Postcard from Chicago

Chicago buildings

We recently took a trip to Chicago where my son, Derek, competed in the nationals for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). He didn’t get a trophy this year but he represented Missouri well. We are proud of him!

If you have spent time with me, or skimmed my bio on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I like my pony, crochet and tea. You might guess these are things a homebody would like. You would be right!

Since FBLA nationals aren’t usually held in the brushhogged fields of rural Missouri, it was time for me to pack up the crochet, give a last carrot to the pony and hit the road. (I trusted that Chicago would have tea for me, and I wouldn’t have to bring my own.)

Reluctant to leave home, I got to Chicago and had fun despite myself. How could I resist the food, the sights, the languages and the music?

We walked all over the Loop and I put more steps on my FitBit than seemed possible. Although I never saw any ponies, I did get to see a lot of city dogs. The Hyatt Regency even had a 24-hour Starbucks, so there was plenty of tea for me day or night.

Best of all, I got to hug old friends and hear their new stories.

The city won me over. Thanks to all the people who made it a memorable trip. Until next time, Chicago!

All photos by Derek Howard,

Photos of Chicago

The trip begins

Driving in the rain
Driving in some of the million inches of rain we’ve had this summer

A striking skyline familiar to me from growing up on the North Shore

Chicago buildings
Chicago buildings

A mix of more scenes showing skyscrapers in their complicated, impressive, imposing glory

Good food

In Chicago, you can eat way too much food because it is all so tasty! My favorite breakfast was a Mediterranean scramble from Pittsfield Cafe, a place with character. Yolk (show below) had great modern atmosphere.

Derek at Yolk
Derek at Yolk
Pancakes at Yolk
Pancakes at Yolk (syrup pouring and hand modeling by yours truly!)

Our room with a view of the Chicago River

Chicago river out our window
Chicago river out our window

Lake Michigan

Logan and Genevieve Howard at Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan, always an awesome sight. Logan enjoyed seeing seagulls again–they reminded him of his hometown Santa Cruz! I collected some water to use at my church’s gathering of the waters ceremony this fall.


Public transportation in Chicago is amazing! We took the trains and the water taxis.

Riding on the Metra
Riding on the Metra

Dramatic spaces

We are book people and enjoyed visiting a couple of nice libraries. The indoor Winter Garden on the ninth floor of the Harold Washington Library Center shown below was gorgeous. Other awesome spaces included the Great Hall at Union Station and the Tiffany Ceiling at Macy’s.

Winter Garden
Can you believe this is indoors on the 9th floor?

I found a used book called Knitting Yarns where writers write about how great knitting is! The perfect read while waiting at the train station.

Knitting yarns
Knitting yarns

The Bean

What is a trip to Chicago without taking a selfie at the Bean??

Tiny bean
Tiny bean

Wishing you a week filled with blessings of friendship, food and happy memories!

A need to nest

the big oak

For many years, I had no home. I lived in rooms of rented houses or slept on couches owned by generous friends.

But in my heart, my home was knocking. I heard it. In my mind’s eye, I saw it.

I saw acres of green fields. I saw four seasons. I saw my boy growing up in God’s own country.

We sold all our belongings and moved to a place we had never been before. We knew no one. We had no job.

But I heard home knocking.

After a year and a half of searching, we found it. Our realtor asked as we pulled on the gravel driveway, “Is this your idea of paradise?”

Yes. We had found it. A small piece of land to serve as my sanctuary, my place to heal and my son’s space to grow.

I answered that knock.

I came home.

hands light across the field guitar the big oak puppies pouring tea

5 summertime things that make me happy


Summer’s almost here! These 5 summertime things make me happy.

Fresh fruit, all kinds, especially yummy wrapped in a crepe!

fresh strawberries and crepes

Celebrating America with our American cat!

cat on american flag chair

Walks with the dogs.

Mercy runs

Lakes, rivers, creeks and other sorts of water, so refreshing when the heat comes.

Lake in summer morning

The sight and sounds of insects (except for horse flies that torment my sweet horse! But I love the fireflies and crickets, the butterflies and dragonflies that decorate our acreage.)


What makes you happy about summer being here? Tell me in the comments!

Sunny, summery blessings on your week

From the road

getting onto the highway

I live in the country. I work in town. Between my home and my office, it’s more than 25 miles.

We might put more than 100 miles on the car in day if we have family activities that require some back and forth.

Time in the car isn’t wasted. We have engaging conversations or sing together. If I’m a passenger and it’s daytime, I can get a lot of crochet done! We make up stories about the things we see, like a lazy horse sunbathing or the summery fashion choices of college students when it’s 40 degrees out.

I like the feeling of motion.

When you’re in the car, instead of focusing on the arrival, make the car trip into a destination itself. Challenge yourself to make commute time a fun time!

These are some photos I’ve taken from the passenger seat of the car. See the whole set on Flickr

Light in my life: Drew Backues

During February and March, I’m featuring artist-friends who bring light to my life.

I met Drew while living in Missouri. The contrast between his easy-going nature and competitive side fascinates me. I’m always impressed by his talent and desire to improve, whether in Photoshop, bowling or pumpkin chucking. He masters anything he puts his mind to.

Funny, low-key and loyal, I consider him a true friend.

You can see more of Drew’s photography on his Flickr page

What brings light into your life?

Besides my Lord and savior, family/friends and the freedom I have in this wonderful country… I would have to say nature.

From a walk in the woods, to a float trip down the river or a night under the stars, it’s natures vast beauty and wildlife that brings light to my life. It helps me get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and unwinds me.

More people need to get out there and bathe in its therapeutic wonder.