Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All I Really Need?

I promised myself I would jettison extraneous stuff in our house in order to make room for more extraneous stuff. It just makes sense. (It also minimizes the chaos, which I find dispiriting.)

Among the ejectees are books.

I We have a lot of books in our house. There are my Dad's books, my Mom's books, even my brother-the-writer's books. And there is my personal stash. A stashary, if you will.

In a burst of "Make room for more," I started to build a pile of let go-ables, books that I bought from the library sale but didn't finish. (Life's too short to read everything.) Books that I never got around to opening (because I don't like mysteries or most genre fiction). A few dogs chosen for book club (just a couple).

When the culling was complete, I found Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I doubt I've looked at it since it came out. In trying to guess the year it was copyrighted, I was stunned to see it was 1988.

(I'm not tracking time very well. This worries me.)

 Among Fulghum's essays was one on Mother Teresa:
"To cut through the smog of helpless cynicism, to take only the tool of uncompromising love; to make manifest the capacity for healing humanity's wounds; to make the story of the Good Samaritan a living reality; and to live so true a life as to shine out from the back streets of Calcutta takes courage and faith we cannot admit in ourselves and cannot be without."
Bear in mind, he disagrees with  much of what she stood for, what he calls "her version of God." But even in that struggle, he was awestruck by her ability to heal the broken. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

I may keep this book.

(Fulghum's full essay can be found here.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What We Keep II

As you may recall, we were in Savannah a few weeks ago, readying my mother-in-law's home for a new owner.

It took several bittersweet days.

Betty loved her home and filled it with lovely things in the 20 years that she lived there. It took some time to figure out what needed to go where, particularly as she was one to keep things tucked throughout her beautiful home.

She had even saved a letter I wrote to her and my father-in-law in 1980 when I married their son, detailing what their friends had sent to us as wedding gifts.

("Gosh, Mom," our daughter later observed. "You typed this on a typewriter.")

(I am, if nothing, quaint.)

In the kitchen, there was a drawer filled with unused 35 mm film. While Betty was a keen traveler and had amassed (I am not making this up) thousands of photographs, there was one roll that had yet to be processed.

I dropped it this week at Walgreen's.

This is what popped up:

I'd guess Carcassone in France, except I think the sign on the left is in Italian. (Aren't crenellations great? Another fancy we shared in common.)

There were a few more photos in the crenellated vein, and then there began a new photo stream:

Christmas. At our old house. In 1995. (I had to check my albums to pinpoint the year.) That's 17 Christmases ago.

We were in braces and flannel then, with more hair, fewer pounds and a passion for American Girl dolls, precision skating, horseback riding and dog-themed clothes. All the excesses and possibilities of Christmas under an artificial tree that fell down a week before this photograph was taken.

(There appears to be a marijuana plant in the foreground, which has me completely flummoxed. I have no memory of this.)

What I do remember is a luxurious morning of laughter and gifts and cinnamon rolls and non-stop chatter.

It's nice to look back, especially since we looked pretty good back then.

Thanks for the memories, Betty. Then, and now.

Naperville Now participates each week in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what other Alphabetarians are writing about here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WW II Honor Flight

My husband was a witness among a great many last night as some 80 World War II veterans returned to Chicago on an Honor Flight after visiting their war memorial in Washington, D.C.

Charlie was invited by Glenn, who plays with the 45-member Frankfort Brass Band. The band plays for all the welcome home receptions at Midway Airport. (There have been nine celebrations this year.) Everything -- escorts (active duty military), buses, band, and airplanes -- happens on a volunteer basis.

Families waited for their loved ones with signs and cheered as they come through the terminal.

A small way to say thanks for your service. Thank you for our freedom.

These are words that we overlooked while our own fathers were still living.

It seemed like a good time to say what needed to be said, even if it was offered up silently while applauding these men and women.

Fantastically, Charlie happened on some familiar faces in the crowd. Our friend, John, was returning on this honor flight. A bunch of his pals from our church were there to celebrate his return.

Truly a moment among moments.


There were quite a few.

Bless the great hearts that started Honor Flight and are seeing it through to the end.

We wish our dads were here to experience this first hand.


We love you and thank you for your service.
(All Midway shots courtesy of Charlie Johnpeter.)
Naperville Now links up each week with Mrs. Matlock at Alphabe-Thursday.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Belay That

I will admit to being somewhat of a rock climber myself, back when we wore Keds and had no fear. My childhood pal, Cam, and I spent hours scrambling over what the glaciers left behind in the woods close to our house.

Here in the Midwest, the topography isn't nearly as interesting or climable. But at the grand age of 3, Zach managed to scale this boulder which lives in our front yard. (I am assuming a backhoe capable of moving it elsewhere broke down in 1988 and the builder chose to overlook 2,000 pounds of eyesore. I've tried planting impatiens in its nooks and crannies. Some years we have success. This year, we did not.)

Naturally, whatever Big Brother does, Baby must follow.

(She had little bit of help.)

Both kids are pretty fearless.

This is both a wonderful and terrifying DNA trait.

It makes me want to take them on lots of exciting adventures, as long as they are dressed in tennies. And bubble wrap.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What We Keep

The Joads Naperville Now pulled out of Savannah, GA, at 8 a.m. and landed in St. Louis at 9 p.m. I think it's about 9,000 miles. Close to that, anyway. And I have a cold and a cough. And I couldn't do any quilting because I couldn't see well enough in the dim of the cab. And Charlie's watch kept beeping the hour while I was trying valiantly to nap. And road food is positively awful, awful, awful.

But we have tucked a few memories on board. Ironstone dishes that remind us of our Mom and all those wonderful dinners enjoyed on her screened-in porch. Pressed stemware that accompanied those meals. Quilting books, patterns and unfinished quilts. A tonnage of photographs taken across 90 years. Furniture that arrived miraculously undamaged after miles of rough road.

My driver did a fine job figuring out where and how to fit everything in the truck. These are new skills to us, but give a man some rope and packing tape, miracles are possible. (No dog crate had to be bungeed to the roof in the making of this adventure.)

We will leave for Naperville around lunchtime tomorrow, having spent a few days rearranging and recuperating with our daughter, AJ, and her family.

I am drafting ideas on my next post about stuff -- what we keep and why we keep it. Possessions are funny things.

Let me know what you have amassed in your cupboards/garage/attic/storage unit. What's your plan for everything? Is there a plan?

Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what others have to say here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Not Your Usual Message

Those Presbyterians.

We've been in Savannah this past week. I had hoped to upload a bunch of marsh, ocean and palm pictures to help tide you into winter. The modem, however, disappeared for several days until it was plucked from a box destined for the e-cycling center.

Close one.

We are now happily connected but up to our eyebrows in paper, cardboard and logistics.

At the very least, I hope to write a post from the cab of the U-haul truck.

Meanwhile, the weather here in coastal Georgia is nothing short of spectacular.

Wish you were here.

Naperville Now joins up with Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday each week. Check out what the other Alphabeterians are up to.

Monday, October 8, 2012


An iPhone camera in the hands of someone who has enjoyed a fabulous wedding reception the night before will not make for crisp pictures. Nevertheless, I wanted to share these soaring views.

Clearly, ceiling white was not in the vocabulary of the Palmer House dreamers. (I'm going to have to read up on my Greek mythology, also shaky, to deduce who everyone is in these frescoes.)

A feast of marble and gilt, fresco and ancient history, and fresh-faced newlyweds in the midst of everything.

Happy wedding, you two. Happy life together.

And if you get a chance to stay downtown, at the very least, order afternoon tea in the lobby and soak it all in.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Painter Pals

Our pal Connie thought she was on her way to a Lisle restaurant for a gourmet hamburger.

Instead, she got a birthday surprise: a Paint Party, hosted by her daughter.

(That's the birthday girl in the black sweater.)

She was really, really surprised. (I love that when that happens.)

The great thing about a paint party is that you don't have to have actual talent to paint. I know this because I've attended two of these soirees now, and I can assure you, I can't paint.

But, that's not the paint (a little art humor there).

You just take a few of these:

and some of this:

and maybe, just maybe, some of this:

Add mirth for good measure, and you have you a paint party.

You can start with an idea or rip off be inspired by someone else's art.

This is Sue. She alleges she has never painted before.

Her pants are definitely on fire because look how her painting turned out. (I sat next to her the whole time. No smoke, mirrors or copy machines were used in the making of her landscape.)

My masterwork is on just over her right shoulder. Drawing will never be my calling, but I can daub blue and yellow onto a grid with the best of them. Mostly.

Cheers, Connie.

And happy birthday from all of us.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Tree Conflicted

Going all out?

My side does look great, although I seem to be thinning a bit. Are you thinning?

Nope. Leaves intact. And still green.

I hear leaf colors are going to be duller this year because of the drought. The science guys clearly have not visited our side of Naperville.


Ah, me. That sky. That light, diminishing though it may be.

Your optimism never ceases to amaze me.

I am rather spectacular that way.

Which may be why we make for a pretty great tree.

We do. Though we could definitely use a drink.

Rain's in the forecast.

Where'd you hear that?

Carpool line radio.

Anything else going on that I should know about?

Presidential debate tonight. POTUS, the other guy, and Jim Lehrer, talking domestic policy.

Mandatory tree-watering comes to mind.

No argument.

Where's the debate?


Aspen trees. So quivery and full of themselves.

And definitely yellow.

Red/orange/crimson is so much prettier.

Definitely looks good on you.


(This is the second 2012 installment of the Conflicted series. I first noticed this color-challenged tree here, and posted about it here and here. This fall, the tree by school began to change color several weeks ago and I wrote about it here. I like trees that are a little bit sassy and occasionally opinionated for what else can they be as they face down the dispiriting gray of winter? And have I mentioned the soul-crushing cold?) 

Linking up this week at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Twee Apples

These are either Paula Red, Duchess or Jefferies apples, bought in Michigan last week. The clerk scrawled the names across the paper bag so quickly that I can't remember which apple was which.

What I loved about these little guys is three bites, and you're done. A healthy snack for the easily distracted.

The applesauce I made from two of the varieties was fabulous (if I do say so myself.) However, my troops generally prefer pink applesauce cooked up from Jonathans.

We're fancy that way.