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Ordinary Adventures Blog

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About this blog

Living the simple life

Entries in this blog

 

Reflecting, Chapter Two

Chapter Two When I was very young, I was fascinated by the strange, archaic cultures depicted in National Geographic magazine. Wow. Halfway around the world there were primitive people living in the jungle! and Amazon tribes living in longhouses alongside that great, majestic river! One photo in particular has stayed with me over the years: a proud tribal warrior with a painted face, his teeth carved like shark’s teeth, looking fierce and exotic. Halfway through my tooth procedure the

simplybill

simplybill

 

A Time for Reflecting

While social-distancing, with lots of time and few distractions, we have an opportunity for self-reflection, and for remembering those moments that changed how we see ourselves. I’ve been remembering the time I got my tooth fixed.  It was early 1989, I’d just gotten a training date from Continental Airlines, and I decided that it was time to do something about my front tooth that pointed forward instead of down. I wasn’t particularly embarrassed about my tooth, but I thought it might b

simplybill

simplybill

 

A different kind of war

A word of encouragement as we distance ourselves from one another: I recently watched  ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘Dunkirk’, two movies that are inspirational to me. It struck me how this viral war that we’re in today is different than the World Wars: we’re unable to comfort our friends and neighbors, as did the people of London while huddled together in bomb shelters. We have no symbols of unity and strength like Rosie the Riveter, and no classrooms where children can stand together to recite the

simplybill

simplybill

 

Walking

There’s an old saying attributed to the Navy Seals:   “When you think you’ve reached your limit, you’re really only at 40%.” Well, today I proved it to be true. I set a new personal record for walking: 18 miles!  I drove to the nearby state park, intending to walk 11 miles to reach my weekly goal of 25-miles-per-week, but a Forrest Gump-like feeling came over me and I just kept walking.  My previous record was 15 miles on the Withlacoochee State Trail near Floral City, Florida o

simplybill

simplybill

 

Training companion

I woke up this morning with a dry cough: the Number One Symptom of the latest apocalyptic virus. I considered self-quarantining and staying in bed, but instead I went downstairs and drank a shot of apple cider vinegar and three cups of black coffee. Apple cider vinegar has been a faithful home remedy of mine for years. There should be a comic book superhero named Apple Cider Vinegar. I felt good enough to go to the lake for a hike. I’ve been training for a backpacking trip for some time now

simplybill

simplybill

 

Hope

I miss the old days, when the news arrived with the morning paper or the 6:00 o’clock News. You had time to think before forming an opinion. The instant news of today almost demands an instant opinion, one that can be hurriedly typed into a comment section or a Facebook page without putting much thought into it. Our discussions now are more often fueled by emotions rather than thoughtfulness.  Our news media and our politicians, on both sides, have adopted that attitude. Like the Coronaviru

simplybill

simplybill

 

Blizzard in the backcountry

There’s a blizzard forecast for tonight and I was due for a grocery run, so around 5:00 this evening I left for town before the snow made driving too dangerous. I hadn’t eaten all day long and I was very hungry and when I’m hungry my mind goes straight to “double quarter-pounder with cheese.” To paraphrase the great John Muir: “McDonalds is calling, and I must go.” The roads weren’t too bad as I drove the 20 miles into town. I got behind a slow-moving semi and followed behind him so that th

simplybill

simplybill

 

Fond Memories

I recently gave up my apartment in Chicago and left the neighborhood that had become my home away from home. In the 23 years I was there I watched neighbor kids grow up, I enjoyed Chinese take-out from First Chop Suey and pizza from Villa Rosa. I went for many long walks in Minuteman Park, and bought dozens of Polish candy bars in the neighborhood store that catered to the Polish community surrounding our 3-flat apartment building. One summer afternoon a few years ago, I was walking down Ar

simplybill

simplybill

 

Small-Town Life

The other day I was all cleaned up and ready for my weekly grocery run. I jumped in my pickup and turned the key, but the battery was disappointingly dead. I left it on the charger overnight and tried again in the morning and...nothing...dead as a doornail... I called the auto parts store in the nearest town. The only employee working in the store that day drove to my house after his shift. He brought three different batteries with him, just to sure he had the right one. I offered him ten d

simplybill

simplybill

 

An afternoon in the Verdugo Mountains

Yesterday I set a new personal record for hiking while on a working overnight in Burbank, CA. As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I packed my small REI backpack with two liters of water, some salted- and honey-roasted peanuts, and two flashlights (just in case I got hurt and had to signal for help after dark).  I set out hiking into the Verdugo Mountains, with my sights set on the Radio Towers at the peak: 6.5 miles up, and 6.5 miles down.  I stopped at the Nature Center in Stough Canyo

simplybill

simplybill

 

Why I believe the Bible

I was asked in an on-line discussion: “Why do people believe the Bible?” I gave it a lot of thought, and this was my response: Did you ever see the movie, "5 Minutes of Heaven" with Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt? James Nesbitt's role as the brother of a murder victim during "The Troubles" in Ireland was the most stunning performance I've ever seen. Anyway, in the opening scene, Liam Neeson says, "For me to talk about the man I've become, you need to know about the man I was." (I'm tellin

simplybill

simplybill

 

Cold spell on the prairie

Another beautiful morning here on the prairie, and not quite as cold. The -10F is much nicer than yesterday’s -21F  (-23.3C and -29.4C).  Went out early to feed the birds and take a few photos: it’s not often that the full moon is still above the western horizon as the sun rises in the east!  (I live on a hilltop near the Mississippi-Missouri Divide, with a wide open view of the sky, so I take lots of sunrise and sunset photos for my city-dwelling Facebook friends.) I went for a walk a

simplybill

simplybill

 

Chicken-fried Steak

Drove to Dexter, Iowa today to pick up some treats at Drew’s Chocolates. My sister Teresa is hosting Christmas dinner, and I thought a big box of homemade chocolates would be a special delight for dessert. Drew’s has been operating out of the same house, and run by the same family, for 90 years!  Dexter was once home to Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous gangsters of the 1930s. They robbed a bank in the nearby town of Stuart on April 16, 1934. The bank later became the Stuart Police Station. Do

simplybill

simplybill

 

Alone in the Desert

Dec 2. 2017 Beautiful  morning to wake up to: 32 degrees, light breeze from the north, a magnificent sunrise peeking over the treetops in the woods across the road. I put on some water for tea, then went outside to sprinkle a cupful of sunflower seeds on my gravel driveway. Looking out across the prairie, I thanked God for his wonderful creation and then went back inside to sit by the window in my bentwood rocker and watch as the birds drop by for breakfast. The bluejays swoop in almo

simplybill

simplybill

 

My Day in Winterset

Siri made me laugh out loud this morning. I got up early and drove 50 miles to Des Moines to have my misbehaving car checked out. Westside Auto Pros is in a weird location, so I used the MAPS app to ensure I didn't get lost. As I pulled into the parking lot, Siri announced "Arrived at destination, Westside Auto PROSS". It took me by surprise and I started laughing like a fool. Westside Auto Pros is a topnotch auto repair shop, with an odd twist to their service. It's like checking into a ho

simplybill

simplybill

 

On the road

I'm not sure how the conversation turned to hitchhiking, but today I started telling my coworker Laura about my youthful adventures thumbing rides across the country back in the early 70's.    Hmm...I shouldn't say "my" adventures. They were "shared" adventures, with my friends Groovy Hoovy and Jan G.   I was 18 years old, just out of high school, working weekends at the VA hospital and paying $65 a month for a tiny red house with an outhouse and no bathtub on the north side

simplybill

simplybill

 

Bear attack

I just wanted to share the link to this fascinating story. Mr. Orr's experience makes the bear attack scene in The Revenant look like child's play! Years ago, I was backpacking on Death's Head trail in the Tetons, in an area where a man had been severely mauled by a bear.  The man's hiking companion went down the mountain to summon help, but before the rescue team could make it back up the mountain to the campsite, the bear returned and killed the poor guy.  The night we were there, we

simplybill

simplybill

 

Parade

I came home from work a few days ago to find my beautiful ash tree broken in half by a windstorm. I'm going to miss that tree. I actually have a lot of good memories tied in with it. I cut up the broken half with my chainsaw, and now the power company will finish up so the power lines don't get damaged. The branches that I cut are strewn across the yard alongside my gravel driveway. I've been surprised by how this has changed the behavior of the birds and animals that I feed. Every morning

simplybill

simplybill

 

Worthless

I woke up this morning feeling worthless. That's the price you pay at times when you're a recluse such as I am and there's no one around to offer encouragement. One becomes acclimated to loneliness in the same way one becomes acclimated to the cold of winter or the heat of summer, but today was different. I felt as though my foundation had disappeared from under my feet and I was looking up from inside a deep pit. As I lay there in bed, I contemplated quitting. I searched my soul, and I couldn't

simplybill

simplybill

 

Slow Day

Slow morning on the farm. Woke up to four deer milling around in the yard. Now that hunting season is over, they feel it's safe to come out of the forest and chew on the trees and shrubs in my yard. Apparently forest trees don't taste as good.  I put a mineral block behind my house to give the deer some salt and micronutrients. I figure the hunters can taste the difference in their venison roasts and deer jerky. One of my neighbors gave me a pound of deer sausage one winter after the local

simplybill

simplybill

 

More Than Routine

This morning I attended the funeral for the mother of two of my friends, Russ and Jim. In his eulogy, Lillian’s son Russ told us how his mother’s life was built on routine: A cup of black coffee to start her day, followed by breakfast and puzzles: Sudoku, Jumbles and the Challenger. Russ held up a well-worn, old devotional book with dog-eared pages, another part of her routine for many years. The church Pastor told of Lillian’s routine in the church: year after year, she sat in the same

simplybill

simplybill

 

One Refugee's Story

A few days ago a poster mentioned how the schools in Vietnam separate the children into different classrooms according to gender, and the smartest kids are sent to schools with tougher scholastic standards. That’s how my friend Tuyvan ended up in a refugee camp in Kansas when she was 12 years old.  Her family lived in Hue, just south of the border between North and South Vietnam. Her father was a respected martial arts instructor who owned five martial arts studios; they even had a car

simplybill

simplybill

 

Memento Mori

Saturday morning musings: Somehow we've begun expecting our candidates to be Messiahs, when in reality they are merely ordinary men and women. Messianic adoration is toxic for anyone, but especially for politicians. To paraphrase Lord Acton's quote: "Adoration tends to corrupt, and absolute adoration corrupts absolutely." It is absolutely impossible for mere humans to live up to the Messianic expectations that campaign managers use in promoting their candidates. The ancient Romans view

simplybill

simplybill

 

Waking early

I woke up at 3:00 AM full of energy. I have no idea why. Maybe because I recently switched from fake honey to raw honey.   I discovered I had left the back door leading into the basement WIDE OPEN after walking outside yesterday afternoon. I didn't find any stray raccoons, but I did have a basement full of singing crickets.   -----A tip for those of you who also leave your doors WIDE OPEN overnight: If you have a cricket in

simplybill

simplybill

 

Late in the evening

Beautiful night to fly into the Windy City. ATC had us do a wide circle: over Lake Michigan, north along the Gold Coast, and back around south to Midway Airport.  The city lights reflected off the wing of the plane as it tipped into the turn.  I've never seen Chicago look as beautiful as it did on this moonless night.  Too nice outside to stay indoors. My neighborhood is near the area where several of my coworkers have gotten mugged, though I felt fairly safe walking along Archer Ave. I kep

simplybill

simplybill