Monday, June 29, 2020

Lavender Harvest & Garden Walk

I dreamed of lavender. 

...And a blue eyed, blond hair princess.
It happens every June, the Lavender harvest.  My little plot on the side of our house. It found a home it loves on the southern exposure.  We barely picked half this year.  Left much for the bees, and the babies that will be visiting soon to pick lavender for the very first time.

We picked and laughed and bumped heads. An embarrassment of riches.

We had a reservation to the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Penny and I were so happy to be back to this special place.  It was very well supervised, everyone had a time to enter and park.  We only saw one family that did not have on masks.  At 10:00 am it was 85 degrees.  Penny wore Grandpa's hat.

The gardens we saw were beautiful and well kept.  Not everything was open.
We were free to stay as long as we liked. 

Summer at the garden is always busy, and though the walk looks pretty empty, there were many many other visitors.  There was no taking off our masks for we were always passing others.

To see a Blue Spruce just as we started our walk was a good sign.  One of my favorite trees.

A walk through the rose garden.  One rose more spectacular than the next.

My beloved cupboard.
  One day when I can thrift safely I will find 
a smaller cupboard of my own.  
Penny loved it too.  A project for us to do together.

Grandpa's gate.  I will never see it without seeing him there. 
 The entrance of the English Walled Garden.  

 The flowers were amazing, beautiful and plentiful.

A budding photographer. 
 Have I mentioned what a pleasure she is to spend time with?  
She has the best ideas, and so much
 enthusiasm about EVERYTHING.  
When I am with her I find myself happier and find her amazing.

This bit of shade was most welcomed.  

We didn't spend much time, but enough that we saw and felt that though many things have changed, our place is still there for us.  We will go back, on a cooler day, Penny suggested. 

We like the familiar, and appreciate the many memories these gardens hold for us.

We went looking for the Bonsai,
but found this little guy.

Photo by Granddaughter Penny

"You will see in the world what you carry in your heart.'
-Creig Crippen

Thanks for stopping by,
Enjoy this beautiful day, but please be safe.
Love, Penny

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Happy Season between Spring and Fall

 Strange things afoot .  All is well, except y keyboard.  Notice the letter that would not type.
A few pics to see what I a  up to, until I can get this fixed.

Happy Sunnnner!
Oi Vey!
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, June 15, 2020


 The deck was great for most of the twenty five or so years we enjoyed it.  Then the tree grew.  The deck buckled and the boards lifted.  It got bad the last few years, but there were more important things that needed attention.  Last week a  local carpenter came and repaired our deck.

Paul replaced a number of boards, built two safer sets of stairs and railings.   Our family will get a few more years our of this old deck before we need to replace the whole thing. The dappled sunlight was especially lovely on a job well done.

"I like fixing things," he said as he worked. "The world is always breaking, here and there, this way and that. Fix a bit of it, and I feel like I am helping." - Bruce Coville

There is satisfaction of getting things done, even though I am just the project manager.  My new refrigerator was delivered. Can deck repairs and new refrigerators make me emotional? ...Yes! Moving ahead is scary.  Doing it alone is hard. 

"Smile, smile until all that's left are the pieces of your broken heart that are slowly fixing itself."
- Ammiel Monterde

I found an inexpensive basket of geraniums that I hung on Tyke's IV pole.  A staple on the deck from the very beginning.  Tyke was in an accident before we even closed on our home.  He recovered in our living room, in a hospital bed, with forty pounds of traction holding his repaired hip in place as it healed.  I was his grateful and loving nurse, and treated him with IV antibiotics for weeks.  He healed to walk beside me for another 26 years.  Sentimental about an IV pole? Hell yea!

I did plant some pots, not as I have in the past.  A local nursery went out of business.  It was where I used to find blue salvia, "Veronica", white bacopa, and other varieties scarce in the big box garden centers.

A little herb garden.

A bad year for roses.  There are a few, not like the abundance of a few years back.

Milkweed.  It reseeds itself.  I will plant zinnias today for the butterflies.  I am a month late in planting, but the zinnias are small plants with a good start.  Hope "Jerry" (the name of all Monarchs that visit our garden) won't mind waiting.

There will once again be an bumper crop of Annabelle hydrangea.  The Lavender Princesses will  help me celebrate another Lavender Festival next week.  The little patch of lavender got a good weeding.  Penny is an excellent weeder and helped with other garden chores.  She is very much into the traditions of the seasons.  I look forward to Stevie and Irene picking flowers and enjoying the spaciousness of our quarter acre.  Right now, when they are here, it's like herding butterflies.

Son Jon took to cleaning the garage.  Oi vey!  What a mess.  He worked while I entertained the girls.
Later Kristen and Doug came by.  Kristen had boxes from years and years ago in the garage, as all my kids do. Kris found many treasures, but was especially thrilled about a pair of Doc Martins she had always wondered what happened to.  Stuff was sorted and tossed.  Still a work in progress, but a start.  Later we had a fire in the yard, with s'mores and laughs, and a few tears.

A big change is in the works as Jon's wife Charlotte starts Law School and we combine households.
More on that as we go through the summer.

The privet bloomed this year, and the fragrance took me back quite a few years to when I wrote a story for Tyke.  I haven't been able to find it, but I know it's here somewhere.  I have been looking for different things, but the most important of them was of  a copy of vows that Tyke wrote me as we renewed our vows on our 30th Wedding Anniversary.  While looking for the story, I found the vows.  I was so very happy to find them. (as a email Tyke sent to me)
  I'll share them near our anniversary.  He surprised me that day, in front of our kids, plus *Yentl. (aka Jenny *BFF of Kristen and like one of our own.) I did some silly thing for my vows and Tyke was so serious, romantic and beautifully sincere.  Finding them again was a gift.

"Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself.  And that's a lot.  Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect."
-Rob Reiner  

Thank you for stopping by and for your friendship and kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Remembering Tyke on his birthday. Grateful for 16,441 beautiful days together.  A life of love, kindness, happiness and fun.  Our kids, "We have the best kids."  He wanted to see our granddaughters run and play in our yard.  They ran together through the grass for the first time just last week. The joy I felt was tinged with sadness.  I saw it for us both.  
I could almost hear you laugh. 
 My love for you is endless.

Life is so complicated.  The horrible injustice in Minnesota.
As a Mother, it tore at my heart.  George Floyd.  Black Lives Matter. 
 A chance for us all to be better to each other.  We must do better.

The threat of Covid keeping us apart.  Missing my extended family and friends.
I was living in self imposed isolation before things shut down in March.  
I so long for normal, whatever that may be today. 

What's happening at home?
Having my deck power washed and repaired.  Something that has needed attention for a couple of years.  DIL Amanda put me in touch with a craftsman she works with.  What Paul did in an hour would take me all day.  No hand cramps for me this year. Feels good taking care of the deck since the family spends as much time outside as possible. 

Then, finding all the food in the freezer turned to mush.
I only feel bad about the ice cream I lost, I told the salesman at the appliance store as I purchased, a new refrigerator (alone) for the very first time.  I went to Abt in Glenview and was helped by the kindest gentleman, David.  He texted me with a new delivery date for this week, after giving me a date for late next week.  Before entering the store my temperature was taken, everyone was wearing masks.  I was anxious, took me 65 years to make a large purchase alone.  The universe put me in the hands of a kind, compassionate and friendly man.  Now I have a guy at Abt.  That's cool because I need a dishwasher and stove in the new year.

I hope that you are all healthy and that the stress of life
 has not taken away the many happy moments
our lives are filled with, if only we recognize them.

As I finish this post, a song I love came on my itunes shuffle.
It's called Montana Half Light.
It is pure, calming, so beautiful.
It takes me though my life, the beginning, the middle, which is Tyke and 
the now.  I couldn't change anything that happened, 
but I can be so very grateful for that middle.
Who gets 16.441 days of bliss?
I did.

Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny


Monday, June 1, 2020


 Lord. make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

 Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith;

 Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness. joy.

After passing the one year mark of living without Tyke, I realized that I looked to this date as some kind of destination.  If I can just get through this year... The reality is I can't believe I survived one year without my husband, but living is what we all have to keep doing.  It was not a date that I wanted to commemorate.  My kids wanted to be with me, and we all feel better together. That was how we honored their Dad, their Grandpa, my love, all together.

"Life goes on and you will have a deeper capacity 
to love and empathize in the coming year."
-Alexandra Stoddard, On healing

My sons took care of some things that were actually things that Tyke would have sought their help for.  A dead branch hanging  over the backyard, too high to reach with a ladder.  My industrious son Jonathan, made a grappling hook with some paracord and a clamp.  It was hilarious watching his patience with Penny, who giving him repeated advice from the sidelines.  We imagined Tyke, doing the same thing. We all cheered when Jon was successful.  I told him that his Dad  would have sworn repeatedly.  Jon said, "Oh, I was swearing, just like Dad, only to myself." (Two things, first, Jon has been preparing his whole life for this opportunity.  He had a "Batarang" he made for himself when he was very young. It was a plastic wrench, with a length of macrame cord attached to it. Second, we talk about Tyke swearing.  He was a very kind gentleman,  and would not swear in polite company. When he was passionate or was frustrated about something, well, his vocabulary got colorful!)   Doug sawed up the branch, and took care of the mess.  Then Jon and Mike took our old TV out of the family room, (My babygrand Stevie "tuned" the old set out of existence) and Mike installed a far lighter, but immensely smaller TV in it's place. Tyke would have scoffed at it's petite screen, but it is not the main screen in our home, just for my news and Hallmark watching.

The babies were overjoyed to see everyone.  I had company each day of the weekend, and cards, texts , calls and gifts from my dearest friends and family. Kristen, Charlotte and my SIL Mindy posted on facebook in memory of Tyke.  I find it very hard to find the words that can possibly express how I feel.  Tyke will never be forgotten, will never not be a part of our lives.  I want to celebrate his beautiful life on his birthday each year and honor him by continuing to support the causes that have been important to us.  The Paper Source had a card at Halloween that had a drawing of two skeletons that said, " Till death do us part is for quitters."  It's how I feel. 

"Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, some where very near, Just around the corner. All is well.
-Henry Scott Holland


My heart, my family.

Each and everyone precious.

I love them more with each passing day.

Thinking of George Floyd's family who loved him as well.
Praying for peace, understanding, love and a better more 
inclusive world for our children and grandchildren.

"What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"
-William Shakespeare

Thank you for caring and your support though out this last year.
Find something beautiful in today.
Love, Penny