Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lake Zurich Park and Recreation - Men's Softball

I went to my first LZ men's softball game today. Chuck's son, Steve, plays for the Hangover Heroes team. Sadly, they lost to Big Stix 16 to 5. Good thing Steve plays for the fun of it and not the glory! Here's a couple of shots.

It was over in 40 minutes.

Brotherly Love

I like to think that my relationship with my brother was stronger and deeper than most sisters could claim and it is true. It isn’t that we naturally loved each other more or got along better; it is because during those formative years, we leaned on each other exclusively. Mutual need can create an unbelievable bond.

He is three and a half years older than me and that created the groundwork for my dependence on him through many of life’s detours, potholes and adventures. It is natural for a younger sibling to look to the older one for guidance, since it is likely that they have already gone through the scary experience before. He assured me that my first day of school was nothing to get all worked up about. It was the most fearful experience that I could imagine and his wizened advice was calming for me. Of course, since we were both going to the same one-roomed school and sharing the same classroom (albeit different grade levels) I was greatly relieved to see him just a few rows away from mine. He was very involved in some complicated math problems and I was diddling with the alphabet. It was challenge enough for me.

We were living with my father’s parents in Lithium, Missouri, a remote town not far from the Mississippi River. Lithium was so small that in 2001, the US Post Office declared its zipcode as invalid. We were there because neither of our parents could handle the responsibilities of youngsters at the time. So it was a safe haven for us. For me, anyplace my brother was, was a safe haven. I didn’t remember either of my parents and for now was getting to know my grandparents…my brother-- he was there for as long as I could remember. We spent lots of time together, romping through the countryside, doing farm chores, walking to school and teasing each other as only sister and brother could do.

After some years our father took us away to live with him in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It was a really big city so we stuck together a lot there because it would have been easy for either of us to get lost. The kinds of play changed dramatically; the only outside fun I remember is when the fire hydrants were turned on in the summer and we enjoyed the spray for as long as it lasted. I was in second grade.

Later we moved to Forked River, New Jersey and for the first time we went to different schools. I went to a two room school-house; he went to some regional school that required getting on a bus and a long trip. I sat in awe of his stories. I didn’t know that my brother was turning into a showman; I just ate up everything he had to say. He was my hero.

There was lots of stuff going on in the family that I didn’t really understand. He did. So when the custody battle was really underway for us, I looked to him for support and comfort. We didn’t agree on whom we should stay with. I thought dad was best. Not for his parenting ability or his ability to provide for us, for neither was very good. It was just that I was getting to know him, and that was enough for me. My brother was getting to know him too. They did not see eye-to-eye on many things; so he hoped life with mom would be better. She won and we went to live with her and her new husband.

To say that life was different is an understatement. We lived in an apartment in a two family house in Paterson, New Jersey. Mom didn’t seem to want to spend any time with us now that she won and our step-father played the role of a drill sergeant rather than that of father; life became very different very quickly. We lived in constant fear of retribution for not doing something we were told or doing it wrong. The punishments included being grounded for weeks, no television, eating foods that were totally disagreeable, doing really repulsive chores and for really bad things: beatings with the razor strop.

This was, by far, the biggest city I had ever lived in and the culture was different from anything I had seen so far. People here were more educated and distant, something that I would spend a good deal of time getting used to. I found myself clinging more than ever to my brother.

We continued to go to different schools and soon enough he had his own friends and I had one or two of my own. We were finding our way in the world. The good times we used to know were becoming a thing of the past very quickly. I often found myself remembering the fun we had and how things were just never the same now. It comes with growing up, but it was still hard to accept. I knew we would never have the kind of fun that we used to and yet I hoped for one more chance.

It came when I least expected it. We were still sharing a bedroom and we had gone to bed on a Sunday night at 9PM sharp. We had bunk beds; he was on the top one. At some point well into the night, he leaned over from above and whispered my name ‘till I woke up. He said we could go sledding in the new deep snow that had fallen. I knew for sure he had gone nuts. Was he suggesting that we leave the house at 1:00AM, walk seven blocks to Eastside Park (in the very deep snow), sled and somehow get back home and not have the ‘Drill Sergeant’ find out about it!? He was indeed! This could very well be our last adventure or the death of both of us.

OK. I’m in.

We got to the park and it was empty. What makes this place so special is the lay of the land. The center of the park is a hilltop that is crisscrossed with roads. So once you are to the top of the hill with your sled, you could actually sled the downhill tiers over three different roadbeds and then the final downhill which ends with a baseball field and is bordered on the far side with a highway.

The distance one could travel on the sled probably approximated a half mile! We were sledding for hours, all alone in the middle of the night. It was heaven. Once I actually made it to the highway.

After what seemed like forever we decided it was time to get back home and trudged the seven long blocks back put the sleds away, crept up the stairs and back into our beds. How relieved we were that we were able to get back without being found out. We were both asleep as soon as we hit the pillows.
Sadly, we got back at 5:30 and the alarm went off at 6 for us to get up and get ready for school. I regretted our all night sled-fest for the entire next day and carried the adventure in my soul for the rest of my life.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Train Garden in North Barrington

As if the WaucondaFest was not enough to satisfy our curiosity...we went to an open house showing, for magnificent indoor and outdoor model railroad set-ups built by Huff n Puff . This goes way beyond the typical train set up you are likely to see at Chirstmas-time.
It was actually a benefit for a gardening conservancy and the trains were a pleasant 'add-on'.

So there is no need to keep yakking about what was there, here's my best shots. Enjoy!

A train going over a bridge by a waterfall in the garden. Doesn't everyone have one?
Here is a shot of the pool area, with a nice little lake in the background. This is more plush than a lot of resorts I have been to.

Here is a commuter train with the Chicago skyline in the background. One of the indoor models.
Here is a scale model of 'the Bean'...I found this to be amazing!
Here is a model of the face fountains that are located not too far from the bean. They have thought of everything.

WaucondaFest Lumberjack Show

We caught the first lumberjack show at the WaucondaFest. Best part...there were very few people siting in either of the two bleacher sections set aside for watching. That means we got a chance to talk to the "Red Team" Jaime Fischer. He explained how the various show components work. We felt like we were getting our own private demonstration! Don't think for a moment that these shows are put on by amateurs...no way! Our guy was professional all the way. So was the Blue Team!

Here he is in the ax throwing contest...the ax has not yet hit the target; look closely!
This is the last time we see him dry while doing the Boom Run.

Chuck was obviously having a great time too!

he 'red team' was Jamie Fischer, you may like to learn a little of his interest in lumberjack sports.

Jamie Fischer

Fisher, attributes his success in the boom run and logrolling to his long family heritage and to his own private boom run set up in the backyard of his Stillwater, MN home. Fisher shattered his previous world record time of: 12.98 in the Men’s Boom Run set in 2004, with a new world record of: 12.49 at the 2005 Championships, which still stands to this day. With his 2007 crown, Fischer is now a holder of 5 continuous Boom Run World Championships. Fischer, who also held the 2003, 2004 and 2006 Men’s Log Rolling crowns, took home second place in last year's Men’s Open Log Rolling. Committed to the sport of log rolling, Fischer is an ardent promoter of the sport and has started several log rolling schools throughout the country.

They also do tree stump art

The front sign says welcome; that is for friends. When others who are not so welcome show up, just turn the sign around it says: Go Away!

WaucondaFest ..MORE!!!

We went again on Friday evening to the 'Fest and I was able to get some much better shots of this ride that has really grabbed my attention. it's called the Cliff Hanger...and it really is!
Anyway here is a better look and the what fun there is to be had! (If you double click the photos they will enlarge and you can see it much better)

Even the mayor of Wauconda gets into it. Here is his wailing out a good one
with the Rockaholics.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WaucondaFest 2008

We went to the first night of Wauconda-fest 2008 and had some dogs, pulled pork, fries and beer. The rides looked great for the kids and I found one that even I would have like to try 4 or 5 times! I don't know what it is about bumper cars that I find so exciting. Get in and ram the closest car to you before they ram you.. Whee!!!
We walked the grounds and saw lots and lots of "try your luck" and win a stuffed what-ever! I wanted Chuck to get enough baskets to win the banana man, but he declined!
The highlight of the night was the performance of American English, a group that does a really fine job on Beatles stuff...really good job!
Here is a cool ride that you lay down on your stomach and sort of swim through the air...yeah!

South Elgin Fox River Trail

We met Patti and Dave in Dundee and headed south today. Along the way we passed this castle looking residence..it is so cool!

We did the roller coaster ups and downs and made it to South Elgin where we found the river to be over the bike trail.

It didn't stop Chuck , me or Dave, but Patti was looking for an egress over the top on the bridge and road. That whole section was under construction and she was not able to cross the street, so we turned around there and headed back.

We got 19 miles in and stopped for lunch at Dairy Queen. Since my mouth is still recovering from the gum graft that was done on Tuesday I opted for a banana split...well you have to get your fruit somewhere! I was in heaven to have a meal made completely of ice cream.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rosa Parks Highway - Interstate 55

While visiting my relatives in Missouri recently, I was riding north to St Louis and noticed that Interstate 55 was named Rosa Parks Highway for a section of it. I wondered why, since her famous bus ride took place in Alabama.

Here is what I found at Wikipedia:

Rosa Parks Highway is a portion of United States Interstate 55 in Saint Louis County and Jefferson County, near St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1994 the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor the highway for clean up (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). The Missouri Department of Transportation rejected the Klan's application, and the Klan filed suit.

The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled in March 2001 that the Klan had as much right to sponsor a highway for cleanup as did any other organization. In retaliation, the Missouri legislature prominently named the section after civil rights activist Rosa Parks. When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of." [1]

The Klan, however, never followed through on its sponsorship agreement, and after required notice was given, on April 4, 2001 the Klan's agreement was terminated for nonperformance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crystal Lake area of Fox Lake Trail

We were blessed with a perfect day for biking today and so we met with Len and Marlene, and Dave and Marty for a quick 15 miler. Seems we all had appointments this afternoon and could not spend more time on the trail.

Well, what did you think? We were certainly not going to pass up lunch to ride another 10 miles!!! Anyway, it was great to be 'back in the saddle again' and I think a short week away gave me a nice rest and I felt really good after the ride today.

We grabbed a good lunch at the Colonial Restaurant on Northwest Highway and then headed for Life Source so I could donate blood before my gum surgery tomorrow. For the first time since I have been donating, I felt more than a little woozy afterwards, but a short rest had me right back in the swing of things.

We ended the day with a nice 3 mile stroll on the Millennium Trail behind the house.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Visit with Aunt and Cousin and Children

My visit to Arkansas has come an end and I have stopped to visit with my aunt and cousin here in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri for a couple of days.

My cousin Darline is caring for her two grandchildren...they are beautiful children, full of energy and enthusiasm for life. They stopped by Aunt Rita's house to see (not me) KC Bird. He is such a wienie when new people are around. He managed to behave himself and not bite the children,

so they are still excited to see him again and again.

Later we went to El Torrero for dinner

and then back to Gramma's house to play on the swings and the electric cars. Boy! the toys they have for children now!!! It (almost) makes me want to be a kid again.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reclaimed my Garage

Since I moved to Fayetteville over two years ago, I've been living with a sizable desk in my garage. Why do I keep a large desk in my garage, you might ask...because the movers were unable to get it through the doorway of one of the bedrooms that was to be my office.

So after all this time, I decided that it is unusable in the garage, it takes up valuable real estate there and it is best if it finds a home somewhere else. Today I had it picked up and taken away. So now I have my garage back.

It took a little jiggling and tweaking of the rest of the stuff that is in there, but I think I finally got everything arranged so that "if" I wanted to put two vehicles in it, I now could! It's a major accomplishment.

The space looked so good, I decided to wash the car...just because!

I was always taught to dry the edges and around all doors etc. So when I opened the hood to dry said edges, I couldn't believe how clean the engine area was. This is a one year old car that has been driven 10,000 miles and there was no dust or grime anywhere.

Now, why can't they do that on the outside too??!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blueberry time in Northwest Arkansas

For those of you who don't know or remember, last year there was a devastating freeze in April, which destroyed the blueberry buds and precluded a blueberry season.

This year however, is a great year for blueberries. I stopped by a farm just west of Fayetteville on US Route 16, called Clear Creek Farm. Telephone 479 443 7048. The berries there are huge, sweet and delicious.

I made a blueberry pie with what I got from this farm the last time and it was delicious, of course I had to cut the sugar part of the recipe in half because they were already so sweet...using what the recipe called for would have been way too much!

Can't wait to do it again!

Here are some of the farm workers separating, cleaning, dividing and packaging the little globes of sunshine

This fellow lives here on the farm. He doesn't own it, just sees to the operation. A very nice guy!
So here is my first blueberry and melon composition. The rest I will just eat. One picture is enough...on to the good stuff.

So what is good about this place is that you can pick the berries yourself. If you do then it is $10. a gallon; if you are lazy like me, then you can have them already picked for $13 a gallon. A bargain either way!

Shogun, Fayetteville, AR

Lauren and I went to Shogun for a nice dinner tonight.

This was my first visit to the new location and it is much nicer than the old one. Still has two sections for eating..the grilling area and table service. I've always wondered why anyone would come to a place like this and NOT sit at the grilling tables. I guess some people are more interested in privacy than the ambiance Shogun is noted for. Anyway, on the way out I noticed only two active tables and the grills were quite active!

Speaking of Sho....

Here is the Volcano Onion ...the before and after pictures. What I liked best was the young boy just opposite me at the table and his folks. These people enjoyed every minute of the show. I was astounded that the boy was so proficient with chopsticks! Anyway, the entire table was having a blast!

They always prepare the grill for the show...it always involves a huge flame which can be felt at the surrounding tables
Then it just as quickly dies...see the folks on the other side of the grill...they were smiles all night long!

I opted for the lobster..but they gave me the meal in stages, so by the time I got the lobster, most of my noodles and veggies were already gone!