31 December 2010

I Predict for 2011

There's a certain local celebrity who has been invited to do predictions for the new year for maybe close to a decade now. I've borne the brunt of some of those predictions-mostly positive if I recall correctly. His latest were released this week which put me in the mood to participate in this divination of prophesying. So, here's my Nostradomus attempt-all in good fun:

Tea Party Poopers
While the teapot may have come to a boil in 2010, I think that 2011 will see the Tea Party run out of steam. It’s like a good guy film-if there’s no villain or bloodshed, then it’s really not a guy film, it’s a chick-flick. Without Pelosi, the Tea Party has become a chick-flick.

Exploratory Candidate-Elect
Run or not to run. After Hoosiers realize they’ve been drinking from the punch bowl and are suffering from a severe hang-over, Mitch's popularity will tank as Indiana’s economic “rebound” once again puts us even farther behind the rest of the country. It will be the rest of the nation that ultimately has to tell the emperor he has no clothes as they say in unison “not my man Mitch”.

Election Year?
River City elections will be a sleeper. No, more like comatose. Some will view it as a landslide; others will see it as a lost cause. Just like in 1982 when the little town took on Goliath in basketball and the whole city left for Indianapolis, I think it’s safe to say again “last one out, turn off the lights”.

Believing that Democrats shouldn’t create all the waste in government spending, Republicans in Indiana are plowing new ground with all of the road construction projects underway. One would think this a good thing-a sign of progress….until you realize that county officials are spending close to $10 million per minute saved in getting around River City with a new “beltway”. Running out of former elected heroes’ names ironically the new $20 million beltway will be named for the most conservative official to have ever served in the county. Problem is, she’s a Democrat. I propose to you “Konya Highway”. Ultimately she’ll decline the honor because lettering on the sign would cost more than simply “7th”.

It's the Economy Stupid
Speaking of pork barrel spending, Republicans will bring it to a halt once they arrive on the Hill. Then they’ll realize that waste was paving their roads and paying for their police. The economy will bump ever so slowly upward-some will say it is the result of the continuing Bush-era tax cuts, which is why the economy is in such a robust state today, others will say it is because of stimulus spending, and still others will say there is no recovery. This prediction’s accuracy depends on where you get your information. If it is from Mitch and Obama-we’re doing great, if it is from the Tea Party, Mitch's Budget Office, and Republicans on Capitol Hill-we need change.

Both the Lincoln Highway and Historic Michigan Road will gain state byway status this year, not only bringing new economic opportunities to more than 50 Indiana communities, but for the first time bringing this heritage tourism tool to the northern half of the state. In the same breath I think it is safe to predict that one metropolitan planning organization will have mucho egg on their face for being the only group to not endorse the byways, proving that their purview of “regional initiatives” is nothing but lip service and road blocks.

The Great Reformation
More weight will be given to the Kernan-Shepard report as Indiana legislators and the Governor attempt to streamline government by consolidating power doing away with unnecessary democracy. As a GOP vs. GOP battle ensues the realization will be that we shouldn’t stop with doing away with township government and portions of county government, but we can probably do away with a fair amount of state government. It reminds me of “first they came for the trustees, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t a trustee, then they came for the commissioners, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t a commissioner, then they came for me and I looked around and there was no one to defend me”.

Indiana's E(ab)d(i)ucation System
Anytime I hear some form of education reform rolled out I think our kids get a little dumber. Can someone tell me why with all of the reform of the last 20 years our kids continue to fall further and further behind? Can someone explain why teachers spend more time being tested than teaching? Indiana will finally figure out they need to let teachers teach-a true epiphany. Any principal or administrator worth their salt will know if a teacher is failing in the classroom-but they can’t do that if teachers aren’t able to spend time actually teaching.

I hope that you have a spectacular 2011, that God enriches all of your lives whether or not we see eye to eye politically, and that someday division is only found in math books.

Christmas at Sycamore Hill

It seems strange to discuss the wonderful white Christmas we had for our first here on the Hill when the house is currently being enveloped by fog after thunder and lightning just this morning. But this is Indiana.

My kids were genuinely concerned that Santa might have a hard time finding them this year since we changed addresses. Particularly concerning to them was the fact that we had no fireplace here like we did in town. I tried to relieve those fears by saying "we still have a chimney" and I suppose Santa participates in the USPS forwarding program-so we should be good. But just in case my daughter insisted we leave the little door built into the cabinet under the chimney in our living room wide open. Easy enough.

This first Christmas here needed to have a spectacular tree. Reeling from the sticker shock I have already circled a selection of Balsam Firs in the new tree/seed catalogs that came out. 20 trees for $40 in 10 years when the first is ready to harvest would be much cheaper than the $80 a tree they will be costing at that time.

We drive to Lafayette each Christmas Eve to spend the day with my wife's mother's side who hail from that area. On the way back we had our traditional Christmas Eve supper at McDonalds in Rochester. I built up the anticipation around a special event that evening which I insist will become a new tradition for the family. When we returned home the kids grabbed their flashlights and I my Coleman lantern and together the family climbed the hill at the back of the farm and sang Silent Night. I asked if there were requests for other carols and there was a resounding NO. But I think they had fun regardless.

Christmas day the kids were up bright and early as would be expected. Santa didn't disappoint. A camera and ice skates for my daughter and a football, football game, and football cards for my son. I received a Carhart jacket. My wife's favorite gift was a cheap antique ring I picked up the week before. Then off to my folks for brunch. Last night was the last of our Christmases as we celebrated with my wife's family. The perfect gift-tickets to see Garrison Keillor-was wrapped waiting for me. That seemed to round out a perfect Christmas season.

30 December 2010

Out with the Old-In with the New

This post is dedicated to Aunt Pat.

OK-I have no idea who actually reads this blog anymore....but I have had a few complaints in the last several weeks due to my lack of blogging. It's not that I don't have some posts rattling around in my head-there is plenty of fodder out there. It's just that I feel so completely uninspired.

So when I mentioned that to Aunt Pat on Christmas Eve, she said to allow her to be my inspiration. So here goes it....

2010 was a bummer of a year for me. I make no bones about it. I'm not sure what led to that, or why it felt so pronounced, but this lack of inspiration has come from an absolute loss of passion...about much of anything. I feel like I'm living in paradise here on the Hill, but there's this overwhelming feeling of disillusionment that I just can't shake. As if I'm a race horse in my prime that's been prohibited to run any races-just sit on the sidelines and watch the old gray mares make a mess of things. How appropriate I'm surrounded by pastures....to be "put out".

So-try I will to shake the funk in the new year....which has led to at least this one resolution. I resolve to blog, more. I'm anxious to get 2010 behind me, though it did lead to a few good things which would be wrong if I didn't acknowledge them:

We moved to this great farm "Sycamore Hill"
God continued to bless with new work &
the Historic Michigan Road State Byway nomination was officially submitted last week.

Those were the highlights. 2011 looks very promising as the state should officially adopt the byway, we plan to finish interior work on the farmhouse, and contracts for 2011 already equal half of the contracts I received for 2010. We have SIX weddings in 2011. Does that seem crazy?

Another thing I plan to do in 2011 is to go back to a few things I was passionate about 20 years ago, and reframe some of my thinking around those and develop those as a way to move forward. They were things that were valuable outlets for me that I put aside when my focus became "outward". And as wrong as this may sound, I'd kinda like to do some things for myself for a change.

Sorry if this post seems rambly-it's the nature of breaking through writer's block. I have a 2011 predictions list rambling around in my head that I hope to get to soon....I think that you'll enjoy it.

Incidently, from our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving (yes it has been that long), Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!