A Mystery

I don’t normally use the front door or sidewalk to get in and out of my house, so I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to the front landscaping bed. This area has mostly perennial plants, which allows it to maintain the same look year after year.

The Polar Vortex of this past winter was not kind to the ground cover in this bed. The low growing greenery did not survive. My husband dug out the old and dead (which included a mass of tangled roots) and planted new vinca ground cover. Slowly the vinca will fill in the space and we will be happy once again.

However, the other day I walked by and a small grayish rock caught my eye. Where did this come from? How did it get there? I found my husband and questioned him on his knowledge of this rock. He had noticed it too, but had no clue where it came from either.


We know it was not there when he replaced the ground cover earlier this spring. There are no rocks in this bed except for the large ornamental rock. Could this be a chip off of that rock?

This rock has been living in this bed for ten years. It's been all alone.

This rock has been living in this bed for ten years. It’s been all alone.

Did it somehow manage to break away from the big rock and roll down to this location? Did some animal carry it here and drop it? So many questions and no real answers.

See the little rock by the sidewalk? Where did it come from?

See the little rock by the sidewalk? Where did it come from?

I’m thinking this is a mystery that won’t be solved. I guess I will have to make up a story to explain this. Any ideas?

A Mix-Up

In May Stenhouse had a blog tour  of the second edition of The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, AKA “The 2 Sisters.” All you had to do was leave a comment on the blogs and you would be entered for a signed copy of this book.

Any chance to win a book, I’m in. I’ve been known to make a comment every now and then, even with no carrot dangling. 🙂 Lucky me! I got a Twitter message from Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning that I was a lucky winner! (Thank you Mandy!) Woo hoo! All I had to do was send her a message with my address. I did, so now I began waiting for my book.

About six weeks after winning, the book arrived from Stenhouse. Excitedly,  I opened the package. Did I just dream that it would be signed or was it? That was what I wanted to check out first. There was a lovely note from Chandra Lowe and she even spelled my name right! (see photo)

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Then I quickly flipped open the cover, turned a page and there it was, signed by the Two Sisters! I am smiling to myself and thinking how cool this is. While I’m looking at the inscription, my friend is peering over my shoulder. She asks, “Who’s Maureen?” (see photo)

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Now my brain begins to process. I had noticed the name Maureen, but it didn’t register that it was the wrong name. I began to laugh. Somewhere, someone has a book inscribed to LeAnn. Apparently things must have gotten busy at the Stenhouse offices and there was a slight mix up in books. Now I have a funny story to share with teachers as I introduce them to the Daily 5.  🙂


Birthday Celebrations!

The weather this past week has been spectacular! I’m all for the Polar Vortex in July. This just made the birthday celebration just perfect.

The past few years have found us far from home and discovering new parts of the world during this birthday week. So it was surprising to find us home. That just would not do. Especially for this birthday into a new decade. So we made a plan and escaped from the realities of chores and mundane life at home. Where did we go? What did we do? Read on to discover . . .


We arrived in the city mid-afternoon, just in time to check into our hotel, the Ivy Boutique Hotel. What a snazzy place to stay! We had a sitting room, bedroom, and a bathroom which had a hanger of directions on how to operate the rain shower head (plus a huge soaker tub and a TV in the mirror). Like I said, snazzy. 🙂

We were only a few blocks off of Michigan Avenue, so we set out to explore and wander the Magnificent Mile. We walked up one side, down the other with a brief stop at the Bean and Garrett for a bag of Chicago mix (caramel corn and cheese popcorn). We thought we might eat that as we walked, not possible as our hands turned orange very quickly. By this time we needed to find dinner and return to our room. I had walked a blister on the bottom of my foot. (It never fails, no matter what I do, I seem to always get a blister. 😦 )


The next day was the big birthday and we were registered for a Bike, Bites, and Brew bike ride from Bobby’s Bike Hike at 11:30. First order of business was breakfast. Dunkin Donuts was close and we don’t have one in Springfield. We enjoyed a jalapeno cheese bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese. Next order of business was to find the bike shop. Success, but we were early, so we wandered around Navy Pier for a bit. Unfortunately every day camp in the city was converging on the Pier to attend Seussical the Musical. I celebrated that I was not in charge of a group of children. Back to the bike shop to begin our tour.

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Alex was our guide for the day, she was full of interesting stories. First stop was Gino’s East for a piece of spinach deep dish pizza. I must confess, it was not my favorite. I prefer thinner pizza. Next stop was Lincoln park where we rubbed Lincoln’s foot for luck. The bonus was a heron was watching us the whole time. I’m sure it was thinking, “What silly people.”

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A short ride took us to Swirlz, a cupcake place. So many flavors to choose, it was a tough decision. We rode through several neighborhoods to get to our next stop, Murphy’s for a Chicago dog. What an interesting combination on the hot dog!


Now we have pedaled to Wrigley Field and around back was Murphy’s sports bar. We were given two beers to sample. They tasted pretty good after the spicy pepper on the hot dog.

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Last stop was RJ Grunts for another beer sample. We had reached the end of our consumption portion of the tour. Now we took the path along Lake Michigan back to our starting point. Four hours and fourteen miles later we were back and ready to claim our car from the hotel’s garage. It had been a great day and just what Mike wanted for his birthday.


We drove out of the city with lovely memories of this special day.



Late Night? Early Morning?

The heat covers me like a blanket, so heavy that it brings me out of my dozing state. Eyelids flutter, trying to open and focus on the time of day. It is 3:00 in the afternoon, my eyes close again as my thoughts drift back to only twelve hours before.

Twelve hours ago, I was driving towards St. Louis, following my husband who was driving our neighbor’s car.

Flashback to late afternoon, we get a call from Dave, “I’m taking Sue (his wife) to the emergency room. I’ll let you know what’s happened,” he briefly explains.

We are concerned, Sue had a kidney transplant in the fall. Has something happened? She was fine yesterday. Late evening Dave calls back, “She is being transported to Barnes Hospital (in St. Louis). They think there is something blocking one of her tubes. I’m coming home to pick up things.”

Mike checks on Dave when he arrives, Dave is in no frame of mind to drive three hours to St. Louis. Mike offers to drive him and I will follow so Dave will have his car. We can spend the night at my father-in-law’s house (near St. Louis). Quickly we throw together items we will need in the morning.

There is a delay, Dave has to return to the local hospital. The hospital will not release Sue until a bed is assigned in St. Louis. The time ticks away. I returned home to wait. They do not leave the hospital until 12:15 a.m.

I dozed a little while waiting for them, I only hope I am up to the task of driving at such a late hour. The miles are eaten as I am focused on being alert to all traffic. Eventually we arrive at an exit where Dave will take over driving and we head for the house. The last time I’d seen 3:30 in the morning, I was on an international flight. I fall into bed exhausted, but yet sleep eludes me for a while.

By 8:30 a.m., we are up and ready to begin the journey home. It was a short night. Once home, a nap is required after lunch. I move to the patio. It is warm, but there is a slight breeze that allows me to drift away, until I begin to suffocate under the blanket of heat.

Update on my neighbor: Many tests were run on her. The test with positive results was related to a tick bite. We have no idea when or where she encountered a tick. She is still in the hospital, but hopes to be released today.


Moments to Celebrate

A few short celebrations for this week:

1) It was time, my bike had been looking forlorn. My foot healed, it was time to return to the bike. The first time out caused a bit of fear. Fear was conquered. I can celebrate the return to biking. Now if only the weather will cooperate, I will be back pedaling the mornings away.

2) Each day I inspect the tomato plants. At first it was looking for the beginnings of a ball developing from the blossom. Then it was watching the ball grow bigger and bigger. Now I search for the color to change. One lone tomato has decided it is time to cast aside that green coat and try on a more vibrant color. Hopefully the rest of the tomatoes will catch on to this new fad and they will want to be just as brilliant.


Still needs to work on that color, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.



My Lucky Day

Keyless cars are a wonderful thing, but only if you know the tricks of operating it. How nice it is to just get into the car, push a button, and it springs to life. Just walk up to the door and it automatically unlocks (of course if you are carrying a purse, you need to make sure the purse is near). A recent trick I learned is to slide your hand in the rear door handle and it will unlock all the doors at once.

Keyless car was the car for the road trip to Indiana. It worked like a charm. Doors locked and unlocked on cue. I was feeling smug that I knew the tricks to this car (and it only took three years).

The feeling of smugness evaporated when I was out and about on a multiple store shopping trip. I reached my first store, pressed the lock and as I moved away from the car, it beeped. It was the beep of unlocking. How odd I thought as I walked into the store. Returning to the car, I touch to unlock, Hmmm, I think the car door was already unlocked. Something is not right.

On to the next store, I go to lock, but as soon as I lock, it beeps the unlock sound. I hold my purse far away from the car and try touching the little button on the handle to lock it. It answers with a piercing whistle. Still puzzled, I go in do my shopping and return to a car I don’t think was locked.

Third store, still fighting with the car to lock it. This time I dig the fob out of my purse to lock the car. Same results, it won’t lock. I thought about calling my husband and ask why the car was acting this way, but I don’t. I will wait until I get home and demonstrate. Of course I know that it will probably work just fine in the garage.

I pull into the garage, put the car into park, but this time my eyes spot something in the well of the cup holder. What is this? It is a keyless fob to the car! No wonder the car would not lock! It recognized that there was a key inside the car. Mystery solved!

So let’s clarify this information – If a keyless car won’t lock, check for the key inside the car. It was my lucky day that a car thief was not out patrolling and looking for easy cars to steal that day.

Celebrating Late

Zip. . . blink . . . and a week is over! Summer marches on! This week found me staying close to home. The hot humid weather left for a few days, so we could enjoy the breezes in the backyard while celebrating the oasis of plants that surround us.

While enjoying the view, I read Readers Front and Center by Dorothy Barnhouse. I loved it and now I must reread it to mine it for teaching points to use next year. (Thanks Christy for recommending this book.) Being able to spend a couple of days on the patio with a professional book is a celebration.

When I looked up from my reading I am surrounded by green, but yet color pops in. I celebrate the work my husband has put in to create this sanctuary.

Pink roses splash their color.

Pink roses splash their color.

Hostas quietly bring color into the shaded landscape.

Hostas quietly bring color into the shaded landscape.

Verbena shouts, "Look at me! Don't you just love purple?"

Verbena shouts, “Look at me! Don’t you just love purple?”

Longing for these lovely spheres to turn brilliant red, sigh . . . when?

Longing for these lovely spheres to turn brilliant red, sigh . . . when?

Basil waits patiently for the tomatoes to join the party. Can't you just taste the caprese salad?

Basil waits patiently for the tomatoes to join the party. Can’t you just taste the caprese salad?

A final celebration is a friend, who plants more than she can consume and she shares this bounty with me.

Zucchini and squash ready for the grill.

Zucchini and squash ready for the grill.

I wonder what celebrations are waiting to be discovered this week.