Saturday, March 3, 2018

All The Way to 50

March did that happen? Two months gone, and what have I accomplished? Hmmm, nope can't seem to come up with anything significant. But I better get crackin' on my list of 75 things that make me happy before BD date.

#42 - #44 I leave for Phoenix on Tuesday to visit with friends and enjoy some sun and's been cool there lately but according to our ever reliable (?) weather forecast it will be in the 70's and 80's while I am there. Can't wait to to see sites like this....

or of my favs because of it's pinkish red color!

And how about this....the view from porch.

and ofcourse there are the sunsets...

My morning ritual is always the same...rise, potty, let Cinder out to do her potty, make coffee, grab my I-Pad and check email, read the paper on line, check instagram and facebook. Pretty boring, but it begins my day. I am definitely not a leap out of bed, immediately get dressed kinda gal. Easing into the day is my way. Today as I was doing the above I ran across a blurb about recently read books and she printed a quote from "An American Marriage" by Tayari says "But mostly my life is good, only it's a different type of good from what I figured on."  That pretty much sums up my life...good but not exactly what I had planned.#45 Life is definitely not a straight line but twists and turns that become a part of who you are.

Door County, Wisconsin

Last Sunday I joined up with a photography group with Lou Nettlehorst and his son, Todd. I met Lou several years ago on a trip to the Smokey Mountains and have kept in contact with him since. He's a great teacher mentor and it's always a pleasure to be with him.#46. We met in the city around Lincoln Park, which is on the north side of downtown Chicago. Great views of the city from this vantage point and I managed to get a few shots of our beautiful city. #47

Fancy Schmanzy Apartment/Condo with views of Lake Michigan

I've had a rather quiet week, which was welcomed after last weeks busyness....after we walked and walked and walked on Sunday my ankles and thighs were screaming on Monday. I've always had bad ankles, even as a kid. My friend Winnie walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage last year and wants to do it again this year. I can't even fathom walking a journey that long. My hats off to you Winnie!! And to all others that attempt these journeys. 

The Out of Chicago Photography group that I participate with is having a 4 day workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden in August photographing flowers and such. Only 100 participants, and 10 professional photographers to guide and mentor us along the way. Oh joy oh joy!! Definitely #48. 
And yes, I have already registered, absolutely no hesitation. 

OK to round this up to 50, yellow roses from TJ's....#49

Sunny days...2 in a row after a gloomy February. March came in like a lamb...hoping it doesn't go out like a lion. #50. 

Enjoy your weekend. Oscar night, Sunday night. And do something that makes you happy.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Wrestled With A Sump Pump....

On tap for last night was another wonderful evening out with the girls for our dinner and trip to the Paramount theater where we have season tickets to see 4 musicals each year. "Cabaret" shined bright . And yes, it was raunchy and bawdy, but oh so fun. Terrific cast which always amazes me the extensive amount of talent that we have in the Chicago area and that we don't have to go into the city, pay over the top prices for a ticket and exorbitant parking fees to see a terrific Broadway show. And a definite #33 on my happy list. And #34 is having left overs from dinner to enjoy a second time around.

#35 Field Daffodils from Trader Joe's 

I had an arm wrestling match with my sump pump hose yesterday. I'll back up....first came the snow almost 10 inches, then the warmth which thus began to melt the snow, ground is now saturated from the melted snow and then the rains came and came and came. Last Fall I threw my sump pump hose in the garbage because Toby (sob) loved to chew holes in the plastic hose, thus making it rather useless for hauling water away from the house. OK, now the rains have come (as stated) and the sump pump is running constantly, literally every 5-10 second intervals. Water is pooling around the house because of da dah NO hose.

Definitely Duck Weather....

I'll shorten this long story, bought the hose, wrestled with getting it on the pipe because ofcourse it didn't fit, resorted to duck tapping the damn thing onto the pipe between gushing water but first had to slowly cut the old duck tape away from the rim of the pipe,  This whole event became so much longer than anticipated (isn't that the way everything goes as you age)...and to end this event I couldn't get my rubber boots off of my feet. Well, I finally did, but I pulled every muscle in my arms and back and legs struggling to release my feet from the death grip of those damn rubber boots. I know I have used the word damn twice in this paragraph and while I was in the midst of this event I probably uttered the word "shit" dozens of times. It's difficult to be pure of mouth when you arm wrestle with a sump pump hose. OK, happy #36 it's done.

Monday I played bridge with a group of ladies that gather ever once in awhile for a few rounds. Mostly dealt very low point hands, but at least once I bid 5 hearts and made 5, which makes for a happy morning, not to mention the absolutely best home-made sticky buns I've ever tasted bar none. So good bridge hands and Flour's Famous Sticky Buns #37 and #38.  Here is the link to the recipe....
It's long and tedious and I would never attempt to make these, but I so appreciate that my dear foody friend Ruth treated us to these little pieces of heavenly baked buns.

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot about my outing with a photography friend last Friday. Jeanne and I love to photograph barns, and the older the better. If you ask Jeanne what she enjoys shooting she will reply....old, crumbling, rust, gritty. So last Friday off we went to see if we could find some old barns. So #39 is definitely finding old barns to photograph.''

And #40, my Orchid from a previous post (see here) is still alive and blooming...

Off to Bunco this evening, which means good food, fun and friends...has to be #41.

Enjoy your weekend and do something that makes you happy!

Until next time...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fog Beautiful Fog....

Last night I could see the fog rolling in and then a Fog Advisory warning popped up on my I-Phone. We very rarely get fog here, but with so much snow on the ground and the temperatures rising, thus causing the fog to develop, my little heart was doing a happy dance. When I woke up this AM it was like pea soup. Yea!! Now if it will stick around so me and my camera can have some foggy fun I'll be a happy camper. I had a dentist appointment this morning, my last one for awhile....thank goodness, to finalize a crown that I had to have replaced, along with a root canal. Those 2 are in my top 10 of things that "don't" make me happy. I would say pretty much anything to do with Dr's or Dentists don't make it on my happy list. But I am happy that all that is over with #27.

Anywho...the fog did not dissipate while I had my mouth wide open reclined in the dentist chair. As I lay there I began to wonder where should I go to capture some fog shots. Then it came to me....a cemetery. We have 2 cemeteries in town, and believe it or not I've never been inside the gates of either one. I find that rather strange since I've lived here 41 years. Well, today is the day I take my first steps into St. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery. No one around, no wind, perfect. If it weren't for the 2 streets busy with cars and trucks surrounding two sides and a railroad track with trains running on regular schedules on another it would have been totally silent. Rest in peace is not happening here. But the "no wind" and "fog" made me very happy #28.

Back in the car....where to next? Ah ha...Seager Park, woodsy and on my way home. Many years ago this used to be a RV campsite. When my Mom and Dad were doing their summer trips all over the US and Canada pulling their silver Air Stream trailer they would set up their home base at Seagar Park while visiting us. The kids thought that trailer was the best! Now, lo and behold, many years later my brother has one that he and his wife trip to all the gorgeous places in the west and northwest areas of the US. Those memories of their visits are happy ones...#29.

On my way home, since I hadn't eaten anything I swung into McDonalds to pick up an Egg McMuffin and a Pineapple-Orange Smoothie, and yes, that is a happy #30 meal for me. There was a man standing by McDonald's with a sign that said..."need money to eat".  After picking up my order and driving past him again, I had to stop for the red-light. I handed him my bag with the Egg McMuffin and the shredded hash brown patty. He walked over to the car and thanked me. I didn't give him money, I gave him food. OK, now that left me without breakfast, I turned around  at the next block and headed back to McD's a second time and once again the man was standing there with his sign. I thought..."what the hell" I gave him food and he is still begging. As I pulled out I stopped and asked him what he did with my food that I had just given him. He explained that he has to eat before he takes his meds for seizures and the meds put him to sleep. I don't know if the guy was just telling me a story or what, but made me happy #31 to think I might have helped the man in some way.

Just a little reminder that Spring always follows Winter which makes me very happy #32....

Have a good weekend everyone and remember, do something that makes you happy.

Until next time.....

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Yes, It Snowed....

Yes, it snowed, we have at least 10 inches maybe more, and a weather snow alert just popped up on my I-Phone warning of another 3-5 inches overnight. Hmmm. And yes, I'm bummed because they cancelled the Out of Chicago Photo Conference scheduled for today. Oh well, can't fight Mother Nature. So what do I do instead....and no, I don't grab snowshoes or cross-country skis and head out the door, like some really exercise conscious people,  I grab my camera and take pictures of the tulips I purchased at TJ's on Wednesday.

Alright, I'm warning you now all you are going to see in this post is snow and tulips. That's about my limit for the last couple of days.  Now, what has made me happy for the past few days...#21 I loved The Phantom Thread. Daniel Day Lewis is perhaps one of the best actors of our day. The acting, photography, gowns, music, story...loved it. Probably my favorite movie of all that I have seen lately and that includes many of the Oscar nominated films. FYI....ladies, if you have a spouse, partner whatever, men probably would not enjoy this movie. I don't mean it's a chick flick or a mushy love story, but it's filled with women, beautiful gowns, smart dressing and many quiet moments.

#22 my book groups.  I belong to 3, yes 3. Two of them we read a book and discuss each month, meeting at alternating homes, and the 3rd meets at the Country Club where we have lunch and a book review usually given by one of our members. Delightful afternoon, but we don't meet during the months of Jan thru March, the CC doesn't serve lunch on Wednesdays in the winter-time. And we certainly can't meet without having a lunch....snort. Our bookgroup that I call "the 2nd Thursday Book Club" met this past week, reading "Before We Were Yours".  A past and present story of children who were swept up into the adoption sale to the wealthy who couldn't have children of their own. Very shocking,and is based on a true woman who did just that, kidnapped children, threw them into an orphanage and then sold them to the wealthy.One of our member's husband was raised in an orphanage and he had fond memories of his childhood, so not all orphanages were bad.

I don't know about you, but since Google came into my life it has saved me from laying awake nights trying to remember a certain movie star, a book, a song....whatever. So #23 is definitely the land of Google and all that information right in the palm of my hand.

One more picture and I'm done.  Come Monday or Tuesday I will be out and about with my camera, but for right now, I'm staying in. 

Thank goodness for Netflix #24 and Amazon Prime #25. Any recommendations for either one of those?  I'm in the middle of watching "Absentia" on Amazon Prime with Stana Katic, you remember her from "Castle".  The story picks up after Emily Byrne suddenly reappears after going missing for six years with no memory of what happened while she disappeared, the show is chock-full of mysteries to solve and questions to answer. In addition to solving the mysteries of the past, Emily has a quest to clear her own name of various crimes she's been implicated in. In the six years she has been missing, her son grows up not knowing his mother, and her husband remarries. Pretty riveting. 

OK, that's it for now. Stay safe, stay warm, stay healthy....oh just thought of another (I hope this doesn't jinx me) I am happy #26 so far I have escaped the terrible flu that has been spreading like wildfire. Like I said, I hope I didn't jinx myself for saying that. 

Until next time.....

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The List Goes On and On

Oh my, running behind again. It's that lazy factor that keeps raising its ugly head.  And now that it's cold and snowy, it causes me to just snuggle in my cozy chair and do absolutely nothing....maybe read or play a little Spider Solitaire...I did mention that is an addiction, right!?

And speaking of snow, we finally scored a decent amount, one that at least stuck to the trees and bushes. We have had snow but it has always been so light and fluffy that in my mind it wasn't quite photographable. I know that skiers prefer this texture but we photographers like that wet, sticky snow that clings to branches aka "heart attack snow". So #13 on my list of happies, is a good thick wet layer of snow.  Following with that my #14 happy is my neighbor with his "large" snowblower". It makes me very happy when I hear that snowblower roar and know that my driveway and sidewalks will be clear. He calls it his toy, I call it my savior.

Yesterday, after a very pleasant morning at Bible Study and a trip to Trader Joe's (I'll tell you about that later) I drove to the Riverwalk to wander and grab some photos of our pretty snow. I wore my heavy coat, but man, by the time I got back to the car I was a little icicle. Looked at the temp on my car thermometer and it was wonder my hands and fingers were stiff.  #15 is our lovely Riverwalk. Our city fathers have developed this beautiful walk along the DuPage River that is lovely any time of the year.

I know in my last post I mentioned something that was not on my happy list and that was my boob smashing event. Well, #16 is that I'm happy that my mammogram was normal....whew, that's always good to hear.

OK, so after Bible Study and before I drove to the Riverwalk I shopped at Trader Joe's for the and a bottle of Villa Alena Moscato.  I guess I better mention that Villa Alena Moscato is my favorite wine, and yes it makes me happy....#17. I picked up a few other items, but what was prominent in my cart was a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and a double bunch of  deep pink tulips. As I was checking out, the cashier (male) asked if these were for Valentine's Day and did I have a sweetheart to share them with... Uh, no my sweetie passed away in September. Following was..."I'm so sorry, hope you are OK.."  I assured him that I was fine, he suffered a long time, he's in a better place etc. Now, here comes the "18, he asks me to follow him on my way out the door, he runs over to the flower section and picks up this absolutely beautiful orchid, presents it to me and wishes me well. Now who does that, except Trader Joe's. I am convinced the employees are given permission to share kindness to their customers.  That's not the only time I have been gifted by a TJ's employee, I've been given a bag of their dark chocolate peanut butter cups, a can of their delicious toffee at Christmas time, and when in Arizona the cashier gave me a TJ's shopping bag with Arizona emblazoned on the front.

I'm headed to Arizona in March for 10 days. I almost decided not to go this year because I am leaving on a Riverboat Cruise to the Netherlands March 25th....tulip time with 3 girlfriends. But I so enjoy feeling the warmth and sunshine and visiting with friends that I decided, what the hey, and booked my flight this week. Visiting Arizona is a definite happy #19. How could I pass up this...

Today I'm heading to the movies to see "The Phantom Thread" with Daniel Day Lewis. Later today, more snow is on the way, so our movie and dinner will come early.

Saturday is The Out of Chicago Winter Conference" in Joliet.....a definite #20. I have made lots of photography friends through this group and always look forward to learning and reuniting with good friends. More about this next week. And PS I broke down and ordered a new Nikon D850 camera this past week. Supposed to be phenomenal. I'm sure it will make my top #75.

Have a great and safe weekend all...

Until next time.....

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Happy Post #8 - #12

Look at that tongue....Cinder isn't a tongue wagger unless she gets really hot and today was that day. She loves the sunshine but being almost all black her little body heats up pretty quickly. Today the sun was shining, the birds were out and about and Cinder was enjoying every last light beam she could handle before she became so hot that the tongue began to reveal itself. She would eventually give it up and jump off the couch to land where the beams weren't streaming. Very shortly tho, she would be back in that sunlight, basking again. Please don't remind me she needs a good groom, I know, she knows, and the groomers know. It's coming.  Cinder basking in the sun with tongue out is my #8 on the happy list.

Now you do realize that this list of 75 things that make me happy are in no particular order...please keep that in mind as my brain wanders through this list.

Yesterday 6 of us girls went to see "The Shape of Water". Have you seen it? All I'm going to say is the writer/director has quite the imagination. I did think both Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins were outstanding in their roles. Just a heads-up, you may come out of that movie theater with a big hmmmm. It's quite a journey.

Our WOW (Women on Wednesdays) Bible Study began again in January after our holiday break. Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of "Bad Girls of the Bible" and what a hoot she is. There is a video with each lesson and her descriptions and tales are a complete delight. Being with like minded women each Wednesday is always a delight whatever we are studying, but having Liz Curtis Higgs as our study guide makes my #9 happy list.

#10 has to be blooming plants indoors in February. Right now it is 14 degrees outside, but my blooming cyclamen plant is toasty warm inside on my table next to my winter chair with a pile of books to read.. I say winter chair because in the good ole summertime my wicker chair on the backporch is my summer chair. Both are my "safe havens" my "nests" my "relaxing" spots and my, yes, my "napping" spots. A  short snooze in the afternoon with those winter rays warming me is my #11 happy thing.

And #12 is my granddaughter's blog Cooking.Cats.Charisma  Bailey has quite a sense of humor and she loves to cook. Combine those 2 elements and you get recipes and a chuckle to boot. Check her out, you'll enjoy her witticism.

So tomorrow is boob smashing day...aka mammogram. This does not go on my list as a happy thing, along with Dr's appointments, colonoscopies, and trips to the dentist.

Until next time.....

Monday, January 29, 2018

To Continue....

If I'm going to list 75 things that make me happy before March 10th I better get this list movin'. But first I want to give a little shout out to all those that still flip on their Christmas lights every night and have their crispy, brown-tipped "fresh" wreaths still hanging on their doors. It's over people....give it up. I'm bad, but not "end of January" bad. Our weekend was up in the 50's so there is no longer an excuse. OK, I'm done with the bitchin'.

After bemoaning the fact that I have been very sad and tied to my I-PAD for hours on end, I have actually been quite busy and have had little time for playing Spider Solitaire....oh I didn't mention that did I?!  Don't and I really mean don't start, it is a true time suck. I couldn't understand when many became so addicted to Candy Crush, but I'm probably worse with Spider Solitaire. Hour upon hour upon hour, I feel like I should stand in front of a circle of like minded people and admit that "I Am A Spider Solitaire Co-Holic."  Please tell me that there are others out there who have such addictions, it would truly make me feel less obsessive.

Friday was Chicago Symphony Orchestra night with a lovely group of women. We purchased season tickets (3 in total) and have enjoyed meeting for dinner at a delicious restaurant, imbibing in a glass of wine and consuming a delicious dinner along with sharing a decadent dessert prior to the concert. The concerts are a tremendous delight and expands my knowledge of classical musicians and their great works. So that becomes #3 in my makes me happy CSO night with the ladies.

#4 has to be the simply wonderful movies I've seen lately. I've probably told this story before, but when I was a child, around 7-8 years old, we lived on a rather busy street. My Mother would help me cross the street and I would walk the 3 or 4 blocks by myself to our local movie theater, pay $.10 for a ticket and sit thru whatever movie was playing that week until my Dad would pick me up on his way home from work in the evening. That is where my love of movies began. We didn't have TV in those days, so the movies became my favorite entertainment as a child.  This year there have been some outstanding movies that I've seen, "Wonder", every school age child should see this, "The Post" a timely movie considering what has been perceived as "fake news", "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO" omg Frances McDormand is such a bad-ass actress. "The Darkest Hour" another brilliant performance by Gary Oldman, Winston perfection. I did see "Get Out" early last year when it came out....I must be too old to appreciate this kind of story. Maybe if I saw it again, I would have a better reaction. "Lady Bird" was good, but I wouldn't call it the best. I watched "Mudbound" on Netflix and again, it was just OK. Plans are to see "The Shape of Water" on Wednesday.  Thank goodness I have girlfriends that love movies as much as I do.

#5 Doritos or Fritos Scoops (not picky) and and Tostitos Salsa Con Queso. I have to physically grab my grocery cart keeping both hands on the bar so as to not reach out and grab a bag and a jar of these 2 treats that are like a narcotic binge for me. But I admit there are times when the urge is greater than the struggle and I give in. And as long as the jar still has even a dribble left, I am in binging bliss.

Capturing the sweet Junco outside my window always makes me happy, so this is my #6 (see photo above)

And *7 is tulips from Trader Joe's....what a welcome sight during these grey days. So much joy for $4.99.

OK, only 68 more to go. And I have a little over a month so stay tuned for this continuing list.

Happy Monday, have a great week.

Until next time....

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Sad/Happy Post

Dear Blog, I have this bad habit of telling myself that I'm going to begin being more consistent in writing to you, but somehow OK, I'll admit it, pure laziness seems to get in the way. I have these great thoughts on what I could write about, and what do I do...nothing, absolutely nothing. I certainly can't blame anything on "I'm so busy", because let's face it, unless you have a full-time job (did at one time), small children (also did at one time), are a care-taker (double did at one time), I can't come up with anything else that might keep me from writing a simple blog post. I get up every morning to "must have a couple of cups of coffee", read emails, read the morning paper (on-line) check facebook and instagram and start the circle again....check email etc. I'm in a rut. I'm blaming it all on my's too easy, too convenient and I have to blame someone, something, certainly not myself.

I'll admit the last few months have not been the easiest, losing my sweetie in September and then losing my Toby this month.  Somewhere I think it's written that you are not supposed to lose your husband and your favorite pet within months of each other. If it's not, it should be. Toby had been with me for 11 years, got him as a puppy, and honestly the BEST dog I ever had. He was with me all through those bad times struggling with my sweetie's Alzheimer's and then being a comfort to me after my decision to place my sweetie in a care facility. He had not been acting quite right for a couple of weeks, not eating well, having trouble getting comfortable, restless. I thought probably a flu or a virus. Brought him to the Vet on a Monday evening and left without him. He was diagnosed with lymphoma and since I could tell he was already suffering with his not acting right, I made the decision to have him put to sleep. One of the top 10 toughest decisions I have made in my life. But I did it out of love, so he would not have to suffer. I would only be keeping him alive for myself, not for him. I know many of you have had to face this decision and it ain't easy. Will I get another dog, absolutely. Cinder is lonely, she looks for Toby all the time, and she also will be leaving me soon, she has breast cancer and she is too old to have the radical surgery she needs. So I'm facing this again before too long. Right now she is OK, but tumors are popping up in her mammary glands. I've loved my kids with all my heart. Sorry to write all this sad stuff, but this has been my life lately. I do try to keep busy, book club, bible study, movies, reading, but I'm in a rut and I need to change my lazy habits.

I do have several great trips planned for this year and I'm looking forward to all, but it's this day to day shit (pardon me) that I'm having trouble with. My 75th birthday is coming up in March and a couple of  years ago I wrote 73 things that make me happy in my blog posts. Maybe that will help. I'll start with these two...

1) Crunchy Peanut Butter on Trader Joe's Classic British Muffins toasted with Stonewall Kitchen's Peach Amaretto Jam spread on top. Try it, you will like it.

2) Reading a really good book, just finished "The Woman in the Window" by A J Finn.  If you enjoyed the old Hitchcock movies, you will enjoy this read.

Ok I'm on a roll. Maybe this will keep me going. Inserting a few picture, they have absolutely nothing to do with this post. Just some pretties to look at.

See you next time.....