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So, I turned 43 a few days ago. Eleven, to be exact, which can only mean that April is almost a memory — and, if I chose to look at it this way, that we are one step closer to yet another unbearable winter.

But I’m a “glass half full”-kinda gal, which I was reminded of this morning whilst troddling to work when I looked toward the southern sky and saw a jet streaming its whitetail trail diagonally upward (and westward) from the half-full moon.

And, besides, how pessimistic can a girl be when she encounters a sight like this?

Poppy Burst 1

I found that poppy Sunday morning when I was on my way over to The Lovely’s for lunch (chicken casserole, corn, peas, grape tomatoes, bread and butter, courtesy of Margaret). I thought the flower would be fully emerged by now, but it isn’t. I will keep checking because I’d really like to get it on film. Which, of course, is not actually film, but I still like saying “film” because … well, I just do. I know I’ve ranted about this before, but I like that I grew up using “film cameras” and knowing the importance of getting good negatives (even though I’m a positive person!) and even that, at this very second, I can still recall the (probably toxic) smell of D-76 developer and Acufine and Dektol … and, honestly, I wish I still had one or two of the shirts that I completely ruined by splashing fixer on them!

But I digress. And that poppy picture was most definitely taken with a digital camera and resized in PhotoShop while I was sitting here in my living room rather than in any kind of darkroom.

And as I sit here, I really could be in a crappy mood. I just — as I typed — received a call from my mechanic, Jay, who has had my car at his shop for four days now (not his fault: I had the car towed there Saturday morning [his shop is closed on the weekend], and it’s not as if there weren’t several other people with sick or injured vehicles ahead of me). Turns out my car’s timing chain broke, which is what caused the Grand Am to quit running while I was driving through South Sandusky Campground on the aforementioned Saturday morning. There could be other issues as well involving words or parts I don’t really know anything about, such as “valves” and “gaskets” and what-not, although the fact the car was going just 10 to 15 miles per hour at the time is supposedly A Good Thing.

I am cautiously optimistic.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for the beautiful spring weather we have been having. Makes walking the 11 blocks or so to work a surprisingly refreshing way to start the day!

Well … except for my broken left pinkie toe. Which might actually be sprained. Or maybe just jammed. All I know is it hurt like a bleeping bleep when I ran my foot into the humidifier the day I was getting ready to go to the opening for the art, craft and photography exhibition. (No, I didn’t win anything, but I did get some helpful suggestions regarding my photos. And I gained some insight into myself and my interests and abilities. [Remember: It IS all about me!] And it was kinda cool to be a part of the show because there was some really good stuff on display — most of which didn’t win anything, either — and I haven’t competed, photo-wise, in anything for a very long time … and the last time I did, I really should have won [instead of placing second] because the picture I took was dramatic and full of great action and facial expressions, and the picture that did win was a photograph of a girl running the hurdles — which, as any sports photographer knows, is probably THE easiest action shot to get because all you really have to do is focus on the hurdle and wait for the runner to jump over it!)

But, again, I digress.

And as far as my toe is concerned: It’s mostly just a little swollen now. The upper third of my foot was bruised for a few days, but the bruises are long gone now. If I could go barefoot all the time, my toe wouldn’t hurt at all, really; mostly, it’s uncomfortable when I cram my foot into my Merrells and for a few minutes afterwards, but then I’m OK. My tennis shoes don’t cause me any pain; in fact, I’ve played tennis five or six times since The Injury. So far, though, my foot hasn’t been able to get comfy in any other shoes.

What else should I say about turning 43?

Oh, yeah: My birthday was the day of the big earthquake that I essentially slept through! Diane and I spent a wonderful — albeit rainy — day in St. Louie, (briefly) exploring the Missouri Botanical Garden before heading over to Maggiano’s for lunch (mostly courtesy of a birthday gift card from Delra!), followed by a dash into Crate and Barrel, a nap in our room at the Drury Inn and a trip to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play the San Francisco Giants.

Kameron and Kendra helped me blow out the eight candles on my birthday cake the following day. The day after that, I got sunburned on my forearms, face and ears whilst watching Diane’s tennis team play their final two matches of the season. She’s retiring from coaching at the end of June, so it was bittersweet to see her team go out with a victory in the last match.

I spent the next two days recovering — and, naturally, playing Fetch with Kiddle (a.k.a. Bits)! — before having to return to work last Wednesday, just in time for Sheila’s birthday.

Other than all that, what can I say? The sun is shining as I write. Believe it or not, I even took my bicycle to Mr. Wiggs’ shop for new tires and tubes!


Red-and-Yellow Tulips

Tulip Patch

I find it odd that many people consider dandelions to be weeds.


No Wake Duckies

These are red-breasted mergansers — a female on the left, male on the right — near the South Sandusky boat ramp. (Thank you, Birds of Illinois by Lone Pine Publishing.)

2 Mergansers

Deer in Brush

Deer Grazing

3 Deer

Danny Malkovich’s brother, John, came to visit us him today at the newspaper office.

Danny John Russ

I didn’t take this photo. It was taken by John Carswell of the Shelbyville Daily Union — my hometown newspaper, where I did an internship the summer between my junior and senior years of college, and where I worked/regained my confidence in my professional abilities from November 1988 through February 1989.

The woman on the bicycle is my fifth-grade teacher, Dee Dee (Kull) Batson, whom I adore as much now as I did when I was 10. She has retired from teaching (and coaching, too, I believe), and she now has a paper route. Delivering the Daily Union.

She always remembers my birthday and tells my mom to tell me happy birthday when she sees her any time close to my birthday.

I love this photo.

 Dee Dee on Bike

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor even snow …
With more snow in the forecast, Dee Dee Batson is not deterred from delivering the Daily Union. “I did this when I was a little girl and I still enjoy it,” said a red-faced Batson as she finished her route on N. 9th St. Thursday afternoon. (From the Feb. 22, 2008, edition of the Daily Union online.)
John Carswell/Daily Union

Easter occurred far too early this spring. I wasn’t prepared for it, really, but given my success (or lack thereof) in sticking to what I had given up for Lent … well, perhaps it was a blessing that Easter fell in March rather than mid-April.

This sign caught my attention as I drove through Strasburg en route to The Ville:

He Is Risen

Once I got to my parents’ house, I got to meet Yolanda, Delra’s super-cute new Yaris.

Yolanda & Delra

We all ate lots of food, and we talked and laughed a lot, as we usually do at our family gatherings.

Outside, there were birds.


Bird in Dogwood

The only moment that annoyed me was when Mom got all fussy (just for a second) over where I had parked my car out front and insisted that I park in the back, instead, to leave room for the others. So I moved my car to the carport in front of the small garage.

Then, hours later, when I got in my car to leave, I looked down at the wet pavement and saw my dad’s initials and the year he put them in the concrete — which originally served as the floor of a dog pen in which we kept our beagles, Pat and Mike. (I just barely remember them, but I’ll never forget their names!)

I had never before seen the initials. After my parents gave away the beagles, the pen and the shed next to it were used for storage for many, many years before my parents went on a major backyard renovation project over the last two or three years.

It felt good to be reminded of Dad.

HW 1967

From my trip last week to pick up the neighbors from the airport:

Don't Quit

April 2008
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