Monday, October 29, 2012

10, 9, 8, 7, 6 - YES only 6 More Days!!

Monday, October 29, 2012 - HURRICANE SANDY IS HERE!!!

As I sit here with my computer in my lap, I'm watching TV and constant updates on what's going on outside in other areas of CT and the east coast about Hurricane Sandy. Supposed to be the worst ever for CT!! And, that's saying allot!!  Having lived here on and off for over 20 years, I've seen many horrible storms here - hurricanes, snow, wind, nor easters, etc.

The wind has steadily picked up and the rain is now steadily coming down. The coast is flooded and getting worse. The highest storm serge ever forecasted.  The worst is supposed to hit by mid afternoon and into the evening.

We've all had our showers, dishes washed, clothes washed, gadgets/computers powered, enough non perishable food in the house for 9 people (4 adults and 5 healthy growing boys (8-17!)), paper plates, plastic cups and utensils on the counter all ready for the loss of power that's expected.

Will continue to update via facebook!

But we've had a great time this past week visiting with family!!  Mike's cousin Denise and her husband, Dennis, live in Tyringham, MA and operate a beautiful story book historical venue called Santarella Gardens. It's a must see and you can by going to
You won't be disappointed!!

So off we went last Tuesday with only an hour and a half drive from my daughter Denise's home in Farmington, CT.  The drive is always beautiful as it follows the Farmington River and in particular at this time of year with all of the colorful foliage!

In addition to us being there, Mike's cousin, Walt and his wife, Carol, from Deming, NM were here visiting also. We had just seen them for a couple of days at their home in Deming during our cross country adventure.

Since the weather was pretty punky, we spent the majority of the time just sitting around talking and catching up with what's going on with the "family".  Denise even brought out old photos of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, kids, etc. So much history!

Our accommodations, as always, are like being in a fairy tale.  They have 2 old silos that have been converted to overnight rental units and we always enjoy the experience!  THANK YOU, Denise & Dennis!!

More time over the weekend spent watching the grandsons and their football and baseball games.  Peter's team won the weekend, single elimination tournament that his team played in. Go Peter!!

Yesterday, Mike's other cousin, Tom, who only lives a few miles from my daughter's, came to Maddox's football game and afterwards we went to a local watering hole to continue our visit.

Just so awesome that we have so much family so close together!!

So I'm going to close now as the wind is really really picking up! YIKES!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Final Stage in CT

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where did the week go!!!  It's getting sooooo close!  Butterflys in the belly, mind going round and round with details that still need to be worked out, and just plain EXCITEMENT!!!

However, we're still enjoying our time left on this beautiful US venture!!

The remaining days we spent with Patti & Mike Owens in MI were pure laziness for me - and I LOVED every moment of it!!  I walked on the beach in the brilliant sunlight, I read in the living room, but decided the Crow's Nest was a much vantage point to see the lake and listen to the Mikes talking away while working hard in the yard! LOL

And, that's exactly what they did!! So much accomplished for the Fall cleanup! My Mike so enjoyed being of help and being able to "give back" for the fabulous accomodations, fine dining, and libations, which we do thoroughly loved!! THANK YOU, Patti & Mike!!

On Thursday morning, we were sent off in better weather than was expected to head off to our last "tourist" destination while on this 3 month US adventure - Niagara Falls!!

We crossed over the border in Port Huron and pointed the car east to the Falls on the Canadian side, which in my opinion has the best vantage point of seeing this wonder of the world.  Arriving in sunlight, we made a bee line straight to the parking. 

Mike had never seen them so that's why it was important to put them on our "bucket list".  He was thrilled that we did!!  They are so magnificent!  Taking the tour "down below", we doned our yellow ponchos and walked the tunnels. Watching the look of joy and wonderment on Mike's face was so satisfying!

Our last leg of driving started in beautiful sunlight allowing us to enjoy the beautiful fall foiliage and splendor of the Finger Lakes in NY.  The drive through all of the small old villages with beautiful old homes was fantastic and, for me, very nostalgic.

However, the last half of the day was spent driving through torrential rain!! We were very happy to arrive safe and sound at the Malario household by 7:30pm!!

The weekend was spent catching up, going to our grandson's football games, and meeting our kid's friends. Love seeing how their lives are full.

On Sunday, Denise & I went to a beautiful Greek wedding of her Goddaughter, Christina. A good time had by all!!

Last night we had family photos taken and they were a huge success!! See for yourselves.

We're off later today to head up to the Berkshire Mountains where Mike's cousin, Denise & Dennis, live.  That's a beautiful story all by itself and will be in the next post.

What's most amazing to me is that our US journey is drawing to a close very quickly!!  I'm sad but then I think of what lays ahead for us!  YIKES, it's here!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our LAST Week on the Road in the US!!!

Monday, October 15th

We really packed in what we could at the end of our stay in Chicago!

Friday evening we decided to head to Chinatown, which was only blocks from Oren & Michele's place.  But, because it was raining and blowing, we drove rather than walked. Meandering down the street, walking through a statue park, we came upon a pedestrian "mall" where there were restaurant after restaurant.  All were well attended making it difficult to decide where to stop.

Our choice became Ming Hin decided by Mike. The one observation that we all made was that the restaurants no matter what caliber were extremely brightly lit - like daylight - interesting....

Ming Hin looked a bit more elegant and unique with its decor. Success!!! We ordered many different items and a great meal was had by all!!  And lots of leftovers to take back to Mo, our growing teenager who made short order of them.

The plan for Saturday was to visit as many venues as possible in the neighborhood that were on the Chicago Architecture Open House weekend for FREE!  But alas, we all awoke to pouring rain and gusty winds. Not a good combination for walking the streets for hours.

We decided to wait it out. Oren made pancakes that we devoured and we all settled in to our own worlds - sewing, reading, watching TV.  Nice actually!! So Mike tooke pictures of Oren & Michele's beautiful "urban" home that we love!!

By 2pm we felt the weather had improved enough to try to venture out. We made it to the Glessner House in the South Prairie District down the street and took a back room tour that no one ever gets to see - the servants quarters.  Interesting!

From there we walked several blocks in the opposite direction to the Columbia College Media Building and had a delightful tour of the classrooms, sound stages, and animated sound stages. Very fascinating!!

With time leftover, we walked back to the South Prairie District and toured 2 more historical homes.  Mike and I love to look at historic - well, we love to look at homes!! LOL!! What else do Realtors® do when on vacation???

All in all, we made lemonade out of lemons and felt we were able to see some important and fascinating Chicago landmarks!

A home cooked meal of sweet Italian sausage left us all satisfied and ready to head out to hear Jazz on the north side. Off we went and after some nasty Chicago traffic arrived in an entertainment district just west of Lincoln Park. We drove and turned and drove and turned trying to find parking ANYWHERE!!!  But, nooooooo!!!  So Oren made the executive decision to chuck it and head back to their "hood" where there are several Jazz clubs.

Arriving in the neighborhood just north of them around the Dearborn Train Station with ample parking, we entered the Jazz Showcase club about mid way through the first set.  I truly don't remember the name of the Quintet playing but it was a local group and they were FANTASTIC!!!  I could have listened to them many more hours as we all felt they were just getting warmed up by the time they quit playing.

The venue was quite intimate and cozy and we found ourselves ensconced on a Victorian divan and me on a straight back chair.  I only bring up the straight back chair because after sitting on it for almost 3 hours, my rear end was screaming at me!! And, it was still sore the next day!! LOL 

I did ask Mike to change places with me toward the end but the damage was done. Plus when I sat on the divan, I sunk so low I couldn't really see very well.  The lesser of two evils for me was truly the straight back chair. Plus, I got to watch the guy in front of me grope his date all night, which she didn't seem to mind.  Michele and I wanted to tell them to go get a room already!!!

Not getting to bed until almost 1am made our goal of getting on the road by 10am impossible!! Our eyes slowly opened about 9am and so we decided to take Michele up on a wonderful home cooked breakfast rather than time for lunch on the road. It most definitely did the trick!

We packed up and said our tearful "see ya laters" and were on the road by 12:30pm.  With peddle to the metal, we made it to Patti & Mike Owens on Lakeshore North, Palms, MI (the "thumb") by 7pm - our goal!  Warm hugs and kisses greated us along with Zoe and Casey (English Cockers).  We hadn't see them since my daughter Denise's wedding 12 years ago!!

With a great reception we were ushered into their beautiful timber frame home on the shores of Lake Huron.  Since I've known Mike & Patti for 39 years, their home, even though new, was very familiar to me.  Much of their art and collectibles were items that I had grown to love also over the years.

It was on this property, with an old original cottage, that my son, Tim and his wife, Andrea, spent their honeymoon many years ago.  This was my first time laying eyes on the stunning lake view.  I felt closer to my son than I have in years. Love you, my son.

What's great about this trip also is that my Mike is getting a chance to get to know Patti & Mike.  Mike & Mike have lots in common and hit it off magnificently from the get go!  Always a nice thing when the couples mesh.  So while Mike & Mike talked it up and watched football while Mike O, whose a magnificent chef, cooked us a fine dinner, Patti and I were able to begin our "catch up".

I have to interject a funny item here. You see Patti and I have the same name Patricia, so it's a good thing I go by Tricia or we'd be Mike & Patti X 2.  As it is, when I call out for Mike, they both answer simultaneously!  Funny!!

Today we again woke up to dank dark clouds and some rain.  But, it didn't stop us from having our morning visit and deciding to drive down the road to do some sight seeing and have brunch at a true "local" place in Lexington, MI.  An old gas station turned diner. Love places like this!!

Upon arriving back at "home", Mike O put Mike L to work! The raked up many leaves and walnuts and carted them off several times down the hill to the beach. Then it was time for them to pull up the beach deck and furniture and get it all stored into the beach/boat storage house.  Mike O was quite happy to have the free help and to get 2 things accomplished in one day! He says "wait until tomorrow! I've got some great projects for him to help me with!!"  Mike L is very happy to be useful and doing some active work!!

Patti is off to Canada for her signing chorus practice, Mike & Mike are watching Monday night football, and I am relaxing in our bedroom writing the blog along with a fine glass of wine!

Life's pretty darned good right now!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicago Fun!

Friday, October 12, 2012

First, it's my brother, Curt's, birthday today!!!  Happy Birthday!!!

On Tuesday, my birthday, we really just hung out all morning. But, after some lunch, we went and explored the neighborhood with Michele.

We meandered down a historical neighborhood that is full of the remaining "gold coast" old homes that used to line the lake shore all the way north.  There are 2 homes that can be toured but they were closed on that day so we might try and tour them this afternoon.

We walked down to McCormack Place and then headed east toward the river enjoying the sun and all of the architecture that oozes from everywhere here! Mike was taking a picture of one beautifully restored building when this large man belowed across the street for him to stop taking pictures - that is was not allowed!! No signs anywhere to alert you to this fact.  Digital Realty is the company and it's high sensitive stuff they do.

We then made our way across the train tracks and down to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears!! Go Bears!! Mike is an avid over the top fan and I'm a big fan. When I lived here they went and won the Super Bowl. I was very lucky to have been able to go to a couple of play off games in the infamous stadium.

From there we walked along the lake shore and marina enjoying the beautiful skyline and sunny leisure day.

Birthday dinner out at City Tavern, only a few blocks down Michigan from their home. So completely fabulous to be able to walk to goods and services - walkabilty, as we say.  After a terrific dinner we got the pleasure of walking back in the rain without umbrellas. We were a bit soggy by the time we got back.

Wednesday was spent with my girlfriend, Bonnie, and her husband, Jim, out in the burbs. Bonnie and I had been neighbors back in the early 80's and have been good friends ever since! As is her style, it looked like she was expecting 10 of us to arrive for dinner! No one ever goes hungry in her house! Love you, Bonnie, just the way you are!!! We visited all afternoon and into the evening and it went by way too fast.  Again, NO PICTURES!!! How???

Yesterday was a glorious sunny warm day here in the windy city! Mike and I took the bus uptown and got off at Millenium Park in the heart of the city. What a gem that park is!!  Beautiful !!!

From there we just meandered our way north along Michigan Avenue stopping in some of the shops along the way. We bought a computer backpack that was supposed to fit a 17" computer. It was nice and lightweight and was just the ticket for carrying our jackets and purchases for the day.  I'm was also looking for another pair of zip off travel/camp pants so when we saw Eddie Bauer, in we went. Well, lucky Mike!! He found another pair of zip off pants (he has 2 already) and a light weight rain jacket both on sale and great for traveling. I found nothing. LOL

After lunch at the Elephant & Castle Pub, we continued our walk up to the Water Tower and Hancock Bldg.  A truly beautiful city!!

By that time, it was time for us to catch the bus back down to "home" so we could meet Michele and go to Mo's track meet.  Mo runs the 5K and we definitely wanted to see him do his thing!!  He ended up running his all time fastest at 20:18!! Definitely a very good show for a freshman!

However, before we could even get on the road, we discovered that our car had been blocked into its parking space by another car. Only with Michele and Mike's great directions was I able to get it out of there!  We just made it to the meet in the nick of time to see the race from start to finish! Whew!!

A leisure dinner at home last night with quiet time for everyone - very nice!

After discovering that my computer wouldn't fit into the backpack, off we went this morning by car to return it. Since parking isn't the easiest thing to do in the city, Mike dropped me off at the corner and by the time he had made it around the block, I was back for him to pick me up.  Back down to home and lunch at the corner bar & grill, Kroll's, which is the Blackhawk's official bar! Sweet!!

Thoughts of having dinner in Chinatown tonight since it's right down the street. And, since the weather isn't supposed to be all that great tomorrow, plans are up in the air.