Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Yep, today is my birthday and Jack got me the greatest present ever -- a round-trip ticket for Zoe to fly home from England. I think she'll be coming in October. It will be a year since we've seen her. Thanks to long distance and email, we're in close contact, but it's not the same as seeing her in person. I can't tell you how many times, when I tell people my daughter lives in England, they say, "How wonderful! You can go visit!" Makes me want to slap them silly. No, we can't just hop back and forth and now, with airline fares sky high and the value of the dollar in the toilet, it's even harder. So Jack gets major kudos for this great birthday present. It was definitely a happy, happy birthday!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bev and I Get Religion

My friend Bev Schmoyer and I hit the road to see her grand-daughter Haley in performances with Drum Corps International in Wichita and Pittsburg, Kansas. We went to the high school field where Haley's corps, the Crossmen, was practicing -- in 104-degree heat. Those kids are amazing. They worked all day then donned hot uniforms to perform in the evening. Here are Haley and her fellow pit members -- they play the percussion instruments that don't march. Haley is third from the left in the middle row. Crossmen placed third that night -- but I thought they were the best!

The next day we headed for Pittsburg to see the performance there. I planned to make a couple of stops for research. This one wasn't planned but when we saw the name of the town on the map, we knew we had to make a detour! It's a teeny town -- just a few houses and a couple of brick buildings and the Methodist Church. Of course we were looking for the perfect sign to pose by, but the pickings were slim and we had to settle for the church -- mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa -- we couldn't help ourselves!

The Crossmen performance that night was excellent -- 'though they still placed third (behind the two corps which had beaten them the night before). If you look carefully, Haley is playing the farthest marimba on the right.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Roller Queen

I'm fast becoming queen of the Segway -- at least in my own opinion! If you're not familiar with these amazing vehicles, they're two-wheeled, battery-powered scooters with a gyroscopic balancing mechanism. My most recent tour was of Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin. This 3,776 acre park features forest, lakeshore and a golf course. What better way to see a lot of it in a short time -- but at a speed designed for enjoyment -- than on a Segway? After a brief introductory video and individual instruction from the owner of Segway of Door County (, Nick Dokolas, three of us journalists (and four "regular" folks) took off with Nick for a great glide. We enjoyed the shade of tall maples and beech trees and elegant white cedars (much more sophisticated than our scruffy red cedars!) and stopped for scenic views of the lake. Nick has several other tours available in the Door -- I'd love to do them all. Segway tours are available from Anchorage, Alaska, to Amelia Island, Florida and a number of locations around the world. They're not inexpensive -- usually between $65 and $100 per person -- but they ARE addictive!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What's in a Name? Edited version

I'm in Door County, Wisconsin! At last, I've been in all 50 states. Door County is that little peninsula that juts out the east side of the state into Lake Michigan. It's a beautiful place with lovely little bay and lakeside villages and masses of the most beautiful flowers on earth. But its name has an ominous origin. There's an area of water where the currents can become so violent that many people have died there. French trappers called the place the Door of Death. It later got shortened for the name of the county. And then there's Egg Harbor. Local legend is that there was a boat captain who always insisted that his ship be the first to land. Another boat landed before his and he was so angry that he grabbed an egg and lobbed it at the offender. According to the story, this was the beginning of a melee, the targets, egged on by the assault launched a counterattack -- a real eggstravaganza! Don't know if that's true but it surely makes a good story, don't you think? Finally, there's Carlsville. Seven men named Carl lived in this tiny settlement -- so the name was a popular choice!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alley Cat

I had an adventure in Cleveland last night. I was the last person on the chartered bus -- it was a huge bus -- and the only one going to the Radisson. Everybody else had been dropped off. I've been turned around all week because everytime we went somewhere, we would drive for blocks, then someone would say "And your hotel's just over there." I never knew whether I was coming or going, which way was north or south -- I was geographically clueless all week. Anyway, the bus driver decided to take a short cut taking me back to my hotel (which was close enough that I could see the park from my bedroom window) and he got caught in the game traffic. He couldn't turn left where he wanted to so he said, "I can't take you to your hotel but if you get out here, it's just down that street." NOT!!!!! I went the way I thought he pointed and wound up back at the ballpark -- which was getting pretty deserted (it was close to midnight). Now, I knew the hotel was close, but I had no idea which side of the ballpark I was on. There were some police taking up traffic cones and getting ready to pack it in for the night so I stood on the street corner and yelled at them, "I need some help! I'm lost!" I'm also deaf, I guess, because I couldn't hear the instructions the police woman yelled back at me. She finally had to get out of her car and come over to say, "If you go down that street and cut through that parking garage, you'll get there." So I headed in that direction. Now, I wasn't really excited about cutting through a parking garage by myself at night! Halfway down the block, there was a ball park guy sweeping up so I asked him if I was headed in the right direction. Good thing I asked because the trick to going through the parking garage was not to go through it but go into it and turn right. Ackkk! "You can go straight down that alley," he pointed, "and you'll come out on the street you want. Just turn left and you'll see your hotel." Actually, the alley seemed like a better option than the parking garage! The alley was a block long -- but, fortunately, no perverts behind trash cans. And, obviously, I made it back safely. I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN!!!!!

Cleveland Rocks

Really!!!! I've been in Cleveland for the last four days -- discovering what a cool city it is. With a heavy schedule of touring and snapping photos, I decided not to take my camera to the Indians baseball game last night. Why do I always do that? At the end of a trip, I'm tired of schlepping the camera everywhere. And I'm always sorry. It was a great ballgame and the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays. Big surprise -- there was a fireworks show scheduled after the game. Oh, yeah, it was the biggest, best I've ever seen -- and me without my camera!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, America

Happy Fourth of July everyone. We're celebrating in traditional fashion -- a picnic. We usually go to Jay and Carolyn's (son and daughter-in-law) but this year the invitation was slow in coming. So I bought hot dogs, buns, drinks, chips and fixin's for strawberry shortcake and invited us over. They could have said "no" but I didn't make it easy. Tonight we will watch the great fireworks show -- hauling lawn chairs and bug spray. The Fourth has been a bit odd for me the last few years. I've always been a big flag-waver but, frankly, I haven't been that proud lately. America's still the greatest country in the world because it has such wonderful people but that hasn't been so noticeable to others around the world.

I love the hymn "This Is My Song."
The words are by Lloyd Stone (vs. 1 and 2) and Georgia Harkness (3) and it's sung to the tune "Finlandia." This is my prayer for today:

This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my prayer, O Ruler of all nations: let thy reign come; on earth thy will be done.
In peace may all earth's people draw together, and hearts united learn to live as one.
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations; myself I give thee; let thy will be done.