Helping Hands of Springfield

by grace on March 6, 2019

My friend Erica is the Executive Director of the Helping Hands of Springfield, a homeless shelter. They are lucky to have her, because she’s awesome at whatever she does, she cares, and she’s making a huge difference.

they have a website, and she just started a blog on it. Here’s the link:

I have many photos and a crazy amount of videos to post here because kevin and i just got back from sunny and warm florida.


ok then,

g.h., back here where it’s going to snow tomorrow.

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by grace on January 5, 2019

I’ve had this site since 2004. quite a few years. mom used to read it, but then she didn’t open her computer so much, then she just stopped altogether. when she got a fancy new iphone she started playing some of the games that i played on my phone, and I now play on my lovely ipad.

this year we bought mom an ipad for xmas so that she’d have the fun of playing the games on a much bigger screen. i was excited about this, and hoped she’d maybe read stuff online on the ipad and maybe even check her e-mail. i also put a link to my site right there on her screen, thinking that maybe she might visit it. and then just today she said “i looked at your site and you didn’t have anything new,” kind of disappointed-sounding.

wow! you go, mom! so now she’s not only getting to play her games on a big screen, but she’s also reading this site right here! amazing.

a nice start to the new year. right now mom has a cold, which is odd for her because she never gets sick. kevin had a cold at least three if not four times already this winter, but mom is never sick. hopefully she’ll have a speedy recovery because she does not like sitting around at home.

so…more photos from 2018…my friend erica and i took a quick trip up to chicago the weekend after kevin and i got back from davenport. erica had told me about going to the christmas market before, and i said, let’s go! it was all a little last-minute, but i booked us train tickets and found a great price at the palmer house hotel.

i love the train. i love to sit and watch the world go by, i love sitting on the train.

and i love the palmer house…i stayed there once with mom and dad, maybe in 2003. they’ve done something like $270 million worth of renovation to the place and i think it’s probably been done since we were there. i remember it being pretty swanky back then, though.

we arrrived midday and headed to the christmas market which is in daley plaza. i’d pictured the xmas markets i’ve read about in the UK and around Europe, and they sounded lovely and fun and christmas-magical.

it wasn’t. do you know what’s better than going to the chicago xmas market? not going.

here’s what the crowd looked like when we got there.

way too many people…

it was so crammed with people that we quickly realized it’d be madness to try to squeeze into the place. and if we had gotten in we wouldn’t have been able to move. we were both repelled by the whole thing and decided to avoid it altogether.

quickly running from the scene…

i got across the street but erica didn’t make the light – you can just see her on the far left, in a blue coat and red hat and purse.

we decided we’d walk up michigan avenue, and headed in that direction. as we went by the chicago cultural center i remembered that somebody once told me it’s a beautiful place, so we went in.

wow, how have i never been there before? it was incredible. it’s all done by Tiffany.

it was so spectacular, and the few people in the place were mostly lying on the floor taking pictures. it was a nice contrast to be in this gorgeous serene environment after the crazy mob scene just a few blocks away. I took a few photos of the info about the place, in case you’re interested.

a close-up of the dome, with the signs of the zodiac in one of the circles. photos can’t do it justice.

there were a few different inscriptions on the walls, as well.

the building had many steps and i was determined to climb to the top floor, where i looked down at the view. there were big crowds in millenium park, and it reminded me of when kevin and i were right there at the beginning of our trip to wales in 2015. we’d taken the train from springfield and had an hours-long layover. it was really hot that day and all kinds of people were pouring towards the park, and we found out that some famous days-long concert was happening. Lollapalooza! it was crazy. and hot. but that was years ago…

erica and i walked up michigan avenue and it was fun to be in a big city and the weather wasn’t bitterly cold, but it was wall-to-wall people in a pre-xmas frenzy. we marched all the way up to water tower place, and i feel that i haven’t been there in about 20 years. that might not be right, but i remember it seeming very ritzy at the time, but now it just looked like another overly-crowded mall.

as we headed back down the avenue we stopped in front of this bank – erica thinks it’s funny that their automated information helper is called erica. i think it’d be funny if she started saying to people walking by, “hi, i’m actually erica! can i help?”

i have a few more photos of our quick trip, so more later.

ok then, happy new year,

mrs. g. hughes.



by grace on November 5, 2017

on the first day of october we took our first and only kayak trip of the year.

maybe i’m wrong – maybe we went out in the spring?  i don’t think so.

it was a lovely morning and erica bought herself a new kayak so we went with her.  here’s me in the kayak, up against our rocks.  it was a successful launch, nobody tipping the kayak over at all.  i was waiting here while kevin helped erica launch her kayak.

and here she is – kayaking is such a great, peaceful way to be out on the water getting a bit of exercise.

we went under the bridge, on the other side of villa grove.

here’s the woods – the water had receded quite a bit, but one year it was so far down that kevin, mollie and i walked across the lake bed, and it wasn’t the least bit muddy.  it’ll get that way again soon i think.

birds hanging out on top of the dock at the motor boat club.  the water was a little more turbulent at this point, but it wasn’t bad.

we were headed for the other side of this bridge – a few years ago kevin and i kayaked under the bridge and went way, way, way back into some woods until the water ran out.  we hoped to do this again.

i was so busy taking pictures of the water….

that it took me a while to realize that the lake had receded so far that people were walking across.  oh well, maybe in the spring the lake will fill again. 

a good time was had by all.

ok then,

mrs. sunday hughes.



happy new year’s eve day!

by grace on December 31, 2016

things have changed dramatically around here.

the puppy had been here a week, and the cats were traumatized and i knew that coco would continue to be puppy-like for two years.  les spent much of his time hiding in the bedroom. and one night i sat in there with him, feeling depressed and pretty sure that this was how my life was going to be from now on – hiding in the bedroom with poor darling lester while the puppy caused mayhem all around the rest of the house.

the next morning i decided to have a talk with kevin about her, and i had hardly said anything when he said he thought she was just too much for us.

he called my friend jill, who quickly found people who were dying for a new puppy, and she was gone two days later.

kevin has been sad but also relieved, and i have to say i’ve just mostly been relieved.  and the cats…well, they’re pretty much jumping for joy.  in a cat-like manner, of course, which mostly involves sprawling around sleeping, and doing a lot of purring.

all i wanted for christmas was for the puppy to find a new home, and my wish came true.  i don’t think that any puppies are in our future.  maybe a gentle older dog, sometime down the line.

meanwhile…christmas was nice, but christmas eve day was fraught with some drama.

after the ice storm which caused the streets and sidewalks to be treacherous, it got warmer out and most of the ice melted.  on christmas eve day, erica stopped by and we decided to walk down to the water.  i brought lester along because as you know he’s always desperate to get outside.

the ice had almost melted on the lake, but there were still some patches of very thin ice. as we walked toward the water, lester bounded ahead of us, making a beeline for the old dock.  and suddenly he was walking on the very thin ice.

oh my god.  i started frantically calling him, but he didn’t care one bit.  in between calling, i took this picture.

look how thin that ice is!

i told erica to go get kevin – maybe les would listen to him.  erica ran up the hill as les headed out onto the ice toward our neighbor’s floating dock, which is about 20 feet from the shore, and the water is about eight feet deep out there.   i prepared myself for jumping in after him, and wondered how i’d fare in the icy water.

kevin and erica ran back down the hill, and kevin called and whistled, so les finally turned around and walked along the shore again, but he wouldn’t come up off the rocks.

he walked along the ice as it cracked underneath him. terrifying!  he sauntered under the dock, and kevin laid down on his stomach and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck as he went by.

whew! les doesn’t look so happy to have been rescued from the jaws of death, does he?  he just thought it was a refreshing christmas eve day stroll.

a harrowing experience, and kevin assured me that if les had gone under and i’d jumped in after him, i could have frozen to death in a matter of minutes.  erica said that she had been furiously think about a plan, because she’d been afraid that kevin would fall in trying to save les – she saw a big branch that she’d hold out for him to grab onto if he went under.

that’s one christmas eve we probably won’t forget.  the rest of the day was uneventful and peaceful and nobody froze to death.

and tomorrow starts a whole new year, which will surely be filled with all kinds of things.

ok then,

mrs. have a happy new year’s eve hughes.




wrapping up december, making way for this shiny new year…

January 2, 2016

the sun is shining this morning, although it’s cold…it’s nice when we have the blue skies, because of the many gray days we’ve already had. just a few more december photos, and then on to 2016!  which will be filled with…about 365 days.  except now only 364, so let’s try to make the most of […]

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last week in july!

July 27, 2015

and it’s going to be a crazy-busy one.  again.  i’m enjoying a few minutes of sitting down right now, but soon i will be a little too busy fora monday. meanwhile…here’s the rest of june, which was also kinda crazy. amy and jim adopted a darling, sweet italian greyhound – my friend jill told them […]

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April 30, 2015

and kevin got up at FOUR THIRTY this morning.  which just makes me sad.  but he seems quite happy that he got up hours ago already. so…i’ve been rushing to put up all the photos from april, and i’m pretty sure this will be pretty historic, if i manage to complete this post, that i’m […]

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April 11, 2014

here’s the kitty condo, which les immediately had to check out. this isn’t such a great photo, but it’s a rare one, since both chester and les were in it.  i think winnie has gotten in once. erica sent me this photo of her sweet kittie heidi, who was hiding in the clothes basket.  erica […]

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August 27, 2013

i think i’ve mentioned that my friend erica is in tanzania for a month.  she is staying with some nuns in a convent there, and i was happy and relieved to hear that she had arrived there safely. she’s been there over a week now, and i’d gotten a couple of texts from her, but […]

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August 14, 2013

because erica is going to TANZANIA on friday, she came to see part of the gypsy rehearsal tonight.  and because she was there, i stayed til the end instead of ducking out after my one number.  and it was SO GOOD!  so you’d better hurry up and get your tickets before they’re sold out! and […]

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