Here are my notes from the last few days. It's been a strange and wonderous time.

Friday night:
I went outside around 9:30. For some reason I was drawn down my lane to the lower level. Once there, away from the lights of the cottage, I looked upward to the sky. What a sight! So many stars twinkling away, so many constellations! It took my breath away. If only you could have been there to see this beautiful twinkling display!

       "Look at the omens rising in the sky.
        You see such extraordinary sights you lose the capacity to respond.
        A new spirit is being born."

Saturday morning:
I just had the most amazing gesture from a complete stranger. He was of slight build, in overalls, his face was leathery and lined. One of his teeth was broken off. He probably looked older than he was, although he said he was retired. He carried himself with dignity, but seemed poor.

I was at McDonalds buying a hash brown. (Yes, so much for organic! I am so weak!) We had started a conversation while waiting in line. When it was my turn, my bill was $1.07. I put out a dollar and started fishing in my coin purse for the seven cents. He reached in his pocket and gave a dime to the man behind the counter.

"Oh, no, you don't have to do that..." I said. "No, really..."

He insisted. "Change has jist a way of collectin' in my pocket," he said in his soft, southern voice.

I thanked him profusely as we waited for our orders to come. We talked more. He lives in an apartment in Rochelle. He explained it was so enclosed and dark in his apartment complex, "The only thing different from a jail is it don't have bars." He's moving to Rockford to a more, open, nicer complex.

His food came and as he left, I thanked him again for his kindness. I  picked up my hash brown and headed for the car.

I'm not sure why this simple gesture hit me so hard, but it did. I sat in the car, almost overcome by his sweet act. He had very little, yet he felt he had more than enough to share. His kindness stays with me and yes, it's true, you do work harder at passing it on. Dear Reader, I hope in some way, I can pass along his kindness to you.

I stopped by my (newer) neighbors on Steward Road near Route 30. They are a young,delightful couple with little Hank (about 19 months old), and little Everett, who - yikes! - today he is exactly 2 months old. How time flies! This is the first time I actually was able to see Everett, because he's always been bundled up in Kristen's car. He is adorable. So is Hank. While I was there, Hank took the broom - which is pretty big for him - and started sweeping the living room carpet! How cute!

I stopped to tell Kristen about my new website, and invite the whole family to the Land this summer for a picnic. I want to use that purple picnic table for the dear people I know! "The kids will love the water. You can teach Hank how to skip stones," I laughed.

Kristen mentioned she had heard a helicopter the other night around 9:30. "I thought to myself, 'who would be flying a helicopter at this time of night'? It was right there!" She nodded outside of her house.

(That's funny, I thought. I heard a helicopter in the middle of the night, too. Was it the same night?)

She knew her neighbor, Rick, had a helicopter. I told her about the one my neighbor has at his airport. (Maybe they're one and the same.)

"(Kristen went on to say - and I paraphrase:) "There are so many planes around here. My boss, who is an avid flyer, but has nothing to do with these people around here, says this area is a training area."

"A training area? Who deemed it a training area? And who are  they training?"

Kristen didn't know.

Funny thing. A training area or a training field. I wonder why they choose this area as a training field with 63 huge wind turbines all around? Come to think of it, a while back another neighbor told me she saw someone who was using the airstrip right next to me - fly right through the wind turbines!

Maybe that's why I feel so safe out here. They (whoever "they" are) are training great pilots-to-be. Of course my imagination runs away with me, and I hope it's military ace pilots or...or maybe even the CIA. Perhaps that's why the planes - whether large or tiny - are SO loud and SO quiet. Kristen is right. There are so many planes around here. It never used to be that way before the "private" airstrip was put in. But it sure is now.  There is a lot of  fly-by's, flying up and down the airstrip next door. In and out, up and down, landing and taking off, flying arund and back again to land and take off and fly around again. Up and down, sometimes for hours on end. Sometimes you can see the sky filled with planes at night. Mostly, those planes are close, and very quiet. It does make one feel safe and secure. (As long as the "pupils" are good students and don't crash!) I hope they are especially good at  night flying.

Perhaps that's why the strange plane flew just a few feet above my roof! (See photos above.) Whoose! You could hear it coming from a long distance away. It only took a few seconds for it to fly in from some unknown place to my cottage! It was  so quick, if I hadn't had been holding my video camera, I would never have been able to capture the incredibly instant flight. It disappeared as quickly as it had come.

And perhaps that's why my neighbor has two really strange "hovering" crafts. Maybe they are all part of the "training." I wonder if the FAA gave these training pilots permission to use this area? Someone had to, especially with these tall wind turbines...Perhaps that's why I received that call from the FAA alerting me to a change of a rule they had about not flying within four nautical miles of two "airways." (That's another story, at another time.)

Now I know why I feel so safe out here! How neat! Perhaps we're part of a staging area for Iraq and Afghanistan. Or a staging area for fighting terrorism. Wouldn't that be cool? We - unknown to us - are doing more for the war effort(s) than we know!

Oops! It's happening again. A strange thing is happening. As I write about planes, my curser just takes off and runs all over the page!  Come to think of it - every time I write about my neighbor's planes, my curser takes on a life of it's own!

Speaking of strange things, Dave and I were trying to light two burn piles yesterday.  The sun had dried out the wood, and we added some fire starter, but they just would not go. Dave is an excellent fire starter, and lately it seems no matter what we put on the burn piles, they just don't burn. Last fall we had the same thing happen. I think I will call the Paw Paw fire department and ask them to do an exercise out here. I will donate some money to the fire department, of course. I have at least 7 huge piles to be burned and ever since last summer, they don't seem to want to burn. Dave says it's like someone is putting fire retardant on them. And that's exactly what it looks like! Even Chris and Smitty thought the wood pile should have burned.

Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Chris and Smitty dropped in yesterday for a visit. They were out scouting a lake they may use today, to make sure there is enough ice on it. It was good to see them. They walked across the ice to where we were working and gabbed a bit. Chris said he saw five robins near my gate as they came in!

Smitty has good news. YouTube contacted him about the infamous catfish video ("Oh, he's a big bast...") he took of Chris last year. They want to put an advertisement on his video! Every time someone clicks on the ad, Smitty will earn a little money. (Very little, but still...) There are over 25,000 hits on that video! So dear Reader, next time you view Smitty's video onYouTube, click on the ad and pennies will be sent to Smitty!

Smitty is still looking for his bungie cord. He lost it out here near the time Chris fell through a fishing hole. (Another story!) Perhaps it's with my bow saw. And all the other things that have gone missing lately.

After everyone left yesterday I cut down more small swamp willows (don't worry, Smitty, they will come back), and what to my is a pussy willow about to bud out! I had to leave that pussy willow to grow. The photos below show  cut  pussy willows in a vase in my cottage, blue sky from the mailbox, and some views from the lake that I labeled, "Waiting for Spring."

Well, dear Reader, it's time for me to get to work. The Sunday church service  for me will take place as I prune around the lake. To me, there is no better place to feel God, especially in the rain.

It was 32.8 degrees this morning at 6AM! The snow is dwindling away. Even with this light rain, I feel the Land and the rising sap calling to me. I guess I'm just a sap! Or as my sister used to say, "It takes one to know one."

Ah, I'm getting silly. It's time to go to work!

In honor of the kind stranger yesterday, I leave you with these words from Rascal Flatts:
"I hope you help someone every chance you get..."


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