A beautiful Saturday

Nothing like a wood fire in the fireplace.

Some Saturdays have no stress and do nothing more than provide a good time and happy moments.

We got up at our usual time; I was up and out of bed by 7:00 AM and enjoying my coffee and toast after walking the dog.

Toward lunchtime, we were visited by a dear colleague from Oakton and by mid afternoon, she was speaking in French to our grandson. I always enjoy it when we are able to have moments like that because some time I think that our grandkids think that I am a person speaking French in a void. They don’t encounter French people all that often and it looks, as my mom might say, that ‘Papi is off his kook.’ We even got our little prince to say a few words back to her.

We went to lunch at That Little French Guy and had a great food moment as well as friend moment. It is always nice to put aside the busy times that we inhabit and actually be able to have a normal conversation with others that we know. It is so enriching to our lives that we can do this.

While there, the bakery-café went from being slightly busy to very busy. The place was decorated for Christmas and for Hannukah, and we ogled the wonderful breads and treats in the area of the counter. We managed to buy the last pain de mie that they had, MK being smart enough to ask them to put it aside. She somehow knew it was the last one they had. Benjamin’s pain de mie never goes bad in our house and it never gets mold.

Our dinner is going to be with some relatively new found friends who used to live in Deerfield but now live in Evanston.

What a wonderful day!

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A beautiful day

My pre-Thanksgiving Christmas Cactus.

It is an exquisite morning. I have already walked the dog and despite the cool temperatures hovering around freezing, it is beautiful. The winds are not employed by ‘Nature Mama,’ therefore it is not overly cold to be in. There is a beautiful frost coverng the rooftops and the lawns. I walked by and thought that so many people are not really privileged to be able to witness this short-lived beauty because they never take a walk. That is sad. They just don’t know what they are missing.

I must admit that it is always the last thing I want to do in the early morning. I so want to have my cup of coffee but Stewart forces me out. Once out, I want back in, but in a perverse way, I am thankful to Stewart for forcing me out. He, on the other hand, is so desirous of getting on with things. In our house, you could rate us for early morning energy: Stewart, me, then Mary Kay. I pretty much don’t need my coffee for real energy, it is more the psychological aspect for me.

I love the quiet.

Normally, quiet is not my thing. I revel in noise. As a kid I would always have the television and radio on when I did schoolwork, something considered to be a bad thing. For me, it was a method; I tune out the background noise. For whatever reason it seems to be a comfort to me. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that as a child, I was often alone in the house, my older sister being elsewhere, my mother as well. Friday nights were more often alone than not, my mom going to the Aragon Ballroom in Cleveland to dance and my sister out with friends. I remember making pizza from a box, adding pepperoni, making popcorn later. I watched the Flinstones and the Jetsons. In retrospect, it was a great time.

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On being angry

I truly need to restate my title. No, it doesn’t make me angry; it truly pisses me off! In my head,, that is a stronger statement, although maybe I am wrong. Nonetheless, Stewart and I make a pass by what I call the Chinn House, a house where the Chinn family once lived right around the corner from our home. Each time, the bile rises in me and I feel like doing something out of character for myself.

This home is one of the former clients of our son’s snowplowing business. This is a house whose driveway was plowed and at least one of the walks shoveled. This is a house where the inhabitants have not paid their bill.

Let me make this very clear, our son is very good to people. If he knew of some sort of issue within the household that was preventing payment, he would let it slide. As of right now, there is nothing making that even seem like a remote possibility.

At the end of the season, they had a couple hundred dollars of bill left. They were sent numerous bills and didn’t pay. I think it was late spring, almost early summer where they were reminded once again and even sent in a check. The check bounced. They were reminded again and just didn’t respond and didn’t respond to any phone calls or messages.

I see them when I walk the dog. I almost mentioned something numerous times. To be honest, it really isn’t my business. The are a young family, three cars to the household, children, and living in a very large home, the largest home in the neighborhood before the McMansions came into the picture. They don’t appear to be having any issue although one never knows. I feel bad, but I still feel angry each time I pass by. Meanwhile, I saw markers go up for their snow removal this winter, clearly from another snow removal company.

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The best protected playhouse in the area

I think I really need to get inside that playhouse and make sure that all is set for another winter. I am thankful that when we redid our roof a few years ago that we also redid the roof of the playhouse to match. On a side note, when I was younger, the thought was that you could have two roofs on a house, now that is not the case, so each time a new roof goes on, the old one comes off.

The playhouse now has a Ring solar powered sign designating it as protected by Ring products. To be frank, that is not the case, but for whatever reason, MK and I were not enthralled with the idea of putting it in front of our house. Statistically, even having a sign of protection, even if you don’t have protection, you are better off. I thought the sign was cool but not cool in the way that I could put it in front of our house, therefore it got relegated to the playhouse.

Today I did some more in our preparation for Christmas, I moved the Alsatian dishes partially into the base of our china cabinet and put the rest in the downstairs area. I also started doing some moving in the kitchen as after Christmas we shall be having the cabinets refinished and we have to have everything out of them for a month, if I understand correctly. That will be a royal pain but I really cannot stand looking at the cabinets as they lose their finish and just look unsightly.

It has been pretty much a month since I haven’t had a cold and well, I am ready to move on. Although I don’t feel all that bad, I am sniffly and coughing. I think I am on the mend…

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A heartwarming trip

Just the other day, I got a message from a former student as she is traveling in Paris with her family. It was a photo of her with a young woman of her own age with a background of the Champs-Elysées. Both were smiling and one of my former student’s children was in the photo with them. I thought to myself that the person with her had to be her ‘correspondante,’ or pen pal, the person who came to stay with here in the United States for two weeks way back when and then with whom she stayed while in the Strasbourg area for two weeks. I couldn’t remember her correspondante’s name. Maggie instant texted me back to give me her name.

My reaction? Not so much surprise but an absolute thrill. Thrilled that all of the work and efforts we made for New Trier in France were still paying off. Not only did students have a chance to exercise their language ability, they had a glimpse into another culture first hand and a person with whom to make a connection. It doesn’t always work, mind you, sometimes we are not at the proper moment in our lives to be open and sometimes the chemistry, despite our efforts, is not there, but this time it sure seemed to be working. Here it is years later and there had to be some maintenance of the connection, so much so that they met in Paris.

You have to love these moments and I am so thankful that Maggie (not her real name) contacted me with the news that this reconnection had been made. Over the years, I have heard of this happening countless times and I am sure that many of the times are even unknown to me.

My only sadness here is that the program, that we had moved along to the point of being a total exchange and ‘twinning’ of two schools, is no more. The program that we had was dismantled for many reasons, one of them being that some of my former colleagues were not interested in the exchange, something I don’t understand at all, and were not happy that it was in Alsace. One colleague stated at one point in time, « Alsace is not even France! » So much for enlightened language teachers.

I tried and I did my best and we thought we had a winning scenario. Maggie, contacting me with a photo, provided me with a most wonderful gift. Thank you, Maggie.

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