Monday, July 30, 2012

Fall 2011...Better Late Than Never

I know.  It's no longer fall, let alone 2011 but I just got these pictures from my friend the other day and now I'm finally posting these.  Last Fall, some of my gals pals and I got together for a photo sess and had a great time.  I just can't tell you how thankful I am for such wonderful friends!
So, without further ado, enjoy!

 Our attempt at VOGUE

LOVE these girls!!  I'll cherish these pics for forever!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Being Alone Can Be Really Draining

Clinton left for a Family Medicine Conference in Kansas on Thursday and got back yesterday afternoon.  I generally do OK while he's gone, but this time I felt a little lonely, I had to keep myself busy.  Fortunately for me, I had dinner with a friend Thursday night, dinner with another friend Friday night and ice cream with that same friend on Saturday!  These outings broke up the solitude and solidified some friendships too.  Anyway, yesterday I decided to clean my house.  I washed laundry, folded laundry and put away laundry.  I scrubbed my bathroom, made my bed, did some dishes, wiped down my kitchen, refilled the bird-feeder, straightened up my living room and went grocery shopping.  I was feeling pretty accomplished.  I noticed however that our bathroom sink was still totally plugged (has been for quite a while but I keep forgetting to contact our landlord).  I thought to myself, That's it.  You fix it yourself.  So, I went onto Youtube and found how to remove the stopper and pull out all of the goo.  It was probably the grossest thing I've done in a while, but after I stopped gagging and had my sink put back together and the drain clear, I felt awesome!  Go me!

I Think I've Reached My Limit

Alright.  It's been a little over a week since last I wrote; I've simply not felt like it.  I kept telling myself that I'd catch up, but I don't think I'm gonna.  So, instead of going into hiding and never blogging again, I'm going to blog perhaps a little less frequently.
Sunday, July 22nd, I subbed in the 4-5 year-old primary class at church.  The group was just girls and they were adorable.  In our ward, the entire primary meets for Sharing/Singing Time and then uses the last 40 minutes or so for class.  Well, I got to Sharing Time a little late, found my class and sat down.  One of the little girls turned to me and whispered, "Um, Teacher?  Did you plan a good lesson for us today?"
Me:  Yes.
She:  Oh, well, um I'm not going to be able to stay for class cause my mom's leaving early, but maybe can you send me some notes or perhaps something from the lesson I could color?
Me:  Uh, we'll see.
Inside I was laughing so hard.  How adorable is that?
Also at church that day, one of the many pioneer hymns during Sacrament Meeting was, "Come, Come Ye Saints".  (It took me till July 24th before I realized all of the hymns from Sacrament were for Pioneer Day in Utah.)  Anyway, I particularly liked the 2nd verse; it seemed the encouragement I needed.  Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!
We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!
And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 390: You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Grey

Milwaukee has been in a pretty bad drought for quite some time now, with temperatures way up there, so when we saw a storm coming last night we couldn't help but be a little excited.  Excited because we desperately need the rain and excited because there ain't nothin' like a storm in the Midwest!
These are the clouds directly above our home

Ha ha:
Peter is my little buddy.  I know you all know this, but sometimes he does something extra cute and it just makes me chuckle.  I took him for a little walk this evening, as soon as we got home I sat on the floor to rest.  Seeing me sit he ran straight up to me with his bone and snuggled my legs.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I insisted Clinton take a picture.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 389: Perfectly Timed That One

I was waiting for a phone call this morning and knew I'd need to step out when it came.  Due to some recent weirdness in our office, I was a little weary about if I'd be able to take it or not.  Right as I was getting up to run a quick errand, I happened to grab my phone.  The second I walked out of the door, my phone rang with the call I was waiting for.  I was able to answer it with no reservations and I'm so thankful for that little miracle in my day!

Ha ha:
I passed by one of our Information Services people in the hallway at work.  I waved at her and she said, "Hey-oh!"
I don't know what possessed me, but I apparently was in a teasing-mood and responded with, "Wha'did you call me?"
She:  Nothing.
Me:  Did you call me a ho?
She:  What?!  No!  No!  I said, "hey-oh".
Me:  I know. (laughter) I'm just teasing you.  Have a good afternoon!
Oh, it's nice to be around happy people at work!

Day 388: No Surprise Here

Right as I was leaving work yesterday I got a call from Clinton saying he was on his way to get me.  And when he suggested that we go to Subway for dinner I didn't put up a fight (it was over 100 degrees last night and I didn't exactly feel like cooking).
What a nice surprise!

Ha ha:
I'd love to say this was a surprise, but with the number of times that we've run into Richard and Jenna Thorsted at Subway, I can't really say it was when we saw them strolling in.  I laughed when I saw them and Jenna said, "We pulled into the parking lot, saw your car and thought, 'You've got to be kidding me'."
I think we both have an addiction to Subway.  Is there a support group for that?

Day 387: All I Could Think About Were My Feet

There is nothing quite like a long walk to clear one's mind when one's upset or troubled...

Ha ha:
...However, one would be wise pause a moment and ensure one's wearing suitable footwear for such a long walk.
Flip flops were not the best option.

Day 386: Ouch, that Burns

Being the accident-prone person that I am, when my friend Julia came up to me on Sunday clutching her right hand I knew instantly I could empathize with her--and then when I found out she'd burnt herself that morning and was really in pain, I knew just the solution.  We hopped in the car and drove to the nearest pharmacy where I helped her pick out the right first aid treatment (ya know, cause I've been there before and knew first "hand" what to get).  We drove back to the church, used some scissors from the library (though I'm sure a wooden butter knife would have worked just as well...gotta love church library supplies :) and I fixed up her burns.  She said she felt instant relief.
We don't always recognize, in the moment, that our trials can be a blessing in the future.  I'm so thankful for perspective, for experience and for the good, healthy times in my life.

Ha ha:
As mentioned in my previous post, I bought an adorable pair of shoes on Saturday and, no surprise here, I wore them to church the next day.  They are adorable but they are mostly worn for the "ooo"s and "ahh"s of onlookers.  If I had known I'd end up walking through two different pharmacy's and back-and-forth from my car I'd never have worn them.  Oh yes, I still got lots of "ooo"s and "ahh"s, but they were intermixed with my ooo-that-hurts's and ahh-can't-wait-to-take-these-off's.
Yes, I limped instead of strut, but I still looked amazing!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 385: Worth Every Penny

Clinton and I drove out to Cedarburg, Wisconsin on Saturday for the heck of it.  It's about 30 minutes away and it is an adorable town!  There are lots of cute little boutique-type shops to peruse and there's always some sort of outdoor event going on.  What a cute town!
We turned our trip into a scavenger hunt to put together a bird feeder for our backyard that will attract Cardinals for when my parents visit next month.  We made our purchases with success and enjoyed our time together in the meantime.  We came home, fixed supper and then veged on the couch for the rest of the night.
What a great Saturday!

Ha ha:
As I mentioned above, I love the little shops in Cedarburg.  There's this one little boutique (I think it's called Posh) that is all accessories...must-have-type accessories.  Fortunately for me, they were having a sale and I got the cutest pair of black stilettos for $10!!  Ready to be jealous??
I told you they were cute!

Day 384: I Feel Old

We went out with some friends to celebrate my friend Kim's 25th birthday (yes, I'm the oldest of my friends here) on Friday. We met at a local restaurant/bar and at like 9pm (her choice).  The music was super loud and my throat hurt after a while from having to yell to converse, but I still had a great time!  Happy Birthday Kim!
As I've mentioned many times before and as I will continue to do, I am so thankful for great friends here.  Living far away from family is hard, but knowing that I have a great support system here makes it that much easier.  Love you girls!

Ha ha:
When Clinton told me it was time to leave (at about 8:50pm), I looked up at him like, "Seriously?  It's so late!"  I'm so old.
When we got to the bar I couldn't believe how loud it was in there.  I wish'd I brought some ear plugs or something.  I'm so old!
Right around 10 o'clock I started to feel really tired and was ready to head home and go to bed.  I knew it was a bit too early so I stuck it out another 45 minutes before tugging on Clinton's arm.  He turned to me, looked at his watch and said, "It's not even 11 on a Friday night.  I don't want to go home yet."  I'm so old (and Clinton's older than me).
When we wrapped up the night and sent the birthday girl on her way back home, I got into our car and instantly closed my eyes.  I'm soo old.
When we got home I promptly fell asleep and slept till almost 10am the next morning.  I'm old AND pathetic!

Day 383: Phone Successes and Failures

Got to go for a nice walk with Peter and enjoy the wonderful weather last Thursday (I can't believe I haven't written in a week)!  Our walk was accompanied by a hilarious text session (see below) and phone call with my mom.  I'd say it was a rather enjoyable evening.

Ha ha:
I texted my Relief Society president about some church business.  When I got her reply it went a little something like this.
She:  (pertinent content followed by) My clear button isn't working so please ignore the following. elmoappsue x
Me:  Ha ha ha!  Omgoodness that's hilarious.  I think my favorite part was your warning/excuse.  Ha!
She:  (no response)
Me:  Still laughing. "please ignore the following". Ha!
She: I'm so glad you're laughing too!  Thankfully I spent some time earlier today researching phones.  Before encountering this new problem. :)
Me:  Seriously, that's probably one of the funniest things I've seen all day.
She:  Golly. Textr are much harder when I'm thinking very carefully about everything I'm saying! And that was supposed to be an s up there...
Me:  Oh man, stop!  You're killing me!
She:  I'm so glad you're getting as much enjoyment out of this as me! :) wu
Me:  I'm standing here laughing in my kitchen.  I must look like a crazy woman to all the peeping Toms outside. Wu...ha ha!
Seriously, this was so hilarious but maybe one of those I-guess-you-had-to-be-there moments.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 382: Temple Bag

Got to go visiting teaching tonight and see all but one of our sisters (unfortunately, one of our three had a puking child and advised us to avoid her home...but I'm praying their cute little girl feels better soon!) One of our sisters is preparing to go through the temple for the first time next month.  This is something she is taking very seriously and wants to make sure she is really ready for it.  My companion (who is a temple worker herself) and I got to talk about the wonderful blessings and feelings that come from the temple.  I got to share with her what I felt the first time I went through the temple and what I strive to feel each time I go now.  I wasn't exactly expecting it, but when I talked to her about how the purpose of the temple is to bless us mentally, physically and spiritually, I couldn't help but feel the spirit.  I had a really sweet moment there and it just reaffirmed my testimony that the work performed in the temples of God is vitally important and real.
She is very excited to go and I can't wait to be there with her next month!

Ha ha:
I ordered a purse online at the beginning of the month--it was basically everything I was looking for in a bag and more.  I was nervous it's wasn't "trendy enough" but after consulting a couple of my more-fashionforward friends, I bought it.
After a much anticipated seven days, my bag arrived today!! (insert triumphant trumpet)
I giggled when I saw the box and quickly ran inside to open it.
I cut the tape, pulled on the tab and opened the lid...(insert fog horn)
(Though it may appear to be okay-looking, trust me it's U-G-L-Y!)
What a piece of crap!  Not anything like pictured online (black scuff marks all over and red rope sticking out of one of purse straps).  Fortunately for me, I can return the bag for free (I'll just have a credit on that website, but that's fine).  Ugh, seriously, this bag is only appropriate for the leathery-tanned, Mary-Kay-caked, poodle-in-a-purse-carryin' old ladies.  I brought it out to Clinton for his opinion and he said, "Um, what are you 90 and getting onto an airplane with your carry-on?"  Yah.  It's that bad.  Ha ha!

Day 381: Just Peachy

For the first time in my life I got canned...peaches that is!  My friend Mel came over and helped me figure out what the heck I was supposed to do and in about two hours I had 12 pint jars and about 8 smaller freezer bags full of fresh peaches.  Helloooo food storage (that is if I can avoid eating them right away)!

Ha ha:
You know you've lived in the hot and humid Midwest long enough when you see this and think, "Ah, it's finally nice and cool outside!"
After all of the 100+ degree days and high humidity, mid 80s to mid 90s feels so amazing I've had to pull out my cardigans again! Ha!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 380: Not What I Expected but a Welcome Surprise

Went to the dentist office yesterday.  When I went to pay my bill they told me it was $50 less than I had been quoted.  I asked what the credit was for and was told that Clinton paid for something that insurance typically doesn't cover, but their office received reimbursement from our insurance after all!  What a nice surprise!

Ha ha:
Clinton and I were having supper when a song came on the radio that totally sounded like the worst 80's elevator music ever!  I mentioned that it sounded like a bad lullaby, or something one might hear on Care Bears or something.
Me:  (trying to quote the Care Bear saying) Care Bear Cheer!
Clinton: (stopped chewing)  It's Care Bear Stare!  Not Care Bear Cheer.
I laughed and laughed that he knew the Care Bear saying better than I did (not the humble reaction he was hoping for).
I then told him that one of my favorite memories of him is of the time that he sang me the entire "I'm a My Little Pony Girl" song; high-pitched and with hand motions to boot.  So funny!

Day 379: Seeking the Greatest Rewards

I picked up my copy of "Daughters in My Kingdom" the other day and was really inspired by the following quote by Belle S. Spafford, ninth Relief Society general president:
“The average woman today, I believe, would do well to appraise her interests, evaluate the activities in which she is engaged, and then take steps to simplify her life, putting things of first importance first, placing emphasis where the rewards will be greatest and most enduring, and ridding herself of the less rewarding activities.” 3
I feel like this is exactly what I need to do in my life right now: re-evaluate my priorities, cut out the excess, increase the important and enjoy the journey.  What a lovely way of putting it (and a great reminder too). :)

Ha ha:
I thought this was one of the cutest things I've seen in a while and had to share...enjoy!
Makes me laugh every time, partly because this looks so much like my parents' dog and he's just as smiley. :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 378: Millions of Peaches and I Don't Intend on Sharing

Today is a special day...the Georgia peach truck arrived!!!!!  Clinton and I drove out to Elm Grove and stood in line for 30-minutes and got 2 crates of these little pieces of heaven.  The whole drive there I was giddy with anticipation.  My mouth started watering and I couldn't stop thinking about how close I was to being able to eat them again (after a year of waiting).
I'm serious you guys.  You have no idea how good peaches can be until you've had one of these!  Mm-mmmm!  What a wonderfully delicious, nutritious, addicting and soul-satisfying piece of perfection!

Ha ha:
Clinton and I have both had six peaches in the 6 hours we've had them in our home.  Who needs any other food when you've got these babies?  (Fortunately, the temperature has finally cooled down and we can have our windows open this evening...should help with the eminent, copious amounts of gas that will be coming from the both of us.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 377: Busy B (B is for Bum)

Things were so busy at work today that the day flew right by!  If I have to be at work, that's the way to do it!  Helloooo, weekend!!

Ha ha:
It's been so hot here lately (over 100 degrees and really humid for about 5-7 days straight) that this is how we find Peter most of the time...
We got his hair cut really short last night and he's been much more active, but he doesn't like how his bum is exposed; every time he stands up he sits back down really quickly.  We ask him if his bum feels uncomfortable and he looks at us all concerned-like, takes a couple steps towards us, sits back down for a second and then runs to us and sits down.  It's pretty entertaining.

Day 376: Hot Mess

See below.  Fortunately for me, I had a spare water bottle in my drawer.  What a great little miracle!

Ha ha:
I had a doctor's appointment yesterday over in the hospital, the kind that (ahem) requires you to undress from the waist down.  I took my purse so I could pay my bill, and my water bottle out of habit.  When my appointment was over, I grabbed my purse and walked out the door and all the way back to my desk (about a 10-minute walk).  I spoke with several people on my way back and ran a couple small errands.
When I got back to my desk, I realized I'd forgotten my water bottle, called the clinic, they found it and set it aside for me to pick up later.
All the extra running around made me realize I needed to use the restroom, so down the hallway I went (again, saying hello to people as I passed them).  When I got into the stall, I unbuttoned my pants and reached to undo my was already down!  I'd never zipped my pants back up after my doctor's appointment!  I had spoken with and said hello to about 10 different people and my zipper was down the whole time!  How embarrassing!
Well, I did my deed and headed back to my desk to grab my mug for some hot cocoa.  I went back down the hallway, filled up my mug with hot water and then came back to my desk to add my cocoa.  Now, I was sorta distracted thinking about everything going on that day and overfilled my mug like I usually do.  However this time I snapped the lid on--something I don't do until I've drunk it down a bit--and ended up splashing hot chocolate all over my desk and my WHITE pants. (sigh)
What's the moral of the story?  I've not a clue...perhaps if I'd had one I wouldn't have been such a mess...literally!
This is AFTER I totally wet down my pants and used my Tide Stain-Remover pen.  
I am such a winner.

Day 375: Happy Fourth of Jul-Eye

Wednesday--Had a day off from work, got to eat my favorite pancakes from IHOP for lunch and vegged the rest of the day in my air-conditioned home (over 100 degrees and way humid).
Now if THAT'S not a great way to celebrate the Fourth, I don't know what is!

Ha ha:
We and our friends all got together to watch the fireworks from atop the parking structure at the college.  It's a pretty sweet spot, you can see the fireworks from all of the neighboring towns and you don't have to deal with crowds or traffic.  Anyway, at the end of the festivities all of the girls got together for a picture.  As Chelsey's husband was taking the picture he said, "Sorry, but I think you're all going to have red eyes."
"Not me,"  I said, "I'll only have the one!"
He looked down at the picture and laughed, "You're right!"
We all had a good laugh.  

Day 374: Doing a Great Job

Got an email from one of the administrators at the corporate office this week telling me that she had received an email from one of the research faculty that I "was doing a fantastic job".  
That made me feel good!

Ha ha:
All day on Tuesday, the only thing I could think about was how I didn't have to work the next day.  Somehow I still managed to get a lot done at work.  Go me!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 373: Back to the Grind and Grill

Monday morning after 4 days off from work?  Let's just say it took 3 snoozes, an extra 10 minutes just laying in bed and about 20 minutes of prayers asking for help to get up with a good attitude.
I'm happy to report that I made it to work and had a pretty decent day...despite the fact that I was stuck in an office and back to the grind. :)

Ha ha:
As I've mentioned before, I eat the same exact thing for lunch every day: a huge salad and 2 grilled cheese sandwiches (that I make with the sandwich-maker I keep under my desk) with ketchup.  I cook my sandwiches and eat them right around the same time every day.  I do this every day.  And every day, the same people walk by and ask what smells so good and every day I tell them it's my sandwiches.  Then they say, "again?" and I say, "Yep.  Every day."
Is my daily lunch pattern that hard to follow? 

Day 372: That Sounds Fair

During a sister's talk in Sacrament meeting last week (based off of Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Laborers in the Vineyard"), she said that many of us, at times, may say, "life's not fair".  We all have trials, but if we trust that the Lord is mindful of us and that he sends trials our way to make us better, then shouldn't we really be saying, "life is fair"?  He knows what we need to go through to become the people we need to be.  Our trials make us who we are and if certain trials are what it takes for us to learn and grow, then doesn't it make God completely fair?  He is doing all that he can to help us return to him.  Though it at times seems that life can be unfair, we must remember who sets the terms and trust that he knows best and will reward us accordingly.

Ha ha:
Clinton and I were so beat from playing at the water park on Saturday that we totally slept in till 10 am on Sunday!  We really must've played our little bodies into total exhaustion...and I'd totally do it all over again!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 371: Noah's Ahhhhhrk!

Saturday, the last hurrah of our staycation, we drove to Wisconsin Dells and played all day at Noah's Ark Water Park with some friends (Ryan, Mel and Sadie Jackman; Shawn, Huiminn and Hobson Call; and Richard and Jenna Thorsted).  We all had a blast!!  As is usual, Clinton hung out around the wave pool and avoided almost all of the rides however he did venture down the Kowabunga and the Quadzilla.
I, on the other hand, was feeling quite adventurous and went on the Anaconda (it's a flippin' roller coaster, but on water...way awesome!)
The Half-Pipe (I about pooped my suit on this one.  It's a super steep drop--you totally free-fall before landing on the slide--but man, what a rush!)
The Lazy River (not so adventurous, but definitely relaxing)
and the Time Warp
I don't think I'd have felt half as adventurous if it weren't for my friends.  It was so much fun spending the day with them and I am so grateful for my home-away-from-home family!

Ha ha:
For rather obvious reasons I don't want this to become my new nickname, but I was labeled "the screamer" at the park by my friends.  I was having so much fun on all the rides that I'd scream and scream until I started laughing.  Oh man, I had an absolute blast!  My throat was totally hoarse from all of the screaming-turned-laughing.  What a great day! :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 370: What Happens in the Dark

I forgot to post these from our trip to Carthage.  These are pictures from the Dungeon Cell (actually upstairs).  This is where John Taylor was hid until the mob dispersed after killing Joseph and Hyrum.
Here is one of the two windows in the room.  They really didn't make much of a difference for light.  The walls were 3 feet thick!
I sat in this room for about 10 minutes while the other tour group finished their tour.  The guide and I sat on little benches and shared our testimonies of the restoration with each other.  It was a special experience to do so in such a sacred place.

Ha ha:
Here are a few recent pictures of Peter and his snuggling with us.
He loves us so much!...but, I guess it's mutual. :)

Day 369: So Much to See, Feel and Smell

Day 2 consisted of a trip back to Nauvoo (to see what had been closed to us the day before) and a trip to Carthage.  I think my favorite was Carthage.  Fortunately for me, I had just missed a tour group and so a sister offered to take me through by myself.  I got to sit in that jail (just me and the guide) and listen to the retelling of the events leading up to and after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27th, 1844.  The building was so quiet and I couldn't help but feel like I was being let in on a secret or something; the spirit of that place was awesome.
I gained a new appreciation for Joseph Smith and the work he did to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.  I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon; it is filled with truth and testifies of the divinity of Jesus Christ.  I am thankful for the Bible; it too is filled with truth and is a wonderful source of history and examples of how to be a disciple of Christ.
Here are more pictures (there are repeats from yesterday's post, but they were taken with Clinton's good camera as opposed to my poorer-quality phone).

 Smith Family Cemetery (about 25 family members--and friends--of the Smiths)

 Outside the window that Joseph Smith fell from when he was shot and killed
 The top window is the one he fell from
 Notice the warped panes?  These are originals.  Apparently the jail keepers could avoid paying taxes for the glass if the panes were not perfect, so they'd request them to be made imperfect to save a few bucks. :)
 This is the second bullet hole in the door.  It was with this bullet that Hyrum was struck in the face and killed.
 This was the first shot.  It broke the lock on the door and made it possible for the mobs to push their guns further inside.  Interestingly, this piece, as you can see, had been cut from the door.  Until only a few years ago it was missing.  Someone from the family who had the piece, found it in the shed of a relative's home, recognized what it was and brought it to the church to restore to the door.  Pretty cool, huh?
 Window that Joseph fell from.

 Statue of Joseph and Hyrum outside the jail

 These are from Nauvoo.
 Examples of documents that were discussed/used in the upper room of the Red Brick Store (ordinances of the priesthood, organization of the Relief Society, and other special events took place here)
 Statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young overlooking the Mississippi River

 Trail of Hope: a series of plaques with the thoughts and quotes from early pioneers and leaders of the church as they were preparing to leave Nauvoo and cross the Mississippi to travel West. (Notice the temple in the background.  It must have been so hard to leave this place.)

Ha ha:
Clinton and I drove down to the pier so we could touch the Mississippi River.  There were mayflies everywhere (shudder) and the smell was rather unpleasant.  It took us a bit to discover where it was coming from.
Here I am.
 Why am I reaching out so far?
There's about a 12-inch wide sludge of washed-up dead mayfly bodies right at the shore line, made for a pretty horrid smell.
 Here's Clinton