29 February 2008

Reminded of Gramps

My dad's dad, who lived nearby, was 83 when he passed away the day before Easter, 1995. I was 27. That's a good long time to get to know your grandpa-lots of good memories created. Fishing, farming, long drives and.......cigars. I loved gramp's cigar smoke and on occassion when I'm around it, it reminds me of those boyhood days tagging along with grandpa to the elevator or sale barn.

On this recent retreat, I learned that my buddy also smoked cigars. I told him he reminded me of gramps.......and he insisted I try one. I had never smoked in my life, but I tried it and actually, it was a good bonding experience. And as the smoke swirled around the back porch of the cabin.......I couldn't help but think of gramps.

Gramps was never big on advice. He was fun to be with and was witty with his responses. But, man, I miss him at times. I really wish my kids could have known him......so long as he didn't offer them any of "grampa's candy" aka chewin' tabbacky. My dad acts a lot like him....and I suppose I will too someday, although I don't plan to take up cigars.

He was struck by lightning when a teenager, out in the field while rounding up cows; he lost hearing in one ear due to it, which excluded him from military service. He told me stories about rubbing turpentine on cat's behinds and turning them loose to run down Michigan Street in Argos, Indiana, which evidently got quite a rise out of the dogs who chased them beneath the legs of horses parked with buggies. He also told me about moving privies a few feet back so that folks in the middle of the night would get a rude awakening. He also told me about putting a farmer's cow on the roof of their house once......that was hard to believe. I remember him at 78 climbing apple trees to shake the fruit loose, and at about 74, piling up bundles of shingles on his shoulder and climbing an extension ladder to roof his house.

So, I smoked a cigar in remembrance of a great character of a man. To you gramps!

28 February 2008

time for Christians to abandon the GOP

If anyone has been reading this blog for long.....you'll understand this was coming.

I was reading a news report yesterday regarding the passage of a bill that would allow gaming in Indiana's bars. While the measure was introduced by Senate Democrats-it narrowly passed with the help of Senate Republicans. What kind of atmosphere are we creating here in the Hoosier state? I would imagine that Indiana ranks pretty high with New Jersey and Nevada with reliance on gambling revenue for state budgeting. I dare say we are becoming the armpit of the midwest between teenage pregnancies, alchohal and drug use, tobacco use, education and now this!

Like I've said before.....we should change our license plates to "In God we Trust......and if that doesn't work, Gambling".

I believe with the lines being blurred, particularly with the current presidential race, the time is here for applying a better understanding of one's faith and how that relates to one's vote. We don't need Pat Robertson trying guide us like sheep to the voting booth (of course, we see how his influence has dwindled-remember, he endorsed Guilliani?). Nor should we be suckered into voting R when the candidates do not truly represent our faith. Wake up people!

Divine Romance

There's a great song out on the radio now called "Divine Romance" by Phil Wickham, from his album entitled Phil Wickham. It is an amazing acoustical piece, played as a simple strum on the guitar with solid, but recognizably humble, vocals expressing the depth of this guy's faith. I was hooked the first time I heard it about three weeks ago and want to go out and buy the cd.

I always wanted to learn to play the guitar and this song makes me want to pick one up and strum along. Seriously, as I hear it, I imagine playing and singing along. I learned to play three chords to "a Horse with no name" two years ago; that's the extent of my abilities. Anyone with lots of patience want to give me free lessons?

Divine Romance is a simple song about a simple love for Christ; something I'm beginning to just now understand. Listen for it........then close your eyes and imagine singing and playing along.

27 February 2008

blind to wonder

high above Lake Superior, July 2007

So, on this retreat this weekend.......I intentionally scouted out a park that had good hiking trails. I am an outdoorsman through and through-so I fully intended to be out in the outdoors a lot during my thinking time. I hadn't been able to shake this cough though, so, hiking proved to lead to some gasping fits during the 3 mile hike.

I'm usually really good as "seeing" God in nature and the "wonder" of it. But, I admit, not so much during this hike. Which, is why I was so thankful for my buddy who went along-because it came as a surprise to me-he was really tuned into these things.

The ice storm from the day before coated the branches, leaves and grasses which caught the sunlight as we hiked around the lake. It also created a thin layer on top of the snow which provided a solid crunch as we walked along the unbroken snow of the trail. He noted certain trees and shells lying on the bed of a running stream. Geese flying in and out and occassional chirpings of birds all pulled your senses to their heights. This is an amazing world indeed!

Which took me back to my hike along Lake Superior this summer......when I could sit and drink in the wonder of God's creation along the lakeshore. This too reminded me of a passage out of Eldridge's book "Epic" on God's creation and our response to it:

We have grown dull toward this world in which we live; we have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word. It is fantastic. It is fairy tale through and through. Really now, elephants? Caterpillars? Snow? At what point did you lose your wonder at it all?
The best possible way to understand how amazing our God is, is to understand how amazing His creation is. I needed someone to direct my attention back to that this weekend. And now, I can't stop thinking about it-and probably moreso the experience on Lake Superior last summer. But, you have to be intentional about planning time for this discovery-it doesn't just happen-well, not until you've made time for it, then it "clicks".

on Love....

I will admit that I was the inconsiderate husband this year in forgetting Valentines Day. In my defense.....I was spiking a fever every 4-6 hours from February 13-15, home on the couch. So, to show I'm not an unloving jerk I'm posting an entry on the topic of love.

I am in desperate love with my beautiful wife. In 9 years of marriage we've had ups and downs-but things are the best they've ever been and I can legitimately say I can't imagine being with or loving anyone else. The thought never crosses my mind. She holds my heart in her hands and her breath is my life...........those words from my vows 9 years ago and still true today.

Guys-let's talk about love, but let's do so in our very primal beginning, as God created it to be understood. In order to do this, we need to understand how God created us to be. I recently finished another short book by John Eldridge called "Epic", that goes to the heart of this.

I dare say we've heard a bit about original sin (he's making an intentional understatement here), but not nearly enough about original glory, which comes before sin and is deeper to our nature. We were crowned with glory and honor. Why does a woman long to be beautiful? Why does a man hope to be found brave? Because we remember, if only faintly, that we were once more than we are now.

God creates us in His image, with powers like unto His own-the ability to reason, create, to share intimacy, to know joy. He gives us laughter and wonder and imagination. And above all else, He endows us with that one quality for which He is most known.

He enables us to Love.

He gives us the greatest gift of all creation-a Heart. Just as we've lost our wonder at the world around us (more to come on this), we have forgotten what a treasure the human heart is. All the happiness we have ever found or ever hope to find is unreachable without a heart. You could not live or laugh or love or cry had God not given you a heart.

And with that heart comes something that staggers me. God gives us the freedom to reject Him.

I've struggled with this last statement recently. Because I've seen people I love walk away from a God who I know is reaching out to their heart. And I think to myself.......as much as God loves each one of us, and knowing how I love my wife.........how it would kill me if she walked away from me. But, in any relationship, be it marriage or friendship-we know it has to be mutual-hence, the freedom to reject.

So, from here I say allow your heart to love. Rediscover the passion once found in your wife by opening your heart to her. Be man enough to admit to yourself you have friends that you love-and if it makes sense and won't result in a black eye, admit it to them. Truly applying your heart to love is reflecting that greatest quality found in God's image, an image we were created in.

26 February 2008

Happy Birthday Doc!

In honor of former Governor Doc Bowen's 90th birthday today, I wanted to post an excerpt from an introduction I gave for him a few years ago, on the National Day of Prayer.

Rather than regale you with excerpts of his political past-I want to relay a personal story that maybe sums up his character better than a lengthy resume.
Doc Bowen's an IU fan-not a newsflash there. He took my brother and I to games at Assembly Hall when Bobby was still king and all was right with the world. On one occasion, a boy and his mother came and found their seats in front of us. Before they sat down, Doc stood up and introduced them to us. I reached out to shake the boy's hand and Doc said, "this is Ryan White"

Doc continued talking with Ryan, pulling him close to hear over the fans-obviously speaking words of encouragement to a boy who faced constant rejection and fear of the unknown. As I thought of this years later, I realized Doc's response was not so different than Christ's response to the leper.

While the crowds and political and religious leaders of the time made outcasts of the suffering, Jesus pulled them near and spoke healing words-not just to their bodies, but to their spirits. Doc spoke healing words to Ryan that day. I'm sure it meant more to Ryan White to have someone care for him, than care he was the former Governor and Cabinet member.

Only if our leaders today exemplified the same humility and concern for others Doc has lived out, this world would be a better place. We need to pray for that to happen.

Happy Birthday Doc..........you continue to be Indiana's favorite son!

mob mentality = higher taxes

Have you been following the property tax debate since it has landed in the state legislature? I follow it as a curiosity, but realize the mob mentality that has created the hysteria to do something with property taxes likely will get our politicians' attention much more so than cooler heads.

In earlier posts I predicted that my overall taxes will actually go up in any reform scenario-anywhere from $500 to $1500. It appears now there is proof to that. From the South Bend Tribune today:

The Democrats presented analysis from an independent firm that showed an average taxpayer in South Bend would pay $600 more a year in overall taxes. Their plan would tie relief to both a home's assessed value and a person's income. They say their plan would pay for itself, unlike the governor's plan, which would create a state budget deficit next year.

Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Luke Kenley says the plan moves in the right direction, but it's flawed. He says it doesn't help second homeowners, landlords or businesses. Most Senators agreed, voting down the Democrats' plan along party lines.

So, now it is only fair to have property tax relief if low to middle income individuals pay MORE in taxes? Just in order for rich folks with second homes, slumlords and business owners (who got the inventory tax removed, remember?) to pay less in taxes? What the heck?!?!?!?

I'm quite certain the many republican slumlords in river city will very willingly either reduce rents for their tenants or finally fix the life-safety code violations if they just had a break in property taxes. Or maybe the cheif slumlord will buy a matching Escalade for his wife.

Wow, am I sounding like a democrat or what?

25 February 2008

the Clearing

Remember that sweet little cabin on the fishing lake I wrote about not that long ago? I'd been inspired to take a "personal spiritual retreat" a few months ago and did so over the weekend. Just some down time to clear the head and think about the road ahead.

So, I got a cabin at Whitewater Memorial State Park by Richmond. I don't believe anyone else was there this past weekend. It was perfect......secluded, quiet and was a beautiful setting-just at the top of a wooded bluff overlooking the lake. I took a buddy with me, who also needed some time to put things in perspective, and the camaraderie was needed to break up the perfect silence after 30 hours or so.

To say I had an eventful last 12-18 months is an understatement. I've never done this retreat thing before, so I figured why not-there's a lot to think about. Being the type of guy I am-I was well prepared. I had been focusing on thought-provoking questions over the last several weeks and had planned out a schedule and some expectations. I had a few pertinent questions I had thought would have answers "revealed" to me for some decisions that will need to be made for the future.

But, by the end of the weekend........I really didn't have any revelation to clear the path for the future ahead. Instead, I realized that for once in my life.........I'm talking about the very first time in my life since college..........God led me into a clearing. I know the path continues on and He and I will be deep in the woods again soon, but for right now I think He's saying just stop and enjoy the view. It's a heck of a gift to be given and I'd be a dang fool to pass this up. I think there's a passage somewhere about not being anxious for tomorrow...it will take care of itself.

So.....friends and family out there.......you guys are on my "to do list" this year. My tag line for the year ahead, "Breathe Deep - 2008".

up for sale?

Do you remember when Mitch ran for governor four years ago that something was mentioned by him regarding leasing out our state parks? Does anyone think he's forgotten? My guess is that with all the heck he caught with the toll road...........he'll wait to unleash this bright idea until he gets a second term.

Now, I'll be fair and say I can truly see some benefits in a private company running our state parks/lodges. I see alot of problems too.

Leasing the state parks (although anything like a 75 or 100 year lease would be completely stupid, but for par with Mitch) could actually improve service, quality of food, and maintenance of the parks. There have been several times when visiting Indiana's state parks, I think, gee......market yourselves, get your act together and you could be doing very well. That's probably the businessman/republican in me.

But, I could see as many problems. First, you need to think of the state parks as something all of us Hoosiers, past and present, have invested in and paid for. The parks are OUR property. So, it would be unfortunate if costs of entry, lodging and food outpaced the average Hoosier's ability to enjoy these services. Almost like paying for membership to the country club without the financial ability to have dinner there or go for a round of golf. That wouldn't be right.

So, that's my first problem with leasing out our parks. I also am concerned that programs such as nature centers/naturalists or interpretors would be eliminated because they weren't cost effective to operations. Parks cannot be reduced to solely money making opportunites. And we don't know for certain that service or quality would improve.

So, rather than rushing to lease out our state parks........maybe the state should contract with a marketing or business consultant to help show them what could be improved on (that's a good republican idea) and move on those recommendations. Of course, that seems logicial. Unfortunately right now logic is out the door in our beloved state. It's all about hysteria and knee-jerk governance.

But, I know how we can fix that!

Hoosier Hospitality gone awry

Maybe it was because we had just gotten back from St. Augustine, Florida and had a great experience with some helpful locals, but last summer I found myself in an awkward position.

I was walking back from lunch to the office along main street in river city. I noticed a fellow who came out of one building and was looking up and down the street rather lost. So, I thought, gee, time to show some hoosier hospitality we're supposed to be famous for. I stopped and asked if I could help him find something.

This conversation actually happend.

"yeah, do you have any bars?"
he was standing outside of one.
I said "well, there's this one, and one around the corner"
"yeah, this is a little too nice......do you have any tough bars"
forgetting about the Mayflower, I said, "well, there is the one around the corner, but if you thought this was too nice, it probably would be too"
Evidently he felt I didn't get his meaning "do you have any biker bars?"
"hmmmm, no, no......."
Evidently I still didn't get his meaning, because he asked "do you have any gay bars?"
"oh!" I said, "uh........no......."
"well, do you have any porn shops?"
"what?" I said "uh, no......not here in river city"

Last time I try to extend some Hoosier Hospitality. I didn't see that one coming.

18 February 2008

manic Mitch visits river city!

Somebody shoot me for ever thinking this guy would be a good governor. I really believed he represented a progressive style of republican, but fact of the matter is that he is (literally) turning back the clock in Indiana. Remember when he talked of leading the state into the future, investment in Indiana, etc.?

Manic (I use this because it's as though he's become possessed), while visiting river city, turned his criticism of the desperate shape of Indiana's economy and tax situation onto local cities and towns, and counties for "excessive spending". While I do believe that every unit of government needs to look at how to do things more economically, Mitch is leading the way to certain destruction of what little quality of life we have remaining in the Hoosier state.

Only a few months ago my father-in-law was sitting in a meeting with Manic's Lt. Governor, who said that local communities, if they want to compete economically, need to address quality of life issues. As smart as Mitch is supposed to be, he should understand the business principle that you have to spend money to make money (funny how we GOPer's want to run government like a business, but then bug out when true good business practices conflict with our total reluctance to spend money).

So, you can't have both Mitch. The first things to go, when you dismantle our local budgets, will be quality of life projects. A major international corporation located in river city because of two quality of life initiatives we developed. Quality of life is what people and investors are looking for. Not just cheap taxes. Had Manic Mitch truly been a progressive republican, he would understand this......I'm afraid he's relying too much on trickle-down economics......which MIGHT work nationally, but cannot work locally. Investment attracts investment and Mitch is proposing an amputation of local city's and town's ability to invest in their future.

Marshall County is a perfect example of what not to do, and is a microcosm of what Mitch is proposing statewide. Marshall, in regressive republican style, has cut herself to the bone in whittling away "wasteful" spending, and now, has incredible difficultly in receiving enough revenue to maintian basic services. In order to staff a jail, she issued a new tax. In order to create an economic development initiative, she proposed a new tax. All republican led. The only ones with smiles are big business and some dim-witted union retirees. And her republican leaders have groaned about failing economically. I wonder why? It must be their wasteful spending, right Mitch?

My friends, Manic Mitch has got to go, before he does irreparable damage to our beleaguered state. Hopefully intelligent Hoosiers see this and put an end to the madness this fall. "Intelligent Hoosier"......now there's a term I spent many years in college defending was not an oxymoron.

is sanity a qualifier for gun licensing?

My red-blooded republican friends always knew I was a little soft on this bullwark of conservatism growing up, so I'm sure my questioning the current state of gun control comes as no surprise to them.

But, I watched stupified as reports from NIU came back that showed the gunman legally had two of his three guns and evidently spent a year locked up for mental illness, due to cutting himself (no violent behavior there), and evidently had not taken his medication for his illness over the last few weeks. So, how does a guy like this legally get guns? I guess at this point, you can tell me, well, he'd a got them anyway, and that's probably true. But so much for the old arguement,though, that it's the illegal owners that cause our gun problems in this country.

I'm all for the safe use and possession of firearms, but you guys have to give me some assurance that every possible precaution is taken to make sure legal guns aren't getting into the wrong hands too.

And what of these kids that bring guns to school (2 in the last few weeks in South Bend)? Sure, it's the parent's fault......but are we going to keep saying that when innocent children are lying in a pool of blood? Sounds more like an NRA cop-out to me than really wanting to deal with the problem. Kinda like it's all about personal responsibility until it becomes personal, then it's time to work together to find a solution. I'd rather find a solution now, than to see this in river city.

IU, the General and Skiles

Well, no doubt everyone has heard of the trouble plaguing IU's basketball program. Some, in fact, have even speculated that bringing the General back would actually solve some problems. Fact is, I don't know that Bobby was ever charged with recruiting violations-so, true enough, I guess it would solve the current situation.

But, speculation has also found Scott Skiles coming back to Indiana to coach at IU. Wow.....this creates all kinds of problems for PNW. If I remember right, isn't Scotty a cousin you had trouble stomaching? Well, another famous celeb from river city might just have found their way back into the spotlight. Can you go from coaching the Bulls to coaching the Hoosiers? Can you go from leaving the Hoosier state to play ball for Michigan, then expect to coach here? And for the swarm of Purdue fans in river city....how is this going to set with you, our local celeb going to coach for your arch-enenemy?

While I'm confident Skiles would do a great job at IU, it might be easier to bring Bobby back, less to have to resolve internally. So, let's set some ground rules should the General return (my mind keeps playing the tune from White Christmas......"so what do you do with a general.....when he stops being a general....")

1. Bobby can have no physical contact with players. He must maintain a 20' circle of personal space at all times. Or at least outside of strangling range.
2. Bobby cannot conduct pre or post game interviews with media.
3. Bobby cannot have access to whipping towels
4. Bobby must remain seated on his chair at all times....and his chair must be nailed to the floor
5. Bobby must be muzzled and straight-jacketed while in public

I think if he could live by these rules, so could the trustees of IU. Otherwise, I'm for bringing Skiles on board.

16 February 2008

personal pan-demic

My apologies. I've been battling something here for the last week that's kept me away from spewing out the worthless dribble that some of you find interesting and frankly, keeps me sane. I've since passed the bug onto our kids, and I think possibly the dog, so I should be back up and running shortly.

I've caught a few of the comments coming in, and have responded. And I need to post a few stories such as Mania Mitch's visit to river city, our own personal visit from FEMA.....and, my conservative friends take cover........gun control!

And I'm praying this pandemic doesn't reach you!

08 February 2008

reroute on the GAR

If you would indulge me, I'd like to take a little detour from the Lincoln Highway and head down the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Highway, Route 6-which also passes through our corner of the state and past my old stomping grounds. GAR? What's this you ask?

The highway began as an entity in November of 1926 when the U.S. adopted the numbering system for marking the nation's main interstate highways. Prior to 1926 it was called the Midland Trail Roadway. During the late 20s and early 30s it was known as the Roosevelt Highway, after my hero-Teddy. At first, U.S. 6 was a short route running between Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Brewster, New York. Over the years it was extended in stages to transcontinental length as improved roadways moved westward. It was in 1937 that the U.S. approved the extension of Route 6 to Long Beach, California making it the longest U.S. Route in the country, until U.S. 20 was constructed. Before that time, Route 6 was still just a patchwork of mis-matched highways. Route 6 is still the second longest route in the country.

The GAR Highway passes through the little towns of Bremen, Lapaz and Walkerton in our part of the state. Bremen, aka mint city, once hosted a stop called the coffee pot restaurant. The building was essentially a metal silo with add-ons to make it look like a coffee pot! I vaguely remember it, but my grandparents frequented it often. Lapaz had three important stops at the crossroads with the Dixie Highway. The Alibi Restaurant, the Dixiana, and Garners all vied for travelers at the corners of 6 & 31. While Garners was reconstructed east of the intersection, the other buildings are gone now. Garners was formerly the Maddox Inn from about 1925-1949 when the Garner family took over operations (picture above) until it closed in 1996. Walkerton hosted one grand stop only recently lost to fire-Welco's-at the east edge of town. More on the GAR to come!

For more information on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, visit http://www.route6tour.com/

07 February 2008

LH watering hole

Now, I have no problem admitting I've never frequented "the Mayflower"; but here's another little piece of nostalgia from the Lincoln Highway in Plymouth, Indiana (get it? Mayflower/ Plymouth?). The Mayflower was built between about 1929-32, shortly after the 28' route came through Plymouth. And it's always been known as the Mayflower............to go along with its colorful reputation in this little city. While its original siding was covered about 40 years ago, it still retains its Spanish revival style parapet and the neon "liquor" sign over the doorway. And it is always busy!

06 February 2008

reminded of Ernie Pyle

I had a friend from college I would visit in Hoopston, Illinios-which there is no easy way to get from here to there........so my "quickest" route would take me down a small Indiana highway through a town of about 100 folk, named Dana.

This is where I was introduced to Ernie Pyle. Dana was Ernie's home town, as it read on a marker posted at the town limits. I didn't know who Ernie was, so I did a little investigating to satisfy my curiosity. Born in 1900, he served about 3 months in WWI, came back home to attend IU, then became a news correspondent. Which is what he was pursuing when he was killed my machine gun fire in Japan.

Recently a grim picture of Mr. Pyle has surfaced, maybe you've seen it......one that shows him in dignified repose, but dead. It reminded me of driving past his tenant farm. Pyle became famous for the stories of the soldiers he would send back home.......framed in the light of small town boys, homesick for their communities and mama's cooking. I offer that Pyle was so talented at portraying this because of his own small town Hoosier roots. I think he knew the ache of town after town across this country sending away their brightest and best, and the emotion of loss.

We salute Ernie Pyle, Hoosier son, comforting those at home during the darkest hours of WWII.

why your vote doesn't count

yes, that's a photo of the Oval Office I took myself

With a fair amount of interest I have been watching the rest of the country make the decision for me, for who my next president will be. Being a firm believer in democracy.......or at least, how democracy ideally should work.........I have to admit my utter disgust at our inability in Indiana to actually make our vote count in a presidential primary.

I'm for a true national primary. It only seems right that we all participate equally, on the same day, how our delegates should be cast rather than someone "gaining momentum" so that like sheep we cast our lot with the supposed front-runner. Eight years ago, even though it was obvious who the nominee would be, I still cast my vote for the other guy.....who happens to be the front runner today........who I probably won't vote for in the primary this time.

The interesting race unfolding is that of the democratic nominee for president. And I believe, if you don't look at delegates, but at percentages on the republican side an interesting picture of America begins to emerge here too. It would appear that there are six very different philosophies existing in the american culture represented by the six lead candidates together.

Mccain-conservative, maverick, does not toe the GOP line
Clinton-liberal, elitist, we'll take care of you
Romney-elitist conservative, let everyone get walked on by my pals
Obama-not this or that....wants unity & ethics
Huckabee-conservative, but socially conscious, like the changing face of evangelicals
Paul-this and that, don't tell anybody what to do, amoral

And each of these have their following. I believe the first three are a bit of the old school, although Mccain as a maverick appeals to me. Obama captures the spirit of where many young americans may want the future of the country to be. Huckabee may represent the changing face of evangelicals (no wonder Robertson did NOT endorse him), a sizeable base commonly tied to, but increasingly disappointed with, the GOP. Paul represents a generation of young voters clashing with the norms of either party, but in my opinion, not experienced enough to understand what the outcome of his ideals would be.

So, as this younger generation matures and the face of evangelicals change, will we see a demand for a third party? Many in my generation-or about 40ish and younger-can't find a true home in either camp, even though we would consider ourselves conservative. Does party matter? Well, it does when those are the only two choices we have......and, unfortunately, in Indiana, we don't even have a voice in that!

Your thoughts? Who would you vote for, forgetting the "momentum"?

04 February 2008

relics from the Lincoln

Just thought I would stick another link to the Lincoln from our end of the state. This is Faulkner's Service and Filling Station......opened for business in June, 1931, a mile west of Bourbon, Indiana. This would have opened about 3 years after the Lincoln Highway was constructed across the back corner of the farm. This may be one of the more intact examples of a filling station from the early Lincoln Highway days in our county. I've always admired this little building, but never knew its past until just recently. Sweeeet.

Bird Log-2/2/08

This is for you birders out there. It was a busy weekend for our feathered friends around the old homestead......and some impressive sightings that I think even my wife thought cool. 23 species in all.

Starlings 23 (not cool)
Black Capped Chickadee 2
House Finch 6
Cardinals 5
Crows 3-these guys have been the terror of the downtown for the last 3 months
House Sparrow 12
Goldfinch 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
White Breasted Nuthatch
Juncos 6
Bluebirds 2
Mourning Doves 4
Peregrine Falcon 3-these guys came together, and I can't identify them as anything but
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker 2
Pileated Woodpecker-this was cool, I have a picture I'll post soon
Trumpeter Swan-flew overhead to the lakes, also very cool
Northern Goshawk
Blue Jay
Mallards 5

I only hope we're this successful for the "Great Backyard Bird Count" in two weeks. We also took in a new restaurant downtown with some friends-superb and long overdue! and took in the Super Bowl.......which was a sleeper until the 4th. The Fed-Ex commercial was my favorite.