What are those tiny birds?

Dug (our dog) loves to explore. He’s mostly hound dog—either beagle or Basset—with a bit of corgi, all nose and not much leg. We walk with him for hours each day. Ron spends the most time doing that. They drive to a parking lot near the bike path and walk trails along the river. I tend to walk in neighborhoods near our house.

One of his favorite spaces to roam is the 40-acre Methodist Children’s Home in Worthington. Bordering High Street, the property includes a nursing home along with the regional office and conference center of the Methodist Church. Behind those are open fields and abandoned dorms, classroom and office buildings, and a chapel. They’re overgrown, falling into decay while the local community (and city council) discuss how the space might be used. I’m hoping for an official park, but there’s a debate between that and retail. (I assume office buildings are off the table now that the coronavirus is showing everyone how to work from home.)

Dug loves it. There’s a city of groundhogs, and he knows their tunnel network. He checks each opening every trip. When he spots a groundhog, the chase is on! He yelps and howls, sprints after them, and pulls me along. On previous trips, I’ve wiped out, face first in the dirt, dropped my phone, lost my hat. For the most part, though, I can hang on, run with him, usually shouting, “Slow! Slow!” He pretends not to hear me. Teenagers.

One 93-degree day last September, I drove him the half-mile to the property. With his thick fur, I wanted to limit his time in the sun. Everything was still. No movement from the ground. We abandoned the groundhog network and crossed the driveway to an old “family and career center” building. We went around to the back and down a slope toward the edge of a ravine, through calf-high grass under 40-foot trees. I gazed up and saw an unusual flock of tiny birds darting through the branches.

I stopped and stared.

Not birds. Cicadas. Huge cicadas. Hundreds of huge cicadas.

A chill ran down my neck, into my back and goosebumps made the hair my arm hair stand up. I began to pray, “Please God don’t let one of them land on me. I will crap my pants and collapse, or worse, and I have to take care of Dug.”

I whispered, “Come on, Dug. We have to go. We have to move. Now. Now. Let’s go. Come on, come on, come on.”

He was sniffing and quite unaware of the danger from the sky. I pulled. I was afraid to look up. What if they’re creatures that can sense fear and they land on me? He stopped to sniff. “Now, now, now, now. Go, go, go.”

We made it around the building, across the driveway and into the open and cicada-free field. My heart pounded but we had made it. They didn’t follow us.

And then I thought­–we’re buying 65 acres of woods in Hocking Hills. I am afraid of bugs. This is going to be really interesting.

Personal planning retreat: day two topics

January 20, 2015
by Melissa L. Weber (@Melwriter, melwriter.com)

When was the last time you read a daily newspaper? I just finished today’s Columbus Dispatch. It was an “expense topic” last year at our retreat. My husband and I both love getting a daily paper. We got them when we were kids – and we were the sort of kids who read them. (I remember the presidential nominees in 1972.) We think the Dispatch is doing an amazing job of capturing interesting and relevant information that is well-written. I often disagree with the syndicated editorial columnists, but I feel well-informed when I read them. I also read the comics every day. I love them. They are an interesting window on the world, usually dealing with life’s issues in diverse families. More about kids, marriage and milestones than politics – except for Doonesbury. Which reminds me – where did it go? It’s seems to be on Sunday only; and now I vaguely recall Gary Trudeau might be semi-retired. Are he and Jane Pauley still married? I should Google that. (Sounds good to be semi-retired Would give us more time for pursuing our creative goals and those bucket list items.)

Anyway – keeping the paper is a great example of a discussion that involved looking at our lists and realizing we had lots of expensive trips we want to take in the next 10 years. How could we cut back our budget and save more for travel (without having to contribute less to retirement savings)? The newspaper was on the list. We already got rid of our land line home phone and now just use cell phones. And instead of cutting it to save money, we both agreed we needed to keep the paper. The expense is worth it because it serves two strategic purposes: serving my profession (which includes media relations as part of my job duties) and inspiring creativity.

The paper is part of an overall goal of staying engaged, connected, aware and inspired. Do you know how many great works of literature (and film) are inspired by true events? “To Kill a Mockingbird” comes to mind for starters. A wonderful play that was performed by Available Light Theatre in Columbus, OH called “Then. After. Water.” by Jennifer Fawcett. Theatre, books and movies. More inspiration! That’s another decision that came out of last year’s retreat: To form a family book club for which we had a list of books that were being turned in to movies in 2014. We read, “Labor Day” (one of our favorites) “The Fault in Our Stars,” (also excellent) “Divergent,” “This is Where I Leave You” and “A Long Way Down.” Did not make it through “A Winter’s Tale,” and loved the movie anyway. This year we’re being inspired by a recent article on “Reasons to Read the Classics.” (http://www.punchnels.com/features/10-reasons-you-should-be-reading-the-classics/)

We don’t have our list together yet, and I will plan to share it on my blog when we do.

What inspires your creativity?