Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

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Ever since reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Secret Garden” as a child, I have been intrigued by garden doors, imagining myself as Mary Lennox, wondering what is beyond a locked door.

So it was upon entering the Rotary Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin that my imagination grew like Jack’s beanstalk and I squealed in girlish glee “oh, this is wonderful“. There I was, hopping around, opening and closing garden doors, peering into windows and otherwise embarrassing Tom who, after all these years, is used to my childish ways about these bookish gardening “things”.

There were doors opening on doors as groomsmen in gray – and senior citizens in greige -averted their eyes to the gleeful granny and her indulgent companion.

Isn’t it grand to discover something creative and open your imagination for a bit? Maybe it was because we had just spent several days with our darling grandchildren who love to pretend that images of Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy and Toto following a yellow brick road came to mind.


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Well, dear reader, when one door closes another opens, and so it did as something else caught my eye.

Can you see it? Click on the photo for a better look.


Scattered about the gardens were many of these boxes. They reminded me of the Little Free Libraries and were painted in all manner of whimsy and creativity.

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A volunteer in the gardens told us that the boxes were made by a group of men. They were sold at a nominal cost to be painted and appointed however the artist saw fit. They will be raffled off (or was it auctioned?) and I, of course, imagine them filled with gardening books and secret doors.

What would you fill them with?


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IMG_0771 - Version 2A toad lives under our house. Not exactly UNDER the house, but in that threshold of habitation between the screen door and the sill. One of those smallest of spaces that tend to inhabit a creaky old house in a cut off woods where deer wander and chew up the scenery like a hungry ham on vaudeville stage and where toads and frogs and walking sticks can find opportune spots to survive.

This is the third year, or is it fourth?,  that we have discovered toads residing under the doorsill, even though I plant toad houses in and about the garden beds. I forget their cohabitation all the time, then squeal in surprise, then delight, when they hop into view – just as I’m carrying in a bag of groceries or a china tea cup full of hot tea as I mosey on out to the arbor.

I sometimes wonder who laughs more , me or my toad, for I do laugh. You know I do. My sense of humor about life’s little things often pops up like a frog on a threshold.

Take last Saturday, for instance.

There I was, heading home, driving through the western suburbs of Chicagoland. It was mid-afternoon on a most magnificent June day, when I spotted two women in a front yard. Both were of “a certain age”, only even older that. They were rather pear shaped, more Bartlett than Bosc. Rather like me. There they were in plain view. One of the women was pushing an old push mower. The other women was pushing the woman pushing the mower.

I laughed out loud. Not a LOL, but a real, hearty, tear-producing laugh out loud. I admired their spunk and their ingenuity at getting the job done, but, I must confess that I laughed, all the way home, then more, much more, as I tried to explain to my family, who know my eccentric ways, exactly what it was that had tickled my funny bone.

I had other things I wanted to tell you, but this old stone is gathering moss, so off I go to pull some weeds, hunt for four-leaf clovers, and wander along this road called life.

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DSCN7562 - Version 4An ominous cloud of thick, black smoke billowed. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from – until I saw the flames.

I had just turned west. Eastbound traffic was bumper to bumper, a typical Friday rush hour, with a half mile of cars and trucks at a standstill, while 6 feet or more of flames were spitting upward – on top of a garbage truck, which was also stuck in traffic!

The garbage was on fire. Not just a smoldering ember;  a fire that was leaping and dancing under the canopy of elms and oaks and maples.

I slowed in my lane, cognizant of approaching cars, which had enough distance to see me decelerate. I rolled down my window, staring at the driver of the truck, my arms flailing out the window, pointing upward, mouthing “YOU ARE ON FIRE!! “.

I needed to move lest my stopping created a jam in the westbound direction and cause even more of a problem and prayed the fire didn’t get out of control. It was still contained in the garbage bin of the truck.

A few blocks down,  at a break in traffic, I turned left, and heard the wail of sirens. A fire truck and ambulance were headed in the direction I just came from to put out the traveling blaze.

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You are a blessing to my day.” IMG_7234

That’s what he said.

You are a blessing to my day”, which I thought to be a very nice thing to say.

I was in the same parking lot, going to same cleaners that was the framework of another post.

It must be the parking lot. Some cosmic energy or force or forget-me-gas must be emanating from the cleaners or out of the pavement. Perhaps, a drone overhead, waiting for me to show up and film another segment of  Penny in the Parking Lot.

As I headed out for usual errands, my cell phone buzzed with an email message from the cleaners. My order was ready. Isn’t that nice? It was on my circuit of things to do, so, I grabbed the claim tickets and off I went. First, the post office, which is not the place to go on April 15, then a few other quick stops, leading me to the cleaners.

I pulled into the lot, parked, gathered the tickets and my purse, closed the door to the car then noticed something amiss with the car next to me. I hadn’t seen anyone get into or out of it, but, there was a pile of clothes on the back seat in their plastic covering with the receipt attached from the cleaners.. The odd thing was that the driver’s door was open. Not ajar, mind you, but open as wide as a mouth in the dentist’s chair.

I looked into the window on the passenger side. A cup of coffee, some paperwork, a brown paper bag; the sort of stuff many of us have in the front seat of the car, especially running lunchtime errands.

I eased around the trunk of the car. “Hello. Anyone there?

Miss Marple I’m not. There I was, looking for a clue as to why the door was open and hoping, no praying, there wasn’t a body on the other side. Did someone fall out? have a heart attack? slip on the cleaner bags? “Hello?”  No answer. No body. Nobody.

People were walking around the lot, to and from their cars, going about their business. I asked, but, no one belonged to the car, a dark gray Toyota.

I sleuthed about a bit more, making sure no one was prone on the pavement.  I’ve come upon bodies in parking lots; a man who tripped and needed a hand up. A woman showing symptoms of a stroke. I’m amazed at how many people pass by, especially when an elderly person is in distress.

Inside the cleaners, I asked a patron if it was his car. No, not him.

Back at my mocha VW with the latte interior, I hung my clothes and went around to see if the neighbor’s car door was still open. It was. Now what should I do? What if someone was abducted returning to their car? What if he or she were wandering around the lot, looking for whatever they needed to remember? It happens.

By now, sure that surveillance cameras had clear pictures of me, a Medicare Maniac, staring at an open car door, shaking her head and calling to no one.  I thought to shut the door, but, what if it locked when it shut and the owner didn’t have another set of keys and was late on the rent and had amnesia? Really. What should I do?

I could walk away, but, if it were my car with the door wide open (and we all know that’s a possibility) I’d want someone watching over it/me.

I decided to check the stores closest to the parking lot, muttering “please, please don’t let it be Payless Shoes“.

First stop was a hair salon. I walked in and was greeted “Can we help you ma’am?“. I explained the open door and no driver. The stylist said “Maybe it’s Mildred’s.  Hey, Mildred, did you leave your car door open?” .  Mildred looked rather indignant, her hair changing colors. “Why would I leave my car door open?“, but, the stylist took her keys and we both checked, for, Mildred had a Toyota. Nope. Not Mildred’s.

As I walked back to my car, trying to decide if I should just drive away, which is not my style, when I noticed a man, dressed to the nines, coming out of Payless Shoes. More than middle-aged, but not quite an octogenarian, he strolled across the lot. Lo and behold, he was headed toward the open doored Toyota. I watched, as did a couple who I’d already queried who were returning from the cleaners with bags draped over their arms, waiting to see what would happen.

Well, my friend, Mr. Dapper Dan walked to his car, threw the bag of shoes on the backseat,  looked at me, then the couple.

Is there some problem with my car?”

Well, sir, do you realize you left you car door wide open?

I did?

Did he not see it open when passed by the door to put his clothes on the back seer?

You did, mister“, said the he of the couple as the she nodded in concurrence. Good. Character witnesses in case I needed them. I was starting to channel Mrs. Pollifax.

” I really must be more careful. Thank you, miss.”

I said “I’m just glad you’re okay and all is well” as I walked away, and then he proclaimed “Thank you, ma’am, you are a blessing to my day.”

A very nice thing to say.

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DSCN7790Hey, Lady, come back here . . .”

On to my next project/event, I made a trip out to Glen Ellyn to meet my friend Joyce who was generously lending me props for an upcoming garden club event.

Joyce and I made a quick exchange, she headed on to her day’s work, and I toddled along my own route, which led me right past the Morton. Well, what is a gal to do on spring morn? I turned in, the entrance wide open with employees methodically planting rows upon rows of yellow pansies, which elicited a smile as I pulled up to one of the welcoming gatehouses. I whipped out my membership card to be scanned, was encouraged to “have a nice day”, and moved forward. As my window rolled up, a loud command was barked from behind me.

HeyLady, come back here!  Come back!”

Seeing no one behind me, I slowly reversed course and backed up to the window.

You can’t bring a dog . . .”

and then her hand went to her heart as she said

oh, I’m so sorry, I thought I saw a sheepdog in your car. Dogs aren’t allowed on the grounds“.

We had a good laugh, the gatekeeper, the sheepdog, and me, then I motored on down the paths to find the day’s emerging joys; crocus and daffodils and the slow, steady greening of our little corner of the world.

“Arf! “said the boas –

and I’ll just bet you are wondering what they will be used for, aren’t you?


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DSCN7733Something white caught my eye.  There they were, a generous mass of springtime, clustered on the ground as we were leaving Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday; snowdrops – and not the cold, wet, flakey kind!

The trees are starting to bud. The grass is greening. My daffodils are inching forward and many are showing plump, yellow tips. Best of all, there is a full chorus of spring peepers down the road in the little pond.

A walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods had this little miss swinging her coat like a kite and her shadow skipping along the path,

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and this young lad hugged his Papa for a long, long while and then he explored the nature center.

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Today we will color Easter eggs and perhaps watch trains go by, as our Ezra really loves trains, and we will have some quiet moments as we reflect upon the gift of Easter.

Peace and  blessings to each of you.

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UnknownThere I was, driving along the byway, “The Rosie Project” on audio, mentally clicking off the things I needed to do, didn’t get done, or would rather be doing, when I saw the pair of black slacks and equally monochromatic shell sitting primly on the passenger seat. I meant to take these items to the cleaners on Monday, and here it was, Wednesday. A quick right. A quick left and a parking space. I whipped out my wallet, grabbed my monochromatic clutch of garments, waddled across the parking lot – and right into Payless Shoes.

Huh? Shoes?

It was just one of those days when my mind stayed home while the rest of me was out to lunch.

Around I turned, to the quizzical stares of the shoe clerk restocking shoeboxes, and continued my Aunt Jemima Puddle Duck waddle into the cleaners, where there was, of course, a long line.

There is always a long line at high noon.

Taking my place in the queue, I tapped my toes to the bouncy, iron pressing music, counting it as my day’s exercise, and inhaled the cleaning fumes, which surely made my brain foggy for when my turn at the checker came up, and she sweetly asked for my phone number, I went blank. BLANK!  The fog of steam eroding my cranium.  I could not remember my phone number. The sweet but clueless girl looked slightly bemused. Honestly, who am I to call her clueless? We stared at each other. “Now, wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait;  I seem to be having one of THOSE days” as I gave her my name, which was surely in the computer. Aha. Just then a phone number popped into my newly fumed brain. “Er, try . . . ” which she did while I inwardly cringed, for I’ve been known to give out my sister’s phone number instead of my own, which my sister finally realized after several months of odd messages from hair stylists and the doctors’ offices looking for Penny or Penelope. That is a story for another day, friend, for this day has a page of its own.

My pants and shell were whisked off to be cleaned, my receipt was firmly in hand, I muttered an “Ach, Columbus” – and off I went to wherever was I going next, which was really not where I was supposed to be.

So it goes on these monochromatic days, here along the Cutoff.



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