Humor

In a few weeks the 32nd Decatur Celebration will take place with some major changes.  The Celebration has always been on the verge of being canned due to financial shortfalls.  Every year we’re warned that it might be the last.  Festivals aren’t the easiest things to make money off of.

For one, some of the vendors which pay to be in the Celebration, don’t show all of the money that they actually make, of which the Celebration is supposed to get a cut of.  I don’t know how many vendors do this but I know that many under-report for obvious reasons.  Then the wrists bands for buying food didn’t quite pan out like some thought it would.

I know for my family, only one of us purchase the wrist band.  It would be kinda silly for both of us to, when only one of us does the purchasing.  One year a man gave his wrist band to ******* (to protect the guilty) as he was leaving.  He didn’t sell it.  He was just giving it away.  He did a masterful job making the band appear like it hadn’t been cut and taped back together.

Then of course, an outdoor festival is always at the mercy of the weather.  I think over the past 31 years just about every type of weather, except a blizzard or a Category 5 hurricane has hit downtown Decatur during the first full weekend in August.  One year, I spoke with a craft vendor who  literally watched her money go down the drain.  A severe thunderstorm had blown in and blew her tent and several other tents over.  Her merchandise and cash box bounced along the pavement.  As she was ducking wind-borne crafts of various media she watched helplessly as her cash box broke open and her hard-earned cash flowed down a gutter towards a storm sewer.  Luckily, she kept her sense of humor about it, at least while she told the story afterwards, but it just goes to show that festivals are a risky business for the organizers of the festival and those hoping to make an income from them.

Fenced In

This year the Decatur Celebration will be fenced in for the first time, assuming the city council approves the fence perimeter. It will no longer be a “free” street festival.  I don’t know how well this tactic will work out.  I think a lot of it depends upon how interested people are in the musical acts that are scheduled to perform.  I think it will keep a lot of people out during the afternoon when major acts aren’t playing but we’ll see.

I don’t mind paying a few dollars to see a musical act that would normally cost way more in any other venue.  My only concern with the fence is safety.  Only time will tell if fencing and charging a gate fee are good ideas or not.

Going Stale or Somewhere?

What I am more interested in is how to make the Decatur Celebration better.  It has become a bit stale and maybe in its current form it has run its course.  Every year it’s the same thing, which has its appeal.  It’s kinda become a late summer ritual for me to brave the weather, the smoky BBQ fires, and crowds to pay homage to downtown Decatur, which seems almost nothing like it feels the rest of the year.

It’s like downtown fades into the background and isn’t even there during the Celebration.  Over the years, downtown Decatur businesses have become less and less involved to the point where they don’t even participate or maybe I just don’t see them.  I’m not sure which but maybe there needs to be a whole lot more of “Decatur” in the Decatur Celebration.  I’d love to see the work of local artists and craftspeople featured.

Memories

The parade has been interesting over the years.  I remember one year we invited our new pastor and his wife to the Razzle Dazzle Goodtimes Parade and both my husband and I wanted to hide beneath a manhole cover when the scantly clad middle-aged belly dancers stopped in front of us and and made suggestive gestures to the crowd.  They had turned Franklin Street into a poorly casted remake of a really bad Arabian themed porn video.  None of us knew quite what to think.  My young children couldn’t process the information.  I didn’t know what to do but to turn around and say, “Welcome to Decatur!”

The parade has always been a funny thing.  I remember one year when the then mayor wasn’t in the car that was supposed to be carrying him.  It was just an empty convertible with his name on the side of it driving by.  It was indicative of the local political climate at that time.  Then there is always the jail-themed float for Crime Stoppers that many joke is carrying a former Illinois governor or two.  One year, there was a big uproar as Decatur Memorial Hospital tried to rename the Celebration in their honor.  (Decatur roars over silly things quite often.)

It was going to be the “Decatur Memorial Hospital Decatur Celebration”.  Besides not having much of a ring to it, the plan didn’t go over well.  Hundreds of St. Mary’s Hospital employees (Decatur’s other hospital) and their family members marched by in the parade, cheering and laughing, while about a half-dozen Decatur Memorial Hospital employees shuffled by, probably wishing they had paper sacks to wear over their heads.  It was a hoot.  You’re really missing a lot if you keep up local politics and don’t attend the parade.  There’s always some local political satire or message included but you have to be informed to see it.

The more I write about the Celebration, the more I hope it continues and the more I realize it’s special.  It’s something and it’s usually memorable.  It’s always uniquely Decatur one way or the other.

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One more final to finish and I’ll be done with another ridiculously stressful and overwhelming quarter at school.  After all the mental pressure I’ve endured thus far this school year I think I could qualify for a position with the CIA.  If this didn’t crack me mentally beyond repair, nothing will.

When I finish tomorrow, I’ll be getting ready to head out to Oregon.  I’m both excited and nervous about attending my commencement.  It’s going to be a long day on a campus, in a city, and in a state I’ve never stepped foot in.  I’ll also be wearing a black robe and a black cardboard hat in the sun on AstroTurf in a football stadium for about 3 hours. I really hope I don’t pass out in front of 30,000 spectators and amongst the 6,000+ graduates.  Not only would that be embarrassing, it would also probably disqualify me for that CIA job.

The graduation thing is exciting and all but what I’m really looking forward to is seeing the state I’ve been learning about for the past 2 1/2 years.  I almost feel like I’ve been preparing for a mission to Mars for years and years and now I’m finally going to see the red planet in person for the first time.  There’s so many things I want to see.  Salmon, Ponderosa Pine, Salmon, Douglas-Fir, Salmon.  Really, I don’t think I’ve taken a class at Oregon State, of any subject, in which salmon wasn’t mentioned.  I think Oregon cherishes and reveres their salmon as much as Central Illinois reveres Abraham Lincoln.

I’ve read the experiences of my fellow forestry students with the vast natural areas that are within driving distance of Corvallis – the mountains and volcanoes, the desert, the valley, the rocky coast and the  Pacific Ocean.  And they know all about Garman Park and Rock Springs.  Hey, Garman Park is pretty cool.  Crater Lake?  Mt. Hood? Overrated in comparison if you ask me.  Okay, sometimes I felt a little inadequate.  When I described Illinois to Oregonians, at times it felt like I was describing a vast paved parking lot with a couple lonely potted plants representing our remaining natural wonders.

Actually, I love Illinois. I love the gentle landscape. There’s beauty here but it’s quiet and unpretentious.

Well, I better get prepared for that last final and get the house ready for the house/cat/fish/bearded dragon/dogsitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m finally over the worst of that horrible class.  I’m down to just my usual workload which feels like a vacation on a beach compared to what I had been going through.  It finally all caught up to me though and I’ve been sick as a dog the last week so I’m taking it easy again today.  Yesterday was Memorial Day and I didn’t touch my computer.  It felt so wonderful!  I know I sound psychotic but I probably am after everything I’ve been though since January.  School has been pure torture.

So, while I’m taking a break I thought I’d write about Decatur since that’s what this blog is supposed to be about with a few interrupting moments of my occasional mental breakdowns here and there.  Over the past several weeks I haven’t had time to think about Decatur really.  I guess it’s still out there.  Let me check through my blinds…Well the neighborhood is still here but it’s going to look different very soon.

I saw the piles of pipes and rock with big earthmoving equipment parked nearby on one of my rare excursions out of the house.  I got a notice last week hanging on my door that the city is replacing the water mains in my neighborhood.  I have a feeling my neighborhood is going to look like the after effects of the aerial bombings on Berlin in WWII for much of the summer.

Well, at least now I don’t feel so ripped off from our property taxes doubling this year.  Our tax exemption from our home addition is over.  The thing is, the house didn’t double in value.  It might have gone up 30-35% in value not 100%.  So why did the tax bill double?  The house isn’t worth twice as much.  I wish.  I’d sell it and buy a house with enough land for a pet goat – the ultimate status symbol that you’ve made it in America.  It used to be a Buick but now it’s a goat.  Times have changed.

If I’m going to be paying big bucks in property taxes, I better have sewer lines that don’t blow up in my basement (this really happened), water mains that don’t burst, and a street that doesn’t require military grade all-terrain vehicles to navigate.  I’m a little more demanding now that I’m paying steak prices for a Swiss cheese sandwich.  At least my street is still better than 51 between Garfield and Eldorado.  It might have served as a road in the past but now it belongs beneath an archeological tent for a future Ancient Aliens episode.

Well, I’m going to take a nap now and dream of my future goat on the prairie!

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I am absolutely overwhelmed by college at this moment.  I doubt many college studens avoid the feeling.  Moments like this make me wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea to begin with.  I’m about to the point where I’m ready to buy a used VW van and travel the country and make an income creating YouTube videos.  I hear the circus is no longer in business so that option is out.

Yesterday, I took a longer drive than usual to the grocery store but not that long because I had to be back to finish a zillion assignments.  It felt miserable enjoying my time away from the ball and chain college has become.  There is no relief anywhere, ever!  Well, when I’m asleep I forgot how miserable I am and those first few moments awake. Ah….Then I remember and I want to cry.  It’s horrible.

What makes it worse is that I’m on a different college schedule than most people.  I’m watching others graduate and begin their summer and here I am, still struggling and  the worst is yet to come.  There’s term papers, projects, group projects (oh shoot me now), and godawful final exams.  Does college really need to be so stressful?  No.

It’s really just one class that is causing all my misery.  The workload is insane.  I’m devoting 80% of my time to that one stupid class and risking blowing up my hard-earned 3.9 GPA on the other classes that I can barely devote 10 seconds a week to.  If I didn’t need that other class to graduate on time I would have dropped it but I didn’t have that option.

It’s been so bad that I forgot to even register for my last classes and almost didn’t get into them.  I was the last seat and if I didn’t get in, I wouldn’t be graduating this year.  I would have flown out to Oregon for a miserable vacation when I should have been attending my commencement.  Thank God I got into those classes.  Normally, I’m counting the seconds down to to be the first to register each quarter but it didn’t even cross my mind.  I talked about taking this classes with people and I knew I needed them but it didn’t occur to me to actually register for them.

Today, I forgot how to count money.  I was at the dentist office and my balance was $87 dollars.  I’d count up to $80 and then I’d forget how to count beyond that.  My mind went totally blank because I knew I had to rush home to do more stupid homework.

And now I have to finish this blog post and get back to slaving away.  And I a signed up for this voluntarily. I want to cry.

 

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It’s a pleasant early March day – the type of days that put a skip in one’s step, unlike the freaky warm weather in February that was nice but we knew it wouldn’t last.  March is that way too.

Amazingly, I’m caught up with my homework for the week and only have a few little things left to do.  I knew taking six classes in one quarter was going to be a big challenge and it has been.  I still have a couple more weeks to endure – finals and term projects, but it doesn’t seem as daunting as when I began.  I didn’t know if I’d become a mess of frazzled nerves and feel like crawling into a hole and crying myself to sleep.  Although, I have been very close to both, so far I’m keeping things together.  No promises as finals approach.

I’ve registered for my last full-time quarter at Oregon State.  I am so happy to be so close to being finished.  Although I’ll have a couple classes to finish this summer after I go through commencement in Corvallis in June, a big weight will be off my shoulders.  I’m most looking forward to visiting the Redwoods in California for my graduation present to myself.  It’s only about a 5-hour drive from Oregon State.  The picture below doesn’t begin to do the giant trees justice.  Hopefully, I’ll come back with some amazing pics.

Redwood National Park, fog in the forest

When I’m finished I’ll finally get to do a lot of things that I haven’t been able to over the past 4 1/2 years.  I’ve missed so many weekends, family events, community events, blogging, and have stretched myself thin when it comes to all my other obligations.  Not that I’ll be footloose and fancy-free after I graduate but compared to college, I should have more time for many of things I find meaningful in life.  Writing about Decatur is definitely one of those things.  I absolutely love blogging.

I’m planning to do some new things with the blog this spring and summer and I’ll actually have enough time to do them.  And I purchased a kayak!  My husband doesn’t know about it yet. Right now, it’s hidden in the basement.  It wasn’t expensive but I can just hear him now.  Sometimes I wish I was single so I could be as crazy as I want without someone telling me I’m crazy.

Yeah, I don’t think my kayaking trips will look like this, unless I go over the Lake Decatur dam!

Remic Rapids, Ottawa, ON (14018430256)

Kayaking has been on my bucket list for a while and I think I’ll love it.  Hey, at least I didn’t go out and buy a motorcycle or a convertible sports car.  My kayak is carbon neutral and will be great exercise.  I’m not too crazy about the idea of kayaking on the Sangamon River.  Weldon Springs State Park and the quiet basins of Lake Decatur and Lake Shelbyville are more my speed.  I just have this phobia about rivers.  Maybe I drowned in one in a past life.  Who knows.

Well, here’s to hopefully good times ahead, or at least a heck of a lot less stress.  And no, it wasn’t easy hiding a kayak in the basement.

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