Monday, October 10, 2022

Labyrinth: First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Nebraska

Location: First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass Street, Omaha, Nebraska

Date Visited: October 2, 2022

I visited this after attending the Great Plains Bluegrass Association gathering.  This is a simple labyrinth of bricks in the grass.  At first it was hard to see where the center was.  It's nice and shady with benches nearby.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Labyrinth: Trinity Lutheran Church, Mason City, Iowa

 Location: Trinity Lutheran Church, 213 North Pennsylvania Ave., Mason City, Iowa

Date visited: August 21, 2022

I stopped on my way home from the Southeast Minnesota Bluegrass Association Festival.  This labyrinth is in front of a church located in the heart of town.  It was quite different from most labyrinths, which are usually located in a green space.  Even though it was not as secluded and private, it's still a great labyrinth to walk.  A good size -- not too large, but large enough to make it worth a visit.  The stones are beautiful, and I like the symbol of the Trinity in the center.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Labyrinth: Houston Nature Center, Houston, Minnesota

Location: Houston Nature Center, 215 W. Plum Street, Houston, Minnesota

Date Visited: May 19, 2022

I visited this labyrinth while attending the Southeast Minnesota Bluegrass Association festival. The area around Houston, Minnesota, is picturesque and worth a visit. This labyrinth is rather small and is made of sand. It had rained the day before I visited, and so I ended up walking through water, but of course I had to walk the labyrinth. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Labyrinth: New Creation Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska

Location: 5620 South Coddington, Lincoln, Nebraska

Date Visited: March 20, 2022

This labyrinth is small, but it still a beautiful spot to visit. The adjoining prayer garden has been thoughtfully created by several gardeners and focuses on the Lord's Prayer.  A beautiful spot in rural Nebraska for contemplation.

Labyrinth: St. Benedict Center, Schuler, Nebraska

Location: 1126 Road I, Schuyler, NE

Date visited: February 27, 2022 (I had visited before, but this was when I took the photos.)

The St. Benedict Center is one of my favorite places. I enjoy walking around the pond and through the Stations of the Cross in the prairie. I have attended several retreats there.  I like this labyrinth because there is a bench in the center.

Labyrinth: The Art Park, Wichita Kansas

Location: 7230 East 29th St. North, Wichita, KS

Date Visited: February 20, 2022

I visited this labyrinth after attending a bluegrass festival in Wichita.  According to the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator, this was originally built by St. Alban's Episcopal Church. It's now part of the Art Park.  While I personally missed the spiritual emphasis, it's still a great labyrinth, and it demonstrates that labyrinths can be used for many purposes.  There were a lot of fun decorations around this labyrinth, and I enjoyed walking it.

Labyrinth: Christ Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kansas

 Location: 5356 North Hillside, Wichita, KS

More info

Date Visited: February 20, 2022

I visited this labyrinth on a beautiful February day after attending a bluegrass festival in Wichita.  I liked the spiritual emphasis of this labyrinth.

Labyrinth: Sheridan Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Nebraska

 Location: 6955 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln, Nebraska

Date visited: February 8, 2022  (for the first time)

Description: This is conveniently located and always open. I visit here regularly. Not only is the labyrinth nicely paved and easy to walk, the surrounding area is beautiful, with a pond, trail, benches, and stations of the cross.  A nice mini-retreat.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Here's Robert Frost's famous poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" translated into different languages in Google translate many times and finally back to English. It actually still sounds poetic, though the meaning is quite different: I think you know the jungle But his house is in the center of town He didn’t see me standing. The ice was covered I have to think Continue Between forest and water and snow It was the hottest night. And he cried Do you have a question? The only sound is the river Air and debris The forest is very beautiful, dark and .no. But I hope so So you want to get enough sleep Long before going to bed
If you want to have a good laugh, go to Google Translate. Type (or paste) something in English and translate it into any language. Then copy and paste that back into the translate box and use "Detect Language." Translate that into another language. Keep doing this as long as you can. Try to use a variety of types of languages. Finally, translate it back to English. Here is a bread recipe: In a large bowl, heat the mixture with 1/2 teaspoon of warm water. Hold the ball until it hits your face. Compare the other 3 layers with sugar, salt and sugar. Shake the dough. Whenever you do this, drink 1/2 cup of flour. They will open on the surface of the river. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden. Turn off the iron and turn it into a water bottle. Boil the coral in lukewarm water for 1-1 / 2-2 hours. Replace and replace without electricity. You have to clean your food. Lebanon is located on 9x5 Road. I ate for an hour and everyone was happy. Bake at 305 and 375 for 30-30 minutes until golden and warm marks are added, so that they are removed from the plastic cover.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

I belong to an email list called Idita-support, where we discuss the Iditarod and other sled dog races. Every year we do a Secret Santa gift exchange. It's become quite a tradition. Here are the gifts I got from Santa this year:

Misty enjoying her gourmet salmon entry

Moggle enjoying her kitty toy

A wonderful Alaska-themed purse that my Secret Santa made herself.

Some great deerskin that she bought from a Blackfoot Native American.
 I will enjoy making moccasins, hats, etc., out of this!

And a bumper sticker.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Don’t let October Pass

Don’t let October pass
Without crunching leaves beneath your feet,
Sipping spiced cider with flames before your face,
Or gripping a hayrack while goblins grab at you under a harvest moon.

There are harder days ahead:
Gray November mornings,
December busy frenzies,
Before the icy fingers of winter claw away any remaining joy.

So sing while you can,
Eat pumpkin spice everything,
Dress up like a zombie,
And cheer when your team makes a touchdown.

Take October’s gifts with open hands.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Viewing the International Space Station (ISS)

A few nights ago I was lying out on the parking lot behind my house, when a woman walked by.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, I’m just looking for the space station.”

“The what?”

“The International Space Station.  It should be coming by any minute now.”

“Oka-ay.  I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“Oh yes, I’m perfectly fine.  I do this all the time.”

Somehow I’m afraid she didn’t believe me.  I think she had visions of someone waiting for a space ship to come and beam them up for an alien encounter.

A couple of nights later I had three friends out there with me.  This time we had lawn chairs, bug spray and everything.  I kept hoping that same lady would walk by.  We could have come up with a great story!

It may seem crazy, but there’s just something about watching that bright speck speeding across the night sky.  It’s usually the brightest thing in the night sky, except for the moon (and those ubiquitous airplanes).  And I can’t resist the urge to wave at the astronauts in “outer space.”

Viewing the International Space Station (ISS) isn’t as mysterious or difficult as you might think.  All you need is a clear night and an unobstructed view of the sky.  You do not need to go out in the country.  I’ve seen the ISS from a brightly lit downtown parking lot. Of course it helps to know exactly when and where to look.

I use the site Heavens Above. It’s very important to enter your location at the website. If you do not put in your observing location, the website defaults to Greenwich, England.  Just click on Change your Observing Location, put in the correct spot, scroll to the bottom and make sure the time zone is correct, and then click Update. You can also register, so it keeps your location. I registered (it’s free), so I’m always logged in.

After you click Update, you should be back to the home page.  Click on ISS.  You will get a list of the upcoming visible passes. Sometimes there aren’t any upcoming visible passes in your area.  Other times there will be several a day.  Click on the date to see all the information.

The map may seem a little strange, but keep in mind that it's meant to be observed lying down and holding it above you.  If you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense.

Pay special attention to the Brightness.  The LOWER the number, the brighter it will be.  I prefer to watch when it is below zero. 

Lie down about five minutes before the start time to allow your eyes to get used to the dark.  Then fix your gaze on the area of the sky indicated.  The ISS always travels from west to east, but sometimes it is directly overhead, while other times it will be closer to the horizon.  You will probably not see the ISS rise above the horizon.  Rather it will gradually become visible during the pass.  Look for a very bright star moving across the sky.  It’s always exciting the first time you see it.

Another website that is helpful is Spot the Station. Run by NASA, this site also gives viewing times, and you can even sign up to get emails whenever the ISS is visible in your area.  However, I find that it isn’t as reliable as Heavens Above.

Nope, there will not be any alien abductions, but it’s still fun to spot an actual spaceship!

Happy sky gazing!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The New Scrabble Word (or how a snarky Facebook comment got me 15 minutes of fame)

I usually try to keep things positive and light-hearted on Facebook.  No heavy drama, no put-downs, and definitely no arguments. But once in a while something sets me off, and I have to respond. Such was the case when the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page announced a “Face off” for fans to choose a new word to be added to the official Scrabble Players dictionary, which is the ultimate authority on allowable words in Scrabble.

They had narrowed it down to 16 words, and the fans would vote off until there was only one word left.  There were some interesting words on the list, but most avid Scrabble players agreed that the contest would end up as a face-off between the words EW and ZEN.  These are two words that Scrabble players want to use all the time.  Two-letter words like EW are priceless for connecting two words.  And ZEN is a great way to use that Z.  I was cheering for EW.

But something strange was happening.  The word GEOCACHE kept winning the face-offs.  When it won against BITCOIN, I wasn’t too surprised, but when it won against COSPLAY, I was confused.  COSPLAY would be a great word to use in Scrabble because it has an S that can join on to many other words, and because it has 6 letters.  GEOCACHE? No Scrabble player would vote for an 8-letter word with two C’s.  When would we ever use such a word?

Then GEOCACHE went up against EW.  Surely EW would win.  It was a much more logical choice.  But when people started furiously voting for GEOCACHE, I grew suspicious.  So I did a little sleuthing, and I discovered a message on the forum urging people to visit the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page and vote for geocache to win the contest.  It turns out there were Twitter messages on it too.

I was livid.  Here Scrabble fans had an opportunity to choose a new word for the official dictionary, and this opportunity was being hijacked by some geocachers who just wanted to spread awareness of their hobby.
Now I’ve done geocaching, and I agree that it’s a great hobby. I’m all for spreading the word about great activities or things you love.  But it’s not acceptable to spread the word about your hobby by messing things up for another hobby that people love.

So I went against my “no drama” policy and started complaining. I posted the link to the forum post and requested that they disqualify the word GEOCACHE. I went onto the geocaching forum and pleaded with cachers to “stop spamming the contest.”

But GEOCACHE won that round and went up against ZEN for the final.  The final?  Seriously?  How could such a ridiculous word win the contest?  It became obvious that people were voting for GEOCACHE just to get out the word about their hobby.  But they tried to give reasons for voting for the word, such as “Think of all the words you can add to it.”  I responded with comments like, “I don’t think you actually play Scrabble.”

But GEOCACHE won the contest.  The Facebook page announced it by saying. “You voted for it. Don't blame us if your opponent beats you with it.” I responded with: “Too bad that this contest was taken over by people with an agenda other than playing Scrabble. Hopefully there will be other revisions that make more sense.”

And then it happened:  I got Facebook hate comments: “That is the stupidest comment I read on here,” and “Are you really that naive to think that people have never asked people to vote a certain way before? If so, step away from the Scrabble board and go see the real world.”

At first I was upset.  I want everyone to like me.  And here were people—albeit total strangers who didn’t have a clue—who were calling me stupid and na├»ve and saying I wasn’t aware of the real world.  But after a bit, I was amused.  Anyone who knows me realizes that those comments are far off from reality. And there is a sort of badge of honor to getting an insult on Facebook.

But it was my last comment that got me my fame: “And no opponent is going to beat me with it because I can probably count on one hand the times someone played an 8-letter word. Most bingos are 7-letter words that are connected to other words with an S or by a two-letter joiner (such as EW).”
I was looking for news articles about the new word (Yep, I was a bit obsessed) and came across this article on the Time magazine page.  And there it was:
In fact, some might say it will be easier to find “caches” than to find a place to put down “geocache” on the Scrabble board because it’s an eight-letter word. On the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page, players are complaining in the comments section, arguing “Most bingos are 7-letter words that are connected to other words with an S or by a two-letter joiner (such as EW)” and “When will we ever need to use that one- always try to use ZEN and EW- many more opportunities for that to happen.”
Ha – I was quoted in Time magazine, but they didn’t even use my name.

And in case you’re wondering, my ire has died down.  (Yes, I have played IRE in Scrabble.) I realized that this contest was not really about adding a word, but about getting publicity for Scrabble, for the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page, and—in the end—for geocaching.  And it achieved that purpose.  Also, what most people don’t realize is that many, many more words will be added to the new edition of the official Scrabble dictionary, scheduled to be published this fall.  I’m hoping those responsible for the decisions will do the right thing and add EW and ZEN.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recycled Art and a fun library in Beatrice, Nebraska

On Sunday, I went with my friend, J. Pario of Painting on the Ceiling to see the recycled art exhibit that featured some of her work.  I love the idea of recycled art.   I love this tree mosaic she made out of pieces she had cut from Christmas cards and other pieces.

Here's the artist herself, with some of her work:

I like the idea of working with fused plastic

And then there is plarn.  I don't think I'll ever have the patience for that, but it certainly is interesting:

The show was held in a library, which was quite large for a small-town library.  I found a quiet spot to read:

Yes, that IS a bathtub!