Daily Observation - Blue Hour Sky

I took my evening walk late - taken at dusk, with enough light to illuminate and highlight the fast moving shelf of clouds above. Blue hour light brings out the vivid yellows and reds of the remaining leaves on the lone pear tree. A slender crescent moon rises above skeletal branches, coming in and out of view as the veil of clouds roll by.




Daily Observation - Squirrels

I'm back after a short hiatus - I'll fill in the blanks from the past month later, but for now, will tend to some daily observations.


This morning I watch the squirrels scamper around the yard, bounding with their fluffy tails, forming a wave of fluid motion. They navigate their obstacle course of trees, flying from skinny branch to seemingly skinnier branch with effortless grace. They cause me to smile.


Summer 2023 fun


Not today's squirrel, but one from the Morton Arboretum who was keen on posing for me back in August - quite the character! Taken with my iPhone 13 Pro, a case where portrait mode works quite well!


The Daily - October 2-4, 2023 - The Stop Over in NC

I'm taking my first leg of travel to London. First stop, Charlotte NC.


10/2/23 - Monday

Managed a 20 minute bike class, had coffee with Louie on my lap before wrapping up my packing and leaving for the airport. Jill did me a big favor and dropped me off. We talked a little bit about Janice and Joe - Joe is definitely getting better and hopefully able to leave the house soon. His girlfriend Jenna is staying with the family and Janice is adjusting. The cats are adjusting to their little kitten too! Flight to ORD was uneventful - here is the approach into the airport:

Wheels Up!

My flight to CLT was packed and I was seated next to a very large man but it was all ok. Teresa picked me up.


10/3/23 - Tuesday

Swam at the local recreational center - they have 8 lap lanes. Did 30 laps at a decent pace. Enjoyed today’s coffee outside on the garden bench by the koi pond and that was nice. The weather here is cool in the morning, a bit warm in the afternoon (80’s) then cool again as soon as the sun sets.

Extended Layover

Went to visit mom and dad from 10 - 4:30. I took dad on a walk. He’s very slow but still able to shuffle up a decent incline on the walking trail. I retrieved their lunch and we enjoyed time together. Watched the season finale of only murders in the building with Teresa.


10/4/23 - Wednesday

I guess I didn’t sleep that well because I was wide awake at 5am (4am back home). I did a 45 minute strength class followed by a 20 slow flow yoga class outside that nearly killed me in my upper body. Did a final load of laundry. Picked up mom at 4pm and we left shortly afterwards for the airport. We had access to the American lounge which was nice.

With Mom

Boarded the flight around 7:40 - mom’s first time in business class. The flight left on time for Heathrow. I ended up eating the meal (I chose the sea bass) because i just can’t pass it up! I realize how lucky I am to be able to fly business class. It’s really an alternate universe up here, buffered from coach.


The Daily - Into October, 2023 - Starved Rock and Rockford IL

9/30/23 - Saturday

Brenda, My, Yahsin and I pack up Lexi and we depart for Starved Rock state park at 7am. We arrive just as the lodge opens, around 9am. We hatch our hiking plan. We soon learn the canyons are all dry so no “signature” photo ops of wispy waterfalls. No problem, the temperatures are still pleasant, the canopy filters the sunlight and we discover the element that will consume most of our hike - mushrooms!!!

Starved Rock Mushroom Hunting

Starved Rock Mushroom Hunting

Starved Rock

Starved Rock

We spent 5 hours hiking, taking photos and enjoying the trails, canyons, river overlooks and forest. Then we had our post hike picnic - another great spread of food - Chinese bbq pork, meat dumplings, fruit, moon cake, nuts and other treats.

We drive north to Rockford and check into the Airbnb, a cute older home. En route we see signs for Oktoberfests and upon settling in we decide to go to the local Oktoberfest just north of our house. Held in a large community center, we enjoy German food - sausages, roast chicken, schnitzel, sauerkraut and dark beer. There’s a German music band playing and occasional dancing. Affterwards, we did facial masks, took silly pictures and hung out. So much great fun together.


10/1/23 - Sunday

We walk to the Norwegian for breakfast - it is a traditional Norse restaurant about a half mile away. On the way back we walk the street that flanks the river but there are houses blocking the river view. These houses are quite large! Along Harlem street, we spot what looks like chestnut fruits from various trees. We gather several pounds to take home to roast. We would later discover these are not regular chestnuts but rather Horse chestnuts that are poisonous to eat. Oh well, they looked so pretty and tasty!

We check out of the house and drive to the Anderson Japanese garden. The grounds are nice but we are hampered by the bright sunlight at 9:00. The gardens open from 9-5, so no opportunity to catch that golden light. We still enjoyed our meditative exploration of the gardens, taking our time to reflect at each water feature.

Rockford - Anderson Japanese Garden

Rockford - Anderson Japanese Garden

We have a mid afternoon reservation at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House but we finished earlier than planned at the Japanese Gardens, ate our picnic leftovers at the riverside park and drove to the house with hopes of getting on an earlier tour. The tour guides were very nice and let us participate in the 1pm tour. We learned about the Laurents, their relationship with the architect and toured the house built specifically for accessibility - a person in a wheelchair. Closed and private at the front of the dwelling that faces the street, the home opens up in the back with an expanse of curved windows, bringing the feeling of being outside to anyone in the house. I learned that Frank Lloyd Wright designed this house when he was north of 60 years old! He experienced a prolific life and career.

Rockford - Laurent House

After the Laurent house tour, we set off for home. I got home and packed my bag for Monday’s journey to Charlotte.


The Daily - When September Ends

9/25/23 - Monday

Scott and I got our signals crossed and we each fed Charlie breakfast! Oh well, she probably enjoyed the treat. I did a 30 minute bike then took Charlie for a quick walk before going to the Y. I swam 26 laps and spent 15 minutes in the sauna.


Charlie, Hannah and I enjoyed coffee outside then I made my breakfast. Charlie and I went for a long walk around Porter park - so many butterflies out! I did some watercolor detail work to finish off some flower paintings and after dinner Scott and I took Charlie on her third walk of the day. We also threw the ball around the backyard. Scott bought her a “chuck it” big ball that she seems to enjoy.



9/26/23 - Tuesday

45 minute strength class then a medium walk with Charlie around the retention ponds. Coffee outside on the patio.

I did a Photoshoot with friend Julie from the Y and her two boys. I had never met the boys in real life but feel like Ive known them from birth since Julie posts a bit to IG on her stories. No joke this photo shoot was a bit of a challenge since the boys were a little bit antsy but I think I got several decent shots. I also got bitten quite a bit from the mosquitoes. still, it was a fun time.


9/27/23 - Wednesday

30 minutes of bike Boot Camp followed by another 15 minutes on the bike and some follow up yoga. Then Charlie and I went for a long walk around Porter Park. It was damp and gloomy, so we did not do coffee outside. Instead, I did research for the upcoming London trip. We now have a daily itinerary of activities for that trip.


It definitely feels like fall with cooler temperatures and mostly cloudy skies today. The sun came out briefly in the afternoon, Charlie and I went for a walk. I edited several of the photos from yesterday‘s photo shoot. Scott and I took Charlie on her evening walk.

End of September


9/28/23 - Thursday

It rained hard again last night so this morning was cool and misty outside. I did 45 minutes on the bike, then took Charlie for a short walk. Then I went to the Y to swim. After 20 laps and 15 minutes in the sauna I’m back home with the animals and we are now enjoying coffee on the patio Erica is en route home from London. She arrived in time to catch the 4pm train out of union station. I took Charlie to pick her up from the terminal and Charlie is so happy her mom is home.

I take another pass at Julie’s photos - I need to get things wrapped up before the weekend.


9/29/23 - Friday

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:40 to make it to the 5:30 Pilates class. Coffee with Brenda, Michael and Davonne afterwards.

I catch the setting full moon on the Prairie with fog rolling in. I double back, park on the side of the road to capture a photo. Totally worth the extra 5 minutes.

Day journal

I make Erica pasta bake for her trip back to Wisconsin, sew her corset top to fix areas where the boning is poking out of the fabric.

She leaves at noon and I finish up Julie’s family photos and start packing for the weekend trip. I took a walk late in the evening and catch the red sunset west of Porter park. It feels weird not to have Charlie with me!

Day journal

I’m almost home when I see My on a bike heading to the bridge over the slough. She tells me the full moon will rise over the stream so I join her. We wait at the bridge as a small red sliver emerges from the tree line. Of course I only have my iPhone and do the best I can to balance the lack of light with the red moon rising. I could have used my big camera!

Day journal


The Daily - September 19-24, 2023 - Summer into Fall, The Charlie Days

9/19/23 - Tuesday


45 minutes strength workout which included an interesting warm up - get up and down from the floor - get down and lay on stomach then get up. Repeat but get down to different positions - on your right then left side, into plank, your back. Then do it while keeping your right hand glued to your right knee / left hand to left knee / right hand to left knee, etc / hands behind your back! Five minutes of this was tough! It really forces you to move through different positions, increasing mobility. I will incorporate something similar into a daily or every other day routine.

I prepped cauliflower for cauliflower Mac and cheese, tried the low carb shiritake noodles for the first time in a spicy miso broth with broccoli, carrots, mushroom and a poached egg. It was really tasty. I doubt I would eat this type of noodle any other way and I don’t know if I can find this product locally but will look for it in the Asian market.

The weather has been so perfect - I can take a walk without roasting and sweating. I also painted outside.

Erica arrived home late. She will leave tomorrow for London with Lindsay.


9/20/23 - Wednesday


Tough 45 minute bike boot camp. I also took my 600th strength class in an afternoon live class (got a shout out!). Took Erica to the train station - she will take it to Chicago, meet up with Lindsay at her apartment before heading to O’Hare to catch their flight to London!


I made the mushroom low carb ravioli in tomato cream sauce and wow it was delicious. I took Charlie on a walk before Scott arrived home. He ate dinner, Charlie enjoyed a rawhide bone and we all enjoyed an evening walk together.


9/21/23 - Thursday


Erica and Lindsay made it to London and reunited with Amira. Today is Brian’s 24th birthday!


It’s raining this morning - a steady soaking rain. This made it slightly difficult to walk Charlie but we took a very short one after my hard 30 minute bike class. I left her in Erica’s room while I went to the Y to swim. I cut the swim and sauna time short to get back. Now I’m enjoying coffee outside in the front breezeway with Louie on my lap and Charlie next to me on a thick blanket. She seems to miss Erica by sighing.

End of Summer

We took a long walk after coffee heading towards Porter park. Got caught in a pop up shower just as we entered the park but that quickly burned out and we enjoyed the empty park, taking photos here and there.

End of Summer

Another post dinner family walk by the retention ponds and we relaxed the rest of the night.


9/22/23 - Friday


Early morning rain again as I went to Pilates class. I opted to skip coffee with Brenda Michael and Davonne to get back home to Charlie. Even at 6:30am the roads are dark - kind of depressing - and it’s only the first day of Fall.

We took coffee outside on the back patio and I brushed Charlie. I took Charlie to the Pet smart store to buy bones and fish oil. She likes going on these outings especially when the cashier offers her a milk bone.


Then back home and a long walk through the park. I finished up Noelle’s photos, grilled a bunch of meat and took Charlie on a very short walk. Scott arrived home and I left shortly afterwards to attend the Pygmalion festival in town. This was my first time attending the actual performances - at the Rose bowl. Jill spearheaded the outing since there was a comedian performing. This was to make up for the cancelled Colin Jost show.


We had access to performances across two stages and the arts vendor area. It was a perfect night for milling around outside and taking in the bands. We watched 2 bands and the comedian inside the Rose Bowl bar and 2 band outside before calling it a night. I normally wouldn’t attend such an event so I’m glad Jill suggested we go. I can see myself attending in future years.

End of Summer


9/23/23 - Saturday

25 laps and a 45 minute bike class. Swimming has been frustrating - I don’t seem to getting back to my baseline lap times. It was a short session so I could get back home in time for the live Peloton class. That class wasn’t too bad because I had a strenuous workout on Thursday.

Coffee outside with Charlie and Louie. Took Charlie on a walk. Left the house at 1:45 for the 2:30 Illini football game. Scott and I drove separately as I planned to leave at half time to get back to Charlie. The game was fine - the weather was a little warm but with an afternoon game, we get shade half way through the first quarter. The Illini were slow to start but once they found a rhythm got past the Florida team. Scott and I took Charlie on another walk after dinner.


9/24/23 - Sunday

Ah, I got to sleep in! Until 6:30, which is very late for me. I had coffee outside on the patio with all the animals - Charlie by my side, Louie on my lap and Hannah next to Charlie. Scott took a photo and it is funny.

Coffee with the Animals


I met Jill and her mom at lake of the woods for a hike in the woods. It was nice. After lunch I made Honey twist bread for Janice. Her son is home from the hospital now which is great.


We took Charlie on her third walk of the day, played ball with her and settled in for some football.


The Daily - September 18, 2023 - Monday

Another wild dream - I’m in a cabin where I need to change clothes for upcoming travel. A group of people come up to cabin’s open screened window and spray mace inside. Or something like a smoke bomb. I gather my things and go. Then I’m at the airport and the gate is up at some mezzanine level between the first and second floor. I take the special stairs and enter an area that feels like a viewing box at an arena. Then I’m called to the gate and have to climb over people. I discover my ticket is to Germany, not home to Champaign. I’m traveling for Cabot but don’t have any of the phone numbers and I’m trying to figure all of that out. I realize I can make the flight change at the gate with the agent and I wake up. So weird!!!


30 minute bike, 20 laps and 20 minutes in the sauna. It’s chilly outside this morning and I’m now hanging out by the pond wrapped in my swim parka!


I followed up on medical insurance tasks which always makes me anxious - I know it shouldn’t but that’s something I need to work on. I did find out the local Walgreens is part of the prescription network so that is good and I can transfer any existing scripts from the CVS.


I learned a photo I had submitted to Champaign Forest Preserve’s calendar contest was short listed for inclusion in the calendar. The final process allows people to vote on their Facebook page to select the top 14 photos. I submitted two photos and this one made the cut. I took the photo in late July at the Buffalo Trace Prairie. The title is "Surprise Visitor" - can you tell why?

The Visitor


I cooked the pork dumpling meatballs and they were very tasty. I looked in on Janice’s cats. Scott came home and we ate, took a walk then went to the Aldi. I was disappointed with the empty produce shelves but happy with the selection of grass fed steaks at a nice price - we had great rib eye steaks over the weekend - so yummy.


I didn’t sleep great last night so was very tired once the sun set (7pm). We’re trying to keep lights low once the sun goes down - emphasizing that circadian rhythm element to gain better sleep.



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