Children of the corn

I come from a family of farmers. Well, my grandpa farmed. And his brothers. And his nephews. And now my uncle is his sole child who’s pursued the work of the earth. (Luckily his youngest son is also following that path.) It’s an honorable way to make a living, but a very difficult one. I suppose that’s why so many farm families give it up and sell their land.

That’s what happened all around my uncle’s property. There are new homes popping up everywhere. He used to view unending fields of corn and other crops from his backyard. Now he can’t even bear to spend time on the patio where we always gathered for family picnics. The newly contructed homes he sees from that spot remind him every day about the way the world is changing.

So this time around the lawn chairs were set up near the garage, under a mulberry tree, where we faced his still-active fields of corn. The grills, manned by my cousin Tracy, produced burgers, ribs and hotdogs. The aunts and uncles produced creamy macaroni, simmered baked beans and potato salad (and, thanks to Aunt Nancy, s’mores!).

Horseshoes, baseball, sidewalk chalk and four-wheeling were the activities of choice. It was a perfect summer day on a lovely four-day weekend. Wish we could have stayed for the bonfire, but my little guy tuckered himself out exploring the place.

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Barbecue chicken pizza

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Made this one up during my trip to the grocery store — features red onions, spinach and, I know it’s odd, but navy beans. The crust is Boboli because it was spur-of-the-moment. It was pretty good, but I overdid the barbecue sauce a bit.

Usability redesigned

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More pumpkin merriment

Cool.

Jakob Nielsen is probably the best-known usability “expert” out there. He keeps his site super simple to prove his point. But designers were challenged to make the site better while still adhering to his principles. Some of the submissions are pretty interesting. Of course I’m of the mindset that plain and boring don’t necessarily = better usability. Great design can add a lot of impact to a Web site, especially when the designer or team understands how to organize content. (via Zeldman)

Boo!

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One of several knick-knacks I felt compelled to buy for the season

Tiffany, Scott and I conquered The Haunt last night. It was scarier than last time around, but I have to temper my expectations. I’m never SCARED. I’m simply startled by these crazy people jumping out of the shadows. And the big creepy clown guys getting right in my face. Especially since we’d just eaten dinner and I had what I’m sure was a bad case of garlic breath. Poor clowns.

My husband is quite witty. During our last trek through the clown area, he said to the guy, “So if I eat you, will you taste funny?” This time around he said to the guy in the fool costume, “Yeah, well you’re a fool.” The actor didn’t get the humor. He shot back with, “YOU’RE the fool!” Hmmm.

Also: I’ve only taken two mini packs of Milk Duds from the pumpkin since yesterday’s post.

We haven’t yet carved our pumpkins, even though I have all the tools.

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And my dogs came home from “daycare” the other day with a special trick-or-treat bag that contained rawhides, tennis balls and two lovely spidery things that look like this:

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(Yes, I take my dogs to doggie daycare once a week. That’s a topic we can examine further at another time.)

Muzak

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Watts Orchard, Howard City, Michigan

I had a slight billing dispute to settle today. Oh, brother. When you want to order something, a cheerful operator answers the phone before the first ring. But when you have a real question or problem, here comes the muzak. And how awful it was. They truly mangled “Let It Be,” which is a sin in itself, before throwing several bad 70s tunes at me, all of which had some funky keyboard/organ thing going. The worst part was, no one actually “answered” the phone. When it connected, I was immediately blasted with this dreadfully fake-happy music. Four songs worth!