Monday, March 30, 2009

All is Groovy! (Happy B-Day, Sis!)

Today is the real-deal day!
When Diann told me a while back that she was dreading her milestone birthday, I decided her gift theme needed to be based upon the 1967 song the Harpers Bizarre group made popular. (Later made even more popular by Simon and Garfunkle.) With Google Search images of girls wearing go-go boots and mini skirts, a face picture of Diann, a color printer and some scissors, the first thing I did was make groovy paper dolls of Diann feelin' groovy herself!
Feelin' Groovy LYRICS
Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble-stones, lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy Feeling groovy
This gift involved a little birthday cake -
a lasting one - and some Boston Baked Beans candy.
That candy is one of her favorites and looks a lot like cobble stones!
Hello lamp-post, what's cha knowing, I've come to watch your flowers growin'
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me, do-it-do-do, feelin' groovy Feeling groovy
Because this verse had the word 'watch'
she received a watch!
I've got no deeds to do, no promises to keep I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me Life I love you, all is groovy
And because 'drowsy and ready to sleep' was
in the verse the gift was a nightgown.
The last gift was one that was the most fun...a book made of 6o memories we shared -
and it still wasn't long enough to celebrate all the reasons she makes the world a much groovier place by simply being in it...Happy Birthday, Diann! May it be your best year ever..and might I say you still look
quite young in those go-go boots and mini dresses?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

One Hundred and Twenty Years!

Combined, these two have celebrated 120 years on this earth! Diann and Larry - my sister and brother-in-law.
They recently had a birthday party in their honor and this was one of the pictures shown in their video. Somehow, it ended up in my possession. It was taken at North Park College when Larry was Tarred and Feathered in the late 1960's as an engagement tradition there. (This "tradition" has since been banned on the campus.)
What I like about this picture is that it shows the affection between the two. Diann is reaching out to console/comfort/commiserate with her sweetheart, and he is smiling at her to convey he is happy she is there and knows she'll rescue him from his distress - sort of like a reverse knight in shining armour thing going on here.
Flash forward thiry some years and Diann and Larry now have three grown sons, two lovely daughter-in-laws, four incredible Grandchildren and innumerable people who simply adore these celebrants.

Lucky me...I got to light all their candles. (And, no it wasn't 120 candles.) (And, yes, the cake was gorgeous and from the same bakery that provided the Dala Horse cake for Baby Ingrid's first birthday.)

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y , L & D !!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flying the Friendly Skies (P*S*C* #16)

Imagine our delight when arriving at our United flight gate to see our friend Darilyn waiting to board as our Flight Attendant! In the 25 years she has been working, we have never been so fortunate to be one of her "charges." Of course, Pink wanted to get in the photo!Once we were airborne and the attendants were passing out beverages, we got the star treatment from Darilyn...and the envy of our fellow passengers as she brought us our own personal "refreshment." Class act that Darilyn is - she even brought some for our third seat partner! As a result, he became our BFF on the whole trip back to Chicago: letting us out to visit the little room in the back and walk the aisle with ready willingness to pop out of his aisle seat! Wes' favorite part about deboarding was when he hugged the flight attendant on the way out, much to the regret of his fellow male passengers that they didn't have the Darilyn connection, too. What a way to conclude Pink Suitcase Chronicles number sixteen!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Night Encounter of the Best Kind (P*S*C* #16)

When our friends, the Youngmans, told us they had gone to see the Chihuly glassworks at the Desert Botanical Garden at night to see the glassworks all lit up, we knew we had to go back! Being the thrifty folks we are, we used our admission tickets to go to the DBG first thing when it opened, left when it got hot outside (plus we had to get back to work on our project), and then we came back for the last hour the gardens were open. One word: magical!
These pieces can be seen at the entrance to the gardens.
Doesn't this look like fireworks? This piece is the same size as a real tree!

But the one piece that all the garden-goers seemed to be flocking to at night was the Saffron Tower. This piece is about the height of a two-story building and is a wonder to behold in picture you just can't get same scope.

The glow is coming from the tower...doesn't it have the feel like aliens are coming and the glow is from the spacecraft?

Thoughts went through my head as I gathered with the crowd around the tower: This looks like my high school bonfire! Is this what the burning bush in the Bible looked like? Has E.T phoned home and they're coming to get him? It was oddly, wonderfully weird. So much so that people were taking pictures with flash regularity for complete strangers. A community was being born of the folks surrounding the Chihuly Saffron Tower. World peace was possible.

This was our last night to be spent in Arizona. It was memorable. Certainly magical. And it really helped us to balance a difficult trip with a good experience following many challenges.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Ostrich Festival (P*S*C* #16)

What would YOU think if you saw this sign on the side of the road? Would YOU want to go?

Somehow, the idea of going to something never gone to before intrigued me - Wes not as much. After all, it would provide a goal for us to complete at our work project, and we could eat lunch there, too.

So, we took a break and headed to Tumbleweed Park.

Much to our surprise, there was a huge turnout for this festival. We saw the parking fee alone was $5.00 and opted to walk from a distance instead - exercise, you know?

Once at the gate, there were lines forming at the ticket booth.

And wild rides to be viewed in the distance. This was a big deal! And $9.00 per person to enter. To pay $18.00 for just an hour break here seemed crazy! Besides, where were the ostriches?

We walked around the fence to see if we could spot any ostrich action - this wasn't exactly how we imagined a festival celebrating ostriches should look like. But wait! There they are!!! Poor things are penned up and on the 6:00 news later that night we heard how they were racing these awkward guys. If you look closely, you can see that we finally found these attractive-challenged birds in a pen far from the ride action.

We opted out. Oh, well. At least we tried.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The D & W Fast-Food Critic Team (P*S*C* #16)

Of course we both like to eat good, healthy food...but neither of us would consider ourselves to be foodies. When we were in Arizona, we were working on a big project involving
l-o-n-g days with no operating kitchen facilities. With the basic need of food, short on time, and in honor/memory of the family members who used to live in this area and went to McDonald's every single day, we decided to try out every nearby fast food establishment and rate them!

A common thread with each breakfast meal was that we would split the cinnamon roll offered at each fast food place. (Rating on a four star system with one star as the lowest.)

Here are our results for these cinnamon "sins":


Deb: These rolls have it all...gooey with ample cinnamon ribbons throughout the roll that tasted just like Grandma had made it from scratch. A half isn't enough! ****

Wes: Very good. ***1/2


Deb: Yummy, so gooey you need a fork to eat it (and are tempted to lick out the container because so much goo is left over once the roll is eaten!) ***3/4

Wes: Too much frosting and sweetness! **1/2

Burger King

Deb: These four little cini-minis come with a separate packet of frosting. Good thing the frosting is available, because these little swirls are as dry as the desert day we were having! *

Wes: At first I thought these were the best because they weren't sweet like the others. But when we went back to Wendy's for a second comparison, I realized I liked Wendy's better! ***

Cinnamon roll winner: Wendy's

Next category: egg entrees

Burger King

Deb: I had the Bacon/egg/cheese wrap. It was a little funny looking when I unwrapped it due to the petite little potato rounds tucked inside. However, the flavors melded nicely and it was better than it looked. **2/3

Wes: This egg/cheese croissandwich is my traditional favorite. I like it without the bacon or sausage because it's less fat. ***2/3


Deb (visit #1): The breakfast biscuit with egg and cheese was the best fast food biscuit combo I've ever eaten! The cheese and egg were tasty as could be, but the biscuit was divine - soft on the inside with a touch of crispness on the outside. Again, this tasted like something Grandma would have made! ****

Wes (visit #1): I had the biscuit just like Deb did. It was delicious...and quickly devoured. ****

Deb: We saw the Bacon/cheese panini on the menu the first visit, and agreed to come back on our last day to try it out! It was the best!!! Freshly made with grill marks on the bread, and the right balance of inner ingredients. ****

Wes: Not able to comment immediately because he couldn't put it down! ****

Egg Entree winner: Wendy's once again!

And also a shout-out goes to Wendy's for their delicious Minute Maid yogurt smoothie!! Nice blend of o.j. (with pulp and mini bits of oranges) and frozen yogurt!

We also ate most lunches and suppers at fast-food places (and NO we aren't going to be making a documentary on this experience anytime in the near future) and wish to pass along our recommendations for these to our loyal followers - all three of you.

Del Taco is good. Especially if you like a spicy kick to your Mexican food meals. Too many jalapenos and onions for Wes. I enjoyed my chicken and cheese quesadilla quite a bit.

The new roast beef sandwich specials at Arby's are very tasty. Wes liked all the add-ins in the cheddar and ranch and I liked the bleu in the bleu cheese.

KFC has a decadent mashed potato bowl. Wes missed the "Chicago" in the hot dog and though the meat was tasty, he had to add relish to kick it up a notch.

Our overall winner: Wendy's!!!

After our five days of eating (mostly) like this, we can honestly say we're not ready for any more fast food any time soon. We did what we needed to do as far as our family business, and this added a bit of fun to our days - and amazingly enough neither of us gained a pound. However, our arteries are not talking to us at the moment...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pink Suitcase Chronicles #16: Arizona Challenge

When people hear you are going to get away to Arizona in the midst of a nasty Chicagoland winter, their first response is, "You're so lucky! I wish I could get away!"
True, Arizona is in the desert. Skies are blue, air is warm, saguaros aplenty...mountains to explore. Except this was going to be a working trip as we dealt with family business. And long hours of hard work. No time for mountain hiking, laying beside the pool and soaking in the rays of the sun. However, I believe we made the most of this working trip - joking about becoming fast-food critics, attempting to steal away to an Ostrich Festival and revisiting the Chihuly glassworks at the Desert Botanic Garden. Thus another edition of the Pink Suitcase Chronicles kicks off with this post.
We used to find our hotel accommodations. I can't say enough about finding good deals through this online connection! This place was a resort and the rooms, gardens and pool were wonderful. Pink liked this car parked in front of the hotel for the 1957 class reunion going on while we were there...a vintage 1957 Chevy Bel Air!
Here's what the bathtub-temp pool looked like during the day. We used it at night as a goal after completing our day of was heaven to soak away our stiff muscles.

It was also heavenly to sleep with windows open and breathe in the Arizona fresh air. And eat warm cinnamon rolls every morning for breakfast as Wes and I challenged each other to find the best fast-food place for these. Coming soon: our unhealthy eating choices and which restaurant wins: will it be Arby's, Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King, or Del Taco? We actually ended up quite surprised with the winner!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Why After 40+ Years Do I Feel This Compelled?

It has been a really really long time since I was a school girl and writing book reports. They were always one of my favorite assignments! Creating a diorama, dressing up as a storybook character, penning the perspective in first person, writing in diary format...I loved it all!
Wes brought home a book recently from a colleague at North Park in the Science Department. The colleague thought Wes would like the book due to the title character sharing the same name: Wesley. And this Wesley is a barn owl.

The writer/owl caregiver receives a four day old owlet who has nerve damage to a wing so he can never be released into the wild. She describes how he looks: "His eyes weren't open yet, and except for a tuft of white down feathers on his head and three rows of fluff along his back, he was pink and naked. His long, lanky legs stuck out awkwardly, and his oversized talons erratically scratched anyone who held him. His scrawny body had two little nubs that would eventually become wings, and his pterodactyl-like head wobbled from side to side."

And how did Stacey come to choose the name Wesley for her little owlet I wondered? She said that she thought the name seemed perfect. "Cute enough for a baby owl yet wise and sophisticated for when he grew into a distinguished adult bird of prey." (I imagine Wes' parents chose the name for the same reasons of cute in childhood and refined in adulthood...and Wes has always liked his name, too.)
Stacey and Wesley lived together for close to twenty years. Theirs is an amazing story of living, learning, growing and accepting. Reading this book introduced me to the world of a barn owl and the Way of the Owl far more than I thought it would. I was truly wishing the book wouldn't end - it was that mesmerizing and entertaining.
So, back to how I would do the book report. There's an adorable plush owl that you can purchase and I would dress up as Stacey and hold Wesley (plush - not husband!) in my arms and tell stories about our crazy times together and sometimes Wesley would respond with a nod of the head and sometimes he would dash around my head wildly shrieking and I would understand what I was supposed to know and react accordingly. Or maybe make a little diorama with a finger puppet owl inside acting out the stories. Wait! Maybe I could tell the story from Wesley's perspective...
Please think about reading this book!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


When I was a little girl, it was my heart's desire to be the owner of a charm bracelet. However, it was my mother's opinion that a charm bracelet was "foolishness." So no bracelet.
Around the time I approached the age of 45, I decided it was foolishness on my part to hang on with regret with what I wished for as a girl. Since that time, with gifts from others as well as purchases on my own, I have come to have quite a collection of little mementos of the life journey I'm on. There's a honker of an engagement ring to represent that exciting time when we decided to make our lifelong commitment happen, a Mother, a Sister, Annie and John charm to represent my roles within the family. Then there are those hobbies: figure skating (armchair participant), dolphin and whale watching, a sewing machine, hats, purses, books. Due to a love for travel, there's an airplane and several charms from places we've visited like the Seattle Space Needle, a Colorado columbine flower, and of, course Disney landmarks. And a cat to represent Marshie and a dachshund for Boots and a turtle for all those "adopted" ones from Golden Lake in summertime. The most curious charm of all came as a gift from Anne: it's a church with a steeple and if you look inside the little door peephole, you can see the Lord's Prayer in miniature!
It may seem pretty trivial and silly to take pleasure out of this little charm bracelet, but it helps me to have a visible reminder of the charmed life I have been blessed to live. Do you - or someone close to you - have a charm bracelet, too?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pink Suitcase Chronicles #15: Yet Another Winter Wonderland

We have just returned from snowy Minnesota where we enjoyed a visit with Wes' folks and celebrated the birthday of his sweet Mother. The snow was piled high in the background of my Pink. Maybe 10 feet tall in this picture? But the skies were bright blue, and the company was delightful.
I have had do make do with Pink's recent tag loss. No new one came from American Tourister and those two empty "black holes" were starting to be bothersome, so I found some ribbon and threaded it through the holes. Much better!
Here are my in-laws as we ate brunch out. And here is my MIL as she opened her Vacation-in-a-Box gift: a travel DVD, lotions and soaps with exotic tropical scents, notecards with a Hawaiian theme. Perfect (hopefully) for the armchair traveler!
Wes and I had time to bake some lingonberry bread for our hosts...have you seen this mix from IKEA? It is so easy and so delicious.

We are so thankful that these two are living in a comfortable, warm and inviting situatation surrounded by friends and care. We miss not having them closer.

Happy Birthday, Dear One. You are beautiful on the inside and outside...and I just LOVE this hat!