• The Decatur Navigator

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    The Decatur Navigator

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newborn baby

I’m officially a grandmother and the feeling is as amazing as I thought it would be.  And in my completely unbiased opinion, he’s the most perfect looking baby I’ve ever seen in my life.  I thought my kids were pretty darn near close but his features are absolutely perfect.  Again, that’s my unbiased opinion.

I remember well how my parents acted during the birth of my daughter.  Their worried expressions, pacing, and continuous checking of my blood pressure and other vitals played out around me for 15 hours.  When my blood pressure cuff had been placed wrong and gave a reading of 60/40 they both about hit the floor.

A lot of thoughts go through your mind when your child is in a hospital bed and most of those thoughts are one tiny sliver away from total panic. You think of all the things that could go wrong to try and prepare yourself, and worry about absolutely every horrible possibility in hopes that worrying about it will ensure it won’t happen.  That’s just the way it goes.  And when your daughter is in labor, you’re not only worrying about your child but a grandchild you haven’t even met yet.

I wanted to make sure that I was by my daughter’s side as much as she wanted me to be and backed off when she needed her fiance.  That’s a fine line to walk.  I have to say that he did a wonderful job comforting and coaching her.  He earned a lot of points in the in-law game with his future mother-in-law.  When you’re an in-law you know that you’re always in jeopardy of moving into negative numbers along the number line, so you always try to keep yourself to the right of zero as much as possible.  He’s to the right of zero – for the moment.

From my experience watching my parents during my daughter’s delivery I was well prepared for the worrying when it came time for me to step out of the delivery room.  My mom had told me how concerned she had become, wondering and worrying.  However, all the preparing in the world doesn’t nullify the fears.  To make matters worse, it was 3 am and everything seems worse at 3 am.  The rest of the world was asleep while I was in the waiting room with my husband and dad watching a movie about a baseball player.  I really couldn’t have cared less about the movie, so I paced the long, empty, darkened hallway trying not to look too obvious that I was about to lose it.  I have a feeling the nurses knew better.  I’m not the first impatient grandmother to walk those halls.

I tried to see if there was any activity down the hall outside her room but nothing, absolutely no indication of good or bad news.  I read all the posters on the walls, the memorial plaques, the fire escape plan. If I had more time I would have tried my hand at the braille inscriptions beneath each sign.  Eventually, my husband and dad came out too and they read all the things that I had too.

We all stared at a phone hanging on the wall like it was a museum piece.  I wondered if in another 10 years younger generations will even know how to use one.  If I have any advice for hospitals it would be to add much more interesting things on the walls of the OB floor.  The visual distractions were the only things keeping us from losing our minds.

Finally, I saw the midwife and nurse exit the room and they were absolutely expressionless.  I couldn’t gain much information from their faces.  Was that good or bad?  The suspense was killing us all.  Then my husband happened to look at his phone and saw that our future son-in-law had sent a picture of the baby 20 minutes earlier.  He really should check his phone more often!

Anyway, all of the fears and worries disappeared as we were waved into the room and saw the baby for the first time.  I had forgotten how small and perfect newborns look.  And now the story continues to be told – a new life, a new family member, and more worries for a new grandma.


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I don’t know how long the city has had the service up and running on its’ website but you can search for city code violations by address, owner, parcel or just browse the map with the satellite view through the city code enforcement database.  Violations show up as red dots and wow!  Half the city appears to be violating some municipal code.  Most of them are nuisance, demo, housing, or 72-hour cases.

Below is a screenshot of just one neighborhood with several violations.  The map gives a good idea what structures are on the demo list.  Many people are curious as to what buildings are on the list for the coming year.  So, if there’s a particular house or building that you’re wondering about, you can look it up.  The data is updated frequently, so you may want to check back as things change.


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I don’t even want to think about how horrid national politics will be in 2017 so I’m going to turn my attention to Decatur.  I’m not in the inner circle so I hear things about the same time everyone else does, unless I just happen to know somebody that knows somebody and I get a heads up warning.  But here’s some things that I think we’ll be discussing in the community in 2017.

Demo Days Ahead

The city is getting really aggressive about demolishing many vacant buildings in Decatur’s inner city.  About 1,000 homes and structures are going to be coming down.  That’s a lot!  It’s sad on one hand but probably the only real option to make areas of town marketable again for residential or commercial development.

New Businesses/New Locations

Sonic’s will be opening a second location on Decatur’s northend directly across from Dairy Queen.  Good news for Decatur.  Bad news for my waistline.  Some well-known chain restaurant is supposed to be locating in the old Ruby Tuesday location.  The name hasn’t been revealed yet.  Doctor’s offices are springing up too.  The old Maverick’s Steak House building will be new offices and on the corner of Pershing and MacArthur Ave, the VITA Center for Women will be moving in.  It’s currently located on the DMH campus.  A new Dollar Tree store will be on Pershing near the recently closed Kmart.

Unfortunately, Decatur will be losing TJ Maxx to Forsyth.  I’m just not a big fan of Forsyth shopping, so I doubt I’ll be visiting it very often.  It’s not that I don’t like Forsyth, it’s just that I like supporting Decatur more.

Northend Struggles

I have a good hunch that Decatur’s northend will continue being the target of proposed changes.  I think it’s a matter of time before the corner of Ash and 51 goes commercial.  Aldi’s wasn’t the right fit but if something comes along that is highly desirable, I think the neighborhood will have quite a fight on its hands.  I just hope the city spends a lot of time in proper planning to ensure the best for all.

Even my old stomping grounds are being threatened.  The street I grew up on, South Court Drive has commercial interest.  A particular property owner has contacted nearby property owners to see if they would be willing to sell.  Obviously, the rest of the neighborhood isn’t impressed.  My dad is ready to set up cannons and other artillery if necessary. Ha.  Even if I didn’t grow up on that street, I wouldn’t think the area would be right for commercial development.  It would destroy the whole character of the neighborhood.

Overall Predictions

I’m not going to really give predictions because I don’t have enough inside information but I think Decatur will do okay in 2017.  I think we’ll have some positive news and some not-so-positive news but overall I’m optimistic.  I’d sure love to see new stores go into the old Haines & Essicks building.  I missed it during the holidays but at least Del’s is back on Merchant Street.

I’m eager to see the addition of a new amphitheater and aquatic center in Nelson Park.  Both are very positive things for the city, even though I’m still pulling for a lazy river.  The expanded rail line at Scovill Zoo should be a fun addition and I’m looking forward to continuing volunteering there.  I miss the zoo in the winter but I’ll be there for volunteer classes soon.

One thing we shouldn’t see a lot more of in 2017 is more gambling locations.  The city put a cap on the number of those establishments.  We’re already at the limit!

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If there’s any recurring theme to 2016 it’s that hardly anyone will miss it.  This year has been absurd, ridiculous, disappointing, sad, and mentally disturbing.  I think what makes it so bad for me is that I cringe to think what 2017 will bring.  Every other new year always fills me with a sense of renewal and hope for better things but I don’t feel that right now.  Oh, I still believe in hope but it’s a hope delayed.  It’s a hope that ‘s going to have to be worked for.

Princess Leia's characteristic hairstyle.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, you might not want to read on because the best part of the movie is the very last scene and articulated in just one word by Princess Leia.  The audience in the theater erupted in joy and wonder just seeing her face and hearing that one word, “Hope”.  Well, it wasn’t really her face but still it was magical.  It was a scene unexpected but it explained the  struggle so completely.  It felt like the one little crumb that 2016 was going to toss to us before we wrote off the entire year as a sick joke.  Then a few days later we get the news that Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia, suffered a heart attack and it’s unknown whether she’ll make a recovery or not at this time.

It’s been a trying year to put it mildly.  My life has been going okay, (knock on wood) in 2016.  The fears I have for the future aren’t self-centered.  It’s not just about me.  Yes, life this year has had its challenging moments and personal losses.  We all go through a lot of difficult times but at least during those times it was always reassuring that the world wasn’t falling apart around me or teetering on the edge of total societal collapse.  I might be overreacting.  I sure hope I am but I just don’t have any hope in our leadership whatsoever, probably because we don’t have any true leaders at the moment.

I think as Americans we all got a little too lazy.  I like how one lady worded it in a comment to an article I read about the country going backwards on racial and social justice issues.  “Well, coffee break is over America.  Get back to work.”  If there’s going to be any hope in 2017, we’re going to have to make it happen, individually and collectively.

I’ve thought a lot about what I can do because essentially my interests and my concerns aren’t going to have a voice on the national stage for the next couple of years.  I’m a science major and science is being attacked.  I’m a conservationist and conservation is being attacked.  I’m for civility and civility is being attacked.  I almost feel like a Rogue One character having to go underground to protect the planet and its species from being annihilated by greedy oil barons and dimwitted politicians floating overhead like a Death Star. It’s insane. How did America become so ridiculous?

All I can do is do good where I am with what I am.  That’s all.  That’s where I’m putting my hope.  Well, actually my real hope is in God but I still have to do the work I’m called to do.

My intention isn’t to depress anybody because there’s still a lot of good in this world.  And no, I don’t think you’re a horrible person if you voted for Donald Trump. I think you should have done your homework better but…  I know we’re constantly bombarded with all the bad stuff but there’s hope out there.  It might be cruising around on a disc drive in a space ship light years away but there’s still hope!







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I always feel like I’m experiencing PTSD after finishing another quarter at school.  The schoolwork is demanding, yes, but I’ve been through this enough to know I can handle it.  It’s just all the unexpected things that happen on a daily basis as a wife, mom, and soon-to-be grandmother that makes it so difficult.

Determining soil sand, clay, and silt content in a hydrometer.

Case in point, last week I was finishing up two major projects for a couple classes when my daughter was in the hospital with pre-term labor symptoms.   I thought I was going to have to camp out in a waiting room for a couple days with my laptop, writing a 25-page term paper about a watershed in Idaho.  Like my mind was on Idaho!  Luckily, they were able to stop the labor and I went home…to Idaho, at least in my mind.

Snake river canyon 20070602.JPG
By Gh5046 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by gh5046., Public Domain, Link

Above, Idaho is pretty amazing!

This week I’m sick with bronchitis, probably because I was in a building full of sick people the week before.  Luckily, I had enough energy early in the week to finish another paper.  In-between moments of heavily medicated mental fogs and exhaustion I was able to study enough for my soil science final exam to not bomb it.

I really think anyone earning a degree as an adult should receive a special distinction.  If I wasn’t truly passionate about my major (natural resources), I sure as heck would’ve quit a long, long time ago.  Whenever I feel like it’s not worth it, I look at the birds outside my window and realize, they’re more than worth it.  Plus, I’ve come this far.  I’d be stupid to quit now.

So, here’s to all the adult students out there.  You are amazing, just like Idaho!






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