Feeling Nostalgic for Apple Orchards and Corn Mazes

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.

Peace, people!

Love in an Elevator

I assure you this story has a point.

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.

These were not the offending doors, I just liked them.

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.

The elephant did it!

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?

Peace and love, people!

A Special Gift

  For a combination Mother’s/Father’s Day gift our daughter had this made for Studly and me. It’s a beautiful reminder of all we’ve been through and of just how far we’ve come.

The border lists all the places we’ve lived in our marriage. In the lower right hand corner the names of our children and grandchildren are written. All around our names are our interests and Studly’s famous sayings, “Don’t say whoa in a mud hole,” “Second Sucks,” and “Can’t never could.” 

The “Really, Really” is how Studly signs his cards to me. He’s been doing so since before we married. The one time he forgot I thought he wanted to leave me. 

Notice the cow in the upper right hand corner. That represents Salem Sue, the huge Holstein that adorns a hill outside New Salem, North Dakota, where we lived for 18 months. The town, not the hill; although, I always told people we lived behind the left udder.

The remainder of the picture contains little bits of our lives, our hobbies and activities. Studly golfs. I drink wine. We both follow the Dallas Cowboys and ride motorcycles. Oh, and we both look like idiots trying to climb out of our kayak.

When I get old, this will be my touchstone, my connection to our past. What a wonderful gift!