Well, Hello.

After three two weeks in our house, I have many things on my mind. This post has been written, edited, and re-written many times during the last 21 days. The news and the information keep changing and the cycle just keeps speeding up. But I feel like I have been away too long, and have waited too long to write. I made some decisions last weekend, and so…

Hello Friends,

Let me start by telling you that we, Wife, the girls and I, are all safe and healthy here on the detour. We hope you and yours are too. Like many of you in Chicagoland, we are sheltering in place. More of you are staying home each day. For us, this means the girls are home-schooling, and Wife is working from home. Also, like many of you, our daily rhythm is completely different than it was three weeks ago. But I’m not going to harp on those changes, nor am I going to share my opinions about the current situation or offer any kind of advice.

This begs the question, “Then why write? What’s your point?” First, I miss writing. I know my post schedule is erratic, but creating and editing posts is cathartic for me. Second, I miss all of you. From coffee with other parents to online comments, my social network is currently limited. I would like to move that from “limited” to “changed”, and I have to post to accomplish that. Third, I don’t want anyone out there to think they are alone in this. I may not be a high-volume influencer, but I can still connect with you all as a show of solidarity. So what are we doing?

The girls are home-schooling, and have been working on school work since March 16th. Our Principal is a lifetime Chicagoland resident. She worked with the Archdiocese of Chicago to prepare for e-learning in case of snow closures. For St. Viator Elementary School, e-learning was part of the conversation since August. Since March, the teachers have been working hard to implement and improve this set-up. And so we’re staying busy each day.

Kids don’t live on scoolwork, though, so we are finding other activities. Given my spring planting plans, this revolves around yardwork-yay!

No worries, I don’t work them too hard. We have plenty of time for walks around the block, chalk drawings, and appreciating the signs of Spring.

There is plenty if indoor stuff too, but the pics are not nearly as pretty. Lego, family dinners, family movies, family games, and impromtu concerts all find their way into our days. In short, we’re trying everything and anything here, friends.

Hopefully, I can at the writing. I am laughing at myself for trying to quickly sum up 21 days of sheltering-in-place. Honestly, the computer is tied up all day and I am usually gassed at night. But again, we’re trying what we can.

So now I have to stray from my plan. Look, I know I said I wouldn’t give advice, but things keep escalating so quickly. Stay safe, friends. If you are able, please stay home. I foolishly thought everyone got that message two weeks ago, but no. And be aware of others. Nobody needs ten Costco packs of toilet paper, but we all need some.

We are healthy, we are here. We are walking around the neighborhood, stretching and exercising in the house; we are supporting our local restaurants with one night of takeout; we are cleaning out our pantry and cooking creative snacks and meals; we are distancing; we are getting on each other’s nerves; we are bringing it in and hugging it out; we are digging in the dirt and listening to the birds; we are celebrating the spring flowers. These are the answers for us, and I hope you are finding some answers for you and yours. I have no idea what I might offer any of you who are in need, but please reach out if you are in a bad way. Big thanks to teachers, school administrators, first responders, doctors, nurses and medical staff, grocery store workers and everyone who is working to be part of the collective solution. Behave, be safe, friends. We won’t see you out there, not right now. But we’re here and we’re glad you are too.

Fall Cleaning

Hello Friends,

Everyone talks about how much they love spring cleaning. I am a bigger fan of fall cleaning. I enjoy reflecting on the growth from the spring and summer, while clearing out our space to make room.

Our front yard is a decorative, perennial, native, low-maintenance situation. We copied our neighbor, a landscape architect, so we have some staggered blooming. We do weed and mulch, but for the most part, it takes care of itself. By the fall, the yard is predominantly leaves.

We have learned that our perennial plants enjoy a clear cut each fall. They come back the following spring more healthy and full. Here again, we did what our neighbor did.

The back yard is a different story. That’s our small, compost-fed garden bed. It gets a bunch of sun, though, and always does well (you’ve seen the evidence).

The bed benefits from a good clean-out, too. I dig a trench and dump in our unfinished compost. As the fall progesses, I add dried, shredded leaves as well, effectively turning the bed into a passive compost pile. Next year, we are going to add real beds, so the clean-out this year helped me visualize that layout.

That lemongrass is still going strong. Wife and I are deciding on the best way to bundle and dry it for tea this winter. The apple trees were happy to get some pruning, now that I could reach them!

Obviously, our front yard is our curb appeal. We also hope the plants help control the rain water. The back yard is a fun project, and we eat from the garden when we can. The girls are getting more involved and are more helpful each season, and that’s great. And I know I feel better after a garden therapy session! Hopefully, you have some good plants in your life, too. No matter if they are for food, or if they are just nice to look at.

“Inch by inch, row by row, we’re gonna make this garden grow”