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Take Your Marriage Outdoors this Summer*

Last week, on a whim, I texted my husband and invited him to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for one of their summer weekly live music concerts.  I gathered up what we would have had for dinner at home and off we went.

Never one just to do something once, I announced we were going to find something fun to do outside every week.  I know if I plan it, he will come so I am scouring online for fun things to do these #99daysofsummer.

So many options but here are some themes to get you started:

Try something NEW like a neighborhood festival, concert venue or Farmer’s Market you haven’t visited before.  We have big plans for the solar eclipse on August 21, definitely a new thing! Research shows sharing fresh experiences is good for marriages.

Return to something OLD you enjoyed in the early years of your relationship.  We have been riding bikes together since college days and still love to hit the trail together even though he is a much faster biker. Last week we rode our bikes to the 4th of July parade which was just as fun as the parade.

Do something OFTEN like eat dinner outside.  You don’t have to have a back yard, a local park will do just fine.  Think of all those movie couples who eat out of deli-bags on Central Park benches.  It’s fun to discover a new-to-you restaurant with tables outside.

Get out-of-town at least ONCE.  Road trips across the country or across a couple of hours will re-shape perspective on just about everything.  We took our first one to Yellowstone in the 70’s for our honeymoon and haven’t stopped.

What’s on your list?

Sunset at CBGChicago Botanic Garden at Sunset

Hope for the best,

Tish

*Modified from a previous post

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Beach Boy Girls

When the Ravinia Music Festival summer calendar posts in late winter, I immediately scour it looking to see when the Beach Boys are coming.  July 2 this year, a can’t miss concert for this wanna-be surfer girl.

Out of politeness, I invited my husband knowing he would gracefully decline, as he did. He still gets huge credit for surprising me with a BB concert for our 20th wedding anniversary though 🙂  Sure didn’t see that one coming as his music tastes are along the lines of The Beatles, Moody Blues and Chicago. I like those groups too but my primary allegiance is always to the B-Boys.

For over 50 years. YIKES!!

I didn’t mind going alone but a Beach Boys evening sounded fun to my girlfriend, Cindy, so we each packed a chair and a few items and met at the train stop.

So did about 16,000 other folks. A sold-out concert with many fans begging to buy an extra ticket.

Many, but not all were boomer-ish. Perhaps like me, they have been following the group since the early 60’s. I can still feel the charged energy and excitement of my first Beach Boys concert in 1965 at the Illinois State Fair grandstand. A political friend of my grandfather got me the tickets.

 

Cindy and I camped near the edge of the park but strolled down to get a better look. Hard to see inside the pavilion but we caught a glimpse of the screens. The only original Beach Boy was crooning into the mic and the rest of us sang along. Rhonda was getting a lot of requests for help that night!

The magical atmosphere of Ravinia was in full bloom, candles everywhere and elegant spreads.

The little girl next to us curled up and went to sleep under a blanket and the serious looking middle-aged guy on the other side of us got up and danced. The music played on, each of us hearing a different melody calling out from the past.

We ducked out before the end to get a spot on the returning train. I’ve been to enough BB concerts to predict the final song was FUN FUN FUN and we didn’t need to hear it to experience it that night!

On the way home from work today I slid on of the Beach Boys CD’s into my radio. I felt like, indeed, I had caught the wave and it carried me home.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Six Ways to Still Capture the Essence of Summer*

1054836_flip_flopsDoes it ever seem like the endless summer of childhood and favorite novels can sometimes promise more than deliver?  Fantasies of lying on the beach, fun-filled bike rides and non-stop barbecues, entertain us all winter long, yet by the end of June we’re often still thinking about getting around to our summer plans.    It’s not too late to design a summer structure to take advantage of the best season of all 🙂

Here are 6 steps to fully enjoy the rest of the season.

  1.  Fantasize. Start with a list of all the fun things you’d really like to do the rest of the summer. Don’t worry about how realistic they are, just put them down. Learn to scuba dive, go to a flea market, grow your own cilantro, make a blueberry pie… Add anything you can think of to the list without regard to practicalities.
  2.  Prioritize. What are your top choices? Recognize that it might take a few summers to get in all your great ideas, but what seems the most possible this summer? Take into account your time availability and previous commitments and see where your best pockets of time are to add something.
  3. Pick a theme. Instead of choosing a smattering of activities to enjoy this summer, pick one theme. Would you like this summer full of outdoor concerts or baseball games or neighborhood festivals? How about bike rides or picnics or movies in the park?  Your themed activity gets in place first, then other choices fill in the schedule.
  4. Try something new. How long have you been waiting to try yoga? Wondering how to make homemade salsa? Be able to identify the birds that stop by your yard? By the end of this summer these experiences can happen.
  5.  Stretch yourself.  Does the idea of a summer triathlon entice you?  Ok, me neither but I have friends who love the challenge. How far can you ride your bike?  Can you forget about how cold the water is and just get in?
  6.  Start a summer book club.  Even if you are the only one in it!  Finish the pile on the floor by your bed, stay with one author all summer: classic or contemporary, try a new genre like poetry or biography.

Beach ReadMy Ideal Summer Book Club!

Don’t let this summer be the one that got away!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

*Popular re-post.

The Book Signing

Let me just say it up front, our family is full of Chicago Cub fans. For generations. Tom has a brick at Wrigley Field, we have a W flag, our grand kids know the names and stats for the players, etc. Those kind of fans.

So, when I noticed that David Ross, the recently retired catcher, was signing his new book, Teammate, at a nearby Barnes and Noble, the event got a spot in our calendar for last Thursday, our set-aside family night for 40 plus years.

Turns out it was a two-part deal. I needed to stop by the store in the morning to buy the book, pick up a ticket for the signing and then return later that evening. I thought it would take just a few minutes for that first part. Wrong. More like 105 minutes.  The line snaked all around the mall just to get a ticket. I was already committed, so settled in.

The long line.

Funny how these lines work but at the end of the wait, I knew parts of the life story of my little section of the fans. The story of the four-year-old IVF twins, the son who was moving away and taking the only grandchildren with him, the tennis player who would now be late for a match. Like women at the well, our chit chat revealed a lot.

Community can form anywhere.

Tom and I both returned in the evening and even though he now had a number and a time to show up, the line looked about the same. Fortunately, it was a lovely evening and they were passing out free Cubs chocolate 😊 I took walks around the area to get my steps and Tom stayed put and engaged with his slowly moving section, exchanging more stories.

Once inside, another hour lapsed. Tom kept his steady place and I wandered around the store. A conversation I had with a woman in the travel section about God was quite fun. You just never know!

Tom’s turn finally came and he had a tiny slice of time to thank David Ross for the “decency he brought to the game.” He reported that David was very kind and humble and seemed genuinely happy to meet his fans.

Total time investment, including the driving, was about five hours but the memory is priceless. Not just of the meeting and book signing but of the conversations, the chance to act like a kid again waiting to meet a sports hero, to say yes to a fun opportunity that might not come along again.

Brick at Wrigley.

Who would you wait in line for?

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

Splendid Summer: Make it Count*

Spring 2013 001

My husband commented last evening as we sat outside in the lovely dusk, “We’ve waited all year for this.” I don’t want it to slip away, do you? I didn’t think so.

I’m inviting myself to spend at least a short time each day of these 99 days of summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) to engage in something that can only be done in the summer. Want to join me?

Some of my favorite summer activities easily fit around a work day like taking my basket of books Books for a Summer Morning outside in the morning instead of staying in my living room chair, enjoying dinner on the patio table instead of the dining room one, reading outside at lunch time, taking a short walk outside after sunset instead of hanging around the computer. Do any of those work for you?

Summer Breakfast

I hope to get some splashier summer events in like outdoor music, movies in the park, an afternoon at the beach, long bike ride (Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Summer) but this summer I’m focusing on the daily delights of my favorite season.

Taking a hike!

As a reminder, I will daily post on Facebook which day of summer it is…

Today is 4.

Make it Count.

Hope for the best,

Tish

*Popular repost

Farewell My Husband’s Mother

A lovely but unassuming woman, my beloved mother-in-law, Geri, was the most saint-like person I have ever known. She would be so embarrassed to hear me say that and quickly deny but it was true 😊 I think her nine children would agree, I know the one I live with does.

To the envy of all my girlfriends, she always greeted me with something along the lines of how great I looked and later on, how adorable my kids were. Both were not always true. Yet I don’t recall a negative comment about anyone and certainly no unasked-for advice offered. I can only hope to come somewhat close to that standard with my in-law kids.

Even when her memory and eventually her conversational voice left her, she would pop out a smile or a look in her eyes that conveyed, “I’m still in here and I love you.” And I’m sure she still prayed for each of her over fifty descendants across multiple generations. Praying isn’t disrupted by memory loss.

I could tell 100 stories but her last day was quite significant.

On that day in December, the meteorological darkest day of the year, we sat vigil with her with along with other family members. One by one the staff of her facility came to say goodbye. Each one took time to tell us how much they enjoyed taking care of her and how kind she was.

The startling part of this is that none of them had never known her “well” and most of them had never heard her speak. In a way that can only be explained in spiritual terms, Geri had connected with them on a heart level and reached in and touched their lives. Quite consistent with the how she lived.

Beautiful younger Geri

We sat and watched, amazed but not surprised.. On the last day of her life, she finished the tutorial on how to live and how to love that started the first time I met her some 46 years ago.

Geri’s favorite times were the occasions when all her children were together so it seemed fitting to wait until the whole clan could gather to say a final goodbye. With such a far-flung gang, that took some planning.

This Saturday is the day.

Stories told and tears shed will fill the moments but knowing this crowd, lots of love and laughing will spill over all day as well. This family knows how to throw a party.

We’ll end the memorial at the tiny Czech country cemetery History of the cemetery where Geri’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, husband are also laid to rest. Indeed a holy place.

Family Cemetery

Raise your glass to Geri and join those of us who knew and loved her in celebrating a woman who extraordinarily shaped us all.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

“A Mess of Mushrooms.”

Do these look familiar? Just seeing the box brought up so many memories of chilly early mornings in May, traipsing out in the country with my dad looking for these elusive gems: morel mushrooms. I looked forward to it all year.

Mushroom hunting was a top-secret venture in Quincy. You took no one with you and told no one where you were going. Neighbors would talk about bring home a “mess of mushrooms” but I knew better than to inquire where they found them. It was impolite even to ask.

So, I was thrilled to find this box at our local Farmer’s Market last Saturday. Tom’s Czech grandma lived in Cicero which has an annual 3 day festival and parade to honor the lowly Houby (mushroom in Czech.) He was definitely in for the purchase.

On the way to the stand, Tom and I wondered how high the price would be and decided how much we were willing to spend, $10.

“$50 a pound” the guy pronounced. I have never purchased any food item for anything close to that price.

“But you can just buy a few if you wish” he offered. I pulled out my $10 and he put three in the bag, 3!

The adventure was on!

Cut in half and soaking.

We came home and watched five you-tube videos on how to prepare them. Didn’t want to risk ruining any sliver of the golden fungi. Good thing we did as Tom was ready to sample a tiny bite raw. “Eating them raw will send you to the hospital.” An important fact to keep in mind.

Tom started the soaking process, crucial for eliminating bugs. The videos had different opinions for how long this was to go on. Salt or no salt? Hot or cold water? Each one offered a different method.

Then the choice of: flour/egg/dry/lard/butter/oil. Each recipe had variations. Cooking our three morels was getting so complicated.

Options for coating the gems.

Houby master at work.

“Cook for one minute on each side” said one script. “Cook for seven minutes on each side” announced another. Keeping the threat of the hospital in mind, we decided to go with more like five.

Sizzlin’ in the skillet

 

Finally they were done. I decided to try to get as many minuscule bites out of my 1.5 as I could. Still didn’t take long to wipe them out.

A tad crispy!

Not quite like I remember from back in the day but the same could be said for a lot of things. Of course, we didn’t just buy the mushrooms but the culinary experience and certainly the nostalgia. I don’t think I’ll find another patch under an old tree like before so this will have to be it.

What food item would you pay $50 a pound for?

Hope for the best,

Tish



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