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Okay, I was really looking forward to shooting a video this year at Greenwood Cemetery before Halloween but I ran into some technical difficulties and mostly user error with my video camera.  Every year, something prevents me from doing this video.  It’s a curse or something but I think I finally figured out why I couldn’t import any video to my computer to edit and upload to YouTube.  I think everything is good to go now but recording a video at Greenwood Cemetery after Halloween is like opening Christmas presents in August.  The thrill is kinda gone but I might still make it out there; if not there’s other videos I’m wanting to shoot and share.

Other than that, I will be participating in the city’s upcoming Community Revitalization Initiative.  I believe the main focus is on improving Decatur’s neighborhoods.  The first meeting is November 7th from 5:30-7pm at MacArthur High School.  I think this is something that interested community members had to sign up for before the meetings but if you’re interested, I would assume to city would love to add you to one of the groups.  I’m not sure how it all works just yet but I will let you know after Tuesday.



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When I graduated I thought I’d have all the time in the world to do so many things and ha!  I’ve been just as busy.  I’m finding a zillion projects that need done around the house and I’m babysitting my grandson every afternoon.  What a handful!  I don’t remember my kids being that much work but I guess when they’re your kids you don’t worry as much if they  get hurt or like you.  When I tell him no and he looks at me like I broke his heart I feel like I should run out and buy him a pony.  It’s not that easy being a grandma.  It’s complicated.

I’m also preparing for the next step in life. I plan to continue as a grad student but I haven’t decided where I would like to apply yet or which specific program to shoot for.  The top contenders are Illinois State, the University of Illinois, and Oregon State.  I’m pretty sure I would have no trouble getting into Oregon State’s grad program.  They already know me and my GPA is definitely high enough but I think I would benefit more by going to a school here in Illinois. I’d like to attend some classes in person and learn more about local natural resource issues but I’ll just apply at all three and see what happens I guess.

Anyway, I don’t plan to go back until January or March.  I really need the time off to recharge and refocus and build a craftsman style fireplace surround in my family room.

The only woodworking I’ve done in the past is building frames for stained glass panels so I’m pretty proud of myself for building a fireplace surround piece by piece out of pre-finished oak with only hand tools and a lot of improvisation.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the Norm Abram workshop in the backyard.  When we added onto the house in 2011, I had the family room built for a craftsman style built-in fireplace but we ran out of money and mostly energy by the time it came to doing the finish work.  So, I installed a stone surround with the intention of it being temporary.  I should have picked something that would have been a lot easier to remove than stone.  That’s been the worst part of the job so far.

Over the next few weeks I plan to build shelves to connect the cabinets to the fireplace and give it that true built-in look.  Hopefully, it turns out how I have it pictured in my mind.  So far so good but I’m not going to get overconfident just yet.

The Tradition Continues or Starts Again

Today, I visited Greenwood Cemetery to prepare for next week (no I don’t plan on dying).  I always visit the cemetery this time of year as tradition.  It’s the perfect time to visit because the leaves are beginning to turn, the autumn weather is magical, and there’s tons of acorns meaning there’s zillions of squirrels running around to keep me company.  I didn’t make it there last year and I think I unleashed unspeakable evil upon the Earth by not going.  2016 was such a miserable year.  The Cubs won the World Series which was Twilight Zone-like and Donald Trump won the presidency, which is beyond any reasonable explanation from even a parallel demented universe.

So, I’m hoping my return will restore the natural order of things and the gods will bestow good things upon Earth once again.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll need to find a volcano and toss a virgin in it or something.

I’ll be shooting a video at the cemetery next week.  I’ve been wanting to do a narrated walk through Greenwood for years but I never got the chance for one reason or the other.  It should be fun.  I hope.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so displeased with a city council than the one we have now.  I’m not impressed at all.  Some of their actions have been blatantly dismissive and needlessly rushed.  The recent decision to harvest trees near lake Decatur for profit (a small profit at that) was met with concerned citizens, including myself, wanting more answers and more time to ensure our concerns were addressed.  The city council simply didn’t care and our mayor said the conversation was over, when in actuality there never was a  conversation.

What was the rush to cut down the trees in the first place?  Then this week the council voted to hire a company to remove birds from the downtown area.  Honestly, I’ve never noticed any problems whatsoever of birds downtown but I’m assuming there is a problem that I’m not aware of.

Councilman David Horn wanted to ask questions regarding the methods the company would employ to rid pigeons and starlings from downtown.  A representative of the company wasn’t at the council meeting to ask.  Horn is a biology professor at Millikin and he has voiced his concerns regarding environmental issues before, including the sale of the trees.  Both Horn and Councilman Faber wanted to hold off on the tree contract but the other members didn’t want to wait on the vote and quickly passed it.  This time Horn was on his own.

I don’t think it was unreasonable to want to ask questions regarding what methods are going to be used before approving the bid.  Does city management even know?  Did they call up Springfield and ask how well the methods have worked there?  From what I’ve read, there’s been a lot of displeasure in the results seen in Springfield provided by the same company.

The larger issue is the pattern I see with this mayor and most of the members of the council.  They can be bullies.  They can be downright mean.  They pick at anyone who is different than they are and dismiss them as irrelevant.   It doesn’t matter who it is.  If that person isn’t in lockstep with their agenda, they’re ignored.  Councilman McDaniel said he’s “no fan of tree huggers”.  Okay, well it’s nice to know you don’t care about me or my concerns.  That makes me feel confident in my reasoning for not endorsing you before the election.

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Last week I finished my degree at Oregon State University and I have mixed feelings about it all.  Finishing didn’t quite feel the way I thought it would.  I thought I’d have a burst of energy, relief, and happiness but instead I ended on the note of enduring the most difficult final exam of my life and 30 minutes later my grandson was at the house for me to babysit.  Just your typical college graduate!

When I went to my commencement in Oregon a couple months ago I felt the joy and the sense of accomplishment then but now reality has hit.  For one, I’m going to miss school.  It’s been a big part of my life for the past 4 1/2 years.  This is a big change in my daily schedule.  I went from operating at high-alert to not knowing what day of the week it is.  I honestly didn’t know this morning.  Also, the heat is on.

I’ve got to prove to everyone that going back to college in my 40s was a smart thing to do.  I’ve got to land that six-figure income within the next 72 hours or everyone is going to tell me I should have become a nurse, welder, or plumber.  At least I am beginning to see jobs in my field being posted for the state of Illinois.  While the budget fiasco was going on, I had little hope in finding a job in this state.  There might be some hope now.  We’ll see.

If a great job opportunity opens up nearby I’ll seriously consider it but I am still considering grad school too. I just need a few weeks to ponder the direction I want to go because while I was in college I had about 10 spare seconds each week to think about what I was going to do after I graduated.  There just wasn’t any time or energy to prepare.

I still wake up every morning feeling like I’m up against a deadline.  My attempts to rest thus far have been pitiful and honestly I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck after my last finals week (even though I got straight A’s, woohoo!).  I’m still seriously wiped out.

I am looking forward to going back to blogging and being able to participate much more in the community.  I think over the past four years most of the stuff I’ve written has been kinda, well, crappy. There’s a lot of things I want to try and share on the blog.  Still, writing is great therapy for me if nothing else, even if it is crap.

And yes, I’m still dealing with some medical issues.  I don’t know a whole lot yet at the moment but in the next few weeks I’ll know more.  Hopefully it isn’t crappy news.


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In 19 days I will have completed my bachelor’s degree and I am ready.  Actually, I was ready about six months ago but I’m really, really ready now.  I went back to college in 2013, first to Columbia College where I earned an associate’s degree, and now I’m almost done at Oregon State University.

I don’t know how I’m going to feel being “done”. College has been a big part of my life.  It’s been more than a job.  I’ve worked regular jobs and college has been way more work, stress, sacrifice, and reward.  Although I’m not going to miss deadlines, exams, and lost weekends to term papers, I am going to miss the routine.  I’m one of those people who don’t like their daily routines changed.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself.

For the first few weeks I think I’m just going decompress and enjoy a little time off.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be enjoying those weeks though because I’ll be undergoing tests to determine if I have thyroid cancer.  Yeah, out of the blue!  Last year I learned I had a nodule, which isn’t rare.  Many women my age and older have thyroid nodules.  In fact, I read something from an expert in ultrasound technology that if an ultrasound technician doesn’t find a thyroid nodule in a woman over the age of 50, he or she should probably be fired.  They’re very common as we get older and the vast majority of nodules are benign but they should be observed over time to see if there’s any changes.

Well mine must have changed over the past year because my doctors are much more concerned now.  I’m not sure what changed but apparently whatever they saw on the ultrasound this week is more likely to be cancerous than whatever they saw last year.  That doesn’t mean it is cancer because an ultrasound can’t diagnose thyroid cancer but now I play the waiting game.  I’m not terribly worried but it is a major distraction as I finish up the last few weeks of my degree.  It kinda takes the glow off the moment a little. Ha!

Beyond all that, I am currently looking at grad schools, so I’m probably not done with college.  Most of the jobs in my field (natural resources) require a master’s degree.  I always planned to at least get a grad certificate at some point but I discovered that I really enjoy research and to do that I need a higher degree.  I’m also interested in teaching, so over the next few months I’ll be looking at different options and going from there.

I still plan to do my other side projects but that’s going to take longer to get off the ground.  First, I have to find enough land to do what I would like to do and land isn’t cheap in Macon County and the property taxes are ridiculous.  Luckily, my family has land in Fayette County that I could use but it’s an hour away.  No, I’m not planning on growing marijuana, although my husband thinks that would be a good idea.  I’m not on board with that.  Instead, I’m interested in growing native woodland and prairie plants to use in restoration projects.  Of course some of those have medicinal uses too. There’s some funky plants out there!  Some of them even help treat cancer. 🙂

Well, I’ve got my assignments to finish for the week.  I’ve been dragging all quarter but I’m getting more excited as the last couple of weeks are here.  I know after I submit the last exam (assuming I don’t implode and fail it miserably) I am going to go for a walk in the sunshine (or rain or whatever it’s doing outside) and just enjoy nature and the outdoors.  I won’t be graded on my observations either.  Woohoo!

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