Sunday, October 29, 2017

Baby, It's Cold Outisde

First cold day of the season. It is the last Sunday in October which means Shalom Y'all, the Jewish Food Festival in Savannah, sponsored by Temple Mickve Israel. Met Carol there and a few other friends, ate some good food, heard klezmer music.

Jeff and I drove out to Fort Pulaski to spend a few hours in the solitude and beauty of the grounds. It was too cold for song birds, but we found our way to the Savannah River and watched some huge freighters make their way into the port.

A special treat while watching the gulls - a bald eagle appeared and put on quite a show.

Then I took a walk around the fort enjoying the stillness and history of the grounds.

The best was to come as we went back into town to see our cousins Marlene & Bob Waage. They flew in from Texas for a business conference and we had a lovely dinner together with great conversation and lots of catching up on family stuff.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Once upon a time I was falling in love...

Today was a total solar eclipse which swept across the entire US. We are lucky to live close to the "swath" of totality. So we hopped in the car with chairs and food and headed two and a half hours north on I-95 to Santee, SC. Our plan was to park in the rest area at milepost 99 and have a picnic. Oh, the best laid plans. The rest area was closed, because it was filled to capacity with other like minded people. So we drove to the next exit and drove on a two lane road past two campgrounds along a lake. We saw a family sitting in a small field in front of an apartment complex and under a large shady tree. We pulled in and asked if we could join them.

In the next few minutes our area had about 20 cars and a friendly group of people and a few dogs. One great guy and his son from Florida set up a 8" telescope with solar filter that they invited everyone to peer through. You could see the sun so clearly and sun spots too.

 The day was hot, but perfect viewing weather and few clouds that did not obscure our view. We sat in the shade and ate our lunch while we waited. Around us people had many ways of viewing the eclipse in addition to "eclipse glasses."

Looking into a tub of water.

Cereal box with aluminum foil.

Binoculars with solar filters.

Finally the moon started to block the sun. It was exciting to see as the sun shrank to a small crescent and then it was totally covered. The sky grew dusky, Venus appeared brightly shining and crickets started to chirp. A few buzzards appeared overhead, confused and heading to their nighttime roosts. There was a noticeable temperature drop and even the clouds lowered in the sky due to thermal loss. we imagined how terrifying this would have been to ancient peoples. And how incredible that scientists could tell us exactly when this would happen - to the minute!

 We all took off our eclipse glasses and stared at the darkened sun with its glowing corona. Looking though the telescope was amazing.

As soon as the moon moved enough to show a sliver of sun the daylight reappeared. we packed up our things and headed home. It took a half hour to get back to I-95 and then another five hours to get home. The highway was completely blocked so we detoured through Charleston which was just as bad. But it was all worth it as we experienced an incredible sight that will never be forgotten.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rocky Top

Spending our last night on the road just below Rocky Top, Tennessee. Love the song, did not see the place, except for a string of gas stations and fast food on Interstate 75. We left Chicago this morning and dropped Brian at O'Hare. We drove and drove until stopping for dinner at an Olive Garden near the bottom of Kentucky.

We decided not to visit Great Smokey Mountain National Park since they have had tons of rain and flooding in the area. Who knows what we would find there, so we will go there another time. Meanwhile we are anxious to get home and rescue Sirius from the kennel. Poor thing has been there through torrential thunderstorms and his nerves must be shattered. I am looking forward to sitting on the couch and hugging him for a few days.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Schindler's List

It is Saturday and our last day of the reunion tour. We are meeting the entire family at noon for brunch at Terry's. Before that Brian and I had breakfast at the hotel and then set out to do some shopping. We went to two grocery stores looking for products not available at home. One store was incredible with a huge kosher department that spanned several aisles including refrigerator and freezer cases. Since it is Shabbat, the meat, fish, sushi and deli areas were closed. Amazing!

Brunch was delicious and fun with Terry's daughters and their families joining us. Lots of stories and laughs and wonderful to see the next generation growing up.

After resting from the exertion of eating we got ready to go to Ravinia. This will be a high point of our trip. Ravinia is a large outdoor concert venue in Highland Park. Beautiful lawns provide seating and the Chicago Symphony performs inside the covered shed.

First we were treated to a Dvorak symphony. Tonight is very special as the guest artist is Itzhak Perlman. He performed John Williams music and other movie themes from his Cinema Serenade album. I have that CD and love listening to it. We all sat on our lawn chairs, ate, and enjoyed the music. Brian and I walked up to the shed to look in and see Perlman. His facial expressions are wonderful as he plays and he did commentary between pieces and is very funny.

It was a great night and my dinner was two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Can't beat that!

Friday, July 28, 2017


Another day of food and relatives. I decided to skip the breakfast buffet this morning and what a good idea. Another day of sunshine as we headed north to temple BJBE, in Deerfield. This is the large synagogue where Terry and Marilyn are very active members. It is a beautiful building and boasts 1100 families as members. We went on a tour seeing their large sanctuary, religious school wing and large open spaces for seating, talking and contemplating. We were very impressed with a long wall of murals tracing the complete history of the Jewish people from the biblical beginning to the founding of Israel.

Then it was time to eat at another great deli restaurant. Max and Benny's is a large place with an equally large menu. When the bread basket came I was  salivating and decided on the egg challah roll topped with crisp onions. So good with butter that I had two. Also had thick mushroom barley soup and a scoop of whitefish salad.

Now it was time to visit the Holocaust Museum in Skokie. The cousins have a friend who is a docent and she took us on a guided tour pointing out the highlights. The museum is impressive with interesting exhibits and some local interest about the Nazi march on Skokie which directly led to this museum being built. Glad that we were able to come here and another reminder of what cruelty can exist in our world.

On a happier note we went out to dinner again! Tonight it is deep dish Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati's in Skokie. The pizza was pre-ordered so we didn't have to wait too long. Since I do not eat pizza, I had a buffalo chicken salad. Good, but quite spicy. They cleverly put watermelon cubes in the salad which calms the sauce and was really good. Brian went to visit two college friends tonight so just the old folks had dinner and then went back to Marilyn's for dessert and more visiting.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Food, Glorious Food...

Oliver would lose his mind seeing the food at Portillo's. Yes, the ladies had lunch there and shared both the lemon and chocolate cake. The men went to a different Portillo's and Jeff enjoyed a large Italian beef soaked in gravy.

The day began with welcome sunshine even though there was severe flooding west of us in Kansas. We all met in the breakfast room and then set off to visit the graves of Aunts Amelia and Gladys and Uncle Dan. Then the ladies drove south to Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park to see the graves of Jeff's maternal great grandparents. It was exciting to find these old graves with the greats and several great aunts and uncles. I took photos and will add new information to the family tree. All of the graves had photos on them and they will be added to my tree's gallery.

When I got back to the hotel Jeff had done our laundry so we are all set for another week or so on the road. Now time to rest up before dinner at Carson's.

This is Jeff's and Brian's favorite rib place. They have great chopped liver at their appetizer bar too. Arriving at Carson's in Deerfield to find it very crowded. We had reserved a round table for our seven and all ordered ribs except for me. I had scrumptious Greek chicken, cooked in lemon, herbs and oil and so tender. First they serve a large bowl of cole slaw and you get a potato with your meal. Choices are baked, double stuffed baked, potato skins, au gratin, wedges and fries. Food is so good and large portions. For dessert a waiter dumped a glass of ice cold beer down my back. I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry back at the hotel.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hard Day's Night

We slept late and then checked out of our downtown hotel. Took an Uber back to Skokie and the Hampton Inn. Brian flew in and cousin Terry picked him up at the airport. Then cousin Marilyn picked us up for lunch at a terrific deli in the Old Orchard Shopping Center. I had really good split pea soup and wished we had a good deli in Bluffton.

After a long lunch we returned to the hotel to rest. Lots of eating and resting on this trip. At 5:00 we drove to Marilyn's for dinner and good conversation along with a game of Trivial Pursuit. We had a lengthy discussion of the plans for visiting the cemeteries tomorrow. Then back to the hotel to sleep after watching a bit of TV news.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Walk, Don't Run

Tuesday morning in Chicago. Cool weather and a great day to stroll down Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute. Our hotel, the Hard Rock, is one block from the Chicago River on the corner of Michigan and Wacker. Elaine and I are walking past Millenium Park with the Bean to the museum. I purchased our tickets last night so we get in quickly and buy additional tickets for the Gaugain exhibit.

As we walk through the museum we stop to see three famous paintings. Picture of Dorian Gray, Hopper's Diner and Grant Wood's American Gothic.

 The next two hours are spent looking at creations by Gaugain. Did not know about his sculptures and ceramics. He was certainly multi- talented. Still like his colorful tropical paintings best. After spending years in France he went to Tahiti and the Marquesa Islands where he drew the natives and flora.

After visiting the museum gift shops we met Jeff and Rick in the park and had a light lunch at an outdoor cafe near the famous "Bean."

Today is national ice cream sundae day at Ghiardelli Chocolate so Elaine and I indulged since the sundaes were half price.

 Then back to the hotel to rest. Never left all night and didn't even eat dinner.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jeremiah was a Bull Frog...

Woke up to a chilly, windy day. Left our hotel in Skokie and took an Uber to downtown Chicago. Checked into the Hard Rock which is a great location on Michigan Avenue a block from the river. Jeff and I unpacked and then took an Uber to the Shedd Aquarium. We stood in line for 45 minutes to purchase tickets. It is a grand old building with huge tanks full of colorful fish and amphibians. We saw some neat frogs, toads and more and then had a quick lunch in one of the cafeterias. Saw some playful otters, seals and attended the dolphin show.

The Chicago skyline from the aquarium.

Had to leave by 2:30 to meet Rick and Elaine at the Chicago River. We took the 4:00 architectural boat tour given by a very knowledgeable docent. The tour was 90 minutes and went on several branches of the river. Lots of boat traffic with tour boats, water taxis and private craft. Even some brave kayakers. So many skyscrapers and interesting designs. Amazing!

In front the the Chicago Tribune building is a very large sculpture by Seward Johnson. It is Abraham Lincoln and a common man. The man is holding a paper with the Gettysburg address and Lincoln seems to be explaining it to him.

Lots of street art and sculptures in Chicago. Also Dogs on Parade with beautifully decorated dogs adorning the streets. Elaine and I posed with a police dog.

Afterwards we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. It is highly rated and most of the diners were Asian which is always a good sign. Food was excellent and we shared some yummy dishes. Afterwards we walked back to the hotel to collapse.