More Beautiful Than Ever

Posted in Current Events on September 16th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

My husband was in bed last night waiting for me to come up because I was putting some finishing touches on my daughter’s school fundraiser and picture forms when we both heard a bunch of sirens.  We live pretty close to the fire station, so we didn’t think much of it, even if it was odd that they were allowing them to wail so loudly just before midnight.  This morning a friend emailed me with the bad news, and I went to  the local newspaper’s website to see the details: our beloved community park, Imagination Station, burnt last night.

We still don’t know how it happened, but it’s obvious that this was not a natural cause – it was not lightning, and there is no electricity capable of sparking such a blaze at the park.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the work of people, and whether it was intentional or an accident remains to be seen.  At least no one was hurt physically in the blaze.  But many in the community are emotionally distraught, for Imagination Station was a wonderful park where citizens from throughout the area would spend warm summer nights, cool autumn evenings, and many a Saturday afternoon with their families and friends.  Funded by private donations and built by the hands of thousands of volunteers in 1994, it was a source of community pride.  Everyone came together to create Imagination Station; kids volunteered their cool playground ideas, while adults physically built the play equipment and still others provided thousands of meals for the builders.  The community worked together day and night, rain and shine for 6 days until it was finished.  The final product was amazing, impressing locals and out of town visitors alike.  And now much of it is gone.

Many people came out tonight to walk past the charred ruins.  In a way, it was like paying one’s respects, and many people stared at the blackened splinters in stunned silence.  There were whispers, “Who would do such a thing?” and “How did this happen?”, and one woman walked by slowly, saying quietly, “We will build it again.  And it will be more beautiful than ever.”  I believe her to be right.  People came together in 1994 and built an amazing park, and people will come together again to replace the one we lost yesterday.

“The Greeks built an Acropolis – And Noah built an Ark
The Russians built a Sputnik  But Bryan built a Park”
(Bryan Times, 1957)

**UPDATE**

There was an update in today’s (9/17/10) newspaper saying that tons of people have stepped forward and created a volunteer organization to rebuild.  It was insured, and Spangler Candy Company has stepped forward to cover any costs not paid for by insurance.  There is a Facebook page dedicated to the rebuilding of Imagination Station where people can share their memories of the park or volunteer for the rebuilding.
Unfortunately the fire investigation and the insurance company’s investigation will both take awhile, and nothing can be done until they are finished.  They hope to have the playground replaced by Spring, but that is still a long time, especially for those of us with kids.  Sure there are other parks in town, but Imagination Station was the favorite.   🙁  The little town made the big Toledo news though, they had a nice story:

Farm Adventures – Part 2

Posted in Everyday Life on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

One thing I forgot to touch on in my previous post is the danger of corn mazes.  Maybe I’m just a paranoid person – well, that I already know – but I was wondering how come there’s never been a major disaster at a corn maze?  I mean, what if the thing goes up in flames?  It’s a concern I was able to stash in the back of my mind during our visit Friday night; mostly because the particular maze we visited seemed safe.  They have a watch tower in the middle of it along with various emergency exits and “corn cops” to help guide you out should an emergency occur.  But the first corn maze we visited a few years ago had none of these precautions, and I couldn’t help but let my mind wander, exploring various disasterous scenarios in my head.  “Maybe they’re not very flammable.” my husband said about corn mazes, but that theory was dispelled the other night when we saw all the signs warning about how flammable the corn maze was.  Well, anyway, nothing horrible happened, thank goodness, and I’ve never heard of disaster befalling a corn maze, so until something happens, we’ll be able to enjoy the pastime of corn mazing for years to come.

So onto the rest of the weekend…  Saturday was the day of our town’s Fall Fest, so we walked the kids up to the town square, enjoyed the ambience and picnicked for lunch.  We ran into a few friends, and came home with an extra kid who spent the afternoon with us when we visited a local alpaca farm.  Here are the kids enjoying the bouncy castle at the fall fest with their friend.

Before the alpaca farm, we visited another local farm where they have an annual Halloween display – it’s really neat.  They go all out for Halloween, and they even made a little train for the kids to ride that’s pulled by a tractor.  Every family that visits gets little Halloween toys, home-grown apples, and a plate of cookies to take home – and it’s all free; done by nice people who just want to share Halloween with their visitors.  Last year we asked about donating money so they can continue their yearly traditions, but they said their insurance company said they can’t except cash but baking supplies and Halloween props would be appreciated.  My parents visited with us last year and enjoyed the Halloween farm so much that they gave me some baking supplies to donate, so Saturday while we were out that way in the country, we dropped them off.  Of course, they wouldn’t let us drop stuff off without taking home a plate of homemade cookies…  these are the nicest people.  Their home is sparsely furnished – yes, they invite everyone in for a visit – which leads one to think that if they have extra money, it’s spent on baking supplies and Halloween stuff.  Also, the woman is in a wheelchair, but none of that stops them from putting up this elaborate Halloween display every year and baking hundreds of cookies to give away.  When we went to their place for the first time a few years ago, we had just moved here from Chicago, and I’m embarrassed to admit that we were confused.  In the suburban Chicago area, there just aren’t many nice people doing things soley for the enjoyment of others, especially at their own expense.  People like that are few and far between and in an area that’s so over-populated, you’re lucky if you run into anyone like that.

Wow, I find myself having to recover from yet another tangent!  So anyway, after the Fall Fest downtown we went to the alpaca farm.  Saturday was National Alpaca Farm Day, meaning that any alpaca farm who wanted to participate had an open house on their farm for people to visit and learn about these animals.  Not only are they cute, but they are profitable as well.  Their fur sells for $12/oz, and one alpaca can yield 140 – 160 oz per year!  And it’s a method of farming that I approve of since it doesn’t injure nor kill the animal.  This farm had a 3-week-old baby alpaca (top picture below), and another one due any day, which is also fascinating because the expecting alpaca didn’t even look pregnant.  The farm also had a wild mustang that they had just rescued from Wyoming (bottom picture below).  Apparently the wild mustangs out there are running out of pasture and food, so people are bringing them to farms so they don’t starve.  This gorgeous animal had never touched a human being until a few weeks ago, and his first contact with humans was them putting him into a trailer and driving him across the country – that must have been frightening for him.  But you couldn’t tell by looking at him.  He was so well-adjusted and was coming up to all the people who were visiting.  They said he had gained lots of weight since he had arrived on the farm also, so that’s great.

 

There is just something about being on a farm that makes me feel peaceful.  The rolling countryside is beautiful, and I don’t even mind the stench of farm animals.  I would love to have a farm some day, providing we had enough money to pay a staff to maintain it.  They are lots of work I know, and I don’t know the first thing about running a farm.  But someday I think I’d like to try, and if that’s a route we explore in the future, alpacas will definitely be part of the venture!

 

MiRRors

Posted in Movies on August 21st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hmm, I couldn’t figure out how to make one of the R’s in Mirrors backward like they do for the movie title, but anyway, we saw the movie Mirrors with Keifer Sutherland yesterday.  It was between Mirrors, Tropic Thunder, and The Rocker.  We eliminated The Rocker from the selection because it didn’t look or sound very good, and the only reason we were interested in seeing it is because it stars Rainn Wilson, none other than the hilarious character Dwight Shrute on our favorite show, The Office.  We ended up going with Mirrors over Tropic Thunder because we were at the nice theater, and we figured a horror movie would give us more bang for our buck so to speak – take advantage of the larger screen and the nicer sound.

Mirrors is kind of lengthy for a horror film; it runs about 2 hours.  It didn’t drag for me at all, well, maybe a little, but only because baby Christopher decided to poopie during the movie and he needed his diaper changed.  So I was like, when is this going to be over so I can change him because I don’t want to miss the movie.  It was a cool premise: Keifer Sutherland plays an NYPD cop who accidently shot and killed another cop, so he still has some psychological bruises and can no longer be a cop.  He gets a job as a security guard at an abandoned department store that had had a fire and burned – right up my alley; I really like abandoned buildings, defunct amusement parks, etc.  The department store was cool looking, and throughout the movie, there were lots of shots of the outside as well as the inside.  I kept wondering if it was an actual building they used for filming or rather a specially built facade…  But anyway, the department store is haunted and the haunting ghoul uses mirrors to do its haunting and murdering.  There is actually more to the plot, but I don’t want to risk spilling any spoilers because it was a decent horror movie and worth seeing.  We were alone in the theater, and when my husband left to go to the bathroom, I was pretty creeped out, so I’d say it was spookily successful.  Before we saw the movie, I had read that the director, Alexandre Aja, is one of a group of directors a horror movie magazine called, “The Splat Pack” for their affinity for blood and gore.  The movie was not without blood and gore, but it was not over-used; something that gets on my nerves with many modern horror films – see #’s 1,2, and 5 on my movie stinker list – (The Devil’s Rejects, Doomsday, and The Fun Park) – all terrible movies showcasing the over-usage of gore.

If you like horror movies, Mirrors is worth a try.  We liked it and were entertained, despite it having a few obvious plot holes…  but then again, what horror movie doesn’t have plot holes?