Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wandering With The Willoughbys, Country Style

Mr. Willoughby and I had an opportunity to do some wandering on Wednesday afternoon while the kids were in school. We started out by heading to the nearby town of Romeo. There are some great stores, cafes and restaurants in the older, quaint downtown area.  There is a newer section of town with chain stores and fast food restaurants a few miles up the road, but we didn't go there.

You may not have heard of Romeo, but I'll bet you've heard of one it's more famous citizens, Bob Richie. No? Maybe you know him by his stage name, Kid Rock. I'll bet you thought he was from Detroit. Nope, he's a country boy from this charming little town.

Courtesy Google Images
We didn't see Bob, I mean Kid Rock, while we were wandering and window shopping, but I did snap some pictures of some other sights.

 The red brick of the church against the brilliant blue sky is striking, isn't it?

 I'm not sure if this is still a hardware store, but I love the old sign painted directly on the brick.

 This time capsule is buried in a small community park.  It is scheduled to be opened in 2060.

 If they had been open, we might have been tempted to stop in for some ice cream.

 I wonder if Bob eats here when he comes back home?  We didn't go in, but it sure
did smell delicious when we walked by!

 This Thai restaurant is so new that it isn't even open yet. 
The owner is a friend of Mr. Willoughby's
so I'm sure we'll be back.  

 If you're thinking of visiting, you can fly right into Romeo.  It's one of the smallest airports I've ever seen.  Remember the airport on the show Wings?  Romeo airport is even smaller.  I would have taken
a picture of the terminal, but it's a half mile down the road, past the
hangers and runways.

After we left Romeo, we took the back roads home, where there are dozens of farms.  I never get tired of looking at barns.  

 I'm not sure that this old barn would still be standing if it weren't for all the trees growing in, around and through it.  I think they are actually holding it up.

 I wonder what they grow at this farm?  They have several huge barns and lots of silos. 
As you can see, the field has already been cut down.

 I don't know what this is called, but they were filling it when we drove by.  I think that's corn 
inside it. 

This road leads back into the town we live in.  I snapped this picture because I was amazed at the
cloud formations.  It reminds me of ocean waves crashing into the shore.

If only we were having a party....

Growing up in the suburbs, I never ran across a sign for deer processing. 
Around here there seems to be one on every corner.

Back at home, we did a little wandering through the yard.  We were surprised to find
this cayenne pepper still growing.

When the wind blows, the leaves on this sumac look almost like flames.

Another little pop of color.  This spiderwort is still blooming among the fall leaves.

After the kids got home from school, the sky started to get dark.  We had to hurry out to get
our pumpkins for Halloween. 

We ended up at a roadside stand where pumpkins were $3.00 each.  Our daughter put
the money in the "honor box". 

Our wandering nearly complete, we came across this place.  Against the gray sky and the bare tree it looks a little like a scary, haunted house, doesn't it?  
It isn't, it's just......


Monday, October 25, 2010

Open Your Wallet And Say "Apple"

It's no secret that fall is not my favorite season, but from time to time I do find something to make it a little more appealing to me.  The activity of choice for this past weekend was a trip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch.  I thought we would all enjoy the hayride through the orchard and have fun picking a bushel of apples.  If the pumpkins were nice, we might pick a few of them, too.  Afterward we could each get a hot donut (or doughnut, if you prefer) and a glass of freshly pressed cider.

We haven't been apple picking in years, so I wasn't sure where we should go.  We live on the outskirts of an area literally bursting with apple orchards which means there are quite a few to choose from.  They all have Halloween related attractions right now and I thought wandering our way through a corn maze sounded like fun, so I set out to find an orchard that had one.

Google seemed like the best place to start, so I searched for you-pick (or u-pick) apple orchards near the town we live in.  I got a list of nearly a dozen orchards in the area, some of which had websites.  Nearly all of them also had reviews.  Everything I needed to choose the perfect orchard was right at my fingertips.  Sort of.

The first thing I noticed is that none of the websites list prices for anything.  Would a bushel of apples cost $20, $40 or $100?  Was there a fee for the corn maze?  How much are the pumpkins?  It's more about the fun than the money, but I like to know these things before we head out.

Next, I moved on to the reviews.  I know you have to take the opinions of strangers with a grain of salt, but it's still nice to hear what others have to say.  One of the first reviews I read said that a particular orchard had an eleven dollar admission fee.  What did the reviewer get for his eleven dollars?  Nothing.  That is the fee, per person, just to enter.  Each attraction has an additional fee; the petting zoo, the corn maze, the haunted house, the children's play area and even the ride out to the orchard and pumpkin patch.  There were five people in our group, so it would have cost us $55 just to say hello.  I don't think so.

I kept reading reviews and finding that same story at other orchards.  The admission fee differed from place to place, but every orchard in the area was charging one.  The price of everything else seemed to be highly inflated, too.  More than one place was charging $9 per gallon of cider.  And a dozen donuts?  Twenty dollars and up.  If you still had the room (and the money) for a caramel apple you could expect to shell out another $6.  Oh, and you wouldn't want to forget to bring something to hold the apples you pick.  If you needed a bag or box, there's an additional charge.  It's no wonder that one reviewer said she felt so nickled and dimed that it put a damper on the fun she and her family had.

I didn't have to spend much time deciding which orchard we were going to visit on Saturday afternoon.  We weren't going to go at all.  I don't mind paying for a good time, but this is out of control.  We could easily have dropped over a hundred dollars at any of the orchards and that wasn't even including the cost of the apples or pumpkins.  What should have been a simple, fun afternoon would have been more expensive than some amusement parks.

When I was a kid, we went to the same place to pick apples every year.  The hayride out to the orchard was complimentary, there was no additional fee.  The only things you paid for were the food and drinks you consumed and the apples and pumpkins you took home.  There was no petting zoo or pony rides (I'm not a fan of either, by the way, I feel sorry for the poor animals) and the corn maze was free (when they had one).   Times sure have changed.

Just what I needed, another reason to dislike fall.   


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Think My Last Post Was Curious...Let's Discuss Men And Women

The curious behavior I mentioned in my last post was not gender specific, but I do think the behavioral differences between men and women are pretty interesting.  Let's examine the following scenarios, shall we? 

Scenario Number 1 - You and your spouse are at a party and you're sitting at a table with several couples you've just met.  Someone mentions children and the topic of conversation turns to labor and delivery. 
Most women will:

a) sit and listen quietly because they don't want to share such intimate details with perfect strangers
b) give a detailed account of every second of their childbirth experience in verbal technicolor

Most men will:

a) contribute to the conversation
b) jump up and run away from the table as if their pants were on fire
Scenario Number Two - You and you're spouse see a classic 1967 Mustang Fastback.
Most women will:

a) know the make, model and year of the car
b) comment on what a pretty color it is

Most men will:

a) comment on what a pretty color it is
b) wonder aloud if the engine is a 351 Cleveland because they didn't have a Cobra Jet until the early 70's, if it's numbers match and if it's totally stock
Scenario Number Three - You and your spouse are shopping for new jeans.
Most women will:

a) grab the first pair off the rack, hope they fit, pay and get out of the store
b) try on 18 pairs, ask if they make her look fat, swear to start a new diet and exercise program and eventually leave the store with new boots and no jeans

Most men will:

a) try on 18 pairs, ask if they make him look fat, swear to start a new diet and exercise program and eventually leave the store with new boots and no jeans
b) grab the first pair off the rack, hope they fit, pay and get out of the store
Scenario Number Four - You and your spouse have decided to paint the living room.  You've decided that it should be a neutral color.  At the store, you narrow down you choices to Beguiling Beige, Caribbean Sand and Rustic Taupe.
Most women will:

a) make a quick decision
b) spend an hour comparing the colors, noting their subtle differences, decide against all of them, go back to the paint samples to look for more choices, consider them for another hour, eventually leave with Caribbean Sand and then spend the ride home talking about how Rustic Taupe would probably have been a better choice.

Most men will:

a) say "Just pick one so we can get the Hell out of here."
b) there is no b.  Most men will say "Just pick one so we can the Hell out of here."
Scenario Number Five - You and your spouse are asked to define the word period.
Most women will:

a) define it as something that women beyond the age of puberty experience once a month
b) define it as a royal pain in the butt and tell you how lucky you are to be a man

Most men will:

a) say "You better be talking about punctuation!"
b) assume you're not talking about punctuation and run from the room as if their pants were on fire

 How did you score?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Curious Behavior

We're a strange lot, aren't we?  Human beings, I mean.  Why do we do some of the things that we do? 

We feel the need to share unpleasant smells.  Let's say I'm making chicken for dinner.  If I open the package and it smells bad, you can be pretty sure I'm going to ask my husband for his opinion.  "Honey, the chicken smells rancid, can you come here and give it a whiff?"  I have no idea why I do that, I have a perfectly reliable sense of smell.  But I'll bet you do it, too.

We feel the need to share unpleasant foods/drinks.  Let's say I've poured myself a glass of milk.  If I take a drink and it tastes bad, you can be pretty sure I'm going to ask my husband to try it, too.  "Honey, I think the milk is spoiled.  Here, take a drink and tell me if it tastes funny to you."  I have no idea why I do that, but I'll bet you do it, too.

We confirm that something hurts, repeatedly.  Let's say I wake up with a stiff neck and every time I turn my head to the left it hurts.  I know this, and yet I'll turn my head to the left at least once or twice an hour to confirm that it's still painful.   If there is someone around to demonstrate this to, I will.  "See, it hurts every time I turn my head like this." I have no idea why I do that, but I'll bet you do it, too.

We get verbal with inanimate objects.  Let's say I'm writing my blog when my computer screen freezes.  You think I'm just going to sit there and wait patiently?  Not likely!  I may start with gentle cajoling, but it will likely escalate to me slinging blatant insults at the screen.   "You stupid piece of #%$, why can't you work the way you're supposed to!!"   I have no idea why I do that, but I'll bet you do it, too.

We offer disclaimers before we do something we shouldn't do.  Let's say I'm making toast when a piece of bread gets stuck in the toaster.  I know I should unplug it before rooting around in the slot with a fork, but maybe I'm lazy that day.  I stick the fork into the toaster while saying "I know I shouldn't do this, but.."   I have no idea why I do that, but I'll bet you do it, too.

I can't explain any of it, but it's definitely curious behavior.  I wonder about it a lot.  I have no idea why I do that, but I'll bet, it's probably just me.


Monday, October 11, 2010


Purple is my favorite color, is it yours?  Maybe you prefer blue or yellow or orange.  I can understand why you might like most colors, but, I will admit, there is a particular shade of green that I'm not fond of.  If it happens to be your favorite color, we can agree to disagree and talk about something else.  I think we can still be friends even if we don't agree on which color is best, don't you?

Favorite color is a fairly superficial topic of conversation, but the point is, you're entitled to your opinion.  I don't think anyone should ridicule you or think less of you because they don't agree with your choice.  It's a matter of tolerance, something that we seem to be sorely lacking, of late.

I read something over the weekend that made me incredibly angry and incredibly sad.  According to this article, there have been four teenage suicides at an Ohio high school, all of which were directly or indirectly the result of bullying.  Each case involved different bullies, but the underlying cause was the same, intolerance.
MENTOR, Ohio (Oct. 8) -- Sladjana Vidovic's body lay in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had planned to wear to the prom. Days earlier, she had tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around a bed post before jumping out her bedroom window.

The 16-year-old's last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like "Slutty Jana" and threw food at her.

Suzana Vidovic found her sister's body hanging over the front lawn. The family watched, she said, as the girls who had tormented Sladjana for months walked up to the casket - and laughed.

"They were laughing at the way she looked," Suzana says, crying. "Even though she died."
Unthinkable, isn't it, that someone could be so intolerant of another human being that they would torment them until they took their own life.  And laugh about it.  It's not just teenagers, either.  Take a look at this item from a local news website:
TRENTON, Mich. - Her family says 7-year-old Kathleen Edward is in the final stages of a degenerative brain disorder diagnosed as Huntington's Disease - the same disease which killed her mother, Laura, when she was only 24.

Neighbors Jennifer and Scott Petkov, who have been feuding with the family, admitted to posting grim depictions of Laura and Kathleen on Facebook. One photo depicts Laura in the arms of the grim reaper, while the other features Kathleen's face above a set of crossbones.

The couple also have a coffin hitched to a pick-up truck in front of the house, which they say is nothing more than a halloween decoration.
There are less extreme examples that are still ugly.  In the comment section following an article on the economy, I was shocked at the name calling.  The terms "Democrap" and "Republican't" were rampant.  It seems that political bashing has become a pop culture sport.  Celebrities on one side are constantly bashing the President while those on the other side are constantly bashing anyone who doesn't support him.  You may think it has nothing to do with teenagers who bully or adults who torment critically ill children, but I think it does because it breeds intolerance.

If I were trying to solve a big problem and was instructed to choose a group of people to work on the solution with me, I would intentionally chose individuals with different points of view to encourage debate.  If we all posed the same idea, we would simply talk in circles and never make any progress.  Sometimes it's good to hear something you don't agree with.  It can inspire you to stick to your guns or motivate you to embrace a new ideology.                 

Don't get me wrong, I think you should stand by your beliefs and convictions.  You should think you're right or why have an opinion in the first place?  It's the unwillingness to tolerate anyone who doesn't agree with you that upsets me.  It's one thing to be passionate about something you believe in, but it's pompous and superior to think you're always right and anyone who doesn't agree with you is always wrong.  We can't all be right all the time, but we can all be tolerant of one another.




Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rethinking Summer Friendships And Why Buttered Bagels Are So Funny

This summer, we made some new friends.  Their company was pleasant, so we extended an open invitation for them to stop by anytime.  We looked forward to their visits and didn't mind when it became a daily ritual.  They always seemed to show up hungry, so we made sure to keep plenty of their favorite foods in the house.  We wanted to be good hosts.

For a while, it was a harmonious relationship and we were all benefiting from it in one way or another.  Still, though, by the end of summer I was beginning to think that they didn't really respect us.  I wasn't initially put off by their sloppiness, but at some point it became an issue.  Wherever they went, a mess seemed to follow.  They never made any effort to pick up after themselves.

They have never invited us to their home and they never bring anything to share when they come to ours.  It's become obvious that all they really want is a free meal and that they're not looking for any sort of meaningful friendship, but I still felt the need to serve something the last time they stopped by.  In their usual style, they ate and left.

I found out that they've been making themselves at home when we're not around.  And not only have they been coming by for a meal, they've been practically living just outside our back door.  Apparently, they were looking for someplace to hang out during the rain storm last weekend, so they decided our back porch was just the place to do it.  They did more than just relax on our furniture, they tore the grapevine wreath apart and used the couch cushions and the floor as their own personal bathroom.  It was a disgusting mess that required a massive clean up.

I still have fond memories of the lovely warm summer afternoons we spent together, but I'm not sure whether I want them back in my life after what they did.  One thing is for certain, if they are no longer welcome at our house, they'll find someone else to take advantage of.  While I'm not usually in favor of using my blog to settle personal differences, I felt I needed to show you what they look like so you'll know what you're in for should they show up at your house.

Sure, he looks harmless, but he has no respect for your outdoor furniture.

He'll spill his food all over the ground and never offer to clean it up.
They're fun to watch and listen to, but I'm not sure that's enough to make cleaning bird droppings off upholstered furniture worthwhile.  Will we continue to fill the bird feeders?  Maybe.  I'm still waiting for them to apologize.

Why Buttered Bagels Are So Funny

My daughter is a lot like me.  She finds words endlessly fascinating.  She's always asking me how different things got their names or how languages developed.  We often wonder what the first spoken word was and who it was spoken by.

Sometimes, just for fun, we like to take a common word or phrase and change it.  Recently, we focused on body parts.  We couldn't decide why fingers and toes, being similar appendages, had such different names.   Were they both named at the same time?  Did one person decide on their names or was it a group effort?  How strange would it be if they were renamed and what would they be called?  We considered quite a few options and came up with foot fingers.  Imagine, if you will, how it would sound to use foot fingers in place of the word toes

"Ow!  I just stubbed my foot finger on the coffee table."

"Are you sure those shoes fit?  It doesn't look like there is enough room for your big foot finger."

"I have a hole in my sock.  My foot finger is sticking out."

From there, we moved on to the word butt (my daughter is 10, butts are funny when you're 10).  This time, instead of just changing the word, we decided to swap it with another word beginning with the same letter.  Our number one choice was bagel.  So the idea is, bagels would now be called butts and your butt would now be known as your bagel.  Got it?  It could sound a little something like this:

"I'm putting butts in the toaster.  Would anyone like cream cheese on their butt?"

"I don't like my butt toasted.  I prefer eating my butt cold."
"I slipped on the stairs and fell right on my bagel."

"Do these jeans make my bagel look big?"

And that is why buttered bagels (translation: buttered butts) are so funny.  At least to us they are.  If we make any more changes to the English language, I will be sure to let you know.  Just trying to keep you on your foot fingers!


~Photos courtesy of



Monday, October 4, 2010

Vincent D'Onofrio Doesn't Need To Pierce His Eyebrow!

My son wants to pierce some portion of his face/ears.  One day he wants a pierced ear, another day he'll talk about piercing his nose or his lip.  He hasn't wanted to pierce his eyebrow......yet.  I've said no to all requests.  Not because I have anything against piercings (I don't), but because, well, he's my son and I don't want any unnecessary holes in him.  I've spent the last 17 years trying to keep him in one piece.

Here's how I rationalized it.  I told him that women wear makeup and jewelry to adorn their faces.  Men don't need these things, I said, because they have facial hair and can change their look by growing and or shaving beards, sideburns and mustaches (as illustrated by Vincent D'Onofrio, below).

Photos courtesy of Google Images

My son wearing facial jewelry, therefore, would be the same as his sister wearing a fake beard or mustache.  He didn't buy it.  Not for a second.  But he did want to know if I would object to his sister wearing faux facial hair if it became popular (as illustrated by my daughter, below).

Before I answer that, let's take a minute to think about facial hair becoming a female fashion trend.  Would there be shops specializing in facial hair for women?  Would some women take more permanent measures and get beard implants?  Is that even possible?  If you overheard two men debating "Are those real?" while looking at a woman, they could be talking about her sideburns!

So back to the question, would I object to my daughter wearing a chin toupee if the became the rage?  I'll get back to you if that happens.   I hope I haven't started a new trend.....