Friday, May 18, 2012

All in favor of today please raise your hand!

I'm having sort of a running competition with myself to choose the most beautiful day of the year for my garden.  Every day I think to myself, "It might be today."  But the next day I think, "No, it might be today.

It is so interesting to me how much I've learned to love gardening.  I truly have to say that the first thing I think about when I wake up is the yard.  I jump out of bed and look out the window.  This is an incredibly beautiful time of day -- everything looks fresh and green, the sprinklers have usually gone on and the leaves are still wearing glistening drops of water.  The ground is wet and looks dark and rich.  It's still cool and there's lots of early morning shade.  After a quick look out the window I venture out into the yard for a close-up inspection -- yes, barefoot and in my pajamas.  It's kind of my way of saying "Good Morning" to each little plant, as well as an opportunity to assess what work needs to be done that day.  I can sustain this enthusiasm until about the end of August, and then I start thinking about frost.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amateur Electrician at Work

My twelve-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, is an interesting study in multiple talents combined with uber humility.  She cooks, she sews, she crafts, she's an amazing soccer player, she draws, she babysits.  A few years ago while I was babysitting for Randy and Judianne we attended a pot luck soccer team party.  Natalie made these scrumptious "from scratch" sweet rolls.  Everyone was drooling over them, smacking their lips and asking who made these heavenly rolls.  Then they would look around at all the adults (who were not raising their hands) and never even notice the cute little blonde in the soccer outfit with just one finger raised in acknowledgement.

While Randy and his family were here a few weeks ago he pointed out that all my switch plates had been changed to bright white, but the "guts" had not been replaced and didn't look very good.  He offered to change them out for me.  Late the last night (before a very early morning departure) he set about to do his work while the rest of us watched a video.  I was somehow not surprised when I came upstairs and found Randy and Natalie busily working away, but I was surprised that Natalie was so interested in how to do it that Randy had taught her how to do it and she was working independently.  Chalk up one more talent, Nat!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Illinois Farm

When I was 14 I went on a cross-country bus tour that my dad organized from Cedar City, Utah to New York City and back.  To a fourteen-year-old those were long travel days across Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.  I had three or four friends on the trip and we could hardly wait to get to our hotel so we could go swimming.  Then we'd stay up late and "faint" -- something my friends taught me that seemed really new and exciting.  The drive the next day seemed like nothing but corn field after corn field, and mostly I just wanted to sleep.  My mother would repeatedly say, "Judy, wake up and enjoy this beautiful scenery!"  It seemed boring to me.

After living 35 years in Illinois I have come to believe that this state may very well have the most beautiful farms in the world.  I've made oh, so many trips to Nauvoo, to Champaign, to Utah, and to Columbus, and no matter which direction we drive, I can never get enough of the scenery.  Picture this:  acre after acre of corn or soy bean fields.  I love them in the early spring when the ground is newly plowed -- the rows and rows of turned earth, perfectly straight as far as the eye can see.  I love them when the ground very first begins to turn green.  I love them in the summer when the corn is high and the tassles blow in the wind.  I love them in the fall when the heavy machinery is working the fields.  I love it in the winter when the fields are covered with stubble, the machinery is all put away, and the farm is prepared for winter.

Every farm has a stand of trees, and nestled underneath is a beautiful farm house, either white or red.  The house is surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns.  The barns, grainaries, silos, and other outbuildings are always in good repair and well cared for.  And almost every fence post is host to a red-winged blackbird.

As we drove to Champaign for Quinn's graduation we realized that it was probably the last time we would ever make that drive.  It was so sad.  If we ever leave Illinois we will really miss this incredible scenery.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dr. Quinn

Quinn finished his PhD last July and moved to Boston to continue his post doc at Harvard.  He and Tiffany decided to come back to Illinois to receive his diploma at the U of I graduation today.  We had a great day together including a delightful dinner this evening at the home of his department adviser.  I think Quinn and Tiffany are thoroughly enjoying a few days without their children, thanks to Randy and Judianne and their upstairs neighbors who are looking after the children.  We're so grateful that things are going so well for Quinn and Tiff.  They continue to work hard to achieve their long-term goals.  That's my boy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A fun easy quilt

My quilts came back from the quilter.  I finished this one and have another one to do, but not for a few days.  My needle somehow found it easier for the eye end to go through my finger than for the tip to go through the quilt -- not just once, but several times.  I have one sore finger tip right now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Musical Torture

Okay, I'm going to post a blog before I go to bed, and I don't even have a picture to go with it.  I've had a giant overdose of opera this week.  Some friends of ours sing with the Naperville Community Choir.  They had a big concert on Saturday night and to support them, we purchased tickets.  It turned out to be an evening of  choruses from the Operas.  I have to confess that there are really only three kinds of music that I don't care for -- hard rock, organ music, and opera, which is strange because growing up I played in an orchestra that played for at least six or seven operas.  Being in the orchestra pit does little to help you appreciate the plot or what is going on, but the choruses are rousing and most of the ones they did that night were enjoyable.

Today Randy received an email from a colleague who had two tickets to the Chicago Civic Orchestra which she couldn't use and hoped someone might be available to use them.  We love the Civic Orchestra and haven't been for a while so we told her we would use them.  She told us it was LaBoheme and the Marriage of Figgaro, but it wasn't until we arrived that we discovered it was a collaborative performance by the orchestra and the Ryan Opera Center.  We sat through 90 minutes of Acts 2 and 3 in Italian.  If I had known, I would have declined the tickets.  I do feel more cultured tonight, but please, no more opera for a few months!  (I promise something more interesting next time--something like cleaning out the garage).