Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

IMG_5142It had been an exciting, fun, terrifying, heartbreaking school year, and summer had finally arrived. 1968/69 took me away from home for the first time in my life, living in a college dorm, exploring my freedom, making new friends, and then, suddenly, losing my father to a short battle with cancer.

I needed a summer job. An acquaintance of my mom’s worked for an employment agency and found me one, with a small insurance company. By small, I mean very small. It was in an old building, a storefront, across from the El tracks in Oak Park. It was owned and operated by an elderly gentleman, his middle-aged son, and a secretary. I would type, answer phones, file – and I was to tell them I would not be returning to college in the fall.

I am NOT a good liar. I do not lie BUT,  I needed the job. My father had died that spring and if I was to return to school, I needed money. A  “sad sack” story of coed who needs the job to get the education.

They hired me. 9 to 5. I had a few dresses that were way too short, which was pointed out by Madame Secretary. She didn’t like my long hair, either. It was long. Very long, down my back, parted in the middle, straight and full. Did I say it was 1969? Most days, I pulled it back in a long ponytail. A compromise.

Madame Secretary gave me typing and other chores to do; the sort that one would expect for girl #2 in a one girl office. Thankfully, I never had to make the coffee. Mr. Johnson, who was really very nice, was Swedish, with a tiny bit of an accent, and he liked an egg cracked into the coffee grounds. He drank his coffee with a sugar cube (or more ) in his mouth, and I always felt I should bring him a tin of butter cookies, but, this was long before I became a good cook.

His son was looking toward new ventures and buying real-estate and such; the way father/son business relationships can sometimes go. I was tongue-tied and timid around him. I think this was my first realization in life that I related better to the grandparents of the world. Ha. I still do, which is probably just fine as I now am one.

June turned into July, July into August. I rode two busses from our apartment, transferring mid-route. I would go out and walk during my lunch hour, stopping at a drugstore for a treat or to call home on the pay phone, or, more often, call my Aunt Christina. She had a way of making me feel better about my circumstances, and, if that didn’t work, always had some choice comments about the boss (son) or the secretary.

I missed my college friends. Most of them lived several hours away. A few lived in the area, along with high school friends, but, even that was a challenge as I no longer lived in the same towns as they did. It was a lonely summer, but, one often spiced up with letters from friends, phone calls, and a few dates with a really cute guy I met just before classes ended that June.  He lived in the southern suburbs and called me often on the phone. We went on quite a few dates, mostly to the movies, getting to know each other. He played guitar and had performed at his sister’s wedding that summer, which seemed pretty “cool” to me. Did I say he was really cute? and he was really tall.

As the summer wore down, those dog-days of August made the bus rides close to unbearable. I thought of my college chums and getting back to school and started fretting about what I was going to say to Madame Secretary and my bosses. It was mostly Mr. Johnson, the elder, that I felt badly about. He was such a charming gentleman. With only a few weeks left before I needed to pack up my belongings and head back downstate, I needed to come up with something to say; an excuse of why I would be leaving.  They hired me as full-time with the understanding that I would not to be going back to school.

Oh, how I fretted! I don’t remember if it was one of my friends or just my own lame brainstorm, but, on a Monday in mid-August, wearing one of my shockingly short dresses, my hair long, still parted in the middle, and in PIGTAILS, I arrived at work. I sat at my desk, which was on the west side of the room (why do we remember such unnecessary stuff?) I told Madame Secretary, when she came in, that I had something to tell her. “Oh? What?”.

Sigh.

I told her I needed to give notice. I would be leaving in two weeks.

Why couldn’t that just be enough?  She wanted to know why, of course, and that was when I blurted out “I’m getting married.

In two weeks?

Once you start down the road of lies, it doesn’t get shorter, does it? No.  It gets longer, with sharp, snaky turn and unexpected detours.

Yes. I’m getting married.”

In two weeks? Who are you marrying? I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend” “Who is he? What’s his name? Why so fast?”

“His name is Tom”. (I’d had a date with that cute, tall guy that weekend.)

Those two weeks were terrible. Madame Secretary pumped me with more questions than you can imagine, and she was angry, very angry with me for leaving, and the son wasn’t very nice, either.  Mr. Johnson was as pleasant as ever and made a point of talking to me over his cup of coffee with a sugar cube in his mouth, every morning. I think he figured me out. His kindness was charitable and sweet.

As bad as the initial lie was, it grew, like Pinocchio’s nose. Where was the wedding? Would we have a honeymoon? Where? What did TOM do?

Oh, friends, it got worse. I counted the hours of each of those days through those two weeks of deception. I told Madame Secretary that we were having a small wedding in the Greek Orthodox Church (no one has a small wedding in a Greek Orthodox Church) and that we were going someplace in Wisconsin. I couldn’t even come up with a place in Wisconsin. I said that we were moving in with his parents (whom I hadn’t even met).

Madame Secretary wanted to know what the color scheme of our bedroom would be. l said pink, while turning pink!! Really. Could I have said anything else? Pink! Pink? I was evasive in my answers, and can only imagine what they thought of me. Actually, I realized that what they thought of me was probably that I was pregnant and that we would be deposited in his sister’s bedroom. Remember. She had gotten married that summer.

So, on the last day of work in that storefront office, with old wood floors and coffee percolating, Madame Secretary informed me I could leave early (for I was getting married that weekend). Oh, the web we weave . . .

They called me to the back room and we all had coffee and cake, in honor of me and the groom, and engaged in unbearably uncomfortable small talk. Then, they handed me a nicely wrapped wedding gift!

. . . and that, my friends, is how I came to receive a lava lamp!

I did send a thank you card, as Mr. and Mrs., and, to add to my crimes, I spelled the last name wrong.

THE END

(Oh, and yes, four years late I married the cute guy, and four years after that, I had that baby.)

Read Full Post »

IMG_5223Earlier this month, in our year of celebrating 90 decades, our garden club looked to the 1960’s, which was great fun. A fair share of hippies and flower children were in attendance and ’60s food nourished us, especially this darling porcupine/hedgehog cheese log.

IMG_5151

It was an awakening to look back at the ’60s; not only for the memorabilia that members brought, but, in the video display of the major events of that decade. While there is no doubt that we live in often violent times, definitely turbulent times, make no mistake, the 1960’s was an equally frightening decade. We made it through those years, and I have hopes that we will make it through these.

We just need lava lamps to light the way. :)

IMG_5142

When our luncheon was over and our business meeting adjourned, we wandered into another room in the Wilder Mansion where Mark Spreyer gave an engaging and informative presentation on owls, as well as speaking about the Endangered Species Act, which came out of the 1960’s. Mark is with the Stillman Nature Center in South Barrington. He is an outstanding speaker with a remarkable rapport and respect of these beautiful birds of prey.

The owls Mark works with often come from other nature centers, such as the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, which cares for sick or injured animals. Once recovered, some of these creatures, whose injuries are such that they cannot be released back into the wild, are taken in by the Stillman Nature Center. I was impressed with the respect Mark has for these birds – and they for him. At one point, he made an owlish call as this beautiful Screech Owl recognized him, returning his call (they don’t screech).

IMG_5199 IMG_5201

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Barred Owl was magnificent, often spreading his wings. These birds are such glorious creatures and I left both in awe of the birds and grateful for such caretakers as Mark and such places at the Spillman Nature Center. Barred owl

Do you have owls where you live? Did you have a lava lamp? Do you remember the 1960’s?

IMG_5133

Read Full Post »

IMG_5132

I know it is just a television series. A bit of a soap opera. A serial. I know. I know, but, I just cannot seem to help myself. I am  filled with anticipation, a wee bit of sorrow, but mostly excitement for Sunday night’s premier of the final season of Downton Abbey.

I don’t mind so much that Downton Abbey will end. I know that all good things must, I am just, well . . . I just cannot wait to see what all my friends across the pond already have seen. They have all been very discreet and not spoiled the plot lines and ending for us, and I thank them.

Lady Violet is sure to have her share of pithy phrases, and if I must confess, I really like the Dowager House the best.  Thomas will be typically Thomas, I’m sure. Mrs. Hughs and Mr.Carson will say “I do” (or will they?). There are hints in the trailers about the Ladies Mary and Edith, their love lives, car races (see, Tom, I told you there are “guy things” at Downton) . I do hope Edith finds someone to love her who doesn’t leave her at the altar, or die. The Bates?  Will they find peace in their lives and maybe a wee bairn?  Will Sibbie and George get to play in the nursery together again? What about Branson? I’ll miss Mosely . . . ah, but is isn’t over yet. If fact, it hasn’t even started, so, I think I’ll just put on a pot of tea and see if there are any Christmas cookies left in the tower of tins to tide me over until the opening bars of the Downton theme start stringing their way across the telly.

When I saw this jar of Downton Abbey orange marmalade at Cost Plus World Market over the holidays, I plucked it right off of the shelf like a Sunkist orange grower. I brought it home in sweet anticipation. A certain young lad enjoyed a good bit of it on English muffins over the Christmas visit. Ezra really likes orange marmalade, and seems to especially enjoy this export from the Crawley collection. Our charming  little tyke starts planning his breakfast the moment he gets out of bed, with “orange jelly”  often the first words out of his mouth in the morning, but, I digress, as grannies often do.

Off I go, to start my day, in sweet anticipation of the beginning of the end of Downton Abbey. How about you? Are you a fan of the series? Is another series on your watch list?

Read Full Post »

IMG_4642

A short doctor’s visit (the visit, not the doctor), the visit routine, and a quick walk around the Center for Health (great way to get extra steps in, for I AM counting my steps these days). I had a few stops on my way back home and a text message  from my Tom asking if I’d like to meet for lunch at Cafe Calbay. Of course I would. Cafe Calbay is one of our favorite little diners with a 1950s feel; a wrap-around counter and vinyl seat charm.

I was about 20 minutes early, so, parked my aging mocha VW with a latte interior, and wandered over to the little consignment shop around the block. It is a very sweet little shop with vintage furniture, classic books, dishes and dolls and seasonal “stuff”.

As I opened the door, I caught a glimpse of red and white plaid (or was it checks?), but, couldn’t maneuver my way around two shop volunteers who were busy in conversation about grandchildren, what to wear to a tropical wedding and whether or not the table the two of them were dusting was shiny enough.

At long last, an opening, behind the chair, which was whispering “Penny, come check the price tag“. I did, and nearly swooned into a faint.

$20.00

I sucked myself in and squeezed in a less-than-ladylike maneuver around the chair, ever-so-careful of the Christmas ornaments displayed on the attractive breakfront.  A wee little tear in the chair’s upholstery was the only flaw. Look left. Look right. Stand up. Sit down. Perfect!  This wing-back was beyond comfortable and the ottoman was just the right height.

I pulled out my cell phone and took a photo, for the chair was posed quite contentedly with the noonday sun warming its seat, then, I scurried out the door, for Tom was surely waiting in the cafe. I’d show him the photo and we would come back.

While visions of sugarplums danced in my head (for this was THE perfect chair to flank the fireplace) we ate our lunch.

Sated and satisfied, Mutt and Jeff walked back to the little shop, and I gasped, for there was one of the conversant volunteers, putting something on the back of MY chair, and there stood a man, not MY man but another’s, who had just purchased my checked sit-upon.

She who hesitates . . .

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_3987Last Sunday, this young lass and I made granola.

We also made a mess. Papa thoughtfully cleaned up for us.

Kezzie is a “cook fantastic”.

IMG_3988

Read Full Post »

Where Kind Ladies Are

IMG_3484Hobos of the 1930’s had primitive symbols scribbled in perhaps charcoal, chalk or whatever else was available. They fashioned directions and information onto posts, boards and whatever else was at hand; a precursor, perhaps, of today’s text messaging. One of their signs was a simple cat, which meant “a kind lady is here”. These signs showed hobos houses where food would be shared by the kind lady there.

I first learned of hobo signs from a good friend who remembered her grandmother being known as a kind woman who would share food for those in need at her back door. My friend’s grandmother didn’t live in a rural area, but, rather in a suburban home. In the Great Depression, there were many in need, everywhere. Food was scarce and those who shared what they had were appreciated.

In a year of celebrating our garden club’s 90th anniversary, we are marking each meeting by revisiting a decade. Monday’s decade was the 1930’s. We used this hobo sign in the entryway of the Wilder Mansion, where our garden club holds their monthly meetings. Teri kindly drew it, copying a sign shown on a website. Teri is an incredible artist and was the one who made the fabulous dishes and pottery I shared from the Elmhurst Garden Walk. In this endeavor, however, we needed something very basic. This was drawn on a piece of cardboard, which was fitting, as was the Soup Line sign.

IMG_3475 - Version 2

Our hostesses for October made a fabulous buffet of the kinds of food that would have been eaten during the 1930’s. The overlying theme was a soup kitchen. The food was tasty and nourishing, as it always is at our club’s meeting.

As we put the final touches on Monday’s “spread”, the tables groaned with food, not to mention the row crock pots that were heating up five different kinds of soup. Have I ever told you what great cooks our members are? Did you know that Nestles’ Toll House cookies were introduced in the 30’s? SPAM? Fiestaware? Depression Glass ? All were from the 1930’s.

Wee were setting everything out, as women do, when we  noticed the strains of a guitar. We looked at each other. “Who arranged for that?” It was a wee bit loud, but, sounded good and helped hurry us about in finishing up our preparations, for hungry women were waiting, with their own bowls in hand. Some brought bowls, others brought tin cups, Mason jars, there was even a Mickey Mouse bowl, for rumor had it that Mickey was popular in the ’30s.

We asked and were asked who the musician was, and, dear reader, this is where art imitates life, or some such thing. The troubadour, a handsome young man, walked into the mansion and asked if he could play for awhile. The powers-that-be let him, and so he played, then, was offered some food, which he heartily ate before packing up his guitar and going on his way.

I think the sign was “spot on”, Monday. Kind ladies were, indeed, there.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1629

Would you like to take a walk with me today?

IMG_1620 - Version 2

It is walk through a private garden graciously opened for the Landscape Design Council of the Garden Clubs of Illinois.

Positioned on an elegant North Shore estate, the garden sits under the watchful eye of a historical Georgian mansion. I am not part of the Landscape Design Council, but, my membership in the GCI affords me, and all our members, these rare opportunities. I am glad a few of us were able to attend.

DSCN9065

Fairlawn Estate is a testament to texture and structure in landscape. The several acres of property has few flowers. A potted plant here, a few roses there. It is the estate’s grand garden rooms that provide the pleasure of place where one can observe the purpose and need of good “bones” in a garden.

IMG_1631 IMG_1600 IMG_1606 IMG_1625

I was amazed by the owner, who led the tour, and her honest respect for trees while she was still being rooted in the harsh nature of the midwest and the cruel reality of the predominance of the hard, unyielding clay underneath its soil. I was struck by her words of reality that tree roots do not have far to travel to reach clay, which eventually becomes impossible to penetrate. It is why we do not have trees that survive and thrive hundreds of years here. In spite of this reality, great care has been taken to judiciously prune and stake where need be on this elegant estate, which is brimming with structure, both living and modeled.

IMG_1641 IMG_1642

It was not just the predominance of statues in this garden, but in how they were positioned and how they lent to the landscape design. I am not a landscape designer, nor a landscape architect. I am a simple gardener who has dirt under her nails and grass stains on her knees, but, a gardener no less and one who is most sincerely appreciative of the beauty of this magnificent estate,

IMG_1635

as well as the sense of playfulness the owner.

DSCN9072

I learned a great deal on this tour; about trees and structures and statues – and yet another way to garden.

I also learned quite a few things about myself. Our garden structures here on the Cutoff, aka garden art, will never be as grand or significant as the ones on this estate. Although I do ponder and place and move my “things” about to find just the right angle of the sun or the view from the arbor, the perspectives of our living room window, or the view from the road, I can be more purposeful in my placements.

IMG_1675

and more aware of texture and the subtleties of tone and color.

IMG_1658

IMG_1624IMG_1595

IMG_1613

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

Creative information about Real Estate and Life in the Western Suburbs of Chicago

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Thoughts about writing and life

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

mirandasnotebook

Your Guide to a Stylish Life

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Garden.

Living Designs

Circles of Life: My professional background in Foods and Nutrition (MS, Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, RDN, LDN) provides the background for my personal interests in nutrition, foods and cooking; health and wellness; environment and sustainability.

Women Making Strides

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

thekitchensgarden

farming, gardens, cows, goats, chickens, food, organic, sustainable, photography,

Middlemay Farm

Nubian Goats, Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

The Cottonwood Tree

Beautiful Things Inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder

cakes, tea and dreams

savoring the beauty in the everyday

Book Snob

FOR DISCERNING READERS

teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Analysis and reflection from someone endlessly fascinated with Louisa May Alcott. Member/supporter of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House and the Louisa May Alcott Society.

breathelighter

Reducing stress one exhale at a time ...exploring Southern California and beyond

Kate Shrewsday

A thousand thousand stories

Blogging from the Bog

musings from and about our cottage in the West of Ireland

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 529 other followers