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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It’s Monday morning, which means I have about an hour to devote to something other than the six classes I’m taking this quarter before I have to begin on the new week’s assignments…

I’ll be graduating in a few months and I can’t tell you how ready I am to begin the next part of my life.  I’ll be earning a B.S. in Natural Resources and everyone asks me what I plan to do after I graduate, especially since I live in Decatur.  After all, majoring in natural resources and living in Decatur, Illinois provides about the same number of job opportunities as if I had majored in volcanology.  I knew that before I began.  The opportunities are slim here for both vocations, unless a magma plume builds up beneath the lithosphere of Central Illinois.  In that case, I should have majored in volcanology.

I plan to start a business.  Actually, that was my plan when I went back to school in the first place.  I wanted to have the credentials and know-how to offer the services and products I wanted to provide then.  Then I got sidetracked and thought maybe it would be easier to get a government job and live on easy street but I’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur and enjoy the challenge. I’ve been modestly successful at businesses I’ve started before but I tried to do things that really didn’t fit my personality or strengths.  That never works out in the end.  So, that’s what I plan on doing and I have a lot of ideas in the works.  Now I just need to print this on a business card and hand to everyone who asks.

Of course, you might ask what kind of business but you’ll have to wait for that.  I know but I’m not sharing yet.  Ancient Chinese secret.

Next time I try to look cool on the trail, I probably should lose the dork glasses. Who am I kidding? I’m a dork and proud of it!





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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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