Hey, Decatur!  Fall is always such a busy time for most of us, including me.  My calendar in October has been full but that’s okay.  I’m still trying to fit in a campfire in my backyard but either I’m not home, or it’s raining, but I’m going to schedule it in this weekend.  I’d feel like a total fall failure if I didn’t roast a marshmallow or two.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the world is a little crazy out there.  Watching the past three presidential debates has made me question humanity.  I read a study a few days ago indicating that many Americans are experiencing significant mental stress, from both sides of the aisle, from the non-stop absurdity that has been the 2016 presidential campaign. I believe it.   And, for us St Louis Cardinal fans, toss in the fact that the Chicago Cubs are probably going to the World Series, and it just feels like the world has been turned upside down.

Luckily, life has continued to go on this fall…

I’ve been learning how to test soil for my soil science class.  It was fun!


I’ve dug soil pits to expose soil horizons.  The shoveling wasn’t so much fun but I love doing research.

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I’ve discovered funky fungus balls in the forest.


A met a super cool caterpillar who doesn’t care about politics or the Cubs


I’ve helped carve pumpkins for Boo at the Zoo


I’ve harvested seeds from the prairie for Rock Springs and Midewin (pronounced Mi-day-win) National Tallgrass Prairie



I’ve discovered beauty and tranquility in nature.


I’ve seen the face of my grandson and it doesn’t get much better than that.


I’ve realized there’s till a lot of hope in the world and to not give up the faith that  one day things will feel normal again but just in case…  Cursed goat, do your magic once again on the Chicago Cubs (and Donald Trump).  We’re counting on you!


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Last weekend I experienced disc golf for the first time at Nelson Park’s course.  I brought along my 11-year-old son with me and we had a good time.  For the first go around, we didn’t do terrible.  It’s not like I was expecting much other than a learning experience but I discovered that disc golf is like a lot of other things.  It’s looks so much easier to master than it really is in practice.

I don’t know how it was possible but I was able to throw a circular disc, which is essentially a frisbee, and make a boomerang out of it.  My discs seemed to do things that were against the laws of physics, and not to my advantage.

One of our biggest problems was trying to figure out how the course was laid out.  I wasn’t sure where the next target was.  There are 18 of them but we played them completely out of order and skipped a great deal of them.  If I have any suggestions for the park district, it’s to have better signage.  As you can see, we wandered around quite a bit looking for the next target.


Still, it was great exercise and we’ll be going back.  It’s free to play on the course.  All you need are your own discs, which aren’t very expensive.  In the end we both felt pretty good about ourselves, even though as I was pulling away in the car another player launched a disc about 200 yards, almost effortlessly in front of us.  Show off!  One day I’ll do the same!

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It’s officially the end of summer, well for me anyway.  I consider September 1st the first day of fall.  Looking back over the last few months I’ve realized something.  I did almost nothing fun or even borderline recreational throughout the entire summer.  Basically, I spent the summer in my basement, hauling out 20 years worth of stuff, painting and organizing but it’s finally done. Sometimes I sit and just admire how empty it is.

It truly was a disaster, beyond words.  Only pictures can tell this story.

The before:



The after:

basementafter1 basementafter2

In this last picture, I’ve never actually been able to stand in this part of my basement before.  It’s now my fitness area.  When we bought the house, it came with a pool table that weighs about 6,000 tons.  That’s why the previous owners left it for us!  It’s still down there but I took the legs off of it and have it propped against a wall.  I might have to take a saw to it to get it out the basement but at least it’s finally out of the way.

When I wasn’t cleaning the basement, I was doing homework.  Thankfully, this summer my class load wasn’t terrible.  In fact, this was the first summer in four years that I had enough time to get stuff done around the house.  Hence, the awful condition of the basement in the before pictures.

And when I wasn’t in the basement, or doing homework, I was walking back and forth to my car, running errands, and wow, my life sounds really lame.


But I did meet up with a friend or two here and there on my way to the car:  A fire hydrant, a tree, and a squirrel!


A few weeks ago I got a new fitness tracker.  I love trying these things out, mostly because they give me inspiration to work out more and help keep off the weight I lost last year.  Boy, that’s been a challenge and half.  I keep gaining and losing the same 5 pounds after gaining almost 10 pounds back but I’m determined to be a healthy weight.

Below:  Samsung GearFit2

fitness tracker

This weekend I plan to go out and try disc golf for the first time.  It’s basically a poor person’s version of golf using frisbees.  My discs are supposed to be arriving tomorrow and I also ordered a set for my son.  I’ll share our experience later.  When I was in Forsyth Park taking this photo, a young man lost one of his discs in the creek and another in a tree, so I expect some disasters.  I think I’ll try Nelson Park, however.  It’s more open, so there’s less chance of losing things.  Plus, if Forsyth knew a Decaturite was walking through its park, they might just lose it.  That kinda makes me want to go to Forsyth now.

disc golf

And lastly, here’s a pic of Rock Springs I took a couple weeks ago.  I didn’t get a chance to do much hiking this past summer.  Hopefully, before school begins again, I can get out there.


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I missed covering the last city council meeting as life threw me some surprise news over the past week.  I learned that I’m going to be a grandmother, which is one of those life-altering events.  A whole new chapter is being written and I really don’t know what to say.  I’m absolutely thrilled by the news.  It’s exciting but thinking of myself as a grandmother seems patently ridiculous at the same time.

Here I am the youngest sibling in the family becoming a grandparent first.  My older brothers are sure getting a kick out of it.  I feel like I graduated from the kids’ card table at Thanksgiving to the grandmother who inspired “Over the River and Through The Woods”.

The News

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had devised a plan to break the news.  She convinced me to sign up for an art class with her at the Decatur Arts Council, which was fun.  We both made a collage-type painting and mine turned out looking like the most girly thing ever, which is funny because I’m not girly at all.  We both got a laugh out of it.  So, I jokingly suggested that if I were to have a granddaughter I would give it to her. She acted a little strange after I said that, which seemed odd.  She’s used to my failed attempts at humor.


It turned out looking nice, though!  It’s hanging in the spare bedroom where my grandson will probably spend a lot of time.


My daughter had beat me back to the house, as I was busy taking in the sights downtown.  Between the Pokemon players walking into trees and traffic and workers getting ready for the Decatur Celebration, downtown was hopping, though it doesn’t look like it in this particular photo.

central park fountain

After I got back home and we talked for a couple hours, she finally worked up the nerve to tell me.  I was shocked, speechless, stunned.  Now I know how fathers feel.  I’m used to breaking such news, not having it broke to me, but I couldn’t stop smiling for hours.  It’s amazing!  I wish had eloquent words for the moment but if a song is going to be written about me, “Over the River and Through the Woods” is perfectly fine, after seeing this face.

baby ultrasound



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Today my family and I dug into the basement to sort through 19 years of accumulated memories stuffed into plastic tubs and cardboard boxes.  It was a chore we we’re all dreading because the task before us was immense. I knew I would be in pain after carrying up tub after tub of things we no longer had use for but still an attachment to.

Even the silliest thing can bring back a flood of memories and remind me of times in my children’s lives, and my life as a parent, that I had totally forgotten about.

There were things that my mom had bought our daughter and I kept many of those.  She passed away when I was pregnant with my son.  There were things that my father-in-law had bought for his grandkids, and many of those were kept as well.  He passed away last year.

That’s why so much of the stuff had remained in the basement.  Cleaning out those old things was like giving away part of who we had been as a family, and letting go of things that reminded us of family members we had lost.

We all took it in a different way.  My husband was quick to toss most everything because most of the stuff didn’t have much meaning to him.  He’s worked 60 to 70-hour weeks for pretty much our entire marriage.  He simply wasn’t around the kids that much, especially when they were very young.  For me, I can remember so much more.  Seeing a book I read to my daughter, when she was a baby, had so much more meaning for me.  It was hard to let go.

It was most difficult on our 9-year old son, who wasn’t too happy to see so many toys packed up and given away.  It was kind of traumatic for him, though he still has enough toys for about ten kids.

Even our teenage daughter got nostalgic and for the first hour or so we only managed to put about eight items, out of about four thousand, in the “donate” box.  We realized we were going to have to be a little less sentimental and let things go, or we’d never be rid of the clutter.

I did well until we actually unloaded everything at the thrift store.  Seeing so many familiar items of our lives sitting on a lonely loading dock was sad, sadder than I had imagined but goodbyes always are.

I’m proud of myself because I only saved one plastic tub of items, mostly baby toys, and they will stay with me until I’m gone.  If I ever have grandkids, they’ll get to play with them.

I don’t regret getting rid of those things because, after all, they are just things and I know life has to keep moving forward.  More importantly, as I have gotten older, I’ve been around long enough to know that every year is a “wonder year”.  I can look back on my 20s and 30s with the same amount of wonder as my childhood. I can look back on the hard times with just as much amazement and gratitude as I have for the good.  It’s funny how time does that.

There are so many more years to experience and appreciate.  Lord willing.  There are so many more things to accumulate in my basement.  Lord forbid!









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