Friday, February 25, 2011


Last evening was a blast! What a way to end a week full of breakfast, lunch, poker night, and dinners with special friends.

We attended a performance of Spamalot at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. It is hilarious and especially suited to Rich's taste since he is a huge fan of all the Monty Python movies. There are lots of laughs, even for a non-Monty Python fan like me, and the cast was phenomenal. I'm posting the description below but offer my caveat that the lines would not be everyone's cup 'o tea!

Spamalot is "A musical comedy "lovingly ripped off from" the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy is a highly irreverent parody which tells the legendary tale of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail. SPAMALOT features a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, and even killer rabbits. Theatre fans will appreciate this farce as there are many references to other musicals and musical theater in general, such as the spoof of Andrew Lloyd Webber productions and many other Broadway power ballads."

By the time we got to the theatre, I had already talked and laughed so much that my throat hurt. There were eight of us and we had stopped for dinner at 'a restaurant that shall remain nameless' on the way to the theatre. Our waiter had apparently been a star student at some speed-speaking course and we could barely understand anything he said.

Then, bringing our drinks, the waiter had five large full tumblers, three stemmed wine glasses, and a bottle of wine on one tray. He was not talented enough to balance such an odd assortment of shapes and weights, the tray tipped, and Larry was drenched in diet colas. No apology from the waiter who simply muttered that he got off balance. Deciding that he would not enjoy the theatre in dripping wet clothes, he left to go back home and change. No, this was not the funny part.

We all ordered dinner; while everyone was talking and laughing, Carla knocked her nearly full drink over! By now we're all laughing uproariously as Rich quietly takes a seat at a nearby booth. The laughs continued as our waiter barked "To your left!" or "To the right!" as he placed dishes on the table and whenever he removed empty ones...weird dude.

By the time Larry returned, it was too late for him to eat. Another employee, who stated upfront that he had no authority, came to our table and said that the manager would be in tomorrow so Larry should call and ask that the dry cleaning bill for his clothes be paid. And then Larry and Carla were presented WITH A CHECK FOR THEIR DRINKS AND HER DINNER!!! A couple of us suggested that they should not receive a bill but were told that no one had the authority to do that. There was never an apology or acknowledgement of the inconvenience or comment of any kind to ameliorate the situation. UNBELIEVABLE!

Make no mistake about it, we had a terrific, fun time! But clearly the evening was 'dampened' for Larry...a little punny humor there!!!

Lovin' Life ~~ Lovin' the Laughs

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Holy Cow!

Most Chicagoans and all Cubs' fans think of the late Harry Caray, the beloved baseball broadcaster, when they hear the words "Holy Cow." Last evening I had the pleasure of dining with my COD BFF at one of the restaurants bearing his name, Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse.

You may recall my fond memories of the 1999 Chicago Cows on Parade exhibition. This past November, when Rich and I took a carriage ride in the city, I posted a photo of the original Ladybug Cow we saw that day. Just outside the entrance of the Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse in Lombard, stands the Holy Cow which was consigned for that exhibition.

Occasionally stumbling across one of the remaining Cows, in their current installation, is one of many little gifts of life. And to find one on such a fun, delicious, special evening out while connecting with a long-time friend is a mega bonus!

Lovin' Life ~~ Noticing the Little Gifts

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Social Butterfly!

This is a most unusual week for me. Yesterday I had lunch with four of my friends from the college where I worked until retirement. Three of them retired two months after I and the fourth just left there a couple of months ago. I had not seen any of them since the day I left.

It was so much fun and so great to catch up with them. You who follow me here know that I LOVE RETIREMENT and have not missed work for even a minute. I do, however, miss being able to just walk down the hall and chat with these fabulous women.

This morning my next-door BFF and I went out for breakfast and relaxed and talked and laughed until after 11:00! Neither of us could believe the time when we got back in the car to come home.

Tomorrow and Thursday...more outings with friends! What a lucky girl I am!!!

Lovin' Life ~~ Having Time to Visit With Friends

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quite a Scene...

...a murder scene perhaps? But no one was hurt; no crime was committed.

Look closely and notice Bella's pink feet; look very closely and notice Bella's pink beard.
Rich carried a red pen in his pocket yesterday...the kind with a clear barrel that is filled with liquid red ink. After we had settled in to watch a movie last evening, Rich heard something amiss. Investigating the sound, he discovered shocking sights. Areas of the family room looked like a bloody crime scene. On the rug just inside the patio door, small pieces of debris lay in pools of red. A section of the large area rug in front of the TV had big damp spots of red. There was red on the throw that covers the couch and wet red paw prints everywhere on the tile (thank goodness) floor. Solving this 'crime' didn't require the services of a CSI lab; the evidence was clearly incriminating. Bella's paws and beard were nearly dripping red. She had somehow gotten that red pen and chewed it to pieces.

Isn't she adorable? Our little perpetrator...aaawww

These photos were taken this morning. I should have taken some last night but in the dim light and with our dark rugs and floors no photos would have truly captured the scene. Honestly, you cannot imagine the bloody looking mess we had. Rich used piles of paper towels to soak the blood from her paws, her beard, and from the large area rug...piles of paper towels that were saturated with bright red. The rug in front of the door cannot be saved. The tile was easily wiped clean, which is why we tiled our entire house a few years ago. I could never have imagined that so little ink could be spread so far.

I wonder if Dora was jealous of all the attention Bella got. I held Bella for a long time while Rich soaked up red stuff everywhere and while we hoped it would dry on her fur to avoid more tracking.

Rich had not yet noticed it missing, but that pen had apparently fallen out of his pocket. Luckily, the ink wasn't toxic; she is absolutely fine. Here, they were both waiting for treats from Rich this morning. Thursday is spa day for them so most of her pink fur will be cut off; see how shaggy they are right now?
Lovin' Life ~~ Even When It's Messy

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The RV Show

It is dreary and cold and has rained all day and will rain all night and has been mostly gray for days...give me snow any day over this.

Friday we went to the Chicago RV Show in Rosemont. Some good news: lots of vendors and lots of attendees...lots more than there were two years ago when we were last there. My main interest was in finding RV parks within a day's drive from home for some shorter getaways and there were many campgrounds represented this year.

I love looking at new motorhomes and kidded Rich for days beforehand about finding one with even more enhancements than the one we bought last August. And there were...enhancements that is. Some had HUGE French Door Refrigerators with bottom freezers...drool. Some had eliminated the gas oven which adds a kitchen cabinet...always useful. With a combination microwave/convection oven, I really don't need an oven. Some have vinyl or tile flooring throughout the living area...we'll surely replace our carpet at some point. But none had all of those things in one RV. So, the great news was that we did not see even one, not even a really expensive one, that we would trade our cozy motorhome for!

I had to pull up this collage to remind myself what our looks like. Rich spends a lot of time over there redesigning and replacing systems to meet his exacting standards or running it to keep things charged (??? I don't know the right words), but I rarely go with him.

We are counting down the days until we leave on our next trip...18...and we both have long lists of tasks to accomplish by then...SO EXCITING!!! As much as I have enjoyed being home this winter and have loved all the snow we had, it's time to move on for a while...the road is calling.

Lovin' Life ~~ Ready to Meander

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snow Melt Ponds

I've been working on a photo project that has consumed nearly all of my time this week. Hint, hint...wonder if our grands can guess what it is!!!

Earlier today looking out across the fairway, I noticed a new 'pond' where none has been before. No doubt there are innumerable new 'ponds' throughout our part of the country where low areas are filling with melted snow.

Flocks of mallards and geese populated this particular little pond. The mallards stayed, but as I watched and clicked, the geese gathered themselves and took to the air. Aren't they magnificent?

Watching them brightened up this gray day for me!

Lovin' Life ~~ Finding Bright Spots

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Special Valentine's Day Dinner

A square beef patty with five holes, steam grilled on a bed of finely shredded onions, served on a bun and called a "slider". Do you know what I'm talkin' about? A White Castle burger! Selling for five cents in 1921 when the first White Castle opened, an Original Slider now sells for sixty three cents at our local White Castle. Since 1991, their Valentine's Day promotion is by reservation only and includes tablecloths, flowers, menus, candles, decorations, and servers.

This year, for the first time, Rich and I enjoyed a lovely Valentine's Day dinner at White Castle. With the fluorescent ceiling lights lined with red tissue paper, the guests and setting were cloaked in a warm rosy light.

What more could one ask? Reasonably priced, great tasting food served in a uniquely themed setting created the perfect ambiance for our Valentine's Day celebration. We hope to return every year on this special evening.
Lovin' Life ~~ And Unique Celebrations

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

With lots of love to all of you who follow us through this splendid life of ours!

Lovin' Life ~~ And Days of Love

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When the Red Red Robin...

...Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along

Can it be? After the Great Blizzard of 2011, thunder snow, snowfall measured in feet, and sub-freezing temps this winter, could spring be coming early?

While folding laundry this afternoon, I glanced out the window to see FIVE robins perched on the branches of our neighbor's River Birch tree. By the time I got the camera ready, most had flown away. Over the next fifteen or twenty minutes, they would come and go though; there were quite a few of them.

Here's a taste of spring, from me to you.

When a robin cocks his head
Sideways in a flower bed,
Does he hear the tiny sound
Of a worm beneath the ground?
~~ Anonymous


And, one in flight...
Whatever the weather brings next, today's temps were near 50, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was all so very pleasant!                        
 Lovin' Life ~~ Signs of Spring!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flat Stanley ~ Snow Sports

It's all Dorothy's fault!

After reading on my blog that Flat Stanley is visiting, my BFF Dorothy e-mailed me and suggested that we take him sledding or skiing since we have all this snow in our 'neck of the woods'.

Knowing that Shelby will love this, especially since they all went skiing and sledding over New Years, we decided to "take Flat Stanley skiing"! We quickly discovered that his stance and abilities are better suited for snowboarding than for skis so Grandpa got him a bright orange snowboard. He had a blast as you can see here...

Snowboarding can be tricky, but even an Arizona kid can ride a sled without any lessons or experience. Check this out!

Just wait until I show you where Flat Stanley went today! He has to get back home soon so we've been making sure he's having a memorable time here.
Lovin' Life ~~ And Silly Days

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blinded By The White!

For years we have collected magnets as souvenirs. This is the only "collection" that we continue to expand. They are small, relatively inexpensive, and come in so very many unique designs. Often, we will choose a pin or patch or decal that offers the best reminder of a place and then Rich will make it into a magnet. Over time, as you might imagine from our many travels, we have amassed quite a collection and the vast majority of them resided on our refrigerator.

This week, we decided that the magnet collection had overwhelmed our entire little kitchen. After considering a couple of ideas we opted for two large magnetic white boards hung on the wall in Rich's workout room in the basement. (Don't you just love the paint color he selected for that room? I sure do! You may notice that it's nearly the same color as the one I selected for this blog background...but, I digress...)
Back to souvenir magnets...  Can you imagine? With these covering every inch of it, we could hardly tell what color our refrigerator was anymore!!!

But now, every time I turn around from the counter or sink and experience the shock of this bright white expanse, I'm nearly blinded!
Obviously, not everything was relegated to the basement display though. Would you like to see what made the cut?

Our grandkids as infants, of course; the G for Grandpa that Shelby gave him for his birthday last October; a decal saying "I've Been EVERYWHERE" that we picked up in Spokane, WA on the trip in June 1998 when I completed my quest to visit all 50 States; and a photo of the kids and me at Chicago's Lego Land this past summer.

Our grandkids again, of course, in these darling flower framed photos that were taken several years ago; a pair of American flags that came on decorated brownies; a photo of Rich, Greg, the grands, and me taken at Chicago's Navy Pier in July 2006; a Kindergarten project with a handprint blowing a kiss for Grandparent's Day that Shelby gave us; a favorite photo of Sandee pulling Jackson & Dylan on a sled across our golf course taken in January 2003; a photo I took in our bedroom a year ago of the JOY pillow and rose; and, naturally, a Colorado magnet with a Columbine painted on it.

To your great relief ~ and I understand completely ~ I am not going to describe each and every one of the magnets that have been moved. I could, however, since each represents a tale that Rich and I could tell. I have decided to post these closeups though so that you too can enjoy this special collection of memories.

Lovin' Life ~~ Collecting Memories

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We Have a Visitor...

He arrived on Monday and we are so excited that he will be here for a week! Let me introduce you to...
Flat Stanley!
Shelby's class recently read the Flat Stanley book and she chose us for him to visit...what an honor! We have thoroughly enjoyed visits from Flat Stanleys a couple of times before. I was happy to see that he wore a heavy sweater, long pants, and shoes because it is VERY cold here and he traveled from Arizona where the winter weather is so much warmer.

Last evening I hosted my Hand 'N Foot card of my bestest friends here in our neighborhood. Since it's nearly Valentine's Day, I scattered little Disney Princess Valentine cards on the snack table.

But not until Flat Stanley got to meet and visit with all of the beautiful 'Flat' Princesses...
This may well be the highlight of his trip!

Lovin' Life ~~ Havin' Fun With It

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bella!

Yes, we remembered that today is Bella's 7th birthday. I will confess though, if Shelby had not been looking at my last several blog entries while we were on the phone last night...well, I just don't know. When she got to the one about us forgetting Dora's birthday, she just couldn't imagine how that could happen! That's when it clicked that today is Feb 8th...Bella's birthday.

And here she is, earlier today, wearing her tiara from their joint "Seven Years +/- One Week" party last Tuesday.

After their normal kibble breakfast this morning, Rich is offering them a special birthday egg breakfast! Dora does not like to sit, but just look at how patiently Bella is waiting for that favorite treat...

The following two photos were taken the same day as the ones of Dora that were posted nearly two weeks ago. This was April 28, 2004, just a couple weeks after we brought them home to live with us.

The photo on the right is the other half of the one where Dora was still afraid to go down the steps on the deck. This one shows Bella taunting her, challenging her to come on down and play already! They have had a couple of those "conversations" today, as usual.

Lovin' Life ~~ With Our Girls

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow ~ Winter's Gift To Me

While many, if not most, folks who live in this area are wondering why they live in this cold, white, wintry area of the country, I am counting this winter as a gift from nature. I love snow; I have always loved snow.

When my kids were little, a window in our living room looked out at our driveway. A favorite memory from those dark, snowy winter evenings is of glancing up from time to time to see their beautiful little faces, bathed in the glow from the lamp beside the chair they were kneeling on, looking out as I shoveled the snow from our driveway.

When we lived in southern California, I really missed the seasons. Luckily, we skied which meant that we would drive up into the mountains to enjoy the snow. After moving back to Illinois, it was difficult to fully appreciate the beauty of the snow from my desk in the office where I worked and it was always dark by the time I left there.

All that to say, I had wished that this would be a very snowy winter since I'm now retired and home to enjoy this wintry landscape every day...and that wish has certainly come true!

It snowed a bit overnight and through the early morning. It's warm though, in the low thirties, so we just got back from taking the girls for a walk down our street. They were so excited! On the way back, Rich walked them through the mounds of snow on the sidewalks. And here they are...

Just look at all the snow caked on their took a lot of toweling to get them dried off because those clumps of snow had turned to ice when we got inside.

And now...for your viewing is a short movie of Rich with Dora & Bella leaping through the deep snow. He is such a great dog dad; The Girls were so excited and energetic out there that it was obvious they were loving this.

Lovin' Life ~~ And This Snowy Winter

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chicago Blizzard Photos ~ Again

The Chicago Blizzard of February 2011, yeah, yeah, yeah. When all was said and done, its 20.2 inches has been labeled the third biggest snowfall in Chicago history with January 1967's 23 inches and January 1999's 21.6 inches taking first and second. Perhaps y'all have heard enough about it but I'm not quite finished sharing photos with you.

The first three were taken of our back yard Wednesday night. I thought the light interestingly illuminated the shapes of the drifts. In the center photo you can clearly see the area where the wind flattened the snow between our deck and the first of the undulating drifts. In that same photo, all that remains of Rich's attempt to walk across the golf course are those two indents where he first stepped into the drift. The winds that had continued throughout the day had completely filled in the spot where he stood.

Thursday morning, like around 8 a.m. or some other ungodly early hour, I took this next photo trying to capture the sparkles on the snow when the temps are several degrees below zero, which they were then. Many years ago, before we were married, I picked Rich up at the St. Louis airport after his red-eye flight landed and we drove to Jacksonville just after sunrise on a snowy sub zero morning. All the fields we passed, for all those miles, sparkled like millions of diamonds had been scattered across. I'll never forget that splendid sight! I took lots of photos yesterday morning trying to capture those sparkling pinpoints of light but this is the best I could get.  
The sun and shadows yesterday morning made for other beautiful sights too, like this view looking across our neighbor's back yard.

Early afternoon, when we were leaving for an appointment in a neighboring town, these were taken of Rich in our driveway and of our front yard completely filled with snow.

When you see the enormous hills of snow piled up by the plows, it becomes clear why this is such a problem for the city where there is simply no place to put this much snow. Here are views of plowed snow piled along our street and the street coming into our development...

By the time we returned home, a tunnel had been dug through the snow to clear our sidewalk up to the front door. Our niece has commented that her boys would have loved to play in all this snow so they will surely get a kick out of seeing just how deep it is in our front yard. My brothers used to dig igloos in mounds of snow that they shoveled out of our folks' driveway...I wish they and all of our little ones could be here to create such fun memories out of these snow mounds!
Lovin' Life ~~ And All This Snow!