31 December 2009

River City or Pottersville?

"you mean Bedford Falls"

"no I mean Pottersville! Don't you think I know where I live?!"

A reader gave me this idea for a story, one or possibly two years ago....and it seems only appropriate to write at this time of the year. Remember when George Bailly had his epiphany, discovering what life in Bedford Falls would be like if he had not been born? Old man Potter evidently would have filled the vacuum of good with his monopolizing evil if George had never been born. We see "Pottersville" filled with drunkenness and whoring and people living in filth. Because there was no Bailly Savings and Loan and no George Bailly.

Thankfully George Bailly awakes to Zuzu's petals in his pants pocket, Clarence gets his wings and a splendid rendition of Auld Lang Syne is bellowed from the rafters of the Bailly home.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but it does make me wonder what life would be like if I had never been born. I can't imagine it would be much different, other than my kids wouldn't be my kids. I can think of a handful of other things that would or would not be, but it seems like river city would just be river city. No better, no worse. I think that's because I'm not river city's George Bailly. In fact, I'm pretty convinced that river city's George Bailly was never born. River city is in many respects.....Pottersville already. River city lost its chance to be better maybe decades ago, the vacuum of good was never filled. People literally are living in Potter's slums.

I don't believe that all hope is lost, but I wonder if there ever really can be change for good....for the good of the people who live in river city......can it possibly combat the entrenched and inbred ideology that exercises total control? It isn't enough to be in a position to make change for good-one has to understand through human interaction and neighborly living what is good. One has to deny themselves, and their prescribed political associations and principles in order to freshly look at the quality of life the citizenry should enjoy. River city leadership, whether elected or operating due to abdication, has little if any regard or understanding for river city's residents. But they do know how to train the voter.

On this last day of the year I suppose the focus should be on what good one can still do in their life, in the positions which they find themselves in whether dad, son, grandfather, teacher, friend or patriot. We know from another Christmas classic that it is never too late to turn over a new leaf and embrace the good one still can do.

I don't know who was supposed to be river city's George Bailly, but I wish he had been born. Maybe he's still out there and if so, I wish him all the prayers in the world.

30 December 2009

year end book review

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 was that I would read more. I sorta did ok with that one (please don't ask how my non-existent workouts have been going). It takes an awfully good book to capture my attention long enough for me to want to read and finish it.

Here are the books that made it to the "completed" column in my library during 2009:

Traveler's Gift
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
Cats and Dogs
Wild at Heart
Crazy Love

Of these Crazy Love and In a Pit were the most moving. Both should be in any Christian guy's library; In a Pit to understand the strength we have in Christ and Crazy Love to understand the love that should flow through us.

Here are the books that I began in 2009 and can't pull myself to finish:
Geography of Nowhere
Ideas Have Consequences
Faith & Courage of Lincoln
Founding Brothers

I'll probably get back to the Lincoln book-I'm halfway through. Both Geography and Ideas are important reads, but in some ways I don't want to read about something that seems impossible to change. Buddy, believe me, I know Ideas Have Consequences-because I've tried to fight the Geography of Nowhere!

Here are the books that were given to me and I haven't even started:
Mike Huckabee: Do the Right Thing
Mere Christianity
Man Up

Here are the books that I received for Christmas and will no doubt finish:
Blue Highways
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

I've started Blue Highways and am enjoying this read incredibly....and I can't wait to get started on Million Miles by Donald Miller, probably my favorite author.

That's a heck of a lot of books.....I'm just imagining myself pulled up on a rock by the creek reading this summer. Ahhh!

29 December 2009

Christmas in review

Favorite quote from Christmas morning as the kids pulled their toys out of their stockings: "Santa gets all his stuff from China" my daughter remarked. And get this.....is your dog smart enough to know what a stocking is for?

We spent a great deal of time in our house for our last Christmas at this house. Our annual trip to Lafayette for Christmas Eve was cancelled due to the ice and Christmas day at my folks was cancelled due to sickness. I was going stir-crazy so we caught a movie and had dinner out on Christmas-going against everything I believe. Ultimately we did get to mom & dad's....so I took a walk through the field and shot this picture on a snowy Sunday after Christmas.

My kids and I plotted out our garden at the farm.....we spent time circling items out of Burpee's and Gurney's. If you don't know what those are.....how in the world are we ever going to relate once we move?
I also spent some time budgeting and staging on paper the move....which we anxiously await. And to "envision" what the place will look like I did this color rendering of what the home will look like post-restoration.

23 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas with your friends and family this year! And I promise to work through the writer's block to get the blogger juices flowing again in the New Year.

21 December 2009

Sledding at the farm

We spent Saturday afternoon, with the little bit of snow we had, attempting to sled the hill at the new farm. We decided that another 3-4" of snow would improve the sledability of the large hill. What an amazing snow we had over the weekend....definitely can put one in the Christmas spirit.

19 December 2009

Birding @ Sycamore Hill

I took my first bird watching opportunity at the new farm this morning. The land was simply spectacular with the light snow falling and sticking to the cedars and trees that line the creek flowing at the end of the pasture (the image above is from a previous trip on the day of our first snow).

I was sure, with the property being surrounded with wildlife habitat, there would be no issue with seeing a wide variety of birds once we moved. Here is a recollection of the birds Wingman and I saw this morning:

Blue Jay
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Great Blue Heron
2 Brown Creepers
Black Capped Chickadees
Tufted Titmice
2 Mourning Doves
and a partridge in a pear tree

Wingman thought he heard a pheasant too. There were also a number of deer in the field next to the house. I am so anxious to get out there. We uncover new and exciting things every time we go there.....in fact I found a pitchfork in the barn today. Seriously, that makes me very happy because there is a lot of straw to clean out of the barn.

17 December 2009

Roadside Smorgasbord U.S. 24

Several weeks ago I found myself trying to find the shortest distance between two points....which is an unfair thing to do to an old road aficionado. However, in this case, I found myself driving Highway 24 between Logansport and Monticello to get to Chesterton. And I found it to be a fantastic drive.

So, when I needed to make a return trip to Monticello I headed there by way of Logansport again because I wanted to shoot some pictures of the great stuff along the way that I had witnessed from my previous drive.

The first thing that "jumped" out at me was the giant steer with chef's hat on the west side of Logansport at the Happy Burger hamburger joint. I thought to myself, how cool is this? Pieces of roadside kitch like these are hard to come by nowadays. And then I passed a giant rooster as I neared Lake Cicott. Hmmm. And then there was a fake lighthouse at a campground at Lake Cicott. And get a load of this little post office! I noticed several roadside relics or structures that would indicate this to be an important tourism corridor from the 20's through the 60's. Maybe due to travel to Indiana Beach?

So thoroughly did I enjoy my drive this time that when the need arises to travel to Monticello again, you better believe I'll be driving 24. And I'll snap some more pictures for a second installment on this roadside smorgasbord.

10 December 2009

the historic Schroeder farm, aka: Sycamore Hill

So let me tell you about this awesome place in the country we plan to move to.

The farm is in North Township, Republicania County. It is on Michigan Road lands, but nestled far back off the road even though the original farm fronted the old Michigan Road. Robert Schroeder came to the county in 1833, one of the first white men in the area, to construct the Michigan Road. He built the first saw mill, married and had the second white child born in the new county established in 1836.

Schroeder's first connection with the farm is traced to tax records in 1843, although it is possible he resided on the ground earlier. He and his brother went to California to mine for gold in the early 1850's, then returned to the area in 1857. Some records indicate he didn't move back onto the farm until about 1867. Schroeder was a Republican (the good kind), holding township and county offices and almost being elected State Representative. He was both lawyer and preacher (that's an odd combination) and died in the house. Oh boy.

The house appears to date to between 1850-1860, give or take a few years. The house sits up a hill from the county road which doesn't appear on atlases until after 1900. It has a creek flowing in front of it surrounded by woods. Several massive ash trees surround the property and a row of red cedars that appear to be at least 100 years old line the drive in front of the house. The house is what they call an "I-House" that was detailed in the Greek Revival style. We plan to restore the exterior, exposing the wood trim and painting the body of it red, of course.

A great old bank barn dating to 1865 is behind the house and is in excellent shape begging for some down-home fun. There's also a chicken coop (the kids are claiming it for a bunk house) and a privy in the side yard. 8 1/2 acres offer plenty of room for gardens, orchards and vineyards. We have an opportunity to secure another 5 acres as well. We couldn't be more excited, even though it means we're "downsizing" by 25%! The farm has been in the owner's family for over 150 years and we've assured her that it is passing into good hands.

where the Hill have you been?

My blogging is pathetic. I do have an excuse though.

We officially signed our offer on Sycamore Hill last Wednesday. At the same time we signed documents listing our home in river city. Our place officially went on the market last Thursday morning and we had our first showing that afternoon.

Thursday morning my "motherboard" gave up the ghost in my 2 year old computer. I was without a computer (and, thus, work) until Tuesday this week, and then not running at full capacity until yesterday. During my "time off" I hurriedly patched and painted this old house using some gallons that haven't been open in nearly 11 years.

Monday evening we had our second showing. On Tuesday both couples who had looked at our place wanted to come back and take a second look. We had an offer Tuesday evening. Wednesday we countered and today we settled. So, in one week's time, we signed a purchase agreement, put our house on the market, spent two days sprucing it up, watched my computer die and then bought and setup a new one, and accepted an offer on our current house.

In this market? Yep. Isn't that crazy? So barring any unforeseen problems with inspections-it looks like we've bought ourselves a farm. More on the farm later!

02 December 2009

stuffed with turkeys

The turkeys evidently thought it was safe enough to come up from the woods to spend Thanksgiving with us on my parents' deck. At one time there were three perched on the bird feeding platform.

We spent part of the day "at the farm" doing a few more walk-thrus. The extended family all gathered and seemed to have their health and sanity-that's a big deal for my family. The turkeys weren't the only excitement that day though. My sister-in-law had brought a crystal relish tray loaded with veggies; the tray was a "find" at Goodwill. The problem is that it just happened to perfectly-I mean perfectly-resemble the crystal relish tray my grandfather bought my mother for her birthday, which happened to be the day he died. As we were washing the dishes and noticed that they were twins, my mom was visibly shaken now not knowing which piece of glass was the sentimental dish. My brother with cool afirmation said "it's this one". Truth be told.....he didn't have a clue either.

My blogging has hit a lul. I seem to find myself very busy; add to that everything that surrounds buying and selling a house and this is what you get.....pictures of turkeys from Thanksgiving. I'll be back at it soon!