Friday, July 21, 2006

Attack of the Killer Raccoons

One of my favorite ways to relax is to sit out in the backyard late into the night and read something. Lately I've been out there a lot, enjoying the warm summer evenings.

Out of our back door is our yard and then an extension of a grassy (mowed) field between my house and Calvary Baptist Church (where I pastor). So our backyard is like an angled football field along a wooded creek. It's really a wonderful place.

A few nights back I was digesting a good book and I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I looked left and found five raccoons passing about 8 feet from my chair. It freaked me out and I was afraid they were going to head toward me. The last thing I wanted was for them to not realize I was there until they were close enough to bite my ankle.

So I shook my chair to make some noise and get their attention. That freaked THEM out and they took an aggressive posture and started growling. Yeah, their growl sounds pretty mean actually. Teeth glistening in the light peeking through the kitchen blinds, I thought I was about to become raccoon food.

Being close to our back door, I decided to hop inside to get them to chill out. But as I tried to get up they growled louder. So I did what any sane, strong alpha male would do. I ran inside like a scared little girl.

I turned on the backyard flood lamp and saw one grasping a tree, as scared as I was. I thought, I just ran away from a bunch of glorified rats. What a big sissy. So I decided to be a man and grab my camera to catch a picture if possible. I went back out and didn't see them. So I started reading my book again.

Sure enough, they came around the house on the exact same path as before. I let them pass by me and they headed out in the yard in search of food. I snapped a few low-light photographs and made a few raccoon friends.

Now I see them (or hear them) about every third night I'm outside. They still freak me out a bit, but we have learned to co-exist together. ;)


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Summer Heat

I don't know about you, but the summer heat is getting to me. It was a very hot week last week, and more hot days ahead.

We all do much the same thing, don't we? We complain about the long winters until late July and then complain about the sweat and humidity and heat.

MermanWe love to take our kids to the Woodstock Water Works pool. The season passes are very reasonable and the kids think it's the best. Having a local water park is very cool. Next week the kids start swimming lessons.

Last Saturday our oldest boys played baseball in sweltering heat. It was so hot that our son, Elijah, got a bit dehydrated. It reminded me of how quickly fun in the sun can become dangerous.

Enjoy the summer heat, but find some time to cool off too. :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Knowing Folks

One of my favorite things about living in Woodstock is the people. It's a friendly place, and a place full of friends.

Tonight I decided to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks. As I walked in I noticed the manager, Tanya, sweating the arrival of a huge new three-door refrigerator. So I talked with her for a bit and asked about the changes at the store. She runs a great shop where the people (and their drinks) are well known among the baristas. As a matter of fact, as I talked with Tanya about the new refrigerator, Kim (one of my favorite baristas) had my drink made before I even asked. How cool is that?

So I paid and headed to a table and noticed my friend Don perusing a Sun-Times. We had a 15 minute conversation on politics, TV news, the President, Iraq, terrorism, the next election, and good books among other things. Don spends a lot of time reading in Starbucks and is always well versed on a number of interesting current events and issues. Makes for great conversation, and a better friendship.

After finishing our discussion I moved to an outside table to enjoy my drink and read a little in a beautiful and rare cool July evening. I grabbed my Wired magazine and flipped through the pages a bit before seeing my Albanian friend Arben. Arben and I have been talking World Cup soccer lately, so we spent some time discussing the championship game played on Sunday. Then we talked about our different faiths (Christianity and Islam) which led to a discussion on a couple of hot news items. As we talked another Albanian friend showed up, Valder. The three of us talked until 9pm when I had to head home.

Tonight I figured I'd spend an hour or two reading over coffee, but instead I spent a couple of hours catching up with friends and sharing life together. It's helpful for me to remember that the beauty of the evenings of my life are not just beautiful because of the weather, but because of the company I'm blessed to keep.

In other words, I don't just love Woodstock. I love the people of Woodstock.