Thoughts about the election

I got a request from one of my faithful readers (Hi, Mom!) to post an update. Here's something that occurred to me last week, when I gave two of my sixth grade volleyball players a ride to the game.

While driving, I overheard them in the back seat discussing the upcoming election. One of them said to the other, "You just can't trust anything that they say. The one guy will say something about the other guy and he will say something back about him."

It wasn't so much the words themselves, it was her tone. She wasn't spouting vitriol about the campaign and election process or any candidate. She was just matter-of-fact.

Part of me was sad. What does it say about politics in the United States when an 11-year-old thinks that no one is honest? It's a sobering thought.

But part of me was glad. She's paying attention to the election and to what's happening in our country. She's engaged in the process, even though she can't vote. Too bad more adults aren't like her.  


Take me out to the ball game

In my search for the "quintessential summer experience" (otherwise known as my desire to make summer vacation last as long as possible), I can't believe I didn't think about going to a baseball game. Really, is there a more traditional summer activity than the all-American pastime?

So when my friend suggested going to a game at Target Field, I jumped at the chance. I have a habit of romanticizing things and baseball is no exception. I inhaled the entire experience as I spent an inning and a half walking around the entire park, looking at the field from all angles. I was reminded of one of my favorite movies: Bull Durham. Kevin Costner's veteran catcher Crash Davis describes major league stadiums, "The ballparks are like cathedrals." 

I don't know when I'll visit Target Field again, because my Tigers have not won the last three times I've watched them play in Minneapolis. I'm not normally superstitious, but with sports, I make an exception. One summer I listened to Ice Ice Baby before every softball game. True story. 

I know I've written frequently about my Canon lately, and while I concede that you might be tired of hearing about it-- I. Just. Can't. Help. Myself. I took it to the game and tried out some new features. 


Candid camera

Since I've been using my new Canon (love it!), my little point-and-shoot probably feels neglected. I don't take the photos off its memory card as often as I used to. So today, when I went to review what's on the card, I laughed hysterically for five minutes. I let my nieces and nephews take pictures with the camera and this was the first time I've actually looked at the results.

Take a peek:
Either my sister was *really* cold or the photographer had unsteady hands!

Some very artistic thighs (no Photoshop needed!)

Daring photojournalism. Going where no photographer has gone before. The church bathroom.

My brother's strong jawline


Mini libraries

Here's an idea I'm absolutely in love with. It's called Little Free Library. This movement started in Wisconsin. People all over the nation have built these little bookhouses and filled them with books. You can take a book or leave a book. In my own hometown, I've spotted three of them, but according to the map, there are a few more!

You can download instructions on how to build your own, or even order a kit. I would love to have one, so maybe I'll see if I can get my sister to help me craft it. In the meantime, I've visited one and put a few books inside. Everyone needs a little Nick Hornby, right?


Tip-pig tournament

I'm at the forefront of a new movement, a new twist on an old game. A sport that I am going to lobby to be part of the next summer Olympics. It's called tip-pig. (It's important to note the name. Tip-Dash-Pig.) For complete rules, please visit the official tip-pig website, where co-founder John explains the game in the most complex possible way. :)

Anyway, it's become a summer tradition to get together for tip-pig, complimented by food, drink, music and a campfire. I was pleased to participate in the festivities again this year. I'd like to state that I actually won one of the rounds of tip-pig!  However, I did not do well enough to win the championship belt. Next year. :)

This picture captured a rare moment: Gary defying gravity.

The winner poses with the trophies.

Official scorekeeper (left) and co-founder (right)


County fair

In the Midwest, what tradition says "summer" like a county fair? I spent two days at a fair with good friends, helping out and running errands. Here are a few things I learned:
  • They let crackpots (i.e. me) direct traffic. While I totally rocked the neon yellow vest with reflective tape (ha!), it was a risk to give me a two-way radio. After a few hours in the sun, I found many things funny that probably weren't funny. I'm sure I unintentionally entertained some of the drivers.
  • I still cannot properly apply sunscreen (ow, ow, pain, pain). I always miss some something, like my hairline or the tops of my feet.
  • Goats need privacy when they are giving birth. (WHAT? You put the goats into a barn, where hundreds of people walk through and view their every moment, then you want the goat to have privacy? Did you not realize the goat was pregnant when you dropped her off at the fair?)
  • Growing up, my friend Dayna showed dairy cows at the fair. During a quiet moment, we were watching a young girl lead her animal in the direction of the milk barn and Dayna said with sincere appreciation, "That's a nice looking cow." (Maybe it was the heat or the fact that all cows look pretty much the same to me, but I dissolved into hysterical laughter. Dayna's expression read, "The city girl has lost her marbles.")
  • Farm boys know how to have a good time...I watched some doing backflips...into a pile of manure.
  • The county fair is probably one of the only places where you can run into someone who went to high school with Tom Wopat.
  • I didn't know a shower could feel so good. After layers of dirt, dust, sweat and sunscreen, I was seriously dreaming of hot water, clean towels and a bar of soap. Talk about appreciating the little things!
I carried my camera with me most of the time to capture the details:

And there is another quintessential summer experience in my book. :)


The quintessential summer experience

We've had a HOT summer in Wisconsin so far. My plants look lethargic, the grass is a dull shade of brown-green and people seem to be moving slowly. I am *so* thankful for central air conditioning right now!

But I woke up the other day, feeling a little disappointed with myself. I remember as a child, going outside and playing no matter what. The hotter the better. It's summer! Shouldn't I be doing something outdoors, rather than staying inside all the time?

I started thinking about summer activities, like running through the sprinkler. (My neighbors are probably thankful that I haven't done this.) Or simply sitting in the sun, feeling the sweat bead up on my brow as I wait to be cooled by a hot breeze. About the only thing I'm not interested in doing is shopping for school supplies. I'm waiting until August for that one.

Yesterday I picked fresh red raspberries at a dear friend's home. It was a treasure hunt of sorts, as the best berries stay hidden under the leaves. Then I waded in a cool children's pool to soothe the myriad bug bites around my ankles from the berry picking. Ahh, lazy summer bliss.


Snapshots of life

Hello, blog. It's me again. Your long-lost author. Yes, I know it's been a while since you've heard from me. I could offer some excuses, but since pictures speak volumes (and since I received a lovely new camera for my birthday), I'll share some recent moments instead:

I snapped this photo of my dear friend and her daughter at her sister's elegant April wedding. (Look at those pink cheeks!) It was a pleasure to spend the day celebrating with the bride (whom I've known since she was 11) and her family.

May was an eventful month for my family. My beautiful baby sister graduated from high school. Here she is on graduation day with her best friend. Graduations are always so bittersweet, aren't they? The closing of one door and the opening of another...  

Speaking of another, my brother also graduated from seminary in May. He'll begin work at a small congregation in Minnesota at the end of the summer. I am already missing him, his wife and their sweet little boy. I love this candid picture of him and his son.

My other brother and his wife are expecting an adorable (I can tell this without having seen her yet!) little girl at the end of August. Here's another of my adorable nieces, taken at my sister-in-law's baby shower in mid-June.

I planned games for our church picnic, also in June. Check out the attitude of these little ladies. This picture makes me laugh every time. Personality in spades.

During June, my family went on our biennial vacation. There are now 34 of us, which makes for some challenging planning. Never a dull moment, though. We spent a few days in Minnesota: biking, swimming and riding the alpine slide.

A few of my siblings and their families had an impromptu swimming and canoe outing to celebrate July 4th. It was the perfect way to chill out in 100 degree temperatures. (Ay, caramba!) My little nephew loved playing in the cool mud of the creek bed.
Feel better, blog? I haven't forgotten you. I'll write again soon, I promise. :)
P.S. Happy birthday, America!


Living a fanciful life

My seventh and eighth grade literature class read Ode To the Artichoke recently. This inspired a lively discussion about dream jobs and careers. When one of the students asked me what my dream job was, I paused to consider the question. I've always been one of those "what if" people, the kind who imagines endless possibilities and avenues. I connect with the speaker in Robert Frost's epic poem The Road Not Taken. In truth, my own career path has been anything but a straight line.

I smiled at my class and told them, "This is my dream job (one of them, anyway!)." One of my-very-favorite-things-in-the-whole-wide-world is reading. Listening to students having a discussion about a literature selection is fascinating.  

Being a life-long book lover stirs one's imagination. When I was about 10, my father hid my Easter basket in the drop ceiling, I felt like Nancy Drew as I tapped each tile, searching for a tell-tale audio clue.

If my mother was paying attention, she could have probably told you what I was reading at any given time based on how I referred to her. For example, when I was going through my Little House on the Prairie stage, I called her "Ma."  During my Trixie Belden phase, she was "Moms." And cringing, I admit that after reading Little Women, I called my mother "Marmee" for a while. (Mom took this in stride, but my sisters sniffed at my pretentiousness.) The only time I remember catching grief for something I called my parents was when I referred to my father as "my old man" in a conversation with my mother. Hmmm. I don't remember what book that was from, but I DO know I never used that expression again.

Indulging my love of reading does have its downside. For instance...to this day, I am unable to kill spiders. More than once I've climbed into my shower, eyes bleary with sleep, only to be confronted by a large spider. I do the official dance of avoidance, usually accompanied by a high pitched squeak of some sort.  But even as I'm primordially pitching a fit, I sentimentally think of Charlotte's Web. Who could kill a creature that writes the word "radiant" in a web? I end up giving the spider a lecture about personal space instead and we declare an uneasy truce. Anthropomorphizing a daddy long legs spider must say something about my subconscious, but I don't want to know what it is.

I figure that I can't be the only one. How has your love of books affected you? Did you pack school lunches consisting of chunks of french bread and cheese after you read Heidi? Oh, wait, that was me.