Robins, the traditional sign of spring

The robins have shown up. I had actually seen them weeks ago, but after the original sighting, I didn’t see any more. Now they are becoming more common.

Despite the fact that the original idea that seeing a robin meant the return of spring, I don’t think that is a real truth. Supposedly, the robins rarely leave anymore. We don’t really see them all winter, in fact, in late fall, they don’t seem all that visible, like they do in the spring of the year.

In the spring, they seem to be everywhere, you hear them chirping, you see them bobbing their heads on the lawns as they search for worms.

Despite the fact that all this seems to be true, their entry on the scene does always make me feel as if spring is really on the way. I guess that I would like to believe that, even if it is not true.

Given the horrors we have been living through, the mere idea of something good showing up on the scene is reassuring. We need to have something to hold on to, to make us believe that moving forward is a good thing.

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Smashing Coffee beans and Day 3 in Galena

Everyone seemed to sleep well the previous night and all are in better spirits. Although the two grandkids have colds, they are not seemingly bad ones and they are rolling with the punches, at least better than they had been the day before.

We went out after a hearty pancake and bacon breakfast Mary Kay made in the kitchen of the house where we are staying. We went to downtown Galena where we booked an hour’s ride on the sightseeing trolley bus. That was a real hit for the soon to be three year old. DanIel Tiger’s show features a trolley car and so this was a special treat for her.

Although cool, almost cold, and gloomy out, we had a very good time, seeing the sites in this city founded on the thought of mineral retrieval from the earth, in this case galena, a primary way of getting lead. As it happens, Native Americans have been mining it in the area for over one thousand years. The first European settlers arrived in 1821 and by 1828, its population of more than 10,000 was larger than that of Chicago. It became a steamboat hub, the largest north of St. Louis, Missouri.

After our trolley ride, due to its being around 1:00 PM, we hightailed it to a restaurant and had lunch. We left and came back to the house where I made some tapioca pudding for a special treat for the kids.

Just before making the pudding, I smashed some coffee beans with a hammer and made some coffee. We had brought beans, since that is what we usually use, but there was no grinder. Originally, I made the coffee grounds by using some galvanized pipe my son and smashing the beans contained in a kitchen hand towel. It really worked better than the hammer I retrieved from our car.

One of the morning highlights was the bald eagle catching a fish, seen from our window with a wide sweep and plunge into Lake Galena. Wonderful!

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Day One and Two in Galena, Illinois

Although my official break was several weeks ago, it did not coincide with any other breaks. Our daughter-in-law has a break this coming week, and she and our son asked us to go with them. They rented a huge house with more rooms than I can even seem to count, huge vaulted ceilings, many bathrooms, and even a conference rom. It was a tough job coming up with the rooms for the kids to sleep in, as there were too many choices.

We drove up on Saturday, leaving close to noon and after a nice late lunch at a local Irish Pub, we got into our place around four. Although the weather is cool, gloomy, rainy, and less than perfect, it just doesn’t matter.

We had a light dinner of wonderful sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise and quickly acclimated to our new scene. Mamie (Grandma) pulled out the box full of books, toys, and activities that she had purchased for the trip. They made a huge hit.

We went to sleep. That is, some of us did, our young female charge did not seem to be too happy about all of that. Apparently she didn’t sleep all that well and neither did her parents.

Day two found us taking a trip into town when momma and son slept a bit. Despite not feeling all that great with her cold, our granddaughter did well in town and the funniest moment was when she told us she needed to eat. It was about 11:00 AM. She wasn’t kidding, she ate a huge amount of a generous helping of macaroni and cheese.

We came home to chill for the rest of the afternoon.

The weather is damp, cool, and foggy on the tops of the hills in Jo Daviess County, Illinois.

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Waiting for babies

Today’s birdie visitors

My hands are so cold that I am having trouble keeping them on the proper keys in order to type.

I just got in from walking Stewie to the corner. It is almost as cold in the house as outside, it is early enough that we are still in a cold stage but I overrode it and put the temp up higher.

We are waiting for the kids. It is almost dark out and the water for coffee is on the stove working toward the boiling point.

It is quiet.

The quiet will not last. In moments, the little ones will be in the driveway and I will run out to help get them out of the car. I am sure that there will be tears on the part of the older one, she will most assuredly not be happy that her mama is going to work. Somehow we will work through that and move toward having some breakfast. Food works wonders.

The day will unroll in the usual fashion. We will try to keep her younger brother in place, as he crawls from here to there and even manages to climb up steps (with us immediately behind him). How he manages to stay awake as long as he does is a mystery, given the self-induced amounts of exercise he engages in.

We will work hard to take care of them as we straighten up and clean up in the aftermath of their bouts of eating and playing. We will sit down to read with them when we can and bring out and put away toys. Although we enjoy every moment with them, we will be happy when the clock reaches a certain point and we know that mommy or daddy will be coming for them and that we can do a final job of trying to put the house in order before really sitting down for the evening.

All in a day’s work!

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Springtime? in Chicago?

I find it very amusing that they say it is spring. Of course it is, calendar-wise, but let’s talk reality, there is no way you can really call this spring. Spring to me is semi-warm days, maybe cool, and peppered visually with spring flowers and flowering bushes.

Although we will have a few days of spring here or there, the Chicago area is not one in which you can count on spring.

When I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, I experienced pretty much the same thing. I went to school in Southeastern Ohio and experienced a real spring for the first time in my life. The spring experience included dogwood and redbud on the hills and consistent warmth. Shirtsleeves in southern Ohio was pretty much a springtime thing. It was often so warm that guys would take off their shirts to play frisbee. That is very unlike what those of us in the north deal with.

As I have said before, our supposed spring is nothing more than a bunch of numbers. What we experience is more often winter that suddenly changes to summer with no transition at all.

Crocuses have been blooming for me. In nearby areas, I have seen daffodils, although in Deerfield, that has not occurred, to my knowledge. The forsythias are lying in wait.

No matter what, I am sure that we will soon have some snow and some very cold days. Today is wintry and sunny, tomorrow may continue the trend or turn otherwise.

On Monday, when we went to the city, there was a crazy juxtaposition of different types of clothing. We saw a woman stretching. She was wearing tights and a bra-top, with a bare midriff. We saw people in shirtsleeves. We also saw people in parkas and heavy winter gear.

Such is life in the Midwest.

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