Typical winter to summer weather…


As always, Chicago has little, if any, true spring. The other day, we were dying in the intense humidity and heat of the eighties toward the nineties and when we went out in the late afternoon, suddenly the heat changed to cold, necessitating a heater on an outdoor patio where we intended to have dinner with a granddaughter, only to go back in the restaurant.

It has been days since I have written. For years I have pretty much written every day in the blog. I have decided that I am not going to kill myself writing the blog, but will write when it occurs to me. It is not that I don’t have the subjects to cover or discuss as they loom in a maelstrom within my mind, but that I don’t want to pressure myself in an inordinately complicated way.

I am seated outside, finally, and I do say that since the warmth seems to finally have arrived, albeit warmer than we would like, but I should know better and expect that. Breakfast has been al fresco for several days now and I need to pay more attention to the outdoor area.

I am reading two books simultaneously, actually reading one, a book in French, and listening to the other. Listening to books is a new thing for me and I have been enjoying it, listening as I walk the dog, listening as I shower or shave my head, or just feel like it. Listening is easy as I have access to it on my phone and my phone is almost always with me.

Kayaking is on my mind as the weather has changed for the better and yesterday I set the kayak rack on the Subaru Outback. I need to check my kayaking supplies and bag today to make certain that I can head out to the water for a paddle.

Meanwhile, the citrus plants are being transitioned outside; I am carefully trying to help them adjust to the heat and sun and avoid sunburn on their leaves. That is all easier said than done.

The Orangerie (shed turned into playhouse turned into Orangerie) is housing orchids. Maybe I should call it an Orchidry.

My only disappointment in the yard, thus far, is that the perennial hibiscus has not made any sort of reappearance and neither have the two dahlias that have graced our front and back yard for several years now, but I keep hoping…

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The days of what might have been spring…

Stewie at the mall (Northbrook Court in Northbrook, Illinois).

I say, « What might have been spring » because, well, is this really spring? Fifty or forty degree weather, sometimes less, maybe one day of sixties, or maybe even tipping into the eighties for a weather tease? It is times like this that I long to be in college in southern Ohio and enjoying the warmth of the sun and that promise of a summer to come, but with an actual nice, sunny day that follows another and another. We do not get that north of Chicago.

I have been pretty religious about my drinking more water and also about walking the dog about three miles per day.Today, I did not, because it has been raining all day, but I am hoping that soon I shall. We did go to the Northbrook Court as I just found out that it is open for dogs as well as humans. Stewie was a bit taken aback by it, a bit too excited to the point of pulling the leash, but it is a keeper and next time when threatened, we are walking there.

I have been hankering to get outside and do things in the yard, but it is too darn cold. I want to start getting my citrus trees used to the outside, but it has been too cold.

The ants continue to annoy me, although most of our ant destinations have fizzled to either almost nothing or maybe one or two. One of the destinations has now found my homemade potion of water, sugar, and borax a real attraction and one that will hopefully decimate the colony. I have about twenty ants near our bookcase and they are enjoying their ‘last supper’ of borax laced sugar. I cannot wait to be done with that.

Our yard has never been so green. It looks amazing and the landscapers have been more attentive than in past years by putting peat moss on bald spots and seeding a bit. The floral display has been spectacular with the forsythia and a few daffodils still blooming. The tulips were mess up by deer or squirrels, though.

I cannot wait for spring.

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Santa Fe? NOPE!

In the year of the Pandemic, we had decided to take a weekend to go to Santa Fe. I have been through New Mexico on a trip from the west coast years ago, MK had never been at all.

It was not to be.

We were leaving on a Friday, last Friday to be exact. I had prepared for it by making up for my lost ESL and French Conversation Hour time, and on the Sunday beforehand, we made the mistake of listening to NPR’s news on our Amazon Echo, courtesy of Alexa. Wildfires in New Mexico. Climate Change has caused the wildfires to start earlier than normal. Air quality was thus poor. Not a good idea, not at ALL!

Following the news, we canceled and put it on hold. Once again, we were hit by a trip we almost took but still didn’t. In the case of Puerto Rico, we just recently completed it. Santa Fe…well that is on hold.

As MK was looking at her phone around that time, an ad for a Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin showed up. We had never heard of it. Subsequent questioning of others made it clear we were among the few not to know of this theatre in the round. We thus made plans for the Saturday when we would have been in New Mexico, to see a play.

We went up early, Friday morning to be exact, to the area of Wisconsin between Madison and Milwaukee where there are pottery makers. We had visited before, years ago. We decided to stay at a B&B in Cambridge because of Rowe Pottery Works and we also went to see the Ephraim Pottery Works in Lake Mills. 

We left on Friday morning, went directly to Cambridge, saw the Rowe Pottery Works (a shadow of its former self, but MK had even thought that they had gone out of business), bought a few things, and then headed to Lake Mills for the Ephraim establishment. That place was even smaller but way pricier and more decorative than utilitarian. We had a charcuterie tray and shared a flight of wine for lunch in town, a great idea and enjoyed all of the beautiful, large homes in the area.

Our stay at the Covington Manor Bed and Breakfast was wonderful, the young proprietor quite proudly showing us her establishment and what she has done since making its purchase. She is married, has a three year old son, and is a former realtor who always wanted a B&B. I must say it was quite enjoyable and not only were our accomodations wonderful, but the gourmet breakfast was completely amazing. 

On Friday night, we went to a Supper Club, a famous type of restaurant known for  a long cabin-like, almost or really kitsch with decorations and a relish tray being part of the meal. Food is generally very good and the type that makes a person smile (and overreat). The Stagecoach Inn, where we went near Fort Atkinson, was wonderful.

On Saturday, after checking out of the B&B, we went to the Fireside Theatre, an apparent staple of the community where you can shop in the boutiques, eat a dinner, and then see a play. Our play was a Lutheran special entitled “A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement,” a Church Basement Ladies play which offers a funny view of the 60s and Lutheran Church groups. We enjoyed it, especially the 2nd act, but realized that we might have enjoyed it more had we had more of a Lutheran background.

All in all, it was not Santa Fe, but the trip to this lovely part of Wisconsin was a nice getaway.

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Goodnight Oscar!

We have been having a busy week when it comes to going out.

It is a good idea to be prudent and yet, with the Coronavirus where it currently is, we are so sick and tired of all of this. The thought keeps running through my mind that we are doing too much. Yet, I guess we are making up for lost time. At the same time, I keep hearing of more people falling ill to the disease. Luckily, thanks to vaccinations, the cases are mild.

Speaking of lost time, we had put together a trip to Santa Fe that we ‘lost’ when we didn’t take it. It resurfaced and we rebooked. We had thought it lost and somehow it was not. We rebooked it for later this week and today, when we asked Alexa for the news, news of wildfires in New Mexico surfaced. Now we are in a quandary as to what we should do and it looks as if dropping the trip again is going to happen. It did. We unbooked everything and hope to try again later this year.

So yesterday, we went into the city to see Sean Hayes in his role playing Oscar Levant, the troubled pianist/comedian/brilliant interviewee. It brought back great memories of a different time period as I remembered Jack Paar and his work on the Tonight Show.

I had seen the commercials for the show. Sean Hayes mentioned being thrilled to play the role of his life. We found out some interesting things about Sean, his Chicago suburban roots, his studies at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, then at Illinois State University where he studied piano (and left several classes short of a diploma), then to his music directorship at the Pheasant Run in St. Charles, Illinois. He had worked as a classical pianist, something that came in handy as he played Oscar Levant.

Sean was spectacular as he played a very disturbed, yet brilliant man,  an admirer and friend of George Gershwin. The play details the famous interview of Gershwin by Jack Paar when he moved the Tonight Show from New York City to Los Angeles. Oscar’s life was one with serious mental ups and downs and addictions to painkillers. He was also very outspoken and was clearly saying things that were not allowed on television in those days. He talked of his struggles, even mentioned the electric shock treatments.

The play had a very limited number of cast members. They all did a great job. Sean was treated, at the end, with a standing ovation that was clearly well deserved. It is worth the masking, vaccination check and the other rigmarole that accompanies the, hopefully post-Pandemic time we live in.

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Taking a blog break

I have been taking a break from blogging of late. My daily routine of Hungarian followed by blogging has become Hungarian followed by Wordle in English and then in French.

I am dressed to walk Stewart and despite the fact that a few days ago we had just above thirty degrees in temperature, it is now in the low seventies. My body is clearly confused by this. Add into that that the the winds are blowing and the weather, although looking rainless when I got up, is now drizzly. 

The pond, that had managed to stay clear all winter, is now cloudy, victimized by intense rains that we had late in the week. The level rose so high I felt as if it were like the Great Lakes. I just read, the other day that there is flooding in the Montreal area and there was a request put in to limit the water coming from the great lakes and flowing east to the ocean. There are three dams on the water exiting Lake Ontario, something of which I was not really aware. Those dams provide electricity (at least one of them) and control the water flow. Here is the bad thing, Lake Ontario is too high and its shoreline is affecting the adjacent homes. If they lower the level of Lake Ontario by one inch, however, that will, if my memory serves me correctly, raise the flooding one foot in the Montreal area. It is a lose/lose situation.

So here I wait…victimized by rainfall as I check my AccuWeather report which says that we will have slight rain for the next hour. Stewie will have to wait. I do see people walking by, but the ground is now wet.

The rains here have caused our ant situation to come back to life. In the main bathroom and in the powder room below, I generally see one to three ants. It is annoying. We have borax traps everywhere. They are supposed to be attractive to the ants and then the ants take it back to their queen and well, it is supposed to be her demise. We have a few other ant locations and at times, in the lowest level, we have seen as many as thirty to fifty (very infrequently). It doesn’t seem to be a serious problem, just a chronic one. Most of the year there is no issue, however, it revs up periodically.

The winds blow, it seems better, maybe I shall be able to walk the dog sooner than I think.

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