Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Millennium Trail

We went out this afternoon hoping to get in our usual 10 miles on half of the Millennium Trail that runs through the development area, but when we got to our usual turning around point, I still felt good enough to try the never yet ridden by me section. We came upon these three horses just prior to our usual turning point. Two riders and one just tagging along for the exercise, I guess.

This section is more hilly than the part we normally ride so I was expecting something really challenging...I wasn't disappointed. It was.

But it was so beautiful that I found myself just enjoying the openness and the forest; not looking at what speed I was going or how far we had travelled. We got to the end of the new section and had 10.5 miles. That surprised me since I didn't think I was asking for a 20 mile day. But we had gone off the trail to see an old farm house site and a secluded lake,

so we added a couple of miles that wouldn't be repeated on the way back.

We stayed with the trail for the return and then took the street back to the house instead of the full return trail loop; total miles 17.5. Not bad for a day they predicted strong winds and rain. Didn't have either of these while we rode, just another great day on the trails.

We even saw two sand hill cranes and two swans (along with a gaggle of Canada Geese) but for some reason I was unable to get a clear shot of any of it .

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An Old Story for the Halloween Season

When we first bought our house 23 years ago, we had no idea of the experiences we were about to have. True of all new homeowners, I suppose. The house was 80 years old at the time, so you can imagine how many interesting episodes we had in store for us. Sometime in the early weeks of blissful home-ownership, we were spending a nice quiet evening watching M.A.S.H. in the Florida room. It is located right off the living room and is connected to it by French-doors. I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye in the living room, but wasn’t sure. I thought I was hearing things too, so got up and stood in the doorway and really looked. Oh, yeah...I heard things all right!

Bats...two of them swooping down crisscross through the living room.

I almost jumped out of my skin. My husband (born in Greece and never one to be accused of being a hand-i-man) saw my startled face and knew he had to do something (he had no clue either!) All I could say was...bats...and pointed. Bats, and pointing. He had no inkling what a bat was. So he was frozen there but ready to do what needed to be done…whatever that was. Then I did what any red-blooded American wife would do. I shoved him into the living room and I stayed in the Florida room (where I was safe from harm) and closed the doors.

Poor man!

He flailed around with his arms; then he swatted at them with his jacket. Of course, nothing happened. They just kept crisscrossing. I think one of them was laughing at us, but I can’t be sure. So realizing that this needed a united front, I grudgingly came out of the safety of my self-imposed prison and tried to help. It was clear we needed a plan, but what?

Let’s see if we can shoo them outside. With the door open, we both tried waving them towards the open air of freedom. No luck. It was getting late and I was getting scared. We managed to close one off in the vestibule area at the front door. It is a small section that is large enough for the door to open and can be closed off from the living room by a second door. Good. One down, one to go. He managed to throw his coat over the second one and it was on the landing of the stairway, safely covered with his jacket. The enemy was sequestered and we felt safe enough to go to bed. We stuffed towels around the opening under the bedroom door…just in case.

First thing in the morning, we called the city humane society and they came, much quicker than I expected. That aroused a new level of fear in me. The humane officer found one, (rooms away from where we left it) and disposed of it. The other was never found, he said it probably got out through the mail slot or chimney or some such thing. He did elaborate about not scaring them to the point of attack because they carry rabies and one should be very careful around them. We took his advice seriously and realizing that the danger was gone, life began to return to normal. After that, it only took three weeks or so to feel comfortable going to bed again. So another episode in home ownership came to a close.

Now, I am one. I still have home ownership events, but they take on new dimensions because I must face them alone.

Last night, my first Valentines Day as an “involuntarily widowed person” I was sitting in the same room (it is now my office) surfing the internet, and I heard something around the venetian blinds in the living room, right after the automatic timer clicked off.

Yup, you got it, bat.

Except now, I am on my own.

I tried to shoo it out the front door, but it just circled and then landed behind the TV.
I secured my bird, (in the office) closed the doors so she was safe and then did the same for me when I went to bed.

When morning came, I knew the thing could be ANYWHERE, maybe even gone.
It was a three-day weekend and I figured the thing could die before I get the City to find it or do anything. I decided that I would have faith for a peaceful and humane solution to this problem. I remembered that the last one was killed to prevent the possibility of rabies. That saddened me a great deal; the poor thing was just doing what bats do, living. No need to kill it, just get it back to its’ own environment. That was my prayer and hope. I had no idea how that would happen.

The day was spent cooking with a friend. A few more guests came to share the dinner. This was indeed a great test of my hope to peacefully solve this problem. No sign of the bat. I knew it was here, I just didn’t know where. As the day wore on, and night came I feared it would fly out from some nook or cranny and scare us all half to death. It didn’t happen.

Instead we all decided to go to an Improv Show. This is a great way to empty the house and put one’s fears to rest for a while. I left all the lights on as a deterrent and left. When I got back at eleven I knew I would probably do battle again and entered very cautiously. I stood in the vestibule and looked cautiously into the living room to see if I could spot the little guy.

Yes. He was there…hanging on the window panel of the French door into my office. I am sure he saw me, but it had no effect on him. I could feel the blood pumping in my chest but knew I had to find a solution to this problem. I looked around and found a fluffy Polartec vest hanging on the coat rack nearby. After two folds and one deep breath I felt ready to try to grab the bat carefully but firmly so I could let it outside.

In one precise motion, kind of like grabbing an egg, I captured the bat and had it outside and flying to freedom. A feeling of great accomplishment swept over me and I was elated for about three seconds, before I started to shake in fear from what I had just done. I realized it could have gone very differently, but somehow I felt I too had experienced what my husband did when he was trying to understand what a bat was; then living with the fear of it for a day and this very happy ending. It was a kind of miracle ending, since the living room was fully lighted, I expected the bat to stay in the darker crannies where it would be safe, but it was right there in the open waiting for me.

It was as if all the living energies were in complete agreement for the solution and that some omnipotent spirit was there too, laughing and guiding at the same time. Fly baby, Happy Valentines Day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Grant Woods and more

The overcast skies and cooler weather were not enough to keep us inside; so we bundled up and headed for another trail that I have not yet been on: Grant Woods Bike Trail (didn't see any paintings along the way; must be a different Grant Wood!)
This trail was filled with rolling hills (which really gave us a workout!) and prairie grass and a variety of scenery! It was great!

Before stopping for dinner we strolled the Schaumburg Towne Square park and enjoyed the fountains and waterfalls of the nationally acclaimed urban project.

Fortunately, there was enough time after food shopping to take a snoozle, because we had plans to meet with Chuck's family to have dinner at Bonefish (which is a subsidiary of Outback...go figure!)

I ordered the scallops and shrimp with mango sauce...they practically covered the entree, but that was fine with me. The sauce was fantastic. Take a look at the yummy veggies too.
and then on to Vine Tastings for a little grape and music. All in all another fantastic day.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Spectacular Day

We rode the mountain bike type trails in Deer Grove Forest Preserve today (we walked them last week) and it was the best biking yet. The fall colors, of course, made everything gloriously alive with golden yellows and oranges and reds. The trails were just enough up and down hills to make it great fun.

We rode about 7 miles and came to a section where there were lots and lots of interesting looking plants, so I stopped and took a number of shots to show these intricate plants:

Chuck was apparently not enthused with this particular part of the trip! I didn't see this expression when I took the picture; he must have gotten it in after the click and before the shot, pretty crafty, that little boy of mine!

We continued on for another 5 miles on one track trails through the preserve back to the car, all in all a terrific day. I thought this was the best riding and challenge so far!

Interesting Corporate Lesson

A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree', sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.'

'Well, why don't you nibble on my droppings?' replied the bull. 'They're packed with nutrients.'

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story: B.S. might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No...it's not what you think!

Today we went for a short hike in the Volo Bog area and got to see much taller prairie grass than was visible in May when I was here earlier this year.

Sadly we found the remains of a bird (NOT MY KC BIRD!!) Just makes me love him more.

And later on I saw these beautiful berries and couldn't help getting a few shots. They were just perfect looking.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Miles on the Des Plaines River Trail

I drove to Wheeling, Illinois today and we did another two legs on the Des Plaines River Trail; north for 7 miles and south for 18 a total of almost 25!

the northern leg ended rather abruptly, but is scheduled to connect to the trail that we rode yesterday a bit further north of here.
The fall colors are just spectacular and to live in the area and ride through the forests to enjoy them up close and personal is a wonderful experience.

but it wasn't all perfect, we had to ride about a half mile on the single track along side a very busy 4 lane road. So full attention and focus was key.
We arrived at our destination Moon Doggies which is a cool sandwich shop.

I was more starved than usual. I got a Jumbo Chili Dog and fries; Patti was much more conservative with a healthy looking salad. She also got a chocolate shake which looked a lot like a diet coke...

Chuck drove us home since I was really spent; then I crashed on the Lazy Boy for about an hour and felt a lot better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Glorious Day

...for biking one of the many trails here in suburban Chicagoland; today we biked the Des Plains River Trail. BUT first a little food.

We went to a new place called Portillos and Barnellis.

Here you can get great hot dogs and burgers or you can go to the other side of the building and get something scrumptious from the Italian cookery. Chuck and I went for Italian: fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken and Tony's special individual pizza (sadly, there were no leftovers!)

((I REALLY worry about staying in my current clothes size...))

Patti and Dave were more conserative with a soup and dog with fries.

Maybe I need to order AFTER they do and use them as a guide...

We then went on to bike the Des Plains River Trail for 13 miles and it was perfect the weather cool and the trees perfectly golden.

Who could possibly want more?

Monday, October 22, 2007



Wine her. Dine her.

Call her.

Hold her.

Surprise her. Compliment her.

Smile at her. Listen to her.

Laugh with her. Cry with her.

Romance her.

Encourage her.

Believe in her.

Pray with her. Pray for her.

Cuddle with her.

Shop with her. Give her jewelry.

Buy her flowers.

Hold her hand. Write love letters to her.

Go to the ends of the earth and back again for her.


Show up naked. Bring chicken wings. Don't block the TV.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Multi Birthday Celebration

Today we were celebrating a triple October birthday: Linda, Chuck and Me!
So we had lots of snacks and nibbles, rotisserie chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, zucchini squash garlic bread and three special desserts: French Silk Pie, Cheesecake cups and cream puffs... Wow it was hard to decide what to eat first!
Almost the entire family came: Linda and Phil, Steve and Kasia, Scott and Sarah, Chuck's Mom and of course me and Chuck.
The pictures below show us having a good time, eating and opening presents.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More outside activities

On the way to the writers group meeting we passed a Llama farm and I got a shot of a couple.

After the meeting we were able to take full advantage of the fantastic weather by getting in a 14 miler on our bikes on the local paths. We found lots of others walking, riding their bikes and a twosome on their horses...right here on the outskirts of Chicago!

The Writers' Group Meeting

Today I was fortunate enough to join Chuck in the bi-monthly life story writers group meeting. It was way more than I expected.

First, Phyllis, the hostess, provided a scrumptious brunch of Molded Sausage and scrambled eggs, Orange Juice, Wonderful artisan bread, fruit, whole cranberry sauce (which goes very nicely with scrambled eggs!)and little fruit tarts with lots of coffee; the 'boys' Don, Pete and Chuck entertained with their joking antics.

After stuffing our faces, we settled in the living room and chatted a bit and then got down to our life story topic business. Each of us read our personally prepared life story essays and then discussed the content and structure.

What I find amazing, once you start writing, the full experience flows, the heart feels better and the group always can relate in some manner. Some of the content is quite personal and emotional and yet the effect is one of acceptance and appreciation for sharing.

Phyllis and Don are chatting about their writing.

Chuck is getting photos for his blog...
We are all chatting about writing in general now that we have all read our contributions for this meeting

Just a great experience.

Word Game

Check out the word game below; I couldn't figure it out till I saw the answers so see if you can figure out what these words Have In Common...... ??


Are You Peeking Or Have You Already Given Up?

Give It Another Try....You'll kick yourself when you discover the answer. Go back and look at them again; think hard. OK... Here You Go.. Hope You Didn't Cheat. This Is Cool!!

Answer . . . . . .

In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word!!! Told you it was cool!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Give Up Those Wheels

The weather was not cooperating for a bike ride today. This area is still within the tail end of a nasty storm front brought in by the gulf stream. So we took a chance and tried to fit a 'dry' hike in on the trails in Deer Grove. Our group today was Patti and Dave, Marlene and Len and me and Chuck.

We managed quite nicely and even found some trees showing off their full autumn colors. It misted a few times but not enough to complain about.

Of course when you hike instead of bike, you get the opportunity to solve all the problems of the world because you are within better earshot. So when we finished the hike, everything seemed much better than before!