out. Drat.

Our new house (well, it's now 15 years old, but play along) is totally in the woods and there's no place to put a line. The only place that has any amount of sun is in the front yard, over the leach field. If we put poles out, we'd hit something, so that won't work. I do have a mini-line on the back deck, but again, the humidity issue rules it out for serious solar drying.

When I was using the solar dryer at Jeffers Road, DH was the Park Manager. I quickly realized that hanging his undies out was well, tacky. And out west, I promised the family that I wouldn't hang any one's undies out on the line. My fellow solar dryer, Bob, got a chuckle out of that--but he didn't put undies out either. Rangers Pi, JR, and G had no such compunction. Turns out they all wear black undies. How rangeresque. Matches Kevlar, I guess.

There's something satisfying about using the solar dryer. It's a great excuse to be outside on a beautiful day and working at the same time. Of course there's the obvious benefit to the environment. I find it almost Zen-like--after all, I also try to make the stuff hanging out there create a pleasing pattern. (Sounds like I have too much time on my hands to me.) I also try to hang them in such a way as they fold nicely when I take them down. After all, I'm one of the laziest people in the world.

So here I am running the electric dryer yet again tonight. I hang blue jeans from hooks on the door to try to get them a little bit drier before I send all that money off to the Toledo Edison/First Energy folks. And I only put half loads in the dryer--turns out it's just as fast as trying to dry a whole load and there's less wear and tear on my textiles. That's all my poor old dryer can handle.

The most amazing thing about solar drying is that it's against the law in many places. What a crock. The first time I heard about a subdivision that zoned against solar drying I thought someone was pulling my leg--after all, I am the most gullible person in the world, too. But no clothes lines? That's like the most un-American thing I can think of. Next someone will zone against apple pie.

So I raise my clothes pin bag to those of you who lug the baskets to the yard or who find other creative ways to dry your ditties. Long live the clothes line.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rituals and Rites of Passage

It's been a day of both for me--working on the rituals associated with my niece's upcoming wedding celebration, then watching as my son's childhood friends climb in the car together to drive themselves home.

My sons will never drive--at least 'not never' in the near future. FTD, the older, has utterly no interest in even trying. I keep trying to convince him that he should at least have a clue how it's done. We have plenty of big empty parking lots around, but nope, he just doesn't want to try it. If I push him hard enough I can get him to go out and start the car for me. DD, the younger, would drive in a heart beat if we let him. But his impulsiveness is just so over the top that car keys and DD simply aren't a good mix. He's super careful on the tractor, and when he uses the driving mower he hoots and hollers like he's the Dukes of Hazard--very funny. I don't think he knows we can hear him.

But my sons getting those car keys is one of the rites of passage they will miss. And so will we.

My niece's situation is tenuous at best. The wedding celebration is scheduled for Saturday. Her beau is still in Texas and literally might not make it back up here. This has been the story of their lives--individually and collectively. The only thing the Elder Aunties of this tribe can do is be there when she finally makes decisions--the good ones and the bad ones. She so wants the princess wedding of which little girls dream, but decisions made many years ago come in to play now.

I'm one of those old fashioned girls who believes in the power and dignity of ritual. There's a comfort in ritual, including that nod to those who came before us and a thank you to those who love and support us now. Lots of folks poo-poo the ritual. They were often either "subjected" to it ad nausuem, or never exposed to any at all. Unless one has been through the ritual, it's hard to explain why one often feels "changed" after wards. I remember not a thing from the day of my wedding, but knowing that my friends and family were there for me through the process and on that day is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going. Bat Mitzvahs, confirmations, Cinco de Mayos, cotillions, graduations, ordinations, Courts of Honor, baptisms, first day of kindergarten pictures, weddings, funerals, handing over the car keys for the first time--all important rituals. All important rites of passage.

I grieve for my sons--knowing that they will miss many of the rituals of life. It makes it so much more poignant to me that those who are able to partake of the rites appreciate that they have these opportunities. Don't waste them, dear friends, don't waste them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back to Those October Random Thoughts

Here's the update on October's Random Thoughts:

The new Nevada Barr Book is okay. She's experimenting with other writing styles, and this one is okay for folks who like this style. It doesn't have any of her incredible, descriptive prose of the parks and without that, the story leaves me wanting. It's also about how poorly the juvenile justice system works--or doesn't work--and that's always hard to read. I know we all need to stretch our wings and try new things, but Nevada: bring back that rascally Ranger Anna!

We have 6 homes lined up for the Whitehouse Library Country Christmas Home Tour and yours truly is off the hook! Yea! I'd really like to do it some time, so maybe next year. That is if we get the basement finished, the upstairs, and well--same old same old.

Speaking of birthdays (we weren't) I got Tom a new brad nailer for his birthday. And I got me a new chain saw--cool. Don't have time to use either one yet, because of Niece's wedding plans, but soon. Speaking of wedding plans, K2, the groom, isn't here yet. Yeah, that's stressful. If he doesn't leave Texas in the next 2 days, he'll miss his own wedding. Swell. It'll be a wonderful, small wedding and much nicer with him here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Glass City Rollers

The Glass City Rollers--the new girls on the block. This is a flat track roller derby team from Toledo. Why am I interested? One of my nieces is the club president--that would be Sally Seam Rip-Her, whose number is 5/8. Get it? 5/8 inch seam allowance? Oy. Any who, we were really skeptical about "Sally's" interest in this. But it's turned out to be a lot of fun.

Flat track derby isn't nearly as rough as the old derby circuit. They have so many rules I'm really not sure what the girls can do--they can throw a hip, but no pushing, tripping, all sorts of stuff. The refs keep incredibly close track of what's going on on the track. A game is called a bout, and all of the skaters chose really horrid, punny names. I sat with my step-daughter, whom I'll call Betty Beehive, who sort of knows the rules. It took me all through the first half to get a grasp of the rules. Once you figure out how to watch and what to watch for, you start to see the strategy of it.

It wasn't gruesome, even though the bout was held on Halloween, and we'll be back for the next home bout. This was the Glass City Rollers (GCR) first home bout, and they only sold about 100 tickets before the bout. But they filled at least 800 seats, and the place was full. It really was fun to watch. I'm hooked.

Did I mention that the bout took place on Halloween? Crowds don't usually look like folks from the Rocky Horror Picture Show at bouts. In fact, I was amazed at how normal most folks in the crowd looked. I dressed up as Waldo, so people could find me. When I was Sally's age, I was directing a baton and drum corps for kids--good exercise, but not nearly as exciting as this deal. The next home bout for the GCR will be in December, and after the great publicity and fun at the last bout, I'm willing to bet the next one will sell out. Get those tickets early and see you there!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Project Yard Work

It's amazing, but the major portion of my yard plan is finished. The rocks in the front yard are just the way I want them. This includes a huge rock I actually purchased. It called to me as soon as I drove into the rock shop, and I tried to ignore it. But it came home to our house. I think DH even likes it. Pics soon.

And today I put the last, I hope, of the rocks/border around the back basement window. With those 2 projects, it just a matter of keeping things under control for now. I've pretty much given up thinking that the area under our deck will ever look nice or be "landscaped" so I'm content now.

Whew. Content and tired!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Glowing October Days

The colors of the trees this year has been simply indescribable. The closest thing I can say is they glow this year. You just need to be here to believe it. I've taken several pictures, but they don't capture the feeling that comes over me when I'm out walking the woods. And since we've had very little sun, I haven't yet figured out why the trees are glowing! Very, very cool fall show.

Along those lines, there are very few pine cones and acorns on the ground. Last year when we walked the path in the back woods, it was like walking on ball bearings. And every morning when we came out, the yard was covered with cones from our white pines, no matter how many we picked up the night before. DH figures that the year before last the trees must have been stressed. The good news from that was the finches were here in record numbers. I suspect we won't see many crossbills and such this year.

I went berserk and bought some more rocks. This morning I loaded up 500 lbs of field stone into my car, then drove home and unloaded the things. I also shoveled the last of the river rock into the cart on the mower, so I can get those placed around the window well in the back. I spent several hours a couple of days ago beating back the weeds in my "back yard." This is barely more than a ribbon of grass around the back deck, but dang it! I want it to be a ribbon of domesticated, well behaved grass. The environmentalist in me is rather disgusted with the home owner in me that wants said ribbon of grass. We've got 3+ acres here, and most of it remains in it's natural state and I love that. But we have to grow domesticated, well behaved grass over the leach field, which takes up our whole front yard. And when one has grass growing, it needs to be cleared of the leaves in the fall, or it will cease to be well behaved grass. I bought a leaf sweeper that goes on the back of the mower, so DD can cruise around and sweep leaves to his little heart's content. And again the "green me" is yelling at the homeowner me about using so much gasoline to get rid of leaves. I guess October is just going to remain a month of my internal selves yelling at each other.

And homeowner me would dearly love for the spiders to either move back to the trees or at least stop pooping all over my porch. Can't a girl have a little space to herself that doesn't need to be cleaned all the time!!!!!! Is that asking too much?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Thoughts, October Style, au deaux

I didn't get to my Nevada Barr book yet. I just know I won't put it down once I start, so I'm waiting for that perfect moment to curl up in my Big, Comfy Chair and read for hours.

The autism book addresses issues for younger children. And yes, we've done everything suggested. And the kids still have autism. Oh, yeah, they always will, damn. Now I need an encouraging book about young adults with autism.

Speaking of which, DD went to the Homecoming dance last night. He took his friend Allie, who has Down Syndrome. They've been buddies since they were 3 years old. It was a nice chance for them to do the other stuff that HS kids do. Fortunately, since I drove, they didn't go parking after wards. And boy oh boy, were the girls dressed up! Holy cow! My mom had a hard time getting us to dress up as teens, because it was going out of style--now it's back big time! Sheesh!

And a special shout out to Ranger Pi, who is now a travel writer in Quito, Ecuador. It's a dang shame that NPS lost this guy--we need more Ranger Pi's!!!!! Since Pi's a writer, his blog promises to be wonderful. Here 'tis: Adios!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Random Thoughts, October Style

Being back in Ohio means my mind simply isn't engaged enough. When I'm working out west, I barely have time for an original thought, much less totally useless thoughts. So here's this month's quick thoughts--though not the totally useless ones. I'll post those later.

1. Congrats to Raptor Ranger Lora of Acadia! She's pulled a perm job with FWS in CA, doing bird things! She's a great ranger and NPS will miss her! Another case of another agency getting really good staff from us.

2. Meringue is fun to make. But I should have timed this batch for a day that didn't rain and rain and rain! The humidity really does make a difference.

3. Oak Openings is one of the most beautiful places in the world in Autumn. I'll try to get some pics posted, but they don't do justice to the scene. It's as if we become part of the colors somehow. Even today, with rain and gray, gray skies, the trees are breathtaking. This is what I miss when I'm out west. In YNP, we talk about the beautiful aspens turning yellow. That ain't nuthin' folks! And New Englanders boast about their neck of the woods. Nope, again, the show there doesn't even come close the the show here. Y'all come visit.

4. Why, you ask, am I making meringues? Well, if Shannon doesn't need/want them for her wedding reception, I'll use them for Turkey Day and Christmas celebrations. They freeze wonderfully. And homemade ones can't be beat (no pun intended). I made coffee liqueur and amaretto ones this time around.

5. I'm back to around 50% thinking about opening our home for the Whitehouse Library Christmas Tour. If we can find 2 more houses closer to town, that would be better. We have 4 beautiful homes already.

6. I actually finally bought a book about autism. This is an exercise in telling myself that I've been right all along in how I've managed our lives for the past 18 years. And as it is with any child, the next 40 years are the scary ones. . .

7. Also bought new Nevada Barr book. This one is her third book that doesn't have Ranger Anna Pigeon in it. The first one was a "Gothic frontier western lesbian romance." Not a huge audience for that, as she points out. The other was a non-fiction work about her budding interest in religion, a very nice journey. DH is gone right now, so I can stay up all night and read the new book. Should be pretty scary-- and tonight really is a dark and stormy night. . . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Housing Projects

When I'm out west, I miss that there are no house projects which need our attention--sort of. . . The apartment is small, which means no intense cleaning needed, but it's also pretty sterile. When I get home, I'm overwhelmed that there are so many projects that need my attention--sort of. . . I'm hoping that when the basement is finished (the end is almost in sight), that I can start indulging in more fun stuff--like taking a hike without being overcome with that old Protestant Work Ethic thing. All summer long, I tell folks that they should go sit on a rock and do nothing, but I fail to follow my own advice. I'm thinking of making myself take a walk in the woods every Wednesday. Check in with me to see if I do it. Maybe I just need peer pressure to do it!

I'd also like to get back to my sewing projects. It's good therapy for me. I used to say it was cheaper than therapy, but if I actually get my crafty corner fixed up in the basement, it could get costly again. I'll have room for my material stash, and all of you crafters know how dangerous that can be.

So today's project is to stain the front deck. DH did one section last May before he came out west, so it looks, once again, like poor white trash abide here. The new roof looks great, and the downspouts work, except that there are "splash guards" at the corners. They've turned into leaf catchers, so I called the company yesterday and asked them to come out and remove them. We did get the new door put in, complete with the electronic lock. Email me for your own private code number!

And I got one of the 1 1/2 tons of river rock moved. I have a plan for the rest of it, but I've got to get that stain on before the rains come again. Bring your paintbrush and come on over!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Life on the Big Sandy

One of the downsides of living on a huge sand dune is well. . . . I miss rocks. Really. I have a thing for rocks--river rocks, granite, scoria, rhyolitic, knife river flint, petrified rock, you name it, I miss rocks. So yesterday, I bought another couple of tons of rock. 1.5 tons of it is river rock, the rest is field stone. And when one buys rock around here, one will be shoveling rock for week. Dang. At least I've finally got a plan for how I want the "foundation" plantings around the house to look. The bad news is that there's a lot more (expensive) rock in my future. And surprise surprise, no one wants to come over and help me shovel it. Humph.

Upcoming events include Shay's arrival from Texas and her wedding shower Sunday afternoon. Wedding is in 2 weeks. It'll be a nice family affair at the Lodge. DH and I had our reception there (along with several other fun parties) and K8 got married there also. It'll be loverly! Another fun thing to add to our list of fun November things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old School Rangers

Thank goodness for old school rangers. We had our monthly luncheon today with retirees from DH's Park District. It's nice to share some of the old stories, but most importantly, we all see the need to make changes in order to serve now. Since the moron who was the last director of the district finally left (YEA!) the new director has recognized that institutional memory is a good thing. He knows that we can't go back to the old ways, but understands that there are many, many parts of the old ways that are good and should be re-incorporated into the goals of the district today.

So lift one for the old guys and gals, and wish success to new rangers. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sons and New Technology

My older son, FTD, purchased a new laptop computer this afternoon with money he earned from his summer job. What a step in growth--sort of. His primary use for it is to watch pokemon shows and upload game cheats. Okay, so he's not going off to college to earn his way in the world. But he did use good consumer skills to pick this thing out. That's an achievement right there. I'll take this as one of life's bigger successes for him--even though right now he's sitting next to me watching an incredibly dumb and inane show called Dragonball.

The boys are re-registered for school. What a gigantic pain in the seat. After the gracious and thoughtful welcome we received at West Yellowstone, the beating we took at AW was ridiculous. We had to prove we actually live in the district--where we've owned a home and/or other property for 30 years. We were told we had to produce 2 utility bills to prove we live here. Not our IDs, not our pay stubs showing where our money is sent (including the one the school district sends to DH to work for them), not even the public online records showing what we own and how much we pay in SCHOOL TAXES, but 2 utility bills. I said (very loudly and adamantly, I must say) no way. What a load of crap. At West and in Medora I just had to say, I work here. "Okay, when can the kids start and how long can you stay with us?" was the reply. Upon reaching the HS today (after last week's scene at the Board Office--they won't forget me anytime soon--we had to go through the whole rigmarole to pick classes again. FTD actually perked up at one science class that is offered. When his special ed teacher came in, she threw every wet blanket she could think of at him. No wonder he pretty much hates school. I'm really surprised that he chose to go back to AW instead of the vocational HS. He'll go there next year.

And the final upshot regarding his schedule is that he'll exercise his Senior option which is to skip 2 class periods a day. He'll skip 1st and 2nd. Except for the fact that I'll have to drive him in every day, this will work better around here. DD will get up and go, and FTD can get up in his super-slo-mo fashion. DD will be getting on the bus at 6:35, and I'll leave home with FTD at 9. That will give me a reason to get up and moving, too.

Nobody ever said life would be easy, but it shouldn't be spent on inane things like we did for the past several days. And yep, this this boondoggle won't stop me from moving back west next summer. . . I hope.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cleaning Time Again

For a house that hasn't been fully lived in for nearly 3 months the place is a mess. Yep, there were dirty clothes and linens to be washed (even tho DH said he did them all), and little annoying stuff had to be done--like put the dish ware back where it belongs, ditch the 4 month old food in the 'fridge and so on. But alas, I repeat myself.

So yesterday and today was work on basement and outside day. I could barely move when I went to bed last night. But my alleged flower beds are weeded, some of the pine needles are raked up, and most of the camp boxes are back where they spend the winter. Well, all but DH and FTD's boxes--they are definitely cut from the same cloth--both oblivious slobs. Ah, well. . . .

And I know why 'taupe' is such a popular color for houses--it's the same color as fly and spider poop. Dang for such little critters they sure can pile it up!! And why oh why do they have to use my front porch when there's 4000 acres of real honest to goodness woods out there!?!?!?

I'm also trying to get caught up on upcoming projects--basement of course, and the Whitehouse Holiday Home Tour scheduled for Dec. 13 this year. If my next door neighbor opens her home for the tour, I'll do ours also. That means I have to get rid of my entire family for a week, so that could be tricky. We'll see. Last year's event was terrific. Good fundraiser for the local library.

So back to the yard--I sure know why condos are sooooo appealing! The downside would be having to share the view from my front porch. . . hm m m m .....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Home Again, Home Again. . . and exhausted

We've arrived "safe-home" once again. And as usual, I'm whipped. DH said last June before he left for Wyoming that the laundry was all done, etc.. When I got home yesterday, I realized that his idea of "laundry all done" and mine don't match. So not only did I have 5 days worth of traveling clothes to wash, there were several baskets of last spring's laundry also. Yuck.

Each summer someone different has lived in our Ohio house. And each year I come home and can't find stuff. The most annoying part is that the kitchen stuff always gets moved around. This summer wasn't the worst, but it's still a pain.

The good news is that the basement floor is done--including being stained. It's just the way I wanted it, which was tricky since I ordered it via email and phone conversations from 1700 miles away! The down side is that the basement didn't get aired out, so last night we had to turn off the heat and open the windows. Even though it's in the upper 50s, it feels much much colder than the 50s we're used to out west. It rained a long time yesterday, and then the wind blew and blew all night. There's several sassafras branches rubbing the roof, so all night I was either awake and cold or awake and wondering what was making all that racket. DH got several of the branches cut off this afternoon, but there's still one that he can't reach. I'm hoping for a good night's sleep tonight.

Other news is that the TVs are on the fritz, so no boob tube again tonight. I'm so tired that I just want to completely veg out in front of completely useless, inane tv shows for the evening. Dang.

Later on, I'll write about our trip home--very different from our unusual trips. And speaking of which: DO NOT drive Rt. 287 south of the park this winter!!!!!!! We were in 4-5 inches of mud for miles and miles!!! What a mess! I'm thinking it was beautiful scenery, but since I couldn't take my eyes off the road, er ditch we were in, I'm not sure. Pictures to follow.

But for now, the pumpkin pie is done, and the big, fat roasting chicken is in the oven, so all is calm. Ah, dinner at home, with room for all 4 of us to sit down and eat together at one table. Sweet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What I Should Be Doing

1. Letting my family treat me to breakfast.
2. Staining front porch.
3. Packing.
4. Finishing laundry to pack.
5. Packing office stuff.
6. Packing sewing stuff.
7. Packing daily use stuff.
8. Packing important documents stuff.

What I Am Doing. . .

Playing with new camera. Biggest issue: how to upload to iPhoto first. Hmmmmmm.....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

T - 52 Hours and Waiting for Canon

Trailer is checked and rechecked. We've got most of the "camp" boxes in, and I'm getting DD's clothes washed. He doesn't own enough clothes to pack some and leave some. When he stops growing an inch a day we might get caught up.


I have to do the sewing box and finish the office boxes today. I think my clothes are ready, and the linens are, but they go in last since I need to get them out first. I have this little obsession about getting the beds made as soon as we get there. At least we can sleep. My supervisor checked our apt earlier this week and it should be a-okay. I just hope the new staff that arrives this weekend doesn't help them selves to the furniture that's in there. After all, I had a tough time appropriating it last fall! It sort of all matches. We're going with the NPS Ranch Oak style. I'd steal our DR table if I could figure a way. We also need another chair, as there are 4 of us and only 3 DR chairs.

Ranch Oak DR set

When we left last fall, there was a 3 drawer dresser in the "Master BR" (lol!!) and an end table between the boys beds in their room, and I think there's at least one, maybe 2 coffee table things in the LR, along with a love seat and sofa. I think there's a floor lamp and a table lamp, too.

Packing with the trailer has been very 'refreshing' in that my worries about how to cram stuff in the car is gone! We can take all the lawn chairs we want! This year we're going to make better use of our "storage" locker, too. And we can leave junk in the trailer, since we can park it right in front of the apt. Yeah, not my third-bedroom-on-wheels, but still good. We even have room for sleeping bags and the tent. What a concept for spending the summer in a National Park!

DH and FTD are off to help another Scout with his Eagle project. It started out as repairs to a dock at a living history place and has turned into a 24 foot long floating, fully accessible dock. The place that needs it has sort of taken advantage of a couple of really nice folks on this one, imho. Anywho, the director was supposed to provide a dozen 55 gallon barrels for the floats and produced nary a one. And he wanted it launched today. Last night we got a note from the Scout asking if we had any clues where to get cheap barrels. DH went to McDonald's this morning, where the old farts from Swantuckey hang out, and low and behold, free barrels. He's gunna get us a couple for rain barrels. Yea.

I was hoping to get our front porch stained today, but it's raining again. Drat. On other house news, the roof is now 3/4 finished. It didn't take the crew long to get the bedroom wing done on the back since it's long and straight. But we counted boxes of "shingles" out there and they're way short. Apparently they are also hard to get because they've become very popular all of a sudden. Great.

Roof back wing

We're also having a few days of house weird heating/cooling. In the spring, the geothermal doesn't quite know what do to. It has an outside sensor, so it tries to read that and extrapolate info to the system. But around here, humidity makes a huge difference. Yesterday was one of those days when the temp wasn't too bad, but the humidity was awful. When the temp hovers day and night around 70 degrees, the system just can't make up its mind.

We also have fun news. Last year we wanted to get a new, bigger, badder camera. But the market for them was one extreme or the other and we're middle of the road types. We've had a nifty Kodak PHD (Press Here Dummy) camera for 5 years but the charging dock for it died. Last spring we bought another, somewhat bigger Kodak which totally sucks when being used. It turns out nice pics, but it's a crapshot as to what we'll get because the quality of the live view and viewfinder stink. And the battery situation was awful.

So we've bit the bullet and ordered a Canon T1i. Canon and Nikon both realized that there are amatur pros out here who like a good camera, but don't need true professional stuff. Nikon has just introduced it's D5000 for our market, but we went with the Canon because it has better video capabilties. I've had fun with the imovie stuff, so that was the deciding factor. No one in our area had either of these in stock we we ordered one. If it gets here before 2 pm on Monday, I get it. If not, I take the older Kodak and Tom tries to STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!! AT THIS VERY MOMENT, THE NEW CAMERA ARIVED!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Counting Down

T - 88 hours till take off.

Gotta fix bizarre electronic problem with power seats in the Trailblazer. Gotta learn to pull trailer. Ah, heck, I'll just get on the job training for that on Monday. Gotta pack. Gotta go to TNA chicken BBQ tomorrow night. Gotta not go insane any time soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Roof 52% Done

At one point yesterday, I was clearly outnumbered: the carpet cleaning guy was in the family room, there were 3 guys on the roof, and 2 guys in the basement--all making a huge racket!! In reality, the 6 of them weren't as noisy as my 2 sons and husband.

Today, the roof is officially half done. They also got half of the back torn off and put the underlayment materials down. Got it buttoned up enough to stand the light rain from today. The weather forecasts for the next 3 days are all over the map, so I don't know if I'll see them again or not.

roof back green 2

In other news, Channel 11, WTOL came out to interview FTD and I for a segment called "Good Newz." Cute. Anywho, they also filmed a good deal of the COH, so that will be nice to see. It will air Tuesday, May 12, in the 5:00 pm show. Of course, DD and I will be somewhere in Minnesota by then. We'll get a motel that night with wifi so we can look it up somehow. They're going to try to remember to burn a dvd for us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Miracle of Miracles! Pics added

My fingerprints cleared! I don't think they were actually "read" but that I received dispensation from the gods. Who cares, I get to work on schedule!

In house news, the front roof is nearly done, just need to do the area around the chimney where each piece has to be cut. Then they'll start the back. I might maybe be able to see the final product, but I'm not holding my breath.

And in other exciting news, the boiler is in for the basement heating project. They'll be back to mess with it some more tomorrow, then it's up to us to get the styrofoam down and the wire mesh. They'll run the pex, then the concrete goes in. I'll just be surprised next fall when I get home.

basement heat rube goldberg

basement floor pink

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Packin' Time/ Train Show/ My son the Hobo

So now it's time to pack. But first, we decided to buy a trailer. No, not my third bedroom-craft room-office-guest room on wheels, but a 10 year old 5x8 Haulmark cargo trailer. I'll pull it out with me, using the gas-guzzling Trailblazer. So I now have one week to get comfortable driving a trailer. Drat. But in the long haul, and this one will be, it's for the best. I can take all the kitchen gear, all the bedding, a couple of small shelf things we bought, and all the electronics. DH and FTD will need only bring their e-gaming gear, all fishing tackle, and our mattress. Oh, they'll need clothes, too, I suppose. DD told me today that he's not going to wear shorts this week because he's getting ready to go back to winter in YNP. Too cute.

Yesterday was National Train Day in Toledo. DD's club set up all three displays (tho O gauge just brought half their stuff). Really well attended and lots of fun. Amtrak brought in a brand new superliner and dining car so people could tour it. When we arrived, they had to back it up about 50 yards so we got a train ride. DH came out at lunch time to relive me so I could come home. Around 4 I got home from some errands and DD is on the answering machine saying, "Call Dad and tell him I'm on the Amtrak Train and we'll be back in about an hour." Okaaaaaay. Now mind you, this is my 16 son with autism. . . . . I called DH's phone which of course went straight to voice mail and delivered the message. When Tom called me back he said he wondered about that, because DD went down to get a last look at the train before it left. Surprise! It left with your kid!!!!!
We weren't too worried, and knew that if for some reason he was the only passenger that the staff would take good care of him, or if there were lots of folks he'd be okay too. We live life on the edge. Turns out one of the adults from the club was with him. They went across the Maumee River, which is a big one, switched the engine to the back of the train and came back. What a hoot. My little hobo is growing up.

I'll be working on a youtube video of the layouts. I use AnnaDuv2 for my posts and DD uses Amtrakkid. But with all the packing I need to do, meetings I have this week, and girl friends I need to have lunch with, who knows when I'll get around to it. I'll edit this post when I get the pics.

7 days till take off, but who's counting?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

Since there's no fingerprint news, no basement news, and very little roofing news, here's the fun news!

FTD's Court of Honor was nice. This troop usually just does really simple ceremonies, so this turned out to be a huge deal. I couldn't believe how many of our friends turned out. The best surprise was that my very bestest friend Ginny, her husband Bob, and Eagle Scout son Ryan came down from Midland Mich. So excellent to have them there! Once when we were visiting up there, Tommy announced that he was going to be an Eagle like Ryan. Cool.

We weren't able to get any photos ourselves, so I'm hoping folks will send me the pics they took. I heard lots of "shutter clap" and saw lots of flashes, but haven't seen any pictures yet!!

FTD's troop is going to attend the District Camporee this weekend, but it will be the first one he misses! DD's train club is setting up all day tomorrow for National Train Day on Saturday, so that shoots all of DH's Dad time. And I'll be packing, so I can't go with the troop.

My Son, Eagle Scout!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Basement Man Cave

How could I forget the Man Cave??!! Actually it will be the Dad cave as he's made it clear that my younger men are to keep out. Fine with me.

Currently the storage area for foam


Since the house is'V'shaped, the living room upstairs and now the Man Cave downstairs are 5 sided. Once Tom gets all his junk out of the living room and moved down, I might go so far as to post some pics of the LR. Then we'll play compare and contrast with our LR in the Wyoming apt. In an interesting twist, our apt. building is 'V'shaped also, and only about 1/3 bigger than our home.

More than one person has asked us what the hell's wrong with us to move from a big beautiful home to a teeny tiny apartment. That's easy for me. Bison in the front yard. Gotta love it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Global Youth Service Day, Jr. Ranger Day

Wow. Two posts in one day.
DD and I spent the morning with a really fun family from South Toledo picking up trash on the Fallen Timbers Battlefield as part of Global Youth Service Day. NW Ohio did a nice job of engaging kids in the program. Metroparks had lots of kids out. The good news is that there wasn't a horrible amount of trash to be picked up.
Getting Ready

Big Brother

Little Sister

Fearless Leaders, Janet, Trina, Randy

Little Miss
Hardest working young lady and my honorary grand-daughter, Little Miss Avery

The biggest thing we found, which I kept, was about 3/4 of the original FT Project house sign, complete with an arrowhead icon and the Mparks oak tree icon. Sheesh.

Hopefully, the days of finding this type--or any type of trash--in the Mparks is over. With new leadership, we sincerely hope that the District will return to its roots and not spend any time trying to earn awards that no one gives a hoot about--like the Baldridge award. Before the last regime took over, Mparks earned tons of awards just doing what they are supposed to do. The amount of time, effort, and capital spent in the past 8 years on idiotic stuff like this was totally unacceptable.

Now that Mparks is facing a financial hernia in the next few years, let's hope the new administration puts the parks first. They need to treat the staff with dignity and respect, something that hasn't happened for 8 years. Were the parks perfect prior to the last administration? No. But were they in horrible shape, both physically, morally, and even spiritually? Again, no.

It's time to get back to doing what we do best.

New Roof, Days 2 & 3

After two warm, dare I say hot, days, the front section of the roof is coming along nicely. On Day 1, they got most of the front torn off, a much faster process than putting the new roof on. The new panels are about 4x2 feet each. They are all crimped to all other adjacent panels. It's sloow going. Since the front has gables, valleys, breaks, and a chimney, there's a lot o' cuttin' and pastin'.
Here's the progress so far:

End of day 3 roof
End of Day 2

End of Day 3

End of day 1 roof
And the ever growing pile o' scrap metal. 6 months ago it might have been worth something. . .

Speaking of things with no worth, here's DH's pet project. Eventually, this is supposed to be re-created as a dock at the lake. Too bad the pontoons have holes in them. . . .
Yooper yacht club
And it looks so loverly sitting in the front yard. Really gives the neighborhood some class, ya know?

Tomorrow is the Eagle Scout Ceremony, and the next day is packing day #1. Yahoo!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Roof, Day 1

The roofers started today. They got the galvanized roof off almost all of the front. The Insulspan panels are a very different color from the stick built sections of the roof. I called the company and they'll send someone down tomorrow to be sure the integrity of the panels is okay. roof before
Beautiful, yet not 100 year old roof--it rusted from the inside out!

ABC siding

ABC siding
ABC Siding and Roofing move into the front yard.

roof first
First section of sheet metal comes off.

roof first

panel damage?

panel damage?

The darker sections are the stress-skin or structural insulated panels (SIP). In the roof we have 8 inch panels, the walls are 6 inch panels. One of these days I'll post the old pics of the construction process.

The lighter and brand spanking new looking sections are the stick built add-ons. They show no wear or tear at all. We're hoping the discoloration on the SIPs is from maybe the tar paper baking to the panels or something. But the guy from Insulspan has to check before any more of the roofing ice guard and tyvek go on.

We'll see what the morrow brings.

On an Earth Day note, the boys and I joined a few members of the HS Environmental Awareness Club to help pick up trash on the school's floodplain trail. There was a surprisingly small amount of stuff. I also dropped off out-grown clothes for the textiles recycling drive contest. The load I dropped off should put FTD's Junior class ahead.

FTD also took in the newspaper articles with Uncle George's pictures the day they first sprayed that miracle chemical ddt. Long post on that some other day. I'll try to scan part of the article.

Been a long day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day re-incarnated

On the first Earth Day, we skipped school and went to the University of Toledo, where students buried an internal combustion engine. I walked or rode my bike when ever I could, turned lights off, and with the kids at school, started the first environmental awareness club of Perrysburg High School. We named the club:

Clean and

And the acronym is. . . . yep, CRAP.

The truly amazing part of this story is that the school administration let us. There's even a picture of us with our monogrammed trash can in the yearbook. Ah, 1970--the wild days.

Going greener is a bit tricky for us--we're way greener than soooo many people, including sadly many close friends. We recycle the tiniest bits of paper, metal, glass, and plastic, we're replacing light bulbs as they burn out, we're trying to work on 'vampire' appliances, I only use the electric dryer for about 1/3 of the laundry (less than that out west), we have a geothermal heat pump, R-50 or so in the walls and ceiling panels, our water comes in one side of the house and out the other so we're really careful about what goes in the drain and how much we use, we buy a huge portion of our clothes at the Goodwill, we have cloth bags for Christmas and birthday presents, so that leaves pretty much one more area to work on: We need a new car. Dang.

Our Ford E150 van got better mileage than our Chevy Trailblazer. And of course, Ford doesn't make this type any more. We've been trying to find a newer van. Since we pack up and move twice a year, we need space in our vehicles--since we didn't buy my trailer last year. Living 4 miles from the grocery store makes walking to the store tricky, but we make an effort to combine trips. The big waste of gas for us is taking DD into town to watch trains.

We've been working on being green for over 30 years, and we've got a long ways to go. And if you've got a Ford E150 for sale, let me know!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Makin' a List

It's sort of like an obsession with me--making lists. I always start any list the same way:

1. Make List.

When I have the list done, I can at least cross one thing off my list. Yea, I know--flimsy! And of course, I couldn't stop at just one list--there's a list of what goes in my car and what goes in DH's, what each person gets to stash clothes and or toys in, what "furniture" we'll take, and on and on. This year I'm going to purchase some stuff out there to round out my traveling kitchen. Makes leaving Ohio and arriving in Ohio easier at least. The leaving YNP part is the trickiest. We have to plan meals that don't require any cooking or utensils, etc.. And since the nearest restaurant is 14 miles away, that isn't an option. Since we know where and what our kitchen is and looks like, the arriving there part is much easier. I'm trying to get a little bit of food together now, but it's not crucial. We'll have our first couple of meals in West since we'll still be in "traveling" mode. We really, really don't have any space to take food, and we also won't have any room to pick stuff up on the way. Our first few items will have to be purchased in West, which has a nice, but sort of expensive selection. My first lieu days will involve a trip to Bozeman to stock the 'fridge and cupboards. It's only 90 miles one way to Bozeman, so it's not too bad. Unless it's snowing or raining or there's construction or . . . . Arg.

This is the stage of the game when I'm wishing I'd have bought my trailer last summer. Or I'd even be pretty happy with van like the one we just sold, but 12 years newer. Anybody got a Ford Chateau conversion van with fewer than 50,000 miles on it for sale? Ours got better mileage than the Trailblazer I'm driving now. And waaaaaaaay more storage space. Ah well.

On another note, the Mountain Bluebird seems to have flown the coop. There have been no sighting for a day and a half. By sheer dumb luck, I'm apparently the last person to have seen him. I hope to see him again soon--in his natural habitat!

DD and I will leave for YNP 3 weeks from today, but who's counting?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mt. Bluebird News, still

After 2 days with no views of the wayward Mountain Bluebird in our park, it re-appeared in it's lovely blue glory today. On my way over to the site, I decided I'd write an article for the TNA (Toledo Naturalist Association) yearbook. I have to see when the new edition will come out. It's usually a mystery as to when, which makes it fun to receive.

The lady who first had the chutzpa to post it was there today. Nice, fun folks. She works at UT and the college PR folks are doing a story, too. I heard the AP article was in USAToday also. If someone sees a paper copy of that, I'd love to have it. Yesterday I found it in 15 different places. Nice how DH was "promoted" to retired park director.

On the home front, the boys are sharing my cold. Actually, DD had it first and I got it from him. Then I gave it to FTD. I thought he'd stay home today, but he dragged himself out of bed. Then when the bus arrived early (and trust me, 6:40 am is early and still way dark here in the big woods) and DD went hauling out the door yelling for FTD and slipped on the frost and went flying. He was bawling and he never cries. FTD got on the bus and DD came in and fell right back to sleep. He was so konked out that I thought maybe he hit his head, not just his arm, which is what he was crying about. So half an hour or so later, I get a call from FTD who says he's sick and can he come home. I took DD back and swapped him out for FTD. Never fails. The school secretaries got a real kick out of this. Yeah, hilarious. Sheesh.

And what excitement, I got the washer fixed today. And I found out that there are filters in the agitator colunm that should be cleaned occassionally. OMG. Totally completely gross. And I'm not easily grossed out, being here in Testorone hell. Now I know. I don't think I'll wait another 15 years to clean it out. . . . .

On the up side, I made a banner for DD's Train Club. DD has O gauge stuff and his "division" has a nice cloth banner. The HO division borrowed it and added their H, which looked ok. So I made the HO division their own banner today. Turned out waaaaay better than I thought it would. Dang easy, too. Now I have to get back to my regularly scheduled UFO list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slow News Day, Round 2

Under my Mama Duv persona on, I've received 2 notes from friends who actually read newspapers and e-versions of such. The AP picked up the story, as I told the Blade reporter it would, and so far we've heard from Stark County Ohio and the Chicago Tribune (did ya pick up on the irony there?). Since I'm on that one-woman-campaign to get the Whitehouse Ohio Chamber of Commerce to realize they are sitting in the cat-bird's seat (get it. . . bird. . .), any and all notes from around the country and around the world who hear about our little Mt. Bluebird will be appreciated. I send the info on to the Village powers-that-be.

I haven't been over there since Sunday--had a 24 hour bug that affected every muscle and joint in my aged body, and spent yesterday catching up on the stuff I should have done Monday. The weather totally bites again this morning--weather people are using the wind chill numbers again. I'll go over and check in a few minutes.

In other birding news, I've lost my second pair of specs on birding trips in just the last 4 months. After wonderful lasik surgery 8 years ago, and cataract surgery 2 years ago, I'm back to wearing glasses to drive, watch the toob, and spot birds. Unfortunately, I can't wear my specs and use the bins or the spotting scope at the same time, so I take my specs off and put them on my head or hang them from my shirt collar. Or not apparently. So this is gunna cost me several hundred more dollars because A) the insurance isn't helping at all any more, and B) I went ahead and bit the bullet and picked out specs with bifocals so I won't be inclined to take them off to read, and also picked out a pair of prescription shades so I can at least see the bison and wolfies and bears oh my with out having to dig around looking for the right pair of glasses. By the by, I hate hate hate that I'm wearing glasses again. My nephew optometrist says my eyes are healthy for such an old lady and that this regression just shows I'm just young at heart, er eyes. Thanks, David, but I want perfect vision again!!!!

DD is counting the days till we leave. He figures we don't have to count the weekends. Say what?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Slow News Day?

Yeah, it's a slow news day when the paper devotes columns and inches of space to birders. Our little misguided Mountain Bluebird is still here, and still way lost. DH, DD, and I happened to be over there yesterday when the Blade photographer and reporter showed up. It'd be nice if they'd get the facts straight, even though the gist of the article was on track. But better to have birders than murderers on the front page, right?

We yakked at the reporter at length (ad nauseum) about the impact of birders on a local economy. While it ain't a General Motors sized investment (oh, wait a minute. . . .), it's still better than a poke in the eye. Our little village, Whitehouse, is looking to "brand" itself and I keep saying, "Hey, look you knuckleheads, you're dab smack in the middle of the Oak Openings Region! Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!" But nooo, they still want to go with a one day festival called the Cherry Fest. That's all fine and good, but A) there are very, very few cherry trees in town, and B) they keep changing the date of the event and by then the trees are way past blooming. Sheesh.

I always thought we should print up a bunch of full-color, glossy brochures and declare ourselves the "Christmas Tree Capital of Ohio." That's how these things get started. But noooo, I can't get anybody to go for that either. When I'm Queen of the World, I'll fix this kind of stuff.

Anywho, the weather is changing today, so it will be interesting to see if our little blue visitor makes it.

29 days till take off! Better get to work on the UFOs!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This Just In: Mt. Bluebird in Ohio!

Wow! A Mountain Bluebird has graced us with his presence! Right here in Oak Openings! This is only the second recorded visit of this pretty bird to Ohio.

I get to see Mt. Bluebirds at work at YNP in spring and fall. They go higher up in elevation during the summer, but flit all over in May and September.

I do a Junior Ranger program I call "B3--Be a Better Birder." I picked a dozen birds to profile and let the kids show the pictures, guess its name, guess its wingspan (with rope samples from which to chose), figure out if it's a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore, etc.. I start with big, easy to see birds--eagle, pelicans, for example--then move to lesser known birds--Clark's Nutcracker, i.e.--then for the grand finale I go with the Mt. Bluebird, followed by the front-facing-fish carrying fish hawk. By the time I get to the MOBL, I've referenced Big Hungry Carnivores several times. That brings me to our dainty little MOBL. I have a piece of balsa wood that weighs an ounce to pass around to get the feel of the weight of a MOBL and a little short piece of rope for its wingspan. Then I finally get to the "What do you think it eats?" question--is it an omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore? Kids almost almost always go with herbivore. The first kid who says that is rewarded with my surprised look, followed by my NO IT'S A BIG MEAN MEAT EATIN' CARNIVORE! schtick. (Picture me with my claws and fangs at this point.) Great roll of laughter followed by "Well, what kind of meat does it eat? MOSQUITO'S! " Followed by a round of applause for the Mighty Mountain Bluebird.

And just think, there's one here practically in my back yard! Life is sweet.

Check out for directions, parking hints, and crazy birder Sherrie's 11 second video. Awesome dudes and dudettes. There's also a Golden-crowned sparrow about 40 miles south of here, but the land owners didn't want the location to be revealed. As soon as it appears "on the other side of the road" word will leak out.

The bluebird is a "chaser" bird, so tomorrow, er this, morning I'm going back over and sell coffee and donuts to the unsuspecting crowd! Bonus points for the person who drives the farthest for a little glimpse of blue!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Only Difference between YNP & OOMP

OOMP--that would be Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, our home park in NW Ohio. I went for a walk today and decided there's really only one BIG difference between the Oaks and Yellowstone:
I can't get lost in OOMP any more. Rats.

Okay, there might be a few other differences like well, super heated water shooting out of the ground, super volcanoes, earthquake faults, bison, wolves, mountains, other stuff like that in YNP and vast mixed mesophytic forests, vernal ponds, and oak savannahs and sand dunes in OOMP. But ultimately for me, the big diff is that I know the Oaks now. I remember the day Tom realized he couldn't get lost any more. He had been the Manager here for 7 years or so. He was getting one of those 7 year "itches." So he changed his lifestyle completely and married me! Then 7 years later we got the boys, then 7 years later we were up to our eyeballs in IEPs and MFEs and other school paperwork, then 7-ish years later, he retired. Nice to have a plan I guess.

But I had a pleasant walk today. Needed to clear the gray matter--there's a Boy Scout thing brewing--so I headed to my quiet place.

The Oaks has a 17 mile "scout" trail meandering through the 4000 acres. We can see hikers on it across the street from our house. Surprising how few of them look over and notice our house--and it's hard to miss! But today I just walked down the road and picked up the trail at the corner. It leads directly to the highest point in Lucas County, Ohio. So for you county peak baggers, here's one for you.

Yep, there it is--reaching towards the heavens from about 750 feet above sea level. Wowza.

Not much of a strain to get there. Well, no strain at all, just a nice walk through the woods.

It's raining now--a nice soaking spring rain, though a bit chilly. Snow is predicted for tomorrow--the kids are off from school, I'm pretty much caught up on projects. I think it'll be a lazy, lay around the house in the jammies kind of day tomorrow. Will someone come over and bake us some cookies?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Randon Thoughts

I'm so proud--I finally have enough grocery bags to get all my stuff without having to bring home any crinkly, annoying plastic bags. Yea! Just in case you're wondering--I can now get $140 worth of groceries without extra bags. Sheesh.

I know why only 2% of boys in Scouts make Eagle Rank. Bureaucracy and paperwork. Again--sheesh.

Why do Special Ed administrators all think they know what's best for kids, and insist on telling parents that our kids would do better if it weren't for us mollie-coddling them? Gets old after hearing it for 12 years. Really old. Also hurts to hear other parents say the same thing. Parents do know best!

It's hard to remember your kids' birthdates when you weren't there for the original date.

I'm looking to hire someone to do grunt work in our back woods. Alllllll that brush from the trees has to go to the back of the property somewhere. I'm totally whipped after 2 hours of lugging brush. Apply within.

Speaking of jobs, First Presbyterian of Maumee is looking for a new Senior Pastor. Pays good.

My new steel toed boots only rub one of my toe-sies. Must remember to put gellin' pads in.

I wonder what's up with my fingerprints?

Calgon take me away!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

First storm, post tree cutting

No doubt the question you are asking yourself is: "Did Marianne feel any safer during a wind storm after cutting down the trees?"

The answer is well, sorta. Now I'm thinking since the entire sheet metal roof is exposed, lightening will hit it and not the trees. . . . I have to obsess about something. I'm pretty sure this is a mom thing.

We do have lightening scares on a regular basis. Trees blow up all the time. Cool, as long as it's way far away from the house. And one time, lightening hit the utility pole, and the phone line burned underground nearly all the way to the house. Blackened a little trail right up the driveway. I don't mind when the phone goes out, but not the dsl!!!

Speaking of the roof, the contract is signed and the company is working on engineering a new sofit vent system for the new cold deck that will go on. We're replacing the wonderful standing seam galvanized sheet metal with new fangled sheet metal that's stamped and painted to look like slate. We're also accepting donations to this worthy cause. . . .

And as if that weren't enough fun, we're still trying to get the heat in the basement. That will be radiant in-floor hot H2O, which of course requires another layer of cement. We have to wait until the cement producers deem it warm enough to not have to use the calcium nitrate or what ever nasty substance is required to make cold cement cure properly.

And I'm getting the packing bug--even though we don't leave for 7 weeks. I hate to rush into that. And of course, there's FTD's Court of Honor to plan for. And DD (Darling Daughter)'s last set of cushion covers to sew. And a 10 minute court date to become FTD's legal guardian. And. . . and. . . and . . .

I need to get back to work to get some rest. Somebody else tells me when and where to work and pretty much what to say. Yea!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Once in a while something so weird happens that you just know your mojos workin' or your kharma's happy or your better angels are hanging with ya-- and today was one of those day for us--me and Bubbles that is. Bubbles is my bestest friend from College. She's in Idaho, Keuterville by name, you know just outside of Cottonwood?
Every time one of us changes email providers we loose each other for a while. So today, since I was a bit tired of watching geyser cam, I was going thru the Alma College Alumni list and there was Bubbles! Hey, I said to myself, I bet I can get her new edress by googling her husband's employer, finding his edress, then getting a note to her.

Didn't have to do all that. She called. Right then and there. Out of the clear blue (heavenly) sky!!!! Tooooo freaky!!!!!

So Bubbles, this is my blog. You asked why I do it. Um, because I can, I guess. And since only about 4 people ever read it, I can write any stupid old thing I want. Apparently stupid old things are interesting to some good folks (Hi, Mannie, hi Nathan). I have several "virtual" friends who write interesting stuff, so I try to even the odds and write silly old stuff.

Okay girlfriend, you've got my email address so start hen-pecking me some notes!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Living in the Big Woods

Nearly 20 years ago when we realized we'd someday need a home of our own, and not park housing, we looked for the perfect place. A woman called DH at work and said she wanted to sell her 5 acres next to the park, and did the park want it? The 5 acres is directly adjacent to the Maumee State Forest and across the street from the park. DH dutifully called the State Forest folks, who said they'd love it if the State had any money--which they didn't. The Park guy reasoned that since it's across the street, they didn't want it. DH quickly told the lady that he wanted it.

He figured that since she was a widower and that the land was actually her husband's--he'd bought it before they married and never said much about it--that maybe, just maybe she wouldn't get that it's prime real estate. Dang. She fully knew its worth. But Tom coughed up the dough.

After we adopted FTD, and then DD, we realized we really would need a home. We designed the house to fit the property, made it nearly as energy efficient as we could (no solar, dang), and spent 5 or 6 years building it. But before we could start, we had to clear the land. It was 5 fully wooded acres. The front section was plantation planted white pines--at that time 70 feet tall. Down they came--not too much guilt on our part as they were planted like corn--to be harvested and their time had come. There were some nice straight cherries in there, and they now grace our home in the form of tables which bro-in-law made for us. Beautiful.

The back two-thirds of the property is scraggly hardwoods, having once been pasture. A few good oaks grace the area along with lots of ratty maples. Now DH, being the good forester that he be, always told folks to be sure to cut enough trees when you build in the woods. We, of course, did not follow that advice.

So yesterday, we had 2 of the most talented lumberjacks around come out and take down any of the trees that would hit the house during a storm. It had reached the point that anytime the wind blew, I would lay awake and pray that if a tree came down that it would crush all 4 of us at once. . . . and not leave the boys as orphans or us as grieving parents. I'll sleep better now. The big trees are down. Boy, are they down!

So, come on over and start chunking up your firewood. DD looks out there and says wistfully, "I've got a thousand dollars out there." DH looks out there and thinks, "I'll never be able to get it all chunked up." I look out there and think, "Well, at least I'll be able to sleep on windy nights. . . maybe."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Eagle Scout!

Finally! After a long, winding road, my older son, FTD, is now an Eagle Scout. Hard enough for typically developing kids, but when you throw autism in the mix, it's that much harder.

So here's a shout out to all of you who helped him along the way: Adults from Troop 97: Mark, Doug, Vince, Bill, Joel. You guys rock. And to Sean, Brandon, Josh, Daniel, and all the other guys in Troop 97. Parents--Molly, Mark & Christi, Vern, Rob & Mary, Laura, Deb and all the rest of you--thanks for encouraging your son to be a good friend.

To teachers who actually believed in him: Kelly D., Anne C., Laura E., Linda M., Bryce G., Todd H.--thanks for doing more than "just your job." None of you has ever seen Tommy as a burden in your classroom, but as a contributing member of your class.

To Amy, Lance, Alice, Terry, Katie & Zach, Ryan, Shannon, Kevin--no words can ever tell how much you mean to him. Your never-ending love is unparalleled.

To the rest of the Duv's--what an extended family. Even tho we're spread all over the country, he knows and understands what it means to be family because of your grace and love.

To his buddies and their families: Michael, Sam, Matt--thanks for letting Tommy be a part of your family. We love you.

To the pros at MRDD, Ability Center, Valko and Associates--you lift the burdens from our shoulders and allow us to concentrate on being a family. Your work will ever be in our hearts. Thank you.

To the Tuesday Nighters: Gary and Lindy, Pam and Rick, Gary and Gail, Tom and Deb, Roger and Ruthann--thanks for being our local family. We love you. Remember that night so long ago when we passed FTD around from person to person to person? Without you, we couldn't be the parents we are tying to be.

To our NPS and Metropark families--keep up the good work and remember that every kid you meet and every square inch of land you conserve is important. You do what you do for all our kids and you do it very well. Thanks.

The only sadness today is not having the grandmas and grandpas here with us. But we feel their presence so clearly and fully.

So mark your calendar for Sunday, April 26, 2 pm, Whitehouse American Legion Hall. Court of Honor and Eagle Scout ceremony. Wow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cushion Mania

Hmmmm. I seem to have been outsmarted by a bunch of couch cushions. No matter how carefully I measure them, they defy being properly covered. I was hoping to tackle them again today, but alas, I was sucked into the dump that is DD's room. I got one box of crud cleaned. And that only took a few hours!!!!!! He is my material girl. Never met a piece of paper he didn't love and considering that he doesn't read, he has lots of paper and books. Sheesh.

Tomorrow the cushions and I come to some kind of understanding!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sewing Blitz Day 2. . . or is it 3?

Sewing things are going swimmingly so far. FTD was at BS camp, DH went to the home show, so I only had DD pestering me. And he watched a couple of races on the tube, so he was only partly annoying.

I've got the inside covers for Amy's couch done. Being cheap and Scottish meant I kept putting smaller and smaller pieces of fabric together for the tops and bottoms. They look awful, but they don't show so who cares!!!

To reward myself for a job well done, I worked on something I've been planning since last summer. The building where I work, the Madison Information Station was built in the 1920s and is what we call Parkatecture. Native lodge pole pines and locally quarried granite-rhyolite. It's a beauty in a beautiful location.

There are reverse carved pine trees all along the edge of the building. Last summer I asked Ranger Doug (who's 6'4" tall--yep, a full 14" taller than yours truly) to make a rubbing for me, and I took several photos. For my sewing project, I made a reverse applique of the tree using park service brown and green. For the border I had left over stuff from another project, so I re-purposed it for this. I love it.

Now back to those cushions!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

GS World Thinking Day

Happy World Thinking Day!

Great Backyard Bird Count

This is so cool. The results from the Great Backyard Bird Count are coming in. What a cool resource. There's soooooo much information right at your fingertips. So here's what we know about my zip code: 43558.

There were 5 lists turned in--way too low, neighbors!
There were 18 species reported by the 5 of us.
There were 271 individual birds reported.

The interesting news? Last year we submitted the only list for 43558. So at least some of our neighbors are joining in.

But here's the important question--DID YOU SUBMIT YOUR LIST???

Anywho, check out the website. The Top Ten Lists are fun to read--we had 9 out of 10 of the Top Ten Species. Guess that makes us All-American Lazy Birders.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sewing Blitz

One of the really great things about knowing where I'll be next summer (assuming that The Call from YNP will happen soon) is that I don't have to wonder what to take for living. You know, stuff like pots and pans, linens, junk like that. There's at least an 80% if not higher chance that we'll be back in the same apt as last summer, so this week I finished curtains for each room. I stuck some fabric over the boys' window last summer, but this year I dug out ones I had made for their room in Acadia. I took my sewing machine with me then, hoping there would be room for it. Boy was there and we totally paid thru the nose for it.

But I wasn't sure what we'd have in YNP. Turns out that it's wonderful--all 664 square feet of it. Yeah, I know our Ohio house is three times that big plus the garage and the basement, but what the heck. And as great as our view is here--woods we actually own--there are no bison roaming around. I can actually do without the bears, but bison I miss. Wolves would be nice, but the occasional coyote here is nice, although they hardly ever howl here.

Our cabin in Theodore Roosevelt NP was the cutest of our housing places. It had a nice size bedroom with a closet, nice bath, small but cute kitchen, living room--which was the boys bedroom--how loverly, campground office, and front and back porches. We ate 95% of our meals on the back porch. Since there were no mosquitoes thank goodness, Tom and I pretty much lived out there. The boys each had a bed in the LR, along with the ratty couch, one small dresser, and a small closet. They set their game cube and vcr up on our traveling boxes and called it home. And I when we got home to Ohio, I went on a rampage and cleared out a lot of stuff that we don't need.

Living in a tiny space will do that to ya. Sadly, I'm still up to my eyeballs in stuff I don't need, but I've done pretty well getting rid of stuff I don't want. I even--gasp--got rid of lots of books!!! There are still some things I can't resist, but I'm soooo much better than before. For many years I kept myself on a strict rule about if I buy new clothes a like item has to go to the Goodwill. Then I was subbing and needed school clothes. I'm not subbing much now, so last week I pared down my school clothes. That felt good.

So what does all this have to do with a sewing blitz? All the curtains are done for the apt.. Venetian blinds are in each window, but I hate blinds with a passion, so now the place will have curtains. Our Ohio house doesn't have any curtains because who's going to bother looking here? Out there we have neighbors and tourists and all sorts of other interesting riff-raff. Not to mention the long summer nights and early mornings. And the curtains give a sterile apt. some flavor. I'd post pics of the place, but when 4 clutter-prone people live in a tiny space, it always looks messy. Ah hell, it IS always messy. I've got a couple of ideas on ways to try to do some clutter busting next summer, but as usual it involves serious re-training on 3 male members of the species. Wish me luck.

And for extra sewing fun, Amy and I are working on new cushions for her cool old "Heywood Wakefield" furniture. I was hoping to duplicate the shape and construction of the original cushions but after dinking with one for several hours that ain't gunna happen. So we re-grouped and got it figured out. The inner covers are done for the 3 bottom cushions (well, almost--they're all cut out that that's the pain in the butt part). Tomorrow I'll finish those, and in between errands, I'll start cutting out the outer covers, which will be simple black denim. We were hoping to put on piping, but again the pain in the butt factor is high there. Amy also has the good sense to want good looking simple stuff as opposed to poorly done cooler stuff. Yea.

Oh, and I also made 2 wee tiny pillow covers today, too. Gotta justify all those fat quarters that seem to jump into my cart at the fabric shop. . . .

Monday, February 9, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

I just googled Oak Openings to see who else is crazy about my backyard. There are just a handful of us folks who have the honor to say we live in Oak Openings. This area is a globally rare ecosystem. Think sand dunes (albeit small ones), hardwoods, and Indians. Well, okay, there are very few native families still living around here, but tradition has it that the Ottawa, for one, liked this area because the sand dunes created higher, drier places. Most of NW Ohio was more like the Great Black Swamp. This area was impenetrable by everyone, until the coming of the Big Ditchers. But every here and there, small sand dunes--remnants of the shores of ancient Lake Whittlesey--poke up and provide an area where trees could grow and spread their crowns. In these areas, why, you could drive your wagon through the openings! Openings in the oak trees, get it?

When the local park district starting purchasing land, this area was considered crappy agricultural land--especially when compared to the ultra-deep topsoils of the drained swamp (still some of the most productive land in North America, currently covered over by huge and unnecessary big box stores and strip malls, barf). The district was able to purchase large, "useless" tracts out here and viola! a beautiful park.

In the '30s, concerns about any bit of sand blowing anywhere caused the local CCC to plant thousands of pines in the park. In recent years, this has become a hot button item. Oak Openings purists want to rid the area of all pines, as none are indigenous to the area. Others love the park because there are 100 foot tall pines creating cathedral like corridors in the park. Birders enjoy the added variety of species, due to the added variety of tree species. What's a park district to do? When the pines were planted, it was assumed they would also be harvested when the time came, then replanted. That time came and went. Many of the trees became diseased, and well, old. They die, ya know? In the past 5 or so years, several acres, make that many acres, of pines were clear cut. Good news, bad news that. I'm on the fence on that one. And many areas are actively brushed out, mowed, and burned on a rotating schedule. Again, are we interfering too much? Only time will tell. In the mean time, we need to whack down several more trees on our own property. Dang. We'll replant along the property boundary, but will likely plant--wait for it.... pines. The property next door, you know the one that looks right into my bedroom, will be developed some day. I need my space, and natural privacy, so the pines will go in.
Unless, of course, some kind soul gives us the money to buy the 10 acres north of us. . . . . please make your checks out to me. Soon.