Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Ghost of Halloween Past

My son Luke is a sometimes blogger, who is soon to be an everyday blogger as he has joined the madness of NaBloPoMo. Luke has had a blog at Useless Clutter for a few years. Luke and his lovely wife, Frema, (as you might remember) are soon to become parents. Another grandchild, of course, brings thoughts of joy. But moreover, new grandchildren cause grandparents to reminisce about the days when the parent-to-be was a child. Luke as a child seemed to love and enjoy life. He had a good time on regular days as well as holidays, and he seemed to have an especially good time on Halloween. As Luke grew to adulthood, his fondness for Halloween continued. When he was little, I made costumes for both sons. Luke continued this practice for a few years creating his own costumes. His first costume was an alligator. Or, was that a crocodile that he made in high school? Although I made the terrifying ghost costume in the picture above, Luke suggested the nature of this ghost. On this Halloween evening, when no trick-or-treaters came to our door. I think back to the very first costume that I made for Luke's older brother, Dean, and the many costumes that followed. Do recognize all of Luke's Halloween alter-egos? Or should that be doppelgangers?

Luke is actually Darth Vader in this picture, and his brother, Dean, is Luke Skywalker with the cool grappling hook made by Daddy D.

Luke was a newspaper reporter for a few years so the Clark Kent disguise fits our hero.

Doesn't everyone love Charlie Brown?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fun Monday - Don't Leave Home Without It.

This Fun Monday hostess is the creative and candid Karina. For the challenge this week, Karina wants to see our security blankets or the things that we must positively take with us when we leave our homes. At first, I declined participation in this challenge because I could not think of anything that I absolutely need to have at all times. However after thinking this through, there is one item that I always, always have. I always have my glasses. Usually, I am wearing my specs because seeing at all times is very important to me. I used to have 20/20 vision. As I aged, like most (ah) mature adults, I developed presbyopia. At first, I needed the correction for reading and close-up work, but eventually my vision changed such that I needed correction for all distances. My glasses have progressive lens that allow me to see close-up, faraway, and in between. I wear my glasses during all my waking hours. If I am asleep, my glasses are on my nightstand, and I wear my glasses if I get up in the middle of the night. So my security really is vested in my glasses because they allow me to see almost as well as I used to see.

In addition to the glasses, when I leave my house on a work day, there are some things that I should take with me such as my purse, my phone, my personal keys, my school keys, and my ID.

On Sundays, I take these items to church, a satin purse, my flash drive, (I create PowerPoint announcements for our worship services) and whichever book that we are studying in our adult class. We currently studying The Faiths of Our Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes.

Now, check out what our other Fun Monday buddies need for security.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fun Monday - The Art of Science

This week's Fun Monday is being hosted by WT of A Dingo's Got My Barbie, he wants to see some clothing art. That's tee shirts, baseball caps, hoodies, sports uniforms or any bit of clothing that you or your kids own that has interesting, funny or artistic graphics.

As some of you know, my husband and I are science teachers. Daddy D teaches chemistry and physics to high school students, and I teach science to seventh graders, which are children aged 12 and 13. Many of our t-shirts display something cute or meaningful about science. Sometimes we will wear these fun shirts to emphasize an important idea or concept, or to generate good feelings about science.

This aqua t-shirt is from Beaner's, our favorite coffee shop. C8H10N4O2 is the chemical formula for caffiene.

Daddy D and I both participated in National Science Foundation institutes held at the University of Wisconsin. The badger acting as a chemistry teacher used to be the university mascot, Bucky the Badger.

This Albert Einstein picture glows in the dark. The Einstein quote says, "One feels as if one is dissolved into nature."

The quote next to the big cats says, "In the age before man, the earth lost one species every thousand years. Today we lose one every twenty minutes."

*This shirt may be my favorite.

In education and specifically in science education, educators will speak about hands on learning and authentic assessments. Both of those strategies are crucial in science instruction, but I believe that teacher-directed demonstrations are another important instructional tool. Daddy D and I have a variety of demonstrations about air pressure and other topics that we present to our science students. One of my favorite demonstrations is pushing an egg in a bottle with air pressure. Usually, students assist me with this feat, but these pictures were taken on Saturday.

First a hard-boiled egg is placed in the bottle opening. Students are asked how the hard-boiled egg can be pushed in the bottle using air pressure.

Second, the shell is removed.

Third, a flaming paper towel is placed in the bottle, and the egg is quickly placed back in the bottle opening.

Students might observe the egg bouncing up and down and then dropping in the bottle. Students are asked how the egg went into the bottle. Many will say, "The egg was s*cked into the bottle." Then, we will discuss the air being warmed by the flames and becoming less dense. The warm less dense air rises and causes the egg to be pushed up as the air escapes from the bottle. This in turn reduces air pressure in the bottle causing the greater air pressure to push the egg into the bottle.

Finally, students will ask how the egg is removed from the bottle. The answer is to increase the air pressure inside the bottle. Blowing air into the bottle will increase air in the bottle, and Voila the egg comes out. The students often exclaim, "Eeeww...gross.

*The quote at the bottom of the Science Never Sucks shirt proclaims, "it can push, it can pull, but it will never, ever suck, Nope, Nuh uh! Physically impossble. Ma nature won't let it happen. No sirree , No way. suckus impossibleus."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On the Wagon

In this Fun Monday post, I alluded to the fact that I do not drink anymore. Sometimes, I follow that comment with this old quip, " Nor, do I drink any less." However, what I really mean is that I no longer imbibe alcoholic beverages of any kind.

Our good friend, Captain Corky of Corky's Log, asked me in the comments why I stopped drinking. The reason that I stopped drinking is complex. Furthermore, my abstinence has been an off and on process for 30 some years. Before we explore my years of sobriety, let me tell you about my drinking.

My parents believed that if they served us small or moderate amounts of alcohol at home, my sisters and I would refrain from drinking outside the home. As we grew to adulthood, we were allowed a taste of rum in our Christmas egg nog, mulled wine on the cold brisk fall days, and a half glass of wine on festive occasions. They were partially right. I did not drink beer in parking lots as a teen, nor did I drink at parties. However, I do remember my friend, Connie, and I did consume some of my parents gin one rainy afternoon. Of course, we replaced the missing clear spirit with water.

As I grew to adulthood, I enjoyed drinking with our friends. I enjoyed any kind of wine, and my hard beverage of choice was Cutty Sark on the rocks. In my drinking days, I seemed to be able to "hold" my alcohol better than most. Luckily, I rarely suffered the next day after a night of drinking. Even as an adult, my drinking was mostly limited to festive occasions and Friday nights after the ball game.

Why did I stop? On November 8, 1974, my mother had a cerebral aneurysm. Now, I am rather sure that you are not supposed to make deals with God, but I did do just that. I bargained with God if he would allow my mom to live, I in turn would stop drinking. I did stop drinking for a few years, but after few years my commitment to teetotaling waned. I missed friendly drinks with friends and relatives. I missed the warm feeling that one gets after drinking just one glass of wine. So even though I promised the Almighty, I did partake of the wine when tis' red.

In the early eighties, my father was becoming confused with what seemed like Alzhiemer's Disease. Although this time I did not bargain, I did make a personal resolution not to drink. My thought this time was to save all the brain cells possible. Eventually, I did have an occasional drink.

Within a few years, I quit again. This time I have quit for good. If you have read this far, you might be thinking that I am an alcoholic. Luckily, that has not been a problem for me. But trying to stop is difficult. Our social lives can be so intertwined with drinking. People drink to celebrate, to mourn, to relax, to socialize, to forget... Although I am not an alcoholic, I understand a little how difficult it is to quit. I have little desire to drink, but I do like to join friends at bars. I usually have an O'Doul's or tonic sans gin. For toasts, we buy some sparkling grape juice. Do I miss the drinking days and nights? No, not much.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun Monday - In the Beginning

This week's Fun Monday hostess, From the Planet of Janet, has given us this mission. "Describe your meeting with your spouse/significant other. I especially want to hear "meet cute" stories. Illustrate with photos, of course."

Daddy D and I met at the Fort Wayne Indiana University Extension library at 8:10 AM on July 1, 1964. Daddy D, our handsome red-haired hero, a college junior, was a trusted university employee. He worked in the library and was responsible for locking the building after the last class finished in the evening. I was an eager freshman-to-be beginning my job as a student library worker.

This picture was in the college newspaper. When I met our hero, he was sporting a flat-top. The Elvis hair was gone.

My best friend, Becky, was starting to work in the library on that same day. Our job as student workers consisted mostly of preparing the books of the two libraries of the downtown extensions for the move to the brand new Indiana-Purdue Campus, which is located on the northeast side of town. My husband-to-be says that he was deciding rather to ask out the blond, my friend Becky, or the red-head as I was at the time. Fate may have helped my chances because Becky left for England with her mother for a high school graduation present.

This picture of the glum-looking me is from the summer of '64. My sullenness has nothing to do with our date.

Eventually, Daddy D did ask me out. He invited me to see the Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night. However, he arrived 45 minutes late because Daddy D was adventuresome and had two dates on this summer evening. Strangely, the boy that I had been dating called me twenty minutes or so before the tardy suitor arrived. Ironically my ex-boyfriend, Ron, asked me to go out to see the very same film at the very same theater. I explained to Ron that I already had plans for the evening. Ron thinking that he was getting the brush-off said, "We would be going just as friends." I told Ron, "No, I really do have plans." Not wanting to be indiscreet, I did not tell Ron that my plans were with another man.

When Daddy D and I arrived at the theater, many of the seats were taken. This was a Beatles movie, and this was in 1964. Since this was our first date, Daddy D being a gentleman asked me where I would like to sit to watch the movie. Although the theater was almost filled, I saw that we were in luck. There in the middle section, right where I liked to sit, were two empty seats. However, as I walked into the aisle, there in the third seat in was my former boyfriend, Ron. Not wanting to sit in between my old boyfriend and my new beau, I backed out of the aisle quickly telling Daddy D that there were two good seats in the front row. Thus, our first date we sat in the stiff-neck seats and watched the movie. I do not know whether that Ron saw us that night, and Daddy D did not learn about Ron until later.

So our first date began with Daddy D definitely having two dates, and I had two offers. The beginning must have not been too bad; we are still together 43 years later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What Used to Be - Lessons Learned

Edited Saturday Morning: In my original post on Thursday, I may have failed to answer the question of what happened to the church building. After the congregation left in 1975, the building, as empty buildings often do, fell victim to vandalism. Additionally, there was a fire in 1997. However, the biggest loss was undoubtedly the loss of the congregation in 1975 and the loss of the ministries offered to the community.

The church in this week's Wordless Wednesday post is the former City Methodist Church located in downtown Gary, Indiana. Construction of the church once known as First Methodist began in 1925. The sanctuary seated 950 worshippers, and during the mid-1950's the congregation totaled nearly 3,000 members. The church in earlier times was a pinnacle of success and provided a variety of services for the community. The education wing included a theater, which featured a number of presentations for the church members and the citizens of Gary. Additionally at one time, the education wing, Seaman Hall, housed classes for the northwest Indiana University extension.

As sometimes happens with thriving churches in urban areas, City Methodist Church and the city of Gary fell victim to the fear that sometimes accompanies a racially changing community. In the 1960's and early 1970's, the city of Gary experienced the phenomenon of "white flight." Meaning that middle class white people moved away from the increasingly racial-minority inner-city neighborhoods to nearby suburbs. As the City Methodist members moved, they found new church homes in the suburbs. Thus, the once glorious church with Indiana's largest Methodist congregation closed its doors in 1975 due to declining membership.

This last Sunday, October 7, the Calumet District of North Indiana United Methodist Church held a service of repentenance, reconcilation, and appreciation in the street in front of the decaying ruins of the once majestic church. Attendees at the service received a piece of sackcloth at the beginning of the event to acknowledge the apathy and racism that lead to the demise of the grand church congregation. The bishop of the Indiana Methodists reminded the crowd of the lessons learned from the decline of this once dynamic congregation. Participants traded the sackcloth, which represented mourning and repentance, for a packet of seeds, which could represent seeds of hope.

In her comment for the Wordless Wednesday post , Gawilli has asked my thoughts on this matter. As on on variety of topics, I have a multitude of thoughts and feelings. I am sad that the church that welcomed black worshippers at a time when African Americans were refused entrance to white churches eventually had to close its doors partially due to racism. I am not sure that racism is the only culprit for the downfall of this once mighty church. However, as realtors of the 1960's spread the fear of declining property values, racism and the white flight from Gary were undoubtedly a factors that lead to the doors of City Methodist closing. I am concerned that the church that both Gawilli and I attend may suffer a similar fate of closing our doors due to economic decline within our community. If there are lessons to be learned as our bishop suggests, hopefully, we will know how to implement these lessons and how and where to plant these seeds of hope.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Fun Monday - Come for a Visit

The colorful Pamela of Dust Will Wait is this week's hostess of Fun Monday. These are Pamela's directions:
I want to see what you see on any given morning this week; from
somewhere very near where you live. Front porch, back porch, down the street, around the corner. Just makes sure it's your neighborhood. Post a photo that will send me to the travel agent to book a weekend at your local Bed and Breakfast.Post your October View on Monday, October 8.

The town that I live in used to be called a bedroom community, which means that many of the residents living in the community, work elsewhere but come home to sleep in our community. I am guessing that is true to some extent today but not as much as days in the past. In earlier times , most dads and some moms either worked in the steel mills or the oil refineries here in Lake County. Today, there are other employers in addition to these factories. Some might call our town a suburb of the nearby cities. However, others might refer to this area as urban fringe. Wikipedia says this about Urban Fringe.

The urban rural fringe, also known as the outskirts or the urban
hinterland, can be described as the "landscape interface between town and
country" [1], or alternatively as the transition zone where
urban and rural uses mix and often clash. Alternatively, it can be viewed as
a landscape type in its own right, one forged from an interaction of urban
and rural land uses.

This definition aptly describes our town with its shopping malls
and restaurants interspersed with farms and meadows. If you love to eat and
shop, you should book a motel suite for a weekend stay in our town.
Additionally, we are near to the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, and the trip
to Chicago might take 45 minutes.

Here is a farm located across the street. On Saturday, the farmer was harvesting his soy bean crop. Notice the apartment complex in the distance.

This Dairy Queen is next to the soy bean field.

One of the best sites in northwest Indiana anytime of the year is the Lake Michigan shoreline complete with sand dunes, wildlife, deep blue water, and wildflowers. Come for a visit; we will take a picnic to the beach.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

To Hicksville and Back

In the 60's, the age of drinking varied throughout the United States. Some states like Indiana the legal age for buying and consuming alcohol was 21 like it is today throughout the entire country. Others states extended legal drinking to those 18 and older. Still other states, like Ohio had a strange law that prohibited youth from 18-20 to purchase or imbibe so called hard alcohol but permitted those youth in that age bracket to drink something called 3.2 beer also called near beer by some, which is a beer with lower alcohol content of 3.2 % by weight as compared to a more hearty 6%.

I have lived in Indiana my entire life, but I grew up in Fort Wayne, where I lived 18 miles from the Ohio border. Since Indiana had more stringent drinking laws, Ohio became a mecca of legal drinking for Hoosier young adults. In 1964 approaching my 18th birthday, a good friend Pat, and his girlfriend, Carol, offered to take me to Ohio on my birthday to celebrate turning 18 with a legal drink. (At the time, my boyfriend, the future Daddy D, was at Indiana University in Bloomington diligently studying calculus and organic chemistry.)

So on the night of my birthday, Pat, Carol, and I were off to Ohio for our birthday adventure and my first legal drink. From the northeast side of Fort Wayne, the nearest Ohio saloon was in a town called Hicksville. As the three of us entered the first tavern on the road, there were only men sitting at the bar. One of the bar patrons, said something like, "Hey look, fresh meat." , or some other derogatory term apparently referring to the two young and innocent females that Pat brought to the drinking establishment. Patrick, a pacifist, wisely decided that a celebratory drink of watered-down beer was not worth some kind of bar fight in which he was sadly outnumbered.

Therefore, we returned to Fort Wayne to Alexander's, a pizza place, to celebrate my turning 18. As I remember, we did attempt to order a drink at Alexander's, but we were asked for identification to prove our age. Thus, I celebrated my 18th birthday with two dear friends without alcohol.

I do not remember visiting Hicksville until this summer some 43 years later. On July 7, Daddy D drove through the small Ohio town on our way to our nephew's wedding in another nearby Ohio town. I was pleasantly surprised that Hicksville is an idyllic little village not a town with streets filled with dives as I falsely remember. I would venture to guess that Hicksville residents never enjoyed the youngsters from Indiana coming to Ohio for a night of drinking. Having a name like Hicksville is probably a big enough burden.