hqdefaultThis is for our daughter, Nathalie Mackie, who is a wonderful nurse, and for all nurses who have helped me or members of my family over the years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”, in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

As their web page states, “Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services. These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice; looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often the first and only point of care in their communities. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.


Front of Glasgow Cathedral


Nave of the main part of the cathedral

We have all been impacted by a nurse or nurses in our lives, I’m sure, so this is a good opportunity to honor them and their work, which we can all do in many different ways.


Nurses’ Chapel in the Lower Church

nursesignSo, it is fitting that last year (when the WHO was debating this designation) we came across a special chapel dedicated to nurses, and I took note and photos, mainly to show our daughter. We were in Glasgow, Scotland, and visited the Glasgow Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic structure. It was built on the supposed site of the tomb of St Kentigern (aka Mungo, meaning “the dear beloved”), the Patron Saint of the city. He was a much-revered bishop of Glasgow and died in about 612 AD. The vaulted crypt in the Lower Church is an


Modern altar to St Mungo in the Lower Church

atmospheric space with thick pillars. A modern altar in the center is now over the supposed location of his tomb, and side chapels are separated by pillars. One of these is the Nurses Chapel, or the Chapel of St Andrew. The sign tells us that it was brought back into use in 1961, after a break of about 400 years. I hope that some nurses know about this space and can relax and get comfort and peace in there.


boardHere in Urbana (and Champaign) we are very fortunate to have a number of lovely parks. But, our favorite is Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. There is a playground, miles of paths for walking, jogging, roller-blading, riding push scooters etc; one loop has many interesting outdoor sculptures, although the other longer loop does have some sculptures too; there’s a herb garden and community garden; much of the park is restored prairie.

I’ve written about Meadowbrook a number of times before, so I won’t repeat all that. Take a look here, at 3 of the articles:




Anyway, we walked in the park today (finally some sunshine!) and were very happy to see a new welcoming outdoor sculpture at the one entrance off Race Street.

It’s quite large and attractive and immediately catches your eye. It’s done in metal, and is a butterfly, various bugs, and plants. But, we couldn’t find a plaque telling who the artist is.

This says “Happiness and self-expression can only be found by spreading one’s roots in the soil”, Jens Jensen (a Danish-American landscape architect).


wholeOn the other side, “Meadowbrook Park. Where nature, art and history connect”, plus boards with information about the park—history of the park, features, what to explore, and a park map.



The front of the lovely old mansion—that’s not the entrance to the cafe


Entrance this side 

Incredibly Delicious was indeed delicious!

When we went to Springfield recently with a friend to see a bit of Abraham Lincoln history, we thought we would try to have lunch at somewhere a bit out of the ordinary. Our friend had researched and came up with this place, called Incredibly Delicious. It certainly fit the bill and we were happy to try it.

It’s housed in a beautiful historic mansion, so the cafe is a number of smallish connected rooms, most with four or so small to medium tables, all with bright tablecloths in a lemons pattern. There is nice artwork on the walls, much by local artists apparently, and several stained glass windows that add to the lovely ambience. The vintage bathroom fixtures and hardwood floors also add to that.



VfoodThe main entrance is on the west side (not the front of the house—that door is locked), through a pretty garden. You order your food and/or bakery items at a counter towards the back of the building. There’s only one register, so you may need to wait a little, but the line moves pretty quickly. Get a number and find a table and someone brings the food out. Service was reasonably quick, I think because we’d missed the lunchtime rush. Apparently it’s very popular with both locals and tourists.

The menu changes regularly. That day we had three-cheese quiche with a bowl of tomato soup, and mushroom quiche with tomato soup. The food was very good and filling, so we didn’t need any dessert which meant we didn’t try the pastries—people told us they are wonderful. Coffee was also good.



The bathroom was decorated for Christmas

People were buying pastries and bread to take home too, and there was a sign up at the counter that one could order special items for Christmas, including Buches de Noel (a French Christmas cake in the shape of a log). I wish we’d known beforehand, as we’d love to have a Buche de Noel again. Oh well!

This will definitely be on our list whenever we return to Springfield—which we will do at some stage, to bring visitors to see Abraham Lincoln sights.

Address: 925 S 7th St, Springfield

Hours: 7:30am-10:30 am for breakfast daily

Lunch 11am-2:30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm Sat

Bakery 7:30am-3pm



Eating in Connellsville, PA


Ruvos stretches out to the back of the building


entranceRuvos Italian Restaurant

As I recently wrote about, we stayed in Connellsville in southwestern Pennsylvania and used it as our base to visit the many wonderful sights around there—for example, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the Laurel Highlands, the Flight 93 Memorial.

Connellsville is not very big but is an interesting city on the Youghiogheny River (how do you pronounce that?!), with a couple of good places to eat or stop for a drink or cup of coffee. One is Hutch, which I wrote about before. Another is Ruvos, which serves good food and highlights the strong Italian influence around here (see an earlier post).



Vera G enjoying the dishes


Note all the posters and photos

We could walk to Ruvos from our hotel, so we decided to do that one evening. It offers a large menu, but we discovered is not licensed. However, you can BYOB, so Rod walked back to the hotel and brought a bottle of wine. This is not a big restaurant inside, although there is a large seating area outside, unused that night as it was raining heavily.

The décor is Italian-inspired, with posters—notably of Frank Sinatra in Italy—and photos, many of the owner’s family in Italy. One of the young servers told us he was the owner’s nephew and we heard a little of the Italian history of the family.

So, it came as no surprise that the menu offered all kinds of typical (in our opinion) Italian-style dishes. We chose a number of different ones to share between the three of us, as that way we could get a taste of more. Good plan.


foodThe food was pretty good, the service excellent and the ambience very nice. If we are ever in Connellsville again we would definitely return.


Butterfly Wall




With my granddaughter

Columbia, MO: Butterflies

We love butterflies and all that that stand for and symbolize. So, it’s a treat to visit the Sasha Butterfly House in St Louis, which we did a couple of weekends ago (I’ll post that in the St Louis blog soon).

So, on the theme of butterflies: Recently we spent a day in Columbia MO, visiting our grandson who is a law student there. After a nice sushi lunch we all wanted coffee, so he took us to one of his favorite coffee shops called Shortwave Coffee, at 915 Alley A. It’s in an alley that leads off Ninth Street (one of the main shopping/eating streets in Columbia). The alley also has Speckled Frog Toys and Books.


Nath M


Our little granddaughter photographed these words

signAlong the wall of the alley we were delighted to find a mural of large colorful butterflies. As the sign tells us, they are called “Kindness Butterflies” (2019) and they are pretty new. Above one of the big butterflies are the words, “kindness changes everything”. What a lovely sentiment. The lead artist is Madeleine Le Mieux; assistant artists are Aveen Gadban and Ember Piersee.

Because I love murals and public art, I of course stopped to take photos. What was so


Our granddaughter took this sign too…

lovely on this day was that my little 3-and-a-half-year-old grand-daughter asked me for my phone and also took photos of the murals and of the signs! And then of the Speckled Frog! She has copied us before with taking photos, and this spontaneous picture-taking was delightful. Maybe we’ll have another budding photographer/writer!


…and the frog!



The first wall of murals we see


We have tea at our hotel, overlooking the Youghiogheny River

Connellsville, Italian Influence, and Murals

As I just wrote about, we stayed in Connellsville in southwestern Pennsylvania and used it as our base to visit the many wonderful sights around there—for example, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the Laurel Highlands, the Flight 93 Memorial.

Connellsville is not very big but is an interesting city about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the Youghiogheny River (how do you pronounce that?!), a tributary of the Monongahela River. As we walked around we noticed some huge, lovely murals, notably on the Italian Independent Social Club Building, so we wondered what the story of these was.


The river through our hotel window

Connellsville was founded as a township in 1793 and as a borough in 1806 by Zachariah Connell, a militia captain during the American revolution. It was in the mining and steel working area of the state and has had 5 railroads at various times, and still seems to have a busy railroad yard.


During our stay, many many trains passed by on the busy railway line


We walk around the building—the mural goes from the worker to a large group of Italians



And then wraps round to a Connellsville station scene

Between 1880 and 1930 a flood of immigrants from Italy and other European countries arrived in Connellsville and vicinity, mainly to work in the coal, coke, steel and locomotive industries. Many of the Italian immigrants settled in the area that is now Connellsville and their Italian-American descendants continued to do so, which is why the area became known as “Little Italy”. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the neighborhood has a patron saint, Saint Rita of Cascia. Apparently the Italian influence continues to be strong here (as we saw in Ruvos Restaurant, which I’ll highlight in the next post).



Amazingly realistic!

These are stunning murals that wrap around three sides of the building really tell a story, both of the Italians and of their lives, and the passenger train station.


Visiting Hiroshima in Japan


A-Bomb Dome


Peace Memorial Park


Strings of paper cranes at the Students’ Memorial 

I’ve just posted an article about Hiroshima on another blog I do, called Our Visits to Japan. I believe that this is such an important place in the world, especial today with all the political turmoil. So, I’m posting the link here, as I’d love for more people to see this.

Please do take a look through it. https://ourvisitstojapan.wordpress.com/2019/10/18/visiting-hiroshima/


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