Sanibel Island to Chicago

I am so far behind on my blog it is absolutely ridiculous! I don’t even know where to begin or where I left off. I think I was heading to Sanibel.


I flew into Punta Gorda, which is a kickback to an old, small airport. It reminds me of the Airport I flew into in Bangor, Maine to go to UM. My mom was waiting outside the fence with Dulce. When I got near the fence she went nuts. (Dulce NOT my Mom!) In a good way! Mom raced her to the front door and minutes later I was in front of her. She was jumping up and down and so incredibly excited to see me. Fellow passengers walked by and commented. “Someone is sure excited to see you!” It was like one of those Folgers ads from days past, where the son from the Navy/Army/Air Force sneaks back into his parents’ home and brews a pot of hot coffee and the parents go downstairs following the aroma of the coffee and discover that not only are they going to get a cup of that yummy coffee, but their son as well. And we all cry. That is what it looked like with Dulce. A Hallmark moment.


We got in the car and my mom’s sadness was profound. I am her (almost) constantly upbeat daughter and I could feel the sadness in her voice, see it in her face. Here she is 72 years of age, and moving for the third time in less than 4 years. It is too much!


You know my cure all for everything is food! We went to my favorite restaurant THE SANIBEL GRILL and I ordered a plate of oysters for us to share. They were so yummy!


Then we ate crunchy grouper and for dessert we shared a slice of key lime pie. The only thing that was on my diet was the oysters! But I can rationalize ANYTHING!!!! I could tell you the fish was loaded with Omega-3 oils that are essential. I could even fib and tell you the oil they deep-fried it in was healthy….oil is good for the skin! The key lime provided my fruit requirement and all the eggs and butter are dairy essentials. Damn I am good. Anytime you need a good rationalization, I am your gal!


Who do I see at the Grill but the guy from the Christmas trolley! I have not been to Sanibel and not seen him! It is downright bizarre! And I have never ever seen him with a wife and kids. It makes me wonder if they even exist!


We went home and I surveyed the house. I was looking for the work my mom had completed and trying to assess what still had to be done. I was very shocked and impressed at how much she had accomplished. I told her my goal was to get EVERYTHING packed except her clothes and some kitchen essentials and it was going to be in that state one week from that day and before I left town. Her sadness was on her face!


But she should know me pretty well; her packing pro and that I would get it done. It helped greatly that in the first day alone we got a ton accomplished and her frown began to turn to a smile. That first morning she woke me EARLY when Sissy woke at 6:45am and I was a zombie. She took the dog out. She peed. I got dressed. We went to Bailey’s in search of packing boxes. Here we are at 7am in the convertible with cappuccinos from Baileys and I looked like a tree full of owls. We had to come home and make MORE coffee! I kept going into rooms and looking at pictures, lamps, knick-knacks.


Box hunting became a daily ritual. When I had depleted Bailey’s supply, I went to the other supermarket on the island Jerry’s. I pilled so many boxes on/in the car that I got a block away and left a trail on the street that I had to go back and fetch. Then I had to somehow figure out a way to wedge them in better and hold onto them with one hand and the steering wheel with the other hand. People drove by me slowly and took pictures. I am sure they thought one of two things. 1) That is hysterically funny! 2) What in the world is a person doing carrying that many boxes in our incredibly posh neighborhood, how gauche! Ask me how much I cared?


Then about halfway through the trip I woke up with a terrible pain in my stomach. My first thought was cheese belly. Cheese belly is when you eat too much cheese and your belly hurts. (I made this up, by the way!) Then I wondered if it was the shrimp I ate. Regardless, I felt like crap! Voila. It was not food poisoning. It was a stomach virus that hung with me for days! Heck over a week! It forced me to eat bland foods. It forced me to eat bread and cease eating veggies and fruits. It forced me to not go too far from a bathroom. It forced me to have the sorest tail this side of the Mississippi. Maybe that was too much info. It was lousy! Here I am trying to help my mom and I felt like crappola! I took a day off and the rest of the time I just pushed myself. It needed to get done. I didn’t want to leave and get a panicked phone call from her saying, ‘I am not ready for the movers! What do I do?’ It had to be done!


I went to visit the book vendors that were selling my books! I must confess, I was very pleasantly surprised! I received the biggest orders from two places. And it was off-season!


Then it was time to bring my four-legged sister Dulce home with me. We decided that with my mom’s life being so chaotic and her not knowing where she was moving and all the exploring she wanted to do, it was not fair to Dulce. Dulce was unraveling. The boxes and my mom’s stress were taking their toll on the dog, which is a rescue dog. It just wasn’t fair to her. So, she was coming home with me. Now, the issue became how to get her here.


We took her to her friend Dude’s house so she could test his traveling case. We ordered one on And then we began to experiment with the drugging of the dog for the flight with the guidance of our Sanibel vet. At one point, I wasn’t sure my dodgy stomach was the result of a virus or my nerves in drugging my mom’s dog. It was really hard on me!!! So was the thought of cramming her into this little case. Then I began to unravel, but not as much as I did on the flight.


Dulce was on the plane with me and apparently the carrying case is big enough for her because she is racing around it in circles. The drugs have not kicked in yet. They won’t put the air conditioning on as fast as they can. So, with one hand I am petting the dog through an unzipped hole in the case, and with the other I am fanning her with the plane crash directions. All of this while sweating profusely and apologizing to my neighbors.


I was a certifiable wreck! I felt so sorry for this dog. I asked my neighbors if they would mind if I let her head pop out after takeoff and they were dog people who said yes. Thankfully.


I got into the Cincy airport and immediately took Dulce out of the case and carried her in my arms ALL the way to an escalator. There is always a first time for everything! She did fine. I took her out to a grassy patch to pee. I vowed to never fly with her again unless the dog is heavily sedated or I am!


I came home and spent the next 24 hours with Dulce with an excursion or two to the pool but not for any real length of time. I didn’t want to bring her home and ditch her.


But the second day I was home, I was leaving for Chicago with Vivian and Shirley to make my first trip to Wrigley Field. Shirley wanted to ride the Megabus. That was on her bucket list! I wanted to go to Wrigley that was on my bucket list. Viv just wanted to go to Chicago.


The ride up was fast and wonderful despite a bit chilly on the bus. We hopped into a cab and went to drop our bags at the Millennium Hotel. Then we went to get a Chicago Hotdog at a place called Mr. J’s!


It was yummy! My stomach was not so sure about it. Then we walked to get popcorn for Shirley’s daughter at a place called Garrett’s.


On the way, I made them stop at Mario Batali’s EATALY.


I have been to the one in NY, so I was curious to see Chicago’s. It was awesome!

The gals were tuckered out! I told them to grab a cab and I would walk and meet them back at the hotel. I love walking in big cities. Oh hell, I just love big cities.


I got back and Viv and I decided to nap till we left for the baseball game. Shirley decided to…I have no idea what she was doing sitting at the desk. She asked who was going to sleep with her. She snored. Viv scooted to the middle of her bed. I said I would take her. I told her I was sleeping near the window. I fell asleep. The alarm went off and we went to take a subway ride to the ballpark.


It was Viv’s first subway ride! We bought the tokens. The system is a little different from NY’s, and I showed them how to slide their card over a place to allow entry, and off we went.


We walked into the subway car and people stood up for them to sit down. Viv sat next to a woman in a Cubs shirt about 10-15 years younger than her that looked at her shirt and said, “We wouldn’t have given up the seats if we knew you were Reds fans!” Viv didn’t know if she was joking or serious till she confessed she went to Miami of Ohio outside of Cincy and then pointed to her daughter standing next to me who went to Miami as well. With that, the lady sitting between Viv and Shirley pointed to her boyfriend across the way and said, “My boyfriend went to Miami!” I pointed to Shirley and said, “She did too!” Then we all gabbed like a bunch of old friends.


We got off the subway and I looked at Viv and said, “This is why I like the subway! It is not always like that, but it can be!”


We walked up the stairs and a bit down the road and there it stood the famed Wrigley Field with the sun shining brightly behind it looking as beautiful as I imagined it to look on its 100th Birthday!


We walked to the gate passed the gentleman our tickets and we entered. People greeted us! Yes, they did! “Welcome to Wrigley Field!”


We walked to the top and took our seats. Of course, us Reds fans were in direct sunlight. We moved, we moved again and again and then finally headed to the other side and the shade.


We sat there taking it all in and it was magical. It was 75 degrees and sunny! The buildings in the background, the famed Cubs v. the Reds on the field. It was the 8th inning and it was tied up! Viv said we would stay till the end. Only an 85-year old woman would do that! The 45-year old was ready to bail. I am so glad we didn’t! Bases loaded and we hit a homer! The Reds won! It was such a fun night!


The next morning we went to a place around the corner that looked appealing to Viv. My dodgy stomach was still dodgy. After breakfast I heard the two of them talking and saying, I had to acclimate to them and their ages and they wanted to take a bus trip around the city.


The rain lifted and we climbed on top of a double decker bus and toured the city. It is such a beautiful city. The architecture is beautiful.



I am so glad we did it. I used to come to Chicago a lot in college and just after college. My best friend was at Northwestern and a dear friend from high school graduated from Penn and moved to Chicago and so I visited them.


I had not been to Chicago in almost 20 years when I went back for my 40th birthday and I didn’t see much and I was disappointed in the city. The bus tour gave such a great overview that I was thoroughly impressed with the city by the end.


After the tour and before the bus trip back home, I had to go get some deep-dish pizza. We landed at Gino’s East or is it West? I hadn’t been there since I was 20! I walked in the door and had major déjà vu! I remembered the graffiti on the walls.


When I was 20, three friends and I told our parents we were staying at each other’s houses and we drove to Chicago to recreate the Ferris Bueller Day minus the baseball game, the parade and the fancy restaurant.


We went to the Chicago Art Institute and I saw the most amazing Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. We went to the top of the Sears Tower. We walked down Michigan Avenue and we ate Chicago style pizza at Gino’s. We drove home! It was a blast! One of the most devilish things I had ever done!


The bus trip home was long and rainy. Apparently tornadoes were racing through Indy and so we stopped dead for over an hour. I, of course, slept most of the way home. I kept opening my eyes and saying, “Are we moving yet?” Then I would fall back asleep.


I came home and my friend Jo was snuggled on the couch with Dulce who was beyond words excited to see me. Jo left, I went to bed.


I went to meet my friend Sue at The Sleepy Bee the following morning and I couldn’t resist the Piggy Cakes. I had been eating bland and bread and so why not? Pancakes with bacon in them. How could I go wrong? I didn’t! Even my dodgy stomach was happy.


I had a divorce mediation that went incredibly well. The lady asked me if I thought we could do it for less than $950. I said absolutely but it does depend on how much (and how easily) you two agree on things. Well, you are going to be as shocked as I was….it was done in AN HOUR!!!! They agreed on everything! I will never ever get a divorce mediation as easy again EVER!!! And for them…they are probably one of the least expensive divorces ever!!!!


I took Dulce on a long Clifton walk. Roughly three miles. We witnessed a lady near a fountain look to her left and then her right and signal to the dog to go for it. The dog jumped in and ran in a circle, jumped out, and they disappeared fast! This is something to remember for the next blog….


And here are some pictures that escaped the previous blogs!

IMG926Erin & Ruby shopping & having fun in the distorted mirror

@ Jungle Jim’s.

IMG1046Stained Bistro aka Murphy’s in Middletown

IMG1047A Bloody Mary with Bacon!


Until we meet again…


Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….



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