• The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

The Decatur Celebration is over and that means that school will soon be beginning again and thoughts of Fall have already crept into my mind.  I love Fall in Illinois.  Halloween is my favorite holiday and this year, I am going to convince my 9-year-old son to have a Halloween party.  My daughter used to have them and I always had a blast arranging them.  The kids really enjoyed them too…as a bonus, but honestly I think I have the most fun.

Back to  School

I have two 8-week terms left at Columbia College and I’ll be finished with an associate degree in environmental studies in December.  I have applied to Oregon State for their bachelor’s program in natural resources, and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll get in.  The University of Illinois also has a good online program.  The only problem with the U of I is I’d have to take two years of foreign language, and that doesn’t sound too thrilling.  Oregon State doesn’t require it for students who graduated high school prior to 1997 which is nice for me.  Anyway, right now I’m in a holding pattern until I know what my next step is for certain.

One way or the other, I will be taking statistics and biology in a couple weeks and a couple other classes ending in December.  The time at Columbia has gone by fast.  Of course, I haven’t begun statistics yet.  Time will probably slow considerably then.  I’m predicating a high statistical probability of that occurring.

Getting Back In Shape

Other than that, not a whole lot has been going on my life, other than trying to get back into shape.  This past year really threw me a lot of curve balls.  I’ve been through injuries, several illnesses, heart issues, etc.  It’s been one thing after another, beginning last winter.  I don’t know what knocked me down so hard but it’s taken several months to get back up.  Luckily, I’ve been able to keep up with school through it all.

It’s been very difficult to go through physically — and mentally.  I was used to working out every evening and to get bowled over like that was tough.  I sure didn’t see it coming.  To get back into a normal exercise routine, I purchased a Fitbit device that I wear on my waist.  It has motivated me to walk more.

At first I began just walking in my backyard, trying to rehab myself enough to go for longer walks in the neighborhood.  It’s been working!  I’ve been walking about 4 miles a day now.  That is 10,000 steps for me.  For taller people (average height people), 10,000 steps are supposed to equal about 5 miles.


The device syncs with an app for your smartphone, computer, or tablet through Bluetooth.  For a tech nerd like me, I love it.  It’s basically just a pedometer but the app it does much more than just count steps.  I just hope I don’t get knocked down again.

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I admit I’m kind of an old fuddy dud when it comes to the Decatur Celebration.  I generally only go during daylight hours, or early evening, for food and crafts.  I don’t drink alcohol or hang with those that do drink in excess. And after all these year, I have yet to go to the Celebration for the sole purpose of watching a music concert, but that may change tomorrow night, when I plan to brave the crowds for Joan Jett.  I’m not a huge fan but I just don’t want to be forever coined a “fuddy dud”.  I’m way too cool for that.

Anyway, my family went to watch the parade this morning. It was good.  It just needs the Budweiser Clydesdales and more bagpipes, (never have too many of those!) but other than that it was enjoyable.

It’s always nice to see veterans marching or riding on floats, though every year there are less and less.  On one hand that’s a good thing because that means we haven’t had any major wars in several years, involving hundreds of thousands of troops; on the other hand, it’s sad because we’ve lost much of the Greatest Generation.  It was great that so many people still clapped and honored the Korean War veterans as they went past, however.


It’s also great that there are still men and women who know how to play bagpipes.  I have a soft spot in my heart for them, being that a big part of my ancestry is Scottish.


Some more parade pics:

St. Mary’s hospital did a great job with the balloons.


The weather was terrific and the crowd was large.


And this is what puts food on my family’s table and the reason my parents moved to Decatur in the 1960s:


After the parade, it was time to eat.  Most of the food is high calorie, high fat and high cholesterol, but for one day, or possibly three, nobody cares!  Here is the steak and cheese sandwich I had. It was pretty good. I’d rate it a 3.5 on 5-point scale.  It didn’t knock my socks off.  Of course, I wasn’t wearing any but…


I also nearly ate an entire funnel cake by myself, without one ounce of guilt in my mind, even though there will be 3 pounds of fat on my thighs later.  I’d rate it a 5!  I know it isn’t exotic or new like deep-fried pumpkin pie or glow-in-the-dark cheesecake on a flaming stick, but sometimes, oldies but goodies are still just as good!


Last year I was disappointed because I didn’t find one necklace that turned me on.  You probably should know that I have a thing for necklaces.  It’s unhealthy, possibly, but I limit myself each year to only a few purchases at the various festivals we attend.  This year I wasn’t disappointed.


I bought this turtle necklace plus two others. (You’ll have to excuse my fingernails.  I’ve been doing a landscaping project in my yard all week.)  Anyway, I love it!  The necklace, not my fingernails.


You can find more necklaces like this, plus several other styles on East Prairie, or after the Celebration, online at:  www.etsy.com/shop/CasieCreations or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GenuineGemstoneJewelry

I love promoting fellow craftspeople.  One of these days, I’d love to have a booth at Clinton’s Apple & Pork Festival again for my stained glass.  I did well and it was fun, probably because I did well. :)  It’s also a lot of work and artists are exposing a bit of their soul in each of their creations. It’s hard not to take rejection personally.  I know what it’s like to be in their shoes, so I try to support them as much as I can.

I don’t have any saucy, gritty stories to tell from the Decatur Celebration.  I know many people think it’s one gang rape after another, and mass shootings occur every night but frankly, much of Decatur Celebration is just people eating too much and buying turtle necklaces.  After tomorrow night, however, maybe I’ll have something different to share – hopefully nothing violence related.


Well, I tried to go to a concert Sunday evening but I couldn’t find a parking spot within a mile of downtown, so I have still yet to see an entire concert at the Decatur Celebration.  Maybe next year!


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Well this post would have been up a week ago but my MacBook’s hard drive crashed.  It’s still in the repair shop and hopefully I’ll have it back soon because I’m so lost without it! It’s taken a while to get used to a Windows operating system again on my old desktop.  Thank goodness I still have it and it still works!  Anyway…


Last week a group of eight of my family members visited Decatur’s new mini-golf course.  I had written about it, and taken several pictures as it was being built over the past year. It was great to finally see it up close and personal, instead of through a telephoto lens. We decided to play course B, so the photos you’ll see are from that particular course. There are two to choose from. Course A has some shade from mature trees, so if it’s hot, you may want to choose it instead! It wasn’t that hot and sunny when we played, so course B was fine. Well, I guess, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

Below:  The last holes of both courses.  I guess I should have put this photo last.


My 9 year old son having a good time.  Later in the game he was throwing his club in frustration.  Like mother, like son!  I was the same way as a kid.  It’s hard being the youngest when everybody else can do better, and you have two older brothers who tease you relentlessly…wait a minute, I’ll save that for my therapist!  Back to the course…



You’ll do better hitting the ball around the water at the Flamingo hole but what fun is that? :)



I didn’t put two and two together at the time but the penguin on the ship is supposed to be in reference to Decatur’s namesake, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval war hero.  There are Decatur landmarks and trivia thrown into the theme of the course, along with the animals of Decatur’s Scovill Zoo.


The meerkats were my personal favorite!


Finally got to see one of the two bridges I watched being constructed up close and personal.


Below:  The goat hole!  There’s little details like this that you’ll have to pay special attention to. The goat has taken a bite out of the sign and is eating the “grass”.



Below is a wider view of the course. I would need a wide angle lens to really show it.  I just used the camera on my phone for these.  The course is beautifully landscaped but I noticed some plants had already been trampled by big and little feet.  There’s some tweaking to be done here and there to prevent such unintended damage.


We all agreed it was a fun family outing. Young children will especially enjoy the animals. The only thing I missed was music! That was a big part of Paul’s when I was a teenager. It seemed odd without music playing in the background but then, knowing today’s music industry, they would probably want royalties and the park district would be sued.


Sundays have a special rate of $20 for a family of four, otherwise it is $6.50/adult, $5.50/child, and 3 and under is free.  It’s fairly reasonable pricing I think.  There are other special dates and promotions too. It is an upgrade over Pauls’, so we can’t expect to pay Paul’s prices!  Check out the Decatur park district’s website for more details.

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Every neighborhood has one:  A haunted house that kids tell tales of strange happenings.  My neighborhood was no different.  We had our haunted house but it isn’t one you would picture in a horror movie.  It was a bland, beige, ranch situated near a sidewalk that eventually led to the neighborhood pool and shopping center.

I don’t know how the legend began but it slowly built up into an irresistible page-turning read of stories we embellished, heard second-hand, and well, just made up, mostly the latter.  Still, there was something odd about the house, and on a hot summer afternoon, with a couple of friends while we were walking past it, we noticed that the basement window was open.

My friends went closer to look inside.  I stayed back on the sidewalk. They whispered back in breathless excitement what they were seeing.  It was unbelievable!  It was dark, damp, creepy, and smelled funny.  It was…a typical basement but we didn’t let that stop us from believing in the beyond.  One of my friends, who happened to be as skinny as a beanpole, removed the window from its’ hinges, and made his way inside.

It’s funny how none of us considered this illegal.  At the time, we were on a mission to prove something – to prove that ghosts are real.  We thought we were doing everyone a favor.  We were also dumb.

My friend made his way in and we waited for his return.  I felt uneasy and considered leaving him there but his head quickly popped back out.  “There’s a creepy staircase!”  He made his way out of the small opening quicker than I had processed what he had said.  The kid was so skinny and quick; he was nearly as transparent and agile as a ghost.


This is actually an old school house near Clinton. I don’t know if it’s still there.

I asked about the staircase and he told me it led backwards.  “Backwards?” I thought.  “It faces the wrong direction.  It leads to nowhere.”  He said.  My other friend bent down and looked inside and confirmed his testimony.  We all wondered why there was a backwards staircase.  We had no explanation.

About then, the next-door neighbor appeared in the frame of her backdoor.  She was wearing what looked like underwear that began from her neck and didn’t stop till her knees.  She was wearing the grandmother of granny panties before we knew what granny panties were.  We didn’t know what to think, we just turned away and ran as fast we could.

The haunted house was still in our minds but something far scarier had replaced it:  An old lady in her underwear.  Standing breathless next to the creek, we looked at each other and began laughing.  Then one of us suddenly realized that what we had done was called “breaking and entering”.  But then we reasoned, we hadn’t broken anything, so it was technically only half a crime, and that didn’t count.  Did it?

The police never showed up but we stayed away from the haunted house for a while and the old lady in her underwear.  We still made up ghost stories because I think we all wanted to believe in something we couldn’t see.  The worst part of growing up is having the magic and make-believe world we believed in and created, eroded away by dang facts taught by grownups, and undeniable realities, life experiences were teaching us. I guess we wanted life to have more meaning than just school and logic. We were sick of logic and this was before Common Core math!

I guess that’s why every neighborhood has a haunted house: We all want to believe in ghosts. However, the old lady in her underwear frightened us more than any ghost could have.  That was a sight that could have been left unseen, although her underwear certainly did defy logic, kinda like Common Core math. I still don’t understand those backwards stairs though.

It gives me hope the house was haunted after all. What a wonderful thought.



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Through a Facebook group for my neighborhood in Decatur, people who had moved away frequently ask how things look today.  Some have been gone for more than 20 years but still have a deep attachment to the neighborhood they grew up in.  Though I didn’t grow up in the Ravina Park neighborhood, I have lived in it for almost 20 years, and I know what it is like to have fond memories of those places that were once all the world you knew and cared about.

Everyone agrees it’s a great neighborhood to live in. The only thing I keep lobbying for is a neighborhood pool/rec center.  By the way, Home Park used to have a pool.  I didn’t know that until a few years ago.  I’ve learned some interesting tidbits of history about my neighborhood from those who grew up in it.  I guess there used to be a crazy bull that chased people when some of the roads were just dirt paths, and part of the neighborhood is built upon an old landfill.  I would have never known!  Just as long as my house isn’t built upon an ancient burial ground, I’m okay, though it would explain some things…

This is the main entrance into the neighborhood on Ravina Park Road and I enjoy the view every time I drive it.  I would only advise to watch out for deer in this area.  I have seen many dart in front of cars, including my own.


This is near Ben Franklin Elementary School where Summit Avenue turns into Westlawn Ave.  This is close to my house and a favorite escape route to rural areas and leads to the back way to the mall, eventually.


Below is Carson’s Crossing, the bridge spanning Stevens Creek, on Westlawn.  If somebody could tell me the history behind the Carson’s Crossing name, I’d love to hear it.  I have no idea why it is named Carson’s Crossing.


Below is the bike path near Carson’s Crossing off of Westlawn.


Here are a couple photos of the same bike path off of Center Street.




Below is a picturesque farm off of Center Street that I greatly admire.  The house is beautiful and I believe one of, if not the oldest, houses in Macon County.  The house isn’t pictured here but it’s gorgeous. The Ravina/Home Park neighborhood is surrounded by beautiful rural areas, woods, and even a little bit of history.


Below is the site of Macon County’s first homestead off of Center Street.  The Stevens family owned it and I’m assuming that’s how Stevens Creek got its’ name.  There is a historical marker on it to read.


Below:  One of the ponds in the neighborhood off of Summit and Harrison not far from my house.  Today was the first time I had visited it.  I wasn’t sure if there was public access to it, so I had never tried before.  I didn’t find any public access but I got some pictures anyway!  I’ve seen kids with fishing poles walking to it, so the neighborhood can use it.  It’s a catch and release pond.



Another view of the pond.


Below is a typical street you’ll find in the Home Park neighborhood and where I’ve always taken my kids Trick-or-Treating because there’s more younger families there, than in my area.  The Ravina Park neighborhood is older and a lot of the houses are smaller and in need of some curb appeal. Actually I’m a Ravina Parker, not a Home Parker but everybody calls the entire area Home Park, even though Ravina Park was there first.  Go figure!


A big part of many people’s memories of the neighborhood is MacArthur High School.  It is currently being completely renovated and I’ll share photos as it progresses, including the inside.


Here is a view of Home Park Road.  It’s a hilly street in dire need of sidewalks.  I don’t know why sidewalks weren’t put into so many neighborhood plans in Decatur.  I guess when they were built, the city figured nobody would ever walk or ride a bike again.  I think they were almost right, considering how fat most of us are. :)  Ravina Park Road does have sidewalks though and they are used by many evening strollers.


Well, that was just a little bit of what is in my neighborhood and if anyone has history about the area, I would love to hear and share it.


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