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My Blog

May 2014

I Didn't Sign Up For This

Good morning to everyone.  Happy weekend.  It is a beautiful day here in the Chicago land area.  Warm and sunny.  I have so much to do today...not really sure where to even begin.  Isn't that a sad statement.  I have finished transplanting some tomatoes this morning.  I cannot believe how many seeds I had planted...my hand seems to have been a bit heavy when pouring in the seeds. I counted 80 tomatoes plants.  They are all heirloom and organic...not sure where I am going to put them all.  But it was a stellar crop!  I was able to transplant about 45 of them...I need to buy some more organic dirt to finish. 
Well, today's blog is about the statement..."I didn't sign up for this".  I remember wanting to be a parent my whole life.  I thought that having children would be the most idyllic thing in the world.  One big happy family...a typical day like in the show "Father Knows Best"  I guess when I watched that show years ago, I thought that having the regular family would be wonderful....hmm...when I watch or hear the program (on radio talk show)...it seems that I missed the hard parts.  I seemed to overlook that Bud (the son) was always questioning things and throwing little quirks in the way.  As for the older daughter Bettie...I suppose I also missed the drama that went on when it came to boys and dating.  And of course Cathie, aka Kitten, was always feeling left out and complaining.  It just always seemed that they were this happy family at the end of the day.  Wow...that is what I signed up for! 
Turns out...that isn't quite the way life works.  Well, maybe it is.  I remember the years of parenting and even grandparenting.  Things were just like they were on that show.  Girls were lamenting over boys, mood swings, fights with friends, troubles at school.  One feeling like the parents cared more for the other sibling.  Kids always wanting what the other kids have.  I remember a time when my daughters were not happy when we didn't have cable tv when it first came out...in fact it wasn't for at least 10 years before we got it.  I remember being upset and not wanting the girls to have pagers when they came out...not to mention a phone.  I still have trouble with the idea of being "on call" 24 hours a day.  Then there was the argument over Tattoos....not what I signed up for...thank you very much.  Now, I declare that everyone has the right to do as they please with their bodies...but my daughters were not going to get a tattoo as a young girl.  Yesterday, we saw a graduation at a restaurant and the young graduate was covered in them.  This is a permanent thing being done to your body....are they ready to make such a judgment at such a young age.  I suppose I am an old fuddie duddie. 
I didn't sign up for a lot of things.  Financial decisions, scrimping and saving, caring for parents, grandkids and so much more.  I may not have signed up for it...but that never stopped any of it from coming.  Now...here is the real kicker....I CHOSE to do it!  All of it.  Even when I didn't sign up for it, because it was what I thought was the right things to do! 
Kids get mad, slam doors, scream and yell "I Hate You" sometimes in the process...but I just kept going.  Parents got old, forgetful, sometimes angry! But caring and loving them even though it was hard to do...in my heart was the right thing to do...even though I didn't sign up for it!  Marriage...well, I could write a book instead of just a blog...this wasn't exactly what I signed up for...but I didn't give up and quit.  I didn't sign up for old age and fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis.  aches and pains in the morning and throughout the day and night...I didn't sign up for sleepless nights due to worrying or just cant sleep syndrome.  I signed up for a life of happy go lucky days and evenings in front of a fire.  
I bet if I look around, most of us didn't sign up for what we got in life.  I am sure most of us that are aging didn't realize how hard this was going to be. 
but, the amazing thing is...I didn't sign up for some of the wonderful things either.  the things in life that I never expected.  I received a chance to be with parents and learn so much more about them during those time that I didn't sign up for.  I raised a grandchild and learned what parenting was like when I had more time and patience.  I learned all about bonding in the true sense of the word....when I didn't sign up for that1  I gained knowledge, respect and understanding of things I would never have dreamed I could ever understand from the things I didn't sign up for. 
So, in the end, I have to still iterate that most of what happened in my life....I didn't sign up for...but I am grateful God loved me enough that He signed me up.  So when you are at wits end and wondering WHY ME?  It was a blessing. 

Long Johns....Donut or Underwear?

Good morning to all.  Well another Friday has rolled around.  A beautiful day here in the Chicago land area.  The sun is shining and the birds are twittering away here this morning.  It is rather loud at 4 AM here if you are awake to listen to the birds outdoors.  No other time of the day seems is as loud with activity from them.  I wish I could understand what they are all saying. 
Well, today's blog was sparked by yesterdays blog.  It is about a simple donut that I thought was something everyone in the world knew about...only to find out that it wasn't.  Living in this area my entire life, it has been just another common thing to go to a bakery or to a donut place and order a long john.  If for any reason you are from somewhere other than here...a long john is a type of donut.  It is not round, but a long rectangular shape.  There is no filling but is usually frosted with either white or dark chocolate. 
One year, we were on a vacation trip and had all of our grandchildren with us.  We had made a stop in Virginia to stretch out and move around after a number of hours of driving.  We pulled into a Dunkin Donuts and decided to get a dozen donuts for us and the children.  We walked in and began choosing the types we wanted.  We got down to the last few donuts and without hesitating, I told the young girl behold the counter to just fill the rest of the donut order with long johns.  This is where the young woman just stopped and looked at us like we had just stepped out of a UFO and we were the aliens.  She asked us to repeat what we wanted.  So, I repeated the statement.  She looked at me and said "You want underwear?  We only sell donuts here."  I looked back at her over that counter....totally astonished that she would think I was asking for underwear.  I repeated that I wanted the long donut....you know...a long john.  I was still oblivious to the fact that they did not know of such a donut.  Well, needless to say, we landed up getting some other types of donuts instead. 
It seems that the only information about a log john donut is that it a version of an éclair only it does not have it creamy filling.  I wondered why they have the same name as underwear, but this American language of ours is confusing and there are no grounds for it unless you consider the grounds used in coffee that become it's sidekick. 
As I have searched for an answer...the only possibility I could come up with was that the first donut cutter patent was granted to a John Blondell and perhaps it was a tribute to him?  Silly, I know...but sometimes there just is no real answer. 
When I researched the donut itself, I was amazed at the different types of donuts both here and around the world.  Way too many to even list here. 
When I think about dough nuts in general, I recall that when I was a young girl in grammar school, we had a fund raiser every year.  Of all the things that would could possibly sell...I remember that it was dough nuts.  It never really dawned on me why we would even think of selling such a perishable item...but we did.  We used to have to first go around and take the orders.  People ordered them like crazy...as a kid, I never quite thought about why.  I just knew that I would take the orders and then when the day arrived for the dough nuts to be delivered in their white waxed boxes, I had to use my radio flyer wagon to bring them home and deliver that very day.  After all...they were dough nuts.  I remember selling tons of those boxes and had to make numerous trips back and forth to school to pick them up and bring them home.  After thinking about that, I decided I needed to find out what kind they were.  I had an idea that perhaps after bing in the South and tasting a Krispy Crème that perhaps they were the company.  Upon researching, I discovered that they were the company that we sold back when I was a young girl. It is funny how certain things have their own very distinctive tastes.  Well, I still enjoy dough nuts of all types...but a long john is probably still my favorite.  I guess if I ever move, I might have to learn to make my own. 

Relish or Piccalilli

Good morning to everyone.  Another day is here and another weekend is almost upon us.  Today it is quite gloomy outdoors.  We were supposed to have a bright and sunny day today but it seems as though we had it yesterday instead.  The weather is always so unpredictable!
I put off varnishing yesterday because they predicted rain and I didn't want to have it rain on my item...so I put that off for today...and viola...looks and feels like rain today instead!  Well, there is always tomorrow. 
As for today's blog.  For most people, this might not have been something to go home and research, but for me...well, I really let those little things interest me. 
The other day, my friend and I went to a neighborhood restaurant for a quick bite to eat.  The young lady came to our table to take our order.  My was pretty simple and basic.  All I wanted was an all American Hot Dog!  She wrote down my order and then asked what I would like on the dog.  I first looked on the table and saw that there was mustard and ketchup there.  I then preceded to inform her that I would like some raw onions and some piccalilli.  She stood there and her pen stopped writing and just had a blank stare come across her face.  I perceived that there might be a communication problem.  I quickly realized that perhaps she didn't know what piccalilli was and changed it to relish.  She nodded her head and then her pen began to write the order down.  Now most people might not ask the question...but little old nosy me...I just had to.  I asked her whether she had ever heard the word "Piccalilli" before and her answer was as I had expected.  "NO." 
I sat there a little befuddled and discussed it with my friend.  She of course being 81 knew what I was talking about, but the young lady didn't.  I started me thinking about the change of words and how words used today are different that words used before.  I of course had to find out the answer to this perplexing question.
Upon researching, I discovered that I was indeed correct in my terminology and the use of the word piccalilli.  It seems that Piccalilli was first used about the mid 1700's in Britain.  It is common there and was also common in the US. 
Why do people use the word relish and is it correct?  Well, yes and no.  You see, what I discovered was that Piccalilli is a form of a relish.  When I looked up the definition of a relish...it seems that a relish is made of fruits or vegetables chopped or shredded that is used over foods.  Some examples of a relish are sauerkraut, tartar sauce, cranberry sauce, salsa, dill and many more.  Who would have imagined that?  So technically, the term relish is correct in a broader senses, but not at all specific.  
That made me wonder if it a regional word.  I know that when we visited our children in South Carolina, that the true Carolinians don't eat hot dogs with the same toppings as we do here in Chicago.  In fact, hot dog toppings are regional.  Most hot dogs are topped with some type of RELISH..it just depends on which one.  Some have Sauerkraut, some have Cole Slaw, some have Chili (some with beans and some without), some have tomatoes, fried peppers and the list goes on. 
So, no, piccalilli is not a new word...but technically...it is the correct word.....I RELISH to say!

Lipstick the Hidden Cover-up

Good  morning.  Well, hump day is finally here.  I don't know why it seems that when there is a holiday, the week just slows down! I think it is that extra day off! 
I worked on finishing one of the Roses that I am painted for my town.  It will be on display all summer and get auctioned off in November to help the town's charities.  All I need to do now is seal it with Varnish, but it is supposed to rain today....so I am guessing that it will have to wait until tomorrow.  I have a second rose that I am now working on and hope to finish by day's end, so perhaps I will be able to get them both sealed. 
Well, today's blog is a bit of an interesting hidden fact.  Ever since I was a young girl, I have seen women all dolled up.  The cliché of putting on her face has always been a part of life. 
I myself, never truly understood why it was something that women needed to do and not men.  Now, with that being said, I am not suggesting that men wear makeup, just that women seem too want to look different.  We don't expect it out of a man.  We view them au natural and look at them with their natural beauty...or perhaps I should say.."handsomeness"? 
I know that as a young girl, we all can't wait until we can put on makeup just like mom.  We thumbed through magazines from the time we are young girls, dreaming of looking like the girls in those books.
It all starts with a little lip gloss, then it blows out of control from there.  There are so many things about makeup that you are not told about as a young girl.  One thing that most of us are unaware of in the beginning is that it has a shelf life. Hmmm...that alone should have been my first flag.  Why does it have a shelf life.  Because slowly, it is exposed to bacteria's.  We are putting that on our skins and allowing it to be absorbed.  Now, that is not the worst of it.  Lipstick is not just going on our lips...it goes into our stomachs.  Tokay, so you say...how much could that be?  Well, I read that in the average year...women who use lipstick or lip glosses or balms can ingest up to 7 pounds of it in a year...no wonder we are always watching our weight!  No...now really...the hazards are far greater than that.  We are ingesting petroleum and lead.  Now, not all lipsticks contain this...so you need to research the better ones...but you will be surprised to know the ones that do contain higher levels of lead.  What can it do to you?  Well, it can lower your IQ, cause miscarriages in adults as well as mood disorders.    Did you know that most lipstick also contain Gluten?  That is definitely something I wouldn't have though about connected to a cosmetic.
How are we eating the stuff?  Well, we are constantly lipstick our lips.  And the more flavorful, the more lip smacking we do.  If we weren't ingesting it...why would we have to keep reapplying it? 
Food for thought!  Begin to pay closer attention to that lipstick in your cosmetic bag or purse...it could be the kiss of death to you if you are not careful!  So, I suggest you look at the information out there on the brands of lipsticks if you so choose to use them.  Be as conscious of what goes on your lips as you are about what goes in you mouth.  I would have to say, if I was going to eat lipstick...I would prefer the old candy ones...remember those?  A much safer choice. 
 

Do You Play Cards?

Well, good morning to all.  The weekend is gone and a new day has begun.  I hope everyone had a great time over the weekend.  I spent some time reflecting over many who were lost and grateful for all the sacrifices.  It is a real eye opener to see how many people these days are more concious of the meaning of Memorial Day and I am glad to see it.   Last night I was blessing to be able to get a well needing massage.  Of all the medicines I can take, nothing helps as much as a deep tissue massage.  It doesn't last for ever....but how worth the pain to get to the relief.  After the massage, my husband and I joined our friends for a nice dinner.  There was delicious food and great conversations.  We discussed the city of Chicago's growth from it's beginning and how things occurred.  Deep thoughts but interesting.  I think as we become older, we learn to appreciate all that both we and our world go through. 
Well, after all the conversation was nearing the end, I suggested we played cards.  I had recently learned a fun, simple card game from my friends grandsons and thought I would share it.  It is called Garbage.  Now, I must tell you that when I was growing up, playing cards was just a fact of life.  It was always something that we did after dinner, especially when their were guests over.  When I was young, there was always a poker game going on.  You would waltz out of your room with your bags of change and grab a seat around the table.  My friend, who is 81 said that the same routine happened in her home when she was growing up. 
Imagine my surprise when her daughter said that playing cards was an "old people" thing!  She continued with telling us that people of her generation just don't play cards!  I was stunned!  First the "old people" remark and then the fact that their generation doesn't play cards.  She is 42 years old.   That is 17 years younger than me!
It made me think a bit.  I know that while my children were growing up we played cards all the time.  We played gin rummy, war, go fish and poker.  I also play cards with my granddaughters whenever we have the opportunity.  I was thinking that I can't wait to see them soon so that I could teach them this game of garbage!  Was I on the wrong track?  Is spending time playing cards no longer something to enjoy? 
My friend asked her daughter "what do you do then"?   Her response is that they go out or just talk.  Hmmm.  We talked though the entire game.  We laughed and had a good time.  It made me start to wonder whether it was a generational thing or just her and the group of friends that she goes out with.  I just spent one evening last week with her and we went out painting.  We talked all the way in the car while I drove out to Lake Zurich.  We discussed quite a bit of historical information that I had gained on a ghost tour.  Things that truly intrigued her.  I felt that she was diverse in things and while we played the game of Garbage, I saw that she enjoyed it and got into it.  It was such a pleasure to spend that time together.  I think otherwise, she may have gone to watch tv or perhaps retired.  I am so happy that it turned out the way it did.  I know that my husband is also not a card playing type person.  It was never part of his growing up, but here she sat with her mom who was.  It left me scratching my head questioning whether games have become a thing of the past.  In the 40 years I have been married, games have always been a part of our lives.  From the intense thinking needed for a game of chess to board games and cards.  My children and grandchildren grew up with these games and now I wonder whether the will continue.  I wonder whether we need to reintroduce them to the world of games and conversation.  I would love any feedback on how it is in your life and your children's or grandchildren's lives.  Are they in a world where they need to stimulated by something electronic or can they learn that the art of games and conversation can be just as rewarding...in my opinion...even better.

Do We Have an Idea that Death is Knocking?

Good morning and a Happy Memorial Day.  Funny thing that we would say, Happy Memorial Day.  It doesn't seem right to wish someone a Happy day when it is such a somber day of remembering.  A day to reflex on the greatness of men and women and the sadness of the fact that we need the protection.  A sadness that there is always danger lurking about us and our country.  Gratitude for all those who have braved it and fought to keep us all safe.  Thank you to every one of those amazing individuals. 
As for my blog, I know that it is memorial day, and I have thought about many who have gone to their graves, and wondered whether of not any of them every had a inkling whether or not their life here on earth was coming to an end. 
I can't imagine what the last days of life are like, but this blog is about a dear friend and the approach to her last days. 
Her name was Margie.  She was one of my Red Hatters and also a very dear friend.  Margie was one of those types of woman who truly embraced life.  She was always up to a challenge and always there to boost another person up.  At least, that was the way I viewed her.  She was an amazing porcelain artist, was always willing to learn to paint in other ways.  She was in many galleries around Illinois and knew how to promote herself, but not only did she promote and encourage herself, she did the same for me.  She always encouraged me to do more.  She fluffed my feathers and made me feel as though I should have the courage to do more!  I loved that about her. 
We shared many moments of joy and laughter, along with moments of tears and sadness.  We spoke of our similarities and our differences.  We grew and learned from each with each time we were together.  
Well, here is where the question begins.  One night, our Red Hatters were meeting in an Italian restaurant in Grayslake.  It was the week of Margie's Birthday.  Now, we never really celebrate anyone's birthday in Red Hat unless we pick a day and celebrate everyone's day at the same time.  But, for this particular birthday, Margie chose to do something special.  The following week, Margie was scheduled to go into the hospital for a knee replacement.  So, the night of our dinner...Margie pulled out a sheet of paper that she had written a letter to us on.  She proceeded to read the letter to all the girls in attendance.  She basically wanted all of us to know what an important part we were in her life.  How she felt that we had become part of her family.  She continued with telling us how important our moments together were.  She shared with us that on her way home from the events, her cheeks would literally hurt from all the laughter of the evening.  upon finishing her letter, she reaching into a shopping bag and began to dispense a small present to each of us there.  She said that in honor of her birthday, she wanted to give US a present.  Each of us opened our gifts, only to find one of her beautiful porcelain ornaments.  In those moments, all of us got pretty teary eyed and I decided I needed to same something to take the tension off.  So, I joked about the type of star in my box.  You see, Margie was Jewsih...and my star was a 5 point star!  We just laughed....because between us...our differences never made any difference!
Well, we enjoyed the rest of the evening.  We all bid each other farewell, and some of the girls that came with me got into my car.  when I closed the door and started the engine, I merely stated that I had a very bad feeling about that night.  I couldn't explain it...it was just a feeling. 
A feeling that hit the nail on the head.  A couple of days later...Margie had gotten some terrible leg cramps...they were so bad that she was rushed to the hospital.  Turned out that a vein had burst and there was all type of surgeries, infections,, and then a graph.  Now this was days before the knee replacement was to have taken place.  In the craziness of everything that had happened....all the tests that were taken....it was discovered that Margie had stage 4 colon cancer...which spread to the liver. 
Now, I didn't ever want anything bad to happen to such a dear friend, but that day when she made that speech and gave us those ornaments keeps resounding in my head. Margie went through radiation and chemo and braved many days ahead.  Unfortunately, the cancer won the following March.  I often sit and wonder whether Margie had a second sense to the fact that something was wrong.  I will never learn that answer.  All I do know is that through her normal generosity and love for us, she was able to say a goodbye and leave us something to remind us of her.  Each time I look at that star, I remember the joy and the laughter.  I think of her courage in those final months.  I think about the hope and dreams that she had.  I think of her smiling face and her hurting cheeks and feel glad that we had those times together. 
One of the things that we did together as red hatters was a calendar.  Now, I must tell you that our kids were not exactly on board about us doing this....they weren't quite ready to accept that moms could be human.  Well, in the last days of Margie's life...it was US that she asked for.  It was to see the Red Hatters in all of their Red and Purple regalia.  Her daughter noticed the change in her mom when we visited.  She sat in the hospital room and listened as we shared and reminisced over all the wonderful and crazy things we had down together.  She saw her mother in a whole new light.  I might say, that was a gift to Margie's daughter! 
At the Shiva, with all the wonderful photos displayed throughout the house, there sat the calendar.  Her daughter revealed to me her shame in not understanding what that meant to her mother until then.  That she had not recognized the WOMAN her mother was....she had only seen her as the MOM.  Because of the Red Hats, she had now seen the woman behind the closed door.  The real woman she was proud to call MOM.  That was a very special moment for me.  A moment that I knew Margie could look down and see.  A moment of complete satisfaction. 
Whether Margie knew something was about to take her life or not, I am pleased that for whatever reasons, she did what she did! 
So today, my memorial day...I give a nod to Margie. 

My Ornament of Dick Tracy

Good morning to everyone.  Sunday is here already.  Another beautiful day for the Memorial weekend.  Many are getting ready for a day with friends and family, food, fun and frivolity.  Let us not forget to stop a moment and bow our heads in prayer for all of the countless men and women who died for this freedom that we have. Along with those prayers, don't forget to be thankful for those who had fought and lived and are still living and those who are still fighting.  We are so blessed to live in such a land of freedom.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of you! 
Well, today's blog is about a man by the name of Chester Gould.  Who is he?  Well, he is the sketch artist of Dick Tracy.  Everyone who ever picked up a Chicago newspaper and turned to the comic section knew of Dick Tracy.  
One day, quite a number of years ago, I met Chester Gould's daughter at a craft show I was doing.  I had created a very unique ornament that I copyrighted years ago and Mr. Gould's daughter had spotted it.  I made over 150 varieties of this ornament and she asked whether I would do a special order for her.  Now, mind you, I had no idea who she was at the time.  She asked me if I could do a Dick Tracy ornament.  I said that I could not, because Dick Tracy was a trademark and could not do something to infringe on that.  She politely laughed and then explained that that she was the daughter of Chester Gould.  I, of course, knew of Dick Tracy, but had no idea who Chester Gould was.  She then explained that he was her father and he was the cartoonist of Dick Tracy.  Now my ornament was a character sculpted on a glass ball and in it's belly was something that related to the character.  EX: a nurse with a bandage in her belly.  So, here was an opportunity to make an ornament for someone famous.  She wanted me to make the ornament to look like Dick Tracy and in the belly to shrink down an actual comic strip.     I was honored.  I made the ornament and never thought to take a picture of it.  I know, pretty dumb on my part!  Well, that just got me to wondering the other day, what ever happened to the ornament. 
I started to research the man and found that they have a museum in his honor in Woodstock Illinois.  The more I read about this man, the more honored I was at having the privilege of making that ornament so long ago. 
He lived in Wilmette, Illinois for the longest time and then one day, decided to buy and restore a home in Woodstock.  He resided there for 50 years.  He not only did the comic strip of Dick Tracy, but was also instrumental in  running a program for youth called the Crime Stoppers.
Chester Gould came to Chicago with a dream.  His dream came true and his comic strip appeared in the Chicago Tribune for 46 years. 

I discovered that not only did Chester Gould love Dick Tracy, but he also loved Christmas.  The song silent Night being one of his favorites, he often incorporated it into his pieces.  In his writeup, it states that it was his desire for world peace and silent night represented a prayer for humanity.  His comic strips during that time gave hope to our Country.  With that knowledge, I feel even more privileged to have him enjoy and cherish one of my ornaments.  As one of my many characters, Mrs. Claus is one of my favorites and I totally can identify with Mr. Gould. So, it seems to me that we never really know how someone or some item will identify and make a change in someone's life.  Mr. Gould changed the lives of many with his amazing cartoons and his spiritual messages.  Both to adults and children alike...he made a moment of happiness and joy. 

Mr. Gould had passed away on May 11, 1985.  His legacy continues on through his museum.  I wonder what ever happened to that ornament, but I am sure that it is being treasured somewhere.  I am just happy that I got to participate in that part of history.
 

Touring Chicago on O'Leary's Fire Truck

Well, good morning.  A beautiful day outside.  A little on the cool side for this time of year, but I will take it.  Hope that everyone remains safe this holiday weekend and takes a moment to reflect why we have this weekend.  Thanks to all our military that have lost their lives so that we may keep our freedom.  And to all those currently in the military and our veterans.  A Huge thank you. 
Last night, My Red Hatters, some friends from the Grove and I went on a tour of Chicago on the O'Leary's antique, 1965 fire truck.  What an amazingly fun time!  It was awesome to arrive on Illinois and Michigan Ave to fine this old fire truck converted into a somewhat tour trolley. We were greeted by retired fire captain George and his Dalmatian Dog Brandy.  We climbed up the fire ladder to take our seats and with siren blaring and the sound of the old metal bell clanging, we were off to tour the sights of the famous Chicago Fire.  Along with the story of the fire and the damage it had done to the city of Chicago, we also learned so much about this fair city.  We visited old Engine houses and memorials as well.  We drove along lake shore drive to visit some of the famous architecture that Chicago has to offer, along with the wonderful buildings and their history. 
Captain George told us about the Chicago Public Library and how it came to be that we lend out our books.  Something I had never known.  We learned all sorts of little things about a city that was once predominantly wood, streets and all.  George revealed that in the olden times, firemen would chop a whole into the planks to get the water from below and then siphon it out.  They later corked up the hole. 
We visited the building that survived the raging fire where 90 percent of the city came to it's end that fateful night. 
As we drove up and down the streets, the streets were hustling about with people in every direction.  Many had stopped to stare and take pictures and videos of us as we passed them by.  What a treat for more than just us.  A rare treat to see such a vintage truck cruising by. 
It was a rather cool trip for those of us on board.  It was an open windowed vehicle and the temperatures last night were a little low.  Many of the group were shivering while the winds blew through the truck. 
It was on October 8th, 1871 that the Chicago Fire broke out on Mrs. O'Leary's farm.  It has always been told that the cow kicked over the lantern and that started the fire.  Although it is a story that has swept through generations, it is just a story.  The fire indeed started at the O'Leary's farm.  It seems as though it may have been caused by a human.  Speculatively someone who was smoking and left a cigarette unattended.  The fire swept through this wooden city quickly.  It didn't help that the fire dept. was given the wrong address and that delayed their arrival.  The funny thing was that one of the things that did survive all the disaster, was the O'Leary home due to the direction that the winds were blowing. Nearly 300 Chicagoans were dead, 90,000 were homeless and 17,450 buildings were destroyed, with damages totally $200 million. It damaged nearly 4 square miles of the city of Chicago.   
As we were driving along, it was interesting to know that the remnants of the fire were burned below the grounds that we were now driving over. 
At the end of the tour, Captain George pulled out fire hats and axes for us to take pictures with.  Even Brady joined in on the photo shoot.  What a great kick off to the summer.   A day to remember not only those who had fallen during the war, but also a chance to learn and pay homage to those who have lost their lives during fires and saving lives.  So, if you are ever in the city and want to enjoy a piece of history...give the O'Leary Tour a call.  Talk to Captain George about a trip on the fire truck he bought.  Ask him to bring Brady along and just enjoy a trip down memory lane.   

The SCOOP on Cock Robin

Well, good morning everyone.  What a gorgeous day to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.  I sit in silence as I remember the real reason for this holiday.  I salute all of the men and women who have sacrificed their families and lives to allow us the life we have.  I cannot imagine the life they have had to endure to fight for us.  God bless each and everyone of them and also their loved ones as well.  We go on every day, oftentimes with out a nod to the fact that there are and have been amazing people keeping guard for us. 
Well, since this is the kick off for Summer, so to speak, I thought of things in the past that spoke SUMMER.  Cock Robin was one of those places that is no longer open, but oh the wonderful ice cream place it was back then, when I was young.  We used to have a Cock Robin on Milwaukee  Ave., near the border of Chicago and Niles. It was right by St. Adelberts Cemetery.  I remember getting to go their during the summer for a treat.  Now anyone who remembers going to a Cock Robin will remember the SQUARE scoop of ice cream.  They all remember their shakes and of course the name of "Cock Robin", but I found out that there was so much more to that wonderful little ice cream haven.   You see, originally, the scoops of ice cream were not square...that came along much later down the road.  It originally started out as a scraping of ice cream and then a scoop and then the square. 
It also had a name other than Cock Robin,,,,It was Prince Castle.  You see the first ice cream shop named for it's owner, Earl Prince was opened in DeKalb, Illinois in the year 1928. In this shop, he sold ice cream manufactured by a high school friend by the name of  Walter Fredenhagen.  The ice cream a Frozen Gold Brand.   In the year 1930, Fredenhagen paired up as a partner with Prince.  Doors, windows and roofs were designed to look like a castle, and then they opened up 5 stores. 
There was a Castle Cone which consisted of 4 or 5 scoops of ice cream.  they also sold sherbert...of which the grape was my personal favorite.  "One-In-A- Million" malt was developed around 1933-34.  In fact, they had to invent a special mixer to handle the mixing because their males used so much ice cream that the regular mixer couldn't handle it.  they landed up inventing a mixer strong enough to mix up 5 malts at the same time.They invented the Quintuplet Banana Split after the Dionne Quintuplets were born in 1936.  At that time, such births were amazing, and the split consisted of 5 scoops of ice cream with fresh fruit, toppings and banana for .15.  They sold ice cream in quarts and in pints.  A quart of their ice cream sold for .35 and a pint sold for .20.    they were responsible for a dessert called the :Blizzard" ...sound familiar?  They also started serving food.  Hamburgers and Steakburgers and The Big and Steakburgers were theirs long before it was known by anyone else. 

Eventually the name of Prince Castle was changed to Cock Robin but it was hard for the public to accept the change.  The general public started to compare the ice cream...saying the old one was better...even though it was the same.  They started using both the castle and the robin displayed on their products and eventually the castle shrunk and the robin grew. 
Eventually, the Cock Robin business was sold to the Peterson Ice cream company in the year 1990.  5 stores remained and eventually they closed as well.  the Brookfield location was the last to close and oddly enough, in the beginning, Mr. Fredenhagen didn't think that the Brookfield location would ever make it because of it's location.  Oddly enough it was the longest Cock Robin standing. 
So, as the summer kicks off...give a nod to the old Cock Robin and those wonderful days of old and sweets!  Those of us who are old enough to remember that bird with the top hat...ooh how lucky we were!

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

Good afternoon.  I am a little late on the blog this morning.  Lots of running to do and a gliche in email that got resolved, but took a little time.  A much cooler day here in the Chicago land area.  Loads of things on my mind today.  A little bit of thought and a lots of contemplating. 
Today's blog is about that question that I think most of us ask ourselves all the time.
Will I ever be good enough?  Good enough in what you might ask.  Well, for me it is many things and the question is one that I have asked myself many times. 
Yesterday, I had lunch with some old friends.  At one point in the afternoon, our husbands went to the little boys room and we waited in the car in a cemetery.  I was taking them on the tour of some of the things that I had uncovered about Dunning and they were interested in walking the areas and seeing what I had told them about.  As my friend and I waited, she expressed how much she has seen me push to get what I want.  She told me how she admired my determination and love for things.  I must say, I was a bit surprised!  I just really didn't give a whole lot of thought to things that I do other than I am just so darned curious...that I try to find the answers.  She continued to say that she remembered years ago, how we sat at my dining room table and talked about how much I wanted to learn to paint.  I already knew how to paint, but I wanted to learn more and get better...and then she followed that with..:And look at you now!"  You wanted something and you went out, took classes and learned and now you teach."  I never gave that a second thought. I chewed on what she said yesterday and decided that some of us always seem to question whether I will be good enough.  I looked over the years and realized I must have asked that question to myself over and over again.  I can remember going for auditions and wondering those questions and always walked away with the leading role and STILL asked the same question.  Each performance, I wondered whether it was good enough. 
When I went to school...I questioned the same things.  I made phi beta kappa and still wondered whether I was good enough.  When I was pregnant...I wondered whether I would be a good enough mother.  Whether I would be able to handle it.  Would I have the right answers to get through motherhood.  I guess I will never really know the answers to that.  All I know is that I truly did my best. 
My friend was right.  I wanted to paint well.  So much so that I finally jumped in and took all the classes that I could.  I am so much better and yet I still am eager to learn more.  It is the same with storytelling and the stories I research.  I am on a constant quest to find more and more and the odd thing about that is that it is not only for me. I feel an obligation to uncover and reveal.  As I work on this story about the Dunning area...I feel the pain and sorry and losses of those 38,000 people who have been forgotten.  I try to imagine what it must have been like.  To them, their families and anyone else connected.  It is my opinion that today, if some of what I remember isn't preserved, then it will all just be forgotten and gone.  These are treasures that are hidden and will soon be so far removed from anyone's memories if they are not captured now. 
How many times have you questioned yourself?  What will it take to make you believe that you are good enough?  And if you reach that point...do you not continue to strive ahead? 
I will continue to keep asking those questions and rely on people like my friend to remind me of the answers that I often forget.  I AM Good enough as long as I don't give up!  If I look back in time, I remember mistakes that others might have done, and I am able to review it with an open mind.  I see that sometimes....we just do the best we can do with what we have or are given and move on....but ooh. the things I remember so well and dwell on are all the wonderful, caring and endearing moments.  Those are what we remember as others accomplishments.  It is as though the bad or not great things are washed away like the dirt on our bodies at the end of the day, and the sparkling clean remains shining as a reflection in the mirror before us.  So, today, take a good look at yourself.  Reflect on the good things you have been able to do.  Go out and learn the things you want. At least try...give it a whirl.  Better to have tried than to let it linger in your wish list.  One day, it will be too late and then all you may have is regrets. You are good enough.  Count how many people love and care about you and count them not only as blessings but count them as enough!

Denying Bad Health

Good morning,  What a beautiful, sunny day here in the Chicagoland area.  I am thrilled to have the opportunities that I have had this week.  I painted with some friends and learned a new painting technique!  Going to have fun with some friends this afternoon and looking forward to a wonderful historic fire truck ride on Friday.  The seeds that I had planted are growing leaps and bounds and soon...hopefully, a harvest of vegetables to be reaped. 
I am so grateful today for what I have. 
Last night, I received another one of those phone calls that send you spinning around!  It was because a family member was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be symptoms of a heart attack or perhaps a stroke.  The loved one on the other side of the phone was quite concerned and upset at the same time.  Why?  Well, not only for the obvious reasons, but also because that person doesn't seem to realize the danger that being overweight can cause.  Now, it is not only denying being overweight that can be a problem.  For some it may be uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure.  Others it may be chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma. 
I recently have gone through having a dear friend diagnosed with cancer....MANY cancers.  Could this have been avoided by going and having things checked on when signs first appear. 
I am concerned today about how the general public dismiss their health issues. I can speak from experience from both sides of the pendulum.  Many years back, Actually, for about 10 years prior to an actual diagnosis, I was experiences problems that led me to believe that there was something drastically wrong with my blood sugars.  I went over and over again, insisting that there was a problem.  Unfortunately, my own self health detector was way more advanced than those available by the medical field.  They kept checking to see whether anything was wrong...and found nothing for about 10 years and then stated..uh oh!  REALLY??  Now, 10 years later they diagnosed me with diabetes.  Now, I really should have listened to myself and researched how to avoid the increasing disease...but since the doctors told me I was okay....I stupidly believed it and didn't do anything.  Perhaps, at the first signs of a problem, I should have taken better care of my diet.  I have always fought a weight problem, since I was a young girl.  I can remember already being placed on a diet at the age of 5.  Now that I look back on those days, I wish that instead of a diet, they would have trained me in better dietary habits.  I loved to eat all those homemade cookies and breads and cakes...but if I would taught how to eat them in moderation and also supplied with the fresh vegetables and cut fruits as well, perhaps I would have been in a different mind set. 
I can remember someone else, very dear to me, who refused to accept that he had a problem with his breathing.  I noticed on his face....which was always very red, that at his chin level, he had an actual marking....which in holistic health studies, indicates high blood pressure.  He refused and denied any health problems, but I am not the type of person to let sleeping dogs lie.  When I was in the doctors office I spoke to the doctor and made him an appointment for an hour later that day.  The doctor informed him that I had actually saved his life.  They made him sit there and take some meds until the blood pressure lowered, and if it didn't, they were going to call an ambulance.  We was ready to stroke. 
So my question is....why do we as a whole ignore the health issues at hand?  Why do we look for the easy ways out?  There are a zillion miracle weight loss drugs that supposedly help you to lose weight.  There are even surgical procedures that will help you to lose weight.  All of which, do not come with any guarantees.  The real ticket to losing weight is to modify the way you look at food.  The way you portion it out.  Is that easy?  Heck no....but a sure fire first step to changing your lifestyle and perhaps saving your life.  Are we in such a hurry these days that we are continuously using frozen foods and fast foods as our normal staple in meal preparations and substitutions?  I watched when an aunt was home alone and she was constantly eating frozen foods....and they are filled with sodium.  Definitely not what an aging person needs in their daily diet.  Have we really stopped the way we prepare our meals on a whole? 
Do we really think that these signs of poor health will just magically disappear?  I think for most of us...the answer may be yes.  We complain about the rising cost of medicine and hospital and medical care, yet we are for the most part not thinking about how what we do on a daily basis affects us.  Those of us who have been raised eating certain types of food because of our ethnic backgrounds, usually don't change it or think it is wrong for us...because it is what  we think is good since it is what we are raised up on.  Why would we question it unless we we were in a nutritional class or field of business. 
I think that we need to pay closer attention to what our bodies are saying to us.  I think that if we have to huff and puff around...we need to find out why.  And when we find out why, we need to not turn the other way and run.  We need to deal with it head on.  I think if the scale is reaching a point of us not being able to stand on it any more because it doesn't go past a certain number...we need to look at our diets and not look into the refrigerator.  If we are depressed over some issues, then we need to find someone to help us out of them.  We cannot find help if we don't seek it out. 
The final remark on this is that...no matter how difficult and daunting a problem or health issue might seem...along with doing something to change it...seek out others who understand and can share with you their strengths.  It is like the old saying of one bamboo can easily  break, but put a group of them together and they won't break...Find help in numbers....make up you mind today to make a change for the better....it may just save a life...and that life may be yours. 

A Rock Girl Party

Good morning to all.  I hope that your weekend went as you had planned.  It was a lovely weekend here in the Chicago land area and promises to be a great couple of days coming. This morning I am off and running a few errands and will return to the painting table. 
Today's blog is about birthdays.  I called my daughter Sunday to wish her a happy birthday.  She turned 38 years old.  I cannot believe where those years have gone.  As we spike on the phone, she told me she was having a wonderful day.  They were having quite a number of new friends over.  You see, they have recently moved to Texas.  I was so thrilled to hear her so happy.  It made me go back in time to think of all the birthday party's that I have given her through the years.  I thought about one in particular.  It was the year that we moved into a new home.  I was concerned that she might not have too many friends being that we hadn't been there very long.  But, my girls had made fast friends.  So on her 4th birthday, we had a Rocker girl party.  Every one was to come dressed up as a rock star.  It was the time when Madonna and Cyndi Lauper were so popular.  It was such a blast to see those young ladies all dressed up in sparkles and colors.  Their hair was all ratted up and makeup was on to the hilt.  They sparkled from head to toe. 

I wanted to make it special, so I made some bowls out of old record albums.  I melted them over an aluminum bowl in the oven. I filled them with chips and popcorn.  I used a record album at each place setting for a charger...I know, kids that age never realized it was a charger, but it just made the table look great.  I made special mattes with all kinds of cut outs on it from pop magazine and then took each girls photo and put it inside the matte and framed it.  They loved the opportunity to pose like they were an actual movie star.That was a souvenir to take home to remember the day.  Things like necklace and jewelry were scattered all about the table and had made little bags full of lipstick candy and appropriate gifts.  We plays silly games and they danced to music by Madonna and Lauper.  I think back today about how much fun that party was for me!  I still glance at those pictures and cannot help but smile!  They are so sweet and thought they looked so grown up and like the  Rock Star they were portraying.  Well, really, on that day, in my eyes, they pretty much were.  Each year I tried to make my daughters birthdays special with some type of themed party.  It was a gift to me to see their smiles and happy faces. I often wonder whether those parties ever come to their minds.  I hope so! As time has passed and they are no longer living here, it is a lonely day thinking of them on their special day, but I stop and think back on some of their past birthdays and celebrate the days that we were together!  I guess I will always think of them as my little girls....even if they are 38 and almost 37!

The meaning of "I don't Give a Rat's A$$"

Well good morning to everyone.  I hope that your weekend is going well and that you are getting everything you wanted accomplished.  Next weekend is Memorial Day and an extra day or two to the weekend.  I am sure you already have many plans awaiting you.   I am looking forward to the many things I need to do and will share as the week progresses. 
Well, I suppose you are wondering about today's topic.  I must say...it is one that is a little off center for me...but it was so funny and yet not funny, that I felt I needed to share this story. 
Now, I suppose you all may have heard of the phrase " I don't give a rat's a$$!" before.  I was interested in where such a phrase even came from or even why it exists.  Well, I looked it up and discovered that during the middle ages, rats were responsible for the transfer of fleas that carried the deadly BLACK PLAGUE. A bounty was placed upon each rat that was caught. Since it was not necessary to produce the entire rat as proof of capture, the rat's hind quarters were cut from the body - leaving only the tail and the "ass". The amount paid by the local governments were so low however, they were almost worthless. Hence the phrase- "not worth a rat's a$$"!
Now that I know where it came from...I have to tell you...it has nothing to do with the story...but just a bit of information. 
The story was shared by my friend to me the other day and still has me laughing just picturing the site!  Although, I must say, I won't be laughing if I were in that situation!  She has a home in the city of Chicago that also has a back house.  This basically a garage that they had turned into an additional home for their son many years ago.  Now a days, this is used as a room where her 2 handicapped grandsons play.  It has been set up for them with all that they need to get exercise and play in a safe and healthy environment.  Her daughter helps her and in fact has been trained to do so. The other day, they were in the back house and my friend needed desperately to relieve herself in the bathroom.  She would normally have walked across the back yard to her home and used her own facilities in the house, but on this particular day...she really needed to go BAD!!!  She very quickly ran into the bathroom, shut the door and upon reaching the commode, pulled down her pants and as she began to squat down, looked back and staring back from the commode....was a RAT!  It was sliding around back and forth trying to exit the toilet.  She was in such a panic that she started to scream for her daughter....who yelled back that she was busy at the moment with the children.  She continued her screaming until she switched names and began to scream for her husband who was in the yard.  She was frozen in stance and was in such a panic mode...that a woman who is normally capable of just about anything, could think of nothing to do!  All she knew was....she needed to go to the bathroom.  Luckily she did not just plop down or she might have had a rat in her A$$!   Once her husband and daughter got to the bathroom and saw what was going on, she continued in panic mode repeating that she needed to GO!!!  Her daughter handed her an empty cottage cheese container to use for relief...if you get me drift, while her they scoop up the rat and disposed of it.  Her husband explained how it might have come up through the sewer.  The thought of this is absolutely an unimaginable thing.  Her husband said the the vermin couldn't have done anything and couldn't get out because it's legs were too short!  I asked her why she didn't slam down the toilet seat on it?  Or why didn't she think to flush the toilet?  She had no answer to either question....just that she panicked and just couldn't think straight! 
Well, I can honestly say that from this day forward, I will indeed look inside the commode each time I dare tp use it. 
As I researched a little further...here is some useful information to share as well.  
when it comes to toilets, you do have a problem if your john is at ground level or in the basement--that is, where the soil pipe runs horizontally or at a very shallow angle to the sewer. Rats are good underwater swimmers, and it's no problem--believe it or not, they actually have movies of this--for rats to stroll along a horizontal soil pipe from the sewer, swim through the water-filled piping inside the toilet, and emerge in the toilet bowl. If the soil pipe runs vertically for five or six feet or more, though, you're probably safe.
I underline the word "probably." I have a note here from a Teeming Millionth employed as a janitor who claims that every rat he has ever found in a toilet during his professional career was in a top-floor apartment. From this he deduces that the rats get up on the roof, enter the soil pipe through the roof vent, and lower themselves down the pipe and into the john. Screening off the roof vent supposedly cures the problem.   Just in case you give a Rats A$$!  LOL!

First Communion and the Mumps

Good morning to all.  Another weekend is upon us.  I am looking forward to the day.  The sun is shining outdoors...I am just a little nervous to step out for fear that the sun is deceiving me and it is probable quite cold out there.  I have to sit down and do some sketching today, but there are also seashells sitting on my table that are half painted santas and are calling out to me to come and finish them.   What to do, what to do?  There are so many choices.  I am hoping that I can take some of the plants out for some sun today.  My kitchen counter is loaded with seedlings. 
As for todays blog, I have decided to go back in time to when I made my communion.  It was quite the confusing day for me.  You see, I had awoken with the mumps the morning I was to make my first holy communion. 
Now thinking about diseases in current day, you don't hear of the mumps anymore, where when I was 7 it was just one of those diseases you just got.  The question was usually not whether you would get them, but when. 
Well, I was the special one!  On one of the most important days in my life.  I mean, if you are not Catholic, you may not grasp the importance of this day.  But to a little girl, wearing that special white dress and white veil that made you look just like a miniature bride, was quite a BIG deal.  I can remember the days and the hours it took to find just the right dress.  My dress was all layered in lace ruffles.  There was a crown of flowers with a veil attached.  White party hose...now that was really a big deal and white patent leather shoes.  I received a special crystal rosary along with a prayer book, handkerchief and white gloves.  I was to be a vision in white!   
On the morning of my communion, I awoke with the mumps.  There I was, all puffed up like a chipmunk.  I couldn't imagine that all the rehearsals, procession practices and studies would have been wasted.  I couldn't imagine that I would make my communion with every one else.  But to my surprise, my mother had me get dressed and took me to church.  I joined all the other children and marched down the aisle of St. Stanislaus B & M's long church aisle in a picture of white.  Thinking back now...I can't quite understand why my mom allowed me to be with all those people.  I am not sure that I would have done the same should I have been the mom.  I remember going to Edward Fox studio's after the communion for my Communion Portraits.   They are quite the portraits... I looked like a little chipmunk. Then home for the party.  Now, once I returned home, I was not allowed to leave the house...because I had the mumps!  Quite the confusing concept for a seven year old.  Everyone in our family came over.  All my Aunts and cousins.  Family friends as well.  I sat on laps of Aunts and took lots of pictures with everyone there...but I wasn't allowed outside the house.  I stared out the window as my friends from the neighborhood, who also made their communion with me, paraded up and down the streets showing off their communion clothes.  There I sat, in my gorgeous white dress and would never get to wear it again.  I mean...who wears their communion dress after the fact.  It is the same with a bridal gown.  You just don't wear it again after the day.  I was very saddened by that.  I guess that is why it was hard for me to ever get rid of the dress.  In fact, it is still hanging in my closet.  Yes, I still have the dress.  In fact, I still have both of my daughters communion dresses still hanged next to mine.  I  can't seem to bear to let go of them.  I remember the day that my girls made their first communions and how special of a day that was!  They looked so pure and innocent and I was so proud to have the opportunity to see them on that alter.  In fact, by the time my girls made their communion, things had changed and the parents went  up to the alter to stand behind  to watch.  It was really a very special time.  I suppose that it might be time to give up the dresses.  Perhaps I will cut up some piece and make something special from the lace of my dress.  It is certainly silly to hang on to it....I am certainly not going to wear it!  But, oh the memories of that day.  I did get to wear it once more after the communion and it was for the May crowning.  Funny how that blog yesterday stirred up so many memories. 

May Crowning

Good morning to everyone.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw a picture from a friend who's dog had some snow flakes on his fur this morning.  It is the 16th of May and there is snow in sections of Northern Illinois.  This is probably the latest in the season that I have ever remembered snow to occur in these parts.  It is, I am sure, quite the worry for many of the gardeners out in our neck of the woods.  I am glad that I have yet to have planted any of my vegetables yet.  My grow lights are shining down on them and keeping them safe for the moment. 
It is hard to think about May with snow in mix of things, but I was remembering my childhood and how the May crowning and really, the entire month of May growing up was a very special time.  I went to a Catholic School as a young girl and May was the month of the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the mother of Jesus.  In school, there was always a statue of her in our classrooms.  It was an honor and we believed, a blessing to bring flowers to school to place in the vase for Mary.  Now, May was not the time for most flowers that could be carried in a bouquet to be brought.  At least that was the case at my house.  We had a large magnolia tree in the garden and loads of perrineals growing up...but not much blooming yet.  I always wanted to take some flowers to school, but really didn't have any that could be picked.  So, I would go over to a neighbors house that was 3 doors down.  It belonged to an elderly couple with the last  name of Ciehowski.  They had a great big lilac bush on the side of their front porch.  Each May, I would ring their doorbell and ask for permission to cut some of the lilacs for a bouquet to take to school for Mary.  They never refused the request.  Thinking back now, they were probably pleased to be asked instead of someone just coming along and cutting some down.  To this day, I remember their generosity towards me.  Sometimes in life, it is the small things that stay with you your whole life. 
Well, also in the month of May, there was the May crowning.  now I went to st. Stanislaus B & M in Chicago and it was a big celebration including a procession to the outdoor garden down the block next to the school to crown the huge statue of Mary.  A very tall ladder was needed to accomplish this.  Their was what the nuns called, a court of girls chosen to walk with the girl to do the crowning.  A beautiful crown of flowers was carried on a pillow similar to the one a rind bearer would carry.  It was always one of the communicants that was chosen to crown Mary.  The entire school was gathering in groups for the procession that went all the way around the block and ended up in the garden.  It was always such a beautiful day.  All the communicants wore their white dresses and their dark suits.  We walked and we sag the song for the crowning called Sing of Mary.  It was all about bringing the flowers to crown her with. 
As I tried to recall the songs title, I asked my husband...well, that was an awakening.  I could remember the words and the melody and he looked at me and told me when he was a boy he was wishing to be somewhere else...perhaps doing something to honor St. Michael, because he was the guy with the swords...LOL...I never thought about how the boys viewed the May crowning.  Goes to show you the difference between us. 
Well, I remember being chosen to do the crowning.  What an honor it was. The best way to describe how I felt at the time was as though this job was like walking into the pearly gates of heaven. It was the highest honor one could have as a young girl. 
So, I began to wonder when this all began.  I traced it back to the year 1818 when at least twenty churches began this devotion to Mary.  Although the month of May was designated to honor her in the 1700's, the crowning did not begin until then.   I will see even until this day, announcements of crowning on billboards at the Catholic Churches.  I am happy to see that some traditions are still a part of todays society,  and each time I see a lilac bush. I cannot forget those days long ago.  I remember how the generosity and kindness of a neighbor allowed me the privilege of presenting flowers to Mary. It may have been just a statue...but to me...I always felt that I stood in the presence of the mother of Christ and what an honor that was.

A Family Restaurant called Cibo Raccanto

Good evening, I know that I am quite late on the blog today, but the day was swept away and I was not near a computer until just now.  I have worked on painting with a dear friend, testing out a new surface to use.  A day spent in laughter, smiles, inspiration and friendship.  Nothing gets better than that.  There are some people in this world that you have to work very hard on making a friendship work and fortunately for me, this relationship is pure pleasure.  I am so grateful to have such a great friend in my life that shares my love for creativity.  I learned so much from her and hopefully, I was able to give back a little something to her. 
On my way home from her home, and after a discussion with my husband, I realized that I didn't need to hurry home to make dinner, so I stopped at Cibo Raccanto Restaurant in Rosemont.  It is located on Touhy just west of Manheimn.  I have frequented this restaurant many times and this evening I was privaledged with meeting the owner.  He approached me to make sure I was enjoying my meal.  I told him I was and then engaged in a very nice conversation.  Now, if you happen to live in this area...or even nearby, I highly recommend taking a trip to this establishment.  Their menu is quite vast and the quality and taste is top notch.  Now I am not a food critic, but I do know what is good and what is not.  I have yet to have been disappointed by this quaint and charming, antique ceiling establishment.  With the sounds of Frank Sinatra serenading though the speaker system and the smells from the kitchen are all part of the wonderful experience in this place of business.  The platters are quite full and if you have ordered a meal that comes with their homemade rolls you are truly in for a treat.  Once you are finished with your main meal, you can walk over to the Gelato cooler and drool over all the wonderful choices available, and if treat isn't what you might be craving, then there is a choice of delightful baked goods. 
When you visit this establishment, it as though you feel like mom has made you a special meal fit for a king or queen. The family is working an deserving you as well and not only are there meals delightful, but they also own the company that owns the company that makes the noodles and the sources that you find in the grocery stores.  So from start to finish, this family is ready to serve and please their customers.  A delightful treat for anyone.  I hope that if you are in that area you will take my recommendation and stop in for a meal you won't forget. 

Researching Dunning

Good morning to everyone.  Well, it is mid week, the weather has dropped drastically, so I am grateful that I had the opportunity the other day to continue working on the story about Dunning.   This is a time where I am reaching out to anyone who may have lived in this area or know some of the stories or history behind this place.  Please if you have anything to share please post it in the comment section, or feel free to send me a note through my email at thestoryspinners@att.net.  For those of you who are not at all familiar with Dunning, it was mostly known as The insane asylum located in Chicago at Irving Park and Narragansett.  
Well, my adventure the other day took me into the cemeteries to search out where the Crazy Train may have gone through.  You see, the tracks to the train no longer exist.  I found the area that I assumed may have been the remnants of where the tracks went through...perhaps part of the platform.  I also discovered what may have been the pieces to the benches that may have been on the platform for the riders to await the train.  After scouting through one cometary and questioning an old closed up building,(which I may think may have been a station), I then proceeded to the next cemetary.  Upon some discussion in the office, I was drawn a simple map to where they think the train may have gone, but were not sure.  Well, I traveled along the map and sure enough, I discovered the same pieces that looked the the ones I found in the first cemetery.  I then cruised the area, only to find the most disorganized gravestones I had ever witnessed.  I found loads of water damage to many which confirms some of my research of how the train and rains damaged the area over 100 years prior.  I searched the stones to find graves that were the first in the cemetery.  This also lined up with my research.  What an exciting afternoon.  Prior to this trek through the cemetary, I revisited the memorial site that has been dedicated to the over 38,000  souls interned with out their names.  The bodies are from the poor house, the orphanage, unclaimed bodies from the Chicago Fire, unclained Civil War soldier Veterans and the Tuberculosis Center.  I walked the grounds with great saness in my heart.  I pondered over the markers which are being washed away and the knowledge of these poor souls being lost in time.  I would like to put all I have into making a living history as a tribute to them.  I have gathered information from all areas, plus have put my feet into the search as well.  Last night, I uncovered a map which places the railroad and the actual stations which ended at the Dunning location.  As I went over the map, I uncovered the changes of the names of the streets from 1892 until now.  It was amazing information that needs to be researched even more.  I need to investigate whether any of the markers have been changed as to where the streets flowed.  I have walked the grounds where the previously existing buildings once resided.  I uncovered much more than I imagined and now need to continue the research.  Why am I so interested you might wonder?  Because it is a piece of history that has faded away.  Perhaps a piece that was not necessarily one to have been proud of...loads of scandle perhaps?  I am determined to give those souls some additional recognition.  I am determine to make the public aware of what once was...not just what is.  So, if you have a story, a piece of information or even remember anything about the area....I implore you to share with me.  One day, the gates were opened and those left in Dunning were let free to roam without any remorse or consideration.  But those who remained in those grounds still have a story to tell. 

A Trip Back to Italy in Chicago and Cicero

Good morning to everyone.  What a morning this is.  It has cooled down substantially outside today.  Yesterday's temperatures were in the high 80's and today we are expected to reach 64.  I am not at all complaining...except I would like to see the sun come up.  It is cool, but due to the large volume of rain that fell yesterday..quite humid.  
Well, today's blog is about a trip back in time and ethnicity.  For the almost 40 years of  my marriage, there are a few places that I have continued to shop and eat.  It is a bit of a trek for me, but you cannot compare what you get, so the trip is definitely worth the travel.  So yesterday, I decided to make journey.  
Around noon, my husband and I got into the car and started off.  It isn't a long ride to the first stop...only about 35 minutes and then another 20 minutes further to the second...but oh the journey we had.  
Our first destination was to a place called Serrellis.  It is located on North Ave, just west of Nagle in Chicago.  Serrelli's in my opinion has always had the absolute best Italian beef in its Italian juice.  It can be purchased in containers starting at one pound up to 5 pounds.  It is the most delicious roast beef I have ever had...not too spicy, loaded with beef in the container...not just mostly juice as you would find when you purchase other containers of beef elsewhere.  When you walk into this Italian Deli, the first thing that smacks you is the aroma.  In this small family owned store are a few small aisles filled with shelves of pasta and refrigerated cases of beef and other items like meatballs in gravy and frozen pastas.  At the back of the store, there stands the meat and deli counter.  Behind the butcher counter sits some of the best looking meats I have ever seen.  
I went directly to the refrigerated doors and removed the second to the largest container of beef, grabbed some Italian buns and was confident that I had enough beef for a number of meals.  I would separate and freeze once I returned home and anxiously awaited dinner.  
Well, once I was there, the next trek took us west to Oak Park Ave, where we then headed South towards Oak Park Ave.  This is a pleasant trip and one we have graced many times before.  As we drove through Oak Park, we commented about the beautiful houses and the history there as we did when we were first married...almost 40 years ago and we were still appreciating the trip and the surroundings.  Once we were exited the city of Oak Park, we entered into Cicero.  We continued our drive South to 16th St., and then headed East to Freddy's.  Now if you have never been to Freddy's in Cicero...get out your calendar and plan the trip.  This place is amazing.  Freddy's story is amazing.  You can read about it on their website...but 49 years ago..a young man walked into this Italian grocery store...asked the owner for a job. The owner said he wasn't hiring.  The young man told him to let him work there a week without pay and let him see how hard he would work...needless to say, the young man stayed and 5 years later bought the establishment and moved it down to where it sits today and opened a full Italian deli with homemade pizzas, pastas and every Italian meal you could imagine.  All homemade and cooked on the premises.  And to top it all off...you can have your choice of homemade Italian Ice or Gelato.  The best I have ever had.  Freddy's make their own pasta's and are in the freezer section.  They even make their own salamis, sausages and cheese.  When you walk into this small store...you would imagine that you are in Italy with the salami's hanging from the hooks.  Once you reach the counter, your eye is greeted with a bevy of some of the finest Italian dishes to choose from.  They have an outdoor and an indoor area with tables and chairs to sit and enjoy your chosen selections.  We choose some pizza and some tomatoes with arugala and mozzarella chunks lathered with some of the most delicious balsamic vinergarette on top.  Then, to top off this delightful meal we partook in some of the Italian ice.  My husband had a creamsicle and I partook in the chocolate.  It brought back memories of when I was a child and was able to enjoy a chocolate Popsicle.  What a wonderful trip to what seemed like a vacation to Italy for me.  So, if you are in this area...don't think twice about these two wonderful small, family owned Italian Food Stores.  

Water Bottles...not exactly what you may think!

Good morning to everyone.  The weekend is gone and another work day appears.  Today, the temperatures are predicted to reach 87 degrees here in the Chicago land area...with major storms anticipated.  I can indeed attest to the storms approaching.  When I awoke, I could barely move because of the pain caused by the changes in the barometric pressures. A few hours later, when my husband woke, he walked into the living room and bid me a good morning...I just looked at him with a half grin and responded...all I can say today is "morning"!  For those who don't quite understand fibromyalgia or psoriatic arthritis...let me educate you...the humidity and the changes in the pressure with weather can be extremely painful to one suffering from the fore mentioned diseases.  So, if you have these as well...we will have to just try a little harder to get through this day!  I pulled out my water bottle this morning, placed it on the bottom of the lower back...I am just about ready to fill another couple for the neck and the shoulder.  I will there were heat pads that could be placed on the hands like gloves.   I may have to pull out the paraffin waxer ad do my hands today as well.
Well, that leads me to the topic for today.  I imagine some of you may not quite know what a water bottle is.  You see, in my youth, it was the only option available to heat up an area.  Now, that was not it's only function as I will explain as the story continues.  I imagine for many, you thought of the plastic water bottle that you drink out of...but back in my day...you either drank from the faucet or the garden hose.  There were no other options.  In those days, a water bottle was made from a thick rubber with a screw in top.  You would fill the object with very hot (not boiling) water.  We would use it to place on sore joints.  It was used as well when a young lady suffered from stomach cramps from her periods.  Now, it was also used as a heating source.  When I was a young girl, the home I resided in with my mom and grandparents only had a small space heater to warm the entire house and it was placed in the kitchen.   That meant, the only room with real heat was the kitchen.  During the winter, my grandmother would fill 3 water bottles up and place them strategically at the foot center and just below the pillow on my bed, under the blankets and comforter.  This would warm up the bed and once I was ready to get into the bed...Gram would remove the 3 bottles and place one new hot one at the bottom of my feet.  This kept me toasty warm throughout the night. 
Now, in my house there were water bottle aplenty.  In fact, at least one was always hung up on the wall in the bathroom, along with all it's connective tubes.  Now, I am sure you are now questioning the tubes...right?  Well, you see, a water bottle was also the way that an enema was given as well.  The water bottle was filled with lukewarm water and soap.  The tube connector was screwed in and the tubes were attached to it.  There was a piece on the tube that could be turned to allow the water to flow or turned off to stop the flow of liquid.  At the end of the tube was a piece that was placed in the end of your backside. The water bottle hung up, the tube once properly placed was turn on and the water solution flowed until you couldn't hold any more and then was turned off.  You waited a bit until all was ready to exit.  Hence, you went through phase one of an enema.  Now, in my day...if you complained that your stomach was upset...this was the way that my grandmother took care of it.  She was under the belief that a clean colon meant a healthier body.  It was much, much later in life that I realized that this was the treatment often suggested by Edgar Cayce.  It is also today's holistic approach as well.  Today, unlike in my day, you can even go and have colonics done.  Pretty much the same process, but with a greater volume of water.  I have even read about coffee enemas as well.  They are supposedly the best. 
It is funny to me how times have changed. 
When I first got married, my mother in law lived in a home that had radiators.  On the radiator, she always kept a sew tube like bag that was filled with sand.  That is what she used on her bones and joints when they ached.  In summer it would sit on the window in the sun to get warmed. 
Since electricity and the invention of the microwave, we have electric heating pads and rice or flax seed filled material bags in various shaped to put around or on top of sore joints.  Only difference is....you now need electricity or an electric appliance to prepare it.  A water bottle works just as well;, and you don't have any cords hanging around.  It is portable and can travel well and doesn't add much weight to your luggage.
But the biggest thing here for me is that most of the people walking around today will not have any idea of what an old fashioned water bottle is anymore.  Times....they are a changing!

Forgiveness

Good morning to everyone.  Well, to all who are moms...I want to wish you a Happy Mothers Day.  What a beautiful day. Working today with the Alzheimers.  Great way to spend the day. 
Well, today's blog is about Forgiveness.  I know that it might seem like an unusual topic for mother's day, but I thought about how many times a mother must have to forgive.  As I thought back in my life, I considered all the times that my mother and even my grandmother and I were at odds.  We had differences of opinions as most mothers and daughters do.  There may have been quiet times where we didn't speak.  Words seem get choked back.  But fortunately, they always seemed to forgive and forget. 
Late last night, I received a call from my daughter. First, I must tell you that it was VERY late last night, but my youngest granddaughter was ill and so she was keeping me updated.  As the conversation progressed, we  discussed so many things in life.  She had given me more compliments about being a good mom...words I had really never thought I would ever hear.  She also shared her inner most thoughts about her sister and how she misses her.  She told me that she would love to reach out to her, but doesn't want that to hurt me.  I told her that happiness is all I want for them both.  If she felt that it was the right thing and time to do it...then she should follow her heart.  I explained to her that I had learned to forgive and that I did that long ago.  All a mother ever wants is for the children to be happy and sometimes that takes courage. 
When I look at life and some situations, so much pain and hurt goes to the grave with so many.  It is far better to work it out together than alone, after one has passed away!  There is a movie than always sticks in my mind...it is Heidi with Shirley Temple.  Growing up it was always one of my favorites.  In the story, the Grandfather gets custody of his granddaughter, Heidi.  Long before her arrival, his son and he had a disagreement about who he loved and wanted to marry.  The man forbade  the marriage, but the son married anyway.  The towns people took the side of the son and the Grandfather...so angered by the betrayal, kept himself on the mountain away from everyone.  The son married the girl and left and the father and son were never reunited.  The son and his wife were killed and now the child, Heidi, comes to live with the Grandfather.  It is hard for him to  open his heart because he not yet forgiven the son for the act of the so called betrayal.  Eventually, Heidi opens his heart and upon one evening, she brings him a book to read.  It is a bible for children. The story is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  She cannot read most of the words and asks her grandfather to help read the story.  As he reads the story of the son who goes away and returns  and the father gives him the finest of coats and opens his arms to him, she notices that the grandfather knows the story by heart.  He realizes his need for forgiveness.  Not only does he proceed in his heart to forgive his son but also forgives the town people.  It is upon that moment of forgiveness that so much love is shown by all.  For me, it shows that holding onto to grudges and not forgiving closes you away from the world and those that are in it.  Forgiveness opens the doors. 
So if today, there is someone that you need to forgive, my advice would be to take that step.  Even if the person you forgive doesn't return to the fold, the act of forgiving opens your heart and releases all that you have harbored for perhaps too long.  I would rather go to my grave with a heart who has forgiven and is sad than with a heart that is angry and mad.  Mothers and children.  A mother carries a baby next to her heart for the 9 months and keeps it there all her life.  No matter what happens...good times, sad, times, hard times, that child remains next to her heart until her dying day. 
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