Mike, Aimee, & Maria's
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Revised October 23, 2001

Another Deam Wilderness Hike

October 20 While we were in Pennsylvania, parts of the Terre Haute area received five inches of rain.  When we went hiking in the Deam Wilderness the following Saturday, it made sense to avoid streams and bottomlands, so we hiked the 3.4 mile segment from the Grubb Ridge trailhead to the Cope Hollow junction just east of the Blackwell Horse Camp.  Maria hiked the entire return trip on her own feet.  There was some mud but trail conditions weren't too bad since this segment stayed entirely on the ridge paralleling Tower Ridge Road.  The most unusual occurrence was a swarm of ladybugs which buzzed around us as we got out of the car at the beginning of the hike.  They are all over Indiana -- our house is full of them -- and Mike read a story about them in the Detroit Free Press online, so evidently they are all over Michigan too!

Weekend in Pennsylvania

October 10-14 After Dad got out of his department retreat on Wednesday afternoon, the three of us left for a fall break vacation.  We spent Wednesday night near Columbus, Ohio, then finished driving to our destination of Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Thursday.  On Friday, we hiked the Golden Eagle Trail, located in northwestern Lycoming County, in its entirety of 9.1 miles.  Maria set another new personal record by covering 4.1 miles on her own two feet -- including a 1300 ft elevation gain!  On Saturday, we rested our legs and stuck to sightseeing and shopping.  The fall color was nearly perfect in the hills, and dinners at the Heavenly Pasteria were as tasty as ever.  Even the weather was favorable -- late afternoon showers were predicted on Friday but never materialized -- and Saturday was sunny with a high of 78 degrees!  This was a vast improvement on the 4.4 inches of rain measured in our backyard rain gauge when we returned to Terre Haute on Sunday.  One last item -- after nearly 20 years of hiking in wilderness areas we saw our first black bear, but not while hiking!  It was meandering around a yard and driveway adjacent to PA State Route 414 near Jersey Mills.  We stopped the car to watch it, but when another car stopped and began driving up the driveway toward it, the bear spooked and went back into the woods.

Garden Escapes Frost

October 7 According to the official reporting station, Terre Haute reached a low of 28 degrees overnight.  Mike took a chance on leaving the potted peppers under a tree to prevent radiational cooling.  They came through the night just fine -- but so did all the other plants in the exposed part of the garden.  Once again, Farrington's Grove was proved to have an extremely favorable microclimate!

Maria Hikes Four Miles

October 6 Maria set a new personal best by hiking four miles on her own two feet in the Deam Wilderness Area in the Hoosier National Forest. We hiked the Peninsula Trail from Grubb Ridge parking area all the way down to Lake Monroe.  Dad was pretty beat after carrying her five miles down to the lake, but Maria saved the day by walking back all but the last mile or so.  We have now covered 14 miles of trails in the wilderness area, and Maria has done over 9.4 miles of that on her own two feet!

Last Hibiscus Bloom

October 5 The very last of the second batch of flowers on Maria's hibiscus plant was pummeled by rain today.  After one flower during its first year and four during its second year, the plant produced 30 this year over two batches from July to October!

More Hiking

September 29 We got a bit of a late start for our second hiking trip in the Deam Wilderness Area in the Hoosier National Forest, so we did a short hike of 4.8 miles on the Axsom Branch Loop.  We stopped only a half hour into the hike so that Maria could toss stones in a stream, and she proceeded to hike the remaining 3.2 miles on her own two feet, all the way back to our car which was parked at the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower.

First Hike of Fall

September 16 After church Sunday morning, we drove to the Deam Wilderness Area in the Hoosier National Forest, about 20 miles southeast of Bloomington.  Our first hike in this area was also the first of this season -- a 5.5 mile loop on the Sycamore Loop.  Maria hiked on her own two feet for 2.7 miles, beginning by climbing out of Sycamore Creek and continuing nearly all the way back to the parking area.

More Hibiscus Flowers

September 12-13 Maria's hibiscus started its 2nd batch of blooming this year.  This blossom lasted for two days, unlike the ones in the heat of the summer which only lasted for one, and it looks to be followed by about five more which are currently in bud.

More Grandma & Grandpa

September 3-7 After celebrating Labor Day with Mom and Maria -- but not Dad who had to work -- Grandma and Grandpa left for a side trip to St. Genevieve, Missouri on Tuesday.  They were back Thursday morning, then left for Michigan on Friday morning -- although Grandpa tried to talk Grandma into staying even longer!

Grandma's Genealogy Research

September 2 Sunday night after the festival, Mom was attempting to show a dubious Grandma the value of the Internet.  When Mom attempted to search for relatives, she discovered a web site dedicated to genealogy of the Houde family in Canada, which are apparently the ancestors of Maria's great-grandmother.  In one chance surfing of the Internet, the family has been traced back to 1647 in the New World!

Little Italy Festival

September 2 After church today, we drove up to Clinton for the Little Italy Festival.  Grandma and Grandpa had come down from Michigan to go to the festival, and Mom was concerned that they would be disappointed, but they seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.  After all, as Dad pointed out, it was even better than Lapeer Days!

Trip to Champaign

September 1 This afternoon, we took Grandma and Grandpa for a trip to Champaign, Illinois.  After stopping at an apple orchard south of town, we went downtown and browsed through shops before having dinner at one of Maria's favorite restaurants, Radio Maria.

Grandma & Grandpa Arrive

August 28 Grandma and Grandpa arrived this afternoon on a visit from Michigan.

First Day of School

August 21 Today was Maria's first day of school.  This year, she's a big first grader.

Big Tomato

August 20 So far this summer, the tomato crop has been great.  There have been several tomatoes that weighed over a pound, and some of the Delicious variety were over a pound and a half.  After returning from vacation, Aimee discovered a Polish Giant Paste tomato that outdid even its name -- it weighed over two pounds!

Grandma's Birthday

August 17-19 Leaving the U.P. Friday morning, we stopped for lunch in downtown Grayling and continued on to Lapeer where we took Grandma out to dinner for her 74th birthday.  She wanted to go to Bill Knapp's, and we didn't complain since her meal was 74% off!  On Saturday, we traveled to Flushing where the family got together at Aunt Nita and Uncle Jim's for Grandma's birthday party.  Sunday was a travel day, with a stop for lunch at El Azteco in East Lansing before we returned home.

Up North in Michigan

August 14-17 On Tuesday, we stopped for lunch at Hermann's in Cadillac, drove up to Chateau Grand Traverse on the Old Mission Peninsula, continued north for a stop in Petoskey before crossing the Mackinac Bridge to spend the next three nights in St. Ignace in the U.P.  Wednesday, we boarded the Star Line Ferry with our bicycles to visit Mackinac Island for the first time in four years.  After lunch, all three of us biked around the island with stops at a nature walk near mile 3 and at British Landing, where Maria played on a rocky beach for a while.  After returning to town, we split up with Aimee doing some shopping downtown while Mike and Maria rode back to British Landing, then uphill for a stop at the Battlefield of 1814, then past the airport, cemeteries, and Skull Cave for another stop at Arch Rock.  Biking back past Fort Mackinac, the governor's residence, and the Grand Hotel, they met Aimee back in town for dinner before catching the ferry back to the mainland.  On Thursday, we visited Creekside Herbs in Cedarville, stopped for lunch at the Arctic Inn in Eckerman, then made our way to Lower Tahquamenon Falls.  Maria especially enjoyed identifying the height of each set of falls as indicated on a sign along the foot trail in the park.  Unfortunately, our last stop at Seney National Wildlife Refuge was spoiled by a pouring rainstorm which prevented us from biking or walking on the trails, although we were able to drive around the seven-mile wildlife automobile drive.

Last Michigan Vacation of the Summer

August 12-14 Our last trip before school began with an overnight stop in Chicago on Sunday.  Monday, we drove to Grand Rapids, stopping for a treat at Sherman's Dairy Bar in South Haven on the way.  That evening, we watched the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers Class A team) defeat Cedar Rapids, giving Mike and Maria a perfect 3-0 record at baseball games this summer.

Trip to Illinois

August 7-8 We passed through Arcola and did some shopping en route to Lincoln's New Salem, located just northeast of Springfield.  Mike had visited there about 25 years ago, and he thought things were not changed very much.  After that, we drove up to Batavia where we spent the night visiting Uncle Bernie and Aunt Robbie.  Wednesday morning, we did some shopping at American Science and Surplus, then attended a minor league baseball game in which the Lansing Lugnuts defeated the Kane County Cougars 3-2.  Of course, Mike and Maria cheered for the visiting Lugnuts, since they are a Cubs' affiliate -- in fact, they are the successors to Maria's beloved Williamsport Cubs.

Trip to St Louis

July 28-29 We celebrated the end of the month by traveling to St. Louis for an overnight stay, visiting the Butterfly House and carousel at Faust Park and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  We also did some shopping, stopped at Ted Drewes for dessert, and had dinner at a small Italian restaurant on The Hill before returning home Sunday evening.

Maria's Hibiscus Blooms

July 27 The last two years, Maria's Hibiscus didn't start blooming till mid to late August, but this year the first bloom appeared today.  Until we have a chance to get photos, enjoy this photo from last year.

Summer Camp for Maria and Dad

July 8-27 For the second consecutive year, Dad spent most of July teaching at Operation Catapult, an engineering program for high school students at Rose-Hulman.  Maria spent the middle week of this time at Camp Rave located at Fowler Park where she did swimming and a variety of other fun activities.

Birthdays in Michigan

July 1-7 For the first week of July, we traveled to southeastern Michigan.  The highlight of the week was the family celebration of Grandpa's and Maria's birthdays on July 4.  We also went swimming on Lake Huron near Port Austin, and on July 6, twenty family members representing the Ellen Bommarito Memorial Tiger Fans attended the Cubs-Tigers game in Detroit.  The Cubs won 15-9 in a wild slugfest during which teams batted around on three different occasions!

Farrington's Grove Garden Tour

June 17 We returned from our vacation just in time to catch the inaugural Farrington's Grove Garden Tour, sponsored by the Farrington's Grove Historical District.  The event drew over 100 people and was so successful that the organization hopes to repeat it next year.

Vacation Up North

June 10-17 This summer, instead of circling Lake Michigan on one long vacation, we broke things up into two shorter trips.  On the first of these, we spent two days in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where we had lived from 1988 to 1991.  Then we traveled north to Houghton, Michigan, where we spent three days, before heading back south with stopovers in Green Bay and in Chicago.

Mom Visits Union Hospital

June 8 Unfortunately, the visit was for business, not pleasure.  Mom sliced her finger with a knife this afternoon badly enough to visit the emergency room at Union Hospital and wound up with 3 stitches.  She was very brave, and so was Maria, who kept walking over and hugging her and saying, "You're OK, Mommy!"  Her prognosis is good.

Garden Update

June 5 The garden is holding its own, although it would be doing better if we had gotten some sun and normal temperatures in the last three weeks.  The Stupice and Yellow Pear tomatoes have already begun to set, and this year's crop of snow peas is our best since moving to Indiana, thanks to the extended period of below normal temperatures and rain.  It's too bad all our greens already bolted during the heat of late April and early May, because they would grow well now.  Beans and some cucumbers did come in just before the weather change, but most nasturtiums, squash, and melon did not germinate with the cold.  The lawn keeps producing mulch at a rapid rate, although probably not as rapidly as we would need.

Dad's Cages

May 22 For several years, Mom has been asking Dad to improve the tomato cages by building them out of some sturdy concrete reinforcing wire as she once read in a magazine article.  This year, with over four dozen tomatoes and peppers, Dad finally did it.  Starting with a 5 ft by 150 ft roll of wire that he could barely lift into the car, and cutting it with the biggest set of sidecutter pliers Sears sold, augmented by Uncle Mark's favorite aids -- pieces of pipe on the handles, Dad produced a number of cages in varying sizes that seemed to make both Mom and the tomato plants happy.  Now if we could only get some sun and warm weather back!

Chicago Trip

May 18-20 After Dad and Maria got out of school on Friday afternoon, we left to visit Uncle Bernie and Aunt Robbie in Batavia, spent the night there, then drove into Chicago to see Grandpa John, Auntie Mary, Auntie Anne, and cousins Amanda and Courtney.  Auntie Mary was just getting out of a minor hospital visit.  The Cubs ended an eight game losing streak on Friday, beginning their longest winning streak in 65 years the following day.

Stormy Night

May 16-17 After a colder than normal early winter, the rest of the winter was normal, but spring started cool until April.  Then a streak of unusually warm weather hit and everything in the garden got ahead of normal, with the only problem being a bit of a drought.  This began to be solved on the evening of May 16.  After watching black storm clouds progress to the east for over an hour, the line of storms finally hit us just after 7:30.  By the next morning, we had recorded about three and a half inches of rain in our rain gauge, and our power stayed off just over 16 hours.  The storm ushered in a weather pattern change that left us cool and rainy for several weeks thereafter.

More Visitors

April 26-May 4 Grandma Frank and Grandma Irene stopped for a visit on their way back north to Michigan from winter in Florida.  Among the highlights of this visit were a Sunday brunch at St. Mary of the Woods and a dinner at Pino's Restauarant on Monday.  Grandpa enjoyed the dinner so much he went into the kitchen to talk to Pino -- and didn't come out for ten minutes!  The two of them were reminiscing about growing up in Italy and Sicily.

We Finish the Knobstone Trail!

April 21 On the warm windy Saturday of April 21, 2001, we hiked our final segment along the eastern part of the Spurgeon Hollow Loop to complete the Knobstone Trail.  Maria hiked the entire 3.2 mile distance back to the car on her own feet, tying her personal best.  Dad told her that she should be especially proud because not many five-year-olds have completed the KT.  He estimates that she covered 15 to 20 miles of the total distance on her own feet -- including virtually the entire Spurgeon Hollow Loop --  and the remainder in his backpack carrier.

Easter Visitors

April 15-17 We had our traditional Easter dinner late in the afternoon, when Grandpa John, Auntie Mary, Auntie Anne, and cousins Amanda and Courtney arrived from Chicago.  Auntie Anne was a bit worn out from the three hour drive -- evidently, she had not driven further than about 70 miles before.  Of course we had the usual outdoor egg hunt -- on Monday after Maria got home from school -- and then the girls earned a few dollars by picking hundreds of dandelion flowers out of the yard at a penny per ten flowers.  Grandpa also took everyone to a dinner at his favorite Terre Haute restaurant -- Moggers.

Garden is Progressing

April 1 The indoor seedlings are doing well, and soon tomatoes will need to be transplanted into bigger pots.  Dad kept to the tradition of planting snow peas outdoors on St. Patrick's Day, along with lettuce, spinach, and a few other greens.  Within a few days, the area was hit by a cold snap that dropped overnight lows to around 10 degrees!  Nevertheless, the seeds have begun to sprout.  With forecasts for lows considerably above freezing as far as AccuWeather can predict, Dad moved the potted peppers out to the balcony this afternoon.

More Knobstone Hiking

March 31 A second consecutive weekend of good weather found us traveling again to the KT.  Mike had planned to do the more difficult of the two remaining segments, but we were unable to locate the (unofficial) road access to the trail so we went back to Spurgeon Hollow trailhead and did an approximately six mile trip from mile 43.3 to mile 40.7.  En route, we ran into some local hikers who were able to explain which road to take to access the other location.  We also saw another long-abandoned yard of daffodils, and Maria hiked on her own two feet for the entire return trip after lunch, three miles.  (See photos: Mom and Maria at Lunch Break, Maria Hiking at Mile 42.)

Knobstone Trail Hiking

March 24 Due to the cold winter, we weren't able to hike until the end of March.  To get back into the groove, Dad planned a very short hike to complete the west leg of the Spurgeon Hollow Loop from the trailhead at Spurgeon Hollow Lake along the KT from mile approximately 43.3 to 44.7.  We climbed up and down one rise, dropped to a stream, and saw an interesting plot of daffodils blooming in what had once been a homestead, now long gone.  Maria walked about two miles on her own.  (See photos: Maria about to begin hiking at Spurgeon Hollow Lake, Daffodils in the Woods.)

First Daffodils of Spring

March 15 After tempting us with buds for what seemed like several weeks, a few of the daffodils along the Center Street rose hedge opened today.  The bulb catalogs tell the truth when they claim 'Rijnvelt's Early Sensation' is the earliest daffodil.  Like our crocuses, the daffodils are about two weeks behind last year.

Garden is Sprouting

March 5 Before leaving for Chicago, Dad had planted a flat of various seedlings to be transplanted into the garden later in the spring.  The first seedlings to come up were broccoli plants which began poking out of the ground sometime Monday afternoon, a little over 3 days after planting.

Chicago Trip

March 2-3 Dad was on quarter break, and Maria got out of school at noon on Friday, so we drove up to Chicago to visit Grandpa John, Auntie Anne, cousins Amanda and Courtney, and Auntie Mary.

First Trip to Springfield

February 23-24 This weekend, we ignored the threats of rainy weather and ventured to Springfield, Illinois, to visit the Lincoln historical sites.  Things were considerably less crowded than the previous weekend at the historic sites in Philadelphia.  We saw Lincoln's Home and surrounding neighborhood, his law office and the old State Capitol, the railroad depot where he left for Washington after becoming President, and Lincoln's Tomb.  Before leaving Springfield, we also visited the Horticultural Garden in Washington Park, which included a small but attractive conservatory with a variety of tropical plants and birds.  (See photos: Maria at Lincoln's Home, Maria at Horticultural Garden Conservatory Holding One of Her Original Renditions of 'Flowers You've Never Heard Of'.)

First Signs of Spring or Last Signs of Winter

February 19-20 The earliest crocuses are blooming in full force at both corners of the front porch.  Buds showed up a week earlier, but a combination of cold and wet weather kept them from opening.  Crocus Sieberi 'Firefly' is thirteen days behind last year, which indicates the contrast between this cold winter and the warm winter last year.  A bigger surprise, which Dad noticed on a sunny warm Tuesday afternoon, was three or four blooms on the winter crocuses.  Crocus laevigatus fontenayi was supposed to start blooming in December, but got buried with snow and ice for over a month.  Over the weekend in Philadelphia, we saw a few blooming at our old house, but weren't expecting any in Terre Haute this year.

President's Day Weekend in Philadelphia

February 17-19 Taking advantage of Maria's school holiday, Dad's Finals Week schedule, and US Airways internet special, we traveled back to "the old place" as Maria calls our former residence and her birthplace in the Philadelphia area.  The whirlwind weekend included lunch at Marbles in Bryn Mawr, a stop at Head Nut in Ardmore, and visits with former neighbors on Barrett Avenue before, after, and during 5:00 Mass at Our Mother of Good Counsel.  To avoid the Saturday night restaurant crowd, we picked up take out from Siamese Princess in Ardmore and ate in our "spoon ring" (Maria's word for hotel).  Sunday, we began with the "Welcome Spring" exhibit in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens, drove to Olde City so Maria could see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell again, then out to Merion for dinner with Maria's "old friends" Marley and Lindy and their families.  Monday morning, we stopped to visit our old neighbor "Aunt Betty" before returning to the airport for the trip home.  (See photos: Maria at mile marker in Bryn Mawr, Maria at Haverford College duck pond, Maria near fountain at Longwood, Maria by banana tree at Longwood, Maria in Children's Garden at Longwood, Maria at Liberty Bell, Maria near Independence Hall, Playgroup Friends, Maria, Marley, and Lindy, Maria with "Aunt Betty".)

St. Louis Trip

February 2-3 On an overnight trip to St. Louis, we stopped for a seafood dinner at the Gulf Coast Cafe in the South Grand neighborhood, then spent the night in Chesterfield.  On Saturday, we visited St. Charles and had lunch there before spending the afternoon at the City Museum on 16th and Washington.  Maria really enjoyed the children's activities there including climbing and slides, and she made a clay sculpture of a snowman.

Mom's Birthday

January 30 We celebrated Mom's birthday on a Tuesday night with a Mexican dinner out while Maria was at her Daisy Scouts meeting.  In addition to a pecan pie from Uncle Al's Pecans, Mom also received a variety of cards and decorations from Ten Thousand Villages, revealing that the surprise destination ten days before was Champaign, Illinois.

Trip to Kentucky

January 26-27 For the weekend of Birthday Week, we made an overnight trip to Louisville, stopping for dinner en route in
Bloomington.  After arriving, we stopped for dessert at Graeter's Ice Cream.  Saturday, we drove about an hour south to
visit the Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Site near Hodgenville, then made our way up back highways to cross the
Ohio River at Cannelton.  Unfortunately, Tell City Pretzels was not open so Aimee didn't get to stop there.  (See photo: Maria at birthplace memorial)

Birthday Week Begins

January 25 Mom and Maria began Birthday Week with a celebration for Dad, including a dinner of stuffed shells and roasted
peppers, with chocolate log cake for dessert.  Dad got several presents including a Saturday Evening Post from the week
he was born and a two pound box of See's Chocolate.  (See Birthday Card and Snowman Gift Tag.  See photo:  Maria and Dad with cake and balloon)

Surprise Trip

January 20 Dad had originally hoped to take advantage of US Airways E-Savers which this week featured Indianapolis to Philadelphia.  By late week, it was apparent the weather would not be cooperating on the East Coast.  Instead, Dad and Maria drove the red car to a surprise location where they spent most of the afternoon.  Their activities were shrouded in secrecy, though they seemed related to Mom's upcoming birthday.

Trip to Indianapolis

January 12-13 Friday after Dad got out of work, we drove to Indianapolis and had dinner at Kabul Afghan restaurant, which we have been trying to do for years, it seems.  Taking advantage of the last weekend of the holiday rate at Homewood Suites, we got an early start Saturday morning, dropping Mom at Keystone Crossing while Dad and Maria visited the Children's Museum.  They returned for a late lunch at Mongolian Barbeque before meeting Mom at Borders.

Maria's 5 1/2 Birthday

January 7 We celebrated Maria's half birthday with homemade cupcakes that Dad baked and decorated. (See photo: Maria's half birthday cupcakes)

Trip to St. Louis

January 5-6, 2001 With a weekend warmup predicted, we traveled overnight to St. Louis hoping to get away from the snow and cold. There was still a little snow even there, but at least the temperature got up into the mid 40s on Saturday. We shopped and had lunch in the famous Italian neighborhood, "The Hill," then visited the St. Louis Zoo in the afternoon

Cincinnati Visit

December 30-31, 2000 After leaving Michigan, we drove down to Cincinnati, did some shopping, and stayed overnight before stopping briefly in Indianapolis then returning home the afternoon of New Year's Eve.

Christmas in Michigan

December 24-30 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with Aimee's family. We also visited East Lansing and Ann Arbor and celebrated cousin Ian's 2nd birthday in Lapeer on the 28th. (See photos: Maria puts out snack for Santa on Christmas Eve, Maria with cousins at Christmas dinner)

Christmas in Chicago

December 22-24 We began Christmas vacation with Grandpa John, Auntie Mary, Auntie Anne, Uncle Saad, and cousins Amanda and Courtney in Chicago. Since we were leaving early on the 24th, we celebrated the traditional Christmas Eve dinner and exchanged presents on the 23rd. (See photos: Traditional Christmas Eve Dinner, Maria Opening Presents)

Maria's Christmas Program

December 21 Despite four days of cancellations and three days of delays or early dismissals in the last seven days before Christmas break, school managed to meet long enough for the annual Christmas program. Maria's kindergarten class at Farrington Grove School performed two songs with accompanying dances. (See photos: Maria's school Christmas program #1, Maria's school Christmas program #2)

Christmas is Coming

December 2-16 We got our Christmas tree on the first weekend of December. The second weekend, we hosted the Mothering as a Career Club Christmas party. When an early season snowfall closed school on December 14, Mom and Maria made gingerbread houses, and Maria took one to school the following day. (See photos: MACC Christmas Party, Maria with gingerbread house, Aimee's famous Santa Tree in background, Christmas Tree in Living Room, Aimee's Santa Tree)

Mike, Aimee, & Maria's Jun-Nov 2000 News Page

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