25 June 2008

Happy 4th.....from our front porch to yours


Have an awesome 4th of July......I'll be thinking of all my family and friends back here in the Hoosier state while I'm gazing at the stars high in the mountains of Wyoming.
Thanks for the well-wishes and prayers for safe journey.........and sanity.

24 June 2008

why people hate Christians

1. Jerry Falwell

2. Pat Robertson

now,

3. James Dobson

Something deep in my stomach always started to turn a little when I would hear Dobson speak, or read some of his literature. It's not all bad......but if I had an audience with Dobson, I'd shake him until all the political crap fell out of his head and he could just go back to being an effective minister of the gospel............and reach hurting people.

Evidently Dobson is wanting to throw his political clout around by taking aim at Obama over some comments he made a few years ago.

Specifically, Dobson is saying Obama is misinterpreting the Bible based on his statement that maybe America should be practicing Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount. Somehow this has become a "fruitcake view of the constitution" according to Dobson. How is this wrong Dobson? Hello?!?!? It seems Dobson is also bothered by Obama's question that if we were to deport all of the nonChristians.........whose Christianity would we follow? Dobson's or Sharpton's? Dead on! Of course it would seem that Dobson believes only his is correct.

Is there any possible way we can take these guys who give Christianity a black eye and deport them? I may suggest Dobson read unChristian.........I've tried to muster some respect for the man, but now I've lost it all. The news story is at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25343812?GT1=43001.

the Great Westward Ho vacation








I'm not usually one for being gone over the 4th. But arranging our summer this year placed vacation squarely on the Fourth of July. Ordinarily I'd be taking in the fireworks over some small town.......views are always spectacular with a corn field in the foreground. And we always take in the parade in Bremen, land of my ancestors, land of my birth.

But this year finds the family traveling west. I have always had a great affinity for the West. Our family vacationed there a lot.......my parents even worked it into my full name. It must be the wide open spaces.....the pure wilderness......or wildness of the place.

So, we'll be hitting the road soon with stops in the Badlands, Wall Drug, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, the Tetons and Mount Rushmore for fireworks over the Fourth with 30,000 other Americans. And I'll be back to blogging soon. Until then, I threw in some patriotic music for your holiday.

23 June 2008


There are few places in which I have stood that the shear history and depth of the place wooed me into a sort of revered and somber state. Such was the case upon my visit to Independence Hall, several years ago.

I happened to be in Philadelphia with family and encouraged a visit to both Valley Forge and Independence Hall. I tend to be a lingerer......that is, someone who stays back after the tour group moves on to the next room. I did this in the chambers where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was a hot July day and my younger cousin was anxious to move on, but I insisted we hold back......we wait until everyone was out of the room. Then, in the silence.....close your eyes and imagine what happened in that room over 200 years ago. Breathe in deeply........now open your eyes.

Remarkable really. Treason for sure.

Revolution.

Happenings

the Happening.

Friday night was supposed to take me to Chesterton, but since that fell through and my buddy had the night open anyway.....we got dinner and caught a flick. The Happening, by Shayaman or Shaylaman or something like that. It was kind of strange....as I'm told his films are. I'm not sure what I felt.....mostly disturbed I guess. First, Mark Wahlberg shouldn't be trying to make environmental statement kind of films. I like Mark......his work is normally really good. He wasn't the right fit for this film. It bordered on corny sometimes.........but I do appreciate the fact that it made you think, or wonder, or something. In short, the film had more potential than it lived up to. C'mon, plantlife killing people? We do a good enough job of that ourselves.

_____________________

the wedding Happening.

We've had the great pleasure of attending now 3 weddings of our former youth group kids. The last two were for guys I had gotten pretty close to, so I've gotten a little choked up at times. It also makes me feel dang old........until.......the bride's mother mistakes me for one of the groom's medical school buddies. That took 15 years off! I like the fact people think I'm young, but I have to wonder if it hasn't helped to thwart some of my political plans. I mean, why would they put a 20 something in charge of river city? Thinking about dying my hair gray now.

_____________________

the Target' Happening.

After the wedding we stopped by Target to get some supplies for the great westward ho trip this week. We also needed a birthday present for my son who will be turning 8 in Iowa. How exciting could that be?!?! We kept running into people from river city.......and one said to me, hey, I've heard this rumor............

The rumor my friends? I think about everyone in river city has heard it..........


Keep 'em wanting more I've always been told. What a teaser.

20 June 2008

15 years ago


It was 15 years ago that we had our own wild ride with a tornado. It affected the family business, our home and my grandfather's farm. I remember standing in our restaurant with a front row seat to the storm. It happened so quickly, we didn't even think to duck and take cover. The sky grew black and we watched the wind madly ripple across the wheat field; and then we could see nothing for the rain and wind out the windows.

When it cleared I could see in the distance my parents' house, once surrounded by woods, now with light streaming in where trees once stood. Power was out, but we were able to call and they had taken cover in the bathtub...no basement. Dad said to go check on gramps.

I drove down the road to grandad's house where a tree was laying on the barn, on the house and on the garage. I went in the house expecting to find my 82 year old grandfather motionless from heart failure. Instead he was sitting still in his lazy-boy, near the large picture window that now had a tree through it.

It was a weak tornado that did minor damage over a 1/2 mile path. We lost 14 trees in our woods alone. The picture is from a tree that was twisted off about 3' from the ground.

19 June 2008

a rather UNreMARKable location

There used to be a line on the Dukes of Hazzard that said "Hazzard is a place where three little southern states come together". So the geography nut in me set out to finding where Hazzard County was. I never found it.....I had a hard time separating reality from make-believe when it came to the Dukes of Hazzard.

But there is a place where three Midwestern states come together. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio come together in the northeast corner of the state and a granite marker is located at the exact location. Once while visiting Pokagon State Park, we wandered to the location and the picture included is what we found....the marker, or what is left of the marker. Rather unremarkable.

We did take the opportunity though, for a picture with my daughter in Michigan, son in Indiana and myself in Ohio. wow.

Jesus probably looked like a terrorist

I thought that would get your attention.

So, was Jesus lily white? Did he really look like our American, WASP image that adorns our Sunday School classroom walls across the country? Did he have long flowing hair with an effeminate air about him?

This may be speculation on my part, but I bet Jesus looked like he could kick ---. Think about it. His dad was a carpenter and Jesus probably helped his dad around the shop. It takes some muscle to carry around lumber and push tools through a piece of wood. My guess is that Jesus was ripped, or at least had some big guns. Still, his eyes of compassion probably melted the hearts of those around him. Wow-to have that combination!

And he probably looked a little "Mideastern"........because, uh, he was from the middle east. So, he probably had more of an olive to darker skin tone than what we grew up with in Sunday School. So, if Jesus went walking downtown in river city today, he would probably have a lot of nasty stares cast his way......along with some anxious looks and possibly calls to either INS or Homeland Security.

My reason for believing this? Because it is exactly what we do to people who don't look like us here in the Midwest. Fact of the matter is when we pass by someone who looks a little different than us immediate suspicion and/or intolerance sets in. And how do we know it isn't Jesus walking the streets of river city?

17 June 2008

my Fortress of Solitude


While I may have wished I had superpowers as a kid, I was realistic enough to know that my undercover character, the "Tomahawk Kid" had to rely on his own wits to defeat bad guys. Of course, the Tomahawk Kid had to have a hideout......like the Bat Cave, or the Fortress of Solitude. So I started with a simple log structure built in the Circle of Trees (see the David Tree) borrowing from the techniques of early pioneers I learned about in Indiana History. The structure was too temporal, so, after a remodeling project at the family business I got a stock pile of lumber and built this more substantial structure...."the Fort". I put a rusty nail through my knee while building it...which led to a brief tetanus scare with my mom.

The fort had to be raised off the ground because a few weeks out of the year the Circle flooded. It had a draw bridge style ramp.....to keep the bad guys out. It had a warming mechanism........a large old enamel bowl in which I would start fires, complete with old stove pipe. It had a series of wires running from the bowl around the inside perimeter of the walls. No, it didn't work, but I pretended it did and considered myself rather ingenious. It had a hatch in the roof and wood steps nailed to one of the four supporting oak trees so that I could climb to the "observation deck" and watch for bad guys. It had a back "porch" (a piece of plywood on raised earth I dug myself and piled up). This is where we'd put our sleeping bags if we camped out. I also found a huge coil of copper wire which I put on insulators and ran from the fort all the way to our backyard, sometimes on poles or trees....a distance of probably 1,000 feet. I pretended this was a way to communicate back to home base (aka, my bedroom). Often I had to share the fort with field mice.

Dad bought a gallon of brown paint and insisted I paint it.......I think because when the corn was down, or if gramps had beans or wheat in the ground, you could see it from the highway. My dad was all about "blending in"......of course, I considered it camouflage. The structure lasted several years.....it certainly outlasted my character of the Tomahawk Kid (wish I had kept the t-shirt and utility belt). Finally, in junior high, I figured it was time to raze the old fort. I shot this picture before I did. Only a wood step or two remain on the tree along with the raised earth under the former porch from those glory days.

I tell my wife often that a boy has to have a woods he can explore in, a field he can run through, or a swamp he can get muddy in. I'm glad my folks are still on the homestead.

16 June 2008

Why men are men: Briefly on Father's Day




I started my Father's Day with a shout from downstairs by my wife. COME NOW! she said. Evidently the creepy crawly in the picture happened to be in her towel as she was drying off in the shower. My first instinct was to grab the camera....this will make an excellent post on my blog. Then I told my son to get a shoe, a big shoe. Smash. Only later did I regret killing it. The drain is 3" across, the spider, although the angle is goofy, was a tad bit larger than the drain. My wife used to make fun of me for seeing "Bitey" as I like to call him in the barn....she didn't believe he was that big. No making fun of hubby now.

Any ideas what this big guy is?

I taught a 30 minute lesson in about 15 minutes in adult Sunday school.....about the attributes of God we recognize as a loving Father....and then how those attributes are an example for us guys to display with our kids. I checked one off this morning......"protector".
My daughter asked me what I wanted for Father's Day and I said "world peace". She said, "dadddd......it has to be something we can buy". Not sure I like that response. I got a best of John Denver cd, pickles, and a card with "world peace" drawn on it.

We did a short hike at Potato Creek then went to have supper with mom and dad. We picked up a pizza and while we waited for it to be done.....I shot a few pictures of the storm that rattled northern Indiana yesterday. My wife was insisting we get to cover, but I was enthralled by the circular motion of the tornado-colored cloud. I shot video-which if I could figure out how to load, I would. You would hear my wife in the background saying I think the pizza is done, we need to get outa here, while the radio is beeping with storm warnings.

I love watching storms roll in....must be a guy thing. I trust you all had as an eventful Father's Day as I did.

Hoosier Happenings has gone Multi-Media!!!

Thanks to my beautiful wife, who likes to feed my blogger addiction-but thinks it's getting a little "kooky", I got my playlist up and running on Hoosier Happenings. Welcome to Hoosier Reborn's music. It is definitely eclectic, just like me.

Feel free to scan down the playlist and click on whatever might be your preference. I firmly believe that these will be the songs I'm singing in heaven one day..........while playing my bagpipes..........and chillin' with John Denver and Mellencamp.

One song you have to play is the state song, "On the Banks of the Wabash" by Byron Harlan. It is a recording of an original performance of the song in 1897. You'll have to listen closely, but what a great piece!

Bird Log 6/15/08

Another active bird weekend around the 'ol homestead. A new visitor along with a turkey, yes, that's right, our turkey friend returned.......keep in mind we're one block from downtown river city. And with Tom, we broke our old record of number of species seen in a week. It now stands at 26.

Red Tailed Hawk
Great Blue Heron 3
Red Bellied Woodpecker MF
Downy Woodpecker 3
Black Capped Chickadee 5
House Wren 2
Blue Jay 5
Blue-Gray Gnatcather
Chimney Swift 8
Robin 5
Chipping Sparrow 4
House Finch 4
Gold Finch 4
Starling 3
Grackle 5
Hummingbird 2
White Breasted Nuthatch 2
Mourning Dove 2
House Sparrow 3
Cardinal 4
Catbird
Crow
Canada Goose 3
Tufted Titmouse 2
Wood Duck
Tom the Turkey

A number of these appeared to be males and females with their young. The Chickadees were especially fun to watch as they fed their little flock. The herons were really impressive as they flew overhead to the river early Sunday morning....they were calling to each other just as the sun was catching them in the sky. Really cool.

13 June 2008

Old Glory


Tomorrow is flag day and I would encourage you to get the stars and stripes up. The flag has always been a sincere symbol of pride and honor for me.....been known to get a little teary-eyed as she passes by.

It has taken on a new meaning for me lately though. I can't help but look at it without a profound sense of sorrow that turns to hope and optimism for the possibility of a changed nation. The flag resonates these qualities as we think of the flag raising at Ground Zero and each time it is handed off to another war widow.

I find myself turning more to prayer when I see our flag. I can't understand waving it in some one's face in defiance.........and I can't understand wrapping myself in it like so many politicians and churches do. I revere it. And I understand the blood spilled on its behalf, not always being justified.

We have three large American flags we drape from our front porch on main street in river city. I'll be out bright and early securing them in place. My thoughts are on 2016 when Indiana celebrates our bicentennial......I have an enormous state flag that was used in a ceremony in the State House.......I'll be hoisting it in great Hoosier pride.

the low point of my adventure in Fatherhood

An early happy Father's Day.

Only recently did I have my low of lows in fathering.....it is both humorous and heart-wrenching and ends with a valuable lesson for the younger dads out there.

Occasionally I get into the "let's move" mode and start to ask the kids where they would like to move to. This discussion started around the supper table a few months ago. My son didn't want to entertain the idea of moving (although now he thinks Bourbon, IN would be a swell spot). My daughter's interest, however, was piqued. And soon she began contemplating moving out by some friends of ours in the country. Further into the conversation I told her maybe we would just move into their basement. That seemed to suit my 5 year old just fine. Then I said, well, I don't want to live in their basement, but if you want to move in with them, that's fine with me.

She smiled.

The next day at lunch I encouraged her to ask this friend (he's our family doctor & she had an appointment after lunch) if it would be ok with him if she moved in. The doctor played along with the joke and told her, sure, you can move in.

That night at supper she reported that our friend said she could move in, so, I said, "well, I guess you better pack your bags after supper".

She disappeared upstairs. Mom went to find her and she had pulled all of her belongings out of her drawers and was packing. She told me I needed to deal with it.

I went upstairs. My daughter was hiding behind her door when I found her. I said, honey, you can't move in with our friends! Dad was just teasing...........I'd miss you, don't you want to live here?

She bursted into tears. She cried for a half hour while I held her in my arms.....then mom took over.

The worst part was when my 7 year old son came into her room, upset over his sister's tears, and told me......."Dad, sometimes your teases turn into lies".


Ouch.


I didn't get a manual when my first kid was born. To this day, I don't know what the heck I'm doing raising two kids and fret that I will scar them for life. Kids are a great gift from God, and since I can especially see myself in my son, I want to encourage him and my daughter to live to their full potential. I don't ever want my words to break their confidence, or their trust in me.

And I'm learning that in enjoying my heavenly Father's love for me.........I am better equipped to extend the same love to my kids. That's what I'm teaching about on Sunday. We'll see how that goes.

12 June 2008

Tippecanoe & Prophetstown too


Battle of Tippecanoe Monument (top) and restored farm at Prophetstown (bottom)

Our family traveled to Lafayette recently for a graduation ceremony and while in the area, decided to visit "Indiana's newest state park" Prophetstown. There was a bike path, a playground, a restored farm and a portion of the village of Prophetstown recreated. I think the intent is to also give the park more of a recreated prairie feel. Something didn't seem quite right about the whole experience.

And I'm not sure why that was......

We left there and went to the Battle of Tippecanoe State Historic site, just down the road in Battle Ground, Indiana. I wish river city had a cool name like Battle Ground. We hung out at the memorial for a while, then made our way home. I give the experience a B.

Short history lesson: the Battle of Tippecanoe was fought in 1811 between Tecumseh's growing Indian confederacy, centered out of Prophetstown, and Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory. The battle essentially squelched the dream of unifying Native American tribes into a nation. Indian forces were outnumbered 2 to 1, although losses were heavier on the U.S. side. The battle led to Tecumseh's and the Prophet's, place in history. It also propelled Harrison's presidential campaign to victory with the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too".

For more info on this great piece of pre-statehood history, visit

11 June 2008

the end is near!

Have you stopped to consider all of the natural disasters, war and economic hardships thrust upon our country over the last several years?

It seems guaranteed that if the war in Iraq & Afghanistan doesn't bankrupt us, surely the bail out of the mortgage debacle or stock scandals (remember Enron?) will. And if they don't, certainly the devastation of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, record tornadic devastation or flooding will. Maybe it will be the energy crisis that finally breaks the backbone of the nation. Seriously, have you given thought to the financial impact of the last seven years?

Seems like only the oil companies are set. Record profits and plenty of tax credits. Yeah, good job Republicans, be sure to keep those tax credits in place for oil companies........we wouldn't want them to go under.

Maybe this is just a random post about random, unrelated unfortunate events in our country and state. Geesh, poor Central Indiana! Still, in my 40 years, I don't recall such a string of events. Time to plant those victory gardens!

10 June 2008

LH's Heminger Travel Lodge


Here's some good news for Lincoln Highway enthusiasts. The Heminger Travel Lodge in Plymouth, Indiana received a second lease on life thanks to some clever thinking by a local non-profit group called "Turning Point". The former Lincoln Highway travel lodge was restored recently with Transportation Enhancement funds and will become a home for women and children in crisis situations.
The building had been a flop house for the last several decades. An eyesore, turned restored gem, along the Lincoln's 1928 realignment in Marshall County. See the LH marker on the brick light pier?

John Heminger first built the "Avon Inn" on "the point" about a mile to the east of Heminger about 1928 when the Lincoln Highway first came through Plymouth (green building above). Heminger and his wife separated....he remarried a German woman and built the Heminger Travel Lodge down the road in 1937. It later became the Pilgrim Tourist Home. It's been reported that a former mayor once hung out with his friends there, playing hookey from Sunday School, because Mrs. Heminger didn't follow Indiana's Blue Laws.

Heminger was listed on the National Register in 2000.

Me & the Border Patrol


I tend to look a little "ethnic". Which, I am German/Irish, but have a slight Middle Eastern look about me, which also led to some interesting post-9/11 moments for me. Because of this appearance and my Amish roots some friends in college would refer to me as "examisha", meaning formerly Amish but middle eastern sounding in the way it rolls off the tongue.

My ethnic appearance is heightened when I go a few days without shaving.....and showering.....and wearing a turban (ok, I'm being funny on that last one). I believe this mix led to a run-in with Border Patrol at a remote crossing in North Dakota a few years back I thought I'd share for your amusement.

A buddy and I wanted to attend a friend's wedding in Red Deer, Alberta Canada. We also thought it would make a great road trip in my new Mustang. We hit the road planning to drive straight through. As I looked at the Atlas, the quickest route seemed to be a smaller connector highway in North Dakota. The problem was a tremendous amount of construction delayed our drive and detoured us onto dirt roads. My 'stang was a wreck. We looked a wreck.

We arrived at the border crossing into Canada and waited a short time in line. Each car would have a guard in uniform ask the driver a few questions and off they went. Until we got to the front of the line. A few questions were asked......reason for travel, visit, length of stay, etc.. Then we were asked to get out of the car. We were asked essentially the same questions again adding questions about firearms, explosives, etc. while other guards approached. Then they asked us to step inside their offices where we went through a lengthier interrogation and had to fill out paperwork including contact numbers............which they called and checked on. Out the corner of the office window I could see dogs sniffing around my car.

Over an hour passed. I said to Randy........is this normal? Are we going to be sitting in a cell in nowhere, North Dakota? Finally we got the all clear, but I felt dirty, like I had done something wrong. I'm about as hoosier & american as they come.......maybe they thought too much so.

The good news is that on the way back into the country re admittance took about 10 seconds. Isn't that comforting? I plan to stop and shave and shower before any future border crossings....I can only assume my examisha groove-on was my problem.

07 June 2008

then the sky opened up....

Dinner with the kids and a good friend last night: $16.00

Purchasing a storm door at Lowe's: $104.00

The gallon of gas running to the restaurant and store: $3.89

Having that good friend accept Christ in the parking lot of Lowes: priceless

After he said that prayer, having the sun break through the clouds and shine through the cab of his pickup truck: really quite remarkable.

With all the uncertainty & disappointments lately, it was awesome that God reminded me last night of what really matters in life and that my stuff doesn't add to all that much. And that He can use a short prayer and the sun to let us know He's there.

06 June 2008

the sky above


Pictures from the storm rolling in Wednesday night. It seems that Crayola ought to introduce a new color called "tornado" given that so many people talk about "that eerie colored sky". No color/photo enhancements on these. Predictions for some rocky weather in northern Indiana this afternoon too.

05 June 2008

the storm in Moscow




Does it seem we've been dealing with tornadoes too frequently this year? As the tornado siren sounded last night in river city, like any other good redneck, I went outside and shot some pictures of that eerie colored sky I'll upload soon.

I couldn't help but pass these pictures on to you from the tornadoes that went through central Indiana destroying some important history in the Moscow community of Rush County. One picture is a before of the covered bridge, the center piece of their festival each year, and one of the remains of the bridge in the river. Has there ever been a covered bridge destroyed by a tornado before....what's the odds? Our hearts go out.

04 June 2008

recovering cynic

Living with some extreme ironies has over the last few months made me a bit of a cynic. A good friend pointed that out, so, I've decided to admit I have a problem in the first step to recovery.

Now, always feeling the need for self-justification, I want to defend my cynical tendencies, however, that's probably not the life of humility I should lead. So, I'll admit my cynicism involving politics, business ethics and spiritual leadership is likely more of a coping mechanism for the frustration I feel over the inability to change or control the process. And that control issue is another area God has been sanding off the edges of.

How to cope???? Well, acceptance of things being the way they are is probably a healthy approach only to some measure. I know that politics is an ugly unethical system. I guess there is no beneficial reason to stand back and point my finger and call it such....it knows it is. What, am I to be the moral conscience of something amoral? No. But I do believe that there must be a healthy approach to public service, in supporting spiritual leadership and in engaging in business. Some of these approaches seem more clear than others.

So, it isn't about accepting things as they are, or ignoring shortcomings. Coping must be a reasoned and constructive approach to engagement. Coping is probably not shooting off my mouth, or keyboard, with smart-alic remarks. My apologies.

03 June 2008

Sad news from Route 66


I went web surfing yesterday and was disappointed to learn one of our most memorable stops from the family's trip down Route 66 in 2003 was destroyed by fire. The Rock Cafe' in Stroud, Oklahoma was a fun lunch stop for our family where we had some of the best homemade chips and salsa this side of the Rio Grande. There was a dining patio with a small rock garden/pond we sat near. The waitress told us that a sneaky snake hung around the pond looking for toads. Snake? Needless to say we kept our eyes on the ground below our feet during lunch.

Evidently the owner provided inspiration to one of the characters in the movie "Cars" a must see for young and old.

This sad news reminded me of the passing of another 66 icon. My first trip on 66 was in my Mustang with a college buddy. Our plan was to do the Illinois portion and stay over night in the Coral Court Motel in St. Louis (picture inset). The Coral Court was a great glazed tile and glass block art deco motel built during the 40's. I had seen its picture in several 66 books and it was our destination for the first night. But once we reached the Dixie Truckers Home and were looking over their collection of 66 memorabilia, we noticed one unfortunate display-that of a glazed tile block of the FORMER Coral Court Motel, demolished earlier that year.

We ended up staying the night at another vintage 66 motel further down the road in Missouri. Hotels were booked so we got the last room in a dive with one bed. This made Chad very uncomfortable, especially when I dropped a quarter in the vibrating bed.

I join in a quiet salute with my 66 brothers.......and hope to not lose another icon from the Mother Road.

02 June 2008

holiness just creeps up on you

sort of.

A question came up during adult sunday school yesterday regarding holiness. If we can never obtain holiness, what's the point of striving for it? Well, because the bible says so, and that should be good enough. Right?

Let me tell you........I gave up striving for it a few years back. That's right.......and it has brought me closer to God. I had lunch with a buddy a few months ago and we were talking about struggles and I told him I'm no longer pursuing holiness.

His eyes got huge. whaaaa? Immedialey he quoted scripture..."be holy as I am holy!" Then I said, whoa, wait.....I've decided to pursue God instead.

You see, I don't think it is striving to be holy that pleases or draws us closer to God, rather, it is in striving to be closer to God we find ourselves moving toward holiness. The more our heart desires God, the more it squeezes out the junk that separates us from Him. And I'm not talking about legalistic ideals of holiness, I'm talking about stuff that really matters.

I used to beat myself up over the many struggles and shortcomings I had...and then, over a period of time, I realized God was more interested in me, in loving and forgiving me, than I was. And that changed the object of my pursuit. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

Bird Log-6/1/08

With a few unusual feathered visitors over the last week, I thought our bird log might be of interest to some readers. Particularly interesting were the pair of Swainsons Thrushes that hung around for about a week and the Wood ducks who roosted briefly in the big tree at our rental cottage behind us.

Swainsons Thrush 2
Goldfinch 4
House Finch 4
Cardinal 4
Mourning Dove 2
House Wren 2
White Breasted Nuthatch
Starlings (!$%&*! - eating my suet!) 6
Downy Woodpecker MF
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Chipping Sparrow 2
Robin (!$#%*! - eating our strawberries!) 4
House Sparrow 6
Blue Jay 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Chimney Swift 8
Grackle
Hummingbird
Catbird 2
Wood ducks MF
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose 2
Turkey Vulture 3

I realize the picture of the thrush is a little grainy-kinda like Bigfoot footage, but it's for real. My folks and us are in competition as we phone anytime we have a new or unusual sighting. I finally trumped them when I said we had a Bald Eagle on our suet cake......I don't think they believed me. We particularly appreciate the return of the Chimney Swifts because they keep down the mosquito population. They nest/roost in a large brick chimney on an old brick Italianate house two houses down and they are fun to watch.