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IMG_1127I’m out and about today, restocking the pantry, washing clothes after a week away, garden club activities leading up to the  July 12 garden walk, weeding the garden here on the Cutoff, and on and on we go.

I want to show you the masses of bee balm – with bees on them – that opened whilst we were up North and give you a measure of our success with how tall the grasses and compass plant have stretched since we’ve been away. The weeds. Ah, the weeds. They are abundant this year. It is what it is and I’ll be like Scarlett and worry about them tomorrow. For now, I hope you don’t mind my sharing a few photos of the grands, who charmed and challenged us this past week, and are growing even faster than the weeds in our yard.

Joy supreme.

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There is such a sadness floating around me swirling like water ’round a rock.

I fell asleep on Wednesday to the news of the horrid killings in Charleston and awoke on Thursday to the lingering sadness that prevails. Though my day was filled with work and purpose, I felt that proverbial weight of the world on my shoulders.

I sifted though a pile of envelopes; fliers, bills and such. Sitting in abeyance was a “note to self” to call a member of a board I sit on. I had not heard from Barb in some time, knew she was ailing. I had been experiencing a difficult time getting in touch with her. I put my note in a spot where I would see it, planning to call her when I returned home.

The best made plans do often go astray, for I returned home to a message that Barb had passed away. She will be missed.

The the sadness swirled some more as the news came to me in a phone call about one thing that led to an aside about something else; a long-time friend had passed away a week or so ago.

Milt was a unique person; a man who walked the walk he talked. He was an educator and a man with a servant’s heart; someone who truly practiced what he preached.

I first met Milt when he became the principal at the elementary school our daughters attended. When I met him, our Jennifer was in second grade. Katy was a toddler tagging along with Mom on a school related task. Milt, then the in-coming principal at Field School, introduced himself, shook my hand, and then got down on his knees to say hello to Katy. That was Milt; meeting everyone at their own level.

As time went on, we became friends and we started a book discussion group; the very same book group I am still in and sometimes mention here on the Cutoff. Milt and his wife, Rosalie, stopped participating a few years ago. Age related issues and life changes had deemed it time for them to move on. They were the most devoted of couples I have ever known. Most of the members of our book group are either retired teachers who taught with Milt or friends who are parents of children who were under his principalship. More than that, everyone in town seemed to know Milt, who winter-camped, had a prison ministry, was a staunch advocate of the rights of all and a good steward of the environment.

We’ve missed Milt – and Rosalie, who had successes in her own right. Rosalie was a writer and one of the first to publish a book about Alzheimer’s. “Journey with Grandpa” is a memoir of her father-in-law and of living and caring for someone with the disease. It became a loving  “how to” manual for many in a time when Alzheimer’s was just beginning to be recognized and talked about.

Milt’s story wraps around another part of my life which is part of my sorrowful mood right now. In a discussion some years ago, he mentioned the first school he was principal at and of  the young Greek Orthodox priest who tended his fledging flock with services in the school’s gym, with Sunday school in the classrooms. We had a good chat as I said that I was actually one of the children attending Sunday School and Greek language school there.

Not long after that, I attended a anniversary liturgy at the Greek Orthodox church, Holy Apostles, which had eventually moved to its permanent location, building a permanent church, where the very same priest Milt remembered, Father Bill, still tended his flock. I had a few moments to talk to him and mentioned my friend, Milt, the principal of Nixon school, which he seemed to delighted to hear about.  Father Bill passed away a little more than a month ago.

So it goes, this passage of time, senseless acts that have no rhyme or reason and a floating sadness like water ’round a rock.

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I’m not sure exactly when I first met Anton Cobb. I do know it was in the Chocolate Moon, a congenial coffee shop in Elmhurst that I frequented.

I do remember the first time Anton served me in the Moon; decaf, skim, vanilla latte, in a mug. He had grown from the young boy I first met to a young man in what seemed like no time at all and there he was, one fine day, brewing everyone’s favorite coffee beverages.

In even less time he was off to college, though he would spend time in the Moon when home on break. A cordial and good-natured person, Anton would always acknowledge what our Katy christened as “the Moonies”; a gathering of “regulars” who became friends there, including Anton’s mom. The Chocolate Moon had a life of its own. In fact, it probably has a book of its own; stories for another time.

Eventually, Anton moved away. Far way, in fact. His endeavors led him to Oregon, and that is really where this post leads as well.

Anton set a table, a chair, a flower and a tablecloth in a bustling park in Portland during his lunch hour. There he sits, each week, giving up his lunch money so that children will not go hungry. He invites passers-by to join him in his goal to help feed boys and girls who might otherwise go unfed. His efforts have not only helped the Oregon Food Bank feed children, but they came to the attention of media.

I could tell you my version of Anton’s hOUR LUNCH, but, he does it so much better, with passion and enthusiasm, that I would like to invite you to hear more about hOUR LUNCH from Anton Cobb himself,  on TED, perhaps while you are sitting down to eat your own lunch.

Well done, Anton. Well Done.

We are all proud of you – and inspired as well.

(I originally wrote this post after seeing Anton’s Ted Talk with the intention of publishing it today, unaware that today is Anton’s father’s birthday. It is interesting how the stars seem to align at times. I know that Anton’s mom, Janet (Blogging from the Bog) is very proud of  him, and I am sure that his dad, Fred, is looking down from above, equally proud. ) 

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DSCN8157Sunday.

Mother’s Day.

One of those mellow days of love and recognition that seemed to flow slowly and deliberately into a forever memory.

After Sunday worship, we went to Jennifer and Jason’s for brunch. Egg strata, bacon, salad and Mimosa’s. As I sipped and savored, I remembered another Mother’s Day, more than three decades past, where a toddling Jennifer brought me breakfast in bed. On that long ago morning,  I opened my eyes to a wee darling saying “happy Mother’s Day Mommy” as she slowly settled a plate of breakfast in front of me.

I remember it vividly.

A dollop of strawberry yogurt with Cheerios on top, toast, and a few slices of hard salami on the side.

This year; mimosas, egg strata, salad, coffee and Kringles.

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On our way home, Tom and I stopped at Lilacia Park in Lombard, where it is lilac time. Though the skies were gray and it was cool, the lilacs and tulips were resplendent.

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I took too many photos. Everywhere I looked was color and contrast, statements of nature painted on every stem, beads of moisture clinging to petals and leaves, a concert of color singing all-the-more brightly in the absence of sun. You can imagine my bliss as I tiptoed among the tulips, my indulgent and supportive  husband at my side.

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IMG_7400Some spring days start by getting down and dirty amid tender shoots, plant divisions and cuttings, all while setting out a festive French picnic with some of the most delightful women around, and end up in the company of one of the sweetest persons on earth, our daughter Jennifer.

Monday was one of those spring days.

Our garden club held is springtime plant sale. Members bring divisions, cutting, slips and shoots that are sold. I only brought a few plants home this time – and that was because I was one of several women who were the month’s hostesses. Our garden here are abundant with plants that made their way up the Cutoff from the gardens of our club’s members.

DSCN8020While members of the horticulture committee were trying not to get dirt on their clothes arranging pots of herbs, perennials, and grasses, the hostesses set up a springtime Parisian lunch. From croissants to cream puffs, and everything in between, it was a tasty spread and a delightful group to serve with and I saw the hort ladies working hard, trying to show the members various plant donations while making sure the Mansion was kept clean.

As I sat down for an informative presentation on plants to use for outdoor pots, my phone pulsed and there was a message from Jennifer, wondering if I would like to meet up with her for some shopping at the Oak Brook Shopping Center.

Would I?  When a daughter rings I’m thrilled, so, when the meeting was done and our cars re-loaded with all the accouterments of a French picnic. I headed to Oak Brook to find Jennifer.

Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

We shopped and talked and stopped for some little bites at the Nordstrom Cafe, and talked some more and I just couldn’t help but bask in the glow of a wonderful spring day. After we hugged goodbye and Jenny went her way, I mine, I got down and dirty just one more time when I saw these golden tulips dancing in the spring breeze.

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The house is quiet now. The pitter patter of little feet that ushered our grandchildren down the long hall,  through the kitchen, up and down stairs and stools and chairs and climb-upons that only children tackle have faded. The creaks and groans of the floorboards are just that; creaks and groans of an old house pushing itself back together again.

I feel a bit like a floorboard tonight, pushing myself back together again, creaking and groaning as I shift my focus from bustling granny, chief cook and bottle washer (remember that term?) to tackler of piles upon piles of this and that and the other; projects all that need some attention tomorrow.

In the quiet tonight, however, sated from a big Easter dinner, I’m feeling a tad like Peter Rabbit must have felt, soporific from overindulgence of food I don’t usually eat – with an extra helping to boot. I’ll just rest my eyes and reflect on family, both those now up north and those who were with us today, dining around our table, which also groaned and creaked with the weight of food and conversation and is just now putting itself back together.

I’ll just be still while the nearly full moon winks at me through the eyebrow window in our bedroom and I’ll give thanks for the joy of t0day and the promise of tomorrow.

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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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