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Lunch Money

I’m not sure exactly when I first met Anton Cobb. I do know it was in the Chocolate Moon, a congenial coffee shop in Elmhurst that I frequented.

I do remember the first time Anton served me in the Moon; decaf, skim, vanilla latte, in a mug. He had grown from the young boy I first met to a young man in what seemed like no time at all and there he was, one fine day, brewing everyone’s favorite coffee beverages.

In even less time he was off to college, though he would spend time in the Moon when home on break. A cordial and good-natured person, Anton would always acknowledge what our Katy christened as “the Moonies”; a gathering of “regulars” who became friends there, including Anton’s mom. The Chocolate Moon had a life of its own. In fact, it probably has a book of its own; stories for another time.

Eventually, Anton moved away. Far way, in fact. His endeavors led him to Oregon, and that is really where this post leads as well.

Anton set a table, a chair, a flower and a tablecloth in a bustling park in Portland during his lunch hour. There he sits, each week, giving up his lunch money so that children will not go hungry. He invites passers-by to join him in his goal to help feed boys and girls who might otherwise go unfed. His efforts have not only helped the Oregon Food Bank feed children, but they came to the attention of media.

I could tell you my version of Anton’s hOUR LUNCH, but, he does it so much better, with passion and enthusiasm, that I would like to invite you to hear more about hOUR LUNCH from Anton Cobb himself,  on TED, perhaps while you are sitting down to eat your own lunch.

Well done, Anton. Well Done.

We are all proud of you – and inspired as well.

(I originally wrote this post after seeing Anton’s Ted Talk with the intention of publishing it today, unaware that today is Anton’s father’s birthday. It is interesting how the stars seem to align at times. I know that Anton’s mom, Janet (Blogging from the Bog) is very proud of  him, and I am sure that his dad, Fred, is looking down from above, equally proud. ) 

The Children Act

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I have started this post several times, never adequately expressing my thoughts . It is not that I did not enjoy Ian McEwan’s “The Children Act”. Enjoy it I did, however,  I have struggled with how to navigate my feelings over the intriguing plot and characters. This is not a “fun” read, nor a page turning thriller. It is not funny, though I have read a few reviews that imply parts of it are. “The Children Act” is a provocative novella that left me pondering the unexpected consequences of one’s decisions, even the most thoughtful ones. Yes or no? Right or left? The blur between the lines. The unfathomable outcomes.

I finished the audio of “The Children Act” several days ago. It sits in the car, patiently waiting its return to the library, where it needs to go today. There was this underlying feeling that if I held onto it, the words would come to me on what to say.

They didn’t.

Some words just seem to take longer to percolate in one’s memory grooves. A walk in the garden, even the mindless task of pulling weeds, always seem to help me harvest my thoughts, so I did just that. I took a walk about the acreage, hovering over this book-loving garden fairy. Lo and behold, the words started to perk into sentences, which I will try to express now.

Judge Fiona Maye is charged with finding a legal judgement regarding whether or not a boy, on the cusp of adulthood, should be allowed to die because of his faith or ordered to live. The case falls into Fiona’s hands just as her husband asks for permission – to have an affair.

Of course, it is not that simple a decision, the court decision, that is. Or is it?

Adam Henry, just months away from his 18th birthday, is being treated for leukemia. A Jehovah Witness, he has refused the blood transfusion he desperately needs, which is forbidden by his religion. Still legally a child, his parents concur, as do the elders of his church. Adam’s doctors are seeking a legal decision in favor of a transfusion in order to save his life. Both sides pose formidable arguments.

After listening to both positions, Fiona suspends court proceedings and goes to visit Adam in his hospital room. She finds a desperately ill boy who is bright, engaging, thoughtful and inquisitive. Adam writes poetry and is learning to play the violin even as he is dying. She also finds that Adam, who insists on referring to Fiona in the courtly “my lady”, is rooted in his belief system, quoting chapter and verse of the Bible and resolute in his refusal of a blood transfusion. He seems to know his own mind.

My Lady and Adam form a courtly bond of sorts, he playing the violin, she singing along and gently correcting him on wrong notes. She is also an accomplished pianist and it is through her own musical performance that revelations about her decisions are later shown. Both boy and judge are moved in profound ways by the hospital visit – and transformed by Fiona’s ruling in unanticipated ways.

I found “The Children Act” to be a story that lingers still and leaves me with more questions than answers. “The Children Act” is about making thoughtful decisions after much discernment for all the right reasons only to be faced with unfathomable consequences. There is a particularly revelatory moment when Adam expresses in writing his feelings at the ruling. It is so well-formed and executed that it lingers, rather like the audio that sits on the seat of my car, patiently waiting for me to do something with it, which I can’t for it would give away the storyline.

I’m not sure that this post expresses my thoughts as I wanted them to, but, I tried. I think it best that I leave my words here and take another stroll about the garden and ponder a bit more about “The Children Act” . Have you read “The Children Act” or any of Ian McEwan’s other works?

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Intoxication

IMG_7491 - Version 2As I do most mornings, I took a walk about the garden, stopping first in Penny’s Arbor House (aka Papa’s Tree House, according to grandson Ezra).  A wren was searching about for her for breakfast, As my eyes took in the lush, green if weedy expanse of lawn, I could see the havoc the resident herd wreaked upon several plants.

I heard an oriole high in the canopy. I saw him yesterday, wearing his bright orange cloak. He was perched, quite regally on a pole just a few feet from the Wildlife Habitat sign – a Kodak moment if ever there was. I no sooner turned on my camera when he flitted away, resuming his melodic sonnet upon a branch on the edges of the canopy. If you look closely, you can see his silhouette.

As I looked down on the arbor plot I saw that, for the first time here, the trillium have bloomed. It was a strategic purchase at a past garden club member’s plant sale two year’s ago.  They are under their own miniature canopy of Mayapples and Ladies Mantle. No “apples”, yet, but a widening spread of green umbrellas just waiting to cover any May blooms that might come.

IMG_7488The first of the tree peonies are in bloom.  The sweetly dressed girls in magenta gowns arrived first to the garden party with the soft pink skirted lasses in the wings, waiting their turn to shine, while Laddie has just about finished his turn on the dance floor. Don’t you just love the excitement of prom season in the garden?

IMG_0409IMG_0474I wandered about, like Wee Willie Winkie, upstairs and downstairs in my nightgown (only I was still in my pajamas with a yellow rain slicker on – a fashion trendsetter if ever there was one).

A gaggle of geese, who take room and board at the neighbor’s stream, flew overhead; morning rush hour traffic on the Cutoff. Either that or they were admiring my yellow rain slicker. I fear a pair of geese have muscled their way into Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s territory. I haven’t seen the ducks in several weeks, but, have seen a pair of geese in among the cattails and murky water. I’ve also seen a muskrat taking a bath and immediately thought of Wind in the Willows.

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The bleeding hearts are beginning to fade. I made a mental note (never a wise idea) that I need to cut the faded stems in hope of another strand or two of hearts for the blossoming girls to wear to the prom. I’ll do that tomorrow, I thought to myself, only my neighbor may have heard me say it out loud, for just then I caught an intoxicating fragrance behind me, in front of me, and to the far side of the house, where the lily of the valley are at long last in bloom.

So, dear friend, you might have guessed that I took out my thumb and fingers and began to snip, snip away, fashioning a most welcome spring bouquet.   This one’s for you, Sallie,

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In the absence of sun

DSCN8157Sunday.

Mother’s Day.

One of those mellow days of love and recognition that seemed to flow slowly and deliberately into a forever memory.

After Sunday worship, we went to Jennifer and Jason’s for brunch. Egg strata, bacon, salad and Mimosa’s. As I sipped and savored, I remembered another Mother’s Day, more than three decades past, where a toddling Jennifer brought me breakfast in bed. On that long ago morning,  I opened my eyes to a wee darling saying “happy Mother’s Day Mommy” as she slowly settled a plate of breakfast in front of me.

I remember it vividly.

A dollop of strawberry yogurt with Cheerios on top, toast, and a few slices of hard salami on the side.

This year; mimosas, egg strata, salad, coffee and Kringles.

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On our way home, Tom and I stopped at Lilacia Park in Lombard, where it is lilac time. Though the skies were gray and it was cool, the lilacs and tulips were resplendent.

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I took too many photos. Everywhere I looked was color and contrast, statements of nature painted on every stem, beads of moisture clinging to petals and leaves, a concert of color singing all-the-more brightly in the absence of sun. You can imagine my bliss as I tiptoed among the tulips, my indulgent and supportive  husband at my side.

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Ephemerals

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Each May, I wander the curved flagstone path and watch for the fern-like leaves hidden among the garden litter. First the stems  poke through, then the leaves, dancing like a whisper in the wind. The first bud reaches out like a balled fist against the fickle moods of spring. Then, while I am occupied elsewhere, pulling weeds or under the beguiling fragrance of the  lily of the valley blooms, it happens. The ephemeral peony, Laddie,  ( Paeonia peregrine) is suddenly in bloom, waving at me – or, perhaps at the bleeding hearts hanging out nearby.

Did you ever see a Laddie?

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Down and Dirty

IMG_7400Some spring days start by getting down and dirty amid tender shoots, plant divisions and cuttings, all while setting out a festive French picnic with some of the most delightful women around, and end up in the company of one of the sweetest persons on earth, our daughter Jennifer.

Monday was one of those spring days.

Our garden club held is springtime plant sale. Members bring divisions, cutting, slips and shoots that are sold. I only brought a few plants home this time – and that was because I was one of several women who were the month’s hostesses. Our garden here are abundant with plants that made their way up the Cutoff from the gardens of our club’s members.

DSCN8020While members of the horticulture committee were trying not to get dirt on their clothes arranging pots of herbs, perennials, and grasses, the hostesses set up a springtime Parisian lunch. From croissants to cream puffs, and everything in between, it was a tasty spread and a delightful group to serve with and I saw the hort ladies working hard, trying to show the members various plant donations while making sure the Mansion was kept clean.

As I sat down for an informative presentation on plants to use for outdoor pots, my phone pulsed and there was a message from Jennifer, wondering if I would like to meet up with her for some shopping at the Oak Brook Shopping Center.

Would I?  When a daughter rings I’m thrilled, so, when the meeting was done and our cars re-loaded with all the accouterments of a French picnic. I headed to Oak Brook to find Jennifer.

Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

We shopped and talked and stopped for some little bites at the Nordstrom Cafe, and talked some more and I just couldn’t help but bask in the glow of a wonderful spring day. After we hugged goodbye and Jenny went her way, I mine, I got down and dirty just one more time when I saw these golden tulips dancing in the spring breeze.

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A Traveling Blaze

DSCN7562 - Version 4An ominous cloud of thick, black smoke billowed. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from – until I saw the flames.

I had just turned west. Eastbound traffic was bumper to bumper, a typical Friday rush hour, with a half mile of cars and trucks at a standstill, while 6 feet or more of flames were spitting upward – on top of a garbage truck, which was also stuck in traffic!

The garbage was on fire. Not just a smoldering ember;  a fire that was leaping and dancing under the canopy of elms and oaks and maples.

I slowed in my lane, cognizant of approaching cars, which had enough distance to see me decelerate. I rolled down my window, staring at the driver of the truck, my arms flailing out the window, pointing upward, mouthing “YOU ARE ON FIRE!! “.

I needed to move lest my stopping created a jam in the westbound direction and cause even more of a problem and prayed the fire didn’t get out of control. It was still contained in the garbage bin of the truck.

A few blocks down,  at a break in traffic, I turned left, and heard the wail of sirens. A fire truck and ambulance were headed in the direction I just came from to put out the traveling blaze.

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