31 October 2008


Costco used to have the best hot dogs in the world and they were huge! But, they have switched brands and now Sam's Club has the best hot dogs in the world! Portillo's jumbo beef is a very close second, and their fries are wonderful.

I love hot dogs. Always have; always will. Don't try to scare me or influence me otherwise; I remain unmoved. While my condiments have changed over the years, my love is true.

The perfect hot dog has Dijon or brown mustard, chopped onions, and sweet pickle relish--no ketchup, no sauerkraut, no celery seeds, tomatoes, or cucumbers. But, if you must remain sociable you can skip the onions and still savour the experience.

There are many really bad hot dogs. Probably the absolute worst hot dogs were those served on a corner near my growing up home at The Velvet Freeze. They were 5 for $1.00 and they were bland and served on a squishy white tasteless bun.

Ballpark dogs have the reputation of being a necessity, but the best ballpark food has to be in Baltimore's Camden Yards. It's a spectacular stadium and they have BBQ ribs and crab cakes and the best lemonade! We visited during the last days of Nolan Ryan and the stadium was packed. Even my die-hard Cub fan had a wonderful time.

Corn dogs! I almost forgot corn dogs. So hot they burn your tongue and dipped just in mustard. You have to go to a state fair to really experience a corn dog. We've tried them at home and at shopping malls, but it is no contest. It takes the heat and raunchiness of a state fair to give corn dogs their appropriate flavor and ambiance.

Bagel dogs? Forget about it! Those are not bagels! And, the hot dog in the middle is just not good.

Keep it pure and make it a Best Kosher or Vienna Beef and you really have something worth the risk!

30 October 2008


They have asked me to work two 20-hour weeks! Since I have been actually working less than 20-hours a week since I began this assignment, it will be interesting to see how many hours I can fill in a 20-hour week. I took the time to check my calendar and train schedule before agreeing. I can work a 9:00am - 3:30pm, six-and-a-half hour day without lunch, so I signed on.

I can tell that my energies are waning... Just the wear and tear of the commute and length of days is taxing. My creativity has been low and I miss it. I have projects to complete before our November 22nd departure for Europe and places to be and people to see...

I want to bake 5 or 6 different kinds of cookies to give to friends for the holidays even though we leave before Thanksgiving--Monster Cookies, oatmeal raisin, shortbread, peanut butter shortbread, and pecan tassies. Not a Christmasy assortment, but some of my best recipes. I will package like kinds separately and freeze in Ziplock bags. RvH shines with presentation, so there is no need for me to arrange.

The promised pillow covers are still just an idea. While I did cut out the first, good thing I remembered that I had purchased yardage for a table runner, too, before I cut any more. First we need to buy a 50cm square pillow for at IKEA--tomorrow--and then I can plow forward.

Next weekend we go to central Illinois to visit family and the following to Omaha to deliver Christmas gifts and begin planning the little baby girl's room. Can hardly wait! The little squishy guy will have a baby sister soon. He is such a loving and intentional little guy--mommy and daddy's little helper, I am sure.

27 October 2008


My best friend is distraught over the economy and the state of her investments. I have investments. I should be distraught. I'm not stupid, but I am not over-wrought. We are ALL in this boat together. This crosses all boundaries--national, international, socio-economic, etc.

I realize that I need to stop reassuring her. She deserves to vent her frustrations and fears. I thought, "What do I know?" Then, I read through a recent message by John Ortberg and was reassured... Not that all my money will be there again soon, but that it really doesn't matter.

I’ll give you the best investment advice you will ever receive, and you are not likely to hear it from Warren Buffet, and here it is: You’re going to die. You are going to die, rich or poor.
All the money in the world cannot change that, so do not buy the myth that enough money can ever make you one iota more secure than you are right now. You have to build your life on something stronger than that. The reality is housing values will go up and down. Bank accounts rise and fall. Financial conditions ebb and flow. I can't build my life on that stuff. What is more solid? I think what Jesus, the smartest guy about money who ever lived, would say today is build your life on what never changes and what never changes is the character and the power of our God.
I was thinking about how there’s a ticker that everybody pays attention to these days on the floor of the New York stock exchange—what’s up; what’s down; what’s unchanged. I was thinking, if there was a ticker for the kingdom of God…
What matters most is the character and the competence of our God. Here’s how that ticker would read:
God’s character today: Unchanged.
God’s patience today: Unchanged.
God’s commitment to justice today: Unchanged.
God’s heart of mercy today: Unchanged.
God’s love for you: Unchanged.
God’s moral compass: Unchanged.
The market has dropped, but nothing in Heaven has changed today. God is still sovereign. Jesus still sits on the throne at the right hand of His Father. He is our rock. He is the anchor in the storm. He is our only hope. He is the North Star that alone we can be guided by.
By the way, Congress does not get to vote on this, and by the way, the next president will not need to cobble a deal to make arrangements for the kingdom of God.
By the way, the kingdom of God will never need to bail out from the US Treasury. It’s doing real well. So don't buy the myth that money can make you secure. Get your security someplace else.

Where is God During Financial Melt Down
John Ortberg
Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

25 October 2008


Since DM is home from Europe for a few days, we decide the three of us will cook together our favorite cuisine--New Mexican. And, since one of my favorite bloggers recently won the Whole Foods Market Budget Recipe Challenge with one of our favorite recipes, we head for Joseph's to gather the ingredients for Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas from Karina Allrich's Karina's Kitchen.

And, no New Mexican meal would be complete without Border Grill's Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's guacamole recipe.

3 ripe avocados, preferably Haas
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 med. red onion, diced finely
3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
3 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. salt (or less)
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Halve avocados; remove seeds. Scrape avocado into mixing bowl--sprinkle with lime juice.
2. Dice red onion and jalapeño; chop cilantro.
3. Mix all ingredients together.
4. Serve immediately.

Technique: The simplest and best way to remove the avocado from it's skin is to cut cross-hatches through the meat of each half without piercing the skin. Then, squeeze the avocado by holding the outside skin in the palm of your hand. The good stuff comes out with just the right combination or mashed and chunks.

These are standout recipes--better than you can expect to get in most restaurants. Share the fun and draft a sous chef or two to bring this meal together in less than 30 minutes. It always goes faster if you take the time to prep--squeeze the limes, chop the onions and jalapenos, mince the garlic and cilantro. Then, call in the troops. Everyone feels they have had a part and too many cooks don't really spoil anything!

Just for fun we roasted some sweet corn in a dry skillet on top of the stove and put it in the bowl before scooping the guac on top. We all agreed the corn is a great addition. Think "complete" protein. Fresh, filling, and satisfying. It doesn't get much better.

24 October 2008


Ediburgh, July 2007

internecine - adj. deadly; mutually destructive

"This is becoming internecine..."
Knots & Crosses
by Ian Rankin

Again, a U.K. author. Detecting with a British/Scottish twist. Rankin writes a good novel. Interestingly his main character DCI John Rebus is an earthy man who dialogues with and about God...

Love the references to Edinburgh. We spent one day there in July 2007--marking it as a city to revisit. A very walkable and beautiful city with great pubs and flower-filled gardens and window boxes even on commercial streets.

It does rain! But, just carry an umbrella and bring it out when necessary.

23 October 2008


Spent another night in the city. This time joined by CA, DM, JE & the little squishy guy. Gino's East pizza is one of the best Chicago-style. YUM! You really can't go wrong having pizza in Chicago. We didn't invent it, but the deep dish twist was born here.

Many years ago the Chicago Tribune published an article on the foods various cities claim and included a deep dish pizza recipe that was a family favorite for years.


[Chicago Tribune]

1 pkg. Dry yeast
1 Cup Warm water
1 T. Sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1 T. Olive or vegetable oil
2-3/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Cornmeal

12 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 lb. Pork or Italian sausage
28 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably Pomadoro),
drained and crushed.
2 tsp. Oregano, dried and crushed
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Fennel seeds, crushed with mortal & pestle
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar--mixture should bubble up
if yeast is active. If not, start with fresh yeast.
2. Add salt and oil to yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl.
3. Stir in flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface.
4. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 - 10 minutes.
5. Place dough in well-oiled bowl with tall sides--turning dough to coat all sides.
6. Cover dough bowl with plastic wrap and then a clean towel.
7. Put in a warm place [inside oven with a pan of hot water on lower shelf] and
let rise until doubled (@2 hours).
8. Punch dough down and cover again with towel.
9. Brush broiler pan or 14" diameter 2 " deep pizza pan with oil.
10. Sprinkle oiled surface with cornmeal.
11. Press dough in pan and 1" up sides. Cover again with plastic wrap and towel.
12. Let rise @ 20 minutes while preheating oven to 500 degrees.
13. Line dough with cheese. Arrange sausage on top of cheese, add tomatoes.
14. Combine seasonings and sprinkle over pizza. Top with parmesan.
15. Place pizza in oven and immediately lower temperature to 450 degrees.
16. Bake 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Don't want to wear out my welcome, so this is probably the last overnight during this temp job. What a gift to be able to crawl early into bed mid-week, sleep an extra hour in the a.m., and get to work in less than an hour. And, a chance to play with the effervescent Sophie!

The weather is turning, the rains are more often, and the northside walkways are crunchy with drying leaves. I love it! Who knew I was really a city person? And, I love seeing the lakeshore with crashing waves reminiscent of the sea. I have known for a very long time that I am an ocean person vs. a mountain person. Lake Michigan is a suitable stand-in when time and distance keep me from the seashore. Where else can you get the city and the sea twice a day every day?

22 October 2008


Attended a jewelry-making party at the home of a good friend. A clever idea even though the presenter was wound a bit tightly and had a shrill voice. Possible a career in direct sales should be reconsidered.

I followed the pattern precisely--small beadwork not being my most creative endeavour. A lovely gift for my mother-in-law.

Cooking and sewing and interior decorating are areas where I can shine. I always follow the recipe the first go-through; no substitutions. Many times the creator has it nailed, but once in awhile I can give it a slight spin or adjust for improvement. Then the recipe is mine! I will take the credit.

I hadn't sewn in years until early summer. It's like riding a bike! I climbed back on and created a commuting bag with a divider and pockets and a little bling for show. Then the aforementioned tutu and next the long-promised pillow covers in a sage green chenille.

The women in my family read cookbooks like novels--for entertainment and relaxation. That's why we are all great cooks--each and every one of us.

21 October 2008


It amazes me that companies are willing to pay me to do... NOTHING. Keeping a temp busy takes organization and time, so the default is ignoring the temp. I greet the appropriate people each morning and then check my email. Then I read the news on-line, and if the day proceeds as usual I then begin searching the blogs and reading those pertinent to our November / December travel plans. Once in awhile I am given a small assignment, but since the first 1-1/2 to 2 weeks, I have more down time than productive time.

I am getting good at filling these hours, but I would rather work for my money. The days go much faster. And, I am still as tired at the end of a lazy day as a busy one. The main difference being that at the end of a productive day I feel better about myself. But, I ask for work and about taking on new projects. I think they have over-estimated the workload. Pity the person who takes this as full-time.

20 October 2008


A beautiful, sunny Fall weekend. A gift--as we'd expected to be out of town. Saturday I met RvH for a chick flick and then a wonderful lunch with CA at Claim Jumpers. The Jamaican jerk chicken sweet potato is over-the-top wonderful. I ate only half, so someone is having a great lunch at my house today. Then, a quiet afternoon and evening with our favorite edible guests Ben & Jerry for dinner!

Sunday we drove to Lake Geneva for breakfast with a friend at Egg Harbor and then a beautiful drive along a rustic road just beyond Lake Geneva just off Hwy 50 West. The colors are marvelous--this was either THE weekend or one before the peak. Depending on how much rain and how hard the winds blow this week.

This has been my summer and fall for Lake Geneva. While living close for 30+ years, we usually make the trip just once or twice a year. We've learned to go more often because the atmosphere and views take us away from our ordinary and land us into our vacation mindset. A 25 minute drive and we are relaxed and mellow.

Lots of errands midday, but our reward is that our squish little guy arrived to teach us his words and to learn the wind-up and the pitch from his PaPa.

Looking forward to a fun week with both our children and little JA. Lots of good food and a bit of shopping, with a quick trip into the city on Thursday by everyone who isn't already there working!

19 October 2008


A new word. Elizabeth George uses in the Inspector Lynley mystery, In the Presence of the Enemy.

suzerainty: A noun; from the French. Means overlordship. Try working this one into conversation.

I am going to have to keep a dictionary just next to me when I read--especially if I continue with these English/Scottish authors. Somehow I believe the U.K. education includes a better vocabulary than what we get in the U.S. Although ex-pat Andalucia blogger Andrew Forbes claims he grew up in England without a clue about the rules of grammar, thus hindering his initial attempts to become fluent in Spanish.

We are counting down the days until our trip to Central Europe and then the south of France, coast of Spain, and Paris. We are learning so much from the blogs of others. I love the Internet!

17 October 2008


A new word for today...

ululate: to howl, wail or lament loudly; to emit long, loud cries

I have done it. Thankfully, not often. But, I don't know this word. I like this word. It should be an onomatopoeia, but unfortunately it is not. It stills sounds lovely, almost celebratory, but it is the opposite.

Whoops! That's two words for today... I knew this one, but the spelling would have stumped me.

onomatopoeia: word or grouping of words that imitates the sound it is describing

My first remembered brush with ululations came today when I discovered the blog of a 25-year old Algerian woman living in southeast Michigan writing about missing her home.


I missed births, wedding ululations, birthdays, new years and harvests. I miss the beach, the street food stands, the smells, the noisy neighbors, the nosy neighbors, the crowded market, the loud streets, the narrow streets, and the wobbly streets.I miss it all. The good and the not so good.

I wonder how she makes wedding modify ululations? I think there just a missing comma and dululations in this context refers to funerals.(?) I live in a cultural vacuum, and so I will visit Warda's blog, 64 sq ft kitchen, and learn about her life and experiences.

16 October 2008


Rumors of the demise of Macaroni Grill fill me with sadness. Say it isn't so, Joe. I love their menu and ambiance. Several locations have closed. Macaroni Grill is so much better than Maggiano's and far less $$.

Our first experience was in Wheaton at Danada Square and we delighted as closer and more far flung locations opened. It is always a guaranteed good meal. Almost without exception. One time, in South Barrington/Hoffman Estates, we had poor service on a Sunday early afternoon. It shocked me.

My best visit was when the SB/HE site first opened. We chose to be seated in a table overlooking the prep and final assembly area. It was a ballet of the sort I prefer. I loved the energy and simplicity of the combination of ingredients and pasta varieties. Beauty in motion and top-notch entertainment.

Long live Macaroni Grill. Don't pull the plug without a vote!

15 October 2008


Week 2 of the current temp assignment means two more overnights in Chicago. The first night my sister and I met up for dinner at Hub 51, the great new restaurant that Rich Mellman's [Lettuce Entertain You] two sons have created at 51 W. Hubbard.

Oh, the guacamole! As good as what I make--with some creative flourishes! I will grate some fresh radish on top of my next batch, and what do you think we found beneath the guac in it's rustic mortar & pestal presentation? Roasted corn! What a treat! And, you need to serve it just that way--not mixed in, but as a surprise, an unexpected treasure. you need to gradually stir it in, serving by serving. Who needs an entree? Just keep the Margaritas coming!

The next night we meet up with a friend who lives in a high rise overlooking Navy Pier, the Chicago River, Chicago Yacht Club, and Millennium Park. Yes, she has spectacular taste! She also loves divey bars and good burgers, so we meet at Bar on Buena. A fun evening and B.O.B. gets a thumbs up from Maria.

After dinner we walk over to Hutchison & Clarendon and stroll through the surprising neighborhood. Such houses! We want to go back in daylight. The landscaping, the architecture; the houses and gardens! Are they single-family? Who lives there?

Maria suggests we check out the one block expanse of Alta Vista just off Grace--gorgeous row houses line just the one block. Next time.

14 October 2008


Trying to convince my daughter that last year's lady bug costume works for her little guy. She says not manly enough. I say, "He can go as a Japanese beetle."

We are loaned a fantastic skunk costume--sized 18 mos. What a riot! We will have a photo shoot when they are in town next week. Uncle DM says little JA looks like a pumpkin with his tarnished red hair and round, squishy face. He says it with love.

13 October 2008


The quickest way to get downtown from 4600 north is definitely the El, but I persist in taking the Clarendon-LaSalle Express Bus. It rides along Lakeshore Drive and you get to appreciate the Gold Coast and everything along Lake Michigan.

When I started temping in the City, I determined that each time I walk across the Madison or Monroe or Adams Street bridge over the Chicago River I would stop, take a deep breath, smile, and appreciate the skyline. This is supposed to be an adventure, after all. The smiles come easily so far. I love the walk from the train on days I commute from the suburbs.

There are so many sights--landscaping, architecture, people, shops, etc. Today I went shopping at Carson Pirie Scott before 8:00am! It is chilly here mornings, so I added a cashmere scarf to today's ensemble. A natty touch. Styling. And, it will go great with the new coat just waiting in the wings for the first bite of Jack Frost.

12 October 2008


Just read a note from DA & MK in Bratislava. When LG started school she came home very excited. She said, "There are two of me!" She had just discovered a little girl in her class with the same first name. And, LG's first name is not a common one for Slovaks.

Their pre-school is unique from ours. When they arrive at school they remove their shoes and put on slippers. To go to lunch they put on their outerwear and line up 2-by-2, holding hands, to walk next door to the lunch room. After lunch they change into their p.j.s and take a nap!

Can you imagine wrangling 15 3-year olds? Much credit to the two teachers.

They begin learning English at 3 years. Our LG will certainly be the teachers' helper as she is bi-lingual and very fluent in both English and Slovak.

11 October 2008


photo courtesy of Karina Allrich - www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
Go figure! Woke up this morning tired and determined to stay in my pj's until time to party-up at 5pm for our friend's retirement celebration. And then, hell-bent on making a recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess. Can't beat her recipes. Every one we have tried is smashing! Her food photography is stunning, too. All the ingredients are standard in our pantry. A delightful Saturday breakfast. Next time, I will take her suggestion to cook 4 eggs on stove-top as the 350 degree oven took a bit longer than calculated.

We have also tried Karina's sour cream enchiladas, lime chicken tacos, sweet potato & black bean enchiladas... Southwestern is not your average "Mexican" cooking. Southwestern means fresh ingredients, roasted chiles, authentic cheeses--the best ingredients you can find. No grainy red sauce and white cheese laminate. Taco Bell has its purpose, but Southwestern cooking is some of the best American cuisine.

Several years ago I took some classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and thought I had died and gone to heaven. When I got home to the Midwest, I cooked Southwestern for weeks. And, the people we met in those classes were a gold mine of information about the food and restaurants of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos. A great introductory experience to SW cookery.

10 October 2008


Two nights with my niece, nephew-in-law, and Emerson Sophia. Sophie is a riot--red-brown curls, chubby cheeks, and dialogue to beat the band. She knows all the waitresses by their first names at Bar on Buena. Walked through the rain in her pink sweats, My Little Kitty boots and rain gear, bravely carry her pink umbrella through the Windy City downpour. She owns the City and has her eyes on the rest of the world! Watch out world... Life is good when Sophie is in the room.

The B.O.B. burger includes a fried egg! Can't beat the beer-grilled onions with Jack cheese and bacon. The sweet-potato fries sneak under the cholesterol and calorie barricade. I'm calling it a vegetable...

I know winter in the City will be a bite, but summer and fall make it almost worth it. Walking past the Chicago River or rolling on the CTA along the Outer Drive and Lake Michigan; the view from the Sears Tower on a clear day... You just shake your head, take deep breaths, and smile, smile, smile. Life is good and each day is a blessing and a gift. 365 gifts a year. PTL

09 October 2008


Signed up for 4 weeks in the Sears Tower. Not a bad gig... 47th floor this time. Short walk from the train and plenty of time to read enroute. Stayed in the City two nights. I could live there... The express bus travels along the shoreline of Lake Michigan on one side and the Gold Coast lines the other side. There is such a vibrancy and energy... Lots of young and active beautiful people. Lots of dogs--joggers--bikers--runners. A perfect Fall to be young and in the best city in the U.S. Even perfect to be older and in the City.

Can't beat lunchtime at Freshii. The spicey 7 vegetable soup is out of this world. The rice bowls are so satisfying. Check out the website. Cool calorie counter customized to your ingredient choices. This is a Toronto-based restaurant. Great and healthy concept.

This job may extend a week or two, but on November 22nd, we are up-up-and-away to our European adventure. Thanksgiving week in Bratislava, a week in Mougins, France, a week in Marbella, a week in Paris, returning to Central Europe for 2-1/2 weeks. Bratislava, Vienna, and maybe Salzburg and/or Prague, or Budapest again.

02 October 2008


Such a busy week! Great stuff. My sister is a master story teller and doesn't miss or forget a detail--EVER! One spring we took our first driving trip and vacation together from southern Michigan to Orlando and Naples, FL. The trip took 3 hours driving down and 3 days driving back!

We spent the entire trip down telling each other all our work stories--joking that when we got home we would visit each other's work places, line everyone up, and identify each by their story. This one is Millie 5 names [married 4 times and counting], this one has the totally dysfunctional family [prostitutes, car burnings, mysterious deaths...], this one is married to a Federal judge, this one's husband just met his biological family, this one had sex with the carpet cleaner... True stories every one.

And, not only is she a great storyteller, but she is the absolute QUEEN of digression. She can digress for hours and then, miraculously return to the exact spot from whence she came. Okay, I admit to also being a digressor, but I get lost along the pathway and sometimes never ever remember what sent me on the journey. She is flawless. It is an art.

JA's husband died too soon. He was a very interesting and gifted man. He could read anything and then do whatever--sail a boat, raise bees, fix an engine, sew a sail, create a stained-glass lamp... Such a nice guy. She always says, "The wrong one died." She is left with his legacy--a house with three garages filled with stuff. Do you know anyone who has a wringer in their garage to squeeze out their chamois? Who has a stainless steel homogenization set-up for honey? Two welders? A homemade one-man catamaran? [The Hobie Cat capsized one day, breaking JA's nose and she lost the desire to crew.] A camper, two snowmobiles, a new truck, two boats, a jet ski, etc.--always self-serviced and now in need of very expensive continuing maintenance. When AE died it took months and years to sort through and decide what was manageable and what was not. It would take years to finish the job that was started 10 years ago.

AE died afer a 10 month illness. A life well lived and way too short. His fingerprints are all over the healthcare system in Kalamazoo, MI. Funny thing--our mother died suddenly 10 days after AE. As we left the hospital that Sunday afternoon, we commented that poor AE, he just gets to heaven, turns around, and there is his mother-in-law!

Blessings to you AE. Your children have honored you and your wife holds your memory dearly. Without you we would never have had snow mobile, sailing, houseboat, tubing, water skiing, pig-roast, and more adventures and experiences. You left us way, way too soon.

01 October 2008


I could barely walk down the steps this morning... Who knew gardening was such great exercise? It poured rain all morning and was fantastic. I love rain. Gave us a good excuse to loll around and drink coffee--still left the house by 9:30am

We headed back to Romence Gardens and bought gorgeous mum plants that were huge and only $5.49. And, we got beautiful coral bells, both peach flambe and southern comfort; remember me hosta, tall grasses, lots of tulip and narcissus bulbs.

JA had a hairdresser's appointment at 11:00am, so I dropped her off and headed to Hobby Lobby--striking out on finding the fabric and flower pik I had on my list. Marshall's was next door and I found the Michael Kors winter coat in the right size that I had spotted on a previous Michigan trip. Slipped in one more perfect gift for my little squishy guy.

Exhausted by the time we reached home and the rains were letting up. Couldn't move without a short nap. Just as I was rousing myself, JA called upstairs that she was late for a coffee date with a new friend. I made phone calls laying in bed, thinking JA had driven off with all the nursery goods. Finally I wandered downstairs and found that she had off-loaded everything before hurrying off. No more excuses.

While Tom Sawyer was gone, I raked the soil by the road and mailbox and planted the lovely 3 tall grass plants. JA arrived home in time to seed the spot that was corrupted when she had 3 yards of topsoil dumped earlier in September. Then we moved on down the huge hill to the lake and laid out the perennials in front of her newly raised beds--remember me hosta alternating with the dark red coral bells. Next fall they will have spread, and we will divide and conquer and fill in on the sides of the beds. Between the beds we planted four huge mums--white, dark red, yellow/orange, and purple. The fall leaf-like southern comfort coral bells went in the front right corner of one bed. We moved some black-eyed susans into the other bed, and some sedum into the rear corners. Lots of room for more plants. JA plans to consult with our horticulturist brother PL this weekend to get recommendations for moving forward.

I gave up the ghost and went in for a shower while JA talked with a neighbor and did some show-and-tell. She stayed outside and worked past dark. Then, we whipped up the Chicken Picata and some angel hair pasta, along with a zucchini/yellow squash casserole JA had stashed in the frig previously. Quite the meal!

Actually got to bed before midnight, although JA banged around and organized long after I turned in. CA and I will go again to Michigan in two weeks to plant some more.

We were on the road by 11:00am Michigan time and drove through rain much of the way through Indiana and Chicago. I had a 3:30pm appointment in our village which we handily made, even stopping once along the way to deliver a huge mum to a friend. After the appt. we treated ourselves to a gelato a Bella's and headed home to collapse. It is good to be home.

JA headed on toward her class reunion and I had one of my own with work colleagues from the past. Such a fun luncheon. We need to do this more often. I was relationally and physically exhausted from my week, but filled with good thoughts, deeds, and memories. Life is good!