Susie’s Subaru

Dave will say he was tired of hearing me complain; I know that my increasing comfort of never leaving home had him concerned. And so knowing how much I love surprises, he came home in the middle of the day to get me and go look for a car. Within 2 hours, we were sitting at the DMV waiting to register this very one. What a good find.

Of course the first thing I noticed were the colors – they are very close to the ones of the car I had when Dave and I met. Then I thought of how he had a Subaru. How funny, in my mind. And when I exclaimed, seeing the sticker on the rear side window, “Honey, it was made in Indiana,” Dave had to burst my bubble and inform me that all Subaru’s are made in Indiana. “Well then why don’t we just LOVE Subaru’s?” I wanted to know. “What are you talking about, I have always loved Subaru’s,” he reminded me. “Oh yeah,” I remembered, “that’s right.”

He wanted me to get in, look inside and turn the key while he looked under the hood before we made any decisions. Right away though, I knew this would be the one. The radio started playing WAY-FM and I was sold. And since it sounded and looked good under the hood, Dave was sold also.

Woo Hoo! Susie has a new 2000 Subaru!

Just a chicken, yet a cool pet

Some may say it’s strange to have such feelings for a chicken and that’s okay, I am going to tell you about it anyway. Squockers wasn’t just a chicken, she was our pet. She had personality and made us laugh. Making the discovery that I did this morning, was upsetting. I am sad to say that Squockers is no longer with us.

It started as a typical morning – the boys left for work and right on cue, the cats started requesting breakfast. I let them carry on just long enough to not form a sense of entitlement and after my first cup of coffee, I went to feed all the animals like I do every morning. The cats rushed to their bowls, the dog to his, and the chicken… where’s Squockers, I wondered.

I walked out the back door thinking I would either find her over by her coup or in her favorite egg-laying spot – a small office trash can in the front yard – but on the steps down to our back yard I spotted a pile of red feathers. My heart sank. I rushed down the steps and frantically scanned the yard, halfway thinking I would find her close by with a clump of feathers missing off her backside or something, but then I saw it, another pile of feathers. From this second pile, a path of feathers led straight into the thick brush surrounding our lake. Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt like I was going to throw-up.

I knew that if I were to find her, I wouldn’t want to see her mangled, and if by some chance she were still alive, well I wouldn’t know what to do. It would be bad. At any rate, based on what I did find, I deduced that she became breakfast before she got her breakfast. Became breakfast for what though, that is the question I wondered about all day. It will never be answered. We have our suspects however, and they include an owl, hawk and otter. We also know bobcats and gators roam the area, so the list grows. I guess that’s how it goes – life – for me anyway, hers is over.

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Who would have thunk!

About six weeks ago, my son urged me with excitement to come outside and see his new pet that he had found. “Where did you find it?” I asked. “Out front,” was his reply. “Out front where?” “Just out front, come on!” So I followed him, having no idea what to expect and half-way wondering what in the world he was up to.

A frog? A turtle? Maybe a snake? No, he wouldn’t have the excitement he displayed over it, whatever it was. Amphibians and reptiles are a dime a dozen in our neck of the woods and we have captured our share over the past eighteen years here. Wouldn’t be a dog or cat either, we’re all a bit bummed when domestic pets get dumped; we can’t possibly save them all. So what did he find? I wondered, and out front? My mind couldn’t imagine.

David disappeared around the cherry hedge and reemerged holding a beautiful red chicken. “Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed. And I was surprised.

“It had to have come from somewhere,” I said, “I bet you a neighbor is missing it.” Of course, I had to be the buzz-kill.

Someone had to play the practical one though. I called the neighbors to see if they were missing a chicken and yes, they were. They had been having trouble keeping it confined in their yard with the other chickens; for some reason it kept getting out and they said we could have it if we wanted it.

So the boys built her a cozy little cottage and a couple of times a day she goes up on our front porch and lays an egg. Her name is “Squockers” and she gives us much more than eggs. She gives us laughs as she chases our ninety-pound pit bull away from where she’s foraging. She gives us esteem when she follows us around and won’t leave our side and she gives us love as a pet member of our family. A chicken – who would have thunk!

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Everything but the Kitchen Sink

It’s funny how my husband comments every single time on how much stuff I bring with me on the boat. “Oh my gosh honey,” he exclaimed this morning, “we’re only going for a half a day!” From my standpoint, the length of the boat ride or amount of time we will be gone doesn’t have much bearing on what I choose to bring with us.

My choices are based on past experiences, like when we got caught in the rain and froze our butts off for miles while we made our way back to the boat ramp (and our truck) as quickly as we could handle the cold breeze. Or the time I got locked in the bathroom at the boat ramp. Then there’s the sun to consider, so we’ve got hats, sunglasses, and the obvious – sunscreen.

I find his comments funny because not long after he makes fun of me for my need to carry this big bag on board, his requests begin. His first question came as he put the boat in the water, before we even got in. “Do you have anything we can use to wipe down the boat with?” As it is usually stored indoors, this is not something we are accustomed to having to do, but it has been sitting in our yard for the last week. “Yes, I have a rag,” I replied, to which he said, “Of course you do.” When I packed it, I was thinking of the time he needed one to wipe up a smear of grease from the engine.

Out on the water, he found that there was a problem with one of his fishing poles. “Got anything I can cut this with?” I handed him my handy Swiss Army knife. But when he inquired about the pretzels and m&m’s I was munching on, I said (while smiling), “Sorry, when you said I didn’t need to bring that much stuff, I thought you wanted me to take your half out.”

As it turned out, he was glad that I brought a number of the things that I did. Paper towels, an extra pair of sunglasses and a towel are just a few of the other things he utilized after making fun of my extra large carry-on. “Ya know,” he said to me at the end of the day, “I can’t condone you bringing everything but the kitchen sink, but sometimes I am sure glad you do!”

CHOO-CHOO!

What is it about trains that fascinate children so? My nephew, Christopher, loved trains more than anyone I’ve ever known. Anytime he heard a train, whether on television, the radio or real life, his face brightened as he bellowed out, “CHOO-CHOO!” And if he saw one in person? Oh forget it – the excitement this kid experienced would make anyone smile. Just the thought of him bouncing up and down in his car seat while stopped at a crossing and hollering “CHOO-CHOO!” still makes me smile.

So I was thinking of my nephew last week when we went to the train station, wondering if I should have asked if he wanted to go. But at age 16 now, I highly doubt he would have wanted to go for the same reason he did at age 6. Then I wondered, did this love of trains stem from the popularity of name-brand talking toy trains, or have children always had a thing for the locomotive?

My guess is that trains are just neat.

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Animation Domination Anyone?

Have you ever wondered why the conception of adult cartoons for television didn’t happen until “Generation X” came on the scene? I have, so I googled it. It turns out that the proper name is adult animation, I’m guessing because cartoons are for kids. I also discovered that while this generation was the first to bring adult animation to television, animation geared toward adults has been around on film since the 1920’s. The Motion Picture Association of America was established in 1922 due to the public’s objections to adult content in films – specifically, it seems, animated films that contained sexual innuendo and references to drug and alcohol use and profanity.

When it comes to animated sitcoms on television, we can thank the so-called Generation X, however, I thought the first one to air in prime time was about twenty years before. I had believed this honor belonged to The Simpsons, airing in 1989, but I was wrong. An adult-oriented animated sitcom in the style of All in the Family aired from 1972 – 1974 called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

It is possible, however, to have seen the The Simpsons prior to 1989. You could have been watching The Tracey Ullman Show where shorts of The Simpsons became a part of the show in 1987 and remained as such until it’s own debut in ’89. Some statistics about the show surprised me a bit, like, not only is it the longest-running American animated program, it is the longest-running American sitcom, surpassing Gunsmoke in 2009 as the longest-running American scripted prime-time television series.

I want to age like Marge. Marge Simpson, that is, not Marge my grandmother. I played the part of Marge Simpson in 1995, and our family won second-place in a costume contest that Halloween!

Which Way’s the Wind Blowin?

I think it’s interesting how the weather at my house has changed since the power plant went in, and I’m amazed at how many people have no idea there’s a power plant in Loxahatchee.

A few years ago, I noticed that a good number of storms rolling through the area would go around our house, and I equated it with the new power plant that went up a half a mile from us. When I mentioned it to my husband though, he looked at me funny like he wasn’t so sure about this. But I kept watching storms on the radar break apart once they reached the power plant, and as they continued north, they remained separated over our house.

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This is a picture of the radar taken with my iPhone. The pink box is where the power plant is and the circle is where our house is. Time after time, storms coming from the south either break apart, storming to our east and west, or the whole thing just goes around us, to the east or to the west. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t happen every single time – but it happens enough to where it is certainly noticeable.

Eventually, Dave agreed that the power plant does affect our weather, and when a storm approaches and people are over, he delights in telling them to watch how the storm will break apart and go around us. And most of the time, it does. We’ve gotten pretty good at being able to tell which storms are likely to go around and which ones might bless/curse us (depending on the season) with some rain.

So for those of you who exclaimed, “There’s a power plant in Loxahatchee? Where?” Here’s a link to a FPL site that will tell you more about it.

http://www.fpl.com/environment/plant/west_county.shtml

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Here’s a picture of the smoke it was emitting yesterday on my way home. My house is at the end of this road, which is only in total a half-mile long, and the power plant, by way the bird flies, is a shorter distance than this.

Being way out here also used to mean unreliable electricity. It went out all the time for no apparent reason and stayed out for hours. But ever since this power plant went in, we’ve hardly had a fluctuation. This alone makes me a big fan. HOWEVER, in hindsight, I can probably thank a lot of those power outages for more time spent with the kids. Playing board games, coloring, drawing, making up games, and playing in the pool (because it didn’t have to be storming for the power to go out!) happened more often, I’m sure, due to our power issues. But, as in most cases, timing is everything. The kids are now grown, with lives of their own, and today I’m thankful that after 15 years of spotty electricity, we’re finally on the grid for lasting power.

Solar Systems, Galaxies & Universes

Our solar system includes the Sun, eight planets, their moons, and all other celestial bodies that orbit the Sun. There are 146 known moons in orbit around the planets and another 26 awaiting final approval before being added to the list (according to NASA’s website in July 2013). And that’s only within our small solar system. The thought of these planets and moons spinning about in such remarkable order and efficiency without a higher power being in control, I find unbelievable.

Then there are galaxies. Our solar system is located in the Milky Way galaxy, which is so big that even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to travel across it. And it is not the only galaxy. There are billions of others (yes, billions with a “b”), and they are so far away, that light from them arriving to earth today was set out from the galaxies billions of years ago. So we see them not as they are today, but as they were before life on earth even existed. These billions of galaxies make up our universe. I mean really, are you comprehending this?

So now we get into universes. Well no one actually knows yet if ours is the only one, or how big our universe even is, again all this according to NASA’s website, nasa.gov. Scientists say that other parts of the universe very far away may be quite different than the universe closer to home. They just don’t know.

I could get lost for days on NASA’s website, and not just because of my slow satellite connection to the internet, but because space fascinates me and the site is very well put together with what seems like endless information. And one thing I absolutely love is that they extend general permission for others to use most of the media found on their site, even for personal web pages such as this. If you are interested, their guidelines about this can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html#.Ueq6UKzYFCc.

That being said, check out this image of our galaxy from NASA, and then consider the following:

There are countless solar systems in our galaxy, and so far we know almost 400 of them have planets in their orbits. Scientists don’t even use the word countless for galaxies, they know it is in the billions. Not so with solar systems though, they remain countless. So, this is one galaxy, and it would take 100,000 years to travel across it at the speed of light, and there’s billions of others? I suppose there could be skeptics who say that scientists are wrong and that none of this is true, the way people do about theologians and Christianity, but what would be the point? You might be wondering what my point is, and it’s something along these lines: Is grasping the nature of space much different than grasping a higher power creating it all?

Considering our galaxy is spinning at 490,000 miles an hour and needs 200 million years to make one rotation, and that there’s a billion other galaxies out there, it is downright scary to me to think that all that is going on “by chance” without a higher power in charge. No, scary isn’t the right word… more like inconceivable, or unimaginable. Really, just totally unbelievable.

So what is it about God that people have a hard time believing? Does it really make more sense to believe that all the activity in the universe as we know it (which is a tiny, tiny fraction), just happened to occur, and with the exact precision needed for the earth to form the way it did? Not to me it doesn’t, I don’t have that much faith. It is just downright scary to think all that activity has nothing keeping it in check. How depressing to think there is not something bigger, a power greater than me, God, or whatever you want to call it, maintaining order of it all. I suppose it makes sense then, that antidepressants are on the rise!