I have spent the last two weeks in southern Illinois, visiting towns and events, people and places. It just inspires me as to what a wonderful and exciting state we have. There is such a variety of things to see and places to visit. I just wish everyone could see all these places as well. Certainly it is worthy of a family trip.

But, coming home, I discovered that the milkweed had now taken over the garden. Ah, the times that were when I was looking for seeds or plants to get milkweed for the butterflies, especially monarchs. Well, the butterflies and monarchs came and went. Now I am left with so many milkweed plants that it has become a problem. Before things get worse and the seed pods open to infect the entire backyard, there will be a cutting down and harvest, for sure. Now I know what they are called weeds!

In southern Illinois I admired the kudzu, one of those plants imported for one reason or another, but which has taken over everything in its path. It is kind of pretty, but frankly, it is everywhere. One sees mounds of green and has to wonder what the kudzu is covering, including utility poles and anything else which is stationary long enough to be fully covered. I guess I won’t be seeking any of that greenery for the garden!

And, due to the kindness of one of my neighbors, I have discovered that what I call “moon flowers” may be something called Datura, a beautiful, ornamental plant with big, white trumpets. Apparently, one should not ingest these things because they can make one pretty sick and then some.

Of course, I do not expect people to be eating my moon flowers any time soon. And, I can’t even be sure they are Datura. They are just some beautiful flowers which my hairdresser, Karen Barthel, and I have been exchanging over the years as each one’s crop perished for some reason or another, only to have the other provide salvation and new seeds. It kind of reminds me of poinsettia … beautiful to look at, but not too good for you if eaten. Can’t we all just limit ourselves to lettuce?

I was so sorry to see that what we used to call “shop”-aka industrial arts-at Hauser, was put on hold pending a new instructor. I do hope that a new instructor is found and the course and electives re-established, as there is nothing more handy around the house than knowing how to take care of all the gizmos and gadgets which comprise home ownership.

I was always sorry that, as girls, we were only given a few days in industrial arts as kind of a little treat while being relegated to what was then called home economics. We could have all learned so much more had we spent time in shop.

It is always pleasant to move around the state, but even a few days means doing some heavy duty catching up at home. The tomatoes were ripening and needed picking, the mail was backed up, the computer was too full of e-mails to even recount, and the dogs, not along for this trip, were looking for attention.

And, there was no better way to come home than to our neighborhood block party.