Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Break

I couldn't bear the thought of spending 10 days home with the boys, and having them spend all day telling me they wanted to be somewhere~~anywhere~~else.  That comes under the heading "the grass is always greener....."  So I surprised them with a mini-vacation to.... wait for it..... Columbus Ohio.

Yeah, that's basically pretty pathetic, but it was very do-able so we did.

Columbus is the capital of Ohio, and the kids have done drive-bys of about a dozen other state capitals, but not ours.  My bad.  They did attend the 200th celebration of Ohio's statehood by attending events in the first capital, Chillicothe.  That was a fun year, 2003.  Except for going to our lake in Jackson, Michigan, all of our travels that year were in Ohio.  But we still managed to miss Columbus.  Frankly, it ain't that great of a town.  For a hundred years the only things that were there were state government related stuff and The Ohio State University.  Big whoop.  (Sorry to all you OSU types.)

The Columbus Zoo, of Jack Hanna fame, is there.  I've heard lots about it, but had never been there.  I gotta tell ya, I'm not that impressed.  Like so many zoos now, you can walk from stem to stern and never see an animal. Weird.  There was also a lot of 'built environment' compared to the number of animals, which of course includes the ubiquitous snack shacks of every imaginable kind.  (They even have beer!) Zoo pics are pretty hard to get right, but I managed a few.
Huge fake moose.

Real moose-let.

Those are some bigass feets. I like the reflection of DH's hat, too.

Which is scarier?

Hat hair.

Best pic of the day.  Zoo pics are hard to take.

DD, the younger.

FTD, the elder.
So now we've been there.  We started our trip with the guided tour of the Capital building.  The boys put up with it.  Every time the guide said, "Does any one have any questions?", FTD went into Rainman mode and told her some totally unrelated Ohio factoid he has stored in his weirdly wired data bank. That's my boy all right.

Best part of the trip was dinner with our 'old' neighbors.  They were our closest neighbors for 18 years, and since The Dad got a super-duper promotion (can you say General?), it meant a move to Columbus.  We've known it's been in the works, but this summer they all moved down there.  I told The Mom that I was kinda glad I wasn't here for the actual moving day, because I would have been bawling my eyes out.  In addition to being great neighbors (mind you now, their house was a half mile from us), their son was in Scouts with FTD and a good friend, and their younger daughter is one of my honorary grand-daughters.  What a sweetie.  I made her this little quilt last spring.

Since I fussy cut the material, I have quite a bit left so I made her a relax pack with it, along with one for her Mom and Big Sis.  I do so miss them.

I've got lots more completely useless info to write about, but I'll call it quits for now.  It's time to get ready for tomorrow's Audubon Christmas Bird Count after all! And then it'll be time for Gaelyn's cyber New Year's Masquerade Ball.  Did I mention that I have dibs on the Building History Museum in DC?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

On this, the holiest night of the year, I hope you find love and joy.  From our home to yours,
My Daddy, Brother, me, Lil Sis. 1962.

DH, FTD, me, DD, 2005.
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elfing Time Again!

Oh, goodie goodie!  One of my nieces came over today to elf for a while.  We made 5 pairs of jammie bottoms in various matching combos and another surprise, which I can't blab about now, on the bizarre chance that a recipient will read this (not likely but ya never know.)

It was sorta like we got to do our Friday Night Sew In on Wednesday!  Today was her last day at work until after New Years, so it felt like Friday anywho.

I'm going to suck it up and go to a mall tomorrow with BadAmy.  I used to go at least once around the holidays to do some people watching, but since I people watch all summer, it's not as much fun as it used to be.  There's a slim chance that we'll drive up to Ann Arbor, in which case we'll hit the Genius Bar at the Apple Store and hope someone can find where the hell my Powerpoint stuff went.  I know where I had it last......  and that was about 3 hours before an Evening Program.  So that day I had to find a back up copy (Thank you baby Jesus for the new portable back up hard drive), transfer it to the office PC laptop, reformat it, and look like I wasn't stressed out.  Yeah, I rocked it.  But still, I need it to magically reappear. So cross  your fingers for an A2 trip tomorrow!

Can you spill the beans about your elfing adventures?

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Now Pronounce You . . .

 . . . legally licensed to perform weddings in the State of Ohio.  Yep, I sure am.

Deciding to do this was a long, thoughtful process, And I'm content with my decision.  As a life long Presbyterian who was ordained as an Elder at the tender age of 17, it's been an odd journey from every Sunday in the pews to my current spiritual state.  I'm extremely thankful that I attended churches where it was not necessary to leave our brains at the door.  I see so many alleged Christians today who even violently believe that their way is the only way that it scares the daylights out of me.  To see an alleged Christian governor pay for a political ad where he blasts so many good people is reprehensible.

I also know now that the pews aren't for everyone.  For my children, for example.  Autism and church didn't go well together, and was exacerbated by the fact that my kids didn't go to school with the kids at church. (In actuality very few of the kids at our church went to school together.  We were sort of a regional church.)  I made the tough decision to stay at home on Sunday mornings, knowing that my kids wouldn't be under any extra stress.  I still don't often go anywhere on Sunday mornings, and I truly miss hand bell choir, but there it is.  Lots of church friends said well, I should come anyway, but if my children weren't welcome, was I?  I felt not.

Anywho, when our daughter married, she and her husband chose a friend to officiate.  Dig this, he owns a really cool bar in town.  When we first heard about their plans, DH and I just stood there looking stupid.  But the alternative would have been a judge, with no family or friends in attendance. The ritual of standing before friends and family to say you'll be good to one another is powerful. And it was indeed a beautiful ceremony and many years later, they are still the happy couple. 

I've been thinking a lot since their wedding day, about what constitutes a wedding and a marriage.  And I feel strongly that I can help folks start their lives together, with dignity and ritual. I've followed all the legal steps needed and now can perform services.  Awesome.

So if you're in NW Ohio, and are looking for a happy, cheery officiant for your wedding, give me a call.  I've set up blog, to wrap my thoughts around the whole deal.  Check out Kirk o' the Pines.

I'm also working on finding out how I can perform weddings in Wyoming.  At first blush, it seems that the officiant need only be ordained, not licensed by the state.  I'll keep looking.

Gaelyn's Cyber Masquerade Ball

So Ranger Gaelyn is having a New Year's Masquerade Ball!  It's going to be a cyber-ball, so you needn't even stay up on New Year's Eve!  Go visit Gaelyn to check up on the details.... then dream up your fancy schmancy ball!  I've got my location picked out all ready~~dibs on the Washington DC Building Museum.  Awesome!  Details later!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

9000 and Counting

I feel so humbled--I hit 9000 page views on this here blog.  For a long time, it was just me reading my own diary, but somewhere along the line, you all joined me on the journey.  I thank you for that.  I also look forward to seeing what's happening in your neck of the woods.  Since my interests vary widely, the blogs I read do, too. 

I'll try to come up with something more profound later this week, but for now


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I Don't Chase Birds*

* Yeah, please note that there may be exceptions to the following story.  For example, if a California Condor showed up and was able to be reliably seen in an hour or so drive, yeah, I'd chase it.  Or maybe a Harpy Eagle, or a flamingo in Ohio . . .  but otherwise:

Chasing birds is a waste of time, talent, and treasure.

There. I said it out loud. My objections to chasing can also be applied to Nascar fans, sports nuts, rail-fanners, wolf watchers, and anyone else who is obsessed with something.  And yeah, I am equating bird chasers to Nascar fans.

Yep.  That's a Mountain Bluebird, right here in Ohio.  Third state record.
Did I mention..Ohio Yard Bird?  No chasing needed.
This topic comes up all the time in birding circles.  And I'm in the no-chase camp.  Some folks call this listing, but I'm going with chasing.  I do keep a life list.  Right there in my very first 'grown up' bird book, Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of North America

I pencil check birds I've seen that I'd never be able to re-identify without a lot of help, and I mark with ink those birds that I really know.  I usually don't date the find, although my Lil' Sis writes the dates on the bird's page in her Peterson's.  Wish I'da thought of that years ago.  I don't keep a yearly list or monthly or weekly.  Or a state list, although living in two very different states would make for interesting lists.  So if I check off Great Grey Owl, I can be pretty sure it wasn't in Ohio. But whodathunk I'd ever see a Mountain Bluebird here in the Oaks??  We sorta keep a yard bird list.  I'm pretty sure I could name most of the stuff we see/hear here.  I have lots and lots of other field guides, but my list in in my Peterson's.

So let's address my three objections to chasing: Time, Talent, Treasures.

Time.  I don't have 3 hours to spend driving to see a bird that may or may not be see-able when I get to the location, and then drive 3 hours back.  I have a real life.  Laundry to be done, meals to prepare, yard to tend, family care, you know, mundane stuff like that.  Now if I were driving 3 hours to see an entirely new ecosystem (especially one with geysers) or museum or city and can multi-task along the way, it bears some merit. I do plan trips like that.  We, in fact, are trying to plan a trip to our state Capitol, since the boys have never been there.  (Been to capitols of a dozen or so other states, but not our own.  Sheesh.) Along the way, we'll find something of interest to all of us--trains for DD, caves or something like that for FTD, quilt shops for me (I wish), and friends to visit.  It will be a Big Deal, not a lark to see one single thing, hoping for a glimpse and then turning around to come home.

Chasers who don't have family responsibilities or jobs or whatever would better serve the planet by spending those three hours teaching a child to read, taking an elderly friend out for a walk in the park, working at the local animal shelter or re-hab center, or feeding the homeless.  With all my heart, I believe chasing is a waste of precious time.  All that, to make a checkmark in a book? I think not.

Um, that would be Talent, OR.
Talent.  This lines up with my concerns about wasting time.  Again, chasers would better serve the planet by teaching children about the wonders of our local environment in those 3 hours, by using their own love of birds (and hopefully) nature to share their knowledge.  And it doesn't count to say, "But I do all those things, too."  It's like playing the carbon offset game.  See below.

Treasure.  This is the biggie.  Talk about a waste of fossil fuel.  And even if gas were cheap, you're still wasting it.  I could see maybe loading the car full of chasers, but then you're back to wasting all that time and talent in multiple numbers.  And even if you "offset" your carbon foot print, we ain't gunna get that fuel back.  The whole offset issue has issues of it's own.  It's like paying at church to light a candle for someone.  And that is a waste of treasure, too. (Light a candle at home for free and say your prayers.) (Better yet, walk to your local park and say your prayers--candle optional.)  I won't go to the grocery store (nearest from Ohio home is 4 miles, nearest from Wyoming home is 14 miles) unless there's a whole slew of stuff on the list.  I just can't see using the fuel for extra trips.  If I have say, a doctor's appointment coming up, I'll plan shopping/visiting/etc. around that.  Yeah, sure, a good chunk of the reason I do it this way is that I'm cheap.  But now that we're also on a fixed income it's even more important.  But even if I had all the money in the world, it still wastes fuel. It's fuel we won't get back in my life time or my kid's or ......

I write this knowing how many bird chaser friends I have.  But you could replace the words bird chaser with Nascar fan and my same objections hold. (Yeah, DH did take DD to see time trials at MIS once.  And yeah, Nascar is a super-duper waste of fuel, and time, talents, and treasures. Big Time.)

And yep, I'm a hypocrite.  I have chased animals.  I turned around and drove back a hundred yards to get a good look at the Great Grey Owl this fall.  And yep, I've driven miles to try to see wolves and bears. And I drove 3 miles to see the Ohio Mountain Bluebird, and three miles to see a Pine Grosbeak. And of course the 3 miles back home.  But would I drive all day just to see one bird?  No, not really.

I'm not nearly as adamant as many of my more 'science research' based birder friends. I know one woman that comes totally unglued every time you mention chasers and listers--and I mean really unglued.  I'm more of a roll the eyes sort of objector.  To each his own and all that.

And after all this ranting, I might just go chase a snowy owl in Wood County tomorrow.  My Mom and Dad are buried in a cemetery near where a snowy has been seen.  I like to go down and leave some greenery every year, and I don't have anything else on the schedule for tomorrow.  'Course I'd rather go down on a nice snowy day, but maybe it will turn out to be a nice snowy owl day instead.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And Probably the Last

Hmmm, two posts in one day.  What's up with that?

Oh, yeah, the sale is over, and I spent more on the other vendors items than I made.  The upside is that my gifts for my SILs and nieces is done for Christmas..... I did get to share space with a young lady from town that proved to be very interesting.  I'll also get a pic of the cool 'yard art' I purchased.  I'll give you a hint~~I pretty much decorate the whole house with sticks and twigs....

So it's pretty safe to say, my vendor days are over..... whew.  Try everything once....   Thanks for the encouraging words and good vibes, but it's not really my thing, and now I know.

A First

Today's the day I'm going to see if anyone wants to buy anything.... a very, very weird place for me to be.  BadAmy has been encouraging me to sell some of my little goodies, and I've been thinking I'd tag along on one of her sales.  She sets a terrific table, if you know what I mean.  When she puts things out for sale, they look so cute and cool, and the lighting and staging are perfect~~the whole package.  I have plenty of strengths but showcasing my stuff ain't one of them.  First and foremost, I have super concerns about if my stuff is worthy.  On the last post, I showed most of the goodies I'm going to try to sell.  I'm also adding live, fresh cut holly and ivy.  Get it?

The event today is the first attempt by the Village of Whitehouse's Arts Advisory Board to do a show and sale.  I think when they came up with the concept, they thought they'd get a couple dozen proven vendors, like BadAmy.  They also want it to be more of a fine arts show and sale.... not the more crafty crap I can handle.  But several weeks ago, they didn't have many vendors, so I figure I can at least take up some table space.  I also hoped BadAmy would have stuff--as in her fine fiber arts--but alas, she had a Cyber Monday sale and sold every cotton pickin' thing she had to sell.  Sheesh.  And there was no time to do more, since she has another club batch to do--that's nearly 100 skeins of hand-dyed yarn to prepare in less than 2 weeks. Yeah. (P.S. Did I mention that BadAmy's stuff sold out in 7 minutes after she posted it?  The discussion thread on Raverly ran over 900 comments and growing......)

So I'm going to lug my junk over to Village Hall and see what happens.  I'm praying they put me in a back corner somewhere..... arg......  I'm the first to admit that I'm the Queen of Hubris, especially when it comes to my programming abilities.  But I'm also the first to admit that this isn't really my thing, and I'm nearly sick to death over it.  Yikes.

The upside is that DH will don his Santa suit--the one I made for my Dad, and will charm the kiddies.  Or scare them silly!  Since we've all been involved in one way or another for this deal, I'm calling us
Big Woods Designs~~Inspired by Nature, Created by hand.