It Might Be Bronchitis

What are four words you don’t want to hear from a person in front of you on an airplane? That’s right, “It might be bronchitis.” Those were the words that the companion of a man, in the row in front of me, said to the flight attendant.

A beautiful Hawaiian sunset courtesy of Kauai.A wonderful vacation to Hawaii had just taken place. Sure, there was a touch of sadness as my wife and I boarded the plane back to Chicago, but as we took our seats, one row behind the exit row, there were three, slightly elderly folks seated in the row in front of us. As one flight attendant questioned the trio if they would be capable of handling the exit door in an emergency, I had my doubts as none of them seemed they would rise to the occasion in well, an emergency. Happily I had my trust in the airplane transporting us safely back to the Windy City without the assistance of the fine folks being needed.

All was well, kind of. People were taking their seats, but then the man of the group in the row in front of us got up, grabbed a bag from the overhead bin, and took out a box of Kleenex. Seemed odd, however, one of the ladies in the group explained to a different flight attendant that the man had been sick, but it should be okay because he was on antibiotics. My ears opened quicker than a present on Christmas morning. “What?” And a look of horror came to my face.

“It might be bronchitis,” the woman continued, mentioning that she didn’t think it was contagious any longer because, well, he was on the antibiotics. I wanted to run to the internet and Google, “How long is bronchitis contagious?” but, by then, I figured if he still was, well, contagious, I, along with most of the plane, were screwed.

That look you get when you hear "It might be bronchitis."Why was everyone screwed? It turns out the folks in front of me liked to have their seating area fairly cold and breezy so by this time the little blower thingies above the seats were wide open and had probably blown enough of the bronchitis into my lungs. Now add the “airplane sickness” domino effect of the little blower things and the infected air flowed back, from row to row, to the rear of the plane. Living in my own shock and horror of my impending sickness, I believe the flight attendant was just as taken aback as she arrived with two masks, one for him, and one for one of the companions, to which I thought, “What about the other woman?” and “What about the rest of the passengers?”

As it turns out, Googling upon my return home, if the dude was still contagious, antibiotic or not, all he had to really do was breath to infect everyone, and breath, chow down, and I believe also fart he did.

So, now I, and all of my fellow passengers on the plane, wait for the sickness.

I hope that someday there will come a day when each airline passenger will have their own, hermetically sealed pod to travel in, but for now that dreaded “airplane sickness” lives on.

Maybe not the bronchitis, but I feel a cough and runny nose coming on. Hopefully it’s just a reaction to the crappy, Illinois air, but, please, future Mr. Bronchy Dudes and Dudettes, please put a mask on before you board the plane. And don’t eat a sub sandwich that will give you gas.

Watching the Sun Rise Together

Watching the Sun Rise Together

I caught a pair of doves the other morning, just sitting on the wires, watching the sun rise. Sure, they probably weren’t watching the sun rise, and just doing whatever it is that doves do together, but it was nice to think of them as a couple of lovebirds, enjoying the beauty of the start of a new day.

Watch Your Relations With Other People Carefully Are Reserved

What in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks?

Our Chinese fortune from the fortune cookie.

I couldn’t sleep last night. Why? All I kept wondering was what our fortune meant. The little slip of paper read, “Watch your relations with other people carefully are reserved.” As no dreams came to me, and no visions of mindful illumination awakened my senses, I must turn to you, the folks of the Internet, for help. What in the h-e-double hockey sticks does this mean?

Yummy Soup. Tasty Egg Rolls. Fortune Cookie.

 

It began with a fine bowl of Lu’s Noodle Soup and some egg rolls. Yummy! With the meal complete there it was, the fortune cookie – staple of every meal at a Chinese restaurant. In its little, cellophane wrapper waited riches, knowledge, and of course, our fortune. Riches would come in the form of lucky numbers; Knowledge was coming in a new Chinese word for me to never learn; Most important, however, a wise saying that would lead to good fortune for me and my wife. We would have to share the fortune because the restaurant only gave us one cookie.

I let my wife do the honors, and she noisily opened the cookie, as there is no other way thanks to the wrapper. Her gentle hands proceeded to crack open the cookie, throw the cookie portion away as neither of us really care for the taste of a fortune cookie, and she carefully studied the tiny slip of paper. A look of confusion came upon her face.

Is Milo Going To Eat Us While We Sleep?

I was worried. Did it say something like, “Be careful the pet who wakes you up early as they will one day eat you in your sleep.”, or maybe “The person who loves another will never love himself.” I fearfully asked, “What did it say?” She began to read it to me, “Watch your relations with other people carefully are reserved.” I thought she was having a brain meltdown, that somehow she lost her ability to read or speak, so I snatched the paper of wonder from her hand. “Watch your relations with other people care-fully are reserved.”

“In Bed” Didn’t Help

I even tried adding “in bed” to the saying, as that always makes the fortune even more wise. “Watch your relations with other people care-fully are reserved in bed.” That didn’t help. What does this mean? Was the fact that “carefully” had a hyphen, writtne it as “care-fully” bring further insight?

Oh no! Wise fortune, I do not understand!

No Days for a Quest

I was considering taking my tiny slip of paper on a quest, maybe to the far reaches of China in search of a wise Buddhist Monk. Could he help me learn the true meaning of our fortune? Maybe I should go on one of those silent retreats to clear my mind and discover if the hyphen is the window to our soul.

Sadly, as I’m out of vacation days at work, there will be no quest so I must turn to you, oh wise Internet friends. Hopefully you can shed some light on the meaning of “Watch your relations with other people care-fully are reserved.” While I wait patiently for your interpretation I suppose I’ll just use the lucky number for the next Powerball or Mega Millions drawing. I’m thinking $50 million bucks will help me really not care.

At least, in the end, I know “Hai-zi” means children in Chinese. I will probably never use this knowledge.

Sunrise at Danada Forest Preserve – Wheaton, IL – August 2017

Sunrise at the Danada Forest Preserve Wheaton, ILI saw the sun rising on the way to work one morning. I said to myself, “Self, that’s a pretty sunrise.” Then I asked myself, “Self, would I rather see a sunrise while driving my car, or while christening nature?” The next day I grabbed my camera and headed to the Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton, IL. I arrived at an opening from the woods just as the sun was coming up over the horizon.

These are my photos of the morning sun, from my Flickr site. Enjoy!

Danada Forest Preserve - 2017

Cantigny Park – Wheaton IL – 2017

The other day my wife and I had some spare time on a Sunday so we went to visit Cantigny Park. I’ve never been there, my wife had, but the place is beautiful. It’s photo time!

Cantigny - 2017

We kind of went for their French Connection Day, but also used that as a good excuse to go. The photos in the Flickr album have nothing to do with the day, but the day wouldn’t be complete without some France.

I'm a model in my dreams. At the Cantigny Park French Connection Day.

Oodles of Beauty and Joy – The Gardens at Ball

A Garden in an Industrial Park?

There are surprise discoveries in one’s life that can bring even more oodles of beauty and joy to one’s perfect, summer day than just, well, a perfect, summer day. Thanks to my cousin, Ron, and his wife, Vicky, I got to experience more oodles of beauty and joy, on a perfect, summer day.

The Gardens at Ball 2017

It was also a day of “Who knew?”

Where was this surprise discovery with the blue skies and wonderful summer breezes blowing on a Sunday afternoon? It was a place called The Gardens at Ball, located at the West Chicago, Illinois headquarters of Ball Horticultural Company, which for the sake of my typing I will simply refer to as “Ball” during this little writing episode.

Ball Horticultural CompanyYou may have never heard of Ball, but I can almost guarantee you have experienced some aspect of their work as they have, through the years, bred, sold, and distributed the seeds that become many of the beautiful plants you want in your flower garden, or planted around your house. The Gardens are a showcase of the plants they breed and develop so that the folks that grow and sell them in mass can see them, in all of their glory.

The surprise part? The Gardens at Ball are meant mostly for industry professionals. My cousin is in the business, and he visited a few years ago with his wife. They let me know about the place, about how beautiful and interesting it was, and I have been intrigued ever since. As The Gardens are for industry folks they generally aren’t open to the public., however, on a Sunday in July, thanks to Ball Horticultural Company and The Garden Conservancy, the public was allowed to walk around experience the latest Ball has to offer.

“Let’s Go See Some Plants!”

Reaching for the Sun!As my wife and I had some free time on the Sunday of the event, and the weather was beautiful, I said, “Wife, let’s go see some plants!” She found herself skeptical, but on that recommendation of my cousins we were off.

Nestled in an industrial park this is not really the place one would expect a garden, however, as you drive past the building and start to see the variety of plants, you know you are at the right location, pulling in and heading towards the gardens.

For this event there were tour guides, many from the University of Illinois Extension program for Master Gardeners, as well as Ball employees to answer questions, and upon being offered a guide we were paired with Logan who asked our interest in the gardens. We mentioned we had a clean slate of landscaping around our house to populate, were looking for inspiration, and also how not to kill Lantana, my specialty.

The Gardens at Ball

Wonderful color at The Gardens at Ball.Beginning our walk around the over 10 acres of plants, Logan did a wonderful job of explaining the various parts of The Gardens at Ball which are separated into different classes of plants. There are shady areas spotlighting plants that do a little better with less sunlight where begonias and coleus abound, areas dedicated to just PanAmerican Seed with Easy Wave petunia, millet, ornamental peppers and more. There are rose gardens, a giant, perennial area, hostas for everyone, and a long row of nearly every color geranium you can imagine, all interspersed among the paths that take you in a logical circle, eventually getting you back to the entrance.

Walking through The Gardens it occurred to me that the selection of plants I would see at my local big-box hardware store kind of sucked. The shear variety of color and variation of the standard “here are some petunias” you find at those stores pales in comparison to the beauties you will spot walking around the winding paths and trails around the grounds. I will say this, both my wife and I came up with a plethora of ideas for around our house, and I’m hoping that Canna Cannova, at least I believe that’s what it was, can be incorporated to naturally attract some hummingbirds. I just hope we can find them all to buy somewhere, but in a worst case I suppose I could make a call, “Hey, cuz, any chance you can order me some SunPatiens, the Tropical Orange variety? How about some Rex Jurassic Pink Shades Begonia?”

The Rex Jurassic Shades BegoniaThe Rex Jurassic was one of those “Who knew?” moments while walking around The Gardens, as Ball developed a begonia to similarly mirror the skin of a T-Rex. It kind of reminded me of my grandma who would take her different colored violets, say her dark blue and white ones, somehow mix them together, and get cool things like a blue violet with a white border. I believe, however, that the folks at Ball are a little more scientific than my grandma!

With our walking around the gardens finished, and I believe I heard it was the first time they did this, Ball allowed tours of their facility which brought many more “Who knew?” moments apart from the ton of “Who knew?” while just walking around the gardens.

Like a Brewery Tour, Only No Samples

Seed coating at Ball Horticultural CompanyThe tour we were given focused on a variety of aspects of their business, from seed coating (Who knew the folks who mass-planted the little suckers into those trays needed coated seeds?), to seed pellets (Have you ever seen those SimplyHerb gardens, with six or so herbs in one pot? No, they don’t plant six individual seeds, Ball combines them into one pellet, the planting people shove one in some dirt, and ‘Voila!”, six plants in one pot! Who knew?), to how they pre-germinate seeds. When you sell seeds you also prefer to count them so you know how many you are selling. Count them by hand? Nah, invent a seed counter so you can go crazy with up to 2000 pellets of seed in a second. Lastly came some quality control. Turns out that in the seed business you also need to tell your customers what kind of yield to expect, and to improve your own process to get better yield. Do you want some human to make this judgement call? Nope, we want lasers! So did Ball, and they developed a laser and photo system to analyze trays of just-germinated seeds.

Color at The Gardens at BallReally, who knew there was so much to seeds? I just remember taking a dried up marigold, trying to plant the seeds, and hoping a few of them would grow. I guess when you are selling millions you need a little bit better process.

I know this blog post has gotten long, and I apologize, but I was fascinated by the entire Gardens at Ball experience. Going there was kind of like being let into that secret room in the back of the bar that only the cool people get to get into, only instead of beautiful drinks and beautiful people you get garden heaven.

More Pictures Next Year? I Hope So!

Hopefully they will have this event again next year, and I’ll be setting a reminder to check The Garden Conservancy website next Spring. Now that the wife and I have all kinds of ideas for our yard, next year I’m hoping to be able to get even more pictures and share more oodles of beauty and joy of a summer day with you.

Beautiful gardens in the middle of an industrial area? Who knew?

Origami in Metal, Bees in Flowers, Sumi-E in Sun, Surprise in Leaves

The Morton Arboretum always has an endless supply of stunning views of nature, but their Origami in the Garden exhibit this summer brings beautiful metal. Stopping by during the Destination Asia Festival also led to live Sumi-E painting, and a surprise rustling in the leaves. It’s picture album time!

The Morton Arboretum - 8/5/2017

Let me know if you can spot the surprise in the picture of the leaves as you go through the album, and I’ve also got more pictures from The Morton Arboretum here!

Lincoln Marsh – Wheaton, IL

It was getting hot and sweaty, but that kind of makes it perfect for a morning at Lincoln Marsh. All I really wondered from the walk was did they really need a “No Swimming” sign? Enjoy the picture album!

Lincoln Marsh - Wheaton IL - 6/11/2017

Cricket Creek – Addison IL

I like walking at Cricket Creek in Addison IL. It’s tucked away between two busy streets, and you wouldn’t even know the busy-ness is there if it weren’t for the occasional truck noise. There were no deer on this walk, but there was still plenty to see!
Cricket Creek - Addison, IL - 2017-0609

Shooting a Beaver

Shooting a beaver. Dam!I am a man who finds farts funny. I will admit that I find it funny when I fart, and I find it funny, most of the time, when others fart. About the only time I don’t find farts funny is when I’m stuck on an airplane and the person next to me has rotten egg gas. Usually, if I can work myself upwind, fart away, and I will laugh!

I have my favorite slang for farting, and it’s usually centered on something about a duck. Sometimes, though, the best, most funny word is just fart.

The other day, however, someone I know commented, as I accidentally let a duck get in the room, “You just shot a beaver!” I looked at them with puzzlement. “What?” They repeated, “You just shot a beaver!”

This was a phrase I’ve never heard in this context before. I quickly demanded an explanation which related to something like “We used to say that all of the time when I was younger and someone farted.”

Again I was perplexed, but things got more complicated.

It appears for this person that the process of fart acknowledgement also included a visual component as, along with “You just shot a beaver,” the person who didn’t fart was supposed to lick their thumb and stick it on their forehead in some kind of “Someone in this group farted, and it wasn’t me!” ritual. Now I recall back in college the importance of claiming your fart with a “No slugs,” and if you didn’t claim the fart it was acceptable to slug the farter in the arm, but there was no thumb licking.

Now I’ve had a long life, spanning half a century, and in my past I can remember various ways to announce one’s passing gas, tendency for crop dusting, cutting the cheese, or the inevitable trouser trumpet, but nowhere in my memory banks did anything with beavers have to do with farting.

You see, for me, shooting a beaver relates to a few things, the obvious being physically shooting a beaver, and the other relating to a woman exposing her private area, a la Sharon Stone giving the “beaver shot” in “Basic Instinct.” Mostly, though, it conjures up the movie “The Naked Gun” where Jane (Priscilla Presley) climbs a ladder and Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) looks up and says “Nice beaver,” to which Jane replies, “Thanks, I just had it stuffed” as she hands Frank a stuffed beaver.

To each their own, I suppose, when it comes to announcing one’s flatulence, firing the butt bazooka, or recognizing another’s sphincter siren, it’s just that the beaver saying took me by surprise. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because, as I was doing research for this post I found that you can also say, “Beaver leaver” or “Shoot bunnies” when it comes to farting. There is one thing that is for certain, though, when it comes to breaking wind, and that is whoever smelt it, dealt it.

So please, whatever it takes, don’t deal it on a plane, and ladies, be careful not to shoot a beaver. Crossing your legs should help.