Thursday, December 29, 2022

I will always remember Bill Hood


Sadly, I just learned that a man, with whom I have held much regard, has died. 

I crossed paths with Bill Hood, sometime in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He was formerly the Director of American Airlines. As such, we were on the same side of the debate on whether or not to build a third airport, some 40 miles south of Chicago. We certainly came from different places, but our goals were the same--halting the construction of a major international airport at Peotone. Some of our reasons were very different, but some were also the same.

I didn't know him very well--hardly at all--really, but I knew he was someone I'd never forget. I admired his dedication to the cause for which I was so passionate. I recognized that he was a good and principled man who believed in doing the right thing and fighting for what he believed in.

I will never forget when he called one day to ask if I would give him a tour of the airport site. I was very excited at the chance to plead my case to someone who might actually have some say in the project. Up until that point, everyone who was anyone supported the project.

In truth I suppose I never really got over the fact that a representative of a world-renown airline could have anything in common with a housewife and young mother from the small town of Beecher, Illinois. Our initial meeting was prior to my writing for a local newspaper. Our paths crossed often at the countless meetings we attended, as I continued to write about the proposed airport until I retired and moved out of state in 2005. 

On the day we met, he picked me up at a local restaurant and we drove around the nearly 7 square miles of rich farmland nestled among the farm towns of Beecher, Peotone, Monee, and Crete. I didn't hold anything back as I told him everything I knew about the area where I lived for many years. I believed with all my heart that the airport was a foolish idea. I showed Bill an airport just didn't fit in the fertile farmland of Will County. I showed him the topography,  as we talked about the many creeks and streams. told him about where the land flooded when it rained and how quickly the water soaked into the ground afterward, something that doesn't happen with tons of concrete and asphalt. I talked about wetlands, recharging the aquifers that supplied well water to the rural areas, potential pollution, urban sprawl, as well as the working farm economy that would be completely displaced. I introduced him to the farmers I knew and other advocates of retaining some of the best agricultural land left in the Chicago area.

He didn't interrupt and I knew he completely understood.

Back in those early days, I was always impressed with some of the good people I met, especially those that understood what a folly the airport would be. 

Bill and I have remained Facebook friends through the years. We didn't interact often, but each time he commented on a post or wished me a Happy Birthday, I was reminded of how much he impressed me way back in those early days. 

I will never forget all he did to aid our cause. I wish I had known him better. I will always think fondly of him. 

I offer my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.  

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Sunday, December 4, 2022

CHQuilts: A new quilt top to close out the year

CHQuilts: A new quilt top to close out the year: I can't believe I finally finished this. While it is only a quilt top and remains a long way from becoming a completed quilt, I am to...

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

COVID-nobody is safe

"How the hell did you get COVID, you haven't been out of the house in 40 years?" was my son's reaction to my latest health news. I got a similar response from my daughter. These two know me too well.

While it is true, I seem to have a reputation as a home body, I'm not squirreled away in isolation, afraid to be with other people. I just happen to enjoy my solitude. Living in Arkansas among the trees and wildlife really suits me. It is a chosen lifestyle. I love it here. I always have. Going on 18 years in the Natural State, I am always thrilled to glance into the backyard to see the deer foraging on a honeysuckle bush, watch a frog dance in and out of our tiny pond next to the front porch, or check out one of the local stray cats I feed, scamper up a tree. 

It is easy to take these pleasures for granted. They really do define me. Home is where my heart is. And, I am happy here.

I admit that I haven't had much of a life outside of the home but that was also a choice based on a once-busy lifestyle. When I worked for a newspaper, I was rarely home. There were lots of people to interact with and I found myself going to many places I never would have gone to otherwise. I was always busy because I loved my job and was always ready to run out to cover a story at a moment's notice. I did that for 20 years. When we came here, I wanted a change. Yes, it was a financial struggle, but the peace of mind was so worth it. I came to love my own company, became a crazy cat woman, and relished my life in the woods.

My reclusive lifestyle, however, has run its course. I've recently made the decision to get out more. I felt it was time to open up my life again to new people, make new friends, and explore new possibilities. 

Maybe my timing is off, because three days after a weekend get together with friends, I started getting sick. Oh, the irony. I had been so diligent about protecting myself from COVID. I admit that I wasn't unhappy with the suggestion to stay at home. I did it anyway. But things have changed; the country is now open and seemingly doesn't take COVID very seriously anymore. I am still not around hoards of people and have gotten all my vaccines and boosters. Rarely is anyone seen with a mask these days. And I never even considered wearing a mask to a party with friends.

And then last Tuesday, I thought I had a cold or allergies. Those are big around here and the older I get the more susceptible I am to blooming of things. 

But the following day I realized this was not just a cold. More indescribable (because they are just gross) symptoms appeared. I took a test, and voila, it was positive. Frankly, I was not surprised. I knew this was not just a cold. That was a week ago and I am seeing improvement; there are moments when I feel great followed by explosive sneezing, non-productive coughing, and what I like to fondly call, liquid face where every orifice in my face leaks. (How gross is that?)

Because I am vaccinated, I suppose this could have been worse. I know it could because so many thousands of people have died from this virus. So many people still die from it. I'm grateful to not be one of them.

I'm not angry that I contracted this virus. What I am angry about is that it should not have gotten this bad. Had the inept, disgraced, twice impeached ex-president done his job, COVID would not have taken so much from so many. The virus replicated into so many different variants because we didn't stop it when we had the chance. I should not be sick right now because COVID should have been a thing of the past. But, with all the lies, innuendoes, and complete irresponsibility that has fueled this disease, if there is any blame to be assigned, Donald J. Trump is the man we must look to. 

Little is said these days about Trump's inept response to the initial COVID outbreak or the more than a million dead that has resulted. His lies about COVID have been diluted by so many more lies, cheats, and dastardly deeds.

With cold weather coming and predictions of more illness on the horizon, I guess I'll go back to my hibernation strategy. That's OK.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Beautiful Sally has an attitude

Sally is beautiful. She is feisty, has boundless energy, and when it is her idea, she can be so lovable. 

Trouble is, she has a bit of a mean streak too. I hope she outgrows it since she is only six months old. She bites and scratches, growls, and cries.

I'm not sure what lies behind her prima donna attitude, but I believe it is based on insecurity with a little fear mixed in. Bringing Sally into our lives has been an adjustment for us all. 

Her much older step-sisters Kenni and Kasey are unaccustomed to having another cat intrude into their domain. They haven't been very welcoming. 

Bonding with Sally hasn't been easy for my senior cats. Not only are they getting older, but in the last few years they have lost their two sisters Ryan and Boo as well as their mother Timi. And, they are now 15 years old, so the rest of us seniors, they be a little less tolerant than they once were. They have been used to it being just the five of them for so long. For all of their lives, they have interacted only with their litter mates and always had their mother around too to teach them right from wrong. If I remember right, they were all good kitties and although a tad mischievous, they never really were problematic. In fact, I think I've noted many times in the past, they are an absolute joy in my life. I raised them from the moment they were born and never saw the kind of aggression I've seen in them lately until started 'playing' with them. Sally was certainly the aggressor. She is even mean to me sometimes, the lady who doles out cat food, changes the litter box and openly adores them all. 

I had hoped the elders could be surrogate mothers to Sally, try to teach her the ropes, but that turned out not to be the case. When these three are together, it is like being in a jungle with lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!

Sally is here because she was dumped at a friend's house a few months ago when she was just a small kitten, I have no idea what her first days and weeks were like. Just the fact that she was unwanted and then abandoned is bad enough, but I have no idea if she was nurtured by her mother, father, or if she had siblings. Did she fend for herself without that maternal bonding? Was she dumped because of her mean streak? I've noticed that poor Sally does not knead like other cats. Some people call this behavior "making biscuits," but in our house we call it "dancing." Long ago my son Chris coined the phrase. In fact, I have only seen her dance once or twice. This behavior is often associated with a kitten nursing, and signifies comfort and pleasure. Did she lose her mother and have to be bottle fed? Sally is only now starting to exhibit contentedness. She does purr, when she curls up on my lap or a comfy quilt. I do think she is learning that she is loved, perhaps for the very first time.

Sally has the potential to be loving and gentle, but that is only when she is Dr. Jeckyl. It is when she becomes Mr. Hyde that it concerns me.

To be fair, all the kitties are going through struggles to find their way. I want to help any way I can, but none of them are innocent. Sally has been the aggressor; something the elders are not at all used to. But they are fighting back. The noises they make during this interaction is far worse than it sounds. Sally especially makes really scary noises, like she is being maimed. But there is never a wound nor blood anywhere to be seen. I suspect it is more like very hard playing. 

I am starting to see faint signs that this may just be a horrible phase, not unlike her teething. For example when Kasey, left, joins me in the evening as I watch TV or play word games on my phone. Sally will now jump into my lap too. They have even gone so far as to hold hands, or should I say I hold hands with both of them at the same time making their paws touch. Sometimes though Sally will reach out and touch Kasey's paw without my urging. Kenni, below, is taking a little longer, but she is starting to tolerate Sally. It is interesting to watch their behavior. It has become somewhat predictable and is often funny.

There is a positive in all this running around after each other. Kenni and Kasey are not just old fat cats anymore. The exercise they get, as they chase Sally through the house at warp speed is good for them. They have lost some weight and no longer spend the day like slugs as they did before.

I suspect Sally just wants to play, almost constantly, and with anything. Of course, these two are jealous of my affection for her. It is almost like they put up with my complete adoration of Ryan for their whole lives. Everybody, including them, knew Ryan was my favorite. While I and possibly them too, continue to grieve her loss, there seems to be some competition for my affection. No one will ever replace Ryan. I still miss her every day.

I hope Sally calms a bit in the next six months. As she grows the struggle will continue for Alpha Kitty title. Little do they know, I am the Alpha Kitty, but they will all get it one of these days. 

Not a day goes by that I don't laugh at Sally's antics. Nor does a day go by that we don't have a cat fight. Sally is still smaller and can weasel into tiny places the others can't get to. But as she gets bigger, I expect she will slow down a little. She has the potential to be a sweetheart. She just needs to shed her Mr. Hyde demeanor. I can wait, but for now, can't we all just get along?


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Votes are important and should not be bought. Instead, be an informed voter!

I can't wait to vote for a candidate--and I don't care what party he/she belongs to--I am looking for someone who needs to point out the complete insanity of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get elected to public office. 

Money should not be the incentive for public service. Holding public office is not a get rich scheme, or at least it shouldn't be.

Why do people have so little faith in government? 

Look at the obscene amount of money that is spent every election season. Look at the number of millionaires that make up the U.S. Congress. Money in politics is almost cartoonish! At least it would be if it wasn't so tragic. And, it harms us all! The first priority for public officials should be getting money out of our political process. We need more than lip service. We need reform!

Since I claim to be a lifelong Democrat based on policies, substance, and philosophy, I can assure you that it is not because I enjoy the countless emails, phone calls, and advertisements asking for money I don't have. It is infuriating that candidates require any more from me than my voice or my vote.

In these difficult days when corporations pay zero in taxes, the middle class is disappearing, people beg in the streets, and children go hungry, it is obscene to allow so much money to be wasted to win favor of potential voters. Do we really want to select leadership by awarding it to the highest bidder? The process to elect leaders who represent us in this Republic needs to be fair. Citizens United needs to be abolished.

We all need to pay our fair share in taxes because taxes support government services that are used by all. Taxes should not be favors for friends, family, and campaign donors. 

Nor should religious institutions be exempt from taxes beyond its normal charitable functions. Religious institutions have proven they cannot be trusted to keep their beliefs out of policy-making. That is not what our founding fathers intended as they proposed a strong separation between church and state. Corruption occurs when blurring that line. If churches want to be a business rather than a charity, they too should pay taxes. Simply advancing religion should not be a reason for tax exemption.

Health care should not bankrupt people. Perhaps some of those campaign billions could be diverted toward making health care affordable for everyone. People are living longer because of the advancements in medicine. That is good, but when so many seniors have to choose over their pharmaceuticals or food on the table, there is a big problem. 

Health care decisions should not be made by insurance companies.

Cannabis, a naturally-grown herb which has proven to have health benefits and been used by humans for eons should not be illegal. 

Women need to make their own medical care decisions. The idea that politicians decide what is best for women and their families is unthinkable.

Voting is the ONLY option we the people have to turn things around. It will not happen in one, two, or three election cycles, but we voters must be diligent. We have to do better. We have to be informed. It isn't enough to follow the loudest voices, especially in today's climate where lies are treated as truth for the gullible and easily swayed. 

We the people must all do our homework, at the local, state, and federal level. It is vitally important. We are electing people that affect every aspect of our lives. We must read and judiciously study the candidates. We must watch how incumbent politicians vote on all issues. We need to educate ourselves. With 24-hour news and access to every speech, every debate, every aspect of a candidate's record, we must ensure that we know who we are rewarding with our precious vote. Voting is our link to the democratic system. And it is vitally important.

Democracy will only work when we the people participate. We can only participate if we are informed. Change will come, but it has to come from us. We are the foundation of our democracy. The elected officials merely represent us. These people are not elite, regal, or royal. They are PUBLIC SERVANTS.

We need to elect leaders who will truly represent the peoples' interests and not their own. Money should have little to do with it. 

Change begins now. We must all be a part of it.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Just a reminder, if quilting is your thing...

Just a reminder that this site, CHMusings as I like to call it, is a testament to how much I love living in the Arkansas Ozarks.

But, it also contains a link to all the posts from my other blog, CHQuilts, one that is dedicated to my love of all things quilting. 

Feel free to follow my quilting journey, one that has spanned nearly 30 years, even though I still consider myself a newbie quilter. I continue to learn new techniques, challenge myself with nearly each project, and share what I've learned.

While CHMusings contains mostly generalized and even personal postings about my life in the Ozarks, it also contains links to CHQuilts. This is a blog within a blog, of sorts. 

Quilt-related posts can be accessed from clicking on the above tab - CHQuilts, There, I have provided the name, title, and short description of each post. 

CHQuilts  can also be accessed by any of the links herein. 

Typing into any browser will also take you there. 

So come on over and check out some of my latest quilting posts. Each contains a photo and story. Subscribe today to either or both blogs, so you don't miss a post. And don't forget to leave a comment.