30 June 2010


We're here! Gigi had her surgery early this a.m. and all is well. She's on drugs and in a bit of pain, but otherwise very happy to be over the hurdle of her second hip replacement.

CA and I drove down late yesterday afternoon after we wrote a $226 to the a/c repair guy. He was nice, and it REALLY does make sense to sign up for the monthly maintenance plan. For $16/month (added to our NIGAS bill) we get a/c, furnace, and water heater cleaning and service for no additional charges. Peace of mind for $16/month.

Actually I use the terms "CA and I drove down late yesterday" loosely. CA did all the driving. I napped, read, and listened to Frances Mayes CDs of Everyday in Tuscany. We've been considering a trip to Tuscany for late Fall, but we finally decide to pursue our original plans for the South of France and maybe Paris and to save Italy for next year after we've had time to research and anticipate.

We had Gigi's last meal at Chanticleer, the local steak/fish place. It's a family tradition. We eat there almost every time we visit. It's expected. Great onion strings and everything else is more comfort food than gourmet.

I negotiate a late wake-up for this morning. CA and Gigi leave the house at 5:00am for a 5:45am check in at the hospital. It makes sense. CA needs his own vehicle at the hospital as he will drive home this afternoon for soccer camp. I have Gigi's car and will be the designated hospital aide until he returns on Friday.

About 4:00pm I leave the hospital, exhausted, heading home or to yoga??? I've planned on yoga in Peoria, but I'm dragging. Before I reach the point-of-no-return, I decide for yoga. I make a quick side trip to Aunt Margie's to check up on our project. She's done! Done! Who knew! Sounds like she was afraid to make GJ mad if she didn't get ALL her letters done. GJ is so, so kind. Somehow Aunt Margie got the message that finishing our project was an edict! She's done. All mailed yesterday.

Such a deal at Namaste Wellness Studio--$5 for your first session. We do Vinyasa--kind of a low-level power yoga. I'm challenged, but not humiliated. Glad I made the effort. I plan on another class on Friday and maybe one on Saturday...

After debating several dinner options I return to Eureka and opt for the frozen Schwan's spinach/mushroom pizza and it's not bad. A quiet evening alone. Alone with junk t.v. No complaints.

28 June 2010

MY GIRLS, 3 of 4

Arent't they precious? Have two sisters ever loved each other more? In reality, when LE (on right) tells KF that she loves her, KF says, "I love Noël." Repeatedly. LE is a very loving, sensitive girl and KF's words do hurt her. KF truly loves LE, but she's the younger and sometimes she just has to have the upper hand.

From the moment NJ came home from the hospital, KF has claimed her... She rushed the baby carrier, pushed everyone out of the way, shouting, "My baby! My baby! My baby!"

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside I've got the month of May.
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin' 'bout my girl (my girl).

I've got so much honey the bees envy me.
I've got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees.
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin' 'bout my girl (my girl).

Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey

I don't need no money, fortune, or fame.
I've got all the riches baby one man can claim.
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin' 'bout my girl (my girl).

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day
with my girl.
I've even got the month of May
with my girl (fade)

written by Smokey Robinson
for the Temptations

26 June 2010


I blissfully meandered through my evening yesterday feeling the freedom of no commitments for Saturday--today. I stayed up late, first watching junk television and then reading Witch Hunt. I turned my bedside light out just before 2:00am. Just then I remembered--I have to leave the house at 8:30am for RvH's brunch!

I cut myself some slack this morning, leaving just before 9:00am. Traffic is light, which is good as there is construction all through Huntley. I'm not on I-90 very long before I spot an IDOT vehicle on the right shoulder (I'm in the right lane) and the IDOT guy is standing on the pavement outside the driver's side door. I quickly calculate that there's no room to scooch over and traffic is moving very, very fast. I steer toward the center line and slow down.

Unfortunately, the woman in the 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Series red-orange car is speeding along and hits her brakes too late. I see her coming... She hits me full on, smashing my passenger side back lower bumper. The same spot that DS hit a few months ago. Her car's hood is in worse shape.


After my 6:00am yoga class and walking for 15 minutes alone, I go home and sleep for 90 minutes! That, after a strong cup of coffee.

By my calculation, I should be able to loose one pound a month just by cutting out the half-n-half or cream in my coffee. I substitute Coffee Mate today--even to my sensitive palette, it's pretty good.

I'm meeting LL and MK for lunch at Mimi's Cafe on Randall Road for lunch at 11:30am. We haven't seen MK for an age, and it's fun catching up. For many years we had lunch together almost every day. We exchange email addresses and pledge to do lunch often. The coconut shrimp salad with creamy ginger dressing I order is spectacular. I'd drive here just for this salad.

24 June 2010


We get home from Eureka around 4:00pm Wednesday, and it feels so-o-o good to be here. After unloading the car we retire to our corners--CA to complete a French lesson and me to read and sleep. I've been reading Dave Eggers 2006 novel/autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, a lost boy--What is the What. It is a compelling read--I'm ashamed to admit I come late to an understanding of the plight of the Sudanese. It's been way out of focus in my peripheral world, and now I'm fascinated and ashamed, and moved to action.

22 June 2010


Aunt Margie's cottage

PJ's Peoria Park District waterfall project

There used to be a rake here and you could blissfully arrange the pebbles.

An easy plan for this morning... Actually, no plan at all. We're up at a decent time and World Cup Soccer is already in progress. CA and Gigi are deeply invested in the action. I compute for a bit and when Gigi leaves for her Birthday Group luncheon at 11:00am, I get in gear and begin my 3-mile walk out Mt. Zion Road and into Cruger Township.

It's a winding road first with beautiful houses on one side and farm fields on the other,and  then fields of oats amber and ready for harvest. Soon the fields are corn and soy beans, and there's the tree-lined Walnut Creek in the background. I walk out to Mt. Zion Cemetery, about 1-1/2 miles and then back. A nice breeze gives respite from the noon-day sun. Still, I'm sweated-through by the time I arrive back at Gigi's cottage.

21 June 2010

OMAHA, Day 5 The Final Hours

I shut off the alarm at 4:50am. How ridiculous! A yoga class at 5:30am on the far south-west side of Omaha. I’ll save two punches for my next trip to Omaha.

JE’s working today and has a Master’s class tonight, so CA and I are packing up and driving to Gigi’s house today. LE has her 15 mos. Pediatrician appt. and MA indicates that he can handle the two little ones. By 10:15am we’re in the car and heading east on Cumings. CA wants his McDonald’s breakfast this morning… 3 oatmeal raisin cookies and a Diet Coke. We’ve already had coffee with MA—the brew we selected at The Greenbrier just a few weeks ago. I invoke my fleeting self-control and skip Mickey D’s entirely. I had a creamy Stoneyfield’s Soy Yogurt before leaving the house. I love the smaller containers, and they’ve improved the texture. It’s almost as creamy as Greek yogurt.

20 June 2010


LE's very rough morning.

Breakfast and reading for JA.

LE still has a fever this morning, and JA must not feel up-to-par either as there are no sounds coming from the living room or office/play room when I crawl out of bed this morning. Surprisingly, JA is sitting quietly with his mommy and LE sleeps until almost 8:30am. No church for most of us today. MA will go as he has responsibilities.


This photo is a throw-in just because LE is so cute!

JE's pantry-redo is done. The chalkboard framed on the back door is my idea, but the execution came from HS (MA's dad) and JE. That's how a lot of things in my life go... I have the ideas, purchase the materials, and rely on someone else's skills to execute. In my next life I will have carpentry, tiling, electrical, etc. skills.

The techno part of this entry is that once JE accumulates a list of groceries, etc., she takes a photo of the chalkboard list with her iPhone and heads out to the store. The perfect blend of old-world and new-world reminders.

19 June 2010


JE has recently begun using Mason jars for refrigerator storage. In addition to leftovers, she prepares steamed veggies and cooks chicken breast ahead for JA and LE's meals. Plastic container storage is a serious avalanche, and the chemicals in these plastics have become suspect on several levels.

I really like the idea because CA has always despised our plastic container/to-go box storage space. The avalanche, again. I've decided to add to my French jelly jar supplies and go all-glass in my home, also.

I may have to encode the French jelly jars with homing chips as my supply always diminishes as JE's and my mother-in-law's expand.

Crate and Barrel now calls these Working Glasses, but I learned the phrase French Jelly Jar from C and B years ago, I recall.

OMAHA, Day 3

Jeff Beaudoin, Ph.D., CYT

Whew! My first Power Yoga class at 9:00am at 8th Avenue Yoga. Jeff Beaudoin has a great studio and warm people skills. The warm-up is intensive. I am pouring, quite literally, sweat from every area of my body. Actual droplets of water are dripping down my arms. My legs are so slippery, I can't get a grip. My heart's thumping. I have the moves, I just can't keep up. It's hot in here. Really. No air circulating. Still, even if there were ceiling fans I can admit that I'm out-matched.

When Jeff moves us to full practice (warm-ups over) I make a few feeble attempts to chime in, but eventually settle in to a long and restful shavasana. I am laying in a puddle of my own bodily fluids on a rubberized mat, so there's nowhere for the moisture to go. Even finding a place for my arms and hands to rest is tricky. My hair is as wet as if I'd just shampooed.

I do join in during the cool-down, which is almost as aggressive as the warm-up, but not quite. On Monday I'm opting for Hatha Yoga at 5:30am before our long drive back to Illinois.

Still, I've seen the future and I'm intrigued. I've a long way to go with Yoga practice, but I'm not discouraged--just challenged. And, utterly and completely exhausted. I drive home and fall into the shower, put my pajamas on, and spend most of the day reading and resting.

Both JA and LE have fevers and were sick in the night. LE is a cuddle bug, but not with her grandpa or me. She worships us from afar. JA has big ideas, but lacks the physical stamina today for most of them. We read and re-read Estelle and Lucy and The Little Rockers Club. The Yoga mats are rolled out, but under-used.

We video conference with DM's family in Slovakia. Baby Noël is such a beautiful child. She just looks like she knows everything and is pretty content in her world. KF and LG twirl and dance for us, and get the appropriate praise and applause. We sure miss those little girls. We'll see them this Fall, one way or another.

CA and JE go to the Men's College World Series, UCLA vs. Florida. I drop them off at Rosenblatt Stadium around 3:30pm and Matthew retrieves them at 9:30pm. This is their Father's Day celebration--an activity they can enjoy together.

I whip up a batch of turkey meatballs, bake them, and then stir them into Emeril's All Natural Marinara. MA and I have ours with some penne pasta, but JA insists on having his meatballs straight up with lots of red sauce for dipping. Maybe not gourmet, but certainly tasty!

Another hot day in Omaha. And, not a bad day to stay inside with air conditioning. We missed out on the Farmer's Market and other activities because of the little ones' fevers. Plans are for church tomorrow, but we'll have to see how JA and LE are feeling.

18 June 2010


I remark that I plan to take a shower before bed tonight, and JE says, "You already took a shower today." I reply that was yesterday's shower and I thought I'd get ahead of the game by showering tonight instead of in the morning--tomorrow's shower. MA gets involved and says, "Wait, aren't you missing today's shower?" Then he laughs and says, "The real question here is, can hygiene be rescheduled?"


Little people get up early! So do I when I have to meet someone at HB, but only on that kind of day. Today, JA and LE run smiling into our room just before 7:00am and our day is underway...

We laugh and play and drink some coffee (just the adults) while the sky darkens and the thunder rolls; morning becomes night. It storms for just a bit and gradually the day brightens and begins in earnest.

CA is determined to catch the World Cup game this morning--U.S. vs. Slovenia--so he heads to the Omaha Embassy Suites hotel where they have cable and a big screen. LE decides to try on and model her new sundresses, and JA insists on a bit of Yoga.

By mid-morning we drive to Jones Brothers in Aksarben (Nebraska backward. Yes. Backward. I refuse to learn to pronounce it, preferring Arky-Barky.) We have cupcakes and more coffee on our minds, and a bit of water play, slides, and swings for the little ones.

17 June 2010


A 30-minute power walk and then Yoga. We're on our way to Omaha to visit the squishy little guy and his baby sister. She's walking now and we're anxious to see her feat in person.

A lovely day to travel--sunshine and warm weather. It's windy, but who cares?

We want a healthy lunch, but are forced (!) to indulge at Taco Bell because of hunger pangs and availability. I love the Baja Chicken Chalupas.

Again, thank you God for Sirius satellite radio. Rosie O'Donnell and then The Two Broads keep us entertained (at least me--CA tolerates these two shows just a bit more than he can tolerate Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer or COSMO Radio's Taylor in the Morning).

I take my turn driving--straight west and into the sun--but surrender the wheel after about 150 miles. CA is a trooper.

16 June 2010


My dear friend SN1 sent me this email, and worse than even forwarding it I'm making it a blog entry! Worth it. So.

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question?...What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.


So, driving back from LG and EG's home in Chicago last night while processing the details of a very important email exchange GJ and I have in progress, I get a brilliant idea.

When I call a friend/sister/brother in the future, I'm going to invite them for coffee. Instead of just talking on the telephone and pacing, cleaning, cooking... whatever. While we talk, I want us to each fix a cup/glass of a favorite beverage, find a favorite, relaxing spot and then conduct our conversation.

i.e., if I'm talking with RvH, she can move out onto her lovely patio and take a seat in the gentle sunshine, surrounded by her geraniums while I settle into my bright blue cafe chair on my back deck facing the woods. We'll sip our beverages and chat--a virtual experience of the best sort.

I know that Facebook is supposed to be our future for communication, information, connection, and that many are worried that e-mail replacing face-to-face conversing will destroy relationships. But really, every girlfriend/sister/brother knows that you'll never find anything that tops a chat with audible words, exclamations, real laughter, nuances, and pregnant pauses.

I'll keep you informed. I will be traveling a lot in the next few weeks--nowhere too exotic--and I intend to issue more than one invitation to friends and sisters to share a cup of coffee.

15 June 2010



A very busy day, today. 8:15am walk with LL at HB, then Yoga at 9:15am. A quick stop at Tom's for two quarts of strawberries for LG, and then a sprint to Barrington for a doctor's appointment. I'm starving by 12:30pm when I leave Dr. McD's office, and Buona Beef is nearby. They have the best burgers, and I'm hoping to skip the fries. Usually RvH and I share a small order, but today I'm on my own. And, I love the large Arnold Palmer--1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade with extra ice. (I can't resist the fries, but at least don't finish them...)

This week's drive into Chicago takes half the time as last Tuesday's so I have plenty of time to stop at Orange Beautiful's new shop on Damen Avenue. A great neighborhood--I have a fun time driving around and noting the shops, restaurants, and architecture. I enjoy Orange Beautiful and buy a graduation card for my niece and some fun gift enclosures.

14 June 2010


JS and DS both told me last night that they really like the curtain we sewed and hung a few weeks ago and are ready to go ahead with the second installment. Today is the only day I have available this week, so we agree to meet at their house at 12:00.

It's a rainy, rainy day in a rainy, rainy week, so a good day for inside projects.


13 June 2010


The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
Chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese tossed together in our herb ranch dressing. Topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and green onions.

Our turn to host Small Group tonight and CA is kept busy as cleaner and sous chef. We crowd a lot into our morning--HB for Yoga (me) and exercise bike (CA); strawberries from Tom's on Algonquin Road; produce run to Caputo's; WalMart for the staples and personal care items; home by 11am to pull it all together.

It's kind of a blur, but clarifies later in the day...