Terry's Tidbits

Random thoughts of a Ritterhouse

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Location: Hutchinson, Kansas, United States

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Plan for the Planet -or- It's Your Earth, Too

Well, Earth Day has come and gone. I'm sure most people didn't observe this event. Lots of people probably don't even know it exists. That's more than a shame. After 40 years, I expected a lot more out of U.S. citizens. Part of this apathy or obliviousness is undoubtedly because a lot of Americans refuse to believe their actions have a direct impact on the planet. People don't worry about the future, figuring they'll be long gone before the planet's in dire straits. (You'd think they'd want to make the world a better place for and be available to their children or children they know.) Others don't believe in global warming, even though a lot of these global warming unbelievers are Christians. Even if they think icebergs and glaciers aren't melting at an alarming rate, they should still care about being good stewards of God's creation and treat it with respect.
It kills me when I hear grocery clerks ask customers if it's okay to put their groceries in plastic bags and the customers respond affirmatively, or to see customers exiting the store with their groceries in ten or more plastic bags. Don't they see all those plastic bags from stores stuck in trees, fences, and other places along roads? On a recent Saturday morning shopping trip when I gave my usual "I don't want any plastic" statement, the teen sacker made a comment about plastic bags being recyclable. I'm still skeptical on that point, but even if these plastic bags CAN be recycled and ARE recycled by Dillon's and other stores, that doesn't mean that everyone who receives these plastic bags DO recycle them -- because they ARE in trees and fences and other places they obviously shouldn't be. I keep several cloth bags in my vehicle and have stashed a few away in Rex's car. When Dylan comes home with a plastic bag, I chastise him. My habits are starting to rub off on Rex -- he opted to carry purchases out of two stores sans plastic bags today. Had I reminded him before he left for his shopping trip to take the cloth bags into the stores, he might have come back completely plastic-free. I'm going to add some cloth bags to Dylan's vehicle and try to remind him about them whenever I know he's going out to purchase something. And I'll continue to admonish him when he BRINGS PLASTIC INTO MY HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Before Hutch provided its current recycling plan where we can recycle plastic up to #7, I saved plastics above #2 (our upper limit at the time) and took them to Nathan's because his recycler took up to #7. I just couldn't stand to throw all those yogurt cups away! I'm thankful for our new recycling plan in that regard, but I wish we personally recycled grass clippings. (That's a battle with Rex I'm not ready to facejust yet.) Once again, my habits are rubbing off on Rex some, although he continues to throw away cardboard and plastic without a second thought, making me dumpster-dive it at times. Dylan actually is better than Rex at recycling.
I rarely turn on lights until I absolutely need them. During the day, I usually use the toilet in our master bathroom because there's a window and I don't need to turn on a light. I don't turn on lights in the kitchen during the day, because the daylight coming in all the windows provides plenty of light. I wait to turn on lights in the living room until it gets too hard to read. (Of course, if Rex is around, this all changes. Guess his eyesight is a lot worse than mine!)
I'm trying harder to be smarter about water usage, especially since the 2010 summer library program theme is about water. For years, I've turned off the tap while brushing my teeth. But I've been bad about running water for long periods of time in the kitchen when cleaning, cooking, washing things, etc. I'm more conscious of that now, so maybe my habits will change for the better. And I bought a new reusable water bottle for work, rather than bringing new bottled water all the time -- but I always recycled those bottles. I still use bottles of water at times, like when I take walks or go on outings, but I've reduced how much bottled water I use. I don't rinse out glass, tin, or plastic before tossing them in the recycle bin.
Maybe our planet still has millions of years of life left. But I'm betting it doesn't, not if its inhabitants don't make major changes in the way they live. I'm trying to do my part and hoping more and more people get on board and do their part, too. How 'bout you?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's JCS Time!

Every year about this time -- between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday -- I try to watch the 1973 movie version of "Jesus Christ Superstar." It's a tradition I've tried to keep for several years, ever since I got it on video (altho there was a year or two in there when I couldn't work it in). I recently got it on dvd and am looking forward to watching that soon -- before Easter.
When all my kids were still living at home, I sometimes had problems finding a time when I could watch it by myself. I HAD to watch it by myself because the boys would make fun of it, and I don't like anyone making fun of something I dearly love to watch while I'm watching it. (This is something I'll also mention in an upcoming blog about ATWT.)
My love affair with JCS began at a Methodist youth retreat in Great Bend. I know it was during basketball season, because Jerry Blythe* didn't make it to the retreat 'til after the GBHS game that Friday night, since he was a photographer for the school paper, so I think it was in February. I know is was 1971. Later that evening, we were all sitting in folding chairs in the church's basement, facing a wall where an overhead projector projected the words to the new play, "Jesus Christ Superstar," and a recording of this musical played in the background. A few months later (on Easter afternoon, I think), I found myself sitting on the grass in the park at Avenue A and Walnut in Hutch with Nyberg, Nuzums, and probably Dee, along with several other youth from area churches, once again listening to the musical, and blissfully singing along to "What's the Buzz," "Superstar," and all the other great songs.
I'm pretty sure I went to the movie with Nancy, Barb, Kathy, and Dee, when it came to the Fox. The video didn't come out until 'til the late '90s, so I was ecstatic when I found it. I somehow ended up with two copies of the video. (They had different covers, so I guess I thought the second one I bought would have extra stuff on it -- but it didn't.) At present, we have three dvd players and only one working videotape player, so I knew I'd have more options of watching it on dvd. Since no one got it for me for Christmas, even though I've had it on my list for the past few years, I decided to get it on my own. I ordered it about ten days ago and got it a week later.
I know others (like my kids) think it's a dorky movie. And I admit there are parts of it that don't do much for me -- like some of Yvonne Elliman's songs, especially the ones that weren't in the original stage play but were added to the movie to hook her fans. (She had fans?) But JCS seriously moves me. I get something from it. It somehow prepares me for Easter. So I'll be watching it again this year as soon as I can.

*Jerry was one of the Great Bend Boy Scouts we met at Camp Kanza a couple of summers before this. We kept in touch for several years after originally meeting.

Friday, March 12, 2010



Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's All About Me!

Having just had my birthday week (yes, I celebrate more than my actual birth DAY -- I celebrate all week long!), I decided to be very egotistical and vain, and devote this post to the one and only ME!
For the record, I turned 56 on Thursday, March 4th. Somehow, that seems a whole lot older to me than 55 -- it's way too close to 60! Of course, it's better than the alternative of never having turned 56. And at least I still feel a lot younger (attitude-wise, that is -- definitely not physically).
Anyway, I've always loved having a birthday. It's one of the few things that is all about me. After I got married, and after I had kids, I made no bones about the fact that I like celebrating my birthday and having others celebrate it, and so I frequently remind them of this important date several weeks in advance to make sure they properly acknowledge it.
There were times in earlier years when, following Christmas, the advent of my birthday was the main thing that helped get me through the cold, dreary winter months. Sure, there was Valentine's Day along the way, but V-Day isn't just about me! I needed something special to help me see the light at the end of the winter tunnel.
Several years back, when I found out a fellow choir member had the same birthday as me, I wasn't sure I liked sharing my special day. She was a nice enough person -- and it would have been a lot worse if this was someone I didn't really like -- but, being older than her, it felt like she'd somehow encroached on my "property."
I often tell people that my b-day is a joke. Really. It's a joke: What day of the year is a command? March 4th (forth)! So this is another reason my b-day is special. How many people not born on March 4th can say their birthday is a joke?
There are enough times throughout the rest of the year when I may be mad/unhappy/jealous/whatever in certain situations that involve other people -- people who should be the focus of my empathy or concern or well wishes. So I have to stop and tell myself, "It's not about you. It's about (whomever)." My birthday is the one time I can honestly say, "It's all about me!"
[Thanks to everyone who sent me b-day wishes! Keep up the good work!}

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Of Hearts & Minds (& a Little Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez)

Since tomorrow's Valentine's Day, I figured that's the obvious thing to blog about today. But, as always, as I tend to ramble, these are random thoughts and will probably wander through various topics. So here goes ...
I've heard a lot more comments about Valentine's Day this year -- positive, negative, and just different. Seems like the holiday of love is provoking criticism from those who perceive it as a couples-only event. Some single people just have too much to complain about. While it's true that Valentine's Day is largely marketed for couples, it's not for-couples-only. It's an occasion for everyone to celebrate and express the love they have for special ones (I was gonna say "people," but I think some humans even extend it to their pets) in their lives. And while love is the major emotion we celebrate, Valentine's Day is also about expressing gratitude and just sending positive vibes out into the cosmos. So friends, family members other than spouses, co-workers, teachers/students, neighbors, that person who did something nice for you once whom you see around town every now and then -- any and all of them may be ones you want to acknowledge on Valentine's Day.
Or maybe not. In recent years, several libraries across the country have been sponsoring Anti-Valentine's Day programs for teens, where activities include things like decorating broken heart cookies, making anti-v-day cards, making black duct tape roses, watching depressing or horror movies, destroying/altering/rewriting romance novels, making gocks (goth sock dolls or puppets), and decorating with a lot of black. It's a way to help teens who aren't in a relationship or who just hate the whole commercialism surrounding February 14th.  But recently, a librarian posted on a listserv that her library got a complaint about its anti-v-day party. The complainant asked how anybody "can be opposed to love, kindness and friendship that is especially shared on Valentine's Day." She also said she was "appalled and very disappointed" that such a program was being held. (She obviously doesn't get teen angst surrounding romance.) In response to this librarian's post, another librarian posted that her library once got a complaint about their anti-v-day event, with the suggestion that they "should be teaching the teens about the Christian meaning behind Valentine's Day and taking them to nursing homes so they can learn the real meaning of love." (Yeah, right. That'd go over real big!)
And since Fat Tuesday is only a few days away, there's not much time left to "laissez les bon temp roulez"! So stuff yourself with chocolate and other goodies while you can -- that is, IF you're one of those who gives up vices or limits excesses during Lent.
So, in closing, HVD, HA-VD, and LLBTR!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

In a Fog and/or the Horrors of Hoarfrost

All right, I mentioned a couple posts back that I wanted to talk about fog, since we've had so much of it lately -- and we've still had quite a bit, along with a lot of hoarfrost. First, the fog.
I've always loved foggy days. The foggier, the better -- as long I'm not driving in it on the highway. I love being wrapped in the mist. On foggy days, I wish there was a woods nearby that I could walk in! It's mysterious, romantic, fantastical. I've always loved clouds, too. (In junior high, when one of my teachers had us write our goals for life, I wrote that I wanted to go to France and photograph clouds, since my three loves were France, photography -- and clouds!) Fog is like a cloud come down to earth. Actually, it IS a cloud come down to earth. When I was in MOB (Midnight Oil Burners) in high school, I wrote a poem about fog. It went something like, "A sleepy Sunday morn/I walk out of my door/Into a cloud of fog," and people think it's going to be this sappy thing. Then I talk about seeing my car, which at the time was a white 1960s-era Mercury Comet, and say "Knots tie in my belly./I am sick." The Comet wasn't really a bad little car; I was just trying to say that suddenly I was transported back into the real world by the sight of something real and solid -- my car. I know, if you have to explain your poem, maybe it's not that good -- but former MOB member and classmate Freddie Kaplan, who's now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, actually got it and had nice things to say about it (although I doubt he even remembers my poem now). Anyway, I love fog and have enjoyed these foggy days. I mean, we could have had a lot worse weather -- like ice storms.
And having so much fog this time of year has had an added advantage. Along with the fog, we've had hoarfrost. I can't believe so many locals have mentioned that they've never heard of or seen hoarfrost before. Where have these people been? I've known about it practically my whole life. I asked my kids if they remembered ever seeing it before, because I couldn't remember how often we'd had it in the past -- although I was fairly certain the kids HAD seen it before. (I just wasn't sure they remembered it, since I couldn't remember when we'd last had it.) And they remembered seeing it before and knew what it was. Our local ABC affiliate, KAKE-TV in Wichita, even had a piece about it on their "Good Question" segment a couple weeks ago. Seems someone didn't realize the way this phenomenon was spelled and thought it was an obscene word. Jeff Herndon, the newscaster who does this segment, explained that "hoar" means "to grey with age" and hoarfrost turns everything grey or white. I admit it's a bit unusual to have had so much fog in winter (and therefore so much hoarfrost). But it's just like when we get in cycles of a lot of rain or a lot of high winds. It's not like it's some bad omen or something. And it's been really pretty with all the treetops tinged in white. It killed me not to have one of my cameras in the car with me as I drove through parts of Hutch that were exceedingly foggy and "hoarfrosty" some of those days! I had to settle for taking a few photos of what little hoarfrost we had around our yard, which wasn't much.
I just hope it's a long, long time -- long after I have hoary hair -- before my brain is truly foggy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tiller's Killer

This will not be an easy post to write. It may be difficult for some to read and may irritate -- even anger -- those whose beliefs are far different from mine. But I feel very strongly about this subject (and have since George Tiller was murdered), and have kept most of my opinions to myself for too long. They've got to come out, and now that the verdict in Scott Roeder's trial was just announced, I'm compelled to spill my guts. (Also, I'm home today due to a small snowstorm -- but who am I to complain about getting to stay home, even when the roads aren't that bad? -- so I have the time to post.)
Even before George Tiller was murdered, anti-abortionists constantly decried his practice, usually claiming he performed illegal late-term abortions. But each time he was legally accused of such crimes, he was found innocent. These people (and I use the word loosely) failed to comprehend what Tiller actually did, how he helped women and families who were struggling with terrible decisions. Do these accusers truly think these women chose abortion without any consideration for the child they carried, or without a lot of praying? What would these accusers do if they found themselves in the same situation, with a fetus so malformed there's no hope of survival (or for some other reason was incapable of surviving)? Would they choose to prolong their agony -- and perhaps that of their unborn child -- by delaying the inevitable?
As for those who, for whatever reasons, chose Dr. Tiller to help them have non-late-term abortions, that was their choice to make -- not anyone else's. Again, they probably struggled with and prayed about their decisions. If you haven't been in that position, you can't truthfully say what you would do. As someone who was almost in that position, I can say that I'm glad I ultimately didn't have to go through such a procedure -- but I'm grateful that it would have been MY choice, not the government's.
If only those who are anti-abortion were as strongly ready to adopt children in foster care! Anti-abortionists blithely believe all unwanted babies are destined for adoption in happy homes. Do they seriously not realize that hundreds of thousands of children are currently in foster care -- many never being adopted and stuck in the system until they age out, others in dangerous and/or abusive situations? And children don't have to be in foster care to be in danger. The US Department of Health & Human Services estimates that, every day, more than 2,400 children are determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. Is that the life you wish for these unborn babies? If not, then do more than rant and rave about abortion. Adopt. Teach young adults -- males, as well as females -- about contraception. (Abstinence-only, while perhaps the one sure method, is unrealistic.)
I recognize that we all think differently, that not everyone shares my opinions. We have the right in this country to these opinions, and I will do all I can to protect your right to your opinion -- IF you protect mine. Too bad we didn't all protect George Tiller's right to help those in need who came to him. So much for right to life.