Sunday, October 26, 2014

Summing Up Summer

School has been in session for over two months. I didn’t catch up on things like I wanted to when I was off this past summer. (I have finally come to the realization that I never will.) But I’m grateful that I had a lot of weekend trips, did some redecorating (we switched around the kids' furniture and I got a new bedroom set - my room now has fresh paint and new accessories as well!), and took some incredible photos.

Trips: First I took two of my boys to northern Michigan for the week. We stayed with family, fished, and enjoyed playing on the huge sand dunes. Riding at the Badlands in Attica was a new and exciting experience, as was the houseboat trip on Potoka Lake in southern Indiana. I was also fortunate to be able to go to Bears Training Camp one morning on my last day of summer vacation.


Exhibits: I had two photo jobs and had photographs displayed in two exhibits. One was the Naturally Yours Exhibit at the Indianapolis International Airport (my photo was even used to promote the event) and the other was Images of Whiting up near the lake. Studio 659 is small but in the historical district of Whiting. It was neat to be a part of the city’s anniversary events. I entered a photo of beach glass (that we found), one of the steel mill with ice bergs, and one of just some weeds that grew along the sand dunes.

Whihala Beach Glass

Sports: Football games and practices with three of my boys wore me out but I did enjoy all those Saturdays at the fields. I just framed some photos of them and also some of the Bears and hung them in the basement.

Poetry: Finally, I sent in a poem for a the Indiana Bicentennial Poetry book to be published in 2016. All counties in Indiana were invited to submit and one poem from each county will be included. My poem will be sent to Indianapolis for final judging so I have a 50% chance of getting in. My name was announced on the radio last week (local station) and my name was in The Shopper a few days ago. Pretty awesome!

My next plan is to submit a few poems while on fall break next weekend. I just attended a conference for children’s writers and illustrators and feel inspired again.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spring Cleaning

The last two months have been all about the environment; save the Earth type stuff. It started with the warm up. It took forever but once the snow and ice had completely melted months of discarded trash was exposed. I saw piles everywhere. Soggy paper drinking cups,  aluminum cans, and glass bottles littered the sides of the roads. Farm fields were dotted with plastic grocery bags and cardboard. Plastic bags even hung from tree limbs along the ditch bank.

Who can enjoy a sunny Sunday walk or drive when the natural landscape is so exploited and obstructed? I couldn't, I couldn't even look out my window, so I recruited my family and the annual task began. We filled bags with trash and bins with recyclable items. We filled our yard cart with the bags and bins because they were too heavy to carry home. We collected as much as we figured our garbage service would take the following day and it seemed to be more than ever.

I originally planned to just clean the fields immediately to the east and west of our property but the more we picked up the more I saw in the distance. I vowed to clean the fields between our house and my in-law's one section at a time(about a mile of roadway). I didn't foresee the amount of time and dedication it would take to tackle this disturbing and enormous job.

I continued to patrol the roadside and gather trash for the next several Sundays as it is a busy thoroughfare and irresponsible uncaring motorists always have something to throw out. I fished out floating rubbish from the small pond where egrets and waterfowl nest. I crouched under low branches and dodged thorny bushes. I learned what to wear (long pants and surgical gloves) and what not to wear (flip flops and shorts) and developed a system to deal with it all and prevent further mishaps. (Once the bottom of a paper bag broke open in my garage so I got to clean up broken glass too).

My Sunday collections were never as massive as that first day but I did feel like I was getting somewhere.  In the weeks that followed I saw more spring wildflowers. I saw new young families of geese and ducks paddle in the pond. I saw less trash. So I tried to focus on the good to be able to deal with the human waste surrounding it.

Still it was upsetting and overwhelming. I took pictures to document what was collected. I manipulated photos and added text to make a statement. I wrote a poem to express my outrage. I posted pictures of the good and the bad.

Plastic bottles, fast food packaging, empty cigarette packs, and liquor bottles were the most prevalent find but some unique items were discovered as well. I found roller blades, an SAT study guide, women's foundation makeup, a broken cell phone, a temporary license plate, and a dollar.

After picking up and sorting recyclables today I decided I needed to be done for a while. The weeds are growing and corn has been planted. Any remaining and any new garbage will be less noticeable until next spring. Even though the clean up was a huge undertaking we only made a difference in our tiny corner of the world for a short amount of time. We only improved a couple acres of land for a few wild animals and those that live nearby or drive past. But it was worth it. Imagine if everyone did their share or even a little more. Imagine if all people cared for their community and made small changes to leave less of a negative impact on our planet. We only have one home after all.


This mess sat near the corner of Rt. 41 and Lincoln Highway in Schererville. I asked the bank manager to clean it up. Someone did at one point but it's piling up again.

It is just sickening.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Snow Business

Chicagoland officially survived the winter. I didn’t think it would ever end, and if you look outside it doesn’t seem like it has yet; there is STILL snow on the ground. I don’t remember a colder or snowier winter. That’s all the past four months have been about it seems – the weather. We had seven snow days which extended the school calendar by a week, even with a few pardons. The temps were sub-zero, the roads were treacherous, and snow and ice kept piling up layer after layer. The deep freeze and several blizzard conditions encased buildings and trees in ice for weeks on end. …I never really wrote about any of it until now but I certainly talked about it and took pictures. It was deadly but beautiful. It even inspired me to book a condo in Florida so that is where we are heading in two days for spring break. We are not doing Disney; we are just going to enjoy the environment. My family and I are going to fish, snorkel, visit the Everglades, kayak, and just lay on the beach. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be trading one extreme for another.

As I mentioned, I haven’t been writing much. I have had a few ideas and still have plans to finish projects and submit but I’ve been preoccupied with the winter and our vacation. I did accomplish one goal early on this year. I got the nature books into the two stores as I had hoped. The Indiana Welcome Center and Center for Visual and Performing Arts gift shops both have copies on their shelves. It would be nice if some of them sell.

The Ladies Auxiliary St. John VFW Family Dance was in late January. This was our 10th year. The weather affected the turn out but everyone who did attend had fun. I keep promoting events through the post Facebook page and did get the details and some photos in the paper again this year.

Finally, I have some photography news. One of my photos will be on display all summer at the Indianapolis International Airport. I was real excited about this one; they obviously have a lot of traffic. Travelers from all over the word will see the exhibit which is sponsored by the airport and The Nature Conservancy/Indiana.