Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recent Grub

Grilled tofu (co-op) on organic salad (local farm) with fresh
bread (Strawberry Fields).
Organic tomatoes (my house and a local farm), organic salad (local farm),
organic avocado (co-op), and Annie's dressing.


I think if you asked anyone I went to school with if I was a cheerleader, they would immediately and emphatically answer "No." I don't mean a cheerleader in the traditional sense, but just a student/person who lived for the school games and knew at least a few of the players by number and statistics.

Despite that, once The Boy started team sports (at my insistence after he showed very little interest all the way up to 5th grade), I have loved every minute of cheering him on and his teammates at games and meets. With soccer, it was almost as if you acquire a new, extended family. I liked knowing all of their names and cheering them on specifically. Perhaps the boys thought it was odd that someone not their mom was cheering them on, but I didn't mind. Now that The Boy is in his second year of cross country, I am going to make an bigger effort to learn their names as well. With 60 teammates, as opposed to 15, it will be a little tougher, but some I already know, and I am sure I will get the rest as well.

The boys after a muddy game.

I find it immensely enjoyable to watch these kids push themselves, acquire new skills, and achieve their goals. I don't think it makes me yearn for my days of youth, but rather I feel proud and excited for them. They have so much left to do, and this is just one achievement. They are forming friendships that could last forever. Even if they don't realize it yet, team sports can play a significant role in their development. (Sadly, the Park District's current practice is to reshuffle all of the soccer players every two grade years which means all of that bonding gets disrupted. *sigh*)

The varsity race begins.
I don't subscribe to the parent-coaching from the sidelines. I like the idea of letting the coaches do their jobs, but that doesn't mean parents should never hang out at practice or only show up to the convenient games/meets. Think of it as an opportunity to be an outsider to your child's life, if just slightly. Observing them from this perspective is a rare opportunity to view them as the individual they are, in their little microcosm of the world. It can be pretty neat. (Not to mention watching them change over the years.)

The boys in 2010.
The boys in 2009.
So, if you are at any park district soccer games or cross country meets with Unit 4 schools, and you see a mom taking pictures and cheering on what appears to be her dozens of children; that's me. But I just have the one Boy. (Though how much do I love that his games and meets give me the chance to practice my photography? Tons.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ten Days

It has been ten days since my last post. It felt like there was nothing happening that I needed to post about, so I didn't. Here's a run-down of what's been going on that keeps my mind occupied and procrastinating about almost everything else.

My grandmother in Peoria has been in either the hospital or a rehabilitation facility for about four weeks now. She started off in the hospital due to problems breathing, and when they moved her to a rehabilitation facility to regain her strength she acquired an infection (c. difficile). As a result of the infection (and medication, IMO), she was nauseous, not eating, and losing whatever strength she had managed to build, so it was back to the hospital she went.

The challenge right now is with communication. Mom is doing her best to make sure everything is taken care of, including bills, insurance, and changes at home so Grandma can eventually return to an environment clear of smoke remnants, but she lives in Springfield, so it has been up to my aunt and uncle who live in Peoria to take care of things when Mom is not there. Taking a situation like this at face value and ignoring any other influences that might be at play, good communication is key, but it doesn't always happen. Things have been better since Mom took up my suggestion of sending frequent updates via email to all concerned parties. It is a venue where everything can be documented, and everyone has the opportunity to "reply all" if they choose to take it. So far, not many have, but the updates still serve their purpose. Mom has been driving between Springfield and Peoria nearly everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, and I can only say thank goodness our highways are about getting between two large-ish cities and not about getting around one massive city like some or I might not be able to stand the sympathy driving angst I feel. (Keep in mind, that distance and time is city to city, not house to hospital, as Google sees it, so add some more time and mileage to get an idea of the real drive.)

Due to the infection, Grandma is more isolated and stricter measures are taken with hospital staff and visitors to prevent the bug from spreading. Apparently, this is one nasty bug. With school and sports starting up, we haven't been up to visit her in two weeks now, but I plan to be up there Saturday after The Boy's first cross country meet of the season. Hopefully, Grandma will be able to go home soon. One of her doctors says it can take 4-6 weeks to kick this bug, but the results are more positive this morning than they have been all week, so I am optimistic. This weekend is supposed to be crammed packed with events (cross country, 15-year class reunion, Epiphany Farms tour, vegan potluck), but I may skip them everything post-meet. (I can't miss or pull The Boy from that!)

Grandma and I in Spokane, WA on the way to Pullman, WA before my first year at WSU. (1994)
In other news, the moon was beautiful last night, and I braved mosquitoes by the lake to get a few pictures. Depending on your monitor display, you may not be able to see the lake and tree line in the picture, but it's there. I ♥ my camera.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Forever Young Adult

I forgot to mention in my New York, New York write-up about a little subway adventure. On Saturday when I was on the 6 heading from the Metropolitan Museum of Art back to the hotel, there was a girl reading a Percy Jackson book on the bench. I tried to resist talking to her about it, but in the end I couldn't.

You see, my friend Erin is a part of the wild antics and random capitalization over at the site Forever Young Adult. Recently, she and her cohorts were interviewed for the Huffington Post. This being fresh in my mind, I wanted to connect to a fellow young adult female who appeared to enjoy (and, I predicted, primarily enjoys) Young Adult books.

I asked her if it was her first time reading the Percy Jackson books, and she said yes. I then scrounged through my memory to recall The Hunger Games and insisted those should be her next books to read. She said a friend had been telling her the same thing for the last few weeks. She mentioned another series that I had not heard of (Egypt, Kids, Something Happens to the Parents - help me out?), and I lobbed back James Patterson's YA series, Maximum Ride.

We talked about how I read almost all of the series that the boy reads, and she commented that she was glad to hear that some parents are staying in touch with what their children read. (She works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and talked about the tours they have with Percy Jackson information tied in and specifically geared towards the kids. Very cool, non?) She laughed a little about she and her friend enjoying YA books so much, so I instantly shared the existence of Forever YA and let her know she is not alone in the world. ;-) (She said, "So, it's a place for people like me," and laughed guiltily, to which I said, "Yes!")

This all leads me to the most important link of all. If you have been reading the Hunger Games and Catching Fire, if you are eagerly awaiting Mockingjay, then you need to get up to speed on the Great Peeta vs. Gale Debate over at FYA.

This is Important Stuff.

The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) - Library EditionMockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset

New York, New York

Thursday evening, we left town to go to my mom's house in Springfield. I had taken Friday off of work so I could fly out to New York City for the weekend. It had been approximately seven years since I last set foot there, and when I saw Common Rotation was playing both Friday and Saturday shows, I knew it was time to get back.
An interesting building in the Village.

My flight left at 7am on Friday morning from SPI, so it was up at 5am to make sure I was able to get ready and find my way to the airport. I was going minimalist on this trip, so I had everything packed into my camera backpack (including my T1i and two lenses) and a messenger bag for my laptop, charger, DVDs, and book. I checked and double-checked to make sure I had everything, but somehow my oatmeal soap got left behind. (Which I did not discover until Saturday morning resulting in my using the hotel's Aveeno soap which then resulted in my skin going mad red and irritated. Thanks, "natural" Aveeno!) This is where Wendy would say, "crunch, crunch."

If you don't feel like reading the details, feel free to head over to Flickr to view my set of pictures. I certainly won't be putting them all in this post, so you may want to head that way eventually anyway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Air Travel

I am sitting in ORD waiting for my flight to Springfield so I can pick up the boy and drive home to C-U. Our flight out of LGA left about 15 minutes late, but somehow arrived 30 minutes early. At least, that is what I calculated. So, I had a good two hours to spend here before my 8pm flight. I spent some time checking email and Facebook on my phone's web browser, and I watched an episode of Legend of the Seeker (library DVDs). I decided it might be worth paying for a day pass for the internet because at that point I still had an hour left before boarding time.

Now? I have another 20 minutes until boarding time at best. The plane left late from where ever it was, and it won't arrive until 8pm, so we will likely board at 8:20pm. American is claiming we will be in the air at 8:20pm, but I don't think so. It is going to be a long night.

I will write up my NYC report sometime soon so I don't forget all the little details. For now, have one of my favorite pictures.

A view from Socrates Sculpture Park.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homeowner Blahs

I often joke that I should be a more responsible homeowner, but what I really mean is I should invest more time in my house. We moved to a new house, the second I have owned, almost two years ago. While our first house was small, affordable, and not in the "best" neighborhood, we had a street (half) full of awesome people.

Most of my neighbors had lived on the street for at least a decade. Quite a few had raised their share of children there and were even helping with the grandchildren. Whether it was the smaller size of the house or the desire to share their love of the street, making that house into a home was easier and more natural to me. I enjoyed working in the yard the most.

Thyme wandering our Dwarf Lilacs, rocks, and potted plants.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food, Inc.

When I made the decision to go vegan a little over two years ago, it was a decision made like many others: quickly, cold turkey, resolutely, no turning back. I had just finished reading Skinny Bitch after briefly discussing it with a friend, and that was it for me. You could describe me as almost a vegetarian prior to going vegan, but even that is stretching it a bit. I simply did not like handling or preparing meat. That isn't to say I would always pick a veggie dish while eating out. I had the easy mentality that I see portrayed in Food, Inc., and I will fess up to it, too.

There are so many reasons to go vegetarian or vegan, and there are many more reasons to simply educate ourselves about the food we choose to purchase and put into our bodies. If you haven't watched Food, Inc. or if you would really like to own it, now is the perfect time. Amazon has a great sale on the DVD. (The blu-ray price isn't too bad, either.) I highly recommend it.

Food, Inc.

Heck, pick up a copy to loan out to friends and family. I waited for months to borrow it from my local library, so I know it was in high demand in our community. I am not out to convert folks to veganism, but I do like the idea of educating people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Elsinore, Yes Yes Yes

I feel like it has been on that side of forever since I've heard some new Elsinore, so I was very excited when another beloved folk rocker, Cary Judd, linked to their new album this morning on Facebook.

Since then, I have been listening to "Yes, Yes, Yes" in between meetings, completely overwhelming my intention of listening to the score from Inception all day long in a grueling test of my sanity. Who needs to know if they are sane when there is delicious local music to listen to?

Have a taste.

<a href="http://elsinoreparasol.bandcamp.com/album/yes-yes-yes">Landlocked by Elsinore</a>

After a few listens, I realized it felt like a Radiohead vibe was coming out of the songs. "Landlocked" and "Gasoline," in particular, caught me in a bit of The Bends reminiscing. "Lines" is one of my favorites from an outdoor performance last spring/summer. Absolutely an album I can listen to straight through with many favorites. (I set a "3 song love" minimum on any album or I don't buy it. Can you guess where "Yes, Yes, Yes" fell?)

If you need a little more whimsy and a little less rigidity in your day, give Elsinore a play. (Then give Cary a play, too.)

Germany (1994)

I really need to get back to Germany. These were good times. (Watch out for inappropriate teenage behavior!) Toddlers and youngsters, avert your eyes! ;-)

Monday, August 09, 2010

View from the Empire

View from the Empire, originally uploaded by DanaRane.
I will be landing at LGA in less than 96 hours. That is four days. This picture was taken in 2003, and that may have been my last trip to NYC. How can it have been seven years since my last trek to New York City?

I do not know.

But I am so excited for nearly two whole days of exploration and freedom, interrupted only to eat and go to two Common Rotation performances.

Cannot wait.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunny Weekend

One of the major perks of having a long, LONG road trip in your rear view mirror is all other drives which seemed just one annoying tad too long before are just amusing glimpses of your local highways.

We took a little trip to Peoria yesterday to help clean, pack, and tear apart my grandmother's basement. She has been in the hospital for the past two weeks (and now a rehabilitation center) due to some problems breathing, and we are in the process of ridding the house of as much nicotine smothered items as possible. One uncle who is living in the house has continued to smoke in the basement, so we are tackling it first.

Tall church window.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Starbucks, Music and the French

When we were preparing to start our massive trek home, I decided it would be a good idea to stop at the Kalispell Starbucks for a large black tea (soy) latté. (I gave up coffee two years ago when I made the switch to vegan after reading Skinny Bitch. The switch to vegan was happening regardless of reading the book, but it did push me into the "I didn't need coffee" corner.) Unfortunately for my "must get moving down the road" mentality, there was a line. However, I have been making a point of being more positive (or at least less aggravated) by the mundane, so I decided to chill and observe.