Forgive me for writing a few more words about China. I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. By next week I hope to be fully back to the reality that is Forest Park.

Welcome home to Sherri Maughm who was visiting relatives in Barbados. Sherri is a champion knitter and recently took a teaching position at a knit shop in Oak Park.

Speaking of our neighbors in Oak Park, did you know that our symphony was awarded Best Orchestra in Illinois by the Illinois Council of Orchestras? What’s more, Conductor Jay Friedman was named Conductor of the Year.

Some very sad news greeted me when I returned from China. Joey, our big-friendly-German-Shepherd-neighbor-dog, died of leukemia. He always gave a loud greeting as we walked by and I miss that greeting more than I can say.

Other neighbors, the Smith-Owens family seems to have moved. They were such a nice group. I wonder where they are now.

Some patrons of the Harrison Street Grill reminded me that Andrea’s isn’t the only alternative to Louie’s. So you may want to give that friendly little caf a visit.

The Elvesund Sons of Norway meeting on April 24 has been changed to May 1. This meeting will mark the group’s 27th anniversary at St. Michael’s Church, 500 E. 31st Street in LaGrange Park. For more information contact Jerry Amen at 708 386 2238.

As I said earlier, I can’t get China out of my mind: What an amazing country! The unending high-rises have a futuristic, frightening aura about them. They go on and on as far as the eye can see. Away from the cities is the Yangtze River. Here is a photo (left) taken at dusk when our group was about to board a ship for a cruise down the Yangtze. It was cold and rainy, and we had to walk down uneven stone steps to reach the river. From there, we had to cross the Yangtze on ribbed metal planks to get to the boat. I will never forget the look of horror on the face of one of the women in our group. I said I’d never be any younger, so I’d better go to China now. While I was there, there were times when I thought I’d probably never get any older.

Remember “Nee How?” It’s a friendly greeting for any time of day. “Shay-shay” is “Thank You”; “Boo yo shay shay” is “No, thank you”; “Poo toe” I don’t understand. No one seemed to understand me when I spoke, although I probably didn’t get the right inflection. Tell your kids and grandkids to learn Chinese. I’m serious.

So much for China. Happy birthday to Ernesto Gassi, Frank Nee, Kara Einbinder, Jim Stanton, John Spence, Don Cote, Julie Mahnke, Sara Stahlke, John Marino, Amy Verbornik, Eleanor Locati, Benjamin Gerger, Joe Rice, Jessica Witt, Parker Ryan Wojtas, Shawn Miller, Grace Ahern, Pricilla Bruce, Urtan Romani, Lorraine Sansone, Michael Acceturo, Benjamin Waldron, Michael Bowker and Krystle Kutak. Thanks for your time.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life’s other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side of Chicago in a great neighborhood when it was a great time to be young.