My daughter was confused because in my blog I kept referring to her home as being in the eastern part of Illinois, when in fact, Port Byron is in western Illinois. My mistake had her doubting what she knew to be true. See, that’s how fake news works.
I had no malicious intent in my false reporting. Honestly, my brain tends to switch such things around. Nevertheless, my daughter needed clarification. Did she live in eastern or western Illinois?
See that blue strip in the map above? That’s the Mississippi River where it separates Illinois from Iowa—proof that my daughter resides in the western, not the eastern part of the state.
In other news, my grandson is doing well following his recent abdominal surgery. And that’s all that really matters.
Studly Doright and I lived in Mahomet, Illinois, for eight years. We’d moved there, reluctantly, from our spot by the ocean in Melbourne, Florida. While we were no strangers to the Midwest, having lived in Kansas at one time, going back to the country’s midlands had not been part of our game plan.
I missed the Atlantic and the perpetual summer we’d enjoyed in Melbourne. In Illinois, we had to deal with a definite lack of beaches and a surplus of cold winters. It took me awhile to appreciate central Illinois.
When our daughter and her family moved to Illinois, just a couple of hours away from us, that helped immensely. Instead of seeing her a couple of times a year I could get in my car almost any time and have lunch with her and the grandkids. I do miss that.
Aside from their presence, though, I began to enjoy all that Illinois had to offer. We weren’t that far from Chicago, and I could ride Amtrak up to the Windy City for almost nothing. I only did that a couple of times, but they were both memorable.
We lived near the University of Illinois, in Champaign, and often went to college basketball and football games with friends, even doing the whole tailgating thing.
We had the best neighbors you could ask for in Mahomet. I think maybe that was the friendliest neighborhood we’ve ever lived in. Just across the road from our neighborhood was Studly’s golf course set in the beautifully wooded park, Lake of the Woods. Sometimes, he’d ride his bicycle to the course. And for Fourth of July fireworks we could sit in our front yard and enjoy most of the spectacle while fireflies flitted in the bushes.
Now, in the autumn, I find myself thinking about the apple orchard we’d visit at this time of year. It was the first place I’d tasted honey crisp apples, and we took the grandkids along so they could jump out of the hayloft (it was kid-sized) and feed baby goats, and wander through the corn maze.
Corn mazes are a big deal in central Illinois. Just between you and me, they freak me out. I have a lousy sense of direction and always fear I’ll become hopelessly lost. There’s a particularly difficult one at the Reindeer Ranch outside of Rantoul, Illinois, so after one failed attempt I opted to spend my time petting the reindeer. They are definitely worth the trip.
I wonder if these places will be open this fall. Covid has spoiled so much. The memories are lovely, though.
I once nearly lost a hand in an elevator door. True story. A group of coworkers and I were staying in an elegant older hotel in San Antonio. We’d just checked in and were waiting for a group to exit the elevator so we could enter. As the last person left the lift, the doors began to close, I waited a beat before sticking my right hand out to keep them open, then Bang! The doors snapped shut, just missing my outstretched fingers.
For the rest of my stay I took the stairs. I never try to catch and hold the elevator doors anywhere, having learned my lesson. Half an inch and two seconds were all that prevented my nickname from being Lefty instead of Nana.
Once on a solo motorcycle trip from my home in Mahomet, Illinois, to my son’s home in Dallas, Texas, I stopped for the night in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’d been on the road all day under the hot summer sun and was ready for a shower.
I checked into the hotel and unloaded the gear from my saddlebags. I’d packed light and was able to carry everything into the hotel in one trip. I entered the empty elevator and fully relaxed for the first time that day. This was my first major solo ride, and I’d been on high alert for many miles.
As soon as I relaxed, a poof of gas was forcefully passed from my backside. Yes, I cut the cheese. It was totally unintentional, but that didn’t keep it from smelling to high heaven.
“Thank goodness,” I thought. “I’m going up and the elevator is empty.”
Except that a well put together woman stopped the elevator on the second floor and rode up with me to the third. I was torn between apologizing for the smell and trying to mime blaming it on the previous occupants. Instead I just suffered in silence until the doors opened and I could escape. I think I heard her gasp for air as she went in the opposite direction. Probably scarred her for life.
Now, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wrote the song “Love in an Elevator.” I’m thinking of writing one called “Lefty Farts in an Elevator.“ It should be a hit, don’t you think?
Back in the spring of 2019 I began eating a mostly vegan diet for health reasons. Occasionally I’ll have shrimp in a salad, or an egg white for breakfast, and I still put honey in my tea, but 99% of the time I follow a plant-based diet that excludes dairy.
Since I’m not a great cook I eat a lot of baked potatoes, fresh fruits, and salads at home, but my favorite place to eat is Sweet Pea Cafe in Tallahassee where everything is vegan, including the yummiest baked goods ever.
In the beginning when I ordered a meal at Sweet Pea I was full of questions like, “Who’s seitan?” and “Isn’t Tempeh a town in Arizona?” To their credit the Sweet Pea staff answered these questions and more, and finally I found myself fairly knowledgeable about vegan foods. Well, I know what I’m getting when I order, anyway. I’ve become fairly fluent in Veganese.
A couple of days ago I was in line to order at Sweet Pea behind a young couple who were obviously vegan novices. I patiently waited while they asked all of the questions I had asked and more.
“What’s tempeh made of?”
“How about seitan? What’s in it?
“What’s in a falafel?”
“What kind of cheese do you use?
Seriously, this young couple was thorough in their quest to find out what everything on the menu was made from or of.
There was one question that I never asked, though that the male did: “And what are the potatoes made from?”
I looked up from my phone to find the person taking the order suppressing a smile.
“Potatoes. We generally make them from potatoes.”
He went on to tell him what kind of oil they’d be cooked in and that they were locally grown.
I just had to grin. Finally someone asked a question I could’ve answered even in my virgin vegan days. Potatoes are made from potatoes!
Yesterday I shared a poem I wrote called, The Dusthttps://nananoyz5forme.com/2020/01/14/the-dust/. It was inspired by memories of my childhood in Floydada, Texas, when the wild winds blew stinging dust into every little nook and cranny of my world. I hated the dust and the dry Texas winds. They drove me slightly mad. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
And as a young wife, I grew to hate the wind and dust even more when on two separate occasions the back door of our rental house in Dumas, Texas, blew open while Studly and I were at work. We came home to find inches of dust on our floors, our furnishings, and inside of our cabinets. I cleaned for days and still found dust where dust shouldn’t be. I cursed the dust.
When Studly and I moved away from the Texas panhandle I missed the family and friends we left behind, but never the wind and the dust. I could live there again if I had to, but I pray I’ll never have to.
While living in Illinois I joined an informal book club. We drank a lot of wine and sometimes even discussed the book we’d been assigned to read that month. One that made the biggest impact on me was The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.
The book chronicles the Dust Bowl era of the 1930’s through interviews with those who lived through that time. I knew every town mentioned in the book. And as awful as my memories of windy, dusty days were, they were nothing compared to the nightmare of the Dust Bowl years.
One lady in the book club complained that the book went on about the dust way too long. I countered with, “I think that was the point.”
If the author had glossed over even a bit of the despair caused by the weather conditions he’d have missed his mark. She also asked if anyone still lived there.
“Well, yes,” I said. “I have family and friends there along with hundreds of thousands of other hardy folks.”
“Unbelievable,” she said.
There is a lot of beauty in that part of the country–days so perfect, sunsets so gorgeous, you could almost cry. But I always remember the dust.
On the banks of the mighty Mississippi, in the quaint village of Port Byron, Illinois, rides this giant of a man. The locals dubbed him “Will B. Rolling,” and I think that’s a fine name for this picture.
Characters Ross, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler first came to the small screen as FRIENDS 25 years ago. I watched the series sporadically, but was never one of those super fans who never missed an episode. I’ve most likely seen every installment by now, though, given that the popular series has never exactly gone away.
My daughter, Ashley, IS a super fan, and she’s shared her love of the show with her middle child, McKayla. So, when Ashley learned that the 25th anniversary of the popular series would be celebrated with exclusive showings of select episodes in movie theaters she got pretty excited.
I’m at Ashley’s home in Illinois this weekend, and coincidentally, one of the showings of FRIENDS was scheduled at a Cinemark theater in nearby Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday night. Well, how could we not go? Ashley bought tickets, and away we went.
(Waiting for the first of four FRIENDS episodes. That’s daughter, Ashley, on the left, granddaughter, McKayla, in the middle, and yours truly on the right.)
It was such fun to see these small screen characters on the big screen in four episodes. Ashley’s favorite episode in the series “The One Where No One’s Ready”
was among the ones shown, as was one of my favorites, “The One with the Embryos.”
I had a great time laughing at the familiar antics of the friends on FRIENDS while enjoying movie popcorn and candy with two of my own best friends. The evening was practically raining friends, don’t you know. As Chandler might ask, “Could there BE anymore friends?”
Months can pass at Doright Manor with nothing of interest happening. Okay, so occasionally I set my underwear on fire and once I sent a green bath rug to a total stranger because I thought she needed it…
Sometimes, though, I have lots of good stuff on the horizon. This weekend I’m flying to Illinois to see my daughter and her family. We chose this weekend because all three of the Illinois grandkids have stuff going on: Grandson Garrett will be marching in the high school band playing saxophone just like his Nana (that’s me!) did. Granddaughter McKayla is a high school cheerleader, so I’ll get to see her in action, while the youngest grandchild, Harper, will be cheering before the game. I’m almost too excited to sleep!
But that’s not all, folks! In late October, I’m meeting a group of friends in Nashville for a weekend of shenanigans. Of course we’re all in our late 50’s to mid 60’s, so the shenanigans will be kept to a quiet minimum, but still, it will be fun.