Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wyndham Suites-Chicago....Atrium

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At the Field Museum in Chicago

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He is sooooooo HUGE!!!!

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GREAT Exhibit!!!

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WHAT is THIS.....Grammy????

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Inquiring minds want to know!!!!

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Stunning skyline of Chicago!!!

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Some ice cream at Lake Michigan!!

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Meghan enjoying the Chicago water front!!

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View from the pathway along the beach!

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"My Kind of Town!".....Chicago is!!!!

GORGEOUS Weather today here in Chi-town.......and we have been soooo lucky to have this chance to experience it...WOW!!! I know I have I written posts about other great cities which I enjoy soooooo very much, but Chicago is just.......well, it is really special to me. I have been visiting Chicago since way back....since the late 1970's.....and each time I come up here, I fall in love all over again....with Chicago. I wrote about this city last night......and I have written about it before,....and you know....I will more than likely write again about "My Kind of Town".

Today, I ran Dr. Jeni into the city center downtown to the Sheraton Hotel to attend her conference there. Returning to our hotel, the Wyndham Suites Hotel in Glenview.........and it is about 24 miles by the route I have been driving.........the 1st Lady and two girls were dressed and ready to go back downtown!! So, a quick cup of coffee....and we were "on the road again".....and about an hour later, we were parking in the Field Museum Parking Garage.

The trip down Lakeshore Drive was gorgeous......absolutely stunning with the colors of Lake Michigan just sparkling in the brilliant sunlight, the young adults(and a few "seniors") were out jogging, running, biking, inline skating, playing volleyball, soccer, etc., etc along the beach front....ready to have their "day in the sun". The little ones in the Suburban with me were just soooo excited by the water, the beach, and all the people enjoying this great area of Chicago.

We were in the museum by 11:00am.....the ticket prices were really quiet good.....and I enjoyed paying the Senior Citizen price!!!! And, for the next four plus hours, we toured many of the great exhibits in this huge building. The two little ones??? Well, of course with the age difference between the two, Ava enjoyed the stuffed animals greatly........and Meghan....she really enjoyed the Dinosaur exhibit and the entire "Evolving Planet" exhibit. She really took in the evolution process, asking some great questions for an 8 year old.....and she showed great depth of understanding in many of her inquiries!!!

We had a wonderful little lunch there in the "corner bakery".......the soup, the sandwiches, all of them were quite good and it was a joy to be able to have this kind of food in a museum!!!! Of course....we understand that they do have a McDonald's there, but why go there when the "corner bakery" has special sandwiches for children!! I had a great Chicken Pomodori as well as some little pastry tidbits with my really super dark coffee........and all four of us ate for just a few pennies over $26.00....a real bargain for this quality of food!!! Try it out.....!!

Afterwards.........we went to the Egypt exhibits.....and OMG, but did the girls ever love the mummies, the coffins, the complete exhibit!!! And, of course........"Grammie" and I were able to bring some personal things into our explanations of some of these exhibits when we talked to them about Egypt, etc., etc.

Dr. Jeni called......and since the little ones were about worn down, we went up to pick her up at the Sheraton.....and then we decided to go the beach on Lake Michigan. We located a place to park in the lot between the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shoreline Drive....and from there it was just a short walk to the water front. The parking fee was $14.00 for the day, or in our case, for about two hours.....but, it was close and convenient.

After two hours of playing around in the sand and the COLD water.....just wading in it......we realized that the suns was going down, the breezes were getting cooler, and it was time to get some food. It was really great to see soooooooooooooo many people enjoying the bike/jogging/running path that parallels the beach and Shoreline Drive........literally....THOUSANDS were out and active on this LONG paved pathway.

I kept thinking of St Louis and all of the economic assistance that they could receive from thousands and thousands of tourists IF....and, I repeat...IF....they would just get their damn act together and redo and improve the waterfront along the Mississippi. What a grand sight it would be, how great for the tourism, and the state.......if they would just finally get this project started and completed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Walking and driving along Shoreline Drive immediately brought back visual memories of the French Riviera at Nice, France......and at Alexandria, Egypt, lining the highways and beachfronts with thousands and thousands enjoying these man-made projects right along-side the wonderful blue waters. WOW!!!!!

We returned to the hotel....stopping along the way to pick up some sandwiches and salads from Panera of my favorite "chain" cafes. ALWAYS great food and coffee can be found there, not to mention the outstanding breads and pastries that are there for consumption on the premises or at home.

I had been expecting a guest this evening at the hotel........Charles (Zach) Moss. Yep....another former student who had contacted me earlier this week, informing me that he lives in Chicago ....and expressing a desire to get together again! And......I was excited to see him after many years.....and don't ask how many, because I am just not certain. We talked today and he was going to come up to the hotel this evening upon our return, so after walking into the suite, I called him.....and he said he would be here in 45 minutes or so. However, the phone rang again and he had a bit of difficulty with his transportation, so we chatted for awhile over the phone. There is a good possibility that we can meet at the Navy Pier tomorrow morning.....!! We had, and still have, LOTS of catching up to do.........we had been close during his years in band, but due to some circumstances we drifted apart, which I was never happy about........and the thought of renewing our friendship has been in my mind all week. Tomorrow.....????? I hope so.

The girls have not settled in this evening........just had toooooo great of a time for them, I suppose. And so..........with our departure for Missouri sometime tomorrow, I am already beginning to feel that strange feeling like.....I have been cheated and am running out of I know I could remain here in Chicago for longer than I can afford to do and still not be ready to leave(sort of like going to Barnes & Noble and having to leave after a couple of hours....never ready to leave)...........Interestingly enough.....the 1st Lady and I made mention a couple of times this weekend about.....would we like to live here in Chicago? The negatives? The bone chilling cold of the winters.....however....guess we could leave and go south from here just as we do from southeast Missouri/Misery, couldn't we?????????? I have always, always said that when I become toooooo damn old with my sagging and evolving hulk to drive back and forth to a city....STL.....than I would move to the city where all of the culture and the youthful energy is, why not Chicago????????

And so......another super day......a day that has left an emotional high in my aging body!!!!! And......what else can I say, but....

LIFE IS INCREDIBLY GREAT!!!!!!!.......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!! (Great to talk with you, "Zach"!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Morning.....WET CHICAGO!!.....and....Part 2 of the day...

This will be a short post this morning.......we arrived quite LATE.....about 1:00AM this we didn't get away from STL until 7:30pm. I had forgotten just how many times it is necessary to make "pit" stops when traveling with two young granddaughters....ages 8 and 3. Normally I have run up here to the Windy City in a few short hours, but....hmmm, not this time. Oh well......

The Glenview Wyndham Suites Hotel is wonderful......sooooo nice to have the two rooms, two LCD tellies, small efficiency kitchen, and a beautiful Atrium throughout the center of the hotel.

Finally, I got to bed around 2AM.....and then up again at 5:45AM to prepare to take Dr. Jeni downtown to the Sheraton where her conference is being held. WOW.......when we left the hotel for the city center, it was pouring cats and dogs........terrible. The interstates were totally clogged and we were sitting on one just like in a parking lot, so, I got off of it, and started across to the Lakeshore Drive Freeway.......and after 1.5 hours of constant driving, and with the GREAT help of my Garmin GPS, we arrived at the Sheraton where I dropped her off.....and then spent 1.5 hours on the return trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Three hours of driving this morning just to get downtown and back during RUSH HOUR!!! WHEW!!!

And so, I'll close this early(?) post and will add more later..........


The morning went rather quickly......drank some more coffee....and then took care of my morning rituals, even though it was closer to noon today. The 1st Lady and I took the girls to McDonald's for lunch.........a place of fine cuisine in Chicago......haha. We returned to the hotel.......and then it was time for Ava to take her daily nap. Once she was down on the bed, the 1st Lady and Meghan went downstairs to the pool and spa for a couple of hours.....and think they had a fantastic time together!!! I stayed in the suite, overseeing Ava as I read the online newspapers....and dropped off to sleep a couple of times, but for only a minute or two.

About 3:30, I began the trip back downtown....not sure of the mileage....probably 30 miles or close to it. She was a bit late getting out of a seminar......but, I had a great place to park across the street from the Sheraton where she has spent the day. When she came out.....we returned back to the Wyndham in Glenview and it took about 1.5 hours in the evening rush hour jams.

We then went around the corner to T.G.I. Friday's for dinner. Hmmmmm.......just not a very good meal.....with not very good wine choices either. Getting really disgusted with national must all be pre-cooked and packaged for quick and easy serving, no matter which state they are in!

Returning to the hotel.......the girls took their baths....and are now playing games before bedtime. I need to make a few phone calls to those that I had wanted to get together with, but my damn brain is nothing but wet mush tonight!!!! Those three hours of sleep(??) just were NOT enough for this old man.........need to get my body in a horizontal position on the bed very, very quickly.

It has been raining, as I stated earlier, and misty, and then the sun came out this evening......and who knows the weather for tomorrow. No matter how exhausted I am tonight.....I am soooooo in love with Chicago.......I could remain here for the rest of my Life. Love the city center, the marvelous restaurants(minus TGI Friday's), the wonderful stores and shops, the many, many neighborhoods where there is soooo much to do and enjoy.......the whole ambience of Chicago is just super. There is simply something special about this Windy City!!

And so......a very, very, very short night last night.......which made today seem very, very long., I keep stumbling over my sagging hulk this evening.........and so, it is time to close this while I can still read it........

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!.......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mike/Melissa Goldsmith, the 1st Lady, and the sagging hulk of Me

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Ahhhh, what a beautiful and busy day.....

WOW.....the alarm went off early. I had to be at the County Health Clinic by 7am this morning, without food or coffee...UGH!!!! I needed to take a cholesterol test(?)......find out what my numbers are. 7:15 I was back home and making my French Roast coffee....whew....sure needed that.

Then I read the online newspapers over my coffee, had my breakfast, and then when the 1st Lady managed to get herself into a vertical position, I got cleaned up, made the bed.......all part of my morning rituals.

Later in the morning.....we rode our bicycles to the city center to the Library where she picked up some unread books for the coming week. Riding was tooooo much of a hill to get back up to the stick and brick, so we had to walk our bikes shameful!!!

A quick lunch....and then I talked with the Goldsmith's and we decided to go out for dinner tonight........been a LONG, LONG, LONG time since we have done that!

Then for a couple of hours this afternoon, I began mowing the lawn......and managed to get about 3/4's of it completed......and my plans are to finish it tomorrow.......hopefully!!! A quick shower.....and soon it was time to go pick up Mike and Melissa.

Off we went to Farmington.....and decided to have dinner at "12 West".....a very nice restaurant with a cool, contemporary decor. Mike and Melissa had steaks....and the 1st Lady and I had pasta. Hers was with shrimp.....and mine was Tortellini filled with provolone cheese and proscuitto!! It was GREAT!!!!

Returning to our stick and brick, Mike and I opened a bottle of Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003. Really, really good.....!!!! We almost finished it off this evening.....something we haven't done in many, many years!! We visited, discussed, and enjoyed talking about many various subjects that we wanted to bring to each other's thoughts......!

And now......the 1st Lady and I are getting ready to leave after lunch for St Louis where we will meet Dr. Jeni and girls.....and then drive on up to Chicago. It will be a busy couple of days.....I have several former students who I want to see.....just hope we can get it all scheduled in!!!!

I had a phone call from a former student in band.....and who was also a very fine piano student. He is doing graduate work in Mathematics at the University of Illinois-Chicago......and I hadn't heard from him in several years......GREAT to talk with him! Anyway....we will try to get together this weekend while I am up there. A couple of others also have to be worked in.........

And soooooo, a beautiful day....a fun day......a wonderful meal with incredible friends.......and good plans for the weekend in Chicago! Yep.............quite frankly without a doubt......

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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No time today to think about Chapter 7.B........

Another dreary day.....cloudy....THICK clouds...and then late this afternoon.....more RAIN! Oh a short time we will be wishing that it would rain to cool us down.

Today.......I seemed to be on the go most of the day.....are you really interested in this???? Is this what you wanted to read???? Well.....that's what you get tonight!

I slipped out of my horizontal position as easily as I could, managed to pull my sagging hulk up and onto my feet...and quietly left the bedroom. Going to the kitchen....I soon had a wonderful aroma of my French Roast coffee as it dropped into the coffee pot....and in a few minutes, I had a steaming cup of that dark elixir in my hand. I read the online newspapers, had some cereal, more coffee...and then I woke the 1st Lady easily as I took care of my morning rituals.

Quickly, I moved outside....and checked over TheHowserHouse, checked the oil in the truck, and then began to get things ready to hitch up and head to Park Hills. I waited until about 8:45 and then in one quick back-up maneuver, the kingpin on the rv slipped into the hitch, the jaws closed around it, and in another couple of moments everything was ready to slowly, slowly pull out of our triple wide driveway and onto the street.

45 minutes later......10 minutes of which were used in just getting through F'town's streets and stop signs.......I arrived at Griffon's Trailer Town and RV Sales. I have said before....they do not sell Cedar Creek RV's, but they do service almost any brand....and SERVICE is the name of the game for a great RV dealer. The owner, Bruce Griffon, is a good friend of mine, his youngest son was my band manager in F'town HS....and so we go back a few years. They DO have wonderful service......they are very detailed and make certain you are pleased before you leave their repair area/bays.

I waited for about an hour......wandering around looking and thinking about some of the items that they have in their parts and supply store in the Sales Offices. Then.......they brought out TheHowserHouse and I jumped in and 45 minutes later I was backing it into our driveway. Backing it is always more difficult than pulling out, isn't it????????? Luckily, I have across the street from our house and triple-wide driveway, a friend whose driveway is double-wide...and so after I get the 38' monster backed partway into my driveway......I can then pull forward into his driveway....and a couple of pulls forward and then backward....and TheHowserHouse is soon resting peacefully and waiting patiently for the next journey!

For some reason.....I developed a pretty intense headache during this quick trip....and by the time I got into the stick and was pounding pretty loudly inside my balding head. Soooo, I took some pain killers and laid down for awhile to see if I could lose it somewhere.........hmmmm, no luck!

I did need to call my physician and get the X-ray report from last week......"no signs of arthritis".....and she suspects it is "just" tendonitis. may be "just" to her, but it is certainly more than that to me when the pain awakens me oftentimes in the middle of the night, or starts aching as I drive down the highway or when I am just sitting on the sofa. Soooo, as we are leaving for Chicago on Thursday....I will wait until Monday to pursue this matter. She did call in a script for some type of steriods/cortisone pills for the next five days.

Then I called the local county health office to set up an appt. for early tomorrow for a cholesterol has been over a year....and I am not looking forward to the results. Don't want to give up my love for haute cuisine.......hahaa!!

Late this afternoon I made the run out to Wal-Mart, picked up my prescriptions(refilled my two regular ones for the plumbing problems) and then stood in line for 20 minutes just to pay for some hamburger buns and coffee filters! DAMN!!!!

And soooo, for a quick little appetizer this evening, I prepared a new recipe that I got from "Bon Appetit" of our subscription magazines. And WOW!!!!! OMG, was it ever tasty and sooooo damn good!!! It was cauliflower florets from an entire cauliflower, tossed in olive oil, pepper flakes, thyme, kosher salt along with five garlic cloves chopped, and then baked in the oven for 20 minutes. This browned the florets, the garlic, and ............I cannot wait to fix these again!!!!!! SOOOOO GOOD!!!!!

OK......did you learn enough about my day??????? I personally do not think it was all that interesting.......just Life in TheHowserHouse/stick and brick for this evolving and sagging hulk of me. was just another day........however, it does re-enforce that......

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Should I build an ark????......rain and rain and rain!!!

The rains started during the night.....the thunder sounded just outside the window....and the rain poured and pounded on the stick and brick. It was raining when I pulled myself into some type of a vertical position......sagging, as usual......and after the morning rituals I made my dark French Roast coffee and watched the rains come down from the patio windows. The 1st Lady slept in a bit longer than usual.......and then she inquired as to whether she should put on her swimming suit because she assumed she might need it with all of the water she heard coming down.

Soooooo, the day passed with drizzles, rain, a few dry hours, drizzles, and then the sun slipped out for a short period of time late this afternoon. The 1st Lady worked on a project of hers......painting some new molding to go around the edges of the floor in the guest bedroom....and then measuring and sawing the right lengths....and then mitering the corners. Must say she did a really great job!!!

I spent many hours today.........checking on routes to use to go to Shipshewana, IN two weeks from today. I can either go to Indianapolis on I-70 or take I-70 to central Illinois and then go up I-57, catch I-80 and then go east to Shipshewana. After a week there, we will then go north into Michigan, cross the border into Ontario, Canada at Port Huron, Michigan. From there we will overnight somewhere around London, Ontario.....and then go on to Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. After a week there......we will then go northeast to Toronto....and most likely on to Cornwall, Ontario to visit our friends whom we met in the RGV in Texas......Charlie and Kathy. Can't wait to see them!!!!!!!

From there??? On to Montreal....and then probably cross back over into New England. We are not going to go as far north and east as we had planned........the cost of the diesel fuel is becoming outrageous and I don't want to be paying for this trip for the rest of my Life!!!! So, we will tour around New England....and then head back down to PA......visit some friends there...and then head south to Florida.......St. Petersburg to be exact....where we will meet Dr. Jeni, Darrel and girls as they await the baby to be born that they are right now scheduled to adopt!!!!!!! Of course, we all KNOW that this type of thing can fall through before the legal completion, but we have to plan these things anyway, don't we????

We will be in Florida for at least two weeks before returning to Missouri, sometime in August. Of course, .....again.....we realize that with the 1st Lady's mother being in such poor health...these plans could be dropped in a heartbeat should our presence be required back in Missouri!!

And soooooo, tomorrow I take TheHowserHouse up to Park Hills to Griffin's RV Sales to have the Dometic recall on the fridge taken care of........sort of a band-aid repair, but it needs to be done soon before we begin this 2-3 month trip.

Rains are to begin again soon.......but, as always......

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!!.......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No rest on this day!!!

WOW.......this day got off to a good start......I was awake in the hotel room....Fairfield 7am, so I quietly padded around to the bathroom, not waking the 1st Lady, Becky, or Rachel. Then after the morning rituals in the rather small bathroom, I went downstairs to the breakfast room and had a couple of pastries and a really great cup of coffee!!! was dark, it was rich, and it was delicious!!

Returning upstairs after about 45 minutes, those who had been in bed were up and going. Soooo, after about 30 minutes we all went back downstairs together so they could have breakfast. I might add that the breakfasts at the Fairfield Inn was really, really good!!!!! Waffles, egg sandwiches, boiled eggs, yogurts of all kinds, cereals, pastries, juices, many different fruits, toast, jams and jellies, .....and much, much more!! And go really did save money for the four of us to NOT have to pay for a breakfast in some fast food or other cafe!

Becky and Rachel left for St Louis before long, after the 1st Lady and I sat and talked with my sister and her "new" husband. Not long afterwards the 1st Lady and I left for the 50 mile drive to Eldon to put some flowers on the graves of our/my family in the city cemetery. We made a stop about 14 miles south at the county "nursing" home to see the 1st Lady's 98 year old uncle. He had a stroke a bit more than a week ago....and was moved to this home on this past Friday. Her aunt was there, of course, as well as their two sons.......the cousins of the 1st Lady. We had a good visit with her family,.....her uncle remaining more or less in a non-communicative state.
Then we went on to Eldon.

Putting the flowers out there, we also ran into old friends from Eldon......Howard and Betty Jo Vann. So, we did have a few minutes to visit with them.....just never long enough.

Then we went to the Lake of the Ozarks.....12 miles south of there.....and spent several hours finding some outstanding bargains and purchasing several items of clothing and some kitchen utensils. By 3:45pm......we were on the road south to F'town, stopping for supper in Cuba.

The evening has been brief here in the stick and brick......and both of us are a bit on the weary, I will close this short little post......and remind you, that as always......

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!