Saturday, October 22, 2016


Quite a birthday week for me.
First Peter, Erica and Casey as well as John, Mary, and Chuck went to the Rusty Nail in Clifton park for my 70 free wings.  It was a great feast.  The waitress said she had a married couple with the same birthday last week.  They were each 92 years old.  They could not manage all the free ones.

John wrote a song for my birthday, but I can't seem to load the video here.  I'll keep trying.  He played harmonica and sang the words. 

Dew, Dewy, Dew

(spoof of Love Me Do)

Dew, Dewy, Dew
A Banjo player is what God made you
Elizabeth will always be true 
Weeeeeee,  love you too.


Whenever you taught English
You always taught it well.
You taught and taught and taught and taught
Until you heard that bell

Dew, Dewy, Dew
A Banjo player is what God made you
Elizabeth will always be true 
Weeeeeee,  love you too.

Erica was thoughtful.  Peter had the two 32 oz free beers and she worried about him driving, so I dropped them home. Good thinking.

The next morning we flew out very early for Chicago with a change of planes in Baltimore.  All good except the need to relocate.  I slept on the planes with easy people in the middle seat.  Skinny. 
We have stayed now a couple nights at Keith's.  On the first we went to the casino.  I played 3-6 until early morning and won $62 on the poker but lost $60 on the video poker.  We played a 9/6 DB $1 machine, playing only one dollar a spin.  Not good odds, but one quad would have let me quit ahead.
The poker was fun.  Only one jerk, a guy perhaps over medicated who just capped every bet on any playable hand.  He took me down twice, once with just Ace high and another with a rivered straight over my pocket queens.  Later I won a bunch from him with Q-9 two pair.  I played well except the time I thought I had K-4 but had K-5 and bet the 4-4-x flop. 
At the end the table was almost all older Black men and very friendly, with gentle kidding and good humor.  That was great fun.
Keith lost for the first time I ever remember.
Frank came for a while, played VP and lost. 
Keith bought some nice bourbon and we toasted. Frank bought me an off diet pastrami melt.

Cory met us at the airport coming in and is doing most of the driving.  He did not go to the casino but stayed and played with the kids.

At Keith's we opened all the presents for the kids as Sylvia and Frank were there.  Lots of leggos, some books, other toys.  Gio got a leggo set of a lake house. 

I played one game of live chess with Cory and I won.  So, that puts me ahead even when he finally checkmates me on the electronic game that has been going now a long time because I am stubborn and refuse to give up.  He finally got me when I got back to Burden Lake.

Some of these odd photos were at the suggestion of GrammE who was teaching yoga to the little ones or perhaps they were teaching her.

This little one, Reagan, has a great Cubs jacket, perfect for a number of reasons.

Last night all adults went to the Brew Moon beerfest.

The had a band called 16 Candles that played old 80's music.  A large screen showed us the Cubs/LA game which went very well from the second batter's homerun to the middle inning score of 3-1.  Then LA scored and tied.  But in the 8th inning the Cubs recovered and won the game.  We missed that last burst of runs as we were on our way home in a Lyft car that Cory called.  Nice driver.  Nice ride.

The beer was all good.  I best liked a New Holland brewery port with chocolate and coffee flavors.  I came home with 5 souvenir glasses to remember the night.  One Mexican style hamburger was just grand.  They skipped the bun and topped it with a spicy salad.  Very good. 

We saw Mark and I lobbied for 3-6 or 1-1 NL at the Rivers Casino.  He said he'd run it by the woman doing the poker room setup. 
The game was very exciting.  Great fun to be in a stadium the size of a football field, packed with Cubs fans making noises.  The Cubs were ahead for many innings, and then the Dodgers drew to a tie.  We were tired.  We took a Lyft back thinking that perhaps the game would be one of those long ones, but while we were traveling the Cubs came back to win the game in the 8th inning.  So we missed all the relieved cheering.

Sunday we went to the Greek Islands.

This was perhaps the best restaurant I've been to since I can remember.
The only bad meal was the spaghetti and meatballs ordered by kids.  Not enough sauce.

I had smelt which was very tasty. It was a huge portion and would go on to feed me the next day as well.   Elizabeth had a roast pig, a special of the day.  It was just delicious.  Large portions.  Keith had a sea bass which was the best I've tasted in a long while.
We had some flaming cheese, a grand dish, dramatic and delicious.  I must find out how to make this at home.

The wine was Maleatis cabernet and very good.  We had a bottle

Spanakopita appetizer was also great.

Then we checked into the hotel and went to see Frank and Julie's new home.  It is very fine, and we are certain They will be content for a number of years.  Work is still in progress. Cory stayed the night there. 
We went on to a Hilton hotel and had quite a nice room.

Sunday morning we walked into the center of Evanston.  We visited the old hotel where Elizabeth's Grandma Grulee lived for 30 years.  It is still there.  We talked to the owner and he thought he remembered Grandma Grulee, but they only overlapped one year at most.  Still, it was fun for Elizabeth.  Perhaps we will stay there when we go back to Evanston.

Across the street was a grand structure, a church and just wonderful.  I'd like some time with a camera there. Here are others who had time.

  I'd like some time with a camera there. Here are others who had time.

We ate at a place called Le Peep.

Frank had taken us there once before.  It was very good.  Full carafes of coffee and great food.  I had a sweet potato grill that was very good.
There are a number of fine eating places in Evanston.  We also ate at Lyfe Kitchen.  I had a grand chicken and quinoa soup that was spicy and good.
Monday I walked with Sylvia and Frank on her way to school, hung out at the house for a while, and then Eliz and I went to Target to get some towels and some salt for house warming presents.
There was a bookstore too that sold books by the pound.   Interesting idea.  Fresh Market books.

Frank cooked some steak, cauliflower with thyme, and we had a fine meal.  We put Sylvia to bed and told old stories and got the update on Julie's documentary adventures.  She is nearly done with hers, and she teaches a class on making documentaries.

We slept in this Tuesday morning, our last day.  We cuddled and had a fine talk.  Elizabeth worked on authentic movement.  I unpacked.  Really.  The day before I have to pack I finally go my junk unpacked and organized.

Frank and Sylvia came to swim in our hotel pool.  Nice.  The pool was empty except for us.

Then we went to the beach that is in walking distance to Frank's house.  It was a very nice beach with a grand playground nearby.  I went on a swing while Sylvia did the slides. 

Then we went to Frank's house where I cooked up the left over smelt in butter with some garlic powder while others ate Thai food.  I had the Tom Kar seafood soup.  It was all tasty.

Up early for the flight to Albany.  What a contrast!!
This flight was scheduled to be one hour and 22 minutes and arrived early.  I had a window seat for the first time in a long while.  Elizabeth and I had an aisle and the middle was empty.
It was a gorgeous day, so the tree colors showed, first all blended to just an orange from far away and contrasted to the greens.  Then from close up the colors shifted and what a grand view.
We came in over the capital building, clear in the sunshine.  Much of the trip was above white fluffy clouds.
Without clouds I find that all my experience watching video/TV makes it hard for my brain to process the idea that I am really up in the sky and over everything. With the fluff of white clouds, the breaks and views seem much more real.  In no time the flight was done.

It always amazes me that we live in a land divided for the most part in rectangles and squares.  How did that come about?  I suppose that were we to divide up property in circles, one patch would not butt up against another.  There would be this odd bit of land in between.  However, some circles would look grand from the air and I would thing that the odd bits of land might be planted with trees or stocked with bees or turned into something to benefit all of us.  The circles might be all private, the the bits in between might be public and perhaps used to keep the animal habitat, including birds, vibrant.
I did see some fine trails right around here under power lines.  What fine long walks those might be.

The plane went East for quite a ways and up the East side of the river.  Then it turned to the airport. It was a grand view.

They lost the car in valet parking at the airport so we were delayed while they found it parked just six cars from where Elizabeth and valets were standing. Very funny.  Well, funnier were we not tired.
I cam home to find both Jay and Anita working.  Jay was just quitting so we poured a bit of the Maker's Mark and told stories.  I told him all the poker I could remember.  I don't have many people to tell those stories to, now that Gregg is gone.

It is a day in the 80's, global warming giving us some fine experiences before destroying us in floods. I might try swimming tomorrow.  Too much bourbon today.

I'm listening to Jonathan Schwartz and feeling really at home Pizzarelli was here for a while. My laundry is done and I'm fully unpacked.

Tonight I oven grilled some salmon with seafood magic.  I put white onions, mushrooms, multicolored tasty carrots and red pepper in the pressure cooker for just 5 minutes.  cooked up fine.
Nice to be home this Friday night.  Jay is almost finished with the enclosure.  The door is up and very decorative.  He is pleased and so are we.  He worked in the rain today to get most of it finished.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Here is a scattering of older posts on visits to Chicago and the kids there, copied from the old PokerBluegill blog.

Dates are included, but my cutting and pasting mixed things up a bit. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Monday, November 12, 2007


Just returned from a few days in Chicago. Son Frank was sworn in as a lawyer, making everything now official except the five years experience he needs to be able to practice law in NY state. We hope he will want to do that for us, for free. We have a long list of complaints.

It was a fine ceremony (pictures will follow if I can ever get them downloaded) much like a graduation, only the speeches were shorter and there was not that long, long, long reading of names. Also the honored were not separated from the rest of the audience. The new lawyers stood right in their seats with us and raised their hands and took the oath. They received their certificates immediately after the ceremony, although Frank was disappointed that the certificate did not come with a handy wallet sized ID card.

All around the ceremony were Frank's classmates and plenty of conversation around who was working and where and how the law should be done in those places. It was very interesting.

I have never seen so many young people in suits and ties. Most of the ties followed some pattern of small dots or shapes repeated uniformly. That must be the power tie. I saw a few striped ties and one plain tie on a plaid shirt, but most were good looking suits and power ties. The women were also dressed up in business attire, and since there were more lawyers than audience, the whole scene was unique.

Julie came with Frank and another Julie joined us and sat in the backseat with me. She had the most delightful face. It just beamed with energy. Her fine teeth, her thick dark lashes, and the twinkle in her eyes made her a delightful companion.

Afterwards we all were treated to a Jewish deli lunch at Manny's. A new lawyer's lawyer father picked up our tabs. I had pastrami and matzo ball soup. It was all good. The pastrami was some of the best I ever tasted.

Sunlight made the day easy. It was a fine chilly fall day with not so much wind as Chicago is reported to have.

I was proud and relieved to see Frank all set now for this new life of his after so many years of trying to find something that he could be passionate about. He never gave up, but kept trying and now he has a fine opportunity to do good in the world.

There is even a possibility he will have all his loans forgiven if he works 10 years in the right job.

In the evening Frank and Julie took me to a middle Eastern restaurant and I had a shaved lamb/beef dish that was very good.

The following day Frank, Bernie, Keith and I went to the Joyee Noodle place near Keith's house in Bolinbrook for a fine Chinese meal of quail, Korean seafood soup, and other tasty things. I went to Keith's house in Bolinbrook for the night. I ate left over Chinese fro breakfast, napped and watched "Rounders" on Keith's wide screeen TV and after he worked a bit of the day, we went out to play a little poker. If 14 1/2 hours can be described as "little."
The full report of that is here:
I lost $320.

The day after we slept much of the day, had a late breakfast of eggs and bacon cooked by Keith and Bernie, and then Keith and I went to his friend Mark's house for a night of poker. This is also described in the link. I was the huge winner that night so I got back some of my losses and left Chicago down $116.

Then I went for another night at Frank's and he took me to the plane.

What a delight to be so well taken care of by the boys. I worry that I am too much of an interruption in their busy lives, but it seemed to be fine and I left feeling very special and glad to have seen the ceremony. Once, long ago, I saw Frank sworn in as an official American citizen. He was 12. This reminded me of that day and it was a privilege to be there. He had not thought much about it. The swearing in just came up in conversation as important only as another advantage in looking for work, but when I caught that it was happening, I invited myself to attend. I am happy that I did.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicago with Keith, Bern, Frank, Julie, Gio, Cory and Anna

For a preChristmas  celebration we headed out to Chicago, luckily missed all bad weather, and visited the kids. Cory and Anna came in from Chicago so it was a fine and fun experience for all.  Gio has grown huge since our last view of him and was simply delightful.  He is an even tempered baby and was enjoyed by all.

since he does not crawl much yet, he would sit and watch the action on one of his blankets.  It looks like from this one he may be a Cubs fan.  Wow!  Surprising!

 With Corey, Anna, and Keith doing the photography

Playing with GramE

 Heading out with Uncle Chris and cousin Grace
 Playing with Uncle Cory
 And Grandpa takes a turn

Frank and Julie visited but I guess we missed a photo of either of them with Gio.

Frank and Julie

For a day we all played games:  hearts, poker, Settlers of Catan and avoided the blizzardy weather.

One morning Bern's folks came and brought a great Filipino breakfast:

The meal started with a wonderful soup full of tasty chicken chunks.  This was perfect for me as my stomach was acting up.  
l to r:  Jum, Em, Elizabeth, me(missing) Bern, Keith

Chicken Adobo was very tasty.  It is not made like the Puerto Rican adobo dishes with garlic and oregano, but made with soy, vinegar, bay leaf, and garlic

These rolled delights were delicious.  I thought I better not tempt the stomach and I skipped that taste.

Bern added some wonderful sticky white rice.

We brought a chocolate pecan pie from Averill Park Pie squared bakery.  It may have been a bit too rich for most of the folks.  I loved it and it seemed to do well for me too.  I ate bites over the course of our stay and I'm ready to buy another one when we get home.

Poor Gio could not have anything except some puffy bits of nothing.  But he did get plenty of attention.

Keith cooked great rib eye steaks one night with white potatoes and yams and salad.  Another night we ordered in some Tai food.  I had a great sea food soup.  We went to a radically organic health food restraurant and had good and wholesome tastes.
So with all this food around it was not hard to have good breakfasts and fun times.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday, August 24

Windy with white caps here at Lakeside Michigan. Very refreshing after the sticky humidity of Chicago. Frank here with us for a couple days. Then the rest of the crew starts dribbling in with Labor Day weekend a time for total reunion.

I have been very tired and not yet been swimming, but I sat on the beach today and read a book under the new little beach umbrella I bought last year on sale at the Christmas store.

Frank and I played a bit of free poker across the table and he caught me twice on all in moves and destroyed my chip pile. We will perhaps play a tournament when the other boys arrive.

This morning we did a little grocery shopping which included a visit to the local Swedish bakery. So the diet goes out with the elephant ears.

It had already gone out with homemade potato chips at the ?? Fishmarket in Evanston, chicago where we met Keith for a nice supper before leaving Chicago. I ate some blackened Michigan whitefish, Keith had skate, and Elizabeth had snapper. It was all cooked perfectly. I guess I just don't like the idea of skate. Odd. I am usually up for culinary adventures.

We are not planning meals here at Lakeside this trip, just grazing and leaving the coordination to the boys. Culinary anarchism. We are also going out to eat rarely, so perhaps that will in some way lessen overindulgence.

Elizabeth has managed an internet hookup here and so we have all the luxuries of global connection with the beauty and peacef of Lake Michigan.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Oak Park, Chicago

Except for my sleeping patterns this is developing as a wonderfully successful trip, rich in experiences and people.  I just can't seem to get out of the habit of waking in the early morning and then being totally exhausted by 8 PM.  Last night was really tough because I wanted to play with Gio and kept falling asleep. 
Elizabeth created the best game.  She and Gio would notice I was dozing off and shout, "Cock-aDoodle- Do"  In my half doze I would hear them and so I could pretend to be startled awake.  Gio loved it and did it on his own when Elizabeth was out of the room.  He thought my startled expression was just hilarious.
I had a good session reading a little book that Gio likes.  He knew much of it.  It was fun of very short stories with animal like characters.  There was a section called, "The Lost Sock" where a little stuffed animal like character can't find a sock and in the end is shown that it is on her foot.  There is a section on swinging at that park with Daddy and one on shopping in the grocery with Mum.  It must be a British book, as when the character is with Mum, she he gets to ride in the "trolley."
We have some photos of Gio and me with the book, but it will be a while before I can integrate them here into the blog.
All the rest of the day was great fun.  We went first to Keith's to drop off the bikes and other things we did not need to have in or on our car while tooling around Chicago.  Jun and Em were there watching the two kids and we had a fine visit with them and played with the kids.  Sasha is more passive than active.  She watches the activity and appears to be so seriously thoughtful.  Gio is active unless the television is on.  He loved playing with the soccer ball or putting his blocks inside an elephant so they came out a section in the belly.  There is something fascinating about that for kids.  I watched Casy do the same thing with the balls that can be pounded and then come out a hole. 
Keith took us through the new house which is a very old and run down house just a few blocks away that awaits a huge remake and addition.  It had belonged to an older woman who had lived in it since the fifties and made very few changes since then  It will be totally different when we see it next time.  It will give them all plenty of bedrooms for the three (or maybe four) children.  Number three comes this January. 
It is great fun to see kids making progress and building up the kind of lives they want.  These two work long and hard hours with little time for fun.  In some ways I want them to hammer out more fun time as well, but i respect their ambitions.
Keith's business is going very well and growing each year.  We were teasing him that it was about time he got the market moving in the right direction.  "What did we send you to college for, anyway.  You don't need a degree to send the market down.  We expect you to make it grow."
Keith cooked a fine supper of steelhead trout, asparagas, and brocolli,  Jun left us with some wonderful shrimp done in some mild spice I can't identify and just delicious.  Many of them were huge, but he said this time he could not get all huge shrimp but had to mix in some smaller ones.  The small ones were the size of the ones we buy.  Jun cooks them complete with the heads on and I think I was eating some of the brains too.  He taught us that was some of the sweetest part.
We talked shrimp for a while. He buys his in a store that gets them from the Gulf in Texas.  I was pleased to hear that.  We talked about some of the issues with Thai shrimp that flood the market now, even in Florida which is on the Gulf.  They are some of the dirtiest food in America and there is very little control on how they enter the country.
Em told us stories of her experience of doing childcare for Keith and Bern.  She works hard at it and seems to have much more energy than we have.  They both looked good.  Jun is 74 and looks younger than I look.  Hopefully he has a long life yet ahear of him.  He says he'd like to get another ten years. 
It is so odd, this aging.  It is so strange to think in terms now of just a decade or two until life either changes or is over. 
Well, this trip is rich and wonderful. Seize the Day!
There was a great cartoon in the paper yesterday where one character says, "Seize the Day!" and the other says that he is too exhausted to do any seizing because he worked so hard at seizing yesterday." 

So we are staying in Oak Park in a funky old city hotel directly across the street from the Hemingway museum.  Frank Lloyd Wright once lived here.
 I'll tour that today while Elizabeth meets with JoAnne, perhaps going to the doctor's with her.  This is a wonderful section of Chicago and not at all like I remembered when I visite here a few years ago.  Particulary striking are all the churches in this downtown area and the stunning architecture.  Then too are a little restaurants, shops, even a little old bookstore.  Nothing seems like a chain.  I could see spending a month here and wandering about to try all the little places.  I can see the Hemingway museum from my window.
Walleyed pike was on the menu in the hotel restaurant last night and we talked them into saving one to cook for us for breakfast this morning.  They only had so many, and we saw when we came back in that the menu had changed to trout almandine so they must have run out during last night's dinner. 
There is an old elevator that still works. It is the olderst in Oak Park, the kind with a sliding fencelike door inside the main door.  When we hit a button it jumps it jolts as it connects to start.  Great fun!  it is just for people, no luggage and they limit it to 500 pounds so as not to tax the old antique.  Is it a smart idea to be using an antique elevator?  Well, it is fun.
The place is decorated with old clippings, photos, art.  It is very pleasant.  The room itself is an interesting collection of small areas angled together.  The bathroom requires a step up.  We have a sink, microwave and refrigerator and good free wifi.
The weather has been warm and wonderful.  It rained last night, but not while we were out and about.  It is much more like October than December.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chicago days

It is raining here at JoAnne's. It was a cold rain yesterday and this morning is another. We did have a couple days of Spring when we arrived, and then the rain.
I was very sick my first day here with a cold or a reaction to Humira or something. And then it seemed just gone. I am so relieved not to have to worry that I'll be sick in Denver or Vegas or have to cancel after Denver and head home.

Our first day we visited Keith and Bernie and Gio. What a fine little fellow. It was fun to watch him play and talk and do his first bit of walking with help as well as see his parents interact with him. Keith cooked some barbecue and they added great vegetables so we could stay on our diet.

The next day we visited the Cabrera's and had a fine feast and some great talk. They cooked crab legs and a wonderful pot roast reasoned with an oyster sauce. Jun worried over his deck that was beginning to peel. He had the same thing happen as happened on the lower deck at home. I don't understand why things called a "stain" set on the surface of the wood and then peel off. That does not happen to interior stain. We might as well use the old fashioned porch paint and just count on doing it every year. Whatever was used to seal and stain my upper deck never went through a peeling stage. Of course, now it is in such bad condition that I just want to cover it with plastic.

Jay and Tony and an Aunt were there as well and it was a fine visit. They always welcome us and treat us well. Tony graduates from college this year.

Frank and Julie managed to make it as well after a quick trip back from Cleveland. It was fine to see them.

I did not sleep well that night and was awake and restless. At six I went down to swim. The hotel was really plush, with a wonderfully heated pool, steam room, dry heated room, exercise room, game room, two jacuzzis and all set in overhead glass between large wooden beams much like the place I like near Walnut Bottom Pa. This is much more expensive at a hundred and forty a night, but we had both nights free. On the weekday a nice breakfast came with the room which was a true breakfast buffet with bacon and sausage and biscuits. We had quite a few fine swims there and enjoyed the opportunity to get a little exercise.

Yesterday we went to the movies at a nearby theater which once was a huge theater, then a mall, and then a theater again with stores. It was really a fine looking place with the central stairwells and elevators done so that looking at it from any level was like looking a t a work of art. The elevators were steel and glass and designed to look like old warehouse. I loved it. The movie was French with subtitles but good nonetheless and very funny. Trophy Wife.

We went around the corner and shopped at the World Market store which was overpriced but fun. I did buy some of the peppermint tea I bought the last time I was in Chicago. Then we just decided to order the Thai food in because the rain was so unpleasant. That was a good idea. The left over veggies from Bernadette gave a bit of an addition to the Thai tastes. We had some spring rolls, green curry, and a Tom Yum soup and it was all very good. I treated myself to too many tortilla scoops with hot sauce, but otherwise I managed to stay in my diet pathway.

I can't get wifi here, so I'm just writing in the word processor in this early, rainy morning. I slept well. We have a big day today with a party at Keith and Bernie's where we will see Jun and Em again, Frank and Julie and some of the others.

I brought along my old standby, the Salt book, and have been reading about China and its use of salt and Japan. Interesting stuff. I was interested to see how difficult it was to arrange the iodine issues. The government banned the use of noniodine salt in order to pretreat the population for goiter, but that put a strain on the smaller salt producers and it meant that the consumer could not get the old fashioned variety. I have been taking some of salt without iodine lately because I have read that too much iodine is not good. Since I can't restrict salt, I decided to restrict salt with iodine.
I also thought that all the pickling must have been harder. All the recipes for pickling and for smoking call for Kosher salt because it does not have iodine.
Once the government stepped in to ban salt with no iodine, Gandhi and his assertion that all people have the right to make salt was viable again.
Another interesting fact is that China was drilling deep long before America got the idea. While we were thrilled to go sixty feet, they were going three thousand.
I read too about the six spices used in traditional Chinese cooking and the older tendency to balance salt with sugar there and in Sweden and in some of our dishes. Butter used to be oversalted and sugar was added to mask the salty flavor.
I have always thought of salt and sugar as exclusive choices. We have honey roasted peanuts, but those were never my favorite. Still, the idea of balance was interesting.
MSG was also discussed as a favorite Chinese salt. It is supposed to enhance the flavor of foods and especially the saltiness. The Chinese argue that we Western people should not be so prejudiced against MSG because it is a natural ingredient, not a chemical. That may be an argument for arsenic as well. I dislike MSG and the headaches it can bring. If I want to enhance the salty flavor, I'll just add salt.

Day Two
Another fine day here in Chicago except for the weather which was rainy and chilly with high winds and little sun.

We went up the Austrian bakery for breakfast and had some of the best food and some of the worst service of recent memory. The omelets were prepared incorrectly. They did not serve the toast anytime near the time they served the eggs and the waitress was hard to catch so that much of our fixing of the situation was with an assistant cook. In the end we got two orders of bread and were charged for neither. That was fine as I have my breakfast for tomorrow as well.

I ate just bread and German sausage. The breads are all made there and were wonderful. They even had a whole rye bread. Were I around this bakery, I'd buy it every week. Another was rye with sunflower. All the breads tasted so much better than anything of its kind that I can find near home. The sausages were wonderful as well.

Then we shopped a bit. I made a fruit salad of honeydew melon, watermelon, mango and blueberries that was very good. The mango were on a huge sale so I knew that they were plenty ripe. It went over well with everyone.

Emy brought her famous ponsit and the rest was ordered at a local Chinese. By far it was the best Chinese food that I have tasted in any takeout. Keith says it is just a hole in the wall, but it sure made some fine dishes. A favorite was mandarin chicken done with plenty of peppery spice. As well as some soy sauce, Keith and Bern served a chili oil which was soy oil with a bit of spice and tasted delicious. I will add it to my kitchen once we are home. I can imagine eggs cooked in it would be just delicious. Maybe rice too. Keith uses it on pastas and rice.

Generally, I stayed close to my new diet and fille up on fruit skipping all but just small tastes of the other. The system worked well.

Rachel and her daughters Finley and Tegan came as did Frank and Julie. They were fun as well. Nice for Gio to have other kids into the presents as Keith tried to teach him how to open. He got a nice load of toys and other gifts and seemed to fully enjoy everything.

The cake was iced with a blue icing and at first I think he thought that was another toy. But once Dad gave him a taste of the frosting, he was off with both hands. It was do delightful and so funny.

Nice to have Jo-Anne share the evening with us as well. I always have liked it when different parts of my family merge for some event.

Exciting too was a call for Peter telling me that the fishing dates were firmed up for the end of August and that all the boys were coming. Cory will fly into Providence and come with Dana . I'll have to book some rooms at the Microhotel and then we just need to hope for good weather.

Tomorrow Denver. Hope is not raining there.


Saturday, December 08, 2012

solo in Oak Park/Hemingway

Elizabeth was off today to spend time with JoAnne and I was left to wander on my own.  It threatened rain but again did not deliver.  The temperature was cool but very comfortable. 


I've spent an afternoon emersed in Hemingway's life here in Oak Park and his life in general.  His house here offered a tour and then the museum across the street has set up bits of books and photographs and such along with explanations.  Generally, I don't much like these kinds of displays at museums, preferring to see artifacts, but here I liked it very much and there were some artifacts scattered in.  One very accessible arifact was a Riverside Series school book with Marleena' name on it that was Maculay's The Lays of Rome.  I could pick it up and see the flyleaf.  I liked it.  I remember seeing these books before that must have been used in the early 1900's as common texts for classes. 

The house tour was more about Hemingway's family than about him and the tour guide told the stories of his family there at that house, going back to his grandparents in a way to show the formitive roots of the boy Hemingway.  It worked too.  I could see more than his parent's influences although they do reveal his first education in nature and in the arts, but also see influences like his Uncle who come and went from China or another who sold brass beds and stayed in the house when he was in town, telling stories of his travels and his times on board the grandfather's sailing boat.

The house was not furnished with many pieces from the Hemingway's, but it had been meticulously renovated when it was acquired to duplicate the way it must have looked as well as could be done from photographs and the notes of Hemingway's mother and other annecdotal information, some from Sunny , Hemingway's younger sister who outlived him. 

My camera gave out in the museum so I could not take all the photos I might have, but I do have a good set from the house.

What affects me personally is that this powerful youth and young man who could face so many of life's difficulties could not face the old age that I experience each day.  He killed himself at 60.  I have lived 6 more years than he lived.  It underscores how fragile we are.  He was being treated for depression, had two stays in a mental hospital including electro shock and two days after being released the second time, took his favorite shotgun and ended it all. 
I think my own appreciation for the simple, my satisfaction with mundane beauty, and my joy in less than the very dramatic insulates me from that sort of an ending.  Then too a good bit of it was probably his own father's suicide which works on children as a roll model for their approach to old age.

His mother was a tough one.  She was not happy with his writing. It was too coarse for this very Christian lady and some of the characters were drawn from real people she knew and that was an embarrassment to her.  That must have been difficult as well.  I always had the support of my mother although she was critical in small and annoying ways.  Still, I never had what Ernest had.

Also, I see in his so many sour relationships, a real defect.  I certainly have fallen out with some people and become less close with others, but I can't imagine all the issues Ernest seemed to have with other artists and writers of his time.

I was interested that he responded more to Cezanne than to realistic painters, although he admired Winsolw Homer for his themes of people against natural difficulties.  He chose a cubist piece for the bull fighting book.  He wanted the art to be grounded in realism to some extent most of the time, but he thought the abstract better reflected what was the truest.  It is odd because in his writing I have always found anything but the surreal, a sort of bare bones realism like that in Jack London.  He read Call of the Wild and was affected by that in his very first published story, one done for his high school class and the name escapes me. 
His style reflect in part the style manual of the Kansas City Star writer's manual.  That was interesting to see.  It is his style more than his themes that has always grabbed me, and it is interesting to see that connection with journalism style.  That makes sense as well.

Well, I have photos and much more to say but little time here to blog it. 
I'll outline ideas to develop later:

  • Here is his early influences.  He never went to college so here is his formative education, his family, one teacher in particular.  Here is where he starts writing
  • He seems to have had a falling out with most people.  He was a tough husband.  He had little to do with his family except for sister Sunny.  Most of the writers he formed a bond with, he alienated.  Sylvia Beach he alienated. 
  • Malcolm Crowley's article was probably the catalyst for Hemingway as legend
  • He liked painting that were less than realistic.  Cezanne and even cubist as is on the Spanish cover.  Still he liked Winslow Homer and was influenced early by Jack London and I don't think of them as abstract at all but as the epitomy of realistic.
  • Hem admired his father for hunting and fishing.  He fought with his mother who wanted a more upright and conventional Christian son.
  • His first love ended in a tough breakup with the nurse in Italy.   Great Dear John letter
  • Hem had little use for Oak Park, thought of it as too upscale and phonie.
  • Two grandfathers were recognized civil war veterans.  One celebrated it.  One would not talk about it.  Interesting when you consider his view of war.
  • House is nice but mostly filled with of period pieces.  The couch like pieces were pushed on the museum.  A chair was original.  They did do all they could to bring it as close to what they could research and find was the way it was when Hem was a boy.
  • The house is going to offer a new program to grant writing room in attic to support writers.  One of the others on the tour asked to see the attic and the beginning restoration of the room that budding writers would get.
    Now to bed as we do breakfast with Gio and Sash today.


    I could not post these photos a week ago.  Now I can.  I can't figure out this blogspot.
    So, there a plenty of upscale shops in this area and one had this unique chess set in the window.  Makes me want to play.

     Churches were the big draw for me.  It was a conservative town years back when Hemingway's grandparents first moved here.  At that time in Chicago they could not build wooden houses because the fire had destroyed so much that Chicago did not want to take the chance again.  That is one thing, as well as the smells of bituminous coal, that drove the decision to build here.  I loved the Victorian houses that are left.  I did not photograph them.  I suppose all these church visits in France got me looking at churches again.  There were plenty of wonderful structures here.

    This was a cool entrance to a small park.  The park itself was very barren with one abandoned structure, cold and uninteresting, that perhaps once held a statue.  But the entranceway was interesting.

    There was a new library that I intended to visit, but my time dwindled, so I missed a walk through.  It is huge and looks wonderful.  Next to it is a huge park area that is now fenced off as it is being renovated.  Perhaps it will be open when we go again.

    Lots of shots from the past.  Here is one. I guess superman just left to do his daily rounds
     I did not eat any, but I liked looking.

     I love stained glass

    Holiday decorations focused on this fellow rather than Santa

     The theater had tickets for $6 for seniors and that seemed a great price.  We did not have time to see any films. 

    What was amazing was how friendly everyone was in this small section of the greater Chicago area.  People said hello on the street.  Some young girls visiting the Hemingway museum on school buses called across the street and waved hello and threw me kisses as a lark I suppose.  I do stand out with this beard in the midwest in ways I don't in the East.

    Back at the hotel, the lift held this sign.  This was one of those elevators from old movies with a metal gate that needed to be fully closed or the elevator was stuck on a floor.

    This is a good example of the hotel wall hanging, calling on older images and celebrating them.  So much different from the tacky generic paintings of flowers and birds that seem to be in every motel.

    Thursday, December 06, 2012

    Here in La Porte Michigan near Lakeside for our last night before we head into Chicago.  We got such an early start yesterday morning that we decided to come up and see what was built on the Lakeside land.  It was a fine decision.
    The whole area was totally deserted except for one fellow burning leaves and brush at the Brown's place.  That place is now a vacation rental property. That would be a wild dip into the past were Elizabeth's family to rent that place.
    Because it was deserted and the leaves were off the trees the views were fantastic.  Elizabeth parked in the circular driveway, newly paved, and photographed the house. The old tree was still there, but everything else was changed.  It is a beautiful house, a huge place with a full basement and lots of rooms.  Glass was everywhere and the angles were very pleasing to the eye.  Inside was an indoor pool and another pool was on the lake side.
    We walked down to the water by going the old pathway to Carol's house and down the stairs of the community covered area.  A tree had taken out a whole section of the stairwell there. 
    The beach was huge, the water a long way back.  The wind kicked up some fine whitecapped waves and we had a good time taking a few more photographs and walking along the water for a while.
    On the way out we saw three deer that stayed very close to us for a long while.  It is the closest I have been to deer.  We took some photos but I'm not sure we got them clearly or well.  One was very young and had interesting coloring.
    We stopped up at Jo Anne's place and there were two deer in front of that spot down by the water.  They flashed their huge white tails and took off in different directions.

    We then went up to the Four Winds casino for supper.  What a fine buffet that was!  It was so good for me to find some much food on my diet:  collard greens, cauliflower, lentil soup, roasted peppers and squash, pickled herring, a cold salad with olives and peppers, and a piece of delicious corn bread.  Elizabeth liked the buffet as well, and she is not a buffet lover.
    Most of the time I am frustrated when we stop for food.  We stopped for breakfast and I had some watery oatmeal and two poached eggs, but the rest of the menu was all fatty carbs. I get tired juggling menus.  I filled it in with some peanuts and sunflower seeds, eating too many of those really.  Later I dug out one of our hard boiled eggs from the cooler and a wrap filled with some of my bean did while Elizabeth got some comfort french fries.
    So both of us were happy to eat such a fine meal.
    Elizabeth played ten dollars in penny slots and then in video poker.  The slots hit a free spin with another in the free spin mix and it brought her up to almost four dollars profit, but she tried others and lost the profit.  Then she lost the ten at a Double Bonus game.  The first hand she had a pair of Aces which went to trips.  Very close to a good win.  Another hand she was dealt three tens.  And in one hand she caught an inside straight just in time to keep playing a while.  But no quads.  It was a very low pay table, 9/6, but actually it did not affect her particular game since she did not hit any full houses or flushes and so was not short paid.
    I got tired and was satisfied with that taste of gambling.  I knew that playing no limit at the Blue Chip was not a good idea and instead I went back to the hotel with Elizabeth and swam a bit in this very warm pool, almost like a hot tub.  I watched a bit of television, but went quickly to sleep.  And here I am, awake at three and thinking it is morning.

    Once again we had great driving weather.  I am relieved to have done the really risky section of this trip and to be in Chicago right on time for the planned meetings with the family.  It feels more like October than December.


    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Tuesday, December13


    I slept in this morning at the hotel so I missed swimming and oatmeal.
    I made up for it at the airport with juevos Mexicano.  Airport food is getting better and better.  This tasted every bit as good as other Mexican I have eaten.  Eggs were filled with chorizo and onion, some salsa, jalapenos. In flour tacos I could mix this with refried beans or black beans.  I drank a Tamarindo drink.  Elizabeth had similar with other bits, some guacamole.  It tasted great!

    Also, in the corridor of the airport I listened to a great rendition of "Feliz Navidad" by an all Black high school group.  Their voices were wonderful!  They were backed up by a student band.

    We had a fine flight.  The airplane was uncrowded and although we checked in very late we got our seats in the back.  I never needed the bathroom.  On the way up I watched very foggy downtown Chicago covered by mist and clouds.  On the way down I saw a great stretch of rural New York with a dozen little lakes and finally a view of SUNY.  I loved it.  I wish I knew what lakes and mountains and towns were.  One lake was not developed except at its base, and the town was huge.  I liked it.

    I read a bit more of the Eddie Condon biography.  He writes a great description of Bix Biederbecke, and the suprise it was that this dissheveled guy could play amazing jazz.  I like this description of the jazz of that era:

    "You know what the melody is, but you don't hear it.  The coronet and the clarinet, and sometimes the trombone, treat it like a girl.   They hand around it, doing handsprings and all sorts of other tricks, always keeping an eye on ti and trying to make an impression.  The rhythm section provides the transportation, everything floats on its beat."

    It is a fine book, the organization is grammatically jazz like.  And it read as authentic rather than the polished prose of biographers written by professionals even though it is not Condon who did the writing.
    We watched a bit of a new sitcom,  New Girl, and like it.

    Elizabeth was so tired when she got home she just crashed, and soon she was in bed and asleep.  Some Christmas dance music plays on the television while she sleeps.

    The deck is done and Jay put up a fine birdfeeder that turns for loading the feed.  Nice work.
    He put out the plywood for protection, but I'll pick some of it up until the snow and ice actually threaten to fall and dent the new deck.  If the weather stays this mild, we will get a few times to sit out in the sun.  I know that will keep the seasonal blues away.

    It is very quiet here, especially at night.  So nice.  I hope it does not get any colder and the ice does not thicken.  We had just a pretty crust of ice on some of the lake today when we arrived home.

    For supper I ate a half sandwich which Elizabeth bought for the ride out to Chicago.  We had a refrigerator at the hotel and it kept, so I wrapped it up this morning.  It was ham and some flavored sauce on a really nice piece of Italian bread.  I added a bit of cooked bacon from our refrigerator and it was very good with iced tea from those large bags of tea left over from my birthday party in October, and some left over rice and soy sauce from our dinner with Peter and Jen.  It was quite a leftover medley.
    I made popcorn later.  Elizabeth had me make her style of popcorn.  It felt good to be home.

    However, it was a perfect trip.  Frank wrote us a very sweet email of thanks.  Nice.

    Bill Scharra commented on my Lucia post.  It is odd sometimes where the responses come from and who connects up on Facebook or here.  I like the connections.

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Off to Chicago

    Well, we are off in a few hours.  Wish I slept the night through.
    We'll see Frank and Julie, Keith and Bern and of course, Sasha and Silvia.
    Just a few days to visit and confirm that these granddaughters are not just imagined and are really girls.
    It seems hard to believe, but the male only curse of this generation has ended for the Hills.

    Most of the little bit of present shopping we do is done.
    Neither of us like shopping.  

    I have to admit that I don't do well in this season.  I rise to Thanksgiving and then......... I don't know.

    I'm ready for Florida stone crab.  

    And all the ranting.  
    I like Jesus even if he would not have played poker.
    I like it that he would not have approved of football even if Elizabeth did get a book this week from the son of the owner of the Chicago Bears on Catholicism and football.
    I think Jesus is something to celebrate.

    The Atheists malign him.
    The fundamentalists shove him down our secular throat.  

    Well, some of him.  Nothing much really beyond a few cherry picked verses and the book of John.  Nothing certainly about loving enemies or redistributing wealth.  Mostly it is just stuff selfishly focused on their own salvation and how wonderfully special they are to not be like others in the secular world.
    What happened to Luke 18:14?

    Some Christian sects have thought that the whole Christmas Celebration is a mistake on Biblical grounds, arguing that birthdays should not be celebrated, and in Christmas there is just too much revelry carried over from Pagan practice.  The Puritans banned Christmas for about 30 years and fined those who celebrated.

    I guess it was a great political decision in 336AD to package the celebration of the birth of Christ with Saturnailia and the birthday of Mithra and Ḥănukkāh among other religious holidays that emerged at the Winter Soltice.
     But it was a political and not a religious decision.
    Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, better known as Constantine I or Constantine the Great worshipped the pantheon of Roman gods as all his predecessors had done and especially the Roman sun god, Sol. However, a vision and a military victory added Christianity to his beliefs and he helped see that all religious groups within the Roman Empire had equal rights and decided to help Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.

    Jesus probably had not celebrated his own birthday.  It was not a custom in those days.  It seemed egotistical to focus on self as important.  Jesus probably celebrated Ḥănukkāh; however, the form of the celebration was most likely quite different.

    The historical Jesus was born probably in the Fall. It is only the imaginary Jesus that is born on December 25.

    And now we have Kwanza and Santa added into those older  celebrations.

    So, most of us  should all be able to celebrate together as was the intention of Emperor Constantine when he made his political decision.

    I would love it if it was celebration.
    But most of the folks arguing for their right to wish us "Merry" are not at all merry. They are disguntled.
    What happened to Matthew 7:3 anyway?

    And now my computer at times won't type a line without laying it over the line before.
    That is so annoyingso I am also disgruntles.
    (oh,  I just unformat and it goes away)

    Enough whining.

    I did celebrate last night. I saw my old friend Robin and his friend Peter at the American Legion and drank a few Yungling beers, and it was fun until the most terrible karaoke started and ear drum blasting levels.
    Who started this custom?
    I liked the songs they were singing.  But they did not like them or they would not have beat them up so badly and twisted them into discord.
    But at least it was intended as celebration and not contention.

    Robin told a great story of putting his Corvair in a rally at, I've lost that detail.  He has it on the road after about 40 years of storage. It was a great and funny story.  The car was fine; the navigation of the rally.....well.  And he caught me up on the news.

    So I've spent some time with someone I've known for over 40 years and now I'll go to spend some time with two girls I've know about for under a month.
    I celebrate that.
    But I better try to sleep a little more before the alarm rings.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Birthday parties

    I guess we are packed.   I keep finding things.  I'm right on the edge of fifty pounds to check, and hoping not to have to repack on the way out.
    Chicago, Denver, Vegas.  What a journey!!

    And so many birthday parties.
    We started last night with the 70th birthday party of Elizabeth's friend Bonnie.
    Bonnie rented a house on Western Avenue in Albany, invited her family for a sadir, then invited her friends for food and music.  It was a fine idea.
    As well as collecting Bonnie's friends, the party collected a number of Elizabeth's friends from bookclub or singing group.  Our old friend John and Nancy were there as well.  The conversation was just grand.  Suzanne and Bill had spent two months this winter in Portugal and Spain and had plenty of reflections and practical information.  They are bus and train riders, so they fit well into the way I like to travel.  Portugal sounded very interesting.  They loved Lisbon and suggested a fine fishing town, Porto, in the North.  We'll get more detail by mail.
    Another fellow talked a good bit about biking in Boulder.
    Her son-in-law is a lawyer and he talked a bit about his practice, much of which is criminal defense.  He was proud of his recent probono work for one client accused of murder who he knew was innocent.  Enselmo was not optimistic about the class action suit against Walmarts. In his opinion the courts are too stacked with pro corporation people and such suits can't be won.  However, sometimes they do change behavior.
    So it was great conversation. Interesting.  Elizabeth and I rarely get that kind of social interaction as a couple when we are here.  We have it in Florida, and we have a talked about trying to build it here where too often we go separate social ways.  In fact, we are working on a new idea called Books, Bread and  Fruit or perhaps Bananas (for the sake of alliteration,)  where we can gather people together her for some talk.  It is still in its planning stages, but seems like something we would both like.
    The food at the party was very good as well and much of it was healthy.  Neither of us overdid, so we were happy.  The desserts were incredibly tempting, but I passed.  Perhaps we should have just tasted.  Yesterday the scale said I was down twenty five pounds, still moving in the right direction.
    I liked the grilled summer squash and when I get back from my travels, I'll make some here.  Marinated chicken and small bits of salmon and a good salad.
    Elizabeth brought champagne which she served with a slice of strawberry and that went over well.  I passed on it as I don't much like champagne.
    We danced a bit as well for the first time in a long while.  Much of the music was pretty fast, having been picked by the children.  They particularly liked and picked to play over and over an African piece.
    What helped to make it work for me too was a fine, long nap.  I woke up refreshed and was energetic.  We were still home a little after ten, but the nap had refreshed me.  I'll keep that lesson for Vegas as well.

    I made great progress on my Vegas planning yesterday.  I thought I was done, but I actually managed to take three long bus rides and turn them into car rides.  Two are with the help of a board friend, Matt, who will drive me from Samstown to the Rio and then to Bighorn where we can use my two free meal coupon.  The third was the ride from the Rio downtown to the Four Queens. It would have meant three buses with luggage.  This is fine, but if I get sick it might be unconfortable.  So I rented a car for one day and I'll take the first afternoon and head out to Red Rock Canyon for a few hikes.  Then the next day I can use the car to get my luggage downtown.  I will still have to ride a bus to the airport, but with no luggage and on faster and fewer buses.  In addition, I'll get to see the Canyon and stop at the Silverton to shop the Pro Bass shop and play with the lazer rifles.

    Today we fly out to Chicago in the afternoon.  We have a couple free nights at a nice hotel near Keith.  It should be a fun adventure.  We are ready.  it was super cold here again yesterday and uncomfortable.  Fishing would be fun but I still have not adjusted to the North and feel the cold easily.  It is strange for me because I generally like the cold.

    So, there it is.  I hope I get a nice nap on the plane as I am up early again, as always.

    The live music included a great pianist and some dancing music brought by Bonnie's children.


    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    In Chicago

    We had a fine flight with no bad weather on either end.  The plane was uncrowded and we had the middle seat free.  I took the window and enjoyed seeing a bit of the view taking off and landing and even some of the abstract look of the white clouds inbetween.
    It took us a while to locate a quiet room at the Holiday Inn but we managed.  Elizabeth also managed to talk them down $70 for our stay here.  She is just magical.
    The pool is fixed and we are ready for a nice morning swim.

    Giovanni was delightful and entertained us quite well all day.  Such serious dark eyes.  He is an easy baby and the day went very well.  Keith took $12 from me in some head to head poker.  Frank and Julie came in the evening.
    I had another bout with whatever is bothering me around food and it spoiled the evening for me, but I am fine this morning.  Perhaps it is just God's way of telling me not to ever eat anything again.  Perhaps I should find a good cause and go on a hunger strike.

    The car is fine, a Malabu.  The crash waiver was only $13 a day in Chicago and that was nice.  Right away I liked having it because while we were warned by the bus driver and by the paperwork to look for scratches we would be charged for later, these cars were wet with melted snow and it would have been impossible to either see or photograph any bits of small damage.

    Keith gave us rides in the Lexus.  He got quite a deal on an old one 2004 as he has a friend who is a car nut and has owned about 40 cars in the past few years just for fun.  He knows all the details and he shopped with Keith and inspected the car as well

    I finished “Devil in the White City” a great nonfiction account of the Chicago World’s Fair at the end of the 19th century. The author juxtaposes the architectural and political details of the fair with the rise and fall of a serial killer. It was a very well written book. Now there are many spots in Chicago that I would like to visit.

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    At lakeside

    We stopped in Hamburg for a quick visit with the old Number 9 boys.  Bill and Jane got mixed up and did not make it to the supper.  Gary and Rose came along with Bob Stapf and Mike and Carol came.
    It was a good talk with the men at one end and the women at the other.  I guess I missed some things. 
    We talked of old times of girls we knew or met and of events.  Oddly, no one remembered Mike's announced engagement at Dante's Inferno when I first seriously dated Margot.  I'll have to look up that night and see how it reads in my journals.

    We came on into Lakeside.  We are staying at the house near but not on the water.  We drive into JoAnn's house for visits.  Yesterday it was Frank and Julie and Sylvia and Cory.  We had a fine day.  Today Cory leave before noon to go to a wedding.  Sunday we go in to Chicago and stay with Keith and Bernie for a night.  Dana did not make it.  Peter, of course, could not make it. 

    The weather has been cold rain and heavy winds.  The lake looks amazing, but it is not fun to be outside for very long.  I did not bring warm shirts.  I need layers. 

    This house is easy and comfortable.  It is pretty fancy.  We have all we need except light bulbs that keep going out.  I banged my legs against a chest at the foot of the bed trying to get to bed in semi darkness.  Hopefully, we can pick up a couple bulbs today.  Otherwise the place is great and gives us the distance from folks at night to stay rested as much as we can.  We both tire easily.  I am especially more tired than I expected.

    Cory, Elizabeth and I went to Dinges veggie farm and bought some tomato and a few other things to eat.  No corn was available, so we made due with super market corn.  We also had these fancy sausages from
    Drier's Meat Market
    Good video here on their site.

    Then today, Friday, I went for a morning with just Frank and Sylvia while Cory slept in preparation for his late night wedding party. 
    I cooked up some kale and garlic.  That was very tasty with bites of bacon that Frank cooked. 

    We had a fun morning with Sylvia, who mostly talked about chocolate.  She was promised a chocolate pretzel when her Mom returned and she got one too just after we played bubbles on the back lawn.

    Cory and Frank took a polar bear plunge in the rough waves of Lakeside and seemed to survive.
    Elizabeth and Dewey went back to the other house for a nice nap


    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    keith and family swimming grilling

    Keith and family drove out from Chicago and are staying a couple nights.  It was very fine to have all the kids in one spot interacting.  Quite a show!
    This is the first I've seen Regan and she is quite a cutie and likes to smile and laugh at me when I make my faces.
    Most went down swimming midday, but I missed that as I was overtired and slept,  a good choice that left me fresh for the rest of the day.

    We did not have to shop or cook.  We passed that job on to the next generation and they did a fine job yesterday.  I do a good bit of the dishes, but different ones pitch in and it is not much of a job.  I had my own cooked stuff and at the veggies and some lentil soup for my supper.  I also had some potato chips.  Can't be on the rigid food all the time.  They grilled hot dogs and brautwurst and hamburgers and veggie burgers on the grill.  It took a long while, but it went very well.  Dana was food coordinator at least of that day.

    Cory and Casey had an interesting exchange while walking and in the living room Casey said,

    "Cory's daddy died and so he had to get a new daddy."
    "And who is that?" asked Cory.
    "Grandpa Dewey"

    Then Casey added.
    "I have three grandpa's.  So if one dies, I still have more."

    Well, that was the funniest thing.  So cute.  It all touched me.  Very nice.

    Nice too that all the parents are very good at that job.  They all do it a bit differently, but it is full of attention for the kids, love, discipline, and with a strong focus on safety.  It is easy to have them all in the same place.

    Casey was stung by a yellow jacket earlier and a bit uncomfortable, but it did not amount to much.  Ice and a jell in the medicine cabinet precluded swelling.

    Marnie and boys left in the morning to get home and ready for another school year.
    It was a very good day


    Wednesday, July 03, 2013

    Work in the water/ wart trouble

    The best news for me is that putting on a brand new mask has radically changed my sleeping into a restful night with delightful dreams.  I'm so happy not to feel always tired and not to be up half the night. 

    New looks at the grandkids in Chicago

    On Tuesday morning I went into the water and finally cleaned out the branches and leaves that had gathered over the winter.  Then I put in the live well screen box and replaced on hinged part where the boards had weathered and were brittle or broken.  A good job done.

    Good timing too because in the afternoon I had my skin doctor look at my wart and he did some shaving and some digging until I bled freely over the floor.  He and a nurse had trouble stopping the bleeding and still the wart is partially there and I have to go back in two weeks.  No swimming. 

    This morning I puttered about and cleaned up the inside house a bit.
    An interesting report on the evolution of Texas.  Predicted is that the Latino vote, once it is organized and registered, will turn the state from die hard red to blue in at the most a decade.  This will make it very hard for Republicans to win the Presidency.  And what is nice is that the Republican Party is still anti immigrant and so it shoots itself in its own foot, or at least half does.  I think Tea Party time is over.  I'm glad.

    And speaking of Texas, here is the most exciting thing to come out of that state recently

    This makes my Crosby machine hi tech.
    Keith's house is making good progress and they will move in a couple weeks.  I talked to Gio and he told me all about his new blue room and seemed pretty excited and upbeat.  He also sang a couple versions of. "Stay in the Middle of the Road" which my father learned over a hundred years ago from his Uncle Demp, a Civil War wounded veteran.  Nice to have some heritage passed down early.

    Interesting news in the world of books is that Walter Mosley has brought Easy Rawlins back from the dead and he is a main character in Little Green, a new mystery.  This was Bill Clinton's favorite mystery writer and I was inspired to read him and then passed him on to plenty of my Harriet Gibbons kids.

    I'm missing Garrison Kheilor on Writer's Almanac and hoping he comes back soon.  Collins just doesn't have the same unique voice and the reporting does not work the same as those with Kheilor

    JoAnne dies
    JoAnne died Wednsday at about 5:30 PM after a long bout with cancer.  She was at home with hospice care.  It is both sad and a relief to know she is out of pain.  There is a memorial on Monday. Elizabeth, after long and difficult thought, decided that she will not attend but find other ways to be of help and perhaps we can do a Memorial at Lakeside in the summertime. 
    Key in my memory is one early Christmas, a November Christmas for Chicago Hill relatives that she hosted.  It was a fine meetup and felt just like Christmas with a big turkey dinner and all the fixings.  JoAnne welcomed in extended family easily.

    Elizabeth and Abigail visited recently and JoAnne was failing a bit but still able to enjoy them .  Frank, Julie and Sylvia went as well and it was a very cheerful visit. All of us are happy there was time to catch her before she died.


    Reagan Emerson Cabrera Hill

    was born early this morning at 4:30 AM

    7 pounds  6 ounces.

    Mother and father and baby doing in Chicago.
    And we are relieved and overjoyed.

    Grandchild number 5, for Keith and Bernadette this is number 3.


    Monday, December 19, 2011

    A few photos from the Chicago trip


    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Sylvia in Chicago

    Well, we had a fine day visiting Sylvia and her parents.
    She is so tiny.
    We held her and gave her parents a few hours of sleep.  Elizabeth fed her.  We watched Frank change her and he faced the poop with determined courage and did not waiver from the task.

    We heard her cry, but only for a brief period of time.
    We heard the story of the day of her birth.
    We caught up on family talk and had a fine visit.

    We brought chicken and fixings from Rosticeria Los Fernandez,
    a great little Mexican place near out hotel.  It was very good, cooked very similar to the way the chickens were cooked in Costa Rica.

    For supper they served a home-made spanakopita dropped off by a friend who understands that cooked food is what new parents need most.

    Sylvia's parents were happy to have the little girl home from the hospital and doing so well.

    Sylvia was happy as well.

    It looks like we avoid any snow tomorrow.  Jay writes that the deck is finished.  Yep.  Finished!!  So off we go to return home again. I don't think that this visit could have gone any better.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Chicago Day 2

    It was sad to leave Keith and Bernie's.  Gio tires us out, but it seems now that it will be a long while until we see him again. And Sasha is so small and sweet. She will grow quickly.
    We had a fine visit.  JoAnne joined us for a couple hours and there were plenty of stories flying around.  However, I can't remember any of them tonight.  Also, Elizabeth had her photo disc crash and lost all the pictures she took as well as a couple videos.  I did not take enough photos.  Bern took some of us with the kids just before we left.  Gio did not want those photos taken, so we tricked him.  I can't imagine how they are going to turn out, but it was fun to try to get them in spite of Gio.
    For breakfast Keith cooked up bacon and eggs and potatoes.  For supper Bern cooked up some brie baked in a pastry and it was very tasty.  We had a bit of adobo chicken and a chicken salad sandwich.  We were full.
    Hard to try to capture this day.  But an amazing time.
    Tomorrow we see Frank and Julie and Sylvia.  The baby has only been home a couple days.

    Chicago Day One

    We had a very good flight on a plane half booked.  I slept most of the way, but had some good views of the territory under me, most of them a pattern of different shaded white with snow squares and rectangles and tiny little houses or wisps of clouds in swirls of shapes.  Amazing stuff!

    Elizabeth discovered that she had left her phone with GPS at home.
    Such minor difficulties do not impede Elizabeth.
    What she did was renegotiate the great deal I had for an Alamo car so that she upgraded to a huge SUV  , got permission for both of us to drive it, added a rented GPS, and got the price down $40.
    If Elizabeth could  be appointed as an American financial czar and learned to speak Chinese, she would have this deficit thing fixed before lunch.

    Keith and Bernie looked well and happy.  We had a fine day seeing this tiny Sasha and playing games with Gio.  I rocked Sasha to sleep, watching her as she lay in her little rocking bed.  Gio liked chasing me around the house. In the center of their house is a square of paths and I would put my head out, surprise him with "Woo, Hoo" and then go another way.  If he chased me, I'd try to stay a few steps ahead and there was on place I could hide and pop out unexpectedly.  We played some on the floor toys, but that was the most fun.
    At first poor Gio was confused.  He had been prompted to expect Grandpa and when I showed up at the door, he took one look and knew I was not Grandpa.  But by the end of the day I was Grandpa and he was not so disappointed.
    He loved the little bear Cooper that I found and Bern read to him a bit and we all heard the bear talk back to us as we read certain words in the text.  I am not sure that Gio quite got it, but over time he will.  He did like the bear and keep saying Cooper at various times of the day.
    At the end we watched a show on television full of super characters and letters.  Gio knows most of the letters and can read them.  This is pretty amazing for a boy his age.

    Jun and Emy brought most of lunch, all good Filipino taste treats.  We added our Square Pie, pecan, and we all had a good time telling stories.  Jun is a great talker.  I like being with him.  We toss similar anecdotes back and forth.  He sure looks good for a man eight years older than I am.  He keeps fit and does not seem to age.  I suspect he has a long life of retired living ahead of him.  Emy  still works.  She is always very nice to me.  Some of the talk was of travel and some stories from the last trip to the Phillipines.  Jun always tells of how easily Keith eats anything.  And Jun loves challenging him to try something.
    So this trip he offered   Balut  a duck egg with an almost developed duck in it.
    "Just give me a few more of these beers,"  Keith said, "and he ate it"
    He even agreed that had they been able to find some dog meat, he would have probably tried that.  It was common in the Philippines.
    I don't know if Jun actually enjoys all these odd foods, but he sure does enjoy watching others try something very different, just as he enjoyed teaching us to suck the brains from the head of cooked shrimp when we met him for the first time.

    I am up early after some disturbing dreams but I feel rested.  Yesterday I sparked up with three cups of coffee and that held me most of the day.  On our return after checking into the hotel I had some London Pride beer.  That was good.  I'll have to buy some.  Keith always has good things to eat and drink.

    Today there will be more visits.


    Sunday, July 04, 2010

    Giovani visits

    Giovani visited yesterday and we had pizza and wings in his honor with an assortment of his friends and relatives in attendance.

    He brought his parents in from Chicago on the plane.  He was perfectly content to look around at the all the people flying  and wonder about them, and calmed his mom and dad's flying fears.

    Along with him arrived strollers and bottles and diaper bags and..............well, it is just a good thing that Southwest does not charge for extra baggage.  But then why should he skimp on comfort.  As he said to me once in the many philosophical, mathematical, and geographically sophisticated travel discussions he and I had,

    "Well,  the way I look at it,  nothings too good for me."

    And all here agree.


    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Some of Lakeside

    During our few days in Chicago, Elizabeth and I ate at this funky little place just around the corner from our hotel.

    My kind of eating place, fully decorated with
    funky signs and such, among them both an old Vernor's sign and
    an antique display of old fishing poles and bait casting reels
    once for rent. They must have had me in mind.

    Photographs of the Lakeside visit are scattered on many different cameras so this collection is unbalanced, but these are the better shots of those that ended up on mine.

    Frank playing guitar on the Grulee Memorial Bench

    Dana and Aunt Marni JoAnne

    Cory and Frank

    JoAnne and Elizabeth

    Keith sampling his product

    Frank and Julie
    So photogenic they dominated my camera disc

    Frank and Julie

    Frank and Elizabeth

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Labor Day Monday

    Most everyone has gone now. Keith, Cory, and Dana will see a Cubs game tonight. Frank and Julie will have dinner with us and then they will head back to Chicago. We are here for at least a few days yet and will have that time mostly to ourselves.

    The weekend went well. We tried to begin the transition of family power to the children and it seemed to work very well for a first try. They have suggestions for improvements, but for the most part everyone pitched in and did some communal buying and/or working and so meals came off in the way they do at our Thanksgivings where people just do what makes sense and it all falls out fine.

    Lat night we played Yahtzee with Marnie, Barney, and kids, Today we just snacked and did laundry. Some managed another run to the beach.

    Eventually I'll post up some pictures. Some are now on Facebook so if you have friends in this group, you might like seeing them.


    I visited Keith, Bernie, Frank, Julie in Chicago and had fine time. These boys and girls do know how to treat a Dad. We ate some great breakfasts at old favorite Wishbone and a little diner by a small airport. We ate the finest Chinese food at a favorite spot Keith recommended and some fine Indian treats. One day I wandered about downtown and spent a few hours in the art museum. I took lots of photos but include just a couple here. That day at chicken Planet I had a frugal half chicken meal that was great. I lost at poker in a nearby casino, but had a fine time trying my skills. And I had a little time to see Rounders once again.