Monday, April 26, 2010

Earth Day

As this is written I'm looking out over a sunlit skyline of Chicago. But it was rainy (or cloudy at best) in Indianapolis over the weekend. As I have mentioned earlier, we rode a train from Michigan to Chicago, and Friday we drove to Indianapolis for a semi-family reunion and to visit the annual Earth Day celebration in downtown Indy. In past years there were thousands who attended and it was in a major downtown park area. We walked around and enjoyed the beautiful downtown Indianapolis area and then joined the crowd for displays and music.

A high point of the celebration (at least for us) took place in an immense children and youth tent. All kinds of displays but for us the high point was a presentation by the Earth Drummers which includes Seth Utter, one of our grandchildren (middle left in the below picture). He's been in the group for about five years and really enjoys playing percussion instruments.

Our first contact with percussion groups was on the beach in Venice, Florida several years ago and we really enjoyed it. We were in a motel and heard drums and we walked out on the beach and there was a large group performing on the beach. Every kind o drum or percussion instrument you could think of and it was great. So when Seth got involved in his group we were really enthusiastic. It's not a big group but they love what they are doing and they have a lot of variety in instruments. They enter into a performance with a lot of enjoyment and their sense of rhythm and technique is great. I can see Seth continuing with this in years to come because it is not simply some kids having a nice time - it is a music outreach that is really popular with a lot of adults today - adults from all walks of life. And it really takes commitment, talent, and a gift for music.

So if I may aim this at a particular person, I want to say to Seth that the performance was great and I hope you/he will keep performing for years to come. It was worth every second of our trip. And if a person asks, "What's so great about a bunch of drums?," don't knock it until you've heard one of these groups. It'll really get your toes tapping and there's nothing boring about it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life: a bunch of ups and downs

As this written we're sitting in the 37th story condo of our middle daughter Amy. It's in Chicago and there are a lot of ups and downs here in the windy (and at the moment - cold) city. At least the sun is out and flowers are beginning to bloom along Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. I haven't seen that much on State Street where she lives - but then, I don't think State Street is noted for its flower beds.

We rode the train from Michigan yesterday - it took five hours but it's a really pleasant way to go - even if you end up in the darkness of Union Station's dungeon platforms. And there are subways even darker - but you end up in the sunlight on an elevated railroad towering over the streets.

Then there are places like Amy and Vic's condo. It's a long way up. But there's more - you can ride an elevator up to the roof - the sixtieth floor. We went up on the roof a year or so ago to watch an air show - it was outstanding. Exhilarating. And a great opportunity to experience vertigo - which I get anywhere over three stories up. You can imagine what it is like for me to go out on the balcony and look down from 37 stories on the Chicago Theater (near Macy's across the river) and on tour boats cruising up and down the Chicago River. Then look up at skyscrapers like the Sears Tower to the south of Amy and Vic's building. By the way, her building is one of two condo towers that make up the Marina City complex (which also has the House of Blues music facility) It also is called by some "the corncob condos" because they look like ears of corn. So for a short time we are living high on the hog, so to speak. A real change from our second floor senior condo where you don't hear sirens and fire engines 24 hours a day.

I got to reflecting this morning: it's just like life. Sometimes we live in the depths of darkness when it seems as if everything is wrapped up in darkness. Sometimes we find ourselves emerging into the brightness of an encouraging day. Sometimes we find ourselves down low
in the pits of discouragement and darkness and frustration. Then there are the highs of life - the days when we ride high on the sixtieth floor of life - or like the Sears Tower, or Hancock building and the world is spread our before us revealing the best things of life. Or maybe hiding the dismal side of life. I have a hunch we all have moments when we fall into ruts and we find a need to break away to get a different view of life. I know I do. At any rate, even if I don't like heights it's great to get a new and expanded view of life. So, I'm glad for this moment of life - for family - for a great view on life - and for tomorrow when we drive to Indianapolis to see another segment of our family. The sun is shining and I like to think it's God smiling on us this morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blame it on the Trailers

We frequently dig out old pictures - especially those of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. And then the numbers start to add up and I think to myself, "we sure have a lot of family. After all we only started with one - and another, and another, and another, and then, finally, a fifth. How come? Well, I guess we all know about the laws of nature but beyond that,
I blame it on the trailer(s).

When we were first married we lived in a one room apartment with a fridge in the corner and a hotplate in the closet and a bed that tended to collapse. Cost: $25 a month. Oh, and we shared a bath with five other couples. Then we graduated to a big one-room apartment with a shared kitchen. $30 a month. Next it was a remodeled railroad refrigerator car where I worked out my rent by refurbishing and painting other units. Finally we graduated into the trailer world.

First it was a 27 foot one-bedroom rental and then we bought a 33 foot one bedroom New Moon trailer just like Luci and Desi had in the movie "The Long Long Trailer." Our family grew and with two children we went to the pictured one, a brand new 38-foot Elcar than we hauled eight thousand miles behind a 1954 Olds 88 (one way) and a 55 Buick Special (the other way).

Another child and we upped to a 5o foot Buddy with two bedrooms (one with bunkbeds on one side and a small bed on top of a dresser. Another child came along (our Hallowe'en son - trick or treat) and we moved into a three bedroom Contempori fifty-five foot ten wide. Wouldn't you know - another child came along. This set us to thinking and we finally decided to buy a house in North Carolina. What do you know --- no more children. Thus it becomes obvious -- the reason for five children was trailer life. Blame it on the trailers!

We've lived in a lot of houses since then. Most were smaller homes - one or two were mansions that were provided as parsonages.

The point I want to make today is that condo living didn't become all that difficult. After all, we spent a lot of years in trailers. And now we're too old for children. Except for grandchildren and great grandchildren/ And that's a different story.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some gifts are special

Some gifts last forever - some last a little while. Then there are the gifts that make no sense at all, won't go together according to the plans, or last less than a day.

The above book was a gift from a son-in-law last Christmas that makes sense, and lasts forever. At least it has taken four months of daily reading to finish. In the bathroom, of course. And now I just let it fall open on occasion and see what wealth of information it contains.
I may have read it before but at my age I've probably forgotten what it says anyway.

It has all kinds of information we can't get along without - or maybe with for that matter. For instance, did you know that Kevin Shelley cracked a world record by getting hit over the head with forty six wooden toilet seats in one minute. Bet that made an impression.
Did you know that there are at least 230 million vehicles in the United States but only about 105 million parking spaces. Where do clunkers fit into this? Oh, and think about this: about once a year a house in the United States is hit by sewage falling from an aircraft. Then there is a page-long story with a natural gas report (consider that any way you wish.)

But wait - the book is not strictly focused on distastful subjects. There's a history of digital cameras - high tech subjects - movie stories - sports topics - history -- arts and crafts -- all wrapped up in a 538 page volume that has made the last four months much more enjoyable and a lot of essential (and non-essential) information I could/could not have lived without. Maybe.
Then I looked at the cover and realized that this was the 22nd edition. Guess I'll have to brouse around some second hand book stores to find back issues. Then, again, This volume will probably keep its place by the throne for some time to come. Or until next Christmas when I hope the next edition shows up gift wrapped under the tree.

Let me conclude with a couple of essential thoughts. Did you know that there are about 1,200 peanuts in a regular-size jar of peanut butter? Said Katherine Hepburn, "If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun." Think about that for a while.

Till next time..........................