Author: Caryl Dierksen

I’m Still Here

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Blogging

Shadow has been feeling lonely lately. Or, I should say, she had been feeling ignored until she took matters into her own paws. If I were going to spend hours upon hours on the computer, she would camp out here, where it is so convenient for me to pet her and talk to her that I do just that. My cat has a good point. I have been… obsessed is a little too strong a […]

Words That Jangle in Your Head

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Blogging / Mostly Musings

Where do you get the ideas you write about? Readers sometimes ask me this question. More often, though, I ask it of myself. Where did that idea even come from? And where can I find more of them? It’s a good question because it doesn’t have a simple, clear cut answer. Sometimes, my topic comes from a reader’s suggestion. Other times, I stumble into a situation and  realize it would be fun to write about. […]

A Wine Lovers’ Haven

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Home Elements/Decorating

My neighbor, Sue, is too modest to allow me to call her a wine expert. So let’s just say, she has pursued an interest in the field for quite a few years and has learned a lot along the way. She and her husband, Mike, have a large collection of wines and a large library of books related to it. When they began planning their new home here at Maples at the Sonatas, they knew […]

Party Central

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Holidays / Social Life

Downsizing. It is one of the most common reasons people give for buying a home in Maples at the Sonatas. Once the children are on their own, many find there is no longer a need for as much living space. And then there is maintenance. Our buyers also come looking for less upkeep, both inside and outside the home. After they settle in, they realize they are living comfortably — luxuriously even — in less […]

Welcome, Fluffy New Neighbors

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Animals / Nature

Maples at the Sonatas has welcomed two new families in the past two weeks. First, we have the Robins, living on Verdi, and then we have the Robins, living on the other end of Verdi. It is unclear whether the two families are related. But yes… we are definitely going to the birds here! One mama robin chose to build her nest in a wreath on Sue and Mike’s front door. It’s a nice, private […]

Marjorie, Margerie, and a Dream Fulfilled

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Mostly Musings

It was over a year ago that my brother, Craig, and his wife, Rosie, came to visit to help celebrate Mom’s 95th birthday. Mom (Marjorie) was living in memory care but was doing fairly well, considering. During that visit, we three “kids” began to talk in general terms about some day taking a cruise to Alaska maybe. The idea was planted but needed time to grow. On future visits for Mother’s Day and Mom’s 96th birthday, […]

Introducing Our New Sales Manager

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Wilcox People

Two weeks ago Deb Cooper joined the Maples at the Sonatas staff as its new home sales consultant. Deb, who also answers to Coop, is new to the community and our Epcon homes, but she brings with her 15 years of experience in sales of new construction. Though she is busy learning the ins and outs of her position, she graciously took time to chat with me for this post. Here’s what I’ve learned about […]

Cubs Fever Never Ends

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Awards/recognitions / Just for Fun

My right hand is bothering me this afternoon. It’s not sore, really. It’s more like it’s lonely. I think my hand might be missing the Cubs championship ring that I was privileged to wear for a few moments this morning. Doesn’t it look good on my finger? Let me back up and explain. Today was my monthly breakfast with several English department people I taught with before we all retired. One of them, Tony Casalino, […]

Beginnings

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Construction / Nature

One of my favorite parts of spring is all of its new beginnings. Flowers reappear from the soil and bloom again. Or they are planted for the first time, sharing color and fragrance from their very beginning. Baby animals come into the world. Trees begin another year by putting on their loveliest blossoms. Like this one. And it’s not only nature celebrating new beginnings. The Maples is all about new beginnings too. For as long […]

Welcoming Spring

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Nature / Neighbors / Social Life

Yes, spring has sprung here at the Maples. After countless days of dark, cold skies, punctuated by driving rain, the sun returned today. And a most welcome visitor it was. This afternoon I sat at my computer, diligently working on a writing project. At one point, I glanced out the window behind my monitor and saw activity across the street. First, it was two neighbors talking near our community garden. Then a third came along […]

The Happiness Quotient

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Mostly Musings / Neighbors / Woodstock

I was feeling happy that morning as I began another day of retirement. And why not? I had slept until after 8, with no alarm clock or cat waking me up. Sunshine was streaming in my windows. Angie and Shadow kept me company, until they left for their own happy places in the sunroom. I had finished breakfast and was reading my print copy of the Chicago Tribune while I sipped a second mug of […]

The Turnover

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Growth/Sales / Mostly Musings / Neighbors

Tomorrow will be a red-letter day here at Maples at the Sonatas. Actually, make that a red-box day, according to my calendar. But however you highlight it, the day will be significant.     Tomorrow is Turnover Day, the moment when our community takes its next step toward completion. At a meeting tomorrow, our builder, Jamie Wilcox, will officially turn over the homeowners association to us, the homeowners. As is customary with construction, the builder […]

A Postcard from the Beach

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Mostly Musings / Nature

​​  Orange Beach, Alabama  “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea–whether it is to sail it or watch it–we go back from whence we came.”    John F. Kennedy There is a magic in the ocean that draws me to it, as if my DNA remembers that all life began in the sea. It holds the power to reset mind and body and spirit. I may stay here […]

Artifacts

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Mostly Musings

There are many ways to remember loved ones. And even more ways to miss them when they are gone. A light scent of a familiar perfume, so subtle you may have only imagined it. The brush of a nubby tweed jacket across a bare arm. Sadly sweet notes of a nearly forgotten love song. A booming laugh. A whispered shhh that tickles in your ear. But sometimes the heart longs for something more tangible. An […]

Orchids Are Calling Me

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Nature / Pictures

Are you as ready for a break from winter as I am? Is the lack of sunshine getting you down? Does your world look like something like mine—gray, dark, and dismal—day after day after day? Then let me make a suggestion. You may want to head to Rockford to visit Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens’ orchid exhibit. “In Full Bloom: The Orchid Exhibit” opens today and runs through March 7. It is well worth the hour’s […]

Ambience

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Animals / Pictures

Shadow is a seeker of light and of heat. During the daytime, I often find her napping in a pool of sunlight on a bed or a rug. On cold winter nights, she will sit quietly in front of the dark fireplace, waiting for me to turn it on. She understands what it means when I walk over and flip the switch. The word ambience is not in her small cat vocabulary. She doesn’t know […]

Tiny Expectations

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Mostly Musings

When I was young, I thought the secret to a successful new year’s resolution was choosing a grand project and then threatening and beating myself into accomplishing it. That method, predictably, led to nothing but miserable failure and self-doubt. As I grew older and wiser, I began lowering my goals and reducing the pressure on myself. And it worked. Once I traded in my GREAT EXPECTATIONS for teeny expectations, I was actually more successful and […]

What Bandit Saw

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Animals / Mostly Musings

Fable: A short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters. Once upon a time, not too long ago, Joe and Sylvia adopted their sweet dog, Bandit, a loving, trusting soul. I already had Angie, an outgoing cat who loved to play. We decided to introduce them, hoping that a friendship would develop. In the beginning, it looked like we would get our wish. The two were curious about […]

Connections, Maples Style

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Holidays / Neighbors / Social Life

There’s no better time of year to celebrate connections than the holiday season. Physical connections, social connections, historical connections—all seem to carry more significance as we approach Christmas. And here at Maples at the Sonatas, we have our share of celebrating to do this year. Physical connections first. Our growing community is now connected in a new way: Our last street, Verdi, has joined Handel and Schumann as officially completed streets. The view, which not […]

Thanksgiving Elegance

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Holidays

We all know what Thanksgiving is really about—gratitude, family, friends, remembrance. By that definition, the holiday can be celebrated nearly anywhere, in any circumstances. Be it a family home, a restaurant, a dorm room, a homeless shelter, even a Las Vegas hotel. It matters little whether it’s a fancy spread or fast food. It’s about the intangibles. But if you ever, just once, long for an elegant dinner, prepared by someone else, in a beautifully […]