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Has Autumn Arrived?

In Southern California, we don’t have the obvious signs that autumn has arrived.  The kids go back to school in August.  The trees don’t change color.  The ladies wear white jeans year round.  So we have to try a little harder to tell when summer is over.   Here are some of my signs.

–         No matter how much you water or fertilize your tomato plants, they are done. Kaput.  No tomatoes for you.

–         When the sun goes down, you shiver for the first time in 5 months.

–         You need more than a sheet at night.

–         You put on real shoes and get blisters after 15 minutes.

–         Your hand shakes as you scroll thru your DVR recordings to watch the season premieres of all your favorite shows.

–         Apples are finally less than $1.00 a pound

–         The grocery stores are selling kick ass pumpkins for $39.99

–         CANDY CORN

What is your sign that summer is over?  Click on the contact button and send your thoughts.  I will publish under “You Said” in a few weeks.


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See Chicago

I recently visited Chicago on a girl’s long weekend getaway. Hard to believe, but the three of us had never been to the Windy City before except for airport layovers. Starting with the taxi ride in, I was liking what I saw. And that is what Chicago is, a city to see. Wherever we went, whether planned or unplanned, we found a cultural gift. If you took the best of Boston and downsized New York, you’d make Chicago. We were blessed with gorgeous weather for sightseeing. I want to share my favorite four with you.

The Bean
The Bean greets you at the entrance to Millennium Park. It looks like a gigantic drop of liquid mercury but is actually made with stainless steel plates.  “Cloud Gate” was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor in 2004. The arch is 12 feet high, and this baby weighs in at 110 tons. We had a terrific view of the city in the reflection of the sculpture.

Cloud Gate

The Bean or "Cloud Gate"

Side note one: When The Bean started becoming one of the most photographed sculptures in the city, city officials contemplated requiring permits to photograph it. That didn’t go over very well.

Bridge Sculpture
After a 90 minute architectural boat tour (I highly recommend), we climbed the stairs up to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The sun was setting and lit up this sculpture called “Regeneration.” It represents the rebuilding of Chicago after the great fire of 1871. This is one of four sculptures done by Henry Hering and James Earle Fraser in 1928.

"The Regeneration"

Metal Sculpture
When we found this work by Picasso, we weren’t quite sure what it was. A woman? A horse? A dog? Picasso wanted to keep us all guessing because it is untitled. It is 50 feet tall and is made out of the same steel as the Daley Center building behind it. Picasso gave this as a gift to the people of Chicago. I find it interesting that he never actually visited Chicago or the US.
Side note two: In the 1967, when the sculpture was unveiled, it was initially scorned.

Picasso "Untitled"

The Windows
I saved my favorite for last. Inside the Art Institute of Chicago is the newly restored work by Marc Chagall called “America Windows.” It was originally installed in 1977 at the bicentennial in memory of Mayor Daley. If you are interested in learning how this piece was produced and restored, I found a great video on YouTube. Click the link. Chagall Link

Of Russian French descent, Chagall is an artist whose style is somewhat dreamlike. He said it best “Art seems to me to be above all a state of soul.” My photo below shows one of the six panels that comprise the entire “America Windows” artwork. It really touched my soul.

Chagall's America Windows

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My Vacation to Blissville

Have you been there lately? To Blissville? I had a rare Sunday afternoon off. No plans, no one home but me. I needed to get away from the house, in particular, the garden. I have a tendency to go out there to cut a few roses and two hours later, I’ve pruned everything in sight. And it isn’t pretty. My poor Mexican sage looked so pathetic, I had to dig it up. So for the welfare of the garden, I took a mini vacation.

My Blissville is located in spas. In northern San Diego, I have two terrific choices. So I set my VCR (I know, no one calls them that anymore) to record Tom Brady (I mean the Patriots), and I headed off to the Park Hyatt. For the price of one treatment, I had access to all the bliss I could handle.

Treatments usually aren’t that relaxing for me. They feel great and all, but I have this medical condition. It is called “PMMT (People Make Me Talk).” I am not sure how common it is, but I have a severe case of it. By the end of a treatment, I usually know my masseuse’s hobbies, number of children and where they live. I figure, why should they have to keep quiet. But that is ok, because the best is yet to come. The places where there are no people: the Jacuzzi, the steam room and the sauna. After I’ve been to each, I repeat until I feel guilty about using up so many of those soft thick white towels. I’m not done yet. I head over to the ADULT pool. The one for quiet and relaxation.

View from the Park Hyatt Pool

I am reading a hilarious memoir. It is called “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.” My friend Vicki suggested it. She thought I’d enjoy the author’s style. She was right. The book starts with the author being in a car accident and having to go home to her Mennonite family. You see her husband left her for a guy named Bob. He met Bob on And it just doesn’t stop. What had me giggling on my chaise lounge today had to do with her mother. She drinks tuna juice from the can (can’t waste it), her farts in Kohl’s stop a service dog in its tracks and her grandson can now do “the big job” on the toilet.

All this relaxing made me hungry and thirsty. I ordered a mango passion fruit drink and a tossed salad with shrimp. Hold up your thumb and index finger. Make the letter “C.” That is how big the shrimp on this salad were. Jumbo shrimp is no longer an oxymoron.

After four hours, it started thundering and lightening out. This is not common in San Diego in September, so I took it as a sign from the gods that I used up my time. I slowly walked back to the spa. I dropped the sandals and robe into the hamper. I lingered in the dressing room and tried all the lotions. On my way out, I joked with the receptionist about how long I had stayed. She told me I still had two more hours before the spa closed….it was tempting, but I drove home.

I hope you have a Blissville somewhere near you. And don’t feel guilty about spending time there.