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I have been thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather like everyone else.  I hope to get out and take some pics of the changing season when I get the chance.  School keeps me busy and I’ve been going through some health issues that have kept me close to home.

On Easter weekend I’ll be wearing a holter monitor for my heart.  I haven’t worn one of those since I was 19, when I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. Hopefully my leaky heart valve hasn’t worsened to the point I need surgery.  I just hope they find out what is wrong and fix it.  I want my life back.

I haven’t been able to work out and go for walks without my heart racing a million miles an hour for the past couple months.  I used to work out every night with no problems whatsoever.  It’s true that if you have your health, you have everything.

Well, back to working on my thesis for American Environmental History.  It would help if I could think of a topic first.  I’m going back and forth between two themes:  Environmental History – A Study in Progress or Decline and The Democratization of the Environment. I have until midnight tonight to come up with a thesis statement…tick, tick, tick

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I’ve been looking at houses in the Lexington, Kentucky area all morning.  I found one house with the most amazing kitchen I’ve ever seen!  I love it.  It has two big windows bringing in tons of light and overlooking a great backyard.  The cabinets and tile work were beautiful.  I think I liked the rest of the house too but I’ve looked at so many, I couldn’t tell you.  My head is spinning.  Even if we don’t end up moving, I’ve found lots of great ideas for my house in Decatur!

We should know much more in the next few weeks about the job my husband is applying for in Georgetown.  If he does get the job, then we’ll have to decide if we want to move, and that’s not an easy decision.

It would be very hard to leave my house, family and friends, and the city I’ve known all my life.  If we do move, it isn’t because we dislike Decatur.  Wherever I am, I’ll still be rooting for Decatur’s comeback, and I think Decatur is on it’s way to coming back.  There are a lot of good things happening in Decatur right now that I think will greatly improve the city.

I’ve thought of the lakefront development and how I’d love to see it progress and be able to enjoy it on a summer evening.  It’s already doing its job in helping retaining residents because I’d love to live in a city with a lakefront like Decatur is proposing.  It’s something I would miss because the Lexington area doesn’t have many lakes, let alone one inside its city limits.

If we move, it’ll be mainly for career reasons.  There’s a lot more job opportunities for me in my field in Kentucky.  Park and wildlife management jobs are few and far between in Central Illinois. Somebody would have to either retire or die to open up a job for me.  Kentucky has many state parks, natural areas, historical sites, botanical gardens, wildlife parks, horse parks, etc., and I’ve already found several job openings and internship opportunities.  I haven’t found any of those types of job opportunities in Central Illinois. That’s the biggest issue.

My daughter also wants to move south for college.  After this winter, the thought of walking around a college campus in Illinois’ freezing cold winters isn’t too appealing to her.  She likes the idea of milder temperatures.

The are a few things that worry me about Kentucky though.  One, I’m not a college sports or basketball fan, and Lexington lives and breathes both.  I guess I would just not subscribe to their newspaper or watch local news very often, because from what I can tell, college sports is pretty much all they talk and write about, with a few stories about horses and the weather tossed in.

I have a feeling as long as I don’t insult Kentucky’s basketball teams or their horses (I would never insult a horse), I should be okay.

I worry that I’m too liberal for the south but then I’ve had heated political disagreements with Republicans in Decatur too, so I guess that’s kind of a wash. Ha!

I love southern culture and cooking though.  My grandparents and great-grandparent from way back yonder all came from the south.  My dad was born in Tennessee and the Hay family lived in Virginia/Kentucky for more than 200 years before my great-grandfather moved to Illinois in the 1920s or 30s.  Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport is named after a great-great-uncle on my mom’s side.  When I think about it, many of our family traditions and family recipes are southern.  It wouldn’t be a culture shock for me to live in Kentucky.

Still, I wouldn’t call a cheese toasty grilled cheese, even if they put a gun up to my head.  It’s cheese toasty forever!

Still, the thought of moving scares the crud out of me.  If I could snap my fingers and have everything in my house magically transported into our dream home in Kentucky, I’d do it in a second.  However, it doesn’t work that way.

Trying to sell or rent our house in Decatur sounds like a nightmare.  Getting the house ready for new renters/owners would be a nightmare.  Dealing with banks and real estate companies while our nerves are shot to hell would be a nightmare.  I can picture it now!  Tension headaches, heart palpitations, arguments over stupid things, things being tossed across rooms, and a complete and total mental breakdown is quite possible for all of us.

Well, hopefully in a few weeks the decision will be made either by us or for us, and life can then resume.




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I was reading comments to an article regarding the decline of American incomes and somebody wrote something that was a very good point.  There was a time when a man could be a butcher, a janitor, a milkman, or a factory worker and support his family.  He wasn’t rolling in the dough but he didn’t have to rely on food stamps either.

When my dad worked at Caterpillar, he earned enough to support our family.  My mom worked part-time when we were young, and full-time as we got older.  She never made much but they earned enough together to have a modest amount of financial security.  We went on vacations, camping and fishing trips, lived in a middle-class neighborhood, and my parents could have afforded to send us to college, not Ivy League, but a decent college.

My dad retired in 1995 and made nearly $10 more an hour than workers doing the same job today are making: Twenty years later and workers are making far less for the same job.  There’s something very wrong about that, especially since the cost of living keeps going up, and Caterpillar has made huge profits.

My husband works at Caterpillar and his wages have been cut twice in the past year.  He has a co-worker, who like my dad, has three children.  He only makes $50 too much a month to qualify for food stamps.  Think about that.  Caterpillar is a multi-billion dollar corporation and some of their employees qualify for public aid.  Twenty years ago their employees could afford to build new homes and send their kids to college.  Today, some of their workers are applying for public assistance.

Personally, I think the minimum wage should tiered and depend upon different factors.  Some employers can afford to pay much more than others and should be required to do so.  A small family-owned business shouldn’t have to pay the same as a huge corporation. All should pay decent wages but larger businesses should have to pay more and be penalized heavily, if they move jobs overseas.  For instance, $10/hour could be required of small-businesses and $15/hour for an entry level position in a large company.  We would have to iron out what the exact criteria should be.

That seems fair to me and it would really be great if we could all just value everyone’s contribution to society, instead of ridiculing fast-food workers and Walmart cashiers.  Anyone who makes an effort to make an honest living should be respected.

Unfortunately, we simply don’t value each other.  That’s our biggest problem.  We’ve told retail workers and factory workers that they’re not good enough for decent pay.  We’ve tolerated millions to slip into poverty.  We’ve tolerated, and helped create the environment, for corporations to be greedy bastards.  We’ve tolerated college students to be rewarded with a lifetime of debt for trying to better themselves.  We’ve reduced much of our population to second-class citizens earning nearly third-world wages.

That has to change. Period.

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Decatur, Illinois Tornado Damage 1996 from Kris Hay-Disney on Vimeo.

This is old footage of a home movie my dad shot of tornado damage in my neighborhood in April 1996. Decatur was hit with tornadoes on two consecutive nights and this was the damage from the second one. The first tornado hit the south side of Decatur the night before. The video quality looks like it was shot in 1966. Ha! Not the best quality but for those who know the area, it brings back a lot of memories.

I’m sure glad my dad didn’t give up his day job at Caterpillar to be a videographer! I had to record this using my cell phone as it played on the TV.  It’s on a VHS tape that needs to be converted to a digital format.

My house looks totally different today.  I’d almost forgotten what it used to look like. I can’t believe how bare it looked without any plants or shrubs in the front of the house. Now I need to redo the landscaping because it’s overgrown.  Ah, time keeps flowing like a river…

I just though I’d share this since spring is coming.  It gives us so much to look forward to after this winter. 🙂

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One of my blog post stood out to a Springfield newspaper reporter, because I had taken some shots at Springfield, after reading comments written by Springfield residents about Decatur.  His article stated that I was angry after reading the comments on the Capitol Fax but I wasn’t angry at all.  I find it interesting and helpful to read outside opinions of Decatur, whether they’re good, bad, or ugly.  I’ve lived here my whole life, so I welcome an outside point of view.

clock downtown

We need to name our clock downtown.

He was bewildered why people in Springfield like to pick on Decatur so much and admitted that he had looked down on us as well.  He equated the behavior with how Chicago treats Springfield.  I told him that I thought Decatur and Springfield had a lot in common but I hadn’t considered our similarities in the same light that he had.  I was thinking more along the lines of our economies and culture.  I hadn’t considered how people in Springfield felt about their diminishing role in state affairs.

Springfield has been kicked to the curb by upstate politicians who have, for all practical purposes, moved the state capitol to Chicago.  He equated it to Decatur no longer being ADM’s global headquarters. It’s fair to say that Springfield and Decatur have both been ditched by their dates to the prom.

What I found really fascinating was how little he knew of Decatur and he’s in the news business but then I don’t know much about Springfield either.  I don’t know what their future goals are.  That was the point of my article.  We base our opinions of one another based on scant knowledge.

He asked me how that “convention” thing turned out in Decatur and it took me a while to figure out what he was referring to.  He was referring to the old plans at the former Holiday Inn, which is now the Decatur Conference City & Hotel. 

At one time, there were plans for a waterpark, and I think even a botanical garden to be located near the hotel.  The city put in a fancy new road for it in great anticipation of its’ construction.  The waterpark and garden never materialized but luckily the hotel has been remodeled and is doing well, as far as I know.  This all took place 5 or 6 years ago but it was something that he remembered.

I had posted some pictures of Decatur too and he asked with great interest what they were of.  I had a photo of Merchant Street, Nelson Park, and Lake Decatur.  He wasn’t aware of our recent downtown streetscape renovations, nor too much of the lakefront development plans.  He had heard of the new mini-golf course though.

Our discussion made it clear to me that Decatur has some serious advertising to do.  If people in Springfield, 30 minutes away, don’t know anything about our city (besides random murders, factory closings, and stinky air), how do we expect anyone else to?  Bad news gets around but good news needs a well-funded marketing campaign.

I wondered if people from the Springfield area ever visited Decatur.  My family goes to Springfield often to go shopping.  Let’s face it, Springfield has more retail variety than we do, but why would anybody come here? He did mention the Decatur Celebration.  There’s the Farm Progress Show but that only appeals to farmers and every other year.  Beyond that, I can’t imagine too many people leaving Springfield to come shop in Decatur, though they really should.  Our downtown is better!  Well, I think it is.  It’s much more quaint and easy to to navigate. Our downtown just needs to work on a nightlife.  It’s dead past 5 pm.

Anyway, I enjoyed our discussion and got a lot out of it.  I like Springfield.  Besides Mars has always fascinated me.  I keep waiting for word on my Twitter feed that life has been found over there.  Hee hee!


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