Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day


The Circle City got dumped on Tuesday night and into the day on Wednesday. In total, we had about 13 inches of the white stuff at our place. Those of you on Facebook probably already saw the little photo journal I put up Wednesday night (those of you not on Facebook - should be! It's where the action is! LOL!)

See the "trails" in the photo above? They were made by snowshoes. I hadn't been on my snowshoes in a while - there really hasn't been that much snow here in several years - so I'd almost forgotten about them. But when I saw the depth of the snow, I had this urge to get out there. So we did! We walked around the pond, making deep trails on the freshly fallen snow. It was like working out on an elliptical machine, and we have the sore muscles to prove it.

Anyway, Wednesday was a snow day in all kinds of ways . . . the schools were closed (that rarely happens in Indianapolis), and the roads were really bad. We're pretty far out in Marion County (just a short distance from the next county to the east) and have found that we are not very high on the priority list for snow removal. But that's OK. At least we have snowshoes!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scenes from Alabama


I'd like to thank everyone who sent us condolences, either via email, on Facebook, or in person. The funeral yesterday was lovely - I never knew that I could describe a funeral as "lovely" but it really was. 

Birmingham is quite an impressive place with its green hills, Vulcan statue, and new (everything seem so new and shiny) stores, malls, and houses. I cannot stay here much longer, though. It seems I have naturally slipped into my native Southern eating ways: BBQ, BBQ, BBQ! And to think that just a few days ago, I was practically a vegetarian or vegan! This cannot be good. If Jillian McKeith (You Are What You Eat) were spying on me, she'd faint! 

OK, soon I'll be home and get back to eating my fruits, veggies, and whole grains. It will be OK. Really, it will!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration day

In just a few hours, we'll have a new President here in the USA. It feels sort of like "the dawning of the Age of Aquarius" . . . in a way I've never experienced in my lifetime. Despite the sucky economy, the wars, and all the bad stuff, people are very hopeful that President Obama will be able to lead us through it.

Despite the above, I'm not very motivated to write much today because early this morning, we got the call that S's father passed away. This was not unexpected, but certainly that doesn't make it any easier. However, I have been asked to celebrate rather than to mourn.

So let today be a celebration! Of hope, of idealism, of the future . . . and the past, also.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jim

I always thought it was cool that I had twenty first cousins on my Dad's side. My oldest first cousin - Jim - was born in 1942, so he was twenty-two years older than me. Yet despite our age difference, Jim and I always got along really well. 

A former Marine, Jim was in great physical shape and placed a lot of emphasis on fitness and health. Last Thursday morning, he headed out for a long bike ride with three friends. I don't know the details, but in my mind, they were someplace like Umstead Park near Raleigh, North Carolina. They stopped for coffee, rested a while, then got back on their bikes and began riding in the park. Suddenly, Jim fell from his bike. He never got up again. 

I got the call Thursday night, and spent the next twenty-four hours in disbelief. How could this happen? Jim's Dad lived to be 88 and his Mom is in her 90s and sharp as a tack. Why did it happen? No one knows. It just happened. I'm in shock. I'm angry. And I'm just the cousin, so I can only imagine how others who were even closer to him must be feeling. 

A few random things about Jim that are coming to my mind as I write this: He is the person who got me interested in genealogy and in our Scottish heritage. I'll never be able to visit Beaufort, North Carolina without remembering the fondness he felt for that seaside hamlet. He liked classical music, especially a certain piece by Paganini. He once gave a home to a stray dog, whom he named "Lucky." He was a great guy, very laid-back, with a funny sense of humor. He was the kind of person you wanted to be friends with, and he had many friends.

Today would have been his 67th birthday. Instead, there was a memorial service. I'm told the church was packed. I wish I could have been there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alberta clipper

As I write this blog entry, it's -4 degrees Fahrenheit here in Indianapolis, with a wind chill of -23 degrees. Yep, those are minus signs before those numbers (Celsius equivalents are -20 and -31, respectively.) Think that's cold? Just wait until tomorrow morning! They're telling us it will be -10F (-23C) at 7:00AM! It was colder in Indianapolis today than it was in Fairbanks, Alaska, where currently it's a balmy 26F (that's degrees above zero) under a wind advisory. WTF?

It's called an Alberta Clipper . . . or Saskatchewan Screamer . . . or Manitoba Mauler, depending on from which Canadian province the cold air originates. The typical trajectory of this weather phenomenon usually takes it to New England, but this time it decided to visit Indianapolis. It hasn't been this cold here since the last one visited five years ago (it was -20F then, so I guess we really can't complain.)

It's so cold, your nose hairs freeze when you breathe.
 
Life really slows down when it gets like this. We go from garage to garage (from home to work) and don't mess around. At home, we basically hibernate. Life is not particularly exciting. OK, so tonight is Grissom's last night on CSI, and everyone else here but me is watching. I'm hibernating.

The good news is that by Saturday, temperatures should be close to normal again. Maybe by then, I'll have something more interesting to blog about.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beating the winter blues

Here in Indianapolis, we haven't seen the sun in several days - maybe a week. January has been incredibly dreary so far, and there really hasn't been that much to blog about. But last night we saw a movie on DVD that transported us to a beautiful Greek island and made us all want to sing and dance. I laughed until I cried. The movie was Mamma Mia!

It was our first time seeing the movie. To be honest, I wasn't all that interested in seeing it when it was in the theaters last summer. I'd seen the stage version of Mamma Mia! and I simply could not imagine Meryl Streep in the role of Donna. I felt she was too old for the role and I wasn't sure about her ability to sing. But she pulled it off quite well, I think.

Amanda Seyfried, whom we in this house know well from HBO's Big Love, was adorable as Donna's daughter Sophie. She has an "innocence" about her that was totally right for the role, and if that was really her singing voice, then Girlfriend can sing. 

I was a little shocked with Pierce Brosnan's voice (was that really him singing?), but it was hard not to like him as one of Donna's former boyfriends. Stellan Skarsgard was the obvious choice for the Swedish former beau, and it was refreshing to see him a role where he could be funny. I love Colin Firth in just about anything, but was a little disappointed that his character's secret wasn't revealed as obviously in the movie as it was in the musical version. 

But by far, my favorite character was Rosie - played by English actress Julie Walters. She totally cracked me up, especially the "Take a Chance On Me" scene. It seems to me that she stole the show in the same way that Stockard Channing's Rizzo stole Grease back in 1978.

Of course, it's all about the music, and twenty-four hours after watching Mamma Mia! I'm still singing ABBA songs. It's funny to me that when I was growing up, ABBA had one hit after another, but I never realized until the past few years that they were probably the most famous musical act in the world after The Beatles. We now laugh at the "outlandish" costumes worn by musical acts of the 1960s and 1970s. I was thinking today that everyone from the Osmonds to the O'Jays used to wear costumes when they performed. Oh, those were the days.

Anyway, Mamma Mia! was so much fun, I decided to order a copy from Amazon.com today (I also ordered Grease). And I hereby resolve to loosen up and have some fun. That's the best way to beat the winter blues!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Annoying catalogs

Today I received six catalogs in the mail.

It occurred to me not long ago that I'm getting way too many unwanted catalogs. I'm not sure how this happens. I guess the companies you want to get magazines from sell your name and address to other companies. Whatever. All I know is, I don't want magazines selling men's clothing, athletic apparel that only women size 6 and under can wear, or incontinence products. And I certainly don't want more trees to die just so I can see photos of cheap plastic crap I neither want nor need.

Does this sound like a rant? Well, I guess it is, because I'm sick of these catalogs piling up. Mine get recycled (I hope - you can never really know for sure, I guess) but how many just go to the landfills? Fortunately, I found a web site that can help me with this. Catalog Choice can help me decide which catalogs I want, and stop those I don't want. It's good for the environment, and it's totally free! 

If you find yourself in a similar situation and want to do something about it, just go to www.catalogchoice.org. Reclaim your mailbox!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Carolina



Here are some photos from my recent trip to the family farm in North Carolina. My great-grandfather bought this farm sometime before the Civil War. His son (my grandfather) married the daughter of the neighboring landowner and the two farms combined in the early twentieth century. After my grandmother died in 1965, one of my uncles owned and farmed it until he died. Now it belongs to my Dad. Maybe someday it will be mine (or half mine and half my sister's.) 

A little over half of the farm (not including my parents' house and HUGE yard - sheesh, I'm so glad I don't have to mow it) is used to grow corn and soybeans. The rest is a mixture of pines and wetlands. There is a small pond that my parents are planning to clean out a bit and stock for fishing. 

My very self-sufficient parents have a year-round organic garden where they grow nearly every imaginable vegetable that will grow in that region. My Mom cans and freezes stuff, and I always come back with a ton of food after visiting. They have some fruit trees, blackberry and blueberry bushes, and they told me they are going to plant some walnut and pecan trees this year.


They raise Buff Rock chickens for eggs and meat, and they have 6 Guinea fowl that totally crack me up. Have you ever seen Guinea fowl? They do everything as a group - there's no clear leader - it's like they share a brain. The "Guineas" are really good for keeping mosquitoes, rodents, and certain other creepy crawlies away.

Two Border Collies and three cats complete our farm family. Two of the cats follow Mom and Dad around when they go for their daily walk. I don't know why the other one doesn't come along, but it stays home with the dogs.

Anyway, that's life on the farm. I like going there because it's so laid back. If I ever move back there, I want to build a log cabin back in the woods, have my own organic garden, and lots of animals. Sure, I'd miss Starbucks and other benefits of city living, but as long as I have an espresso machine and FedEx and UPS can deliver, I'd probably be just fine. :-)