...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I was...therefore I am.

I was born in Indiana.  I am a Hoosier.  

I grew up in a suburb of Gary called Miller.  My house was just two blocks from Lake Michigan.  During summers, as a youngster, my mom would pack a bag of beach necessities, and walk my brother and me to the beach.  I recall I spent many days playing in the sand, surf and sun.  I am amazed when people do not realize that there are sand dunes in Indiana.  It was my world.  

How I wish my parents were alive today so they could fill in the fragmented memories that fill my brain.  I recall the mahogany hull of a Chris-Craft boat sitting in our garage.  I always thought it was ours from my parent's pre-me days.  Maybe it was.  Or maybe it was my uncle's, and was just stored in our garage.  Fragmented memories.   
Main entrance to The Indiana Dunes State Park

As I grew up, my parents moved from Miller to a subdivision that was well outside of their financial means.  Both of my parents had to work in order for me to have a better life.  I didn't grow up privileged, but I did grow up in a place where others might assume I was: gated community, lakes, private pool, tennis courts, club house, 18 hole golf course. 

The beach still called to me.  

panoramic...click on to see details
When I moved from Miller I believed the beach was a thing of the past and too far away.  New activities filled my life.

Freedom came my way when I received my driver's license.  My friends and I would head to the beach, which I found was less than 25 miles away from my "new" home!  My school science club camped, and studied the bogs, the flora and fauna there.  Ditch days, I mean days meeting friends from school, were spent lounging in the sun and sand.  Hiking the dunes was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon date.  Mount Baldy found me on its top watching stars many a night.

I am an Indiana Hoosier girl.

Beautiful Porter County, Indiana
 When we moved, it was in the early 70's and we moved to the country.  Many of my friends were connected to farms.  I watched the parent's of my friends who were farmers work their butts off.  Farm fathers, sons, and/or daughters spent time in the field at different times of the year.  Farm moms were in the house...managing the details of home.  My 4-H days helped me appreciate the care farm animals needed.  I understood what hard work meant in different situations.

I watched some of my friends struggle as they ended high school and did not dream of following in their father's footsteps.

My own parents groomed me from very early on, "when you go to college..."  Never was there a, "What do you want to do after high school?"
Graeber Family Farm

I'm sure my parents influenced at least one of my friends to further his own educational dreams.  I have commented before, I was the first in my family to graduate from college.  Getting an education, as a way of bettering myself, was very important in my household.  It wasn't that my parents thought less of our neighbors.  It was that I was the daughter of a mill worker.  My parents had dreams they hoped I could live.

When I returned home a few weeks ago, I did reconnect to my roots.  I went to the cemetery to see my parents.  I spoke my accomplishments and disappointments out loud to the ghosts who would listen.  I went to the dunes and stretched my toes in her sands.  I went to the farm lands and laughed with longtime friends.  Thankfully, my car broke down and stranded me for an extra day in the land of my youth.
Sunset in Porter County, Indiana

I was invited to a bonfire.  Again, long ago friends were present.  I was reminded of the ease old connections offer.  I was also reminded of the illusions others may have of us based on where we grew up.  Where it's true that I didn't have tractors scoop tree limbs into the center of the fires I sat around, I did grow up enjoying the simple life of campfires and the outdoors.

At the old Tison Family Farm

Dale Graeber stokes the fire

I feel I have been given a second chance at happiness in life.  A second chance to remember all the good with which I have been blessed.  And a second chance to refresh my long ago friendships (insert cute emoji!).

This Indiana Hoosier girl is happy, and ready for the next adventure life has to offer her.  

Life is Short!
Love.  Live.  Enjoy!   


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just a spectator... Mudathlon Valparaiso 2015

What to do when your sister can't meet you as soon as you thought?  
(Confession: I forgot about that time difference thing in Indiana.) 

I went and "crashed" a Mudathlon. It was a first for me.

What is a Mudathlon?  Basically, it's a race in the mud with obstacles.  Participants have a microchip they wear on their shoes which, if not lost, track their time on the course.  But a Mudathlon is also something most do just for the experience, for fun even.  A portion of the registration fees go to support a local charity.  If you want more info on the event I attended check out this link:  Mudathlon Valparaiso 2015 (it's the FAQ's page) 

A friend I grew up with has hosted this event on his farm for the past several years.  

True fact:  Georgie Molchan, aka Little Oscar, was my relative.
You know it's going to be a fun day, when the Wiener Mobile is around!  
There has been so much rain in Indiana this summer, that I'm pretty sure most of the pools of mud were natural...or didn't take much extra help.  

The starting pen
Every fifteen minutes, groups of between 100-150 participants go through the pen and start their race.  

Billy the kid officially started each heat.  

You can see one of the obstacles in the background.  

If you build it, they will come, and climb over it.
Field of Obstacles!  

Pretty sure this was a mute point.  

I was lucky enough to witness my longtime friend's children completing this race.
The three in pink, Jared, Elizabeth and Caleigh, standing at the top of the slide were my connection...    
...and so were these two!
Christian and Chad started with the others, but ran the course a tad faster.
They came back to cheer on their sibs/in-laws.  

 Did I mention this was held at a farm?  
The mud did have a wonderful, ripe, farm smell to it.  
Growing up in the area, I definitely knew I was home!  

Participants certainly needed to keep their mouths shut when entering the muddy waters.
Additional obstacles were just walking from one area to the next!  

Almost finished! Next stop...the finish line.  

My friend, and farm owner, Dale let me know he was 'kind of a big deal around here'.  

Dale pulled the water trucks through the muck so they could deposit more clean water for the make-shift showers.  

No caption really needed...
...but showers.

As a spectator, I was not immune from the mud this year.  I was told that in years past, spectators actually stayed clean.
I noted that people pay good money to get a mud wrap at the spa.
It was just mud...it did wash off 

For the most part, I did stay clean.  I also found my girl friend!  Clearly she is a farm girl, and knew to wear her boots.
My river sandals held up fine, but wow had I realized I'd be this muddy, I would have waited
 a day on that pedicure!  

Mr. Kind-of-a-Big-Deal, Dale.
He let me check out his radio!  :) 

It was so fun to see my old friend Dale.  He was a wonderful host, was on the go constantly, and was still smiling long after the event ended.  I was told the numbers for this year's event topped 2,000 participants.  Not bad!  That meant $10,000 was raised for local charity: Girls on the Run
Kudos to all the participants.  

I walked away from the event thinking...could I do this next year?  
Yep.  But I'd have to be on a team, and I'd do it just for fun.  I'm not about breaking any times... 

Jared sporting Angel Wings! 

...and I'd definitely need Angel Wings!  


Friday, July 24, 2015

Fresh Start......Home Is Where the Heart Is

Last weekend, I returned to my roots.  
My soul needed a little kick start.  

I went to see my parents.  

I feel a certain weight on my shoulders as the oldest of my siblings.  

Neither my brother nor my sister make me feel any extra responsibilities, but as a child growing up, I knew it was my place to be there for my siblings.  I felt it was expected of me to be the strength, the leader, the one who could get done what needed to get done.  I was to be the second-in-command should anything happen to our parents.  By default in 2006, I became commander-in-chief.  Up until around January of 2013, I felt I was doing a pretty good job of being the fearless leader.  Looking back now, I WAS doing a great job...THAT was the problem.  

The journey I am currently on is one many take.  It's called Life.  

My ring was my mom's.  The center diamond was her engagement ring from dad.
I wear it daily on my right hand to remind me of my parents strong bond and love.
 Sometimes leaders need to know when they should ask for help.  They need to know when to lean on others, and whom they can turn to for support.  My family...and I do mean my siblings, have been the souls whom I know I could count on. (I have several friends as well, but tonight...) Family is an important part of Life.  Life may be filled with challenges.  Challenges make us strong.  They draw out in us who we really are deep down inside.  Challenges show our character.  I believe by example, my parents showed me how to be the strong woman that I am today.  We learn from family.  Family allows us a safe place to grow.

 There are statues at the
cemetery close to my
parents graves.  I do
not visit where I grew
up often.  When I do,
I wonder who carved
these statues?  What
i this one supposed
to be thinking about?

I liked how the light played on the feather pen of the statue below.  If you are one who believes in ghosts...what do you see?  What do you think the meaning of this picture might be?

My parents have a beautiful view of Valparaiso University.  I find this interesting since neither went to college.  
 I was the first of my family to go to and finish college.  This weekend I thanked my parents for my degrees.  It was truly because of my mom that I was able to go back to school and get my Masters.

I confessed to my parents that my life wasn't going as I had expected.  I might have even shed a tear or two.  I didn't think I would be single at the age of 51.  I am perceptive enough to know, that my parents did raise a very smart, independent girl who is going to be just fine.  I'm still on my Life Journey.  I'm still growing and morphing into who I need to be.  I'm loving life once again and I am happy.  Have you seen the movie Inside Out?  Sadness adds to Joy.  My sadness has made me a richer person.  My soul has been moved, and truly knows how to live with Joy.  I start each day thinking about what I am grateful for in life.  I end each day thanking God for all my blessings.

On Saturday, my "baby" sister and I took flowers to the graves of several of our family members.  
I think Cemetery Selfies could be a new thing.  
Wish our brother could have been with us.  

Best Parents.  Ever.
They taught me how to be the best parent I could be to my own two blessings.

Tonight's music:  Joshua Bell's, At Home With Friends

Love one another. Be kind in Life. Know that sadness will happen, but joy will always follow.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

No OLD Music Allowed...My Evening with Ed

     It wasn't long ago that I discovered the music of Ed Sheeran.  To my sister's credit, she did tell me about him maybe a year ago.  More recently Ed was suggested several times by another music loving friend.  So, I listened.  I fell in love.  Not with the young man that is Ed Sheeran.  I fell in love with his talent.  His lyrics talk to my soul.  He is a fellow storyteller.  I enjoy the words he strings together, the sound of his words as they flow with, and through the music.  Melodic.  Meaningful.  Eloquent.  Quick-witted.  Entertaining.  Heavyhearted.  Romantic.  

     As always, I think.  

     Lately that has been about why I don't listen to "old" pop music... 
music from my youth, young adult days, or even from just five years ago.

     Am I trying to stay young?  Am I trying to avoid memories of my past?  
Maybe it's a little bit of both.  Maybe it's just an oxymoron to listen to old pop music.  Isn't the definition of pop...music, culture...that of something current, something trendy, something trending?  Contemporary lifestyle and items that are well known and generally accepted, cultural patterns that are widespread within a population (from Dictionary.com).

     On June 25, I discovered that Ed was performing on July 2 at a venue very close to my house.  I felt a strong desire to be at that concert.  As the concert was just a week away, I figured all the best seats would be taken.  Regardless, I checked out the venue's website.  Lawn seats were still available.  No thanks.  I could sit on my own lawn and turn my stereo up to get the same effect.  If I was going to see Ed, I was going to really experience Ed.  Enter the secondary market ticket sales.  A quick search, and I had my ticket!  

July 2.  Ready for my solo concert experience.

 Pretty boys...Rixton, opened for Ed.  They were showmen, not talented artists.  I'm not saying they can't sing, play their music or even write...they just don't appear to have the same natural, unique talent, of the performer I was there to see, IMHO.  

Selfie with Ed
 This is what center stage, row 10 looks like!  

I'm a Mess

Lego House


Take it Back/Superstition/Ain's No Sunshine


Tenerife Sea

Don't/ Loyal/ No Diggity/ Nina

Feeling Good/ I See Fire

I See Fire

Kiss Me

 The second he started this song...the entire house erupted!  Thinking Out Loud
Thinking Out Loud

The A Team

You Need Me, I Don't Need You....

In Da Club/ Know Yourself


 This guy was one of the few people I noticed who actually used the seat for which he paid.
Ed really did take this picture.  
That really is me....just to the left of center in the circle.  

Best part of the night:  The entire experience!  
I had paid for a great seat which came with VIP benefits.  That just meant parking and a special entrance with a private bar.  Easy in and easy out.  

I loved being so close to Ed.  I wanted to really see how he works, and I was able to do that.  I hadn't realized what he really did with a loop pedal.  It was amazing!  I felt the music wasn't loud enough.  I wanted it to sink it's way into my very fibers.  I felt louder might have done that for me.  I couldn't get enough.  I can't explain it, but there is something about Ed Sheeran.  Do I believe in past lives?  I have this feeling that our paths have crossed before.  Not in this life though. Maybe it's just that music connecting to my soul thing happening once again.  I wonder who will be my next musical obsession?