Thursday, September 24, 2020

women supporting women

Hi friends ~ I know it's been awhile since I've written a blog post. It's been a busy month for me and I'm also consciously working on limiting my time online and on social media. I find that's much better for my peace of mind and anxiety.

This month has been filled - gloriously filled - with the company and encouragement of my women friends.

There have been coffee dates, patio-sitting/talking, gatherings around backyard fire pits with smoked maple bourbon and wine (separate events; we're not total lushes 😉) and...

a trip to a local pumpkin farm.

I belong to a women's circle where we meet at the start of every season. For the past nine years that I've been in this circle, there has been nothing but love and support for one another. We have all bared our souls to one another, have seen each other through divorce and loss and grief and illness; caring for elderly parents and relocation and job loss and problems with children. We have cried together and held each other while doing so. But oh...the laughter and the love. That is what sustains us.

When I told this circle of women that this week was going to especially hard because of a dentist appointment (I have dental phobia) but much more importantly, because of my son, Philip's death anniversary date on September 25th, I have received an outpouring of love and support via text and/or email every single day this week. 

The difference these messages have made in how I'm coping this week are nothing short of amazing. At first, I was hesitant to share my needs with this circle of women. I'm not used to doing that. I don't want to impose on anyone and I've never been one to like a lot of attention. I'm more the quiet one in a group (I'm an INFJ) and used to absorbing everyone else's energy and emotions. I guess I finally felt safe and secure enough to share what I needed without feeling too vulnerable.

I currently am seeing a female physical therapist for a medical condition. She is not only super intelligent in her field and has helped me physically, but she is super compassionate. When I explained to her at my visit today about what happened at my last physician's appointment, she was appalled. She actually told me that she wants to accompany me (if she can rearrange her schedule) to my next physician's appointment (it's a minor procedure) since she knows a bit more about my physiological condition than they do. She wants to be my advocate. Can you believe it?! Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty! I did call the physician's office today and get permission for her to accompany me to the appointment, due to COVID. 

The world is so topsy-turvy right now. COVID, hurricanes and wildfires, the upcoming election, riots and protests, police brutality: all have taken their toll on our mental well-being. Anxiety and depression have sky-rocketed in our country. We all need each other ~ and to meet each other with love and compassion ~ more than ever. 

I am incredibly grateful and humbled by the love of my friends, including the friends I've made here through my blog. 

Women supporting women.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

still in summer mode

Here we are in September already. While I'm not in any way ready for fall and technically it doesn't start for almost another three weeks, I see the signs all around me. Dry leaves are falling to the ground and crunching underfoot. The morning light is softer and filtered in the way it falls across the front yard.

 One of my favorite plants this summer has been this black and blue salvia. I am endlessly fascinated by the color of the flowers. I see hummingbirds on the flowers at least ten times a day. Of course, bees love it, too.

Just this morning as I was sitting on the front porch with my coffee, a dragonfly came to visit on the salvia.

My son who now lives out-of-state, was just here visiting for a few days. I dropped him of at the airport a couple of days ago and when I got back home, I saw this in the guest room. An empty, messy bed. Made my mama heart break a little bit.

Because, of course, this is what my heart always sees and feels...even though he's now 29 years old. 

I haven't read as much this summer as I usually do. According to my Goodreads reading goal, I'm nine books behind schedule. (Quit judging me, Goodreads!) This is the book I'm in the middle of reading right now. You might recognize the author's name...she's most famous for "The Secret Life of Bees", "The Mermaid Chair" and "The Invention of Wings". She's also written some non-fiction: "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" and "When the Heart Waits". I've read all her books and loved them. So far, this story ranks up there with all her other books. It's historical fiction from the days of Jesus told by a female perspective. Kidd's brilliant writing pulls you right into the story and there's an amazing connection to the characters because she brings them to life.

I discovered Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest on Instagram and have been obsessed with her recipes. Literally everything she makes looks so good. I've tried a few of her recipes and they're as good as they look. When I saw that she had a new cookbook out, I got it from my local library to check it out before buying it online. I ended up putting sticky tabs on so many pages, that I knew I had to buy this cookbook. This cookbook basically covers everything: Breakfast and Brunch, Appetizers and Sides, Salad and Soup, Pizza and Pasta, Vegetarian, Poultry and Pork, Beef and Lamb, Seafood and Fish and Dessert.

 I'm seeing people all over Instagram talking about fall decorating already. I can't even go there. It is still summer!!

I'm leaving my cheery, bright, light decor up for at least another two weeks.

All too soon, I won't even hear the beautiful chirping of little birdies all around my yard. This pretty, colorful pillow will be replaced with one with stupid pumpkins muted colors.

The big change that will be coming to my living room in October is...
a new sofa!


This 15-year old one is long past its prime. We'd been looking for over a year in stores and online. 

We finally decided on an off-white slipcovered sofa from Crate and Barrel. I have to say that the saleswomen at the Crate and Barrel store were very helpful with working with our needs (color, length, material, style). The bonus was that C&B was having their annual sofa sale, so we saved some money. The sofa is being made in North Carolina so that's why it'll take awhile to get here. I guess there'll be one good thing to look forward to this fall. 😉

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

august: ending, birthday, storms, day trip

Grab a drink of your choice and settle down for a long-ish read. This is what happens when I don't talk to you all for awhile!

How can we be nearing the end of August already? It makes me sad. I don't want summer to be over so soon. The warm months here in Illinois are fleeting. Today even feels a bit fall-like with dappled sunlight and a cool breeze. I don't hear the children who live in the homes behind us, playing in their backyards. They must be back at school already; or inside their homes doing remote learning. I'm not sure what our school district chose to do this year. 

Even my gardens are starting to look dejected. The perennials in my butterfly garden are drying up and past their prime.

The tomato plants are done for the season, too. This is the time of year when plants look tired.

One plant that seems unbeatable is this passion flower vine. I bought it as a medium-sized potted plant, put it in the ground in front of our house and it took off with a vengeance. As you can see, it's climbing the downspout. It starts getting near our gutters, and it's getting a good pruning. I was warned by a friend who's a Master Gardener, that this plant overtakes everything. I don't mind because we couldn't get anything else to grow in this area and like I said, I can always cut it back. It does remind us of The Little Shop of Horrors with the "Feed Me" plant though.

I celebrated another trip around the sun last week. I had a lovely, quiet day with cards, phone calls, texts, private messages on Facebook, some gifts from family and friends, and lunch out with Brian. We tried a new restaurant just over the border in Wisconsin (masks worn to and from the tables; tables all far apart with the closest diners being more than 10 feet away from us). We had heard that storms were coming and on the way home, we turned on the radio to find out that the storms were going to be bad. Winds up to 100 mph, trees down, hail. I had Brian pull over to the side of the road so I could get out of the car and take this photo. I love the stormy sky, this home's landscaping, and the surrounding farm fields. 

We got home just in time to put our potted plants and chairs that were on the porch, into the garage. This is what it looked like at 3:00 in the afternoon! It was so dark, the photo cell lights on our house went on. Sure enough, I then got a tornado warning alert on my phone and we headed to the basement. Our power flickered on and off a few times and after the storm was over, we went outside to assess the damage. It wasn't too bad ~ small tree limbs and leaves everywhere. Parts of Chicago and surrounding suburbs got hit hard with huge trees uprooted and power out for days!

After a long week with Brian having a stress test and a colonoscopy (both passed with flying colors, thank God...and I just have to brag, that my hubby at 60 years old, can still complete the entire treadmill stress test! His doctor said he and only one other patient of his are able to do so. I can vouch for how amazing and hard it would be to complete a stress test...I had one last year and definitely could not finish it!), he announced he wanted to "get out of here" and spend time in the city (Chicago). 

No worries, we were safe. We only went to a few of our favorite independent shops in a select neighborhood and we had lunch on the patio of a cute, little diner.

Chicagoans are fantastic with social distancing and wearing masks. In all the neighborhoods we walked through and in the small shops we went into, everyone was practicing both these necessary protocols. We didn't encounter one single person not wearing a mask, even outdoors. Because walking in these crowded neighborhoods, you are always passing by another person. So unlike our own little neighborhood, far away from the city. We don't even have sidewalks, so we walk on the side of the road. We rarely even encounter another person on our walks and if we do, they're on the other side of the road, easily 10 feet away.

 The architecture on some of the homes and buildings in this area of Chicago we were in (Lakeview) was amazing...

 And so were the gardens and plants around the houses in the Roscoe Village neighborhood...

Oops, not a plant! But one of the cutest little doggos I've ever seen. 💓 This is a mini Australian Shepherd. So cool that it has one blue eye and one brown.

We stopped in a vintage shop where we were the only customers besides one other person. We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to look around. Both of us love mid-century modern furniture even though we only have a couple of pieces in our home. I fell in love with these nightstands, though they were too short for our bedroom and wouldn't go with our headboard or just our room in general. And no, I don't have a hankering to completely change our bedroom right now either!

Love the curved, raised piece on top of the nightstand.

A beautiful cabinet that caught our eye...but nowhere to put it in our small house. Check out the tile in this store, too! *swoon*

Another small, independent shop we went into was Praha. We discovered this shop last year and vowed to return. We were the only customers in this shop at the time, so we were able to spend time looking around...

and had a lovely, long conversation with the shop owner, Todd. I came home with two vintage planters.

The only two other shops we went into were bookstores; both independent, one with new books, the other with used. In both shops, again, we were the only customers. Sign of the times we're currently in, for sure. At the store that sold new books, I got the Wendell Berry poetry book and Brian got The Warmth of Other Suns. We like to support independent book shops when we go to towns that have such stores. We could've paid a lot less on Amazon, but we want these independent bookstores to stay in business. We know that our small purchases are a drop in the bucket, but we can only hope that every small purchase counts towards filling that bucket to stay afloat.

I saved the best for last. The used bookstore. This is Bookmans Corner. Another Chicago store we discovered last year, and happily so. I think it's a good thing we don't live closer, because I'd be in here far too often, dragging home so many books that my house would end up looking like this!

John, the owner is now 85 years old. He told me the place was for sale ~ including all the books ~ if I was interested. 😉 As you can see, the charm of this place is the claustrophobic aisles with homemade bookshelves and books piled precariously everywhere. 

John has books on every subject you can think of. An entire aisle is dedicated to different countries all over the world. I could happily spend hours in this store, digging through piles of books until I found ones I didn't even know I needed wanted. John doesn't even have a cash register in his store. He tallies up the purchases (which are sooo reasonably priced!) in his head or writes them down on a piece of paper. We paid in cash and he pulled out his wallet to give us change.

These are the four books I came home with. Brian found a few, too (not pictured). Oliver Sacks was a British physician and professor of neurology and psychiatry, best known for writing books about case histories of his patients and his own neurological conditions. I'd read a couple of his other books, so was glad to find this one. 

at home is a book of black and white photographs of everyday home still life vignettes. From Amazon:

"In striking black-and-white still-life portraits, Frederking captures the small and large elements that define the spirit of his home, as well as revealing why the home is at the heart of the American dream. Home is a place where objects become enlivened and symbolic—a newspaper lying askew on the kitchen table, a fluffy bedspread spilling through the iron lattice of a bedframe, a staircase spiraling down into mysterious shadows—and thus affirm our existence. Everything we buy or touch, renovate or borrow becomes a mark of our selves, and these marks are nowhere more concentrated than in the home. Frederking’s powerful visual sequence examines the simple backdrop that anchors our complicated lives—and ourselves. "

Thank you for visiting and for your sweet comments. Stay healthy, well and safe!