We best serve the world when we invest in nurturing our own culture. I’ll observe and participate in the TLC from where I belong: at home plate. Don’t worry, I’m not alone at base.

Sunrises are a Chicago, Illinois and sometimes Indiana thing. The morning spectrum across the lake is a graceful, gorgeous peace.

California evenings are just as breathtakingly elegant. A sunset match for those of you seeking to be the closers in our life’s story.

Paint the sunset a little extra with me today. Drive down the state of California with me and quiet horsepower amplifying our goals down the line.

First, we donate.

Passenger sides allow for an easy hop out to Blue Diamond, where gifts and donation goods await. I brought Ritz along for the pantry. All my loved ones have different snack preferences, Mondelez accommodates with classy variety. This week’s donation shoppers will likely have variable preferences, Mondelez still comes through.

It’s pretty incredible what the people of Illinois farm for our daily lives, what the middle men work on to get supply and processed goods through, what business headquarters due to get the products out everywhere. Some corporate even partner to minimize food deserts.

Add another ‘s’, let’s throw in some oreos and brighten someone’s day. Who knows? Maybe after they twist and dunk, a new opportunity in work or childcare or business loans or housing assistance will ring.

Oreos are magic like that.

Hold up. How did we get to Modesto?!? (record scratch)

We could start the pre-trek at South Carlsbad Beach, slightly different than North Beach, Chicago, Illinois.

North Beach, a place where my cousins and siblings enjoyed a quick visit in childhood. A place of adulthood too, where I confided to my friend that I’d get implants, a place to refresh about two years after her douche comments regarding no callbacks, a place to exhale after about a year since that terrible workplace knowledge of a fake match date with their board’s Bank connection.

Carlsbad Beach, today, life is different and not. I love you, and I’m public everywhere, quite firm in the past and its facts, quite firm in the future and health leadership, happy to let fear and childhood past remain over, happy for recent happy memories, and so that is the difference.

As we de-escalate from douches and banks, quarantines and other havoc played on our bodies, let us feel good about good differences.

For me, the flat flat skinny perhaps is no longer best. Now that some crises curve has found a way, I’m not sure I’m going to let go. I’m thinking an Eastern flat border isn’t the only way; perhaps somewhere in the middle, acknowledging Western curves.

Speaking of appreciating twists and turns, we’re about to head safely down California from the North. We can do this safely because I have State Farm. There is no one else that compares.

Let me just step out of the sand first.

Consider that the world really did want to test out our black and white baseball roots. Damn, I guess I’m glad I was chosen to respectfully and firmly respond. They were always my home runs anyway, Hoosiers calling the game.

I’ll consider that the cutting edge of curvy borders is probably a challenge different than east bound straight down. I’ll also consider taking you to a hometown ice rink when we tour.

Hold my keys, it’s time for this shoeless girl to find her rubber sole again.

Okay, ready.

Hello, Modesto! You’re a hot one today.

Shop with me and appreciate Blue Diamond hospitality.

I’ll shop with you and appreciate your health. Almonds are an incredible food.

Thank you, Modesto. While there’s so much to return to for visits, today I’m happy to prioritize the grower community who has prioritized our health.

Point out that you’d like to ride the rails with me.

I’ll point out that there’s always time for the California Zephyr. Illinois coordinates Amtrak so well.

Love the way that California towns support their farmland communities with fabulous expertise.

I’ll love the way that Illinois supports us all. There’s no substitution for Caterpillar, even as they keep us cool in the hot sun.

Acquaint me with the hospitality and kindness of middle California. United Equipment Company gave me two hats, in case I needed extra shade. In case I had a smoocher in tow.

I’ll help you become acquainted with Illinois expressway nicknames. We’ll go through this as we drive I-57, the only one waiting on a title.

What should we choose for I-57? How about the Cat? Or, for their founders, the Holt and Best?

Two United tickets to get there, please. United is working on better customer service and we’ll cheer them on with some California inspiration. First class wait list. Maybe they’ll give us some hats.

Advocate against the silos of city and rural communities. I’ll advocate with you, as we choose to stop and say hello. This works both ways, and I wish it was easier for rural Illinois to come visit Chicago.

Quietly mention that you think California medians are beautiful.

I’ll quietly mention that there’s no where I’d rather be than stuck in the middle with you. Let’s bring this cool take over to Illinois, where people run their horsepower faster than any and, therefore, need solid medians. Let’s protect with beauty.

Take your time galloping down the highway on our four wheels.

I’ll take my time explaining animal welfare and racehorsing thoughts, they aren’t set in stone, I’m a work in progress. I’ll convey appreciation for Arlington while supporting equine quality of life. I’m not an expert at everything horse racing, yet I am an expert at loving freedom and disliking forced competition. I would assume most animals enjoy the same feeling.

Tangent: Seabiscuit is such a fabulous film, so well done, helps in sport appreciation too.

Let’s take our time, think it through and be works in progress with animal welfare.

I miss Arlington Heights.

Throw some spunky crowds along your California farm lands.

I’ll throw some extra spunk into your smooch when we visit the Underground Gardens.

Mention that you like the little curve left over from the quarantine days.

I’ll mention that’s good, we’re not going back in time, all systems go for chips and salsa and queso.

Chili’s, you know how to balance the flats and curves so flawlessly, and perhaps you are an ex boyfriend favorite for a reason.

End up with me if you choose to go for that ending, even if you are the most nervous-faced dancer under the sea.

I’ll end up with you because happy endings aren’t flat and boring; the concave and convex storylines along the way make our life forever interesting. I’ll dance with you even when my hair turns white.

Feed the convex and concave.

I’ll feed mine sparingly, with chocolate or glazed doughy.

Admire the Old Fresno Water Tower, and admire the way California manages water between desert and ocean.

I’ll admire the way you can manage > 100 degree heat, and I’ll talk about thirst traps as if I really know what that means. No, it’s not a mirage. You really are good looking.

Flaunt the California gold seal. It’s as legit as the public service infrastructure in the state, as legit as families sharing food.

I’ll flaunt Illinois’ food sharing drives, quiet neighbor gifts and every people-centric move in between.

Tell me about all your childhood trips to the library.

I’ll tell you about my library work and visits, high school days that seem like just yesterday.

I’ll tell you about my studies with two best girl friends, outside the library walls. Memories as timeless as this art. Thank you again, Illinois, for the best public education.

Share with me that beautiful Ventura highway takes you through all the familiar California, even those old Hollywood churches I love so much.

I’ll share with you that beautiful rural and middle California are a match.

I’ll share that California is once again just like Illinois: each state’s peoples are a lot less different than they think.

Listen for the grapevine whispers. They’ll tell you that this girl never knew what a raisin crop looked like before.

I’ll listen for the whispers of the Happy Meal California Raisins, a good memory of when an Illinois company brought someplace else in rather than then only export themselves out.

You have no plans to make me blue, get serious, you want smooches and/or friendship long after we’re wrinkled.

Tend to your pines and I’ll tend to our holiday moments together, mindful that we may not get the cold Illinois tree shopping experience. We may not get the hot chocolate spills on scarves. Don’t worry though, you’ll still get the salt on the boots and icy slow highways. Don’t mutate into alien form over the windshield ice scraping.

Point out the farming research centers and I’ll point out that I’m intrigued. I love progress and its unnerving when states don’t. I worry when flat lines prefer stagnant. Illinois brings some nice progression to the Midwest, a splash of rounded color, a sweet serpentine to awaken the flat. May we continue to do this, challenge the status quo and encourage it in rural communities.

Add a curveball into the drive by announcing that there is a Tastee-Freez in Visalia, California.

I’ll add the snake-like manuever to my Maps and pick up a Reese’s Pieces Freeze. In Addison, they were made with crushed pieces and Redi-Whip. These days, broken cups and a different cool whip are the new mix. It is still so good.

A perfect way to tend to my western curvy side with love.

Hit a homerun by taking me to the nearby Mills Creek Park. Visalia is a cool small town with community recreation areas similar to Illinois.

I’ll one-up you in no time, knocking it completely out of the park with plans for a future Oberweis visit. Everyone knows Oberweis ice cream is a best. And, politics challenges neighboring states’ bias about Illinois not having conservative minds. Let’s stay in the middle of the curves and flats. Let’s invite them over for hot fudge sundaes.

(Yep, you guessed right. Oberweis hot fudge is by far the best.)

Until my Aurora grand slam, we’ve got Reese’s, champ.

Stay happily in the middle of flat and curvy, as Illinois does.

I’ll stay happily alongside you as we tour the lilacs of Lombard. If a colorful meandor finds its way, so be it.

Bring in powerhouses like Kraft and Foster Farms.

I’ll remind you that people working with Archer-Daniels-Midland are just as cognizant of hunger needs, agricultural supply needs, other use needs.

And I’ll remind you that Illinois dairy cows may belong to any numbers of over 500 farms, including Kilgus Farmstead, Linden Hill, Prarie Farms, Golden Oaks, Marcoot Jersey, Lueking Dairy, Diekemper Brothers and Stone Ridge…they’re all valued, and work together for collective voice.

Speaking of voice, I’ll just share: yes, we can advocate animal rights and appropriate milk nutrition facts while cherishing the farms who keep everyone fed.

Man, we’ve got some great states.

Impress yourself by noting the way farmland machinery is coordinated.

I’ll impress upon you how much I’d love to spend more time traveling these towns with you, sealing the nights with a kiss.

It’s real, babe.

Knock knock.

Orange is there.

Orange you glad cuties of all shapes are here to stay?

Rest your feet with some minor cruise control.

I’ll rest my feet with more Illinois dairy celebration. Original Rainbow Cones as a designated hitter.

Random California art.

Note that they didn’t even need to leave an artist signature. The Illinois cornfield type of modesty is a perfect palette.

Share your admiration for bakers.

I’ll share my admiration for your bread donation. I admire you, and I love you, just as I admire and love those who work with the seeds so laboriously farmed.

Welcome in Bakersfield.

I’ll welcome in its history.

Voice support for a political party.

I’ll voice support for neighbors. Let neighbors voice their politics in good faith, not in antagonistic resentment. Sometimes this takes a bit of sunset and patio. Perhaps that is why Midwest states can work together in such difference. Patios with sunrise, patios with sunset.

Appreciate the historical architecture as the evening lingers.

I’ll appreciate your second pause to consider faith.

Tango with me over rugby versus football advantages.

I’ll tango with you over best retweet strategies for your team to win. Carrie Ann will concur.

Replace any crown for a sensible hat, please.

I’ll replace a city evening with some horsing around. If we end up at the Big Hat Rodeo, yes, I may double check on animal welfare. Yep, I’ll cheer everyone on if no animals are at risk and yep, I’ll tell you that you look way cooler in a cowboy hat than any mismatched hierarchical band.

Southern hospitality and big hats. Thank goodness for fate’s persistence of right match. You look good by being yourself, authentic hat and all.

Check the time as you play one last song.

I’ll check that the time’s right for a nightcap serenade. Play my favorites too, the ones about dispatch and police cars, the ones about parents and a pizzeria, the ones about how you found courage to go for all your work commitments, leaving some silence where future bold in personal relationships may find the right words.

Start the sunset just as you should, with hope.

I’ll start to end the Hunger Games novels the same way.

Reflect on all the dairy farms we passed along the way, and the ones we didn’t, in our California straight lines twisted with ice cream curves.

I’ll reflect that there are over 500 dairy farms in Illinois, making the community rich with character, and I love this fact.

Share that you love these open fields.

I’ll share that I do, too. Notice the lack of equine foraging throughout the drive.

Open, agriculture views.

Admire the unknown of the fields as we travel south.

I’ll admire the unknown of the corn crops in Illinois. Will those plants be sent for food, for ethanol, for feed? Illinois leaves a little mystery, such a flirt.

Mention that you’d like to stop at a California fruit stand.

I’ll mention that I’d like to stop along the Illinois winds and turns with you one day soon. We could visit Brauetigam orchards, pick apples at Edwards (apple donuts please), shop at Ropp Cheese Farm, choose a pumpkin at Kuipers, pick up some cider at Jonamac orchard, navigate crop circles at Rader Family Farms, Stpick strawberries at Stades, choose some gourds at Curtis Farms and pick a vegetable rainbow at Eckerts in Belleville. They even have asparagus.

I’ll mention that after a long day at the farms, I’ll still have energy for a quiet night in. Pancakes with Gingerich Farms blueberries, anyone?

Reflect on the agricultural diversity all around us.

I’ll reflect, too. Illinois has hundreds of soy, corn, wheat and other grain crops. The land tended is impressive, the people making it happen are incredible and every up and down in balancing state community differences is a curve to be thankful for.

Appreciate the hoozer hills that change up our scenes.

This vegetarian will appreciate the way hills and scenes change up in Illinois, making distinction between dairy and beef an expertise of Illinoisan origin.

Be thankful you found confidence to be the closer to this story.

I’ll be thankful that Illinois’ starting lineup is a dynamic energy, adding complimentary swerve and volume to straight-edge state neighbors.

It’s that western curvy influence and our love of middle ground, I suppose.

Protect and cherish values.

I’ll protect and cherish them, too. The past several months haven’t changed everything. I still value good gun laws in Illinois, I still value collaborative gun control across the Midwest. I have a new appreciation of curves, though.

And I appreciate the beauty of Illinois farm and middle lands more and more with each passing day. They are soft in kindness, shaped in compassion, diligent in figure, making our entire Illinois so well-rounded.

As the sun sets, take off your stallion shoes, slip into some lucky socks I bring along and let’s admire the sincere arched pitches coming down the line.

These curves are for you closers.

If we are to meet on each others’ fields then may we always meet at home.