All posts tagged: Maples at the Sonatas

Tom’s Trail

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Nature / Neighbors / Pictures

My neighbor Tom prefers living off the beaten path—taking the road less traveled, if you will. Sometimes that even means constructing the trail himself. And that is fine with him. He and Brenda moved into their Portico a year ago. Their Phase 3 lot nestles along the treeline at the edge of the Maples. A few steps beyond their courtyard is a low stone wall marking the line between our property and undeveloped land owned […]

Picking up the Pieces

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Home Elements/Decorating

Hi readers, I’ve missed you, and I’ve missed blogging. It has been 15 days since my last post, and nearly a month since I lost Mom. As I said when I last wrote, my thoughts have been too scattered to concentrate enough to write. Or, for that matter, even to read. I was relieved when someone told me that this confusion can be a normal part of grieving. Lately, I’ve been feeling better—most of the […]

My Champagne Girlfriends

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Just for Fun / Social Life

It was late August, my first summer at The Maples, a hot, sunny afternoon at the pool. Two of my best friends, Marylee and Margie, were over for one of our monthly get-togethers. Because it was their first time at the pool, I wanted to make it a bit celebratory. What better way, I thought, than to share a bottle of champagne? I got the girls situated at a table, cranked up the umbrella, and […]

The School Bell Tolls

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Mostly Musings

Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee. —John Donne Nope, sorry, John Donne. You’ve written a nice poem, but you’re wrong. The school bell does NOT toll for me. Not anymore. I am R-E-T-I-R-E-D. Mr. Donne, I am done. ••• Tomorrow is the first day of the new school year in Woodstock. It will mark the 15th time that school has started without me. How does that make […]

Household Lions

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Animals / Just for Fun / Pictures

According to Twitter, today is World Lion Day. If there’s any animal deserving of its own day, surely it would be king of the beasts. Aren’t they gorgeous? I would have loved to visit these guys today, but my schedule didn’t allow for a trip to Brookfield Zoo. And it really wasn’t necessary to drive a couple of hours anyway. I have two of their smaller cousins, household-size lions, living with me. So I called […]

The Beauty of Maturing Landscaping

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When I moved into my Abbey in October 2010, I didn’t really have expectations for how its landscaping would change over time. I guess I was concentrating on the home’s interior and just assumed that bushes would grow larger and I would plant flowers in the spring. That, of course, is exactly what happened. But this summer I’ve opened my eyes to the changes and the beauty that now surrounds me. Before I offer some […]

Hunting Pokémon at The Maples

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Just for Fun

I step out my front door, ready for adventure. It’s time to see what this Pokémon Go craze is all about. I have a brain in my head, an iPhone in my hand, and tennies on my feet. I’m logged onto the app. Let’s go! I barely get to the sidewalk when a neighbor drives by. She opens her car window and says, Watch where you’re going, Caryl. You don’t want to fall and break […]

Afternoon Treat

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Just for Fun / Woodstock

So this happened a few days ago. I love living in a place like Woodstock, where country still comes to town occasionally. It doesn’t happen as often now that our population is nearly 25,000. Yes, we are a stop on the commuter train line. But no, we are not a suburb. I hope the riders offered their horses a DQ. Maybe a hay and oats Blizzard?

Caryl Dierksen: A retired teacher gives lessons in happy living


Note: Thank you to Epcon Communities for posting this homeowner profile of me on their blog. Special thanks to franchise marketing manager Rob Krohn, for believing someone might want to read about me, and to Sue Publicover, who wrote the article. They make me sound better than I am!   Retired English teacher discovered a new life when she moved to Maples at Sonata, an Epcon community in Woodstock, Illinois. Source: Caryl Dierksen: A retired […]

May Thunderstorm

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First comes the thunderstorm watch notice scrolling along the bottom of the TV screen. Then ominous clouds roll in, darkening the sky when it should have yet been light. Then the winds gust. In the distance, thunder rumbles and lightning streaks through the black clouds. And then it is here. Sheets of wind-driven rain send me hurrying indoors to protect my camera, and myself. The storm is Mother Nature’s display of drama, beauty, danger. It […]

House Guests at Home Sweet Abbey

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Home Elements/Decorating

My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Denver last week to spend a few days with Mom and me. They visit a couple of times a year, and now, after several stays, feel quite at home. I especially appreciate the Abbey floor plan when house guests arrive. That large second bedroom offers them all the space they want or need. For 50 weeks of the year, the room serves primarily as my office and looks like […]

Happy Birthday, Bob!

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Today our neighbor, Bob, celebrates a milestone birthday. He woke this morning to find this greeting from his loving wife, Linda! Yes, he has officially joined our growing group of lively octogenarians. Since the day he and Linda moved here late in 2010, Bob has been working to beautify the Maples and add to our quality of life. He’s the guy who put up his outdoor Christmas lights immediately upon arriving, before unpacking any boxes. […]

Happy May!

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Holidays / Nature

I wanted to wish you a Happy May Day yesterday, but Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating. And what’s May Day without some flower pictures? With an entire weekend of fog, rain, and wind, with a little thunder thrown in, I couldn’t get the photos of Connie’s tulips that I wanted. But this morning the sun returned to lift our spirits and brighten our lives. So, though it’s too late for May Day, it’s not for the […]

My Abbey, Still My Sweet Home

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Mostly Musings / Moving

Yesterday I signed a sheet of paper, and one of my biggest adventures came to an end. A new buyer had fallen in love with my Palazzo, one whose cash trumped my contingency. So I had no choice but to officially void my contract. Certainly, I knew all along it could happen. The problem is, for four months I have allowed myself to live in a bubble of false security. Do I regret those four […]

My Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Move-in Ready Home

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Construction / Home Elements/Decorating

If something happens once, it just happens. But if the same thing happens again, you may be establishing a pattern. I have now undergone the same experience twice in less than six years. My pattern appears to be purchasing brand new, move-in ready homes. It’s becoming a compelling, expensive habit. In 2010,  I stumbled upon the Abbey that would become my home. Then last December, I accidentally found the Palazzo that I hope to soon […]

For Sale: My Abbey, part 2

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Thank you to everyone who responded to my news of listing my Abbey. Your “likes,” comments, questions, and suggestions have been very encouraging. Some of you requested more information, which I am happy to provide. First, here is the listing, in case you read the earlier post before I added it. It includes lots of current photos of the home. Mine is the only Abbey available — either new or resale — for purchase for […]

For Sale: My Abbey

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Blogging / Moving

When I moved into my Abbey in October 2010, I told everyone, including myself, there would be no more moves. It was my dream home. I planned to stay until I died or was carried out. And I meant it. I meant it so much, I would have staked my life on it. When I created this blog three years ago, it was so simple coming up with the name Home Sweet Abbey. Since then […]

The Leonardo Hoax

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Just for Fun / Woodstock

Part 1 — in which hopes are dashed and hearts are broken I was scrolling down my Facebook page last week when a headline and photo grabbed my eye. Here’s the article, by The McKenzie Post, that went viral with Woodstock Facebook users the day after the Oscars: Leonardo DiCaprio is Moving to Woodstock, Illinois Located about 50 miles outside of Chicago, Woodstock, Illinois is a peaceful town filled with people who have almost no […]

Age Is Just a Number… If You’re a Single Woman

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Mostly Musings

Single, female Baby Boomers are happier and healthier than ever, according to a survey conducted last year by Del Webb. The polling group included women 55 and over, which is not surprising because that is the minimum age to live in Del Webb communities. Let’s break down the numbers. The chart below is a bit difficult to read, so I will “translate” for you. • 3 in 4 single women over 55 feel younger than […]

Vintage Valentines

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Love is unchanging. Isn’t it? The eternal feeling may be constant, but the way we express it changes over time. Ninety years ago, when my mother was a child in a one-room, eight-grade school, the kids exchanged Valentines like these. They are lovingly preserved in one of her scrapbooks.   Now jump to 2015, when the same sentiment may be expressed something like this: 💕❤️😍👄 However you choose to say it, make someone’s day. Spread […]