Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

1 9 5

mccook-libraryIt was my first time behind the wheel after “The Fall”. Apprehensive, I mentally mapped out a route along roads less traveled with destinations that didn’t require me to get in and out of the car.

Bank – ATM – ✔️

Drive-up postal box ✔️

Coffee – ✔️

Library – ???

My library card had expired a month ago. I needed to renew it. To do so, meant going into the library.

I live in a city that does not have a library. Sad, I know, BUT, it is a very nice city that tries to treat her residents well, and does so in what I feel is a rather nice way. To own a library card, we must buy one from another municipality. My city, however, will pay half of the charge, up to $100. That means, if a neighboring library sells you a card for $200, the city will reimburse for half of that. Not a bad deal at all.

For many years, I have purchased my card from a small library with a healthy tax base in the next town over. It is the library where I was ‘mullioned” a few years ago. They are such nice folks, recognize me, and are part of a very large library system, which allows me library privileges in a very large inter-library loan system.

Most of you know my love of libraries, and how I often frequent them.

I have a “library habit”.

The librarian told me she could renew my card, but, the fee had gone up. She suggested another library, equidistant from our house, that was offering my city and another a card for $100. (which means it would end up costing me $50).

Of I went, down the road, to a charming library, nestled in a small but established residential area that was surrounded by thriving industries and major expressways. I parked on the street, closer to the entry than my own back door. Doors automatically opened and I was greeted by non-other than the head librarian, who asked if she could help me. I assured her I was fine, in spite of my very fat boot, and said that I was interested in getting a library card.

This library, dear reader, and this librarian are everything a library should be! Not only was I welcomed with open arms (and a handshake), but, I was introduced to another library patron, Betty, who lived in my own city, and invited to come to a once-a-month coffee hour at the library.

My maiden voyage, after The Fall, was going pretty well – until . . .

. . . no, I stayed on my feet. It was while one of the librarians was entering my information from my expired card. The head librarian had just handed me a welcoming tote bag, and filled it with all sorts of useful items and the library’s brochure, as she offered me a chair to sit on. The registrar asked a few questions, then, casually said “it looks like you have some outstanding fines“.  I could not imagine what fines they might be, but,  I did remember returning a few items last month a day late.  I asked how much I owed.

One ninety-five!

How could that be? Surely I would have received a notice for such an outstanding fine, either via email, phone call, or, gasp, the U.S. Postal Service. I was flummoxed, fretting, and forlorn, for sure!

The registrar kept entering information on her keypad. I wondered if she was tapping out code for “felon in library – owes bigly” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that).

I endorsed a personal check for the library card fee, handed it to the registrar, and asked who I should make the check out to for the fine, calculating how I was going to square such an unexpected deduction in my checkbook. There HAD to be a mistake, but, one should not leave such outstanding debt dangling like a hanging chad (sorry, again). If I didn’t ante-up, would I be arrested? abandoned from libraries for a millennium? book lice sent to monitor my every page turned?

Oh, don’t worry. You can pay it anytime?“.

Are you sure? That’s a big fine. Can you check again and tell me which library I owe the money to?

She noted the items: two books, an audio, and I could remit payment another day.

Just that for $195.00?

We stared at each other, for a moment, maybe two, and then the registrar replied, aghast, “Oh, no! I wasn’t clear. That is $1.95!“.

It is good, is it not, to have a good laugh, even at one’s own expense, on a maiden voyage in a medical boot while renewing a library card?

Dewey Decimal is still used in libraries, or adapted for modern-day usage, but, that one distinctive decimal point is the one that can cause chaos.

Off I hobbled,  with all of my goodies, a new book, and a smile over my faux pas . I’ve needed a bit of an adventure, and I had one, once again while in a library.

Read Full Post »


It is, officially, Autumn; and so begins the long, slow goodbye . . .


 . . . as the days shorten and the shadows grow longer, the leaves begin their free fall and many of us in a northerly climate begin to turn our thoughts inward as we relish the harvest of the cold crops, the gourds and pumpkins, especially the pumpkins.


img_0650Illinois is the top producer of pumpkins. Last year was a sad year for pumpkins here in the Prairie State, but, this year – ah, this year looks to be a a good one for those glorious orbs that are traditionally orange, but, appearing in other colors and shapes as well.


We stopped at a local farm stand, The Farm, where I often visit for fresh, local vegetables as well as the flowers they grow and sell. The zinnias have been particularly spectacular this year, and this bouquet caught my eye, but, it was organic tomatoes and pickles that I was after this day. I’ll be back soon for a bouquet – and I think I will try one of these pumpkins. Goosebumps. Their unique bumps are rather wart-like and the color and name are intriguing. I’m sure one will lighten up our little corner of earth here along the Cutoff.

Read Full Post »

p Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Town Meeting, Brittany

Ah . . .

. . .  those conversations in the checkout lane of the grocery store, whilst crossing paths in a parking lot, picking up clothes at the cleaners, sitting on a bench in a park, checking out a library book. These random conversations brighten my days and give me pause to ponder.

Take Thursday, for instance; a red-letter day for off-the-cuff conversations.

It started at the doctor’s office in the large center for health I go to for medical care, with easy access to labs, physical therapy, procedures, etc. I have happily graduated from a B12 shot every week to once a month. I am grateful for my doctor who dug a little deeper and found a deficiency. I am  even more grateful for the remedy, not to mention my friend, Marilyn, who recommended this internist. The medical center is connected to a hospital that wraps around a substantial campus. I usually take a brisk walk when I’m there. It is amazing how many steps can be accrued, for those of us who count steps, and especially nice in winter or inclement weather.

I digress.

After my appointment, I found a chair in the hallway and sat down to turn on my cell phone and check messages. As I sat there, a man turned the corner, a big smile on his face He looked at me. He had tears in his eyes along with that big smile as he blurted out “I just have to tell someone. I am so blessed. I just found out I don’t have prostate cancer!”  He was overwhelmed with relief, an emotion I know well enough.  I got up, acknowledged his news and feelings, and we headed to the elevator, where he had kind things to say to all of the passengers riding down to the main floor. He thanked me for listening as we parted ways.

We are sometimes put in just the right place to accept others good news.

I embarked on my hospital corridor walk-about, and then stopped in the gift shop. A rather robust woman, colorfully attired, caught my eye and she said “You really look good today. Very modernly dressed. Good color on you.” Well, now, how about that! I stood a little taller, edged my shoulders back, and thanked her profusely. Such kindness from a stranger gave me a bigger boost than a B12 shot!

We are sometimes put in just the right place to accept the generosity of others.

Heading home, I needed a few things from the grocer; fruit, greens, a can of tomatoes for the evening meal; items I thought I had in the pantry, but, discovered that I did not. I pushed my cart, picking up some coffee and a loaf of Italian bread as well as the items I came for and walked to the cashiers. A young man was standing at his register with no one waiting in line, so, I altered that scene, placing my purchases on the conveyor belt. As I wrote my check (I know. I’m a dinosaur. I still write checks) I asked the young man what the date was. He told me then said he couldn’t wait until Sunday. “A special day for you?”  “Yes. My birthday and now I won’t have to bother anyone anymore“. I thought, by his looks, that he was turning 21 and looking forward to a celebratory night out. “Happy Birthday, enjoy – and you be careful” to which he retorted “Oh, I have to work on Sunday. I’m just happy I won’t have to call for a legal aged checker to ring up liquor anymore“.

We are sometimes put in just the right place to be reminded to not jump to conclusions.

How about that?

Have you had a chance conversation lately over a cup of coffee, waiting in line,

Image. Town Meeting by Martha Walter

Read Full Post »

I picked up my keys and called out to Tom.

 “I am leaving” but, he did not hear – understand me.


“I said I’m leaving”, and commenced laughing. Poor Tom didn’t think it was funny, but, there I was, laughing; suddenly remembering the movie,  Roxanne – and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Hav you ever had one of these silly moments?

(from YouTube)


Read Full Post »

IMG_8854 - Version 3Echinacea.

A Greek word that means hedgehog, these long lasting flowers are more commonly known as coneflowers for the conical shaped seed head of the flowers. Our echinaceas are just starting their long blooming season and can be found in many gardens throughout the area. They are dependable and easy to care for – a good bang-for-your-buck if you are looking for a reliable perennial.


Our Echinacea is doing well here on the Cutoff. I learned last year to temper my eagerness at pulling weeds too early in the season. While I do have quite a growth of weeds, my patience at waiting until I was sure has awarded us fairly a full crop of Echinacea, which are just starting to perform and have been graciously posing for me and my camera.


These pictures, however, are all from the same photo. I started playing around with the image, cropping it in different spots, and thought you might like see them. Just don’t tell anyone that the photo was taken in the drive-through line of the local Mac Donald’s where I stopped for a cold drink the other day.

IMG_8854 - Version 2

As I sat, my car in the queue waiting to pay, I noticed this bee enjoying her own happy meal and just couldn’t resist.

IMG_8854 - Version 4






Read Full Post »

Mrs_tittlemouseI’m here, dear readers . . .

. . . still here, chasing rainbows and hanging on moonbeams, following my shadow and wishing upon stars.

We were visiting grandchildren and family up North and tending to the garden beds here. I’ve been busying myself with the garden club’s activities and feeling a bit like Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tittlemouse, my house all awry with mixed up messes here there and everywhere. Such has been life here in along the Cutoff  on these early June days.

Do you ever feel like the world is spinning, faster and faster, and there you are, so far behind that you’ve almost caught up?  I’m not sure I will ever quite catch up, so, I’ll just settle for a bit and be content as I endeavor to get back into a more routine writing pattern.

I want to tell you about how our prairie garden, which has doubled in size, and show you our woodland plants sitting along the arbor, which is now covered in several varieties of clematis. The daisies and hostas have leafed out rather well and the catmint’s blooms are just about spent. They have been hosting a bevy of bees, with me skipping about in animated glee, much to the amusement, I’m sure, of the crew of construction workers, who have just about dug down to China with a massive pit for the foundation of the house that will finally be built on the barren lot next door.

The flora and “fawn-a” are a joy to behold – well, actually, I haven’t seen any fawn, yet, but the does have been “yarding up” in a way that usually indicates birthing babes is about to commence. So, off I go with my pens and rakes to scratch out a wee bit of my day and promise to write something a bit more substantial very soon. Here’s hoping you are doing well and enjoying whatever season you are in.


Read Full Post »

Oh, sweet goodness – the anticipation was worth the wait! IMG_7748 - Version 2

Months after the expertly seamed conclusion of one of my all-time favorite television series, I was finally able to feel the grandeur of Downton Abbey’s exquisite costuming at Chicago’s Dreihaus Museum’s exhibit, Dressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times. 

My dear friend, Bev, and I were fortunate to be able to enter the Dreihaus Museum and quickly purchase our entry. We leisurely wandered through the exhibit, with knowledgeable staff directing us so seamlessly through the rooms that I imagined Mrs. Hughs hidden behind the curtains orchestrating it all.




These period costumes with their historical accuracy and styling, bejeweled and draped, were nothing short of magnificent. Whether intricately embroidered with flowers or capped with feathers and jewels, it was easy to slip into the London Season of the early 20th Century, or a nurse’s uniform with Lady Sybil.

I was as in awe of the craftsmanship of the costumes as I was of the sleek figures of the actors who wore these period clothes.


Characters always look larger than life on a screen, even a television screen. Becoming so intimately aware of their actual physical size is amazing. I had a renewed appreciation for the seamstresses and costume designers, as I did for those who spend an inordinate amount of time researching period dress. While Downton Abbey is a fictional story, it depicts specific decades, with the mores, customs, historical background, and issues of the times. It was enlightening to see this exhibit and the clothes and adornments of the characters which so beautifully illustrate the time period.

IMG_7772IMG_7764IMG_7786IMG_7718 IMG_7719IMG_7757IMG_7723IMG_7773




This was a breathtaking exhibit, in the company of a dear friend, inside a historic turn-of-the-century mansion on the world renowned Gold Coast of Chicago.


Oh! I almost forgot the Dowager  .  . .



Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Juliet Batten

Author, artist, speaker, teacher and psychotherapist

Digging for Dirt

Behind the scenes with the team at Winterbourne House and Garden

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

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

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

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


farming, gardens, cows, goats, chickens, food, organic, sustainable, photography,

Middlemay Farm

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

The Cottonwood Tree

Exploring the Life, Times and Literature of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Book Snob


teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Analysis and reflection from someone endlessly fascinated with Louisa May Alcott. Member/supporter of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the Louisa May Alcott Society and the Fruitlands Museum.


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