Monday, August 29, 2011

Remember? “How many people can you get in a Volkswagon?”

I love how our friends stretch us, encouraging us to taste things we have not tasted, go places we have not gone, do things we have not done . . . broadening our awareness and interests.

We do things with them that we would not do on our own—things that no persuasive power could move my hubby . . . except that he, too, enjoys the company of friends. In that I am very blessed.

It is not that we do not like the band . . .
I like their name . . . Chicago,
a minor theme throughout my blog. . .
This is more of the same story but with a different twist.
It is just that the tickets were more than the usual $10 lawn tickets
and I only remembered one song by the group
and there is road construction everywhere,
especially on Lake Cook Road . . .
making the commute to Ravinia two hours instead of 45 minutes
and as we were loaded down like camels,
with chairs, coolers, tables, and blankets . . .
shuffling into the park like cattle,
attempting to hang on to each other like kindergarten children on a string . . .
my hubby whispered, “Remind me, why do we like this?”
Then he answered his own question, “The friends, the friends, the friends.”

We intended to arrive early to save some real-estate for a group of 19 people. It is a long story of why I was in charge.
We had not counted on our bumper-to-bumper, slower-than-walking travel experience.
When we arrived, the park already looked like this.

But we boldly put our tarp and blanket into a
postage stamp area . . . you can see the area right in front of the picture.
It was actually large enough for about six people.
Here is where the Volkswagen experiences of our youth came in handy. . .
As each new carload of friends joined us, we were able to get a few more into the space . . .

And then a few more

And then a few more

Finally all seventeen, one in a wheelchair--two did not make it--wiggled in place and enjoyed the concert.

And yes, we did enjoy it.
The band is really, really good.
And looks to be about the age of us.
And they look pretty good and fit . . .
Except kind of old
And they are incredibly energetic!
They played the one song that I knew
And most of the people in our group knew most of the songs.
The screen was a big hit for us.

Usually we sit on the grass and see nothing—except each other—but this time we could actually see what what those in the high money seats in the pavilion were seeing—maybe better—like when you go to a ballgame, those watching from home may actually see it better.
It was an outdoor movie-concert on a beautiful, beautiful evening.

At one point, Donna, leaned over to me and said, “Does it seem a little funny that these old men are crooning out love songs?”

It was fun, being with friends, experiencing together, remembering old times and making new memories.

Part of the fun was that the band seemed to enjoy each other and enjoyed performing—laughing and smiling among themselves. It is good to laugh.

Yay! for friends that stretch.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Fat Lady is Singing!

I just exhaled!
It is done!

We listed our house for sale one year ago.
We owned two houses for five months.
Finally, finally, finally, we own just one.
I wondered if it would ever happen but it did.
We can breathe in. We can breathe out.
God is gracious and merciful.
We are amazed and very thankful.
We are blessed.
And relieved.
Full of praise.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I do so love Chicago.

I love that it is on Lake Michigan.

I love that someone a long time ago had the foresight to preserve the lakefront for the commoners.

A few of us had made plans for a Chicago day months ago. We had no way of knowing that it would be a perfect day.

We forgot that it was the weekend of the air show. What a bonus!

We have certainly have had our share of bad weather days but it has not dampened our love of the city.

The Groupon that we purchased was for a sail boat ride on Bliss with Leonardo from Italy. See his little flag on his boat.

In celebration of Jim’s birthday, we ate at the Yacht Club—yes at a round table right by the water.

Then we walked to Buckingham Fountain, found seats and waited for the evening show.

It was spectacular! and free and moving and thrilling.

Here is a combination of two short clips if you are interested in going . . . my hubby was singing along part of the time.

The only thing that could have been better is some Garrett’s Popcorn and Bobtail ice cream to finish our day.

We were just too full.

Yes, that full!

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Edge of the Ledge

In celebration of Kent’s 17th birthday, he and I spent a day enjoying Chicago. Last year on his 16th birthday, we were not able to get a day that worked for both of us so I wanted this Grandma Day to be special. I love talking with Kent and hearing his unique perspective on things we see and on life. We started out walking about three miles from the Ogilvie train station to Magnolia Street.

We had a beautiful day and it was great to be outside and enjoying Chicago. Our first activity was to kayak on the Chicago River.

The kayaking was fun but tiring. I was just glad to keep up with the group.

Of course, Kent did great and was out in the lead with the guide all of the time. About six times we stopped to“raft up”, holding on to others' kayaks as the guide talked. Both Kent and I enjoyed the tour and stories told by our guide.

At the Kenzie Street bridge Kent heard the story of Dave Matthews tour bus dumping waste and the Chicago Flood of 1992. They were new stories to Kent who was not born when the flood happened and was only 10 years old for the other event.

I was impressed by the story of Montgomery Ward, known best for the first mail-order catalog. He spent 20 years engaged in a battle to save the lakefront for the people of Chicago. In 1909, he granted an interview to the Chicago Tribune, the only interview he ever gave in his life, he said,
Had I known in 1890 how long it would take me to preserve a park for the people against their will, I doubt I would have undertaken it. I think there is not another man in Chicago who would have spent the money I have spent in this fight with certainty that gratitude would be denied as interest…I fought for the poor people of Chicago, not the millionaires…

Our guide reminded us that Montgomery Ward stores and businesses were bankrupted some years ago. All that Ward worked for and kept for himself and his family is gone. What remains is what he gave away.

Following a quick lunch, we headed up to the Sears/Willis Skydeck. I have been up to the Skydeck several times recently but Kent had never been there. I think that anyone that claims Chicago as their city needs to see it at least one time so we went. It was a great visit with Kent because he studied the views—picking out the various buildings, looking for familiar sites. Of course, we both enjoyed “The Ledge.”

Being with Kent, helps me see things from a different perspective. As we gazed at the globe sculpture outside by the Willis Tower, Kent said something like, “That is a great visual of the massive size of the Pacific Ocean” causing me to marvel as well at how much water is on our planet earth.

Also, as we looked out of the Willis windows from 103rd floor, he mentioned that it is actually more dramatic looking at the building from the ground up than from the top down.

I agree. Is there a life lesson in that?

I bought half price tickets at Hot Tix. I am not comfortable navigating around on the “L” but we did just fine and took the purple line to go and see Blue Man Group.

BMG have been performing in Chicago since 1997, however, it was a new experience for me. We did have fun but one time was enough for me.

What a joy for me to have this opportunity to touch and experience and enjoy Chicago with Kent. I was consciously aware that I wanted to soak it all in, absorb the experience, enjoy the wonderfulness of the day. These are precious moments with my grandson on the threshold of adulthood.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nest Building

All during the nest-building process, she [the hummingbird] periodically sits in the nest and squirms about, fitting the interior to just the right size for her body. Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Robert Sargent, p. 40

We are moved to our home—okay mostly moved. We won’t be completely out of Shire until next week because I am collecting things for a garage sale in the garage of our old house.

I love our new home. I don’t want to go back to our old house but I do still miss some things.

I am still rooting around, figuring out where to put things, rearranging, deciding. It is a process.

Our first few days in our new home, I missed the birds. We had cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeak, downy and hairy woodpeckers on Shire. They are our version of pets, requiring no care except to keep the feeders full.

So I talked my hubby into putting up a food court of sorts. (Believe it or not, this is the short story. There were numerous other singular shorter poles and posts and hooks—much more discreet—before we discovered this all-in-one very tall, very white, very conspicuous solution.) I chuckled when my DIL suggested that it would be quite easy to paint it green. Perhaps that would make it more tree-like.

I just wanted to woo some birds to our new treeless yard.

But when putting up our avian feeding station, we needed to put it farther from house than at our old house because we are on a hill—kind of. So it is pretty much right in the middle of our backyard—standing all by itself.

Even so, far as the feeders are from the window, we have birds. If you feed them, they will come.

In just a few days, we had flocks of goldfinch. Sometimes as many as fourteen at our feeders all at one time. Goldfinches know how to flock together. How we enjoy watching them!

At first we thought we would just fill three hooks with feeders. Then I remembered that birding can be highly addictive. I filled the rest of the hooks with sunflower seeds and suet one at a time. Each time hubby came home from a trip, he noticed a new feeder. However, because of my diligence, we started seeing a few cardinals, lots of chickadees and an occasional woodpecker. (It is hard to get a photo of the woodpecker but he is on the suet.)

About this time, I was particularly excited because hummingbirds started paying regular visits. I had tried in vain to attract them to our old home and was never successful but now we have hummingbirds dive bombing their own kind and other birds, too, with regularity and we are so tickled at their presence. We seem to have only female hummers but they sure are fun!

Wanting a much closer look at these tiny girls, I persuaded my hubby to put up an extension for a hummingbird feeder right on our new house. I remember some family members fretting about my Dad climbing ladders when he got older. Now perhaps some think Bob (and I?) should not climb ladders. I understand my Dad better now. Together Bob and I got the job done.

And sure enough, hummingbirds come right up to the house! I faithfully change the sugar water every two to three days.

We are so happy with our new little bird friends.

Except one night we looked out and saw a striped polecat and that did not make us happy.

And the next night, we saw four!

We soon ascertained that skunks like sunflower seeds.

So we decided to remove that venue from our food court.

Unfortunately, those black and white stripes were around again the following night.

As the result of many Google searches, I raided my pantry and refrigerator for home remedies. I happened to have a whole jar of 2003 red pepper flakes in the pantry—yes, I don’t know why I moved them to the new house but when cleaning the pantry, they made the cut. Scary, huh?

Except that was good, because I did not feel at all bad scattering the whole expired jar under our feeders.

I also found a whole bottle of lime juice—not expired—and spread that in figure eights on top of the pepper flakes.

Since I did not want to kill the grass, those were the only two home remedies that I could use on the first evening of skunk assault. And actually, I think they worked.

The skunks have stopped coming under the feeders. It is probably more because we removed their food source.

On that first night of four skunks in the backyard, in my panic, I ordered some Shake Away Fox Urine Granules. Yes, I really did. It came in the mail—Yay Amazon Prime—in two more days.

And so, since I had paid for the stuff, I sprinkled granules under the feeder. Just to let you know, they smell worse than any rotten anything you have smelled in your whole entire life! Actually, just writing the words nearly brings on a gag reflex.

I was concerned that the birds would leave but the SAFU did not seem to have any effect on them. Except, unfortunately the cardinals are not coming to the feeders as there is nothing available to eat that they fancy.

The hummingbirds keep us entertained. I think I will need therapy when they fly back to Central America in another month.

Maybe by then we will be brave enough to woo the cardinals back with sunflower seeds.

I think this is all part of my squirming about.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Very Small Boy

"It is hard to be brave," said Piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Simple Pleasures, Simply Put . . .

WaterFloaty Things
CrittersFishingCheering fans
BallgamesBirdsBlankiesBreakfastTea PartiesYummy treats!BathsBooks

Simply Wonderful!