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!


  1. Chicago is one of the cities I have never been to, but always wanted to visit. Maybe someday. The dog is adorable!! I would love to spend hours in that bookstore.

  2. What a cute dog with the different eyes. Good for Brian for passing the medical tests with flying colors!

  3. What a fun post. My husband and I love old book stores as well, and I could imagine browsing through the shop in your picture. What a great place. You practices so much restraint to only bring home four books. Chicago sounds like so much fun. We lived in downstate Illinois and never ventured up to Chicagoland, but it looks like such an interesting place. Glad Brian did well on his medical tests. Our little patio garden is still producing some tomatoes, but it is also starting to look tired. Fall is coming, Great, enjoyable post. See you next time!

  4. Oh, Melanie, I love EVERYTHING about this post!! How wonderful to see the GOOD side of Chicago... especially when all we hear about is the other stuff going on. I'm thankful you were safe where you visited stores and walked around. That sounds like a heavenly, serene day to spend there. Those neighborhoods look enchanting. If I had gone to that book store I'm afraid I never would've left! Praise the Lord that Brian did so well! Yay! Blessings to you! ❤️

  5. Glad you had a great birthday and a great day in Chicago. Looks like some great places to visit and have fun. Glad Brain had great results. Have a good week.

  6. We are lucky where we live. Chicagoans ARE great about social distancing.
    You guys find the best places to visit and you take the best pictures. I am so glad you had a great birthday, derecho included. :)
    Oh and thank you for the sharing the beautiful Chicago pictures as well. There is so much good to Chicago, I am so glad that you shared that.

  7. Chicago is on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful photos!

    One of my favorite bookstores is in the Milwaukee airport. It is packed full of used books, many pile in the aisle, like the one you showed. More than once, I've loaded my carry on bag to the zipper bulging.

    Happy belated birthday to you!! It sounds like a perfect day to me:)

  8. First and foremost, a very happy belated birthday dear Melanie - sorry I'm really late!
    Loved this mixed bag post of all you've been up to - it's a lot compared to me!!!!
    I must make more of an effort and start getting out!
    Haven't visited Chicago in many years - on the the list when travel is possible again.
    Never seen such an unusual looking doggie - bet everyone stops to chat with his owner(s)!
    Yes, gardens at the end of the really pretty season now - no matter where we live it seems.
    That bookshop! Wow, never seen such a hodge podge - must be so interesting to spend a few hours browsing there. Both you and Brian made good reading choices -
    I definitely like the look of 'The Warmth of Other Suns'.
    Thanks for such an interesting post.
    Stay well (you both seem to be doing that thankfully), and be safe.
    Hugs - Mary

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  10. Those nightstands are gorgeous! Are you sure you don't want them? I've often thought that if I were much younger and wanting a change that mid century modern would be my choice. I enjoyed visiting Chicago for the day through your lens and words. I can't remember the name of the neighborhood there that my grandson and his wife lived in when they graduated college but I remember her saying that it was next to Lincoln Park and I just adored the architecture of the buildings near the apartment they bought and remodeled. I love seeing historic neighborhoods.

    Your husband is in great shape! I couldn't finish the stress test when I was 60, actually gave out after 5 minutes. I'm so glad you were safe during that bad storm and that you didn't lose power like so many did. I remember we were without power for six days back in the 90s and an ice storm came through. It was hard, especially since we were on well water and so had no water either. Parts of our garden are looking a little forlorn now and watering is getting old but I guess we have another month or more of it.

    I hope your weekend is lovely and safe,

  11. Happy Birthday, late but positive thoughts for a wonderful year are being sent your way. Glad Brian had great test results and that you two have had some nice adventures lately. I'd love to be in that bookstore. Stay safe.

  12. What a great birthday trip! What a gift to have your husband have great news on his tests! We have not been to Chicago in years, did love visiting the city! Found your blog over at Kris's Junkcreekcottage! She is a sweetheart!

  13. I have to chuckle that you are already seeing how enthusiastic a passion vine can be. I hope you get to see its fabulous blooms. Like I said, I’ve tried for probably 8 years now to be rid of it, but finally found a small area to put a trellis and see if it will stick to that area. Maybe I’ll see blooms again? Fingers crossed.

  14. Love your Susan branch books
    I have the same ones
    One day my husband and I took a day to trip to the vineyard and walked into the bookstore and what a surprise Susan branch was photographing books
    What a wonderful surprise


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