Monday, June 25, 2007

Babies, Baby Mommas, and the World

For a couple months now I've had these nagging thoughts at the back of my mind in relation to the title of this post. As most of you know, Ell and I are involved in a local Crisis Pregnancy center which offers women (and girls) free pregnancy testing, a clothing room, referrals to family agencies, and most importantly abortion alternative counseling. Well, maybe I should say they "used to" do that last one. The last year or so, Ell said most of the counseling sessions she's done with pregnant ladies and girls have been decidedly different in one area: no one wants an abortion anymore. This is a good thing right?

I read at least one newspaper every day. For a while now I've noticed more times than not the baby announcements are to unwed people. I see pregnant women every so often in the bank and the majority are unmarried. And they're keeping the baby. Good thing again, right? I don't know.

Our world is quickly morphing into something alien than what I grew up in. Ell said most unwed women (and I unfortunately keep having to add 'girls') want to keep their babies. It's not even a question anymore. Just a few years ago people used to comment that, "They're dealing with it as a family," or, "She's so brave for keeping that baby," etc. when they heard about an unplanned pregnancy. While I'm happy that we've grown to a point in American humanity from where we were when girls were shunned and shipped off to relatives for the same thing, I'm not at all comfortable where we've now arrived.

Our culture is so used to, and dare I say comfortable, with pregnancy outside of marriage and single mothers, that we don't even look at it as a "problem." Our mentality is so shifted from what it was that a lot of America sees it simply how things are. No rarity, no issues, no problems, no shock. It's all matter of fact now. Kids aren't embarrassed or upset, parents aren't embarrassed or upset, the community isn't embarrassed or upset. Pregnancy before marriage and raising the baby alone without a Dad, are becoming as commonplace and accepted as color TVs became, and cordless phones, and bottled water. There was a time when those things were considered harmful or stupid or ridiculous. Now they're just a part of our lives. We've arrived at the same place in regards to this issue.

I don't have any concluding or thought-provoking resolution to this post. I guess I'm just sad this is where we're at. Unwed mothers and unplanned pregnancies and single moms aren't new, I know this. But they've always been the exception rather than the rule. Something you didn't "normally" see. And definitely nothing you saw "more" than normal marriages. My generation excepts divorce as part of our daily goings on. We don't like it, and many of us are against it, but it's a part of our life. I'm afraid single-parenthood and pre-wedding births are becoming that matter-of-fact as well.

The only way I can describe the feeling in my chest over this issue is to compare it to the dread and distress many 70 and 80 year old people must feel about computers and the Internet. Too immense to understand, and too accepted to be able to change.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Funny

I apologize for using a link for a funny, but this is way better than anything else I could ever hope to post today. The link is an ad for Nicoderm, the quit-smoking people. It's 30 seconds long, and loads quickly even on dial-up. There's no dirty language or offensive behavior, so don't worry about watching in mixed company. If you want or need to laugh today, click HERE!

For those of you who need to copy and paste:

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A season as a herbivore

Tuesday night I did AYCE wings at Quaker Steak & Lube in Boardman with Andrew, Lyndsay, Brad, and Ell. I've decided to do the vegetarian thing again this summer, and I figured what better way to end my carnivorous ways than to down forty chicken wings. The weird part is, I ended last summer's no-meat-for-two-months by going to AYCE at the Lube. My stomach didn't have quite the same adverse reaction it did that time, for obvious reasons. A little different than last year is that I'm going to do it this year for the entire calendar season of summer. So from yesterday through September 23rd I am meat free.

Why? No real reason. Being a vegetarian isn't a huge stretch for me; I'm not much of a meat eater anyway. Especially in summer, when there's so much food to be enjoyed out of the garden. Plus I just like to test myself. See if the 'ol willpower is still up to snuff. Seven years ago this August, I quit drinking pop. (Soda for you folks outside of Ohio.) No real reason besides it annoyed me that pop only makes you more thirsty instead of actually quenching thirst. So I just quit. I had a Mountain Dew on my birthday, and haven't touched the stuff in seven years. And McDonald's... I dropped all fast-food last year for Lent with Brad, and after that was over I had zero cravings for McDonald's. I went back to eating at other places, but MiccyD's never made it back on the list. It's fun to see people's reactions when I say I never drink pop or eat at McDonald's or any of the other stuff people just assume is part of being an American. Many people just couldn't imagine completely cutting something out of their diet. You should try it, it's kinda liberating.

I'm off to have my PB&J. I forgot how much I loved those things.

Monday, June 18, 2007

At the Bank

I'm thinking about starting a new feature called At the Bank. Crazy stories I hear, things I see, wrong words people use. Remember Dick Ballser? Or the guy who used the same PIN number for everything and had it written on the inside of his hat? There's so much funny stuff I bet I could make it a weekly thing. I probably won't since most may not actually be funny to anyone else but bank geeks. Oh well, here's a couple anyway.

A month or so back an old man came in to find out how much his car was worth. I asked him how many miles it had and he responded, "160,000 miles. But those are QUALITY miles." (As opposed to what? Really crappy miles?) I asked him if he meant city vs. highway miles, and he said, "No. They're just QUALITY miles." He was pretty sincere, so I just smiled and nodded.

This morning a lady called to complain about a fee on her account. She said she had a notice that read, "Insignificant Funds." I guess if you have Non-Sufficient funds in your account they could be insignificant, but I doubt the bank would send you a letter saying that! :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Funny

Murphy's lesser-known Dictum's:

-Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear brighter until you hear them speak.
-He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
-Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.
-Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
-The 50/50/90 rule: Anytime you have a 50/50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
-The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.
-The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
-A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

And the best one...
-When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gear Review

If anyone's interested, I did a gear review for the backpack I'm taking on the Appalachian Trail. The backpacking/camping trip we took this past weekend was the first time I've used it, so I thought I'd talk about my thoughts on its performance. Probably not a very interesting read for most, but if you like backpacking or are following my AT e-newsletters you may find it useful.

Click on the NoDoze link near the bottom of my blogroll or type in your address bar to read my review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

what is here will soon be gone

Saturday, the guys from Band of Brothers and I backpacked into the woods that surrounded the house I grew up in. When I was a boy those woods used to be so desolate and quiet. There were hundreds and hundreds of acres of nothing but trees and water. A mile or so into the woods sat an abandoned house and more old cars than I'd ever seen in one place. As a child and then a teenager I would spend entire days just hiking around, scouting new routes through the trees, searching for areas I'd never been, climbing into the abandoned house, or just sitting on a hillside enjoying the solitude of the place. I can remember only two times ever seeing another person, and both times they were on a four-wheeler riding a far off trail. The woods were my own little sanctuary to get away and be alone with nature. My parents didn't own any of that land, but I still felt like it was all mine. When I was 16, a neighbor from up the road bought all the land and planted about ten thousand pine trees in an attempt to reclaim it and build condos around the lake. Thankfully, that never happened. So even thought the land was scarred with tractor tire paths and leftover tree boxes, it remained empty of visitors. And it remained my own secret escape.

Last year I took Andrew, Brad, and Evan back into those woods to camp. It was my first visit back in almost ten years. The first thing I noticed was the dock that someone had built across the lake from our campsite. As we hiked into the woods, I noticed the old trails were gone and had been replaced by new roads and bulldozed trees. An entire section of pond had been filled in and was gone. The ugly roads led to more roads and more destruction. The abandoned house and cars were gone and a huge commercial warehouse was in it's place. It was an image I was unprepared to see. Our last day there, Ell, Lyndsay, and Kyle joined us in the woods for breakfast. I wanted to share with them a special place, so we took some guns and hiked to an area where my Dad had taught me how to aim and shoot. No sooner had we started to fire off some rounds, a voice yelled out for us to stop. It turned out the spot was no longer owned by my neighbor and we were trespassing. Even though we shared a laugh about the angry man's floppy hat and the fact that we all had guns and he didn't, inside my heart was crying. A special place I'd shared with my Dad was now gone to me. I could not return.

As we hiked in this year, the dock across the lake was filled with people and music and trucks and everything unnatural to the woodsy-quiet environment we were hoping for. The quiet solitude I'd promised the guys wasn't to be. Sunday morning I hiked into a fishing spot I'd enjoyed as a kid only to see more bulldozer paths and more evidence of people destroying nature. I ran into my old neighbor and told him of our presence on his land. After he granted me permission to hike, I led the guys into the woods to hike to the nearest town. The woods I had once been able to hike at night with no flashlight were now foreign to me. The old footpaths had been replaced by bulldozed roads and piles of trucked-in sludge and dirt. We hiked through the shrinking woods only to be met by another new landowner informing us of our trespassing. I smoothed over our error with the lady and we continued our hike. My friends laughing and joking; me with a heavy heart.

We returned later that day to find people and dogs and kids all through the woods and in the water. Many of the guys were annoyed, but ignored the interruptions by playing baseball and swimming in the lake. I didn't join them and instead grew more and more introspective as the day went on. As night set in we gathered around the campfire for dinner. I looked across the flames at Andrew who would be gone in less than month. I looked around at the rest of the guys and I couldn't help comparing this group to the woods we were sitting in. The deep friendships and constant companionship weren't gone, but the end was near. Just as the trees and leaves still hung over our heads, in a few years those too would be gone. My special bond with Andrew was slipping through my hands just as my shooting area and the old house had done. All of those changes were for progress, but none of it was progress I would have chosen. I selfishly wanted those woods to be mine forever, and I selfishly want Andrew and Brad and everyone else to never grow up and move away. Neither are things I will ever be able to control.

Soon enough all I will have is memories of what was. And despite the angst and agony I just wrote about, those memories are really good memories. My friendships with those guys have been some of the deepest friendships I've ever had. And the years I spent in those woods molded my thoughts and beliefs and ideals. I crave both, and I'll miss both. But I'll miss them b/c they were good. They were really good. And that's what I'll remember for years to come. I got to spend a few last days with the friends and the woods that I loved. No one can take those last few days from me. I walked out sad but with a smile on my face. Goodbye woods. Goodbye friends.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Funny

Hank, an 80 year old man, went in for his yearly physical. All of his tests came back with normal results. When the doctor came in he sat down and said, "Hank, everything looks great. Physically you are doing really good. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you at peace with God?"

Hank replied, "God and I are tight. He knows I have poor eyesight, so he made a deal with me. When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, POOF, the light goes on. When I'm done, POOF, the light goes off. I say a little prayer of thanks and go back to bed. As long as I say that prayer, our deal is good."

"Wow! That's incredible." the doctor said.

Later in the day the doctor called Hank's wife. "Ethel," he said, "Hank is doing fine. But I had to call you because I'm in awe of something he told me. Is it true that when he gets up in the middle of the night the light turns on, POOF, and then turns off, POOF, when he's done?"

"Oh my gosh!" Ethel exclaimed. "He's peeing in the refrigerator again!"

Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A tasty bandwagon

Let's all give KIM a round of applause for her first green sprout in her first garden. Not a small feat if you know what she went through to prepare her soil. Way to go Kim!

She's right, there are a lot of people doing gardens this year. There's always been a huge number of older people that do gardens because they grew up with them. The younger generations seem to not be interested. If they do anything they grow a few tomato plants and maybe some peppers. In the past few years, Ell and I (and our co-op partners) have been a decided minority amongst our age group when it comes to having a garden. But this year I keep hearing person after person say they are growing some of their own food. That makes me so happy. Gardening is such a rewarding thing to do, and so many people are missing out.

Here's my growing list for 2007 (and some interesting details)
-Garlic (been growing since last October)
-Asparagus (stays in the garden for 20-30 years)
-early spring lettuce including Spicy Mesculin, regular Mesculin, Tatsoi Spoon Mustard, Craquante Avignate
-two or three varieties of Onions (My co-op partner replants two or three big onions each year to go to seed so we have an on-going supply of onion seeds. We do two main varieties every other year, one red and one yellow.)
-three kinds of paste tomatoes (We also had a bunch of seeds from fallen fruit go to seed and I transplanted the 18 strongest plants into a bed. They may be a cross-pollinated variety, so it'll be fun to see what kind of tomatoes we get.)
-Cocozelle zucchini and an old strain of flat yellow zucchini (that predates Columbus in America, I grew it last year too)
-Buttercup and Delicata fall squash
-Green Beans
-A sunflower mix that has 10-20 blooms per plant
-four or five kinds of hot peppers including Hungarian Hot Wax (used for Laura's famous mustard,) Peruvian Purples, Jalapenos, and a couple others
-two sweet pepper types
-two kinds of carrots Oxhearts and Orange Core Chateny (I'll start a winter variety at the beginning of July)
-Golden beets
-Fox Cherry tomatoes
-Armenium Cucumbers (an 18-24" variety that may be the best tasting cucumber ever, but hard to grow)
-Scotland Leeks (taste gets better when covered in snow for a while)
-two kinds of cantaloupes
-African Giant Marigolds (these are those 4-5' tall plants that I've been saving seed from for years now)

We also had a bunch of old seed packets with just a few seeds in each one that we decided to just grow out and see what happens. These included habenero, chili, and Bolivian Rainbow peppers, Muskmelon, two kinds of bush beans, Sugar Snap Peas, gold ball turnips, and some squash. This is always a fun experiment to see what comes up.

I spend about 3 hours a night out in the garden, and most of Saturday. I kind of hate it when I get to the point where it's doing good b/c then I feel lost. But that extra time does allow for some plain ol' sitting and pipe smoking. That's pretty fun too. Stop over some time, I'll show you around.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's a Monday again

I had a pretty busy business day on Friday, so I got up early this morning and came into work to catch up on some paperwork. As is usual for me after drinking a lot of water early in the morning, I headed downstairs to answer Mother Nature's call. It was then that I realized I'd put my underwear on backwards. I thought they fit a little funny when I got dressed, but I figured they were just new and hadn't had a chance to mold themselves into the proper places. Nope, they were on backwards.

The last couple weeks I've heard and read some pretty interesting facts. Obvious ones, but things you just don't think about. The first one is: if Hillary wins her party's primary, there will have been a Bush or a Clinton on the Presidential ticket every year since 1980. Twenty eight years. I think it's time for a change. The second was a bit more profound and makes you think a little.... Every civilization that has advanced itself in all of history, and every person who has advanced themselves to higher intellectual plains, has done so because of food. To be more exact, because of the fact that people have found a way to grow more food than they need. That has allowed individuals to focus their energy and time into other activities and actions besides the everyday tasks of growing and gathering.

My sister Karin updated her blog with about a thousand (a little exaggerated) new pictures of my family. If you're interested in seeing some pics of my two beautiful nieces, as well as my nephews, sisters, in-laws, and my parents, click on KARIN in my blogroll.

And if you're wondering, no I didn't switch my underwear. In the big picture, it doesn't really matter, so why bother! :-)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Funny

Thanks to Guy for the source of this week's installment of funny.

It was opening night at the Orpheum and Claude the Amazing Hypnotist was the headliner. People came from miles around to see the famed hypnotist do his stuff. As Claude took to the stage, he announced, "Unlike most stage hypnotists who invite two or three people up to the stage to be put into a trance, I intend to hypnotize each and every member of the audience."

The excitement was almost electric as Claude withdrew a beautiful antique pocket watch from his coat. "I want you each to keep your eye on this antique watch. It's a very special watch. It's been in my family for six generations."

He began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, "Watch the watch, watch the watch, watch the watch......."

The crowd became mesmerized as the watch swayed back and forth, light gleaming off its polished surface. Hundreds of pairs of eyes followed the swaying watch, back and forth, back and forth, until suddenly it slipped from the hypnotist's fingers and fell to the floor, breaking into a hundred pieces.

"Crap!" exclaimed the hypnotist. It took the crew over a month to clean up the theatre.

Have a great weekend everyone!