Friday, July 20, 2012

A Sobering PSA

This is a Public Service Announcement… remember my brother’s accident back in March? And when he was a smiling happy kid again, with a skull that got put back together again? Well, my brother is doing really, really great. In May, they did the surgery that added the skull piece back in to cover the hole made in the skull to allow the brain to swell without damaging the tissue. More therapy, more tests, but step by step, he’s getting better. It’s really wonderful and truly a miracle.

So Hubs showed me Facebook the other day and I saw these pictures, well, it brought everything back from that day when I got the phone call. Mom said that she cried when she saw the car in person. I almost burst into tears, too.


Car 1

It seems that part of the car is actually missing, it was sheared off.

Car 2

You can see why his left foot and part of his left backbone was broken, and why the injury was on that side of his head.

Car 3

This one really got me – you can see the seat and then the side console that came over into his seat. The metal of the door completely buckled. And do you see what’s missing? There’s no steering wheel. It was sheared off and we think went through the windshield.


The next time you think about getting in a car after drinking one too many at dinner, please think twice. Because one inch either way and my brother would not have walked away from this car. We are incredibly thankful that he actually did.

Kind of a sobering way to spend a Friday night, huh?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tourist in our Own City–Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds 13

On Saturday, Hubs and I became a tourist in our city. We had a Groupon to the Cahokia Mounds historical site in Collinsville, IL, so we grabbed a coffee at our favorite French café in the morning and then headed out there to check it out before it got too hot.

Cahokia Mounds 1

There is a really nice museum associated with the site, so we started there. Our Groupon gave us both an audio guide (on an iPod) that had three different walks around the site plus the museum.

Cahokia Mounds 2

The audio guide has 1-3 minute segments that takes you from point A to point B. They describe what you should be seeing, from left to right on the path, with this amazing sound track playing. I’m sure walking around the site would be nice on its own, and there are informational signs along the way, but listening to the sometimes eerie, sometimes poignant music full of wind instruments and chimes, and it really takes you back. 

Cahokia Mounds 3

As the guide puts it, “allow yourself to become unstuck in time.”

Cahokia Mounds 4

This is Monk’s Mound, looking out from the path near the museum. It’s over 100 feet tall and took over 22 million cubic feet of earth to build. The workers dug pits and hauled that dirt in about a cubic foot section in a basket on their back, sometimes a good long way, in order to build up this monument over a few hundred years.

Cahokia Mounds 5

There are many, many mounds that are part of the site. Some would have had houses of the wealthy citizens built on them, some were part of the burial ritual.

Cahokia Mounds 6

Walking through the site, it’s amazing to think that there were people who could build these mounds living a half hour away from my city over 1300 years ago. They say this site would have started around 700 AD and come into its zenith around 1200-1300 AD.

Cahokia Mounds 7

The audio guide reminded us that many of these mounds were sacred, and are burial grounds. We weren’t allowed to go climbing (not that I would – those things are kind of steep!) on them either.

Cahokia Mounds 8

This was the Grand Plaza. The market place, the gathering area, the arena for games, the center of the community. It was huge. We walked from here over to Monk’s Mound (the big one in the distance) and it was a looooong walk. It really gave us a perspective of how big the site is.

Cahokia Mounds 9

And then we climbed it. Oh my. There were a LOT of steps.

Cahokia Mounds 10

Did I mention there were a LOT of steps?

Cahokia Mounds 11

But we made it!

Cahokia Mounds 12

We could even see the Arch and downtown St. Louis in the distance.


While I don’t recommend exploring this site on a hot day like we chose, I think this is an amazing gem that most people in St. Louis don’t know about. Some of them might go on a school field trip at some point, but for those of us who missed that day in school or moved here as an adult, it’s something that many might skip. Don’t do it! Seeing this remnant of a civilization long gone is very humbling. And it’s free! What could be better than that?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's a Whole New World...

Last night, some friends and I went to see some Disney magic at a local theatre – it was a production of Aladdin and I was really excited, not only because it was a Disney show. The Muny holds a dear place in my heart. It’s where I fell in love with the theatre.

When I was four years old, we lived in St. Louis and my mom received tickets for an upcoming production at the outdoor theatre in Forest Park for a showing of Peter Pan. I don’t think I had ever been to a live theatrical show, but my mom thought it was the right time for me to experience a play first-hand.

I can remember bits and pieces of the night, and every time I go back to see a show there, it makes me smile. I remember being very close to the stage (my mom tells me later that the tickets came from a boss or something, someone who had very good seats, so we were relatively close). I remember the actors being almost on top of me, they were so close. I remember Cathy Rigby (at the time, I had no idea who she was) FLYING OVER MY HEAD during one of the scenes. Could Peter Pan really fly? She did it. She flew over my head, right out over the audience, and sprinkled pixie dust on me.

I can only imagine how wide my eyes must have been, taking in the scene.

Is it any wonder that I turned to my mother at that point, and said, “Mom, I wanna do that!”

Later on, the experience stuck with me and I wanted to start acting. I was on stage in middle school and never looked back.

It makes me kind of sad that I’ve been on a theatre sabbatical for the past few years. But with so many work and social obligations, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to fit in rehearsals and productions. I don’t know if my schedule will allow me to get back on stage but I hope so. It’s so much fun. It’s been a part of my life for so long and it feels strange not to have a rehearsal to rush off to.

But I love that I can experience a similar feeling every week during the summer at the Muny with my season tickets in section C. It may not be Cathy Rigby flying over my head, but I know that there are so many little girls in the audience that are experiencing their first Muny show – and they might be grow up to be actors. 

And that’s kind of cool.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Will Retire In Another Lifetime... LITERALLY.

Every few months, I will do something that makes me pause, because I really feel like an adult when it happens.

Signing up for life insurance. Breaking up with your current car insurance agent. Filling out your tax return. Creating a “in case of death” file and putting your affairs in order. Now we can add saving for retirement to that adult-list.

I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken me almost five years of employment at my current job to suck it up and start a 403B retirement account (same thing as a 401K but for non-profit employers), but it is finally the time to do it. Looking back, I probably should have done this when the economy was a bit better and there was a matching program in place, but oh well!

I guess I can look at the bright side – I didn’t lose anything in the recession, right?

Since we’re opening up an account with this particular company, we can also look at other investment vehicles that are probably a good idea to start now. We have a long way to go before retirement (try at least another 27 years!) but it’s nice to know that our little nest egg is set up all official-like. I’m looking forward to watching it grow!

Do you have a retirement plan set up?