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The very best of something

I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been – Winnie the Pooh

So, I did!. I walked away from the computer, the garden, the laundry and such, adjusted my newly installed magnificent driver’s side mirror, repositioned my car’s seat and rambled off to the elegant La Grange Theatre. Oh, it was a journey, for certain, for are not all walking aways filled with challenges?

 

The first challenge was my own winding road. The bridge to be crossed is being repaired and down to one lane with a temporary stack of poles and lights  giving drivers the green when the way is clear. I sat for at least 5 precious minutes waiting for the light to turn green, with no car coming the opposite way during the entire wait. Then, a freight train, a very slow moving freight train, ate up another 5 precious minutes, followed by much traffic juggling for parking spaces, turn lanes, pedestrians, and bicyclists who all felt that the road was their very own (when, really, wasn’t it just mine?)

I parked the car in the very last available spot, then I walked as fast a I walk these days and entered the gilded theatre! Ticket in hand, in I went, to the opening strains of a woodsy tea party awaiting Christopher Robin for a sad goodbye as woodland friends gathered in the 100 Acre Woods and were brought to life by the magic of imagination.

I found a seat, which wasn’t hard as there were but a dozen or so “walkers away” in the theatre; a group of women in front of me, a few more mid-section, an older fellow with a soft drink in one hand, a big container of popcorn in the other, and a mother with her preschool aged child across the aisle from me. The little girl was the bow on the gift of this movie. I could hear her uttering her fears in the scary parts, crawling onto her mama’s lap, and her infectious squeals of laughter were as if on cue from the movie’s director, as Tigger bounces, Eeyore laments and Owl pontificates. Quiet moments and mad-cap scenes made all-the-more delightful by this young darling.

Christopher Robin is a story of finding one’s self while battling the hufflelumps and woofles of life, all on a weekend when the overworked, adult Christopher must work on a way to cut costs for the suitcase company he works for with others’ jobs on the line, while his boss goes off to play golf, and his wife and daughter are off to the Robin cottage in Sussex.

In-the-meantime, long forgotten Winnie cannot find his best friends and misses the long-gone Christopher Robin, who surely would know how to find them. Winnie does, well, what Winnie does, which is to walk away from where he is to find Christopher.

What a beautiful, funny, sad, thought-provoking movie this is. To think, I might not have gone off and walked away had it not been for the fact that yet another certain young girl, who owns my heart, but who lives far, far away, remarked to her mommy upon seeing Christopher Robin that she thought Yia Yia might enjoy it, too – and I did. I most certainly did, and I think that you might as well.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” – Winnie the Pooh

https://movies.disney.com/christopher-robin

(movie trailer from the official Disney site)

 

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A Peasant’s Meal

They looked so temptingly delicious; green and orange and red and ready! I couldn’t help myself, standing at the farm stand, looking at them. 

We had just finished the stuffed peppers; a meal and then leftovers. The second act of leftovers was even better than the first act. I felt like clapping, but, really, who claps for her own cooking?

I bought more peppers. They have been so firm and flavorful this year; I simply can’t resist them. Five, big bell peppers and a bag of the smaller, snack-sized ones, which are really quite delicious and make great snacks, followed me home. A few of the bell peppers went into a stir-fry, the rest were exiled to the refrigerator as they were beginning to soften. There they languished – until yesterday afternoon. A half-dozen or so of small, new potatoes, with dirt still hanging on, were sitting on the counter, along with some sweet onions and a bunch of freshly picked oregano from the herb pot on the deck.

I love cooking, following recipes, reading food blogs, magazines and books, but, I’ve been cooking for so long now that I often find myself just making meals up from what I know, what I’ve read, and what I like. Do you do this too?

I turned the oven on, washed and cut the potatoes, leaving the skins on, and threw them in a pot of water. While they rumbled around in the pot,  my afternoon cup of tea sat brewing. I sliced the peppers into strips, tossed some olive oil and seasonings on them and put them in a large, glass baking pan. I took the teabag out, dripped some local honey into the cup, sliced one of the onions, then quartered two Italian sausage links, which followed the drained and parboiled potatoes into the pan. Lid on, pot in oven, and teacup in hand, I settled down for a late afternoon read.

Our evening’s meal slowly roasted, the flavors melding together; a peasant’s meal that turned into a candle lit feast!

When Janice commented, on my recent stuffed pepper post that she and her mother would clean and freeze a bushel’s worth of peppers, slicing some, dicing others and leaving some whole, for the long winter ahead, I imagined the scene with a smile. I think I will buy some more peppers and do the same, and promise I will stop writing about peppers.

Do you freeze or can your summer’s bounty?

The Mirror Cracked

Well, not really cracked. That would have been easier to deal with.

The mirror actually fell off, as I was driving on an interstate highway at a high-speed on Sunday afternoon. The route was riddled with lane closures, necessitating maneuvering in which a driver’s side mirror was needed.

I noticed something a bit odd with the mirror early on Sunday. It was, well, it was bouncing around, jiggling a lot, an over-caffeinated looking-glass, if you can imagine that!. Odd, but, functional and I could see cars approaching on my left adequately and safely.

By mid-afternoon, on my way to meet Jennifer and Jason, the mirror joggled again as I accelerated, then, just as I needed to merge into the lane to my left (as the lane I was in was ending with orange cones and stripes and road construction detritus), I heard a snapping sound and could see the mirror was slipping out of its mooring. With no shoulder lane to move to, still at highway speeds, in one of those split seconds of astonishment, the mirror gave up the ghost and sped away at a wind-swept speed in the opposite direction!

I was able to get to my destination, implementing only right turns and remaining in left lanes as much as I could and did not have far to go, but, dear reader, I will tell you that it was more than unnerving. There is a reason for these mirrors and I realized how much I relied on them as I unconsciously kept looking to see what was on my right, only to find a black slate staring back. I wondered if this was what Alice saw, heading through the looking-glass.

Tom was able to put a temporary mirror on (whatever would I do without him?) and a replacement mirror has been ordered and on its way. In-the-meantime, I am limiting my driving, staying on side roads, and waiting for my new mirror.

Can you imagine my frightened “scream” as I looked out and saw the image above in my driver’s side mirror?

Have you ever experienced an unexpected car malfunction?

 

Savoring

Nowhere near a peck. Definitely not pickled. The peppers languished in a large, red, hand-crafted bowl upon the kitchen counter. In shades of green and a blush of red, their caps askew, they waited. A few of the peppers were cut to savor, raw and earthy, while a familiar scent followed me past the bowl, to the sink, toward the stove, foreshadowing the aromas of a meal yet to come – stuffed peppers.

Finally, ingredients lined up in no particular order. Stuffed peppers here are a family recipe handed down and down and down again.

I could smell the meal was done before I checked the pan. Opening the oven door, the stuffed peppers came out and a loaf of French bread went in to warm. I stood a moment as I ached for my sister; to call her, or for her to call me, with the tempting tease in the greeting; “I’m making stuffed peppers“, on the tip of my tongue, silenced now, but, remembered in the doing and done so often now in time.

Ah, the meal – it was sublime. Steam rose as the foil atop the pan was slowly peeled off. The bubbling of the juices were a song of culinary praise. We gave thanks for our many blessings, then sighed as the warmed bread soaked the juices and the meaty stuffing spilled out onto our plates. The verdict was in and we were sentenced to stuffing ourselves.

 Life is good.

 

 

 

Courage

“What makes the flag on the mast to wave? What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot?”  Cowardly Lion

–  from the Wizard of Oz”- L. Frank Baum

 

Walk a Mile in My Shoes . . .

. . . more precisely, three miles.

I was lost. I could hear voices and I knew “kinda sorta” where I was, but, lost none-the-less. Not-to-worry. I was safe, had my cell phone, and this gaping natural marker to lead me back to where I needed to be.

My proclivity to veering off-road once again steered me into an adventure – this time in Lyman Woods. In my defense, I was scoping out the location for a possible field trip for our garden club. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. These woods are in plain sight on a fairly well-traveled road. I had visited once before, discovering a charmed woods and a Little Free Library, which you can find more information about here.

So there I was, on my way home from church, when my car impulsively turned into the parking lot of Lyman Woods and onto the path to the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center which has a green roof and is on a plot where one of thirty or so houses once stood. While visible from the street, it does not have the look of most nature centers in this area. I find it not only refreshing, but, forward thinking in its purpose and style.

This is the walkway up to the Interpretive Center, from a parking lot that cautions visitors to not let their cars idle, a sign of caution and care for the environment and the preserve I was about to enter.

The roof is carpeted in prairie plants and serves several environmental purposes, including reducing storm water runoff. Here’s another look as well as the interpretive signage. The center hosts a variety of programs for children and adults throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beekeeping, to habitats for butterflies, hummingbirds and hummingbird moths, migratory birds, deer, coyote and more, these woods are a substantial refuge surrounded by well-travelled roads, a university, a large hospital complex, high-rising business buildings and luxurious home

Before I got lost in the woods, I was lost in this garden plot, packed with flowers and vegetables, beehives and scarecrows! I stood for quite some time, and I hopped about in my happy dance as goldfinch flitted about and a hummingbird rested upon a wire. The bee population was active, as were several hummingbird moths. I would love to try the honey harvested here and will go back and look for some in Autumn.

 


 

 

 I decided to take a short walk after a delightful couple and their small child showed me to way to the marsh telling me to “just follow the path then turn right and then left and there is the marsh where migrating birds come“.

I passed the tree with yawning stump, taking some photos  – just because – and wandered about, a leisurely stroll on a warm Sunday afternoon, the canopy of trees sheltering me and a soft breeze to keep me company.

I found a bench looking out toward the marsh, but, no pathway to it. No matter, I kept walking, and walking and walking. A stout rabbit watched me along the path, hopping into the brush when I got closer, surely wondering what this lady with a camera was doing. Well, taking photos, of course, along the prairie teeming with life and woods with their primal sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I passed the back of the university and doubled around (or so I thought) past a wetland and then reaching the very end of the trail. Not THE END, of course, for I needed to work my way back to the beginning. Good thing I took so many photos. They became my Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs as I wandered past the wetland and university’s back yard, the bunny path and the prairie. I heard the wail of siren bringing someone to the nearby hospital and saw the lush view of the marsh, made a slow turn at a junction, walked a bit more and then, there it was, the stumpy foot of the tree that seemed to be spilling out words to me “oh, hey there, lady wanderer, here’s the way back” – and it was!

I love these simple moments of discovery and adventure and respect those who have found ways to save these living sanctuaries.

How about you? Have you wandered somewhere new lately – or somewhere familiar that rides the tides of time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling Trolls

The door opened and there they were!

It seemed like forever since we had been with our Up North family. Late at night from far away, they tumbled in with boxes and bags and suitcases, and with all the pent up energy that had been stowed away during their long car drive. Hugs and kisses and then they, and we, all bedded down for the night and a week of being blissfully busy.

I feel inordinately blessed that our grandchildren feel at home and comfortable with us and that they settle in swiftly while upping the ante of energy, at least as far as this granny is concerned.

Life is grand!

So it was, on that very first day, that breakfasts were eaten, the garden explored, bikes and scooters employed and impending adventures discussed, bringing us all to the Morton Arboretum to track down the infamous trolls guarding the grounds.

Wow! He’s big!

Uh, this one is going to eat Ezra!

Papa rescued Ezra, who found a rather large footrest to settle upon for a bit.

“Yia Yia, do you know that flowers look better in a picture when you show them with your hand?” said Kezzie. Our citizen scientist and budding photographer then proceeded to demonstrate how. .

 

Such a sweet boy, waiting for his treat to arrive.



Kezzie, the afore-mentioned citizen scientist, noticed something moving in the grasses at the pond just outside the large expanse of windows in the Visitors Center. What’s a gal to do when she sees such a thing? She takes her Yia Yia’s hand and leads her around the pond to find it – and we did! All markings lead to a Black Capped Night Heron. Searching for the heron mushroomed into an enjoyable walk, looking at flowers and for turtles, hearing crickets and spotting dragonflies. Eventually, a search party (Papa and Auntie Jenny) were expedited to search for us – and found us!

 

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