Long time, no write! Another birthday and road trip plans…

Cheers! Celebrating turning another year older and wiser (?)

I realize it’s been a long time since I wrote and posted anything—April 25th to be exact—and I’m guilty of preferring early-morning reading over writing as of late. I know that doesn’t help with finishing the Work-in-Progress, but there just hasn’t been that drive or sense of urgency to regain that much-needed discipline. Be that as it may, I have been busy with other things as well.

We’ve been piling up the miles since spring, with trips to Omaha, Nebraska, Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and Canton, Ohio. In Wisconsin and Ohio we successfully indulged in genealogy research in libraries and historical societies and visited some obscure cemeteries to locate and say hello to some ancestors.

Plus, June is the month when I turn another year older on the 11th. Happy to say that I had a wonderful and relaxing time quietly “celebrating” that annual occurrence last weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Marblehead, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. My mom even had a cherry pie—my favorite! And it seemed altogether appropriate to spend my birthday with her. Happy to report that she’s doing quite well for an 88-year-old lady.

As for those highway miles, we’re just getting warmed up! In mid-September, we’re going to “head out on the highway” (Route 66, that is!) from home here in Illinois and drive to the other end of the Mother Road that is Santa Monica, California. We’re allowing over two weeks for the drive that has been on my “wish list” for a long, long time. The return trip will find us skirting up to Colorado for a few days and then on to Omaha once again for the annual Walk for the Cure cancer walk in early October.

But, before all of that, we’re going on an Alaska cruise in August. Flying from O’Hare, we’ll head to Vancouver for a two-day/night stay before boarding the MS Noordam that will take us through the Inside Passage, Ketchican, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and on to the Denali National Park via rail. Then we’ll fly back home from Anchorage. This will, no doubt, be a memorable adventure for the ages. As the summer begins to roll along, I’m getting thoroughly excited about what lies ahead.

To say the very least, I certainly won’t be stumped for things to write about as this summer and fall get going. My plan is to thoroughly enjoy every minute of our trips and capture as many wonderful memories as possible and to share as many as I possibly can. Perhaps there will even be further inspiration for getting back to serious writing to complete that obstinate Work-in-Progress!


Snow, cold, scuttled travel plans & hungry birds!

Three “visitors” during the snow storm

Hello out there. It’s 8 a.m., and we’ve already reached our high for the day at 12°F. What a wonderful day to stay inside! The coffee is good, the music gentle in my ear buds, and the house is warm and comfortable.

And to think that it was but a mere short time ago when everyone was gushing about how pleasant the temperatures still were and how green the lawns remained.

After our recent weekend’s blast of snow, however, those lawns are blanketed with white, the trees are bare, and winter has firmly entrenched itself.

But…it should.

After all, this is mid-December in northern Illinois, and once the winds and cold of winter decide that it’s time for them to pop in and stay, everything turns quickly and decisively. The birds make quick work of emptying the two feeders out back.

I watch them now as I write this, and they’re so much like anxious shoppers, crowding one IMG_1966.jpganother on the ground below the feeders or vying for a spot on the edge of the feeders above.

I wonder if they are required to take a number to determine who’s “next” to be served! It’s clear that one of my jobs later today will be to trudge out through the snow, bucket of seed in hand, and re-fill the feeders.

And, of course, this weather plays havoc on making any sort of travel plans. Last weekend, for example, we’d planned to drive to Ohio to attend the 90th birthday gathering for an aunt and then on up to Lake Erie to visit my mom.

When the snow began in earnest Saturday afternoon, however, all plans went by the boards. The current plan is to try it again this coming weekend, but there is some inkling of more weather “issues” that could crop up once more. We shall see.

In the meantime, I’ll catch up with some long overdue writing and keep the bird feeders filled.

How’s the weather in your part of the world?

Cold weather, many miles & a grandson celebration!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
The week just past…

It was another busy week trying to “fit” everything in that needed “fitting” in. Mowing,IMG_1748.jpg trimming, and spraying those nasty dandelions and continuing to get it all in shape was high on my list.

My opportunities for such tasks were very limited due to cold and rainy weather that had decided to settle in for most of the week, and I would be gone all of Thursday and Friday as well. Despite the cold, it was a dry Wednesday, allowing me to get it all done then.


We celebrated our younger grandson’s first Communion on Saturday morning and afterwards had a wonderful and relaxed get-together for lunch and fun back at his house.

The chill of the incessant rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the day, nor the tasty variety of burgers, brats, and hot dogs our son grilled for us. They went very nicely with the potato and macaroni salads.

It was a delightful touch of a summer picnic, even though we were dressed as though it were November!

In order for Great-Grandma Pat (my mom) to attend, I had to make another whirlwind trip to Port Clinton, Ohio (about six hours away), on Thursday to pick her up.

By 8 a.m. Eastern time Friday morning, she and I were on our way back from where I’d come the day before, arriving in Illinois that afternoon.

To say that I was a bit “road weary” would be a vast understatement, but we even managed to travel a ways out to watch a few innings of the grandsons’ baseball game that evening.

It was a cold and windy affair, but we were able to park in such a spot that Grandma could stay inside the warm car and catch most of the action before we agreed that it had been a long day and it was time to head to our house for sleep. No arguments from me on that!

And as I write this now, relaxed and comforted to know that we have nowhere we need to go of any great distance today, I look back on the week which hurried right on by and count my blessings for all of the good things I have.

I am proud of my grandsons and know that whatever lies ahead in their lives, they have some very good grounding to help get them through all that lies ahead.


And, yes, Grandma Pat and I will be making the drive back to her place in Ohio tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see that long highway once again!

Until next time…

That’s one good thing!

Photographs & Memories–a trip to Mom’s…

Ah, October! Seems as though I was just writing about an early autumn not so long ago, but it’s no longer early, and it’s officially autumn now—my favorite time of the year.

I had the pleasure of seeing autumn’s beauty on Sunday as I drove from our home in northern Illinois to Port Clinton, Ohio, to spend a couple of days with my 85-year-old mother.

Traveling along the Indiana and Ohio Turnpikes that were lined with the magnificent colors of the leaves of the oaks, maples, sumac, ash, and sycamores, I once again came to realize the true miracle that is nature in all of the faces of its changing seasons. Fall is really a spectacular face!

Downtown of Port Clinton, a port city and the ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I try to make the six-hour drive out to see my mom at least once every couple of months, as she lives alone and does very well for herself. But there are always little “jobs” she needs tended to, such as getting the storage containers of many of her fall and winter clothes down from her closet shelf. And I’ve become quite adept at hanging her bedroom curtain rod with freshly washed curtains! Helping her clean out and rearrange her outside storage closet, getting it ready for the chill of fall and the onslaught of winter, is a pretty regular duty as well.

This time, however, there was another task that we had talked about and avoided jumping into for a couple of years. In a recent phone conversation, Mom dropped not-so-subtle hints that she would actually enjoy having the long and awkward plastic container—stashed away under her bed—emptied and something done with its contents. Inside that container were picture frames of all shapes and sizes, with photos still inside each.

The container was cumbersome and impossible for Mom to lift, but I slid and prodded and nudged it out from under the bed, and we spent a good hour removing the photos from the frames and then placing the empty frames in a box that we’d take to the second-hand store the next day. That was merely the first step in dealing with the sorting and placing of her vast collection of family photos into large manila envelopes.

I suppose most families can boast of having photos that go way back to when we were kids—younger and skinnier—and even those of grandparents and great-grandparents that have somehow been passed down from generation to generation. Well, Mom’s collection, which has been stored in old envelopes and small containers forever, is no exception. It was my goal to get the collection organized and into those clearly labeled envelopes.

After a quick trip to the second-hand store on Monday morning where Mom’s box of frames was welcomed with smiles and open arms, we set about playing the sorting game. I would grab one of the full envelopes and spread the contents out on the little coffee table where Mom would identify the “main” person or family in each photo, and I would place each photo inside the new envelope with the updated label.

Of course, this procedure was time consuming, and I had to return home the next morning, but we did manage to work through several of the random envelopes, leaving the rest for her to work on during the weeks ahead. The empty container that had previously housed those annoying frames was now the perfect place for her new and improved photo envelopes! She could easily get to them when the spirit moved her, and they were no longer lying about willy-nilly. With the weather promising rain and cold down the road, it will be a good activity for her to work on at her leisure.

I kiddingly told her that I expect them to be all placed into the appropriate envelopes when I next return in mid-November. She assured me that they would be. I’m not so certain of that, but at least we’ve made that first step, and those old picture frames are no longer bugging her!

English: Road and Autumn Trees
English: Road and Autumn Trees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I drove back home, surrounded by fall’s beauty once more, I felt pretty good about the way our little project had gone ….CortlandWriter


Back to Kent State…

In a mere two weeks from this Thursday–May 3–I’ll be making my way back to the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. I’ll spend that day and evening with my mom and probably see my sister and brother-in-law before the night is over. It will be a good visit. I’ll bid them adieu the next morning and continue east in my venerable Ford Ranger to the small town of Kent, a place that holds so many memories for me. Of course, anyone old enough to recognize the name of Kent—and the university that resides there—probably can understand the significance of the date that I’ll be arriving: May 4.

May 4 and Kent State University will forever be joined in infamy as the time and place of a very tragic incident: the killing of four students and the wounding and maiming of many others by Ohio National Guardsmen on a beautiful and warm day in 1970. It was a very volatile time then, and whatever view one has about the reasons for why things happened as they did, does not seem to get any clearer as the years continue to put distance between then and now.

I’m returning this year to reunite with many fraternity brothers and share in many activities for three days. Of course, there will be many opportunities to revisit the campus and watch and listen to the commemorative services that will be the order of the day on May 4. I will reflect and remember exactly where I was on that sun-splashed afternoon so long ago. I will have trouble recognizing fraternity brothers—and they me—but it will all work out for the best. We’ll have some cold beer, revisit (or try to!) many old haunts in and around campus, and generally have a wonderful time of it. Then, Sunday will come and we’ll all say “so long” again and scatter to our various points of residence. Strange how this happens.

Next: My May 4 memories from being there when it happened.