A Perfect Panacea


Went to a garden party 
to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories 
and play our songs again . . . Ricky Nelson

A morning meeting followed by flowers and food and friends old and new –  it was a perfect panacea for mid-March madness and the anticipation of spring!
Each year, round-about now, the District II area garden clubs, of which my club belongs, has its annual meeting.
It is, as these events tend to be, a bit of work and flurry of preparation for those in charge, a distance to travel for many of the member clubs, and an event that often competes with other events such as St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, the Chicago Flower and Garden show, spring break and more.
Gardeners are sturdy folks, however, and they brave whatever March weather may bring, squeeze in time in their own busy schedules, bring baskets of goods to raffle off, and get all “gussied” up. As the banquet room slowly fills up, it is akin to a glorious garden slowly opening up and then in bloom.
The tables were adorned with vases of tulips. There were bundled in ribbons and attendees were able to take some home.
The food was quite good and I won’t mention the chocolate mousse. I managed to lick the parfait glass clean.
Gaily wrapped and adorned raffle baskets were distributed to winning ticket holders. I love these events which bring out the child is us all – especially when we win!
 The highlight of this meeting is the program. This year we were treated to a floral presentation – Flowers by Christine. I will let Christine’s exquisite arrangements speak for themselves. Lucky were the ladies who were able to take one of them home.
This was a delightful event and a precursor to Spring which, by the way, officially arrives today here in the Northern Hemisphere!



Full Speed Ahead

When not in the kitchen baking with Kezzie, or stuck in the computer’s photo booth with this young man, we have been off on mini-adventures to familiar places with our Up North family who came for a visit.

Ezra has grown so much since we last saw him. He amazes me with his burgeoning intellect, eagerness and inquisitiveness. His attention to detail astounds me as he carefully builds tracks for his Thomas engines and shows signs of reading readiness. He’s a charmer, for certain, and knows he “has me” with just a pleading look in his sky blue eyes. Life is full speed ahead with Ezra.

I remain smitten.

We visited the Morton Arboretum’s children’s garden on a sunny but brisk March afternoon.  Kez & Ez explored the many features, including this rope challenge. I find it quite wonderful that places like the Arboretum have developed areas of their acreage for youngsters. Child-friendly, fun environments that bring children out into nature, developing respect for trees, flowers, animals, and all that our good earth provides.

Our adorable tree hugger,  this bundle of energy brings so much joy to our lives.


Cooking with Kit . . .

. . . a Lenten Dump Cake.

That all American Girl, Kit, came to visit this week. She brought with her my “cook fantastic”,  Keziah. Actually, Keziah came and brought her doll, Kit with, but, you already figured that out.

Kez and Kit have matching aprons, crafted by a woman who turns old shirts and blouses into aprons which are as adorable as they are practical. Kezzie packed away both her apron and Kit’s. She knows her Yia Yia well and anticipated a few baking opportunities, one of which presented itself on the first morning here.

Actually, I was anxiously awaiting their arrival with the ingredients already purchased.

Earlier in the week, I saw a video with my cousin Pam demonstrating how to make a Lenten Dump Cake, which looked quite delicious. It was also something I could easily make with my granddaughter, Keziah. With most of the ingredients already in the house, the only thing I needed was a can of cherries and a can of pineapple tidbits. I managed to forget the pineapple on three separate grocery runs. Do you ever do that?

So it was, bright and early on the first morning we were together since Thanksgiving that Kezzie, Kit and Yia Yia began their baking marathon, spreading canned cherries into a large pan, followed by pineapple, dry cake mix, nuts, etc. with several liberal pinches of giggles and grins. It is such tasty fun cooking with Kezzie and it was particularly nice to have Kit in the kitchen to help.

Do you have a favorite dump cake you like to make?

Pam, if you read this, thank you for the inspiration and please know the this was a fun, and quite delicious,  cake to make my granddaughter.






For the Folks Back Home


It was a long ago night in the deep end of winter. February. The pay phone was in the stairwell on the 6th floor of Hamilton Hall. I made a collect call home. It was the last time I heard the full volume of my father’s voice. It was raspy. “A bad cold.” he said. “Laryngitis. Don’t worry, just do your studies. We’ll see you at spring break.”

It was the last real conversation I had with my dad and the last time I heard the voice that had guided me through my formative years.

Spring break was early in April that year. My week home was spent with family, in the hospital, visiting Daddy. His voice by then was much altered as his vocal chords collapsed from a particularly virulent form of cancer that had invaded his body. He was dead less than two weeks later.

It was 1969.

It was deemed that Penny would get Pete’s books and Dottie would get Pete’s records. I was the reader, she was the dancer. Both were boxed and stored until Tom and I bought our first house. My Aunt Christina, who had custody of the boxed books and records, said it was time for me to store them. We had a house with a basement, so custody came to us. They were stored deep in the bowels of our basement. They did not see the light of day until 12 years ago. Before we moved, I called Dottie and asked her to take the records and we moved the books here.

On a recent February day, my brother-in-law, Rick, came for a visit. He arrived laden with a coffeecake (that deserves a blog of its own), a box of some of Dottie’s treasures he thought I might like (and I do) and a new-fangled record player that imports old 78’s, 33’s, 45’s and whatever other digits. The record player basically converts old vinyl to digital. It took the three of us -Tom, Rick, and Penny – a fair bit of time (okay, a few hours) to figure it out, which we finally did.

Among the records were several small, military issued recordings. I knew they existed but had not heard them clearly. Rick kindly gave them to me after Dottie passed away. We were unable to play them on our turntable (yes, we still have one). Rick’s gift of the portable player made it possible for us to listen to a few short recordings, made in Hollywood,  when my father was on leave while stationed in San Diego during WWII.

There we sat, in our kitchen, with dusk settling in, listening as the recordings were transferred to my laptop. An official sounding military woman identified herself, the date and the location of the recording. Then, there he was, a young sailor in the US Navy, sending greetings home to Violet and wishing his mother a Happy Mother’s Day. It was recorded more than 70 years ago on May 6, 1944!

 I stood, in awe, on another February date, once again hearing my beloved father’s voice – a voice I had not heard in 49 years.

We bristle at times over technology, but, I have no doubt that a young woman in 1944 was as appreciative to be a benefactor of the technology of her time as I am more than seven decades later.



Watching a Fern Weep

February can be a heartless month to those living in a cold climate. Positioned at half-past winter and a quarter to spring, February’s single digit temperatures and snow might swirl in the wind one day and be followed by 60 degrees (F) the next. Warm temperatures bring fast melting snow – over a foot in our neck of the woods – followed by rain, rain, and more rain. We tire of winter in February and we long for green instead of gray.

A bright spot in winter comes, hereabouts, on the last weekend in February and the first in March when Orchids by Hausermann hold their annual open house. I went last Friday; a dour day with leaden skies and a muddy parking lot. As I was directed by employees to a parking spot, visitors leaned into the wind with boxes of greenery, long arching stems of glorious orchids peeking out. Inside the doors was a feast for famished senses, attracting orchid lovers, gardeners, and winter weary wanderers.

Oh, what a glorious adventure on a grim afternoon!

Aisle upon aisle of orchids were displayed in the Hausermann greenhouses. Every color imaginable, scents and textures, potted plants and air plants: splendor as far as the eye could see.

The yellows were radiant,











as were the reds.

Moustaches, whiskers, and other accoutrements- pretty in pink!









What a joy it was roaming Hausermann’s, chatting with orchid lovers, photography buffs and even running into a few Elmhurst Garden Club friends.

My green thumb does not extend to orchids, so, I did not purchase a plant. I did, however, buy a small cut orchid arrangement, eager to bring a bit of Hausermann’s beauty home. The arrangement was small, as was the price, with an orchid and ferns nestled into a small container. The sun managed to come out and kiss my little arrangement, which is perched prominently on the kitchen counter.

 On Saturday, I noticed a small puddle of water on the countertop, under the arrangement. I wiped it off and went about my chores. A short while later, there was another puddle. On closer look, there was a teardrop on the tip of a fern leaf. I watched it. Really!  Who watches tear drops on ferns? 🙂  Soon, the swollen droplet let loose and filled the formica lake.

Click onto the photos for a closer look. I don’t want to be alone in watching a fern weep.










When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like shipwreck; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless.  Willa Cather



In the Wildwood

Come to the church in the Wildwood . . .

As often happens while gadding about, I was looking for one thing and  ended up finding something else, instead.

Zooming past on a wooded by-way at about 50 mph, I saw a sign for the Wayside Chapel. I caught a glimpse of the entrance before I had a chance to signal and made a silent vow to check it out soon.

Soon came a few days later. It was after a heavy snowfall had blanketed our little corner of earth. All things considered, the weather was stable, the roads cleared, and I had been itching to check the Wayside Chapel out.

The Antler Man and I bundled up and set off to see what was to be seen. We were both surprised at this newfound treasure not far from our home.

We didn’t walk far for it was close to dusk, but, there was a paved path that was shoveled clear of ice and snow and we were curious.

The air hung still and silent. There was a downy comfort of over a foot of snow which brought a measure of serenity and peace that we both needed – and it was there for the taking at the Wayside Center in Palos .












We walked the short path to the Wayside Chapel enjoying the panoramic view and catching glimpses of the farm below. The Children’s Farm, across the road and accessible via a bridge further along the Chapel path, is part of the Center and somewhere I look forward to exploring. I was excited to see that the visitor’s center sells eggs from the farm as well as honey from the farm’s hives and many crafted items made at the Center.

There is a scattering of buildings for all sorts of activities from yoga to painting, meditation to work carving, social services to exploration.

As we explored the center, I felt a sense of tranquility come over me and the words come to the church in the Wildwood started playing in my head. An old version of the song by the Carter family is below and was found on YouTube. Do you have a favorite rendition of the song?


Information on the Wayside Chapel at the Center can be found here.



Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


God didn't go anywhere!


Barnstorming: Seeking Sanctuary in the Seasons of a Rural Life

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

Creative information about Real Estate and Life in the Western Suburbs of Chicago


Chicago Nature Information & News

Interrupting the Silence

An Episcopal Priest's Sermons, Prayers, and Reflections on Life, Becoming Human, and Discovering Our Divinity

The Pioneer Girl Project

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl

Juliet Batten

Author, artist, speaker, teacher and psychotherapist

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Thoughts about writing and life

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry


Your Guide to a Stylish Life

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Garden.

Living Designs

Circles of Life: My professional background in Foods and Nutrition (MS, Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, RDN, LDN) provides the background for my personal interests in nutrition, foods and cooking; health and wellness; environment and sustainability.

Women Making Strides

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

Middlemay Farm

Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

Book Snob


teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Begun in 2010, this blog offers analysis and reflection by Susan Bailey on the life, works and legacy of Louisa May Alcott and her family. Susan is an active member and supporter of the Louisa May Alcott Society, the Fruitlands Museum and Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House.


Reducing stress one exhale at a time ...exploring Southern California and beyond

Kate Shrewsday

A thousand thousand stories

Blogging from the Bog

musings from and about our cottage in the West of Ireland