Category Archives: Places

Love Her or Leave Her?

This time last year I bought a t-shirt that reads: “Celebrate Earth Day Everyday.” While it’s not always top of mind (top of mind is loving my family, eating right, walking the dog, you get the idea) part of my everyday celebration includes recycling.

imgres I must admit, I wasn’t an early recycler, just as I wasn’t an early non-polluter.

It was that first Earth Day in 1970 at Gary Andrean High School where I learned the basics. I didn’t know throwing straw and gum wrappers in the street was polluting. Yeesh. And I’d always thought I was a good kid!

I really didn’t have a clue.

I guess I wasn’t alone because we all received “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” stickers, among other, valuable green advice. Since then I’ve tried to do my share to save this rich, vast, wonderful blue and green planet we call home.

Today as a member of the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board, a Master Gardener and lover of the natural world, I’m breaking out my Earth Day shirts and wondering what I can do to help our environment. I thought it might be fun to share some things about Earth Day.

First, is this quiz I found on line.
(One answer is in this writing!)

I got 16 of 25. What about you? What do you know about Earth Day? (Must admit I had to think twice about the quiz rating me “Antiquarian.”)

While you’re taking that quiz, I’ll write about Recycling Do’s and Don’ts. Sound boring? Then perhaps you’re not recycling. And if were not recycling, our garbage has to be trucked to a landfill to be stored for all time. Wow.

Channeling Frank

Good morning! I wrote this a few months ago and never shared it. Let me know what you think.

It’s a gorgeous late summer afternoon. We’re just back from a few hours’ walk in the duneland woods, and I find I need to rush a bit to have dinner for 4 ready at 6. Why is it as I pull out onions and butter to start a tomato-onion tart that I need to turn on the TV – intent on finding golf?

“Golf?” my husband asks. “You watch golf?”

Normally, no.

I’m no longer a golfer and I don’t watch golf, much. But some Sunday afternoons I look for the match of the week. “Maybe it’s the peaceful voice of the announcer that soothes me,” I think; I wonder. “Maybe it’s …”

Today I think it’s because I’m channeling my dad.


That morning in church I tried channeling my parents – first mom and then dad – as I said the Our Father along with a hundred other voices. I imagined them forming the words using my lips. It was a wonderful exercise. I’m sure I’ll try it again.

We are our parents – half mom’s DNA, half dad’s. We might not like some of the things we inherited from them but then if we don’t like “that” – then we tend not to like ourselves and blame them. Or blame others.

Time and wisdom teach us to accept ourselves as we are. If there are attributes we don’t like, we get to change them. And at the same time can be grateful for the gifts our parents gave us, even enjoying televised golf on a summer Sunday.


Exploring the Land of Enchantment

roadtrip We just came back from three weeks on the road. Put 4,900 miles on the tires and spent most of the time exploring southern New Mexico. There were beautiful vistas at almost every turn – the Sacramento Mountains on the way to Cloudcroft, crossing the White Sands Basin, darting through the forest toward Pinos Altos. But the views that come to mind this morning are the grand – my-camera-can’t-do-’em-justice – landscapes en route to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Park.

Years ago when I lived in Chicago and had to drive to the western suburbs, I imagined the clouds as mountains rising out of the horizon. No need to imagine in New Mexico! If you’re not in the mountains you can see them in the distance.

The road from Hillsboro and Kingston – once old mining towns, worth a visit for their tranquility and interesting history – was closed due to pretty serious washouts, so we took the desert highways from Deming through Mimbres into the Gila National Forest. I hadn’t used my “real camera” in quite a while since the phone has decent capacity but in the Gila, it would be a shame to point a phone at the mountains.   volcano


“Copperas Creek Volcano” read the roadside marker – remains of a 30-million-year-old volcano. In a way it’s like staring into the Grand Canyon – it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of this natural world.

From this point there are still mountains to climb, rivers to cross and bendy roads to follow to the national park, but it’s worth the drive. You learn the Gila Cliff Dwellings were home to many nomads over time; perhaps most notably the Mogollon Indians about 700 – 800 years ago.

Dear Readers, if you ever get the chance to visit, please do. There’s no place on Earth like the Gila National Forest. Although like many of our country’s national parks, it inspires awe, invokes awe and reminds us we are all connected in so many ways.


Same country, different world

“Wonderful” is the best word to describe a trip last week to my home-away-from home, Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was delightful to see dear friends and enjoy some local cuisine (THE best Mexican food this side of the Rio Grande). And I was reminded why New Mexico is called Land of Enchantment. I gotta tell ya, weather is a big part of it.

IMG_2255 My first morning started with the sound of a rooster crowing in the distance. I looked out the window to see a beautiful blue sky blooming over pink, orange and yellow bands of sunlight. Delightful! Only 24 hours earlier, I awoke to another gray day that has come to typify winter near the lake. What a contrast.

As I’ve traveled these United States, going back to my corporate days doing business on both coasts with stops in many towns and cities in between, I’ve come to appreciate the vast differences in climate and geography.

I remembered my first trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale and being utterly amazed at Saguaro cactus. Or at Lantana blooming on bushes eight or nine feet tall and round. We’re lucky if we can grow them at all in the midwest.

There was that February trip to Newport Beach, California when the weather was so beautiful – quite a contrast from Chicago’s damp chill that time of year – when I said to my colleagues, “This is not the real world.” Ha. Not MY real world but it certainly was for them.

Nearing the end of a wonderful week in Las Cruces, my brother – who would have been an excellent meteorologist – texted the weather back home was looking to make travel kinda dicey.

“Near 60 today,” he wrote. “Snow Wednesday. Near 60 on Friday.” My response was simple, “Oh yay. Oh sh-t. Oh yay.” I moved things around and got on a plane that day, ahead of the 10 inches of heavy snow dumped on our town overnight.

There are joys in our midwestern winters, of course. My sister reminds me we all have roofs over our heads, warm beds, plenty to eat, our health, loved ones … her gratitude lift goes on. I’m grateful too. But because I’ve lived where the skies are not cloudy all day, I sure do appreciate  the contrast. Here’s the view from my bed the first morning back in Indiana. And what a treat!


How can you love a lake for cry eye?

Today is a day to be truly grateful for living on the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather is glorious with clear blue skies. Only 60 degrees but I would have bet it was 75 at the lake this morning. It is joyful to see my dog Aw’gy tear down the beach or bite the water with his houndy muzzle. It brings me joy to be here. I love this lake.

I always thank Aw'gy for getting me out in the morning.

I always thank Aw’gy for getting me out in the morning.

After 7 years in New Mexico, I told friends I was leaving to be closer to family and the lake.

“You’re moving because you miss the lake? We have lakes in New Mexico.”

Well, yes. Technically. But nothing like the Great Lakes.

As a kid in Whiting, IN – about 8 blocks from the lake – my mom or someone’s mom would take us to the beach nearly every summer day. We’d pack up PB&Js; don suits, shorts, shirts and Keds and head to Whiting Park. From my dad’s store on the Boulevard, we’d take 117th Street, cross three sets of tracks and a red-bricked street to the beach.

For a little kid it seemed like a re-a-l-l-y lo-o-ng walk. But then, if you’re 5 or 6 with short legs anyway …

Those trips to the beach meant everything to me. Sheer joy. Our tradition started with my mother’s family living in Whiting and enjoying the lake, camping at the Dunes. And it continues to this day as my siblings bring their children, and their children’s children to the shore. Kids frolic in the waves, wade or swim out to the sandbar, build sand castles, eat PB&Js.

A year ago I lived 11 miles from the lake but thanks to a benevolent Universe, I’m less than a half mile. “Close enough to walk, not close enough to carry a full cooler,” I’ve been told. There’s no excuse not to visit the lake everyday, but some silly sense of responsibility tells me I’ve got to work first. I’m no longer that short little kid (I’m a short big kid.) Something’s telling me to rethink my priorities and spend more time with the lake I love.

(Note: As I write this, thoughts are with a family in New Mexico that lost a son to Lake Michigan this year. News reports said he went out to watch a storm. Many of us learned early on “the lake that thinks it’s an ocean” is to be respected.)