Willkommen Daheim

I’m very excited to announce we have a new member to our family!
We welcomed Janne, a German exchange student, to America this weekend.

My daughter, her husband, and their two sons will be hosting Janne (pronounced Ya-na) for the school year. When they committed to this program nearly a year ago, it seemed so far away! But it’s August! And Janne is here!

Nicole was an exchange student her Junior year in high school. She spent a few months in New Zealand. Her time there was the perfect excuse for her to take me for a visit. She is still close to the friends she made during that time. A couple of her Kiwis even flew in for her wedding.

I have friends that participated in exchange programs back in the 80’s and keep in contact with the friends they made and families that hosted them. They look back with fond memories.

Everyone knows how much I love to travel. Experiencing new places, people, food, and entertainment. Immersing yourself in another world, if only for a short time. I think this will be a fabulous experience for everyone involved. I can’t wait to learn a few words of German and converse with my grandsons and their “sister”. And, of course, visit her homeland. ‚̧

We get almost a full year with her, that means American holidays like Labor Day, Sweetest Day, and Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and birthdays. I look forward to sharing in, and providing some, of her American Adventures. Starting with CornFest! ūüôā

Welcome to the family, Janne. Welcome home.

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A PUPPY PARTY!

We had a Jackson and Miskey (JaM) Puppy Party this weekend.
It was a blast.

Of the eight litter mates, seven were able to attend!
We had adoptive parents from DeKalb, Sycamore, Rockford, Peoria, and Aurora drive in for a couple of hours of frolicking puppy fun.

They were fifteen weeks old, all about the same size with the smallest just over ten pounds and the biggest at almost fourteen. Most of the ears have popped but a couple are still flopping. (You think one way is the most adorable, until you see the other! They’re ALL so stinkin’ cute!) They are healthy, happy, social little fur balls! And so smart!

 

They ran, they wrestled, they chased, they rolled.
Sometimes they drank water.
But mostly they washed their paws in the bowl.
They had doggy ice cream. (Thank you Luna’s mom.)
One fell in the pool (!). She swam remarkably well until her fast acting momma was able to snag her.
THEY GOT DIRTY!
Especially the wet one.
Wet ones, I should say, lol. Because, you know, water bowl.
But mostly the swimmer.

We had some growls. We had some grouches.
We had some go-gettems that had to be separated.
But mostly we had a GOOD TIME.

I am SO impressed that seven of the eight were able to make it.
I would LOVE to do this again.
It was a good day of safe play and socializing.

My puppies puppies have great families.
They are loved.
That makes me very HAPPY. ‚̧

Luna, Emmy, Boots, Piper, Blossom, Cooper, Zoey

You’ve come a long way, puppies.

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The Pickle

We all know to stop and smell the roses.
We all know it’s the little things in life that mean the most.
And we all know, all too well, that life is short.

On April 16th, I drove down to Bloomington to visit with my Aunt Rosemary. I’d been apprised of her failing health, but she seemed receptive to a visit.

The woman who greeted me seemed healthy enough. I mean, she was mobile, attractive, talkative. Wearing colored badges of elderly skin, she was sore from physical therapy, bruised and swollen from other ailments, but with the aid of her walker, she got around.

When I’d made plans with her, I told her I’d come about 11 and pick up lunch on the way. I knew she didn’t have much appetite and was on a restrictive diet, so I asked what she wanted/could have. She said she’d love a burger and fries.

I researched the “healthiest” fast food burger and Burger King was at the top of the list. (I know, right?) I ordered a burger with no sodium laden ketchup and the fries salt-free.

Rosemary ate slowly while we (she! lol) chatted over lunch. When she pulled the pickle out and set it aside, it occurred to me a PLAIN burger was probably the healthiest. Duh.

A bite of burger, a bit of fry, then she picked the pickle up again. She held it delicately with both hands as she brought it to her mouth, closed her eyes, and tasted.

Reveling, she said, God, I miss pickles.
Oh, yeah?
So bad for you.
Oh, no!
But I love them.

I always pull the pickle off. I never eat the pickle! I never even think about the pickle.
But, in that moment, the pickle was the rose she stopped to smell.
It was the little thing that meant the most.
It made her happy.
And that made me happy.

Now, now I think about the pickle.

That was the last time I saw my Aunt Rosemary. She passed away on May 30, 2019.
Life is short.
Smell that rose.
Savor that pickle.
And most importantly, share that moment.

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5 Best Things about BOSTON

Telling a friend about my quick trip to Boston, I commented, “If you haven’t been, you should¬†go!” And she said, “Why?”

At first I was floored.
I mean, WHY NOT? Boston is really cool.
Then I told her why I thought it was worth a visit.
Now I’m telling you.

5 Best Things about Boston

5. Boston is a clean and friendly place.

At one point, as my friend and I sat in Gypsy Place Coffee and Juice, idly chatting over breakfast, she noticed the view through the windows. Out on the street, a couple of guys in hard hats and vests set a cement mold, a young mother pushed a stroller, an elderly man carried a sack of groceries from Whole foods, a pick-up truck drove by with a dog lolling out the window…
“It looks like a movie set,” she said.
It did!

Aside from the aggressive (bus) drivers who use only the accelerator and horn, most everyone we encountered was kind and helpful. It’s my opinion that the couple of unfriendlies that scattered our path were not locals.

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4. The Neighborhoods

There are 23 neighborhoods that comprise Boston, we visited at least half. From the North End to Dorchester, and Fenway Kenmore to South Boston, we rode, walked, caught a Red Sox game (with a grand slam!), ate and drank our way through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met a variety of people–bus drivers, commuters, students, baristas and bartenders. Diversity is as natural in Boston as the seafood. With so many schools and universities in the area, people are colorful, young, and wicked smaht.

3. FOOD & DRINK

Because we did so much walking (27 miles in 3 days!), we stopped frequently for quick breaks. Where better than a bakery or pub? The two of us would share a plate and sometimes even a beverage. Coffee, beer, cider, Kombucha…croissant, burrata, empanada, lobster roll. We sampled it all.

We stumbled across many places to dine, including Luke’s Lobster, Mass Ave Diner, and El Barrio Mexican Grill. But our favorite stop, our ‘neighborhood bar’, if you will, was Lord Hobo. Conveniently located¬†between the train and our VRBO, we were walking past it anyway, we might as well go in! Nobody really knew our name, but they seemed glad we came. The waitstaff took good care of us–sharing recommendations and local lore.


2. The Beach

If you know me well, you are probably wondering why this isn’t #1. I get it. Trust me, number one is THAT GOOD.

When I booked this trip to Boston, it was for ‘research’ for my next novel. I wanted to get a feel for the local vibe. The architecture, the cultures, the communities. I didn’t want the historical tour of Boston. So we stayed in a residential neighborhood and we walked a lot. The idea of a beach never entered my mind. Imagine my delight when we took the Blue Line all the way to the end, disembarked at the Wonderland stop, crossed the road and found the shoreline! We were able to walk the beach all the way to the previous stop and hop on for a return trip inland. Almost like the crashing waves and setting sun were a dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(drum roll please . . . . . . . )

and the NUMBER ONE REASON to visit BOSTON is…

1. Public Transportation

Of all the places I have traveled, Boston has by far the best public transportation system. First, when we left the airport, we hopped on the Gray Line for free and rode to the Red Line where we transferred. For free. We kept looking for ticket stands, ticket-takers, and other places to give/take our money. There is no fee when leaving the airport. How cool is that?! Of course, the next time you enter a station, there’s the familiar gate or turn-style. But, a seven day unlimited bus/train ticket cost less than 22 bucks. Our four full days of getting around were covered for the price of one taxi/Uber/Lyft ride. We definitely got our money’s worth.

(Full disclosure, we did take a water taxi to the North End.)

The “T” as it is locally referenced, allowed us to experience numbers five through two. And so much more! Cars were sometimes empty, sometimes standing room only, never more than a seven minute wait. And the stations were clean and urine free.

If you go to Boston, and you should, make sure to¬†grab a “T” ticket.
The greater Boston area, all 23 neighborhoods, will be easily accessible.

I loved Boston.
If you haven’t been, you should¬†go.

 

 

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Search and Search Again

“Search again” is another way of saying “research”, right?

Maybe it’s the word-nerd in me, but why is the word RESEARCH – “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (Google definition), prefaced with a “RE”? The “re” prefix is used with the meaning ‚Äúagain‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúagain and again‚ÄĚ to indicate repetition.

Research implies a first search followed by another search.

Welcome to the mind of a creative.

This blog was supposed to be about my whirlwind trip to the Boston area for, ahem, research, on my next novel. Instead, I was derailed by the inconsistency of the American language.

I started thinking about other “re” words. Reply, response, renege, revoke. Renaissance, remember, revolt, revive. Regarding, resist, rely, repair. There are a lot of “re” words. All of these words seem to have a “pre” to them, some sort of prior experience or understanding. You reply when you’ve been contacted. You respond the same. You renege on a preexisting promise. You revoke something by taking it back. See?

I was in Boston, having a GREAT time, eating and drinking (and thanks for all your concern on my Facebook posts, lol–obviously we vacation differently), and immersing myself in the local culture. For the FIRST time.

It’s true, I was searching, that would be accurate, but, researching?

I guess a second trip is in order.

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Art Loss

*sigh*
So, I lent two original pieces to a gallery for a Recycling Show.
Very cool, right? I mean, I haven’t been focusing on the creation of art-art lately, but instead have been trying to work through the details of book 2 in my Pandora series. It was an honor to participate in an exhibition with (old) original art. Pretty apropos when you consider it was a “recycling” theme.

First, I never received any information about the exhibition. As a participating artist, I was never invited to an opening. Time passed, I kind of forgot about it. Then…

I got a call from an assistant–not the woman in charge that I initially dealt with, but some lackey–reminding me that I should swing by and pick up my art. Oh, and by the way, one of my pieces was stolen during the show.

WHAT?!

Yeah, sorry.

Who steals from an art exhibit?

Our cameras didn’t see anything.

Well, shit.

She offered to reimburse me for the cost if they could cover it from their donations.

Trust me, honey, you do NOT have enough in your donations to make this right.
Because
it was ORIGINAL ART.
Hand-created with found materials.
Invaluable.
Irreplaceable.
Priceless.

PRICE LESS.
There is NO price.

Not to mention that you are a struggling gallery running on donations and I support the arts.

In an eerily calm voice I told her I’d get back to her.
I have not gotten back to her yet.
I’m not sure what to get back to her with.

Meantime, the other piece, the not worthy of stealing piece, sits in a box on a shelf waiting to be picked up. The poor red-headed step-child of the art world lingers patiently while mommy deals with her loss.

I miss my art.
I miss my Little Golden Book of Happiness.
I am sad.
Oh, the irony.

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D’piphany

I had a d’piphany this morning.

You know, a duh epiphany.

Duh (ňąd…ô), interjection – used to express actual or feigned ignorance or stupidity
Epiphany (i-ňąpi-f…ô-nńď), noun – an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

When something comes to you in a moment of brilliance and you are¬†wowed by your flash of vivid insight…
then shamed because it was something that should have been obvious.

I won’t share.
That would emphasize the duh.
I prefer to focus on the epiphany.
And celebrate the fact that after all these years, I’m still learning.

May your life be sprinkled with epiphanies.
Including the occasional duh.

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