BellSong

As for me and my blog, we will serve the Lord!

January 26, 2006

Update on Camp Snoopy

Rumor (and the Star Tribune) has it that the MOA Phase II may include a 300,000 square foot Bass Pro Shop as the anchor for the expansion. Phase II is expected to include a 6,000-seat performing arts center, three hotels, as many as 300 condominiums, an ice rink and a museum.

Bass Pro Shops has humble beginnings: Back in the '70s, Johnny Morris of Springfield, MO started selling fishing lures at his father's liquor store. Thirty-four years later, revenue at the privately held company topped $1.6 billion (in 2004).

I am saddened to report that my earlier optimism for a new water fountain to replace the highly unimaginative "Snoopy's Water Bowl" was premature: they simply covered the "trademarked title" on the side of the bowl with a new sign declaring the highly imaginative new name for the little amusement park: "The Park at MOA".

Sunday I did a quick drive-by of the airport's cargo road hoping to spot the snowy owl that's been hanging out there for a couple months. Saw neither talon nor feather of the owl but I did spot a somewhat unusual raptor: a female Kestrel. My own observations over the years have been that the females migrate to more temperate climes during winter and the mighty males stick it out. Here's a male:


January 22, 2006

Update on my vision

Two weeks ago I posted about a vision I had during a prayer at our homechurch. I don't want to embellish or modify anything, so I cut and pasted my description below:
"...during prayer time, I saw a tall, rough-hewn rock-wall-enclosed channel or canyon with a shorter smooth wall cutting down the middle, dividing the chamber but not closing off the end. I saw a stream of water that ran perpendicular to the short wall; in fact it ran through and under all the walls it intersected. There was a figure kneeling beside the stream with his back to me.
Usually I ask one or more of my Christian brothers to help me to understand these visions. But I believe God provided me with an immediate interpretation: The stream represents God’s grace and love; the walls represent the prison of the flesh world. (Hopefully) the figure represented me partaking in the refreshing promise of God’s love and grace. The fact that the stream flows through and in fact transcends the prison walls shows me that with Jesus, I can escape the prison of the flesh."


The one part of the vision I didn't have an interpretation for was the smooth, short bisecting wall. Today one of our other members offered up his interpretation: Mr. S believes the rough-hewn walls are the prison of sin (and by extension the world, our flesh, anything apart from God), the stream is the refreshing waters of God's love, and the short, smooth wall represents false religion (or perhaps a cursory, flippant, "I go to church every Sunday before the football game starts" attention to God, or "I read the bible at least once a month" spoken with righteous indignity). The smooth wall is painless, comfortable to climb, and appealing in its smoothness, but guess what? It doesn't work! It's not tall enough to climb out of the prison! It doesn't even reach the perpendicular rough wall to give you a lift up or head start.

My own smooth wall leads me to remember Matthew 6:33—"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you".

Whew! I'm glad it's that easy!

January 21, 2006

Sadder-Day

Today is a sadder-day for the Shultz family, and a good day for the orphans of Uganda. A Saturday afternoon departure from the Minneapolis airport begins the first leg of the Pierce family's journey to Jinja, Uganda. Don and Danielle will be joining the Aids Orphans Education Trust organization, helping to build a school, housing and a love of Jesus Christ for a handful of the millions of orphaned children there.



The sad part for us is that this is a family we shared many things with, not least of which was family values, and we will miss them terribly! Besides the numerous dinners, kid get-togethers, and incredible God-talk we shared, D & D shared our views on homeschooling, discipline, and loving our children. That is not something you find everyday.

Andrew and I spent most of the morning helping them finish clearing out their rental home. Hard work and a lot of detritus hauling has left them with a near empty house. When we left, there was at least 4 families from their church helping out. Hopefully they will be free and clear of all worries for their 3:00 ride to the airport and out of our lives.

Goodbye Don, Danielle, Gabrielle, Victoria and Little Sprite (Kaitlin)! We will miss you more than you will know! God bless you.

On the way home, as we munched our highly nutritious Burger King meal, Andrew and I spotted: 5 sitting and 2 flying Redtails and one soaring Bald Eagle.

January 19, 2006

Here I am

I know, I know, all my adoring fans have missed me, but I'm back. I've been working at the All Seasons store at the Mall Of America for several evenings and coming home too mentally drained to be witty in the blogosphere. I've even failed in my quest to spot a raptor a day on most of the last few days.

Today I had a very nice sighting: As I drove east on 98th Avenue from our apartment, a very fine looking adult bald eagle came flying out over the road, escorted by three crows. The eagle was cooly cruising but did have his feet dangling ready to punch an overly aggressive crow.


Yesterday (Thursday) I spotted a lone Redtail sitting in a tree near my mother's nursing home in St. Louis Park.

Speaking of the Bloomington Church of Commerce (Mall Of America), the latest news (now that I'm in the In-Crowd) is that Camp Snoopy will now be called "The Park" and will no longer feature Snoopy characters. That means the big Snoopy's Water Dish fountain will be removed and hopefully something more interesting, imaginative, entertaining and perhaps even well-thought-out will be put in its place! Yay!

Did you know:

☺The Mall of America is big enough to hold 32 Boeing 747s

☺If a shopper spent 10 minutes browsing at every store, it would take them more than 86 hours to complete their visit to Mall of America

☺There are 12,550 parking spots on-site

☺There is 4.2 million square feet of gross building area

☺There are anywhere from 11,000 to 13,000 people employed at the stores of MOA

☺And the big news: They will be breaking ground this summer on Phase II which may contain an ice-skating rink, a water park and is zoned for up to 5.7 million square feet of new development!!

January 12, 2006

Redtail, Redtail Everywhere

I was just remarking to my boss at the All Seasons Eagan store, about the lack of anything but Redtails to be listed. And so on my way home, as I came down the entrance ramp to Highway 77 from Cliff Road, guess what I saw? T'was a beautiful adult female Cooper's Hawk pumping hard into the wind to cross 494. Very cool! (This is not that bird! Just a photo borrowed from Google Images.)

I also spotted a big hawk perched in a tree on my way to work, at Old Shakopee Road at 77. One guess...

Wednesday's Hawk

On our way home from the Children's Museum, Andrew and I spotted a buxom hen Redtail facing SW in a tree off Highway 5 near the 55 exit. Also a juvenile sitting low in a sapling off westbound 494 in front of the NWA hangars.

The Children's Museum, by the way, has a neat exhibit about Japanese culture and popular art. The highlight for us was the collection of icons from Hayao Miyazaki’s film, My Neighbor Totoro. This is one of Andrew's favorites. My favorite Miyazaki film is Spirited Away which contains this little gem: "Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can't remember".

January 10, 2006

Speaking of hawks...

I've decided to emulate one aspect of a blog that I visit daily, that of the famous Birdchick. She's a very hip birder, raptor-enthusiast and a personal friend of one of my favorite authors of unusual fiction, Neil Gaiman.

Birdchick has made it a 2006 goal to spot at least one wild raptor each day during her travels and report it on her blog. I like that idea...but I'm a little behind.




Monday, 1/09 - Andrew and I, on our way to the Science Museum, spotted two Redtails perched in a tree near the airport on Highway 5, both facing the morning sun.

Tuesday 1/10 - I spotted a very dark Redtail soaring over the NE corner of the intersection of Cliff Road and Highway 77.

Extreme Birdfeeding

I started working part-time at the All Seasons Wild Bird Stores , the Eagan and the Sprawl of America locations a few months ago. One of the most frequent and long-running conversations I’ve had with my new birdfeeding co-workers has been about my falconry avocation. Many folks are under the impression that falconry is a hobby. Not a chance. In fact the reason I am in inactive mode right now is because the "falconry lifestyle" doesn’t mesh real well with the "youngster and home-based business lifestyle". My hope is that when Andrew is about 10, I’ll be able to re-integrate "extreme birdfeeding" into my life, with Andrew learning along the way.

My favorite bird, a breeder-produced Harris’ Hawk named "Nicole", earned early accolades from the St. Louis falconers during her inaugural year. Seeing her hard-hitting style (not typical of her species) and the result of that style on her captured game, she was re-monikered "The Hammer". Despite her gung-ho attitude toward game, she was a pleasant, albeit noisy bird to be around. Sweet natured comes to mind. This photo was taken after her first rabbit catch. (The longhaired and fairly skinny guy is none other than your blogmaster).

I had quite a few adventures with Hammer. She once captured a former fiancée’s dog—twice in less than 2 minutes. The dog was fine but the relationship suffered. She nailed a feral cat whose bite to Hammer’s wing put her out of commission for 2 months. She was a great squirrel hawk; she ended her first season with her first squirrel—a nearly 3 pound fox squirrel. The following year saw her put 3 squirrels in the bag in 45 minutes on several occasions.
Hammer seemed to believe anything was fair game. She chased deer, coyote, groundhogs, quail, and woodcock. In Minnesota she mastered the art of car-hawking crows and chased and rolled her first ever white-tailed jackrabbit. The jack left her standing in the field shaking her head! But the Minnesota cold was too much for her. She now resides in a breeding project in Valdosta Georgia. I miss her.

January 08, 2006

...whatever you do...

...do all to the glory of God."—1 Cor. 10:31

How will I blog to God’s glory?

Often times during prayer time at church or Wednesday night men’s group, God sends me visions. Some of them are cRyptiC: white-hatted cowboy on a white horse moving away from me, the horse straddling—sliding down—the barbed wire fence!

Some are very cryptic: a stained glass picture in a frame, the image that of a silver and red sentient and benevolent dragon with brown mammalian eyes that pulls its two-dimensional head away from the background, becoming 3-d and slowly shaking its head.


And some are fairly self-explanatory: a white, sawn-off tree stump with a new branch growing from the side of the stump and the still, quiet words spoken "You think you have reached a dead end, but there is another direction for your journey".


Today during prayer time, I saw a tall, rough-hewn rock-wall-enclosed channel or canyon with a shorter smooth wall cutting down the middle, dividing the chamber but not closing off the end. I saw a stream of water that ran perpendicular to the short wall; in fact it ran through and under all the walls it intersected. There was a figure kneeling beside the stream with his back to me.

Usually I ask one or more of my Christian brothers to help me to understand these visions. But I believe God provided me with an immediate interpretation: The stream represents God’s grace and love; the walls represent the prison of the flesh world. (Hopefully) the figure represented me partaking in the refreshing promise of God’s love and grace. The fact that the stream flows through and in fact transcends the prison walls shows me that with Jesus, I can escape the prison of the flesh. (I could be totally off here, so feel free to submit your thoughts and interpretations).

Now the question is: Is this post glorifying to God? That God felt me—fat and flawed, formerly steeped in sinful living, nearly devoid of redeeming qualities (you know, flesh and blood human)—a worthy receptacle of these visions, reveals His incredible, utterly ungraspable capacity to love, forgive, and encourage. Sharing His awesome, loving nature to any who will read this seems the least I can do. I hope that glorifies Him.

January 06, 2006

Cephalagiatorium

So I was accused of making up words recently when I called the local Chuck E. Cheese "restaurant" a cephalagiatorium (a place that causes headaches, and yes I made that up). Never one to shy away from honorary titles like neologist (one who coins new phrases) or vocabularian (same definition), I decided to pad my credentials by performing a little lexpionage (the sleuthing of new words and phrases) via the internet.
And so as I gaze out the window at all the mid-winter snirt (snow that is dirty, often seen by the side of roads and parking lots that have been plowed) and dread the onset of afternoon cognitive displaysia (the feeling you have before you even leave the house that you are going to forget something and not remember it until you're on the highway), I chuckle to myself at the hell I’m about to put my spellchecker through with this report. No doubt it will become confuzzled (confused and puzzled at the same time). But I, and it will plow through.
Okay, that was awkward writing, not to mention the optotoxical (of or pertaining to poisonous looks that could kill, esp. from a spouse) glares from Minda as I typed while pretending to listen to her talk. (Not really, I would never do that!)
So here’s a few more of my finds from this dictionary:
precuperate (v): prepare for the possibility of being ill
detroitus (n): car parts found alongside the highway
quackmire (n): muddy edges of a duck pond
whinese (n) a language spoken by children or spouses on long road trips
flusterpated (adj.) a state of being flustered that's so intense, one's actions and words become bound up

And here's a gratuitous photo of a very cool vizsla, just for fun!


January 05, 2006

Former BlogScoffer...

that's what my wife called me when she saw that I had created my own blog. I prefer the archaic "scoffblog". Sounds much more literary.

For anyone interested, the "BellSong" title does not pertain to the opera by the same name. Actually, the bellsong to which I refer is the sound of falconry bells as they approach and then fly past on the ankles of a trained hunting hawk. The Doppler effect of ringing hawk bells, so to speak. It's one of my favorite sounds in all the world and I miss it greatly during this hiatus from falconry!

In The Beginning...

I scoffed at blogs. Then my better half started one. Hmmm. Then I found a few in my vein of interest. Then it hit me: I can do this! So here it is, my blog.
I always was a trendsetter! If you don't have a blog yet, you better get cracking. I'm quite certain once news hits the wire of what I have done, there will be hundreds of blogs cropping up faster than you can say "squirrel feeders will never sell well".