Omaha bound for the cure…

I-80_in_western_Iowa.jpgA quick post today as we’re busily packing for our annual October trip out to Omaha to visit Carolyn’s niece and family.

We’ll be hitting the road by 6:30 tomorrow morning for the  420 mile drive. Enroute, we’re planning to meet up for lunch near Iowa City (just off I-80) with Dennis, one of my first students in my first class when I began my teaching career way back in the fall of ’73 in a tiny place called Mulberry Grove, Illinois, fifty miles east of St. Louis. Dennis now lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it will be good to see him once again.

Dennis was from a family of Holstein dairy farmers, and they (the family not the Holsteins) became good friends with Carolyn and me, taking us under their wing since we were total strangers to the area. We managed to stay in touch through the years, even after I moved on to another teaching position in the Chicago suburbs. Dennis’s mom and dad have since passed away, but the good memories remain.

We haven’t seen Dennis in several years, so it will be good to spend a lunch time with him, catching up on things and doing what we’ve always done best: reminisce and laugh at those times past. After a time that will pass much too quickly, Carolyn and I will bid Dennis farewell and get back on the road and continue on to Omaha.

This time of the year is always a special time for our annual visit there because it’s when images.jpegwe join her niece, Kim, and various other family members and friends on Sunday morning to walk in the Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer.

I don’t know how many consecutive years this has been an October “staple” for Carolyn and me, but it goes without saying that it will always be one.

Kim, herself a breast cancer survivor (twice!), is the daughter of my wife’s older sister, who was taken by the dreaded disease back in 1987. Obviously, it goes without saying that the annual event has great significance and importance for all of us. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy coffee and some other treats, and then it will be on with the rest of the day and week ahead: nephew’s baseball games, visiting their lake house, relaxing, reading, and simply enjoying the fine Nebraska atmosphere.

Yep, the week will fly right on by, and we’ll head back to northern Illinois on Thursday. As the miles click off, we’ll think about—and remember—those who lost out after their gallant battles against the evil foe that is cancer. And we’ll also celebrate those still battling and and winning and surviving!

God bless them all!images-1.jpeg

Autumn down many roads…


When last I wrote here, we had closed the cottage we’ve rented for several years on a lake in Michigan, sold our pontoon and watched it disappear from our lives on a trailer soon after I drove it onto same at the public launch site, and had busied ourselves with the lovely chore of finding places here at home for any “leftover” lake things that we didn’t wish to part with. Glad to report that all of that is finished!

And it was still pretty much summer, with temperatures riding most days in the mid- to high 80s, our air conditioning getting in an extended workout for several days thereafter.

But, as always happens, the calendar rolled around to September 22—the  first day of autumn, (and, by the way, our older grandson’s birthday). The changes—slight as they were—began to appear, showing signs of the new season.


Trees sported various hues of rust and gold. Fields of tall green corn became khaki-clad acres, and the thick bean field (a vibrant green all summer) out beyond our house, now a brown rug. Both patiently await the harvest that is sure to come—soon. And by then, autumn will be full-blown into the most wonderful season that it is!


Pumpkins and apples and doughnuts and cider and corn mazes at the many farms and orchards and roadside stands so plentiful out here away from the big city, will allure folks from near and far during these next wonderful weeks ahead. On those splendid sun-drenched days, with clear blue skies and an air that requires a nice sweatshirt, everyone will feel alive and happy that autumn has arrived.

It’s a time, too, whenever I have to drive someplace, that I insist on avoiding major highways and any other well-traveled roads. I’ve learned that there are more ways to get to a place, even though it might take a bit longer!

The venerable homesteads and farms in this part of Illinois, glorious in their appearance, surrounded by expansive and seemingly endless fields of corn and beans, provide a magnificent spectacle and panorama as I roll by along the sun-dappled country road. This


experience always conjures up thoughts and imaginings about who might have travelled these very roads down through the years, long before my time. What stories they could impart!

Back home, I grab a juicy honey crisp apple and settle into my favorite chair on the deck, enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine, feeling the chill of the coming evening ever so slightly as I take one more look out over the scene that has so quickly been transformed into the glory of autumn.



All done “up there”…

I’ve been away, but I’m back now, all finished at the cottage on the lake in Michigan.

Yep, I’ve managed to “power through” all of the business at hand over the past several weeks and  am settling in once again here at home in northern Illinois.

Back home on the deck, under the stormy skies over northern Illinois farmland.

One week ago, our pontoon was hauled out of the water by some friends who are purchasing her and trailored a couple hundred miles back to a lake here in the western part of Illinois—not too far from our home, by the way. The old girl will be missed, but knowing she’s going to a good place, with good folks to enjoy her, eases the oft-muddled mind of this writer!

We spent the next day finishing up closing out the cottage and filling both of our cars with final loads. There are so many memories we gathered in that place “up there” that it was very hard to pinpoint which one stood out as the greatest or favorite over the several summers we called the place home.

Yes, we have decided to get out of the summer cottage/lake rental game and to pursue other endeavors. An Alaska cruise next August awaits, as does a trip to New Orleans and Florida in late February. And being right here at home more frequently is mighty appealing, too!


this morning, when I finally decided that I’d been away from this blog (and other writing tasks) far too long, I took a deep breath and relished the feeling once more of plopping myself into my comfy desk chair, in front of my MacBook, and knocking the cobwebs off of Scrivener and gleefully letting the fingers do their thing, wandering over the keys to make the words to send along to any reader who’s still along with me. (Now that’s a sentence!)

So a chapter of my life closes and I’m eagerly anticipating what the next one will be about. I’ll look back—from time to time—and recall so many of those wonderful moments and memories made “up there,” and I’ll probably be hit with a touch of melancholy, but I will have moved along into that next chapter that is beginning right now.

Bring it on!
At rest for one last day and night on Magician Lake.


Where’s my phone…?

1b.jpgEver have that sinking feeling when you realize that something is really lost? Well, it’s been a while since I have experienced it, but last week provided the opportunity once again to “enjoy” it all over again.

Yeah, I’ve misplaced things and retraced my steps and eventually caught up to the missing item, but last week’s little episode didn’t go quite that way.

Am I really becoming more forgetful?

Not sure, but I really think it’s my mind beginning to go kaplowy at an ever-increasing degree of speed. At any rate, I certainly don’t want to turn in to the absent-minded goof who’s always in search of lost things! On that, though, time will tell.

What happened, you ask?

While preparing for my drive back up to Michigan, I was scurrying about getting the car packed and trying to do several things at the same time as I’m wont to do (and usually with grim results). As always, I had my iPhone with me so I wouldn’t miss any crucial incoming communiques or other cutting-edge whimsy from Facebook friends.

At the same time, I was running back and forth between the garage and the laundry room finishing up some last-minute “lake” laundry and things I’d need for the upcoming NASCAR Race Weekend over at Michigan International Speedway with my son, who would be driving to the cottage after work the next day.

After a time, I had the laundry completed and the Equinox pretty well loaded. Everything was finally in its place in the “way-back,”  and I decided to take a break and plop down in my garage chair next to the open hatch of the car and sip a beverage and enjoy my wonderful packing accomplishment. After a quick check of my phone, I set it down on the flat rear bumper of my trusty car.

Finishing my “break,” I realized that I still had to make a trip to the store for the items to take to Michigan, and I lost myself in making a list and shortly closed the hatchback and got in and drove off to the store a few miles away.

And perhaps you’re beginning to realize what happened in the next couple of hours. Yes, I got to the store and back and was pretty well set for the next morning’s journey to the lake. I decided I’d better call my son to let him know I’d meet him up there when he arrived late in the evening and we’d go to dinner.

Where’s my phone?

And so the frantic scramble to locate my phone began. At first, I thought it was in the car, having slid from the console where I keep it when out and about. No dice.

A quick search of the shelves in the garage where I sometimes place it when I’m out there also offered no solution. And, of course, there was the searching of parts of the house where I hadn’t even been all day, but it could have somehow gotten put there by some strange power! Still no luck.

Those who have ever misplaced something know how the millions of crazy thoughts begin spiraling through the old noggin the longer the search draws on.

At this point, I quickly got back in the car and beat a hasty retreat to the store and checked with the customer service folks. Nothing. I even made a trip to a local farm stand where I’d been earlier in the morning…just in case. Nope.

Driving back home, I wondered what I was going to do next. I was out of places to check. So back home, I repeated my earlier searches and then fired up the MacBook and sent a couple of messages to my son and wife, who was gone for the day, asking them to call my phone. That’s usually the sure-fire method of locating our phones when we’ve misplaced them—that is, if they’re within hearing distance!

I waited for the familiar tone to signal that all was well and the little devil was only playing hide ’n seek with me.


More silence.

And at this juncture I realized that this wasn’t just a misplaced, out-of-sight cell phone!

With nothing else to do at the moment, and helpless without any other phone in the house (no land line here), I sat back at my computer and sent out another desperate text to my son to update him. Fortunately, he was home from work by this time and had been trying time after time to call my number. He said that it had rung and gone to the usual voice mail message. The thing was obviously “out there” somewhere!

Not long after his latest message, I sat back and thought about having to replace the thing at an expense I wasn’t eager to entail. And then another message from my son popped on my screen: “i found your phone. Some lady answered and found it on the side of the road. Is there any way you can call it? I have an address where she lives.”

Holy smokes! I couldn’t believe it. Was this luck or what! I fired off a quick text to him telling him to call her back because there was no way for me to call her, and that I’d be at her address very shortly.

I think I was out the door before the message crossed the ether and was on my way to a rural address about three or four miles from us. Since we live out in a small town in the country, most addresses are rural, but I was familiar with her location, not too far from the route I drive to the store. images.jpeg

I was there within fifteen minutes and found the house. A very pleasant lady met me when I stepped from the car, and she was waving a familiar black iPhone in my direction. “Is this yours?” she asked, smiling as she noticed the relieved look I was displaying.

It was indeed mine, and, amazingly, it was in perfect condition. How in the heck it ended in this lady’s possession was my next question. She said that a short time ago she had been driving along one of the nearby roads—one that I had driven earlier that day on the way to and from the store—and had spotted the phone lying along the edge.

And then it all became clear: I had left the phone on the rear bumper where I’d placed it during my little break in the garage earlier!

Her keen awareness of spotting it saved me lots of inconveniences and expense. One cannot thank someone enough for their honesty and kindness in something like this.

I told her my name and phone number and asked her for hers and that if she ever needed anything to give me a call. I also asked if she needed anything for her good deed. Smiling, she just shook her head, indicating that nothing was expected.

I appreciated that, but I do have a note with a “thank you” gift enclosed that I’ll be delivering on my way out of town in a while.

This time, however, I’ll make sure my phone isn’t riding along on the rear bumper! Unknown.jpeg


A “genuine” kind of guy!

Unknown.jpegOne of the first things I usually do after waking up, rolling out of bed, and making the morning coffee is to check my e-mail. Most often, I don’t find more than one or two messages that have “come in” during the wee hours sitting in my “In” box.

Every now and then, however, I’m greeted with some note that piques my interest and gets my sleepy brain active.

Just such an item was awaiting me earlier this week, and it was one that not only piqued my interest and perked my brain up, but informed me of something I was never aware of—that I’m a genuine person!

Believe it or not, the writer of this message, sounding almost desperate, stated his/her need of my previously unrealized genuineness! I had to read the thing through more than a few times to make complete sense out of it—what exactly he/she was getting at.

I never really could put the whole thing together, other than I can use my talents to do something for the “less privileged.” That’s a pretty worthwhile and decent thing to do, I would think.

Despite its nebulous and vague content, the message has left me thrilled to be considered  genuine, and one who can be called in, a la Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes, to help solve some dilemma or problem.

And the best part of all of this? The sender requests only my genuineness!

And so, at this writing, I haven’t acted upon this rather strange request. Perhaps I’m too busy prancing about, gloating over my new-found image of being a genuine guy.

Because I’m so genuine, I’ll share the e-mail message with you, dear readers, and ask what you would do. In the meantime, I wish you all the best for a wonderful day in your images.jpegendeavors in being genuine, too!



“I am in need of your genuineness in utilising my resources for the less privileged. email back so i could provide you with more details of my intentions. Katy. Ed (Mrs)

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail communication and any attachments may contain proprietary and privileged information for the use of the designated recipients named above. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.” (E-mail received from August 18, 2016)

Morning thoughts from JollyYet…

Oh, what a beautiful morning…

100_4645.jpgWriting this from the cottage (JollyYet) porch this morning, I’m visited by my friends the hummingbirds, who can’t decide which of the two feeders to patronize, and so keep zooming back and forth betwixt the two. IMG_1812.jpg

Off to my right, about thirty feet away, are the two “regular” bird feeders (which are going to need refilling today), where a hungry rose-breasted grosbeak picks and pecks away at the remaining grains and seeds. A couple of hopeful chipmunks are on point below, awaiting the sloppy habits of the birds above, knowing that they’ll be IMG_1797.jpgrewarded soon.

The lake, for a mid-week Wednesday morning, is unusually noisy and busy. Already a fast ski boat has passed by below, a talented skier in tow shouting instructions over the din of the motor. Another large and loud one slowly made its way into my atmosphere a short while ago, blasting some equally loud and annoying hip-hop/rap “tune” through its massive speakers mounted on the overhead tow bar. Please…

But, nothing is forever. Like the boats and skiers and noise that show up but eventually go away, so is our summer life at this wonderful, old resort tucked away under the giant oaks and maples and dogwoods.

On such a morning as this (and there have been quite a few this summer), I realize how much this place has meant to me the seventeen summers we’ve been coming up here. And I’m finally realizing that there are but a few weeks remaining in our role as summer “lakers.”

As I wrote in an earlier post, this is to be our last summer taking a cottage. We began discussing this about a year ago and agreed that we’d do it one more summer, especially since Carolyn would be retired from a long career in the hair dressing business and could spend more time here during the summer weeks. And now those weeks are winding down to when we have to close up and be out of here: September 17. Our reasons for giving it up are many, and I will share those in a future post very soon.

We’re having some company over the Labor Day weekend, which is always a very busy time here, and it should be lots of fun, although we’ll be pulling the pier out then (for the last time!) and we’ll be seriously getting things packed up and taken home or into the dumpster. We’re hoping that whoever will be occupying this place after us would like to have the various futons and other items we are happy to leave here for them. We shall see.

IMG_1201.jpgAnd so, the morning edges along with wonderful breezes and pleasant temperatures. I am here until early Saturday morning, when I’m heading home for a few days to attend our grandson’s first football game and, of course, take care of mowing, etc.

Carolyn left for home yesterday, allowing me to be here by myself to work on my writing for the remainder of the week. And that’s how I’ll be spending the rest of my morning here on the porch of JollyYet, my fine, feathered friends close by, and the waters calm and quiet out in front once more.

Lucky me!


Catching the magic at the Field of Dreams…again!

For the last two summers right about this same time, we have done something specialIMG_3669.jpg with our two grandsons, kind of a last-of-summer vacation thing.

Last year it was a day trip over to Dearborn, Michigan, to visit the Henry Ford Museum and adjoining Greenfield Village. The four of us enjoyed every minute of that day, and we still often mention that we’d like to return and see all the other things that we didn’t have time to get to. And I’m sure that we will do so sometime down the road.

This year, since we’re both home from the cottage for a few days, we thought it would be neat to take the three-hour drive over to Dyersville, Iowa, home of the Field of Dreams–the farm where the movie was filmed in 1988.

Playing catch with the grandsons as I did with their dad years ago.

What would make this trip all the more special is that we had taken the boys’ dad—our son—there back in the early 90s when he wasn’t much older than they are now. Playing catch on that magical field with my son all those years ago was, indeed, special, and to do the same with my grandsons seemed like a pretty good thing to do!

As always, we had kept an eye on the weather forecast because it would be rather pointless to set off all that way if rain was imminent. But fortune smiled on us and the day dawned overcast, promising to be in the high 80s by afternoon. Leaving by 7:30 would allow us to reach the place out in the Iowa cornfields by late morning, before the heat became too stifling.

And so, with the wheelie cooler chock full of bottles of water and snacks, we hit the road and enjoyed the countryside, with the flatness of home giving way to the rolling terrain of northwest Illinois, our journey taking us over US-20 past Rockford, Freeport, Stockton, Galena, and over the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa. Dyersville and the Field of Dreams is just a short drive onward from there, and we had no trouble locating the charming place once more, even after so many years.

Jackson and Matthew spent most of the trip there watching the movie on a laptop. For Jackson it was the first time he’d seen it, and we all agreed that it was a good thing he had so the site would mean more to him.

If you build it, he will come…

Of course, I’ve seen the movie countless times over the years, and never fail to get caught up in the story and its homage to baseball and the role it plays in so many lives, generation after generation. I would think that even non-baseball fans would find something intriguing in the tale that starred Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones.

IMG_3693The movie was based on the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Interestingly, I read this book for the first time this summer, and knowing we were going to be visiting the movie site, I wanted to compare the original story with the film’s treatment of it.

To say that it had many diversions and changes would be a vast understatement. Although I usually prefer the original work, in this case I tend to lean toward the Hollywood version—grudgingly, of course! Not sure about some of the “additional” characters the author included in the original, and I think the story worked fine without most of them. But that’s merely my opinion, mind you.

Go the distance…

“Lefty” Jackson hurls a strike from the Field of Dreams mound.

The hour or so we were there, playing catch, batting with other kids and adults there for perhaps the same reasons, was just enough and well timed. After a brief snack break on a picnic table under some beautiful tall pines near the old farmhouse, the heat had begun to rise, the boys were sweaty and dusty, and Carolyn and I were hot and ready to get back into the air-conditioned comfort of the Equinox.

“Slugger” Matthew knocks one to center!

A quick visit to the gift shack to check things out, and then we were ready to pull out of the place and begin our trip back home to Illinois. And, of course, it was about that time when we were all ready for some lunch. Our plan was to stop for a nice sit-down meal (no drive-thru, fast-food adventures this trip!) and enjoy the cool atmosphere and some good food somewhere around Galena.

As it turned out, we continued through the Galena area and on to the small town of Stockton about an hour away. To our delight, right there on our route in the small town was an attractive log building named JJ & Freddie’s. The service was friendly and attentive, the food was good,

Matthew and Grandma relaxing in the cool comfort of the restaurant on our way home.

the draft beer I enjoyed was quite refreshing, and the air conditioning was superb! Each of us was fully contented at this point.

Re-fueled and refreshed now, we were back on the road to home and I even managed a nice nap as Carolyn got us home in good shape around 4:30. The hot afternoon couldn’t diminish the wonderful morning’s fun and smiles we’d all shared on our little trek over to the magical Field of Dreams.

About to enter the corn after a good workout on the Field of Dreams.