The First Summery Weekend

Living all of summer in one weekend. In Chicago, where we have had an extremely cold and wet spring, these last three days have been a welcoming sign of summer approaching.   And I filled every moment possible with family, friends, and fun.   And projects that will hopefully pay us back this summer.


It is amazing that one fairly open weekend can include:

  • A bike ride
  • Quiet night watching Straight out of Compton—impressive film
  • Yoga
  • A gorgeous afternoon at Arlington racetrack
  • A neighborhood Summer Kick-off party. So many families to catch up with.
  • Flower shopping
  • Planting the entire vegetable garden
  • Kayaking
  • Dinner on the deck with my family


It is a long list, but what a fun one!

So simple, but so, so rewarding. Embrace your free days or hours—fill them with people and time that give you freedom, space, and joy.



Pic on TribLocal

One of my photos was just selected to be a top pic on the ChicagoTribune Local website!  I already posted it in an earlier blog, but here it is again.  If you scroll down, it’s mid page ,the lead pic on 2011 photos.  Puts a little bounce in the step when you work really hard and get recognized…by strangers!  C

9/22-Realized this webpage isn’t static.  Picture is still on there for “2011 Photos”, but it might eventually disappear.

Up to My Knees in X#@$%

It has been a wet, wet spring, raining three weekends in a row and many days in between.  No planting has been done, between rain, sports, work, and more rain. Greens are coming up in the garden, but it needs a lot of grooming.  Hot, sunny yesterday was the perfect day for the annual run to get manure to spread before I plant my vegetable garden.  I have done this annually at the barn I ride at, and my veggies come in heavy and beautiful in a few months.

Bob agreed to accompany me this year.  We swung by the barn to borrow a stack of big buckets, which would be washed out before being returned.  We backed the car next to the  manure hill (or so it seems), slowly maneuvering down the muddy tracks to park where we would have easy access to the back of the Explorer.

“Be careful. It’s a little boggy,” I warned as we grabbed our shovels and pitchfork from the seat.

Three steps into walking towards the drier side of the pile, I stepped down—down–down–through the seemingly solid surface, until my leg was swallowed to my knee in a swampy mixture of manure, straw and water. Shock first, as I worried how far the disgusting mixture would go, but it hit some mucky bottom as it reached my knee.  It was slowly sucking me down–is this what quicksand feels like?– and to turn I had to put my other leg into the mess to balance myself.

“Don’t come in here!” I yelled unnecessarily to Bob, who was watching, shocked.

“Oh, my God.  This is so gross!” I exclaimed as I tried to step up from the crap-filled water without falling further into it.

I high-stepped to get out the manure swamp, feeling loose material spray up the back of my legs. When on solid ground, I glanced at my now-coated shoes and socks, muddy water sliding down my legs.

We began laughing hysterically. I was thankful I was not by myself, or I might have freaked out.

Clearly, we were not getting any manure today.  My shoes were so mud-soaked, they squished with each step. After a few minutes of laughing, I climbed into the back of the car, onto a rubber mat and towel.  Bob drove–arm over his nose—while I gingerly removed my shoes and socks.  They both went immediately into the garbage can when we arrived home, then I scrubbed myself off by the hose before I entered the house.

In the laundry room, I wrapped a towel around my waist, then threw my shorts outside to join the stinky shoes in the dumpster. I then took an indoor shower, scrubbing legs hard with a washcloth hard to remove the dirt, water, straw and manure from my legs.

I think I was still laughing.  That was the funniest thing that has ever happened to me.  And clearly the most disgusting.

And now I can truly say that I was “knee deep in SH#$%T.”  I hope that you never are. C

Things come in….Fours?

It was the BAD quadruple hit in the garden.  I just went to pick any ripe tomatoes before my “greenface” dog Zoe found them tonight, and I shortly felt like I had several rotten ones tossed at me:

1.Only three measly red tomatoes?  There are piles of green ones, very few ready to eat. So delicious when they are ripe!

2. Something ate ALL the cucumbers I saw sprouting earlier this week. There were three or four tiny ones, not even a random bud left on the most prolific vine.  Argh!  I have one chopped up inside now, but it will be awhile before any more are ripe.

3. I pulled up some tomato plants growing over the side of the raised box to pull an almost ripe on hiding under the bite-sized ones to see two holes dug under the box.  The chipmunks have most likely invaded again–wonder who is eating those cukes, hmmm?

4. Were there finally concord grapes growing on the exploding vines?  As I gently, moved aside some of the huge leaves, a pain extended up my leg.  Far worse than a mosquito, I glanced down to see a bee on my shin.  I pushed it off as I started running inside in search of Benadryl and ice, allergic to bee stings.

Once inside, I decided it far safer to drink some fermented grapes than return to the garden.  Not the exploration was hoping for.  C

The First Frost

So sad, decimating the gardens after two mornings of hard frost.  In early October, no less.  Basil, so fragrant in pesto last week, now rubbery black leaves, the tomato vines collapsed and shriveled with a few lingering green ones oozing seeds, the cucumbers withered in the dirt, peppers wilting. I yanked everything but a couple herbs from the dirt yesterday, leaving blank black boxes yawning for next year’s growth.  This is when I know winter is truly coming.  So sad to have the frost so early this year, since last year we got tomatoes into November.

Then I moved on to the flower beds, clippers flying, as I cut back my summer beauties, petals gone, stems drooping.  The annuals pulled from roots out–marigolds and yellow beauties and zinnias and dahlias.  Many of the perennials now down to the earth–coneflowers, daisies, white asters, bachelor buttons,  several varieties of black-eyed Susans, bee balm.  A few still remain–gorgeous plum asters, grasses changing color like the trees, mums, gilardia, more purple sedum.  The trellises put away, the hoses rolled, bee houses  replaced with pumpkins and gourds to supply a little lingering color.

Alas, there will be more to cut and bag as November approaches, sweating in the late autumn days, as we lament the end of summer, the floral and vegetable garden.  But we will start planning for next’s years garden in the winter months, waiting for the frown ground to thaw.  C