Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial weekend zoo trip

To celebrate Memorial weekend in style, we decided to take a trip to the zoo in Bloomington on Sat. I can't remember the last time we left town (Christmas? Maybe i should check the blog archives?). Btown is only 45 minutes away, so this was a nice way to build up to some upcoming adventures.
Below, Jill and Clara pose outside the sun bear's cage. The sun bear is my favorite animal at the zoo, a happy looking guy in continual search of fun. We had just waited out a monster thunderstorm inside the rain forest room.
We invited the list of friends on our 707 cafe list, and Matt and Jaime and kids answered the call. This worked out great as Jaime led us to a great Italian family restaurant for lunch. Oddly U-C has nothing like this -- Fazzoli's doesn't cut it, and the other Italian places are fancy-style.
On the way to Pontiac for a talk about water treatment in the oil industry, coworker Dave and I discussed big vs. small zoos. He argues that only large cities have economies of scale to have zoos. I argue that there must be a way to have a successful small zoo. Granted, many animals cannot be considered (e.g., elephants), and fewer animals can be in the zoo at any time. But why not rotate different animals in and out every 3-6 months. Then people might be interested in coming more often. Wouldn't this work? By the way, he suggested that we go to Indy's zoo, but not this weekend because they opened a huge new exhibit and were expecting large crowds. Again, this seems to argue for my opinion, no?

Also on that drive, we passed by a wind farm. Neither of us had been up close to one before, so I drove our survey's hybrid (Fusion) (ISGS is GREEN!) onto a service road and we got out. First, these windmills are huge! From a mile or so away the look big, but up close, wow! Second, on this average-wind day, the noise was a sort of background-noise-level whoosh-whoosh. It was noticeable, but not nearly as loud as most home appliances or automobiles on a highway.

Speaking of the 707 cafe, Jill switched to morning hours this week. Clara is taking a single nap in the afternoon more often now. More friends with many more kids showed up for the fun and donut holes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

a few back items

Since I have a rare, spare moment, I'll catch up on a few items that flew by in recent weeks.

First, Janny smiles at us once in a while. It's not easy to make it happen, but here's proof.
Clara is still a riot. She is always doing something. Then it's time to sleep, and she's out like a light.
Here's a picture of Don, the cyclist riding across the country. His bike is a Jamis Aurora (I used to have one), a nice steel touring bike. Front and rear panniers and some funky metal fenders with no curvature around the tires. He travels light since he does no cooking or camping. He's quite fit for being 70.
Another school ended already. A couple of our adopt-a-students will be seniors next year!

the ballgame

After thinking about attending an Illini baseball game for some years, we finally made it out to one tonight. We thought it would be a good time, especially since the weather was so nice today. We underestimated the fun by yards. First, we were allowed to bring our dinner into the stadium (we had planned to eat under a tree nearby). Second, free entrance. Third, some 20 kids played on the grassy hill along the first base line. Clara played with groups of them the entire time she wasn't eating.

This made for a remarkably relaxing time for us. We will probably go to this season's last game tomorrow.

I think that Clara gets frustrated when she doesn't feel useful in the kitchen. She loves to help however she can. For example, stirring. Oh, and she has a set of molars as of a few weeks ago.
Janny is a sweetheart, happy baby except when hungry. Then she can be really loud.
This is not our house. Our roof does not have a giant hole in it.
Finally, our softball team got thwacked this week. Opponent score 28 runs in 4 innings. Youch! Yet another of my best hits of the year was caught.

Friday, May 13, 2011

707 cafe

Wouldn’t you know that the one night I plan to blog the system is down. Not to be denied, I am writing this up in word with the hopes of posting soon.

Jill has been full of fun ideas, perhaps due to a lack of sleep? She’s been inviting friends to come over for 707 CafĂ©, our home's cafe that is open a few hours per week. She invites friends to drink tea, eat desserts, and discuss children (or not).

The IL marathon came to town, so we walked down to mile 7 to cheer on some friends. Friends looked good at the ~ half-way point. No, we’re not interested in joining them.
I made a red brick path!
I hope you recall that our church softball team won the B league championship tournament last year. We are 3 games into our first A league season. One win, two losses. Here’s what I love about softball this year. Sometimes I hit the ball really well and make outs, and sometimes I pop up and get hits. Fun unpredictability. Did I mention that I have hit 2 home runs? I have, but I must thank the very favorable wind in each case.

We hosted a bike tourist on Wed night. Don retired in the fall, and decided to ride a bike from San Diego to his home in Dunkirk, NY. I really like his plan for the trip. He makes contact with people through, the rotary club, and people he meets along the way. I imagine that riding alone all day and then camping alone at night would drive a brother nuts. This way, the former professor gets to share stories every night with someone different.

I learned a good lesson from him: when planning to meet someone in new to a city, don’t suggest a cafe that has more than one location. I suggested we meet at Espresso Royale on Goodwin. Near the corner of Pennsylvania and Lincoln, he asked several students how to get there. The first several had no idea. What? It's a 5 minute walk from there! It's the only cafe on the east side of campus! Finally, someone directed him to the undergrad library. Eventually, I did find him.