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My Blog

July 2013

The Mirror's Reflection

Good morning to everyone.  Hope that this blog finds you all well.  Humid and damp here in the Chicago land area.  Hoping to get through what us fibromyalgia sufferers call...a condition for pain.  But we must push forward.  
So, onto today's topic.  
I thought carefully about what reflection means, along with a mirror.  It is funny how the main word to this title should be perception.  To reflect means to look upon something, to ponder over.  Now I do understand how our reflection of ourselves appears in a mirror....but it is totally our perception that creates what we see? 
Perception, I believe begins at birth.  What we are told, taught, or how we are told something, changes the perception.  A calm knock at a door makes us perceive someone is there...a rapid knock on the door makes us perceive there is some urgency at the door.  The way a person makes a statement to us and how we respond, depends on the perception in the moment.  It is the variables that causes us to react to the statement.  The sound of that persons voice, perhaps the way they look at us when they speak the statement.  Oftentimes even the stance will change our perception of what they are saying.  How many times it can be wrong, because of the way we perceive it. 
I find that what we see in a mirror is the same way.  I have been looking in a mirror for almost 59 years and must say....my perceptions are really distorted.  It is almost like looking at the mirrors in the funny house.  When I stop and think about all the times I have looked into the mirror and found faults. 
I can remember 40 years ago, looking in a mirror and being unhappy with the way I looked.  I perceived that I was too heavy.  When I look back or reflect on those days...I was so small and perfect.  I wore a size 12 dress and was 5'9".  We all looked at Marilyn Monroe, who wore a size 12 and thought she was the sexiest woman walking the face of the earth.  She had the perfect body....really?  It was our perception of what she was....yet our reflection gave us something totally different.  I wonder how many times Marilyn looked at herself with her own perception of being imperfect.  I am sure just like the rest of us...it was there.  
I today see the reflection in the mirror staring back at me and am still not happy. 
If I could create something wonderful....it would be a truth mirror.  It would be the mirror that shows the real me.  Not the shell of me. 
I see that we all compare ourselves to what we see in the magazines, movies, etc.  It is all a perception. All those gorgeous photos, films are touched up.  If we looked at the reality of it...if we saw the everyday movie star or model...they would be no different than us.  they have the same inadequacies as we do.  
If you ever watched America's next top model, you would have an eye opening experience.  Here you have, what one considers the most beautiful girls competing to become the top model.  They have to get make overs, they have makeup artists, hair stylists, clothing designers and experts to get them ready.   They are put through training classes to learn to walk the walkways, how to dance, smile, laugh and to smize....that means to smile with your eyes.  They are the reflections of what we perceive them to be.  But each and everyone of them have imperfections.  They all have issues of one kind or another.  When these beautiful girls look at themselves in the mirror...their reflections are not the same as what we see. 
When I think back on the movie SNOW WHITE.  I remember the phrase that the queen spoke into the mirror.  "Mirror, mirror on the wall...who's the fairest of them all"  We perceived that statement as the most beautiful....the queen was beautiful, but her clothing, demeanor, made her unappealing.  Was the mirror being asked who was the most beautiful?  NO.  Is was asking for the fairest.  The most beautiful of heart.  That is why the Queen  wanted Snow White's heart cut out and brought back to her.  Was that the message we got?  No...a mirror reflects what we look like...not who we are.  They called her Snow White...white is significant of pure...not beautiful.
Is there any mirror or reflection that we can see who we really are or what we really look like?  I think that would be the mirror called someone who loves you.   it would be found in their eyes.  Those who see who you for who you really are.  Perhaps it is your spouse who sees you as the most beautiful person that walks the earth.  Perhaps it is a friend who cherishes you for who you really are.  Do you pick a friend because of the way they look, or because of the way their heart looks?  Do divorces happen because the person looks ugly..or has their heart turn black?   
When ones breaks a mirror, it is supposed that you will have 7 years of bad luck....I think that would be 7 years of bliss!  A time to not judge yourself.  A time to use true reflection of who you really are. 
I find it interesting that we refer to our reflections in a mirror.  When we look into that mirror it is a quick judgment not a reflection.  To me, reflection is taking me back...overlooking what has been done.  A reflecting pond is made to sit by and reflect on a topic, a person or object.  That is not what we do when we look into the mirror.  I think we would be much better off at the reflecting pond.  Perhaps we would consider ourselves worthier.  Perhaps we would recall all the wonderful things and attributes that we have.  We might remember how we got from there to here and who we had with us along the way. 
Too many of us are damaged by the reflections that we perceive the mirror shows and spend a lifetime trying to make ourselves perfect for the mirror.  And for some, the mirror is the world.  Look at the world...it is not all that perfect...there is nothing that is the same anywhere.  No snowflake that is the same.  New waters rush in every second in the ocean. Watch the sun setting on the water and it's reflection changes constantly...but is breathtaking non the less.  Let yourself become that sunset.  Let each moment of your life reflect the beauty that is naturally there.  Let yourself enjoy the moments.   

Being Mrs. Claus

Good morning to all my faithful readers and to all my new ones as well.  Great day here in the Chicago land area. I have a meeting to attend with Salvation Army today.  I always look forward to attending and spending time with the women there.
As to todays topic, I imagine most people would wonder what I could say about being Mrs. Claus.  Well, as one of my characters, I have taken on being Mrs. Claus.  It stated about 13 years ago and have blossomed through the years.  I do a craft faire in Glenview at The Grove and thought it would be a wonderful addition for the ambiance there.  I could sit behind my desk while I personalize ornaments.  It was an instant hit.  Both with any children that came through and oddly enough with the adults as well.  They commented on how having Mrs. Claus there only added to the charm of the show.  Great comments to hear after having invested in the material costs and getting someone to make the costume for me.  I didn't want to purchase one of the cheaper models. 
Now through the years, Mrs. Claus has also become one of my many characters for storytelling as well.  It is quite fun to drive around in what I call the reindeer mobile with the attached red hose on the hood of my car and the antlers attached to the top at the windows.  This year I purchased Solar lights to circle around a wreath to add as well. 
Well, the thing that I cherish the most about being Mrs. Claus are the times and events with the children.  I have so many stories that I would love to share that have actually made me almost, at times, forget that I am not really Mrs. Claus.  No, I am still in reality...it is just so nice to have the effect on children...I almost wish I were actually the real thing. 
One day, as the house I am in where the craft faire is held was bustling with noise from the shoppers.  I had two young children who seemed to be about 5 and 6 years old standing at my desk.  Their mother was in the check out line with her purchases, which gave the children time to chat with me.  They were all excited, telling me their list of what they wanted for Christmas.  They asked questions about the reindeers...how did I get here from the North Pole, where was Santa and what was he doing?  Well, the answers were pretty automatic for me...since the show was in a National Historic Landmark with wooded areas everywhere on the 124 acres of land, I simply told them that the reindeers brought me down for the day and that they were told to hide out in the woods until it was time for us to leave for the night. I included that they should keep their eyes open because sometimes the reindeers like to watch the people and come out and show themselves....being  wooded property...the reality was that you might often see deer.  I told them Santa was busy preparing for Christmas and keeping the elves on track working up on the North Pole, that is why he sent me to visit and check up on the children. When children ask me how Santa knows if they have been good or bad...I have my story down pat...I tell them that Santa has this huge magic ball and when he taps it three times and says their name out loud, the appear in the ball and he sees all they do.    Well, when their mother was finished checking out at the register, she told them it was time to go.  They said good bye to me.  I told them not forget the cookies and milk for Santa and they caught up with their mom.  As they reached the exit, the boy yelled "STOP" and ran away from his mother back to my desk.  His little hands were just about trembling, with a sparkle in his eyes...he looked at me and with a quiver in his voice said to me..."Can I have your autograph?"   I signed a piece of paper and happily off he went.  It was such a special moment that I will never forget!  The innocence of children...and the unbelievable feeling I got from them. 
There was another time when a young boy...I must say he was perhaps 10 years old, approached my desk and began to talk to me.  I asked him if there was anything he perhaps wanted me to tell Santa when I went home that evening.  He looked me straight in the face and declared that there was no Santa.  "What?"  I argued..of course there was a Santa and proceeded to ask him why he thought other.   He told me the boys at school told him it was just your mother and father.  They just pretended to be Santa.  I looked at this sweet chubby little tike and said..."Hmmm..do you know why they told you that?"  Puzzled, he looked at me and asked me why.  My response was "Well, Santa only goes to good girls and boys, and if they hadn't been so good, Santa wouldn't have visited them, and they were so embarrassed they made up a story about there being no Santa Claus."  Now he was puzzled and thought he would test me out!  He said...well, then I will come and visit on the North Pole and check it out!!  I turned with such excitement and said "Oh, how wonderful.....do you like ice cream?  On the North Pole it snows everyday and Santa makes ice cream everyday out of the snow and comes into my kitchen and grabs my Maple syrup and adds it in the bowl with the snow.  I told him that was the reason for Santa being so round and always having such HOHOHO attitude!"  By now, the young man was salivating just thinking about the ice cream, when his mother called him and said it was time to leave.  He graciously said goodbye and ran to the door to leave with her.  As she placed her hand on the doorknob, the entire room who had heard our conversation....heard him ask her "Is she really Mrs. Claus?"   The very intelligent mother just turned to her son and said, "Well what did she tell you?"  And they exited the building.  We all burst into laughter.  I just smiled, because I thought that perhaps I gave that young man just one more year of believing in Santa Claus.  It is so rewarding to see that sparkle and joy in a child's eye that it is hard to try to compare it to anything else. 
Now another time, I needed to walk through the house and check on things.  As I was passing though a room, there stood a young mom and her 4 year old daughter.  They were facing the opposite direction and I overheard the mom speaking polish to her daughter...I walked up to them and bent over to greet the little girl and in her native tongue, which I was fortunate enough to know, told her "WESOIAT SWIANT" (Merry Christmas).  Her eyes just about bugged out from her face as did her mothers.  In that moment, I felt just like Santa in the movie Miracle on 34th Street. 
We have a system set up that the girls that are workers on the floor in the first room.  When a child comes into the house, they speak with them and tell them that Mrs. Claus is somewhere in the house and can't wait to talk to them.  they get their name and then write it on a sheet of paper with the child's hair color and the color of coat they are wearing.  There are so many rooms to go through before they reach where I am, that the worker has time to get the notes to me and when they walk into my room, I greet them by first name and both the child and the parent are startled and amazed.  Then of  course we chat a bit about whether they have been good or bad and if they are listening to their parents and picking up their toys and keeping their room clean.  They tell me what they want for Christmas.  It is just magical, to give them such a leap of faith and hope. 
The best story though is about a young boy who was adopted.  His mother shared that he was frightened of Santa, but not of me.  So he thought he could perhaps tell me his list to take home to Santa.  I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he then told me three things.  When I asked if there was anything else...he proceeded to tell me that Jesus only got three gifts on His birthday, so why she he get more than Jesus?"  Great mom!  The reason for the season.  They later adopted another boy, and the family has come for years.  They told me that I had become their Christmas tradition.  It doesn't get any more special than that!  My main statement in life is that I would like to be remembered long after I am gone from this world.  When telling my husband the story...he just commented "Well there you go...they will tell that story for generations to come...and you will live on!"  Being Mrs. Claus is one of the most wonderful persona's that I portray.  To think that a simple red dress with white fur can give so much joy in people's live.  Whether is makes the children happy or puts a smile on an adult.....it's keeps the Spirit of Christmas alive, and I am so glad to be part of it.

A Experience With Buffalo's

Good morning to all.  Hope your weekend was all that you wanted it to be.  I totally enjoyed working away at painting.  Getting things accomplished is such a great feeling!  Looking forward to this week and another adventure with my Red Hat Ladies.  We are going to visit Old World Wisconsin.  This will be a first for many of them...and it looks like the weather will be good...I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Now, on to today's story.  Not many can speak of visiting with buffalos.  Especially in the Midwest. 
My story starts with a visit to an Amish area called Shipshewana, Indiana.  My husband and I took our two granddaughters there for a couple days to enjoy the local fun.  Now, I must say that there is so much to enjoy if you just keep your eyes on the lookout and are a little adventurous. 
One day, while walking through one of the local stores, we noticed a restaurant that advertised Buffalo meals.  We had already eaten, but were all thirsty, so we went in to purchase a drink.  While there, I noticed  a sign advertising a tour to a Buffalo Ranch.  Now, who would ever imagine there was even such a tour. Well, it didn't take very long for me to purchase the 4 tickets for the very next day.  We were to arrive at the restaurant at 4 PM the next day to begin our adventure. 
We were all excited about the prospect of seeing something so unusual.  The tickets entitled us to a tour of a Buffalo Ranch, and then a Buffalo dinner back at the restaurant.  Now our Granddaughters were 2 and 6 years old.  We were thrilled to be able to show them something new that they could enjoy and talk about when they got home to their parents.  Well, let me tell you, this was definitely something that fit that bill.
When we arrived the next day, a gentleman greeted us at the front door.  We were escorted to a van and once seat belted in, off we went.  He was a pleasant gentleman in his mid fifties.  He drove us out to the ranch which was about 35 minutes away from the center of Shipshewana.  When we arrived at the ranch, I was in awe with it's size and beauty.  They had a beautiful country manor  with a magnificently groomed garden.  As we were instructed as to how the ride into his fields would go, the children had gravitated towards an area where they had spotted some brand new kittens.  The gentleman allowed them to pet them.  He informed us that they were 5 weeks old now. 
He asked us to wait while he went to get the wagon.  The children continued to play with the kittens, while I enjoyed the flowers.  It took about 5 minutes before he arrived driving a tractor with an attached hay wagon.  We climbed up this wooden step ladder onto the wagon and found a place on the bales of hay that edged the parameter.  The man started up his tractor and off we went.  We reached the entrance to the area where the buffalo roamed and he stopped the tractor, got off and opened the gate, got back on and pulled us through to the other side and once again got off and closed the entrance gates.  Now there was this long 10 foot wide road with white wood board fencing that we traveled down.  While we were riding the man gave us instructions.  He told us not to put our hands outside of the truck.  Do not attempt to pet the animals.  He told us that he did have feed for them.  They were a pellet of sorts that had been soaked in molasses.  At one point we would be allowed to feed the ones that dared to approach the wagon and instructed us how to place it in the hand and place the hand just up to the slats of the wagon.    We continued along the road which went about 150 ft. long. and then we made a turn and continued another 50 ft until we reached an open field where the Buffalo were roaming.  I must same, they are one big animal.  The closer the wagon got to them, the larger they grew.  Now, the man told us that buffalo are not the most friendliest of animals...while I listened, I questioned then to myself, why were touring them?.  Perhaps this wasn't such a great idea?  But if it was a tour...it must be fine.  We got to ask all sorts any questions that we had...like how tall they stood, how much they weighed, etc.   He told us that the average female weighs about 1000 to 1200 pounds and the males weigh about 1600 to 2000 pounds each.  They stand approximately 6'6" tall with a body that is 12 feet long.  Their heads were enormously wide.  When the wagon halted, we sat and waited.  Some of the animals ignored us completely, while there were a few that approached the wagon.  He then brought out the bucket of soaked pellets and put some in our hands as he then turned to demonstrate how to feed them through the slats.  Now we are all following his instructions completely, except of course for the 2 year old.  She wanted to pet the big furry things.  I did my best to keep her contained.  All went well and we were all quite pleased that we had such an amazing experience.  It was finally time to leave the area and return.  As the tractor pulled the wagon out of the open range and began it's journey back through the corral and out, the man was explaining to us that his buffalo were the mildest and gentlest around.  Most other Buffalo ranchers had trouble with their bulls fighting and not producing offspring.  As the man was telling his tale...we noticed two of the bulls starting to fight.  They began butting their enormous heads back and forth into each other.  He stopped the tractor and we all just stared at what was transpiring before our very own eyes.  He said he had never seen this happen before.   Before we knew it....the one took off with the other chasing after him.  BIG PROBLEM....because they were headed down the corral right towards us.  You could tell it was serious by the color change in the man's face, or perhaps I should say...colorless!  He quickly started up the tractor again and proceeded to drive quickly out and over as far to the right side of the corral as possible.  Now, quickly with a tractor meant maybe 3 MPH...And the buffalos were quickly gaining a lead.  I was petrified thinking about 4000 pounds hitting the wagon or turning on us!  I thought about the children.  The adults were too scared and the children were excited. I quickly thought what if something should happen, I would throw the children down on the bottom of the wagon and lay over them, that way, should the wagon get overturned, I would land on the ground and they would land on top of me and the hay and wagon on them.   Later, I discovered my husband was thinking of the same danger and had devised a plan...his was to through the kids over the fence to the other side....hmm...imagine kids on the other side of a fence with raging buffalo's.  Quickly  I learned that a quick thinker, my husband was not! 
Well, the Buffalo raced past the wagon, one after another as we sat still, holding our breath.  I was on the side of the wagon they raced past and felt their fur brush up against my back.  We didn't know what would transpire next.  There was another path in the corral and perhaps they would keep running and turn into that path, at least that was what we were hoping for.  But no, they stopped right in front of the tractor. They began butting heads again, back and forth.  Each butt brought them closer and closer to the wagon.  I was sure we were doomed.  We sat as still as possible....waiting...like sitting ducks...and then suddenly, the one took off and the other followed.  They did turn the path and run in another direction.  The man started up the tractor and as fast as that 3 MPH tractor could go...got us out of that corral. 
When we stepped out of the wagon, my feet trembled as the children giggled and laughed.  We watched those two bulls, the one had stopped suddenly at the troth to drink some water. The other patiently stood by watching, and then boom, the one stuck his horns into a rotting tree and pulled the tree up by its roots.  If that didn't tell you how strong he was, I don't know what would. 
Well, we were loaded back into the van and driven back to the restaurant for dinner.  We had plenty to talk about on the way back.  And there was even some justice to it all in the end.  For dinner, we partook in buffalo steaks and the children had buffalo burgers.  Talk about home on the range...they were on a different range later that evening!  We left full with  our stomachs full  and full of stories to tell for years to come!        

Confusion with the word :"SENIOR"

Good morning to all...I am so trilled to have had such a cool night to sleep.  This is probably the craziest summer I can every remember...but the cooler days are not so hard to handle.  I spent the day painting and working in my kiln as well.  The last few days were spent learning how to slump a wine bottle.  I finally got my first perfect one yesterday, Yippee!  if you don't know what a slumped wine bottle is...It is a melted down wine bottle that is then used as a cheese tray.  I am sure you have seen them in the stores.  I will making another one today. 
Well, on to today's story.  This is a great kick in the pants revelation for me.  It came to me, the word Senior and the difference in the meaning of the word.  I have no idea what provoked this direction of thought, but I must say, it was a surprise.
I started to think about how the word Senior is used in today's world.  We have Seniors in High School, Seniors in college, Seniors in Management, Seniors Officers, and the Senior Citizen.
Now,it seems to me that nothing has changed when it comes to being a senior in High School or College.  This is the position in school that is the highest level.  It is the position that is looked forward to.  It is a time when all the others in the school look up to you.  It a revered time when you are rewarded with a graduation, a diploma, a degree.  You are viewed as someone who put in the time and are acknowledged for it.  You are told you have a bright and cheery future ahead of you.  You are on your way to a new and exciting part of your life.  Others see the potential in you.  You are congratulated and rewarded. 
Now a Senior Officer is a rank that is looked upon with respect.  They are viewed as the person with training and background.  Someone you would go to for advice or help.  They have the power to make things happen in the branch or line of service.  They are revered as well, for the jobs well done. 
A senior in management is found in almost all types of businesses.  Lets take Senior VP of a bank.  They are rewarded not only with a title, but with benefits, a larger salary, respect, power, and are also accountable for others.  A Senior in any company, in fact.has the same type of reverence attached to them.
Then there is the Senior citizen.  They are the small guy.  They have worked hard their entire lives, yet they are no longer revered.  They are the set asides.  They are the invisible generation.  Upon their graduation of life, they are given no certificate other than a Medicare card which is meager, the increases are based on their salaries...sort of funny when you look at it from the woman's perceptive.  A woman who sacrificed years of hard work raising children and cooking and cleaning, acting as chauffer's, nurses, and caregivers are not rewarded for this time in their line of duty.  Often times they don't qualify for any compensations.  They are left to their own devices of what to do next...yet their years of life can often times disable that ability.  The public refers to it as the golden years, yet most seniors will agree that they are more tarnished than golden.  There are more than likely more ailments and health problems which delay enjoying the things they always wanted to do.  They are the ones who provided for their children...were on 24 hour call and often in the end barely are called or visited by their children and grandchildren.  For some, they are never able accomplish  going  on that special trip that they never were able to go on, because their responsibilities lied elsewhere.  When they are looked upon, it is often with a downward look.  They are too old to understand, too old to benefit someone, too old, too slow, can't hear well enough, hands can't open things, can't walk well, can't understand what the modern day is all about.   It is funny to me to see that somehow, the Senior Citizen is preyed upon, laughed upon and sneered upon.  Now I am not saying that all of the world has this outlook.  I am also not saying that every child or family member or young person on the street treats the Seniors this way, but that as a whole, becoming a senior citizen is not revered in the same manner as the previous fore mentioned titles.  It is odd then. that the title of Senior is used. How the title Senior is so revered in every other use except for the one affixed to the citizen.  It should be rewarded, regarded as well as revered.  It was just a mind blowing moment for me to look at that word, SENIOR. 
In some circles, I would be considered a senior, since the 55 years and older is now considered in some circles a Senior, yet I am still plugging away at work, still sacrificing time and energy on the children and grandchildren.  I may have titles or degrees earned for education and for accomplishments, yet for the sacrificial duties...I am left with an empty wall.  I know that what you do in life is up to you.  I surely have done all the things that I felt were the right things to do in life.  I gave my heart and my soul, my time and my energies to all those I love.  I may move slower these days, may become more tired quickly, may not hear as well, but I choose to keep moving on and forward.  Funny how the future looks brighter and brighter for the other realms of Senior positions with higher salaries and bonuses and the regular senior citizens get budget cuts and our bonuses come from a 10 to 15% discount on a certain day of the week.  It seems to me that perhaps Senior wasn't the proper title for the aging.  It was either the wrong title or it is the wrong viewpoint of society.  I am not here to make up anyone's mind on that, just here to present my thought for the day.  I will continue to rise above the view of being too old.  I regard my own self as vital and important.  I praise myself for jobs well done.  I take pride in my ability as a storyteller to remember hundreds and hundreds of stories.  I applaud the fact that even with ailments I forge ahead.  I have decided that for me...the medals that I have may be invisible, but are none the less....IMPORTANT.  I may not be able to see certificate hanging on the wall, but rather in the faces of the young and the old that I am able to touch.  The twinkle in a child's eyes, or the glimmer of hope and remembrance on an elders face.  If you are a Senior Citizen...here is one large standing ovation of applauds for you from me! 

Fear the #1 Enabler

Good morning.  What a nice cool day.  Wet, but cool.  I have a lot of work on my worktable that needs finishing this morning.  Started a number of paint projects and am hoping to get things finished so I can start up some more.  I know that if you read this blog and are familiar with me, you know that besides a storytelling, I am also an artist.  So there is much to do each day. 
I was inspired yesterday by a police officer in a class I took.  It was on scams and fear.  It was held in Park Ridge and I must say it was a wonderful class that they offered.  The particular officer was endearing, insightful, helpful and very funny.  This is really a person who you welcome as a speaker.  Doing storytelling, I can identify with his connection to the audience. 
Now the topic that the 2 hour session covered was scams and how they prey on the elderly.  There were lists and lists of scams being perpetrated out there.  Unfortunately fear is the number one thing that they prey upon, and fear is the number one thing that the person on the other side reacts with.  
He began his talk with one word...PERCEPTION....great analogy of the word accompanied it.  Your perception of what occurs can change how you react.  Whether the perception is audio or visual doesn't matter.  Fear tends to take over.  Fear is what the perpetrators use do get you to do things you don't want to do.  Spend money when you don't need to or give out your credit card numbers or CVC when you shouldn't. 
Phone solicitations....if you don't know who the caller is, and you have caller id...don't answer the phone...if they call you and you answer....your answer is at the end of your arm...just hang up. 
It was interesting to me to hear all the scams as well, from mail scams, to phone scams, utility scams and least we not forget the internet scams.  BEWARE!!! 
If you don't know someone...don't open up a random email...Don't give out your identifications. 
Be smart and don't be fearful was his message loud and clear...take a breath and think before you react.  How often, the unsuspected person can be easily duped was amazing to me.  How crime or fear can stalk you for the rest of your life.  There was a woman who was knocked over and had her purse stolen.  From that point on, she never again left her home! 
They fear what else might happen to them.  I totally understood and could relate to that...of course not for myself, but when my mother-in-law was alive and lived with me...she was petrified of what could happen everywhere.  She was a young girl who ran during the war in Poland when the Germans took over during the war. About a year into her families run, they were captured and put into a work camp.  Once she came her...her fear was at it's peak.  My husband shared a story with me about once, when they were out walking, a car had begun to backfire...she grabbed him and threw him up against a wall and covered her small silhouette over him.  She thought someone was shooting!  A woman nearby saw the incident and ran to assure him that everything was okay.  Imagine that kind of fear? 
I remember one day, I was outside in the garden and when I went to go indoors for a glass of water and I had been locked out.  She didn't realize I was outside and saw a door unlocked and quickly locked it.  I couldn't believe how worried she was.  She was afraid to leave a window open at night for fear that someone might break in.  She panicked over letters that came in the mail that she didn't understand.  Random bills that were for something that she never owned. 
Perception was a great word for the officer to use.  A knock at the door can cause fear depending on the type of knock.  The perception of a picture can be changed with a simple suggestion. 
Your fear can enable the crook to take over and control you.  Be smart.  Take control.  Hand up the phone, don't answer the door.  If someone you don't know is there...tell them if they don't leave you will call the police.  If a service person is outside your door and you don't see their vehicle...don't let them in.  If they tell you they are from the village or town you live in and you weren't expecting someone....call the village or town hall and ask if they sent someone? 
All sorts of charities stem out of charities and they all hit you up for donations.  They use tactics that may make you feel guilty if you don't contribute.  Don't bother unless you, yourself call the charity of choice and make a donation.  Find out about your charity on your own.  It's your money...give it where you want...not because you are made to feel guilty about not giving anything. 
My advice is to check out your local police stations or communities to see if there are programs available to educate on fraud and how to protect yourself.  If there aren't....suggest they do something about starting some. 
Be smart, be educated, learn and lessen the fear factor.  Become in charge and in control of your life.  Don't let fear take over your life!  Don't allow fear to disable the quality of your life.  Whatever your fear may be...find a way to educate yourself in a manner that will alleviate that feeling..no matter what the fear may be. 
Our life experiences often times creates those fears and we need to look at them head on and learn how to flush them down the toilet.  Being aware, filling yourself with the proper knowledge is your weapon.  Don't be afraid to use it. 

Learning the ABC's of life

Good morning to everyone. Looks like a gloomy one here in Chicago land area.  A little on the damp side this morning....here's hoping for some sun to peek out it's head.
Today, as I was sitting and contemplating what today's  story should be about, the art of the ABC's came to mind.  Boy, when I say the art of it, I mean how different learning it is today. 
I remember as a child learning to say the ABC's.  It is one of the first things that we learn to do...we learn it in song, then by verbal skills, then to write it and then to put it together to make words.  Simple as can be.  We leaned to print it and then to write it. 
We worked hard on spelling.  There were spelling tests, spelling countdowns and spelling bees.  In a country where the language is extremely difficult...we learned the differences.  We learned the to, too, and two, along with each of their meanings.  They all sound alike.  We learned the there and their, the be, and bee.  we leaned that spelling a word with an omb at the end does not always sound the same...ex: comb and tomb.  The same with words ending in ome...ex: home, come.   I remember years back there was a comedian Gallger who used to smash watermelons on stage and did various routines and one of them was all about the American language covering these differences.  It was funny and yet not so funny.  Now today, it seems that there is a whole new language going on using the ABC's.  The texting language has become the fad...who would have ever thought that using ABC's would change? 
And if that were not bad enough...they use the same lettes for different meanings as well!  I am often confronted with LOL...is it laugh out loud or is it lot's of love??
We have now become an alphabetical world.  We are shortcutting...I guess it would be today's world of shorthand?  Anyone remember that?  I remember what an important class that was when I took it way back when in high school.  It was necessary to become a good secretary...right along with learning to use a comptometer and a Dictaphone.  These are now like the extinct dinosaurs. 
But here is my question..are they planning on rewriting the dictionary?  Is todays generations going to know how to spell?  If they wrote a book using their new alphabetical language, I am going to need cliff notes! 
I was shopping one day and when I reached the counter with my purchases....I noticed on the counter a rack with these guides to texting.  It actually teaches you how to text. 
We are warned about not to text while you drive...I personally think there should be an overall warning that texting just might hypnotize your brain from remembering the actual words. 
I must admit, technology has advanced us to unbelievable levels, but I am now faced with the challenge of learning a language that seems as difficult as leaning the Periodic Table charts when I was taking Chemistry in High School.
Some days, people have texted me a note and I sit in complete wonderment over what they are saying.  Once I was having a conversation with someone over a concert.  They texted me in their note TTSO....I sat there with the most confused look on my face...they meant The Trans Siberian Orchestra....really???  IGIDGI....I guess I don't get it?  I wonder if programs for computers will now add a spell check for texting?  Wouldn't that be a hoot?  
I guess I am left to follow my own ABC's
Act Accordingly, Be prolific, Count my blessings, Doubt what's going on, Enter with caution, Forget what you spent a lifetime learning, Guess at what is being posted, Handle it all with grace, Ignore what you don't understand, Justify my beliefs, Keep studying, Learn that life keeps changing, Make changes, Never give up, Overlook the mistakes, Pause and think, Question everything, Rest assure...more changes are to come, Stop agonizing over it, Take it as it comes, Utilize whatever tools help you, Vacillate, Wish for clarity, X-ray the new language, Yell for help, Zero in on what's important.  

Entertaining Night Out at Tommy Gun's Garage

Good morning to all my blog reader friends.  I hope that the day has started well for you.  I have many things on my agenda today.  I am hoping to get a surge of energy to help get them all accomplished. 
I have to say that each day challenges me as to what to write my blog about.  I am hoping to touch you with some sort of inspiration, point of interest or perhaps just pure enjoyment.  I hope that some of you that read this blog are finding that, and if it does something else...I would love to hear.  I initially was hoping that by blogging, you as the reader, could get a sense of who I am as a person and as a storyteller.  Now when I am storytelling, the types of stories totally depend on my audience. The ages that I perform for range from 2 years old all the way to 95 so far.  Every storyteller has their own niche or group of stories that they are most comfortable with, where I seem to just enjoy the pure pleasure of being able to bring stories to all.  I am writing a blog to build my skills to continue with a book I have started and hope to publish one day.
Today's blog is about being entertained.  I thought about how in my past, various moments and places that stick out in my mind were the ones where I felt most entertained.  Sometimes, when my daughters were growing up, it was the ability to expose them to something new and different.  I didn't want them to think all there was to life was go out to eat. 
One year, because both of my daughters birthdays were 2 weeks apart, I decided to take them out for a BIG night...They were allowed to bring a boyfriend or a friend.  Now I am not wealthy, by any means...I just wanted to create a memory that hopefully would stick with them.  I made reservations for a gangster bus tour in Chicago and it ended with dinner at a speakeasy type restaurant with a gangster type show.    There were 6 of us that boarded the bus as is rolled along Chicago streets telling us the tales of the mobsters of Chicago.  At one point they recreated a shootout for us at one of the locations. It was wonderful and when we reached our final destination, we were excited out of the bus into the restaurant.  and happy with the first part of our evening.  The restaurant landed up to be Tommy Gun's Garage.  If you have never been to it...look it up and go.  
We were lead inside, and directed to our seats.  We were delighted to have great seats with a wonderful view of the stage.  The food was delightful...an Italian fare.  the conversation flowed freely as we discussed all the things we had just seen and all the stories we had heard.  The waitresses and waiters were dressed in  flapper style. The inside of the place was all bricked just like the inside of an old garage back in the days.  In one corner there was a 1920's vehicle that pictures could be taken as you pretended to be the gangster and their mol.  The kids all got in the picture as their souvenir. 
After the meal was over, the show began.  There was comedy and laughter.  People were brought on stage and caused even more laughter.  There was singing and dancing.  The waitresses and waiters were actually part of the routines.   It was an evening to remember for all of us. 
Years went by...I have to say 30...and I got to return to the restaurant.  We didn't take the bus tour portion, we just did the restaurant and show.  I orchestrated the night out with my Red Hat Ladies.  I made centerpieces for the table and each girl got a purple or red water gun as a favor.  Red Hats, for those who may not know, are ladies 50 and older in a social club.  We laughed and talked, ate and drank and then came the show.  Well, this time they picked me to come up on the stage.  My red hat girls were hooting and hollering away as I climbed the stage stairs.  Now, I have to say, the poor emcee had no idea who he had picked...but if one is all decked out in red hats and red boas...you should be prepared! 
There were 4 of us up on the stage and he asked each one to create a character and act it out.  Most times, the people selected do okay with what they are to do, but some can be a  little meeker that others....and then he came to me...the one who is used to being on stage although, unbeknownst to him. 
He asked me to pretend that I was Mae West and walk across the stage.  Well...I began my Mae West prance saying "Hello big Boy" in her typical, well know tone, and   when I reached the middle of the stage I turned my back to the audience and using my red boa, I sashayed it across my bottom side as I stuck my derriere out.  The entire audience was in a roar. now to get a clear picture of this...This purple bottom side is not the smallest in town...to say the least.  The poor emcee almost fell off the stage laughing. It was a riot.  When it was finally time to exit the stage, everyone was talking to me...they all thought that perhaps I was a shill or a plant.  My red hat ladies assured everyone that I was not! 
What a night to remember for me and my girls. 
So, I guess the point that I am trying to make is, to take the time to have fun.  Go on an adventure.  Find a place where there is some entertainment, and perhaps even make some of your own.  Now I am not suggesting that this be an every night out event, but to throw some fun in along the way.  Life can get to be monotonous.  I have learned that if you just search a little you can find some of the most different and interesting experiences out there.  We are never too young or too old to have a good time and make some memories.  If you are not as flamboyant as I, it's okay, because someone out there is!  Sit back and go along for the ride.  When it is time for me to leave this earth, and friends and family gather, I want them to be able to laugh and enjoy the moments that I had or shared with them.   Memories...what a nice thing to have to look back upon. 

A trip to Hayward Wisconsin

Good morning to all.  Although it almost time to say good afternoon...I am still in the AM of the day.  A little later than usual.  A neighbor stopped off to return a plate and we got to talking.  We are so lucky to have nice new neighbors.  It is nothing that easy to find great people that actually live next door to you.  I am looking forward to spending time with them. 
Today I thought I would talk about a trip we took as a family to Hayward, Wisconsin.  Now, one particular year, my husband, my 2 daughters and myself rented a cabin on a lake in Hayward.  We were not the only ones that went though.  My life long friend Susan and her boys rented another cabin and her parents rented one as well.  Now Susan's parents only stayed for a couple of days, where as Susan's family and ours stayed a week.
Now it was really such an experience for all of us to be together there.  Most people might stay in their own cabins for meals and such...but we did everything together.  We rotated whose cabin we would have the meal at, and then we would combine foods that we had appropriate for the meal.  It changed things up a bit.  One morning, we were doing breakfast at our cabin, Susan said she had some strawberries...there wasn't enough for everyone to enjoy....they were starting to get a bit soft...so I told her to bring them and I would make some homemade jelly.  I through it in a pan with some sugar, a little squirt of lemon that I had in the fridge and there we had it...Strawberry jam.  Her boys were so impressed!!  They were like 'Hey mom...can you do that?"  Susan gave me one of those looks...I just shrugged my shoulders and gave one of those...I'm sorry looks!  I understood totally that our lives had been so different.  You see, Susan's husband had been injured at work and she had to be the family provider.  She really didn't have much time for thing like canning or making homemade breads or jellies.  I, on the other hand stayed at home with the children and had the time to do those things.  Anyway, once we pulled our resources together, we had a great meal as we all gathered around the picnic tables. 
In the early hours of the day, Susan's boys would tap on our girls bedroom window and wake them up to go fishing.  They all thought they were being quite and sneaking out...but we were all awake.  It was such a pleasure to see them all grabbing their rods and worms and heading down to the lake.  They would fish a couple of hours and be back for breakfast. 
As the day progressed we changed up what we would do each day.  Sometimes the kids and us would just sit under the shade of the trees at the picnic tables and play games.  Between the ones Susan brought and the ones I brought, there were plenty of choices. 
One day we went into town where there was a lumberjack show.  It was great.  They did log rolling contests, the did lumber jacking contests.  There was comedy and singing.  We had a blast.  I know the kids really enjoyed it as much as the adults, and that really says something!  There was also a quaint little town, almost similar to the town of Lake Geneva to go to and shop.  We loved going in and out of the shops and seeing all the newest trendy little things along with all the souvenir type items.  Well, I guess I should say that the female tribe of us enjoyed it...not sure about the male tribe, but they we re good sports! 
They had a Capone's hideaway restaurant out there at the time and one night that was our outing.  We went there for dinner.  They had an old car that used to be the one Capone had driven and guns and hats and things to wear to have your picture taken.  The kids really enjoyed it. 
Back on the nights that we stuck around the cabin...there was a bar that had a pool table, so we would go over there and the kids would play pool and we would have a drink.  Sometimes we just sat outside and enjoyed the stars and told stories, shared memories and made a few as well. 
Some days the kids would go over to the game house and they have badmitten sets and shuffle board.  Volley balls and nets.  Sometimes us adults would join in or just pull our lawn chairs and relax. 
There was never any squabbling or disagreements, just one big happy family.  Goes to show you that you don't need to share DNA to feel like family.  This was a destined group. Susan and my grandmothers had been friends and neighbors which started the ball rolling.  Then our mothers went to school together and would good friends.  Susan and I started our lives together form birth and are still together...our children spent their years together.  Some almost 90 years later, we are still friends.  Not many people can say that these days.  It is fortunate if families are still together. 
We as a family actually went back and stayed at the cabin a couple of times after that.  Once we even drove in to the town of Ashland and drove the car onto the ferry and went over to the Apostle Islands.  It was beautiful.  We drove around the island and took in all the sites and shops...It was similar to Mackinaw Island in Michigan.  We had lunch on an outdoor patio and watched as the seagulls gathered and perched on the piers.  We could never really afford great big vacations like going to Disney world back then, but whatever we were able to do was filled with fun and laughter.  We always packed our food from home and went into the local grocery stores for absolute necessities.  This was a time when there were no electronics, no cell phones, just nature and our own imaginations.  We communicated with nature and with each other.  Today when I see families on an outing, they are all deep into their phones or games...I wonder if they ever take time to enjoy each other.  We may not have been able to afford a lot when our children were growing, all we could afford was time and the giving of ourselves.  I hope that it made a difference for them as they look back and recall those days.  I hope that they remember the laughter with fondness.  I hope that some of those ways rubbed of on them.  that they realize the value of family.  I would like to travel back there one day and really spend some time on Apostle Island.  Maybe there can be a reunion....as years have gone by and our children have had children.  Might be nice to rekindle such a special time in our lives.  If you have those types of memories to share...post them on my blog...I would love to hear about your adventures and escapades.  Perhaps it will encourage me to follow one of your paths, or perhaps you will travel along one of mine.

the Story Behind China Dishes

Good morning to all. I hope your week is going along swimmingly...hmmm a dip in a pool sounds good about now.  The weather they say, is going to cool down somewhat.  Amen. Today , I must congratulate the Royal couple on the birth of their new son yesterday.  May he have a wondrous future! 
Now on to today's story.  I decided to write about China  dishes because there has been such a change through the years with dishes.  There are so many beautiful designs and colors.  I recently hosted a Red Hat event called President's Wives.  Now first...to those of you who may not know what Red Hat is...we are a social group of women who are 50 and older who wear red hats and purple clothes.   Your next question, I am sure is what is comprised in hosting an event called President's Wives.  Well, I took pictures of my ladies in the group and matched their faces as closely as I could to one of the American Presidents wives.  I got them recipes that were actually from that presidents wife and had them make it for the dinner.  What does it have to do with China you might ask?  Well, through the years at the white house the presidents wives had their china.  So, I decided, the a week before the event, I would have the ladies each bring me one complete place setting of their China to me for their place setting at the table.  It was a fun idea and I totally enjoyed setting the table using their individual china sets for their placement.  It was amazing that we had 10 totally different china patterns at the table.  I coordinated them with chargers and the table never looked more charming!  Now, at the dinner, before we began to eat, each woman had to tell us the story behind their china.  One girl brought her mothers china that had been hand painted, another brought her set that was given to her by her mother as a wedding gift 50 years ago, one set was brought home as a gift from her fiancé from overseas during war time, one woman described hers as a set she loved and purchased over time. One after another the ladies shared their stories behind their china.  One girl doesn't cook ...she never really thought about china. so her everyday dishes are what was used...but the beautiful pattern she choose was to match her kitchen.  My china was made by Noritake. 
I remember working at Weibolt's at Harlem and Irving  in Chicago during my engagement.  I spotting this one beautiful set of china that was green with gold trim.  I remember that I purchased it on lay away.  I paid a small amount at a time.  Funny how I choose green...it was because that was the color I was painting my dining room at the time.  Well, to my surprise, at my bridal shower, my mother had gone and purchased all the china for me.  .  Well, I used the china all the time for every gathering....and believe me,  I had quite a number of them.  At the beginning of my married life, I had this China cabinet...in fact it is still the one I still own.  I was setting the dining room table for a dinner and had the china cabinet door open.  We lived on Central Ave. in Chicago.  That is a main thoroughfare...and all of a sudden, a truck must have gone by and rattled the house, and before I knew it, the dishes came spewing out of the Cabinet.  One at a time, CRASH! CRASH! CRASH!  before I could reach the door and salvage what was left.  I remember just standing there, crying like a baby.  My dishes in a million little pieces...I was devastated.  I already had children and not a lot of money at that point and knew that they were irreplaceable.  But in came the SUPER MOM...to the rescue!!  My mom went and got the missing pieces for me that Christmas.  There I was, surprised all over again. 
Now as the years went by, I used those dishes over and over again.  Often times, china is just used for show...that has never been my motto....if you've got it, USE it.  This went on for years.  As I went from home to home the china was moved and placed in the China cabinet and used.  Well, they could only get used for up to 12 guests.  When I started to have big parties and showers and things as such, I had gone out and purchased 100 glass plates at the
dollar store.  I hated using paper plates...they never hold up...it is a shame to spend all that money and then through them away...and over the years...how much I was helping the environment in my own little way.  I began then purchasing different colored chargers to place underneath the plates and could change the whole look of the tablescapes that way.  Well, when the green china no longer matched the room...it went into the reds and yellows...green china wasn't the best choice for the table.  I set a fancy table almost 2 times a month for a while.  My china just sat there...in the cabinet, probably like a sad puppy looking at what had replaced them.  I finally decided to pack them away.  Perhaps someday one of the Grandchildren will enjoy them.  Then came the president's wives event and I had to dig out a set.  It was like seeing an old friend all over again.  Remembering the story behind them and all the dinners that they had sat through. Not to forget the regiftings from my mother. 
China, I had decided, had stories to tell.  Even if we don't live in the white house!  I know that when my daughter was getting married...she had always loved her grandmothers grey/white and silver china, so my mother-in-law gave it to her...it was a place setting for 8..unbelievably, I found a matching set of 8 in a small little shop and her grandmother purchased that as well for her shower.  She now has a place setting for 16...which we thought was great since her husband had a huge family.  Since they have moved away, the families don't get together for occasions, but I guarantee you, every time I am there to visit, the China comes out.  I purchased some silver chargers for her to go underneath them.  It means so much more to sit down at that table and revisit with the china.  It is almost like having my mother-in-law there with us. 
Sometimes, we may think that setting a table isn't all that important, or that perhaps no-one notices, but trust me....they do. 
If my China could talk...it would tell you stories of when grandparents gathered with me around the table.  It would talk about the first disaster turkey made that was placed on its beautiful face.  It might share with you the Holidays like Christmas and Easter and Thanksgivings.  It might tell you about the children who learned an etiquette lesson with them, or perhaps the special birthday dinners that once sat upon them.  The gravy bowl might laugh as it tells you it was there, but was accompanied my a large pitcher of gravy as well.  It might tell you a story of a Thanksgiving dinner put together in an hour unexpectedly, or a romantic dinner for two.  Whatever it might tell you....the China carries with it a lifetime of love around the table.  I hope your China has been through as much as mine...and if it hasn't...there is still plenty of time. 

Lockwood Castle...ICE SCREAM...you scream...we all scream for ice creram!

Good morning to everyone...hope you had a great weekend.  I kept myself busy this weekend painting for my craft show in November up at the Grove in Glenview, Illinois.  It seems like I am always in Christmas mode.  I am almost always with a paint brush in my hand.  Trying always to come up with new ideas...especially new ornaments for personalization.  The family ones get to be the trickiest to create.  After so many years of doing this, coming up with new shapes and ideas really make the brain work hard.
Now onto todays story.  It is about a restaurant which no longer exists.  It was in the farthest northern corner of Chicago.   It was at the corner of Devon and Central.  It was a regular old restaurant specializing in ice cream extravaganza's.  I remember going their as a child and then as time moved along taking many others there as well. Now if I wanted to talk ice cream...this story could go on and on, because of all treats in this world, I would have to say that ice cram is my absolute favorite.  Now Lockwood Castle wasn't known for the best ice cream itself...but for their creations.  I remember going their as a kid, sitting in a chair and just being mesmerized by the concoctions that went by to other tables.  I sat they salivating trying to decide which I would have.  Now you may ask what was the big deal about Lockwood castle's concoctions....well BIG was the word that would well describe it.  They served an ice cream soda in a vase.  Not one of those little vases, But the normal....put a dozen roses in, kind of vase.  You needed to either stand of kneel on your seat to drink from it.  I think my favorite was the Green River Float! Now they had other concoctions as well, but the BIGGEST was called "The Giant Killer".  It came out in this huge boat shaped bottom container....had 32 scoops of ice cream in it and had every topping known to man on in.  It was filled with whipped cream, cherries and nuts.  There was never an opportunity going there with my mom or even dates to even imagine ordering it...but boy, when it came out...sparklers, little paper umbrellas all over it...it was truly a magnificent sight to see. 
So one day, many years later, I was the leader of a girl scout troop for my daughter.  For a treat one night, I took them out to Lockwood Castle for ice cream and soda.  I had budgeted just enough money for the Giant killer, a soda for each girl and a tip for the waitress.  It was fantastic to see the girls eyes light up when that treat came out the door.  I must admit, I was quite excited myself to know that I would finally partake in that specialty dessert.  The girls manned their spoons and dived right in.  What a treat...both seeing the girls enjoy the dessert and the dessert itself.  The waitress was a real gem.  She made sure that there was an umbrella for each of the girls....you know how kids are! 
Well, the real surprise of the night was went we were all done and had talked ourselves out...I went to pay for the treats, and upon reaching the register, the waitress handed me a note and told me there was no charge.  I looked at her face, trying to figure out what was going on...she told me to read the note. 
I opened the folded piece of paper only to find the explanation.  It seemed that on that evening, I had encountered an angel.  The note read...I am so pleased to see someone who dedicates their time to children and enjoyed watching you and all the girls enjoying the treat.  I know how hard it can be to create a night like that for the children...I hope you enjoyed the night as much as I and accept this evening as a treat on me.....unsigned. 
I couldn't believe it.  Someone actually paid for our night!  I didn't know who it was....I didn't know if the person was there, but I do believe that God had sent me an angel.  The money that we didn't use for that evening went towards another event for the girls.  Till this day, I have no idea who it was...but if you are reading this post and remember this happening...and you were the one...I just want to say "Thank you from the bottom of my heart"  you made me believe in the generosity of strangers. 
Now, there have been other events at Lockwood castle...I remember one when I was 18 years old and took my younger cousins there for ice cream.  when we got there though the eldest proceeded to tell me that he was hungry as could he get something to eat as well.  Of course I told him he could...only to my surprise...he ordered a steak dinner and upon his ordering that, his brother did the same.  By the time they ate and then had desserts, I was lucky to have enough to pay for the bill...this was pre-credit card days.  I was eating egg salads for the rest of the week...but it was fine...they really enjoyed the special treat out. 
Lockwood Castle...a place that I enjoyed for generations.  From being a child, to taking my children and so many more.  It is now a Starbucks.  No longer that special place that makes children's eyes glisten and sparkle and giggle with pleasure.  But now that I have written about it...I think that the next ice cream party I plan to have  have with my grandkids will include  some vases to be used and who knows, maybe I will find a base to use to create that Giant Killer as well. As the old saying goes....I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

A Night Out at Sally's Stage

Good morning to all.  Hoping your weekend is going well.  I have been busy painting the weekend away.  I decorative paint for a living as well as storytell...so there is always something to keep me busy.  Today I will be teaching the Alzheimer to paint.  My theme to work with is flowers, So I am going to teach them to paint using celery to make roses.  Now my only concern will be to keep them from eating it. 
Now on to today's topic and speaking of eating, we are taking a trip down memory lane to a place called Sally's Stage. 
Sally's Stage no longer is in existence.  That is such a shame. I am not sure whether you have ever been to one, but in the Chicago land area we used to have 2 that I know of.  One was on Western Ave on the north side, and the other was in Lombard, I believe on Roosevelt Road.  Sally's stage was a restaurant geared to families.  It's menu was in the average price range.  You could pretty much get burgers and fries or fried chicken.  A specialty of theirs was their BBQ Ribs.  I remember you could get and entire slab for like $9.00..things that kids enjoyed eating.  They had waitresses that were on roller skates...pretty reminiscent of the old drive up restaurants like Super Dog and Skips.  Now not only was this a great thing to entertain the kids, but there was entertainment there as well. Aside from watching the waitresses and waiters skate, they also got on stage and performed an act of some sort.  Sometimes it was like a can can dance on skates, sometimes it was like being at the follies.  The tables were placed in the center of wood flooring that went around it like an oval for the girls to skate on to get from the kitchen to your table.The waitresses rolled around with these huge trays held over their shoulders with the dinners.  I don't ever recall one of them falling, at least not an of the times when we went there to visit.    
Up on the stage there was this enormous pipe organ that some gentleman would sit and play throughout the dinner.  Just the site of that organ was something to see not to mention the quality of it's sound.  He often played songs that you could sing along to, there was a drop down screen with the words on it to help you along.  Seemed like in the 60's-80's there were more restaurants that at least encouraged family togetherness.  Today you have places that you take the kids to be entertained and the only interaction there seem to be is the parents running after them. They even had silent movies...something that us parents could identify with.  They were the Charlie Chaplin slap stick humor type.  Back in the days when places like Sally's stage was around, you could sit, eat, have conversation and be part of the entertainment whether it was singing along of something to sit back, watch and talk about after.  There were others as well...I remember The Ground Round, and Shakees Pizza. 
Anyway, at Sally Stage, after the pipe organ music and singing ended there was some other sort of entertainment and it was usually a Magician.  They also ran talent shows there as well.  Their Lombard location had a riding bull....remember those...but at least at Sally's you didn't need to be over 21 to get to ride the bull.  I remember how excited my girls used to be watching the magician pull that rabbit our of his hat. How they were memorized with his trick with the cage and the birds, not to mention the pulling of handkerchiefs that seemed to be never ending and at the end the surprise of him pulling out his underwear. 
We would laugh and joke around and enjoy the show. 
There was old memorabilia everywhere.  There was never boredom at Sally's  A piece of history is now gone.  It is sad to see some of our past fade away.  But what is even sadder is to see that going to dinner with your children today is no longer about the families enjoyment, but rather entertaining just the children.  I know that when I look back at Sally's Stage it was very reminiscent of what some may have called the old vaudeville days.  i hope that someday, someone will bring it back again! In the meantime...."I'm gonna buy me a pair a roller skates"....and remember when!

A Day in the Ocean

Good morning...if you are in the Chicago land area....chances are pretty good that you experienced the heavy storms that rolled through here last night.  I was happy to just have a horrible storm and no damage.  When the storm fronts meet like that it really worries me.  The wind was so fierce that the windows in my house were rattling like crazy.  But we needed the rain...my vegetables will be happy today. 
As for my story of the day, I thought about the years of visiting the ocean.  When I was a young girl I had been in the Atlantic and the Pacific.  I remember staying in the extreme shallow part, being afraid to go any deeper.  I remember the salty taste in my mouth and the burning sensation in my eyes.  It was not the most pleasurable feeling when I was young. 
Years went by, and more years went by, when finally we made a trip out to the Atlantic again.  This time we were with our daughter and grandkids. 
What a day it was!  We now, as older folks were quite concerned with keeping our eye on the children.  They really wanted a boogie board, as so we purchased one for each of our 2 girls.  Our daughter was pregnant with our third granddaughter. 
They were like troopers in the ocean.  The older granddaughter is pretty cautious, so we weren't as concerned over her as we were with the younger.  We stood out in the water where it was about up to our mid thighs.  It was my daughter, my husband and I.  The bottom floor  of the ocean we were in was quite rough with sea shells.  there were loads of them and by the sharpness to the bottom of my feet, I could tell that many were broken. 
I wanted to check them out, so stupidly, I bent over to grab a handful up to look at what was there.  As I bent forward, a great big wave came along and knocked me down.  I quickly got up out of the water, well maybe not that quickly, and cleared off the water in my face and tried to open my now salted eyes.  Everyone was laughing.  My husband said..."good thing you showed the girls how to be safe in the water. "  I told him to just be quiet.  The waves were pretty fierce that day and it caught me off guard a number of times...I  am persistent if nothing else.  The waves knocked me down a few times...so many that at one point, the youngest granddaughter came up to me and said "Grandma...hold Grandpa's hand"  Oh well, my husband was hysterical over that one.  Laughing his patootie off!  So there we were, these two older people holding hands in the ocean...you may have thought we were quite the lovebirds.  My husband kept telling me that he had to keep me safe from myself. 
Well,  let me tell you....at one point, along came this huge wave and knocked him down right off his feet.  And he still was holding my hand...so guess what?  My protector...MR. LIFEGUARD...pulled me right down with him!  I got up and helped him up...laughing the whole time of course!  Now he didn't think it was all that funny.   
Now he was embarrassed and said it hurt his knees...I thought really???  And he didn't think all those broken shells hadn't hurt mine? 
Well, here is the kicker...It really did hurt him.  It acutually cut his knees open.  Now he, being the man that he is...was too embarrassed to get out of the water because he pretty much knew that his knees were cut and bleeding.  When we finally exited the ocean and saw his knees...I couldn't believe it.  I asked him if he thought that being in the ocean where there are sharks with bleeding knees was a such smart thing to do?  Well, then he had this panicked, yet dumb look on his face that plainly screamed "HUH"?  Well, we got him all cleaned up and bandaged. 
Our next trip into the water proved to be just as exciting. 
We were in the water...watching the girls on their boogie boards when along comes this little girl.  She must have been about 8 or 9 years old.  She proceeds to ask us if we know what to do if a jelly fish bites us?  Being the Midwesterners that we were...we just looked at her with a puzzled look on our faces.  First, we were so surprised that this young girl would come up to strangers to talk and secondly, to talk about biting jelly fish?  She proceeded to instruct us that if we get bit that we should immediately take sand and rub it on the bite.  Then she just walks away.  We stood there in the ocean, talking about how strange that just was...when suddenly our eldest granddaughter comes up to us crying.  She had just gotten bit by a jellyfish.  We hurried her out of the water and immediately rubbed the sand into the bite and then I began searching for a lifeguard.  I kept telling her that she should pee on it...She kept looking at me like I was crazy....but I had read that this was something to do if you don't have anything else to help it.  Luckily for her, I found the lifeguard and he went to rub sand on it....I proceeded to tell him that we had already done that...he responded that we did the right thing and then he reached for a spray bottle and sprayed her leg.  I asked him what was in the spray bottle and he told me vinegar.  So now I learned two new things...sand and vinegar for jelly fish bites.  She at that point did not want to go into the water.  The winds had really picked up and they put up the warning flags.  We went back to the hotel and put some neosporin on her leg and watched the storms roll in.  We wondered at that point who that little girl was and why of all the people in the ocean...did she come up to us and tell us how to treat a jellyfish bite.  We believe God works in mysterious ways and sent us a little angel that day to prepare us.
Now I have been in the oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, and I must admit I enjoy the Gulf much more.  I am not sure of the dangers of the waters other than the under currents, but I do no that it is more calm.  At least the times that I have had the opportunity to be in it. 
A few years later we took the girls to Jammin at the Aquarium here in Chicago to see the jelly fish exhibit.  It was a beautiful experience, but our granddaughter wasn't all that impressed...she had her one on one with the jelly fish, and in her opinion, that was enough. 
Who could ever imagine that something that is so beautiful could hurt so much?  But even standing there in that building my mind raced back to that little girl....our messenger!  I don't think we will ever forget how God took care of us that day. 

A simple teapot

Good morning to everyone.  Hope if you live in the Chicago area you are able to stay cool.  Funny how lucky we really are these days because of air conditioning!
So, my toppic for today is about a simple teapot...and what that brought into my life.
When I think of tea....I have so many different thoughts that come to my mind.  So many places these days to purchase tea...of all flavors and combinations.  There are various tea houses and types of teas and ceremonies that we can attend.  The number one on my list to experience is a Japanese tea Ceremony.  I have searched and finally found one in Rockford, Illinois at the Anderson Japanese Gardens.  It is on my plans for sure.
Now when I think back to when I was young...the only type of tea my grandmother made was the simple Lipton tea.  It was always hot and mostly when you were sick.  Grandma would make the tea with lemon, honey and Rock and Rye.  I remember the bottle of Rock and Rye so well.  It had a diamond cut out in the top of the glass that was the neck of the bottle.  In the bottom of the bottle were these chunks of Rock candy.  This was Grandma's cure all for a cold.  I am not really sure whether it took the cold away...or just made you not care whether you had one or not....but non the less, it was far better that her warm milk with melted butter and crushed garlic.
Well, the only time I was exposed to Ice tea was when I visited my Aunt Honey and Uncle Bob's house.  My Uncle Bob was from the South, so he had conditioned my Aunt to make iced tea.  There was always a cold pitcher with lemon in the fridge.  Oh, how I loved her iced tea.  Of course, now adays I learned that  it was sweet tea...only they just called it tea! 
Now, at home, my grandmother had this teapot sitting on a shelf in a corner of her kitchen...it was a white teapot with shaded pink roses that justted out from it's flat surace and it sat right behind where she sat in her rocking chair.  Whenever I sat in the chair to talk to Gram, I not only stared at her sweet aging face, but also at the teapot.  One day, Grandma asked me if I could have anything in the world that she owned...what would it be.  I told her that I would love to have her rose teapot.  I explained to her that when I look at it, I automatically connect her with it.  Years went by and I had forgotten about that conversation.  The day that Grandma passed away, my mom and I returned to the house and just sat and tried to make heads or tails of what to do next.  My mother at one point stood up and walked over to the shelf in the corner of the room and took down the teapot and handed it to me.  She told me that Grandma said that on the day she should die, that my mother was to give me that teapot.  I was a blundering fool at that moment.  I sobbed uncontrollably over the gesture and the conversation about it had flooded back to my mind.  I found a place to put it at home in my china cabinet .where I knew it would be safe.
On days when I was feeling down or lonely, I would take the teapot out and fill it with tea and sit with a special tea cup and saucer and drink from it.  I felt as though in those moments, that Grandma was still with me.  Still a part of me, whether I could see her or not. 
Well, as time went by, I decided that I loved teapots.  I started to see them in stores and in yard sales.  I didn't have a lot of money back then, but I bought a teapot at a yard sale and set it next to Grandma's.  One day, my mother-in-law was over and noticed the 2 tea pots sitting together and made a comment about it.  I told her I was thinking about maybe collecting them.  The next thing I knew....she brought me one of hers to add to my collection.  Soon I began receiving teapots as gifts.  My first Christmas teapot came from a dear male friend of ours named Mike.  He bought me for Christmas one year a Fitz an Floyd teapot of Santa on his sleigh with his team of reindeer.  It included a creamer and sugar bowl.  My first smaller teapots came from my friend Susan...they were little couch teapots that had kittens on them. Then one of my daughters friends Kristy gave me a beautiful white set with violets on it that were in 3D. Even my son-in-law purchased a tiger one for me when we were all at the Racine zoo.  Now I started to purchase teapots from ebay and various stores.  I love the hunt for that special one.  I remember when I became a storyteller...I found a Mother Goose one...when I became Mrs. Claus, I found one with Mr. and Mrs. Claus sitting on a couch reading a book...perfect for the Mrs. Claus storyteller.  I love the ones that are unique and different.  I searched for all the holiday types.  I just recently found a small miniature teapot for new years eve.  Well, I have consequently, landed up with quite the collection these days.  I have well over 160 teapots in various sizes.  I designed my dining room and the annex to my dining room with teapots on shelves, in cabinets and cupboards.  I change them out for the holidays, I love to use them as well.  Most people that collect things allow dust to gather...I use them for tea, milk and even gravy.  Those small gravy boats have never been large enough to hold enough gravy for my family or guests. 
I, through the years have collected tea cups and saucers as well...those now hang on special wire hooks along the soffits in my kitchen.
I have expanded my knowledge about tea.  Took some classes about where teas come from, how they are dried, etc.  I learned about their medicinal properties.  I learned to cook with flavored teas and must say that Celestional Seasoning teas are great for that.  In fact,  I even hosted a tea dinner where everything from soup to desserts were made with tea and it was fantastic!  I have found various teas that I love.  I hate to admit it, but I have 2 cabinets filled with boxes and cans of different teas, along with my tea serving box that is filled with Stash tea. 
I have broken a few tea pots along the way through the years...but guard my Grandma's teapot with my life.  The rest are fun and meaningful...but Grandma's...well that is a rare, one of a kind. 
Now at one point, I had thought how wonderful it would be to hand them down to my granddaughters.  I could share Grandmaand me when I am gone from this world...but I had 2 granddaughters, so that idea wouldn't work!  One day I was searching for something totally out of the blue for something that was rose related on ebay...and you would not believe...but the creamer and sugar bowl in the same pattern as my Grandmothers teapot showed up....well, if that wasn't a sign, I didn't know what was...so I bid on the set.  It was from a company called Lefton.  I went to Gram's teapot and looked on the bottom and sure enough, that it what it read.  I won the bid, and now had a creamer and an extra sugar bowl...which I thought was fine since I serve sugar and splenda. 
Now if that were not crazy enough....I was in an antique barn in Bartlett , Illinois at Banbury Fair and found an identical teapot to Grandmas....what were the odds?  I purchased the teapot and thought..."There....problem solved"  a teapot for each girl....and then my daughter had another daughter....folied again! 
I do have a friend who God had sent my way, that even though we do not share the same blood or DNA,is my daughter in every possible way.  She comes out to spend weekends, helps me tremendously and is just the sweetest woman anyone would want to meet.  She and I spend many days together, painting, crocheting, sewing and drinking loads of tea.  I have enlightened her to my new finds and she has done the same with me...So at a very difficult time in her life, I decided to share the teapot with her...I had willed it to her and then decided...why wait....so one day, I just gave her the teapot with the Grandma story and told her that it was my  hope  that in years to come, that she will think of me when she has her tea and sees that teapot.   As years have gone by, I also got her a matching Mrs. Claus teapot...that matches the one I have....because she was going through a rough time and didn't want to face the holidays and decorate.  She told me when she opened the box that she wasn't decorating anymore for Christmas...and of course I told her that putting out the teapot wasn't decorating...it was just having me around!  She changed her mind and decorated that year. 
Sharing is what is meant when you think of tea.  They wrote the song..."Tea for Two"...not tea for one. 
One time, I had a tea party for Valentine's Day for my daughter and Granddaughters.  We had hats and boas....tea and cookies and a chocolate fountain with fruits.  My granddaughters were having a wonderful time...although I don't think as much as I.  When my younger granddaughter was shaking the teacup back and forth on the saucer....and my daughter was so worried that she might break it.  She told me that perhaps I would like to give her just an old cup so that she didn't break my teacup and saucer.  I just looked at my daughters strained face and assured her that a broken teacup and saucer could easily be replaced, but the moment and the memories that were being made couldn't. and to just relax and enjoy the time with them.  Whether it was tea for two or tea for four...just fill the cup and have some more!

A Vacation on a HouseBoat

Good morning to everyone.  Well ,the heat continues here in the Chicago land area.  But we have storms headed our way for tomorrow.   I hate to hear about storms and a cold front when the weather has been this hot. That is always a mixture for disaster. 
Today when I thought about what to write about, I remembered a vacation that I took with my family and some friends.  We had decided one year that we would rent a houseboat.  It was the year that we had such a drought that the Mississippi River was way down and that was a huge concern that year....so we decided to rent a boat in Kentucky on Lake Barkley.
Now the houseboat was great! 
We packed our 2 girls and one of their friends into the car and one of our married friends followed us in their car as we traveled down to Kentucky.   I had packed a cooler with some frozen things and we just figured we would stop in the town and do the rest of the shopping for food there.  Once we hit Paducah, we stopped at a Piggly Wiggly and purchased the rest of what we needed...Breads, lunch meats, etc., and onward we traveled until we reached the boat.  
Wow...it was pretty big!  There was a big front porch to it where we loaded everything on.  Sliding glass doors lead us into the living room dining room combo.  The couch they said pulled out into a Queen sized bed.  Then there was a full kitchen and across from that were bunk beds.  A bathroom and then a master bedroom.  There was an upper deck the entire length of the boat and a small back deck for fishing.  The gentleman that lead us on, then  gave us a tou,r was also the man who would teach us to drive the boat.  He took us out for our first ride.  As we went up and down Lake Barkley he began his directions and a tour.  We were taught how to steer the boat, pay attention to the depth finder...you didn't want to find yourself grounded and ruin the propellers.  He taught us that it takes a while for the boat to turn once the wheels are turned and that we needed to watch out for any barges...becuase they don't stop!  As we went up and down the Lake, he pointed out the different coves and what we might find there.  How we might enjoy dropping anchor for a night in one of the coves.  He also pointed out the different Marinas and explained that if we came back to their Marina we could hook up for free...If we decided to go to one of the other Marina's, we could hook up as well for the night but they charge a fee.  If you didn't hook up for the night for lights and air conditioning, you then were on the generator. 
After we returned to the Marina and the man dismounted the boat.  We were on our own.  I must say it was an unbelievable and memorable trip.  We took off on our first adventure.  We were like these brand new captains on the ship.  Each of us took a turn at the helm.  There was this huge map of the lake on the wall in the living room on one side of the room, just opposite where the captain sat at the wheel.  At one point, our friend Kenn was at the helm steering the boat, ehile his wife, my husband and myself were on the other side looking at the map and trying to make heads or tales of it.  We were in the middle of a discussion when we realized suddenly a fourth voice...it was Kenn!  He had left the wheel and was there with us.  The wheel was turning and so was the boat....slowly,  and there in it's path was a barge. We asked him what he was doing?  And I ran back to the wheel to take hold and turn the boat.  We never allowed him to man the boat again .  I thought my biggest worries on this boat werre to keep the children out of any mischief...in that moment I discovered that I now had a fourth child on board to watch out for. 
The week was so much fun.  Kathy, Kenn's wife and I had made a deal.  She didn't like to cook and there was a real crew of 7 on board, and for me to cook for 7 was no big deal, so I did all the cooking and she did all the setup and cleanup.  Worked out great.  After dinner and some chatting the girls got ready for bed and while Kathy cleaned up, I laid on the bed with the girls and read a chapter every night of a Nancy Drew book called The Haunted Showboat.  It was an awesome way to spend time together with my 2 girls and their frined Kathy.  Yes, I didn't make a mistake...we had 2 Kathies on board. 
Each day was a new adventure.  We would have an amazing breakfast, and then head out into the open waters. 
One day we decided that we all wanted to swim....all except my husband.  So we fired up the boat and traveled out down the lake into one of the coves.  We dropped anchor.  I put life jackets onto all of the girls and we all jumped off the boat into the water which the depth finder told us was appoximately 30 feet deep. I warned the girls to stay close to the boat while they swam, since Kenn and Kathy had swam off and I was the only adult there in charge with three young girls.  They were ages 9-10.  We swam around laughing and having a great time while my husband sat on the rear deck watching, when all of a sudden we hear a yell  for help coming from Kenn.  OF COURSE....he decided he wanted to investigate the unknown area and swam himself right into a bunch of seaweed and got all tangled up.  I told the girls to board the boat and swam across to where Kenn was ....with Kathy struggling to help him, together we were able to get him out.  Again, I will repeat...I now had 4 children to watch.  And if that wasn't bad enough, he had gotten a leach attached to his beard.  We couldn't do anything to that until we got back on board the boat.  It was a good thing that I had long nails at the time and was able to slide my fingernail under it...which by the way was a tricky thing to do since he had a pretty scraggly beard.   
Now this was not the only crazy thing Kenn had done.  One day, when we asked him to throw out the anchor...he was so busy flapping his jaws that he forget to let go of the rope....and almost flew off the deck with it ,until my husband caught him. 
Now as for the coves, they were all uninhabited.  One was an animal sanctuary.  One night, we decide that we would spend the night in the cove, so we dropped anchor and sat on the the deck of the boat watching the sun set and the animals that came down to the water to drink at dusk.  It was awesome to see those animals in their natural habitat.  When the sun went down we all went in to bed.  We took turns with Ken and Kathy on using the master bedroom and that was our night.  It was terrible...the generator was right off that end of the boat and the rumbling noises kept us awake almost the entire night.  From that point on we had decided that the best way to end the evening was to dock the boat at the Marina. 
Now the one thing that we learned that was somewhat of a  mistake to do, was to rent the boat in mid July.  It was stiffling hot outside...not a great time to go fishing.  Now me, I love fishing and would be the only one up bright and early in the morning.  I would take my rod and reel and go outside and fish on the pier.  The shade of the boat and the pier allowed me to catch some bluegills early in the day.  My husband would be up next, and when he realized I was out fishing...there he came with his rod and reel.  I would pull one fish after another up and he was on the opposite side of the pier and could catch nothing.  He decided that I had the lucky side...so he would move to my side of the pier, and still nothing...before I knew it...he was just about right on top of me and still nothing.  I moved over to the area that he was fishing and once again, caught fish after fish.  And once again there he was..next to me.  I moved to the other side of the pier....continuing to catch fish.  He was so frustrated.  Me, I was like a peacock spreading her feathers....I had caught lunch for the day.  I walked down to the clean up station to scale and clean out the fish.  He went back in the boat to read. 
Now after the 5 days of pleasure on the seas was over...we packed ourselves back into the car and headed home.  As we were driving we decided  to make some stops along the way.  We stopped and toured Shawnee National Forest.  When we drove into the town, we felt as though we had been transported back in time.  There, in the center of the town was a bench with a couple of old timers just sitting and chatting the day away.  It was almost like an Andy Griffith show.  We did tour the Cave in the Rock along the Ohio River where Pirates at one point used to hide treasures.  Because of the drought, the waterfalls that would normally be trickling down,were absent and we could stand in the rock and overlook this beautiful scenery.  Now at this point I was not feeling well...my ear was really starting to bother me...Kenn began not feeling well either.  We thought maybe some of the water from the river got in my ear and perhaps some type of parasite.  I just wanted to get home at that point, but as we drove north, we passed the town of METROPOLIS....the home of Superman.  Well, we of course stopped to see the town and show the girls.  There we stood in the town square admiring this 15 foot high statue of Superman.  There were museums and stores to go in and out of.  We did a brief tour and continued our trek towards the North when we came to the town of Arcola and a place called Rockome Gardens.  Another place to tour.  I trudged along for the girls sake...by now I was running a fever.  They got to ride the pony and get a slice of tree cut by the saw that was attached to the horse.  We walked the gardens that had numerous walls and statues, fences and homes built from rocks and stones and even 7-up bottles.  I must say they were gorgeous.  Flowers bloomed everywhere and by now everyone was hungry, so we enjoyed an Amish dinner in their restaurant.  The time finally arrived to take the last 3 hour leg of the trip home.  The girls had fallen asleep in the back seat on the way home.  I was grateful that my husband was driving.  I couldn't wait to get some aspirin and crawl into bed.  The next day, I went to the doctor for antibiotics and then upon arriving home, began the task of unpacking and doing the  laundry.  Even though I had gotten sick in the end, it was an unbelievable trip to remember.  I was so pleased to have given the girls the opportunity of something that was different and unusual.  I would love to go back and see some of those sights all over again.  I would love to rent the houseboat again as well.  I am not sure how well I would steer it these days.  I remember the first time pulling into the slot.  It was a hair raising experience.  It wasn't quite as easy as one may have thought.  But after the first time...it got easier and easier.  How many people could have said that they had that type of experience...it was as though I was Tammy in the movies....living on a houseboat...only this was luxury compared to what she lived on.  In case you don't know who Tammy is...There were a series of Tammy movies from the 50-60's starring Debbie Reynolds, that I was crazy about....Tammy and the bachelor, Tammy Tell Me True, Tammy and the Millionaire and Tammy and the Doctor.  Well at least the Debbie name was the same and the houseboat part were the same!  If you have never seen the movies...I recommend them...and if you have never rented a houseboat for a vacation...I would highly recommend that as well. Life is too short..take every advantage to spread your wings and go on an adventure.

Getting engaged

Good Afternoon.  What an unbelievably hot day here in the Chicago land area.  When I walked out of my house this morning, I really could not wait until I go into my car.  I was diagnosed with a sinus infection yesterday and something new to me...lymphtitus...and infection in the lynph glands. Yeah me!!  Well, at least it is not contagious...so more Zpacs  for me.  I had an early performance this morning, quite a distance from home...so needless to say, my blog is late. 
I thought about what todays topic should be and decided on getting engaged.  I think that today there is such a difference on this intimate act of two people deciding whether they want to spend the rest of their lives together.  I thought about how the times have changed and how different it is for a man to propose to a woman.  I think that the times have changed so much that a man must go through hyperventilating just thinking about making the plans of how to do it.  Years ago...usually, a man went and asked for permission from the girls parents.  If he didn't, then he would plan out some secluded moment in their time together to get down on one knee and pop the question. 
Now a days it is so much more elaborate than that!  They have airplane write the question in the sky, they have billboards put up with the question, they have it on the game boards at sports arenas, They even now have Engagement Planners....can you imagine.  I just saw on on the Cake Boss Show.  She plans every little detail out for you...can you imagine?
I remember the day that my son-in-law proposed to my daughter.  He had asked for our permission and asked me to go with him to help choose the perfect ring for my daughter.  When he made his final decision....he planned on a totally different day than what he originally planned.  With my help...he planned an evening downtown in Chicago, looking at the Christmas windows...I aided along by asking my daughter to stop at Marshal Fields and pay my credit card bill.  All was done very nonchalantly.  They went downtown, she paid my bill, they looked at windows and then he said "Why don't we take a carriage ride"?  They hailed a carriage and while snuggled under a blanket, he pulled out the ring and proposed.  Of course she said yes...hence the son-in-law part.  when they got back to the house with the ring...I had champagne and hand painted wine glasses ready with the table set with a runner with bride and groom frogs....some might think it was silly...but I was was being symbolic.  Foggy went a courtin was the theme.  I know...I already can hear the groans!! 
It was a very romantic and special day for them. 
I looked back on my engagement.   First you have to understand that when my husband and I met, he proceeded to inform me that he just wanted to date...he was clear that he wanted no involvement...no commitment, and I was perfectly fine with that.  We could just go out and have some good times.  One week later, driving to the movies, he turned to me in the car and said...Hey...you want to get married?  I turned and said...yeah...why not.  Not the most romantic thing in the world.  There was no ring...just a proposal.  three weeks later..he picked me up from work.  At the time, I was a cashier in the Vault at Weibolts in Norridge.  I got into his Silver Mercury Montego and he drove over to Schiller Park Woods.  We got out of the car and started to walk the trail.  Nothing unusual, just a walk in the woods.  At one point, about an hour into the walk we found this tree laying down on the ground and we sat down.  Now the entire time we were walking, he had picked me a flower here and there.  Once we were sitting, he was fidgeting all over the place until finally he stood up and then got down on one knee and proposed formally.  He then proceeded to tell me he had another surprise for me back at his apartment.  I couldn't imagine what in the world it could be, but I was surely excited since there was to be more than an engagement ring.  We got back to the car and he proceeded to drive me to his place.  Once we climbed the two flights of stairs and he unlocked the door, he put both of his hands over my eyes and carefully guided me through the house.  Once we reached the final destination, he turned me to whatever he was not going to reveal to me and removed his hands. You could not imagine the look on my face or the shock of looking at the kitchen sink....the surprise was on it...He had purchased me a sink drainer, potato peeler, Turkish coffee pot and a set of knives.  I was stunned to say the least.  When he noticed that I wasn't overly excited over his surprise, he just answered ..."It's all the things you said we needed for you to properly make a meal!"  Okay, now if you are all off of the floor from laughing...it is true!  He really thought this was the most Fantastic surprise!  Well, it was a surprise alright...just not anything I had ever imagined!  He should have stopped at the forest preserves.  It sort of took away from the walk and the proposal.  Now when I went home, normally a girl would be so excited to tell her mother that she got engaged....but when I got home, our dog was in the middle of having puppies and that excitement just sort of took over.  At the end of the night as well washed up and prepared for bed...I nonchalantly said to my mom and grandma..."Oh, by the way, I got engaged today!"  Their response," oh that's nice...we'll talk in the morning." 
Even planning a wedding was not what we had expected...I always wanted to be a June bride...so we planned for the following June...almost a year later.  But when we were looking for a hall...all the dates were taken, All the months that were available...were months his family wouldn't attend a wedding.  Not May because it was the month of Mary and it is unlucky to get married in May....Not During lent because...well....noone would come during lent...He wanted winter then...I was not going to chance a winter wedding...so we were needless to say at a standstill.  We stopped by the German restaurant that my mom worked at called Bamburgers and proceeded to tell her our woes over finding a hall for the wedding....My mother then said..."How about here?"  I looked at him...he looked at me...we shrugged out shoulders and said " What's available?"  my mother choose Sept.  21st...and we said fine.  So now I had to plan a Polish wedding in three months.  Now talk about ROMANCE???  Now we had what one might call a WHIRLWIND ROMANCE....hmm....I might just call it something else...but I quite haven't found the right words yet.  Give me another 39 years.     

The Lagoon

Good morning to all of you out there in cyber world.  I hope you are having as good of a summer as I . It seems like if we blink and it will be gone.  Time to enjoy it while it is here.  Why not share what is going on in your summer.
Welll, on to todays story. 
When I was a young girl growing up in Chicago, it was a very special treat each year to get to go to the Ice Capades.  Now, some of you might be wondering what the Ice Capades is.  Well, back in my day, it was a show on Ice.  Not a Disney Show on ice, although I think that may have evolved from it, but this was a magnificent show wth costumes that you just looked at with amazement.  Costumed dresses that sparkld and dazzled you.  It was ice skating at it's finiest.  It was pure entertainment on ice set to music.  It was like watching todays Dancing with the stars.  Talent and costumes.  It was like seeing the Rockettes.  Champions on Ice, a circus on ice and so much more.  The Ice Capades was an absolutely spectacular production.  I loved that my mother would take me there.  It was one of the highlighted moments each year in my life. 
Now one particular year, when I was 9, my mother decided to take my cousins young son-in-law...he was about 2 years older than me.  We drove over to his house to pick him up.  We had about an hour extra for the mom's to visit.  Richie....that was the young mans name and I were bored, so he suggested that we go over to Reiss Park by the Lagoon.  It was just down the block from where he lived.  So we walked over there....now it was winter time and the lagoon was frozen.   I did not have on boots because we were going to the Ice Capades and we were really only in and out of the car...or supposed to be any way. I remember that I wore my favorite outfit.  It was a powder blue pleated skirt with an ivory jacket that was trimmed in the same blue as the skirt with an embroidered flower on the right side at the top.  I wore black patent leather shoes and white ruffled socks.  There I was, at the side of the lagoon dressed all prim and proper and Richie tells me that we could walk over the lagoon to the other side.  I didn't really want to go...who walks over ice in patent leather shoes?  But he egged me on until I finally stepped onto the ice.  I kept asking him if this was really safe...and of course he told me not to be chicken....it was fine.  So as I carefully proceeded to take one slow step at a time, crack when the ice and down I went.  Now, the area that I was in was not deep....thank God...and I only fell in up to my mid calf....He came over and got me out .  We hurriedly walked back to his house and when I stepped inside, my mom was horrified.  "Look at you"...she bellowed.  Now what are we going to do?  We don't have enough time now to go home and get you changed.  They gave me a washrag and soap and I washed my legs which were now covered in the mess from the lagoon.  I put on the socks and thought I would just about die!  And when I went to put on my patent leather shoes they were really tight because of those awful heavy socks.  I was not only embarrassed because I had to wear boys socks, but my feet really hurt now as well.  I hated that there was no other option.  I hated Richie for making me go across that stupid lagoon...oh why I didn't listen to that little voice in my head that said "don't do it!" 
We got into the car and went to the Ice Capades....I was sure that every single person that saw me was staring at those ugly socks.  I couldn't wait to get to our seats and feel safe, because the stadium was dark. 
The show began and it was fabulous.  I almost forgot all about my socks.  Then the most unbelievable thing happened.  At one point in the show they pick kids from the audience to come out on the ice and ride this fantastic ice mobile.  Wouldn't you know it.  I never got picked before...but that day....you got it...they picked me.    They I was in my beautiful powder blue outfit.  My hair perfectly coiffed in pin curls, patent leather shoes...and a pair of UGLY boy socks in front of what 10,000 people.  I could have died of embarrassment!  But I did get to ride with mobile and some of the ice skaters.  It was a day to remember for sure...maybe a little bit more that I would have wanted to remember...I wish I could have forgotten those socks...but in the end.  I always remembered that day...and I never let Richie forget it either! 

A Road Rally on Foot

Good morning to everyone.  It will be another hot day for us here in the Chicago area.  I try hard to look on the positive side of things, but to wake up to a predicted ninety something day and a sore throat is not my idea of a way to start the day.  But thank God my eyes opened. and my feet touched the floor...so I am good.  I look forward to a number of performances this week...these are with the younger crowds and I will spend today preparing the props and costumes needed for the performances.  Yesterday was a an art day with the Alzheimer.  Our theme was picnic, so we painted red and white checkered tablecloths with ants on them and then a slice of watermelon on half of a paper plate and attached it.  They came out great. I am so proud of what these residents are able to accomplish, but I must share how difficult it is for them, but they continue on.  It is hard for me to see the inability or the forgotten art of holding a paintbrush, or the questioning look of what do I do with this once the paintbrush is in their hands.  But, once guided, they accomplish the task at hand.  I always feel so blessed when I leave the facility knowing how happy they are to see their finished pieces of art.  I have to share this as well.  I had 9 residents yesterday....this is a lot to have when you are dealing with Alzheimer.  I ran around in circles for an hour helping each individual.  It is warm in the facility and they are all cold...I, on the other hand had sweat pouring down my neck and off my forehead.  I held a paper towel in my hand to catch the drips and one dropped onto one of the residents arms as I leaned over to help her.  She asked if it was raining in the house?  I just sang to myself "Raindrops keep falling from my head?"  By the time I left and got to my car, I had about 1/3 of a glass of water left in my water bottle and it was warm by now.  All I could think of was getting something cold to drink.
When I turned the corner...there were these sweet 4 or 5 year olds waving a sign towards the car...they were advertising a lemonade stand...now I am a sucker for kids, stopped the car...asked what they had to sell?  Of course I already knew....I told them I would take a glass...when they asked if I wanted ice...I just silently looked up and said "Thank you Lord!"  I was never so happy for a glass of lemonade in my life.  I added it to my water and it quenched my thirst. God is always there watching out for me and I am grateful!  Sometimes...we just need to recognize how subtle He can be!
Now on to today's story.  For those of you reading this, you may not understand what a road rally is and I will begin with a definition.  My husband used to go on Road Rallys when he was in college.  It is like being on a treasure hunt....only you are in a car and the treasure hunt is done by various directions.  They are not go 10 feet and go to the left.  They are written  with directions and there can be riddles or clues, questions to be answered along the way.  You are trying to solve puzzles along the way.  You are handed some sealed envelopes when you begin, which if they are opened, points are deducted from your score at the end of the race.  If an envelope is opened, it will direct to the next check point and you are given your next direction.  There are usually a few checkpoints along the way to keep everyone on task and used more or less as a safety zone.  Sometimes you are asked to do something when you reach the checkpoint, like do a Chinese fire drill...which is get out of your car and run around I like an idiot and get back in before you leave.  You will often have to get a signature from the person at the checkpoint for extra points and sometimes there is a lead story that makes you count things for extra points along the way if you understand that that is what you are being told what to do....often times the story just befuddles the group and they land up wondering  why in the world it was even there.  One time we began our story with a wild intro about the Grecian Olympics ....it was an interesting little blurb that in the end we asked how many of these will you have seen along todays route...what we were actually saying was count how many MARATHON GAS STATIONS you see along your travel today. 
It takes quite a bit of work to get the map prepared.  We go over it and over it.  We send someone on it that is not part of the group to test it.  You have to double check it right before the event to make sure nothing has changed or that a business that you might have used in a question or direction hasn't gone out of business.  Once, we had a friend, Jeanni who worked n a Gas station who was willing to be part of our plan.  The participants had to go in and purchase a special package of LIFESAVERS that had the next direction on it.  I had frozen directions in an ice cube and they were directed to arrive at an ice company and had someone sitting there with the cubes, they had t pay for it with 10 pennies.  Then they had to figure out how to quickly melt the cube to get the laminated directions out.  The key to all this, was that the Race was timed...so timing was of the essence. 
Now, I am the Queen of a Red Hat Group and wanted to give this fun experience to my friends.  Only a Red Hat group are woman who are 50 and older...and putting them in a car to do a rally didn't seem like the safest thing to do, so I decided to do one on foot.  I enlisted my husbands help and we went to the Schaumberg Mall to write a Walking Rally.  Now if you are not from Illinois...let me clue you in on the fact that the Schaumberg Mall is an extremely large two level mall.  My husband and I must have walked it at least 5 or 6 times the first time out.  We had to pay attention to names of stores, side aisles, outdoor surroundings, etc.  We wanted to keep the ladies from going into the stores, so as not to interfere with any of the businesses.  We looked at plants, lighting in the mall, odd things that might be on the beaten paths.  Once we got a layout of the Mall, we sat down to have a drink and tried to see which of the stores could be written into a clue.  Now, it would be something like the following....you will pas the most famous place to have breakfast at, turn right at the next corner.  What is this place called......?  The first thing in their heads might be to head towards the food court....the real answer would be TIFFANY's Jewelry store. 
Well, the time finally came for what I called the Winter Olympics.   We did this in the Winter when walking outdoors was not an option.  The girls all showed up and were paired with a partner.  When they were checked in and ready to start the race, we marked their sheets of instructions with the time they started. They were handed their emergency envelopes and sharpened pencils, and off they went.  Now I had 2 husbands planted at 2 different locations called the checkpoints, my husband being one of them.  Once all the girls were checks in, off I went with a camera and took pictures of them roaming the Mall.  The last location for them to find was the restaurant where we would be having dinner at.  It was a blast!  Watching the confusion, overhearing their conversations was priceless.  They all managed to land up at a place where gorillas are in the mist....."The Rainforest Café".  I had the husbands tally up their paperwork, the answers and the count of the specific things they were to keep count of, and the timing.  You got certain points for certain things.  When the end of the dinner came, it was time to announce the winners.  I made trophies and the top 2 got Gift Certificates to Payless Shoe store for walking their feet off.  Fun was had by all.  It really didn't cost much to run the event.  A bit of imagination and some donated time by myself and my husband.  Sometimes we forget that we don't need a lot of money to have a great evening.  To top it off...my husband and I spent a number of hours together, anticipating what the girls might do, laughing at the prospect of tricking them.  being as creative as we could possibly get.  Not only were we having fun, but making an event and an opportunity for them to remember as well was quite rewarding.  So if you are ever looking to do something on the unusual side, want to get some exercising in, this is a great way to do it while having fun at the same time.

Root Beer....a REAL POP!

Good morning to everyone.  I am ready to start another wonderful day.  I am excited because I get to spend it with a very dear person.  Did you ever notice how wonderful a day can be when you spend it with someone you care about, is upbeat and shares all our same interests.  It doesn't matter what you do...it's just that you get to do it together?  Well, that's the kind of day I am going to have...and I am so grateful to God for it!
Well todays topic takes me back in time a bit.  I grew up in a small neighborhood of Chicago with my grandparents.  Now my mom lived with us and I always say I grew up with my grandparents because my mom worked...all the time!! And my Grandparents were really the ones that raised me.  Well, every single summer, grandmother did something special.  Back then, drinking soda was not really something you did very often.  You might get a bottle of coke if you were traveling in the car and stopped at a gas station.   You could go to the drug store and get a phosphate or a pop at the soda fountain.  But generally, we did not have soda as a drink of choice at home.  At home, it was usually common to have juice, water or a soda fountain syrup type drink that was made with soda fountain syrup and water.  My mother worked at Woolworth's and used to bring home a gallon of Fruit punch syrup that my Grandma used to make and keep in a pitcher on the end of the kitchen counter.  The only other alternative was milk.  And that was always our choice with cookies. 
Now once a year Grandma would make homemade root beer.  Now, If you have never had real homemade root beer...you have no idea what you are missing.  Nothing you can buy today can compare to how good a bottle of it is.  Now the preparations to making root beer are not very difficult.  There are not a lot of ingredients needed to make it.  There are various ways, one being that you can make it in a gallon jug and within 24 hours it is good to go, but not quite as good as the longer process. Then there is the way to make it and bottle it.  That was what Grandma used to do.  she had these brown bottles that had corks that fit into it.  She would make the root beer and then using a funnel would fill and cork up the bottles. Grandpa would use a mallet and hammer in the corks good and tight.  She would use this great big piece of board and we would line the bottles on the board and she would slide it under the bed.  She always explained that they needed to be in the dark.  Then we would have to wait 1 week before we could enjoy it.  I tell you, sometimes it seemed like the week would never come to its end knowing that it was just sitting there. 
Well, year after year, all went well and we would enjoy that delicious treat.  Only one year, we were sitting in the kitchen and having breakfast at the kitchen table.  It was a really hot day, and of course we had no air conditioning, when all of a sudden there came this sound of gun shots...pow.pow.pow.  It startled the daylights out of all of us and it sounded like it was really close.  Grandpa went racing to the front window with Grandma and told me to get down on the floor and under the table and stay there.  I was so frightened,  I had no idea what was happening.  They came back and told me to come out and then another pow!  Grandma looked at Grandpa...it was one of those "oh no" types of looks.  They had seen nothing outside....Grandma started to then walk to the bedroom where the root beer was fermenting, only to find it was the root beers that had exploded and popped their corks.  It was so long and continuous it sound just like a Western movie was taking place around us.  Grandma just started yelling when she saw the sticky mess that was now under the bed.
Grandpa and I lifted up the mattresses only to find all but one bottle had popped open.  35 bottles were  all two thirds empty now and oozing all over the floor.  There was root bear spray all over the box spring.  Grandpa carried it out into the back yard and then carefully hosed it down.  and left it in the sun to dry.  I helped Grandma clean up all that root beer on the floor.  I hate to say it, but all I kept thinking the entire time was who was going to get to drink the last bottle of root beer.  Once we wiped the mess up and began washing the floor down with some fels naphta soap and water...Grandma started laughing.  She was laughing so hard it made me start to laugh as well.  By the time Grandpa came back into the house and to the bedroom, Grandma and I were in total hysterics and poor Grandpa thought we had lost it.  Then within a few minutes Grandpa was laughing too. 
Well, needless to say, Grandma had decided that you can't make root beer when  it is too hot outdoors and would now pay closer attention to the weather...although later in life, I questioned why she just didn't put the bottles in the basement.  It was cool and dark down there.  But sometimes the simplest solutions escape us.  When the day came that the only bottle of root beer could be opened.  We three sat at the kitchen tale with little shot glasses and shared that delightful foamy drink. 
After I grew up and got married Grandma had gotten too old to make the root beer any more. 
I had really forgotten about it until I was in this Amish town in Indiana.  In one of the Restaurants they advertised Homemade Root Beer.  They served it in cold frosted mugs.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Yummm....that was good.  Brought back those memories of Grandma and the Wild West Show under the bed.  I decided that now that I had grandchildren. I should try my hand at it.  I had found all these old brown bottles that were beer bottles that had these corks that had a metal spring that clamped them down.  I landed up with a few dozen, so I bought the root beer extract in the Amish store, and made us some root beer.  The Grandkids loved it.  When we were going to have it...I would have them make some homemade ice cream in a bag so that we could make a root beer float as well.   I was never able to give them a Wild west show making Root beer, but hopefully, I gave them something to remember and hopefully share with their children and grandchildren.   

A Prom Date

Good morning to everyone...today I have a big day planned.  I am  attending a painting class for the day and then in the evening I will be  a speaker for an organization I am affiliated with.
I thought over what to write about this morning and thought about prom dates.  Now, I must tell you that through the years in my high school days, I had gone through a number of prom dates.  I remember the excitement of being asked to go to prom and all the hub bub of shopping for a gown and shoes and purse to match.  Making sure the young man knew what color I chose so that he could get the right color of flowers to match.
Then there was the thrill of the day itself.  For a girl, anyway, you had to have your nails done, your hair done.  Makeup had to be absolutely perfect.  You dressed and once your date arrived there were always tons of pictures taken.  Fist at you house, then at the young man's house and sometimes, if you double dated, then you went to each of their houses as well.
There was always the prom and dance. Then afterwards you would go out to a special place afterwards as well for food and or entertainment.  The hot spot that we kids used to want tot always go to was Shanghai Lil's on Milwaukee Ave on the north side of Chicago.  It was a Hawaiian restaurant that also had a floor show.  It was so exciting to go there.  Many of you classmates were there as well to enjoy their type décor, the virgin drinks that were always so interesting with those little paper umbrellas decorating them. 
After that long evening was over...and it was long...e usually didn't arrive home until after 3 in the morning.  Of course our curfews had all be waived since it was prom night.  We would go home and prepare ourselves for the picnic the next day.  We would all usually not even bother to sleep.  We would change clothes, pack our picnic baskets, bathing suits and beach towels and suntan lotion and start off on another adventure.  Our usual spot to spend the day was at the beach in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. 
Now as you are reading this, you are probably nodding your head as to the similarity of this day to yours and  even bigger nod if you were from the Chicago land  area. 
Now, I want to share one particular prom date that I went on, in fact, it was the last one I ever attended. 
I was always in plays at the Private boys high schools, and consequently made friends there that were lasting friendships.  Well, one of the guy friends had a friend who needed a date for the prom.  He told me that he was a really nice guy, why not meet him and  so a bling date was planned.  I met the young man.  He was very tall...I liked tall because then I didn't have to worry about wearing heels.  I was 5 feet 9 inches tall.  He was good looking...always a bonus, but the best thing was he was a really nice guy.  I like him and so when he asked if I would consider going to his prom, I immediately accepted.  We landed up going on numerous dates prior to the prom and so we actually became a couple.  A blind date that turned out pretty well. 
Now, prom date came and it was wonderful.  A great evening.  Dancing and fun.  The usual trip to Shanghai Lil, the usually picnic preparations and the usual day at Lake Geneva.  When you are 17 everything in the world is always peaches and cream!  Well, after the day at the lakes we came back home  and changed and decided to go out again, only this time to park at Lake Michigan.  When you are 17 and in love, romance is easily found around almost any corner.  We would go to this one spot called the Montrose Harbor, park and make out.  It was a beautiful night, the water and boats were so soothing to watch. The moon was almost full and its light danced across the midnight sky.  I was in the arms of the young man whom  was in love with.  Nothing could be more perfect.  When it became 10 P.M., we decided it was time to go home.  We had had 2 really full days of pure pleasure and enjoyment and only perhaps 3 hours of sleep in between. 
We were driving down Montrose Ave.  He was driving his mothers car...and in those days there were no consoles in between the front seats.  I was sitting right next to him and his arms was wrapped over my shoulders with my head placed on his shoulders.  I was so very tired and tried hard to stay awake,  He told me that I should just fall asleep and he would wake me when we got to my house.  I was so happy that he was so considerate and closed my eyes and dropped off to slumber land.  When I awoke it was not at my home.  There was all this nose and sirens. 
When I opened my eyes I realized we had been in an automobile crash.  You see....he was pretty tired a well, and fell asleep at the wheel.  At 30 MPH we went up a light post.  They say the fact that we were asleep is what saved our lives.  There were no seat belt laws in those days...I upon the hit, went through the windshield taking the real view mirror, which in those days were attached to the roof of the car...out the window with my forehead and then fell back into the car, which at that point the dashboard had fallen onto my legs and the firemen were trying to pry me out.  He had hit the steering wheel and had knocked some of his teeth in half.  We were finally removed from the crash and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. 
Now once we were in the hospital , they needed permission to work on us since we were bot minors.  They called our homes to get that permission.  His parents came immediately.  My mother on the other hand was at work, so they spoke with my Grandmother.  She of course gave permission to have anything I needed done.  I had to have glass removed from my forehead and have stitches put in. 
Now, as soon as my poor mother got home from work, my grandmother unfolded the story to her, told her I was in the hospital .  When my mother asked her which one, my grandmother had gotten so upset over the ordeal...she forgot the name of the hospital...all she kept telling my mother was that all she could remember was it sounded like a bird.  Now, here was my poor mother...Grandmother hadn't even shared that we had come home from Wisconsin, calling all these
hospitals, police etc.., to try to find me.  Finally she took a chance and got in her car to see if she could find the young man's house.  We had passed by it one day and I had pointed it out to her.  Well, she did find the house and the young mans brother was there and told her that we were at RAVENSWOOD hospital on Montrose Ave. in Chicago.  She final arrived and was relieved to see that  was not seriously hurt.  Lots of scrapes and bruises, stitches in my head, but no broken bones and I was laying in a hospital bed with tubes everywhere.  Not the greatest look for my graduation, or my graduation pictures, but  was in relatively good shape.  By the time my mother got there, it was well after midnight and Mothers Day to boot.  I am sure that was one Mother's Day my mom never forgot. 
Now the one blessing was that most prom dates involve some sort of alcohol drinking, but we were not the alcohol drinking types.  Thank God for small miracles.  I cannot have imagined what would have happened had we been.  I didn't think a lot about anyone else at the time...because, well, I was 17 and thought about myself and the young man.  But wen I look back now, thank God no one else had been hurt or for that matter killed because a couple of kids were too dumb to know that enough was enough.  I tell the story over and over to my granddaughters to remind them that even though there are nothing but good intentions....accidents happen!  I hope that my story s one that will perhaps save them from ever having to go through anything like what I went through!
Now the same routine of preparations ensued.  We went to the prom and had a wonderful time. 

When Animals Speak to Us

Good morning once again.  I am a bit on the sluggish side this morning after a very late evening.  I hate when I am wide awake at the end of the day.  But today is a new day and  whole new beginning. 
Today's topic is about when animals speak.  This may seem like a strange title to some and perhaps not to others, but it is something that I have had strong feelings about.  Many years back I had a group of both men and women who would meet once a week at my home.  Our purpose was to meditate and to investigate and learn all forms of metaphysics.  We studied all types of eastern medicines, beliefs, western medicine, comparisons and so forth.  During this time, I believe that all of us that were invested in these studies and we grew tremendously.  We learned abut herbs, essential oils, Bach therapies, hydrotherapies.  We learned about sounds and mantras and their healing effects.  We studied therapeutic touch and Reiki.  We also learned about the Earth changes.  We even studied what animals mean if they come to you. 
Now for some, this may seem an odd thing, or perhaps you have never thought about it because it has never been presented to you.  When we studied this, we used a book that was written by Ted Andrews called When Animals speak.  It spoke of all the meanings behind the animals, totems and so forth.  I studied it, found it interesting but had never put that thought into any sort of  practice, until one specific day.  A hummingbird appeared in my yard. 
Now to many seeing a hummingbird would not be such a big deal, but you see, I had tried to attract hummingbirds for years to no avail.  I had tried every type of hummingbird feeders imaginable...with no luck.  Then one day, I was having a Red Hat event  and we were all in the garden.  Now if you don't know what a Red Hat group is...it is a social group of women 50 and older that get together for fun and socialization.  We all wear purple with red hats.  I could go on, but for the moment, that is all you really need to know. 
So there we all were sitting in the back yard for a tea.  Suddenly, there appears a hummingbird.  It was at my Weigala bush eating away, while it's wings were all a flutter.  Now, at the time, I was so awe struck, that all the learning that I did in my group never even came to mind.  I just was so thrilled to have seen a Hummingbird in my yard and that was enough.  
Now the next day, I was up in my painting studio and started thinking about that Hummingbird.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether it would ever return.  I got up from my chair and walked across the room to the window overlooking my garden.  Lo and behold, there again by the same bush was that hummingbird.  Now, I thought, "what are the odds, that at the precise time that I looked out the window, another hummingbird would be there for me to see!"  At that point, I began to think about the book and when animals speak....I was so curious that I went to the bookshelves to pull the book out and look up what hummingbird has to say.  As I was walking back to my chair to read the book, I fanned through it's pages and just about fell over as I began to read the page on hummingbirds. 
The meaning of hummingbird told you to watch out for your blood sugars.   I was a borderline Diabetic.  At this point I had started needing medicine to control my blood sugars.  It also talked about humming and the healing vibrations that it had on a person.  I had spent my entire life singing and constantly hummed without even realizing it...it was brought to my attention by many.  Now, I was in a state of sorrow at the time, having had experienced a tragic loss and no longer sang or hummed.  I just sat back in my chair in utter amazement.  Needless to say I have returned to humming,  to the chagrin of many who are in the same room with me for long periods of time. 
Now you would think that this would be a one time thing, right?  Wrong....many years went by, when suddenly, it seemed as though everywhere I went, I began to see deer.  Now I would go to work and one ran across the road right in front of me, I would pass by forest preserves and they were right there at the edge of the woods staring back at me.  Now I suppose that those circumstances may seem usual...but the one that got me to stand up and pay attention was one day I opened my front door and there was one right in front of my door on the street looking straight at me.  Now I know I live a block from the woods, but really....right at my front door?!  I ran up the stairs to the bookshelves to get the book once again and looked up seeing the deer.  It said that there would be a move in my life.  Okay, I thought this is really strange, because we had just put in a bid on a house in another state.  I was planning to change and move my entire life.  This was unbelievable.  Now as it turned out, the owner choose not to take the conditions to the bid, so we did not buy the home, but boy did my life change!  I began to make changes and move my life around.  Sometimes, the meanings are the same, just applied in a different manner. 
So recently, I was sitting in the garden and was surrounded by butterflies.  I mean all kinds.  And they weren't just passing through!  One in particular kept circling me all afternoon.  Even my husband made mention to it.  And that was not the only one.  In fact, so many began to appear that I made my husband go in the house and cut a banana and put it on a plate to bring out for them.   I continued to see them constantly and decided it was perhaps time to see what the message might be.  There are many connotations to seeing a butterfly.  Many cultures believe that they are souls coming to be near us.  This was amazing since I have recently received my mother's ashes and her husband had never put her in an urn of any sort.  He just left her in the plastic bag.  I, of course, was appalled!,  And was in the works of painting her a box  for her ashes to go in.  I wondered whether it was her soul?  Telling me that she was finally happy at the thought of being laid to rest in a beautiful place. I painted a folk art rose on the top of a jewelry type wooden box, in a gold stroke worked heart. 
Butterflies message is transformation.  Being ready for the changes that are coming.  It teaches us to be light.  To dance.  Hmmm...no wonder I got a call from my dance teacher as to when I will be returning to my lessons.
So, I see that I am going to go through some more changes in my life.  I see that with my storytelling, things are changing.  I am on a new journey.  I need to be ready and willing to make changes...and that is exactly what I have been doing.
I once had a conversation with someone who thought my beliefs in seeing a specific animal was crazy....that's a bunch of hocus pocus belief.  I said to them, if God knows what might trigger me to believe in His message...He knows how I will perceive it.  Who am I to question Him.  That put an end to that discussion.
So, with that I say that if you see an animal once...I don't necessarily recommend that you run to a book to look up it's meaning, but if you are continuously seeing a specific animal...see what it has to say.  There is a rhyme and a reason to everything...why not this as well?  How many times have you had a dream and upon waking, wondered why you dreamt that or what it might have meant.  Well, the same goes  while we are awake.  We are so wrapped up in dismissing sometimes the most obvious signs in life.  God speaks to us in so many ways.  My advice is to try and take the time to listen.   
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