Sunday, July 1, 2012

Return Home

This was a day and a half. Literally.

Dottie and I had to get up at 5:00 AM to have breakfast and have our suitcases out in the hall in front of our hotel room door at 6:30, so we could leave for the airport at 7:00 AM sharp. The hotel dining room opened for breakfast at 5:30 AM, so apparently they are used to this kind of schedule for travelers out of the nearby Charles de Gaulle airport.

This was our last day of amnesty from the rules and regulations imposed by Dr. Atkins, so we both ate ample breakfasts, including things like a small waffle, sausages, bacon, croissants and some of that very good French bread.

Air France Airbus 330-200The airplane ride was uneventful, at least until after we landed. Apparently, the storm that hit a lot of the Chicago area just sort of skinned by O'Hare. It didn't slow our landing down, but we got down just before it hit. They closed O'Hare down for a short time, during which they would have ordinarily unloaded our baggage. The delay was only a half hour or so, and we weren't really aware of how big the storm was until we saw it on the TV.

Dottie and I got home in the late afternoon, and found everything in order in the house, thanks to Janet. She had freshly baked zucchini bread in the bread box and a couple of nice looking steaks in the refrigerator. My cup runneth over.

However, Dottie and I were still on vacation, and were not up to cooking for ourselves, so we went out and had a nice Italian dinner at Gianinni's Restaurant in Deer Park. About the only bad cooking I had in France was a plate of Penne Pasta Bolognese, which the people from Bologna would have turned up their noses at. Gianinni knows how to make it right.

Early to bed, and, hopefully, back on schedule tomorrow.

Monday, July 2,2012

Debbie does Florida

Shirley Drew, our next door neighbor on the CBoat dock after Charliealoosahatchee called last week while we were in France, to say that it looked like Debbie was causing very high tides and the seas were up over our dock and knocking boards loose. She was concerned that the boat might be damaged, but it was hard to get to it to do anything about battening it down better because there were too many of the boards missing from the dock for it to be safe to walk on.Tropical storm Debbie

She called Peter, the boat maintenance man who does maintenance work on the boat, and he sent someone out to make sure the boat was secure against the wave action. It sets pretty high up on the boat lift, but apparently the water was two feet or more above high tide. This tends to happen when there is a strong wind from the south west, which tends to push water from the gulf up into the river.

Also, Maritza, the lady who watches over our house while we are gone came out to check on things, and her son was able to get out on the dock and help secure the boat. It looks like we have some significant damage to the dock, but the boat is OK. There are also some of the screen sections of the lanai enclosure which were torn by the wind, but no damage to the house.

Debbie was much gentler than Charlie was a few years ago.

Jim and Family in Town

Jim called while we were still in France to say that he and hisOld, old, Jim, Maria, Clara and Eleanor family would be in the Chicago area this week. I understood him to say they would be arriving today, but when Susan called this morning to ask if they were here, I told her I didn't know when they were expected to arrive in Chicago. Susan said Storm hits Shedd Aquariumthey were already here, and that Janet had a photo from them they took as they, and lots of others got hit by the storm as they were waiting in line at the Shedd Aquarium yesterday.

They apparently made contact with Susan later in the day, and went to Susan's and Dan's house. We talked to Jim a couple of times on the telephone, and were expecting to see them at our house fairly late in the evening, but they decided to  stay overnight with Susan and Dan

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grocery shopping

Monday was a fairly busy day, with lots of catching up to do after being out of the country for nearly three weeks.

One of the things we needed to do was go grocery shopping. Janet had provided us with the necessities (NY strip steaks and zucchini bread), but we had to get some more mundane foods.

In particular, we found the bread on the bakery shelves to be somewhat soft and displeasing to the touch, asSubstitute Photo of French Bread opposed to the French product. French bread is built a little more like the Eiffel Tower, and does not yield to being pinched. However, Dominick's bakery department made a pretty good imitation of the French baguette, which is three feet long, and you get your daily exercise tearing pieces off of the long loaf.

The French all claim that every single French citizen goes shopping every day. First to the boulangerie for bread, then to the vegetable market and finally to the meat market. They would not think of eating bread the day after it was baked.

Power Outage

When Dottie and I got home from the grocery store at a few minutes after noon, we noticed that the emergency generator was runningEmergency generator. I thought this was strange, as it is supposed to start every Monday at noon, and run a few minutes to check itself out. This was Tuesday.

I thought the generator was confused about which day it was. But, it didn't turn off after 15 minutes like it is supposed to. It ran for about an hour and 15 minutes. Turned out the generator knew what it was doing. Our electric power was off, and we were running on home-made electricity without knowing it.

Whether the power outage was due to yesterday's storm, or was the result of the power company having a rotating brown-out because of excessive air conditioning loads, I do not know. But, it is nice to have the old faithful generator out there, particularly when air conditioning is so much needed.

Jim and Maria and Clara and Eleanor arrive

Jim and his family arrived just after lunch time, and headed straight for the swimming Eleanor  engagedpool. The girls like the pool well enough when we are having normal weather in Chicago, but it is particularly attractive when the temperatures are getting up toward the 100 degree mark.

Janet came over in the afternoon, bringing with her a cardboard carton of dolls, many with Janet's own creative improvising.

Susan called several times, as she had hoped to come over and continue the visit with Jim and Maria and the girls, but Clara doing doll coiffureshe had heard from Dan that the trains were running late because of the hot weather, and she couldn't get in touch with him to find out when he would be home, so she was going to cancel her visit.

I was planning to get food for Dottie and me and Jim's family from Biaggi's, which is one of Maria's favorite restaurants, and was about to walk out the door when Susan called to say that Dan had made it home, and she and Dan were on their way here. So, we got their order from Biaggi's, and managed to have a relatively peaceful dinner with Susan and Dan, Jimmy and Cali, Jim, Maria, and Clara and Eleanor.

The only glitch seemed to be that Biaggi's left Maria's dinner out of the order. Maria was very forgiving, and said they had plenty of food without hers, so she turned down my offer to go back for it.

14th Anniversary

Today marks the fourteenth anniversary of my starting the Atkins low carb diet.

It has worked pretty well overall, although there are a few little things I would change if it were my brain child, instead of that of Dr. Atkins.

The main thing is that the diet promised (but did not guarantee) that once one had lost the weight one was planning to lose by restricting one's carb intake to 25 or so grams per day (you can ingest 25 grams of carbs by eating Bees at work in a honeycombtwo slices of toast or one ear of corn on the cob) and are in the "maintenance mode", you can eat one gram of carbohydrates for each gram of protein you eat.

I eat about 130 grams of protein a day, so I get to have 130 grams of carbs per day. Right? Well, that isn't the way it works out. If I eat over 60 grams of carbs per day, I gain weight. Not fair!

My only significant comment about the way the diet works, based on experience during this last year, is that the honey and cinnamon supplement seems to make it a more effective weight control diet than the straight Atkins prescription. By adding four table spoons of honey and two teaspoons of cinnamon daily, I have pretty well shifted from 60 grams of carbs as the breakeven point to 75, and that is without counting the 39.4 grams of carbs per day in the honey.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It is getting hot!

In case anyone didn't notice, it is getting very warm in the the Chicago area. The temperature made it up to 102 today, which is warmer than we are used to here in the temperate Midwest.Hot

Some people might attribute this to Global Warming, but the all time high temperature on record for Chicago was in 1934, when I was five years old. So, you might consider getting up to only 102 to be an indication of global cooling. Or, maybe we just didn't have real good thermometers back then.

I do remember swiping shards of ice off the back of the horse drawn wagons that came down the street delivering big blocks of ice. The ice man had 100 pounds (or so I recall) of ice on his wagon, and split off pieces of 10, 25 or 50 pounds for customers, who had a sign they put in the window with the three numbers printed around the margin in big numerals. Whichever one was up, that is the size of the block of ice he brought to your kitchen. He had big, sharp iron tongs for lifting the block of ice, and he put it directly into the ice compartment on top of the ice box.

Jim and Family

Jim and Maria and Clara and Eleanor spent the night with us. It was another sweltering day in the Chicago area, and no doubt had the Portland people wondering why anyone ever settled in this part of the country in the first place. Anna, clara and Eleanor

The indoor swimming pool came in handy, in that the kids did not have to go out in the hot sun to get into the water. There wasn't much to do that involved going outside, with the temperature over 100 F, and setting an all time record for this day of the year. It didn't make it up to the all time high recorded in Chicago, set in 1934, when I was five years old, but it got up to 105.

Janet came back to visit with Jim and the ladies,  and John and Cindy and Anna stopped in mid afternoon. We all had a nice visit.

Jim's Family Departs, John's Stays

Jim and Maria and Clara and Eleanor wanted to watch a fireworks display this evening, and planned to go back to Susan's and Dan's. The City of Glen Ellyn was planning a parade in the afternoon, and fireworks in the evening, and word was that neither had been canceled, although a number of the small towns had scrubbed their fireworks displays because of the drought.

However, the parade watching became less attractive as the scorching outside temperatures persisted into the afternoon. So, we thought Jim and Maria would stay with at least through dinner. But, they surprised us by leaving in the late afternoon for Susan and Dan's house. They planned to stay over night there, and leave tomorrow morning for Saugatuck Michigan where they will be visiting friends. So, we probably won't see them any more this trip.

Dinner at Biltmore

John and CindyJohn and Cindy an Anna had no plans for the evening, and after Jim and Maria and the girls left, there was no reason why we should not go out and have a nice sit down dinner somewhere.

Almost no reason. The restaurants have been thronged with people lately, probably because it isAnna Hardison uncomfortable to operate stoves in a house where the air conditioning system can't keep up. So, we were afraid we might have trouble finding a good place to have dinner without waiting in a long line.

We decided to try Biltmore, which always provides good food and is nearby. I called and was able to make a reservation without trouble. Much to our surprise, the roads were quite empty at 6:30 PM or so, and so was the Biltmore parking lot. The grill room had only a few of the many tables occupied.

We had a nice, quiet dinner, and forgot all about the sweltering heat for a while.

Happy Independence Day!

It is good to be free of control by the English King. Of course, the English are also free of Macy's Fireworks displaycontrol by the English King, but that is their business, not ours. And it is nice that we have been able to maintain our independence for so long.

The cruise on the River Seine, which ended at the beginning of this week, was one long history lesson. The main point of the whole lesson was that the Europeans, and most of the rest of the world, for that matter, have been going at it tooth and nail for centuries, mostly with the objective of putting some king or other in charge of some land or other which he felt he could run better (or at least more to his own advantage) than whoever was running it before.

It certainly made me feel better about the more recent US history. I believe the US was the first nation in history to have an army enter France, and some of the other European, African and Asian countries, without claiming ownership afterward.

I m also pleased that the US Government has not changed the date of Independence day (or Christmas) so that it falls on the first Monday of July (or the last Friday in December) so everyone gets another three day weekend.

Dottie and I, using the excuse that the high temperatures are particularly dangerous for old people, stayed home and watched the Macy's fireworks display on TV. Quite comfortably. The getting old business has some uses.

Andy Lussie Birthday

Andy and MoniqueToday is Andy Lussie's birthday.

Andy is still out west, doing sports photography now I believe, so I am wishing him a long distance Happy Birthday.

As is my habit, I did not get Andy's birthday greeting card in the mail prior to his birthday, for which I apologize. On the other hand, Andy, you would not want to be treated better than any of the other relatives.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Richard and Holly Van Beek Anniversary

Richard and Holly are celebrating their wedding anniversary today. They are the parents or William Tyler Van Beek. Richard, is my Sister's oldest son, and his wife is the former Holly Chaisson of Baton Rouge.

Why, you might ask, am I using a photo of their wedding from eight years ago? It is because this is, to the best of my knowledge, my most recent photo of Richard and Holly.

Kristina Gage Birthday

Kristina is the daughter of Debbie Gage, and the granddaughter of Dolores' nephew, Eddie Wachdorf III.

Happy Birthday, Kristina!


Catch-up Day


Today was spent catching up on all sorts of odds an ends. Fro example, the UOP golf outing at Biltmore is next Wednesday, and it is time to get a final lineup of who is playing with whom, an how many people there will be for dinner afterward. Warm man


I got this all done in the morning. Of course, as might be expected, there were changes sent in by E-mail in the afternoon.


I offered to take Dottie shopping, but she wants to lose some of the weight acquired on the trip to France before considering buying new clothes. Either men's clothes are less demanding with regard to fitting exactly right, or I am less perceptive of problems with fit. In any case, I do not need any new clothes.


I also got some of our photos sorted out, and included a few of them in the newsletter.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Third day of record temperatures

We had another hot one today, with the temperature Hot dayreaching 103 F and setting another record for this day of the year in Chicago. This makes three days running with temperatures over 100, and that ties the record set in the 40s.

So, a good deal of the news for today is negative news. That is, reports on things that didn't happen, rather than on things that did.

Golf Canceled

Dottie and I had counted on playing golf with Fred Nearing and Roget Maurice this morning at Biltmore. We haven't played golf since June 6, when we last played with the UOP group. We left for France on theGolf canceled following Wednesday, and the usual Wednesday date which fell on July 4 wasn't a suitable day for regular play.

Dottie said, before I called Fred to see if he was interested in playing, that she would be just as happy to stay indoors, if it didn't bother Fred too much to skip playing. However, Fred opened the phone conversation by saying that he was disinclined to play in such hot weather. I, cleverly, said that Dottie wasn't interested in playing either, and did not have to actually admit that it was too hot for me, too.

Bocce Ball Canceled

Biltmore doesn't have a regular Bocce Ball league like Palmetto Pine has, and that is probably because they don't have a dyed in the wool Bocce Ball enthusiast like Roger Tolfa, who is has spent endless hours organizing and promoting Bocce Ball at Palmetto Pine. bocce ball

But, Biltmore was making a start, and having a single day, Bocce Ball competition, with an hour introductory session before the tournament started. It was scheduled for this afternoon, with the introduction at 4:00 PM and the competition starting at 5:00 PM, with dinner afterward. We were glad to see that they included the dinner, as Bocce Ball is more of a social event than a sport.

Bocce Ball canceledWe expected someone to call and say that this was cancelled on account of the high temperatures also, but no one called. So, I checked with the golf pro shop at about 2:00 PM, and was told that there was a conference going on regarding the possibility of cancellation. They would have a verdict in half an hour.

I was not asked to cast a vote. However, Bocce Ball is not a strenuous as is golf (if one can think of golf as involving any significant effort) and it might be tolerable if there was enough beer available to keep one hydrated. So, I could go either way on the subject. But, the people or person in charge of Bocce Ball decided that cancellation was the better part of valor, and the first Bocce Ball tournament will be rescheduled for some time after the weather cools back down.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ida (Hardison) Van Beek Birthday

Today is my sister Ida (Hardison) Van Beek's Birthday.

Ida had a happy 77th birthday, according to her calculations. But, she says she was born in 1936, which would make her six years old in 1942, and 76 years old in 2012. So I think she is taking credit for a year she doesn't have yet. I always recalled being seven years older than she is. Of course, she doesn't believe my calculation, because I don't actually remember her birth, and could not testify, of my own first hand knowledge, that she was ever born at all.

On the other hand, I am becoming convinced that one should not celebrate birthdays as though it was an accomplishment, having made it through another year, like an athlete getting a prize after winning a race. Rather it should be a celebration of the year that is about to begin, during which one is going to cram as much interesting, useful and fun stuff as one can. Viewed this way, Ida is celebrating her 78th year --- the one that is beginning --- and she may have had the right idea all along.

Happy Birthday, Ida, which ever one it is.

Day No. 4?

It is still hot today.

According to the weather estimating people, the heat wave was supposed to break this morning, but during the day yesterday they changed the forecast to say the high temperatures would persist until this afternoon.

This opens the door for having a fourth day in a row with temperatures above 100 F. We were all looking forward to a high of a pleasantly cool 95 or so.