Mama told me, there’ll be days like this….

Some days are just like that.

As a matter of fact, some weeks are like that.   Stressful.  And nightmarish.  Where you just want to say “forget it!!”…and sit and drink coffee all day.  Or Wine.  And scream at the person who is causing your blood pressure to rise.

In this case, it was an old blog service I used when I first started writing.  I will refrain from mentioning their #%$%#$ing name because they are evil.  (BLog.com).

After about one week of using their site when I first joined the blogosphere, I knew immediately that it was not going to work between us.  That union was anything but healthy.  I wanted a divorce!   So I jumped ship and made my way over to WordPress.

Jumping-ship

Ahhhhh.  WordPress.  They were like a breath of fresh air.  Reliable.  Professional.   And, most of all, they knew what they were doing.   They even had an amazing support network.  One that was actually available to me when I needed some help.  Afterall, I was new to this blogging bit and I had questions.  Lots of them.  Yes, switching to WordPress was joyous.  And smart.

I was sitting in my kitchen last week, lighthearted and happy, ready to log onto my blog to write about something witty that Clark had said or done,  and – BOOM –  Just like that, tragedy!

I was redirected to some foreign, evil-looking page that tells me my Margber domain is no longer available to me. Therefor, I had no access to my blog.  Huh????  What-the-%&$&$&%##*!!!!  What’s this nonsense??  That’s MY blog!  MY hard work went into it.  Someone was trying to take control.  It was like a mini-hijacking.  I was the captain of the ship and it was going down.

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My heart started to race and I did what I do best in those type of situations.  In a slightly high-pitched, louder than normal tone, I yelled at Clark for it.  Then, I took a deep breath, or two, and started to deal with the entire mess.

I had left the incompetent Blog.com after only one week of association with them, and they were still haunting me a year later.  I could not believe it.  Hadn’t I jumped the ship to avoid just this kind of disaster?  I thought I had done everything right.  I was diligent in following the rules and renewing fee’s.  But, one had slipped through the crack.

I had my WordPress upgrades set to auto-renew and was well aware that my renew date was approaching.  I had checked it a few weeks before the payment was due.  I decided to override the auto-renew and pay early because, well, that is just how I am. I worry.  I did not want anything to happen or come between myself and my uber awesome domain.   If it were to lapse, my readers would not know where to find me.  My email subscribers would be lost to me.

And, that is exactly what happened.pulling-hair-out-2

I was so focused on the WordPress end of it all, that I had neglected to even considered that the evil Blog.com side of it needed attention as well.  After all, My domain originated over there (evil place) and because of that, I was linked to them.  Forever.  And ever.  Until death do us part.  OYYYYY.  My divorce to the miserable Blog.com had never been official.  I was still at their mercy but didn’t even know it.  Ohhh, how disastrous!!!

So, after weeks of unsuccessfully trying to contact and get a reply from Blog.com (the trail went cold) I finally turned to the accessible and willingly available support team at WordPress, With a special shout-out to auxclass (Woot woot!!) and after hours of guidance, the entire mess has finally been resolved.  Sort of.  It did not come without casualties.  While I have finally and completely cut all ties with the vile Blog.com (they’re evil!!!) it came at a high price.  I had to temporarily give up my domain Margber.   (SOOO sad!!)  For the next few months, I will sit and wait and stress over its release.  And then I will grab it again!!  YaY!

Until then, I can be found at https://margber.wordpress.com/ and I gladly and proudly accept the WordPress name snuggled right in the middle of my shiny new URL.  Temporarily.  Until I can once again regain control my original domain.

So what does all of this mumbo jumbo mean?  It simply means that if you are looking for moi, I can be found at the URL

margber.wordpress.com

It might also mean that you may possibly need to re-follow me by clicking the follow tab again. (it’s down there in the right hand corner.  Go ahead, click it!)

So sorry for the inconvenience, folks ~ Feeling a bit like a block head.  : )

At the time of press for this post, I had still not heard from the evil Blog.com to help straighten the domain mess out from their end.  I had tried, unsuccessfully, for-everrrrrrrrr to contact someone from their (non-existent) support network.  It has now been 3 weeks and counting.  Im not going to hold my breath….

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 MaMa was right.  There’ll be days like this…..

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Saint Paddy’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

stpaddySt. Patrick’s Day is an awesome holiday to celebrate your Irish heritage — especially if you don’t have any. Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’’s Day, or so they say. Tho we gather together to eat corned beef, wear shamrocks and look for suckers to pinch for good luck, St. Patrick’s real rise to fame stems from another source altogether.  According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.  He spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Tradition holds that he died on 17 March

As a saint, Patrick rated an official feast day from the Catholic Church.  Saint Patrick’s Day!!

Everyone seems to love this holiday.  Adults love it because of the association with carousing.  Children love it because of the thrill of setting traps with the very real hope of catching a leprechaun.  They also get to do what kids do best, practice their fine art of pinching (for good luck, of course).

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Chicago dye’s it’s river green and celebrates with a massive and festive parade which is widely attended by people from all walks of life.  And if it’s one thing Chicagoans know how to do, it’s party on St Paddy’s Day.

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But, should there be limits to our carousing and pinching and over the top celebrating?  From where I am sitting, there are some definite don’t s  associated with this holiday…Here are a few tips of what “not to do” on Saint Patrick’s day…

Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay said it best.  Her blog is amazing with it’s always humorous “lists”.  You can read more of her humor here.  But first, let’s celebrate the don’t s of St Paddy’s day.  Enjoy!

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10. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not dye any of your body hair green. If you do, at best, you will get strange looks and a possible reprimand from your boss. At worst, you will have to live with the color until the hair grows out or your divorce is final, whichever comes first.

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9. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not try to wish everyone a happy day with a made up Irish brogue. If you do, at best, you might offend a genuine Irish person. At worst, the genuine Irish person offended might just be the local police officer.

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8. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not believe you need to bring your homemade corned beef and cabbage to the office to share. If you do, at best, you might have coworkers avoiding your cube since the smell of cabbage might lead them to believe it is something else. At worst, the hazmat team from office services will have foamed down your work area before you have a chance to explain.

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7. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not think Guinness stout drinks just like any other beer when you go out to celebrate with your coworkers. If you do, at best, you might have to find a ride home. At worst, you might have to rehearse your apology for the coworkers and your boss in an effort to salvage your job.

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6. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not sing your favorite limericks no matter how innocent you believe them to be. If you do, at best, you will start a round of Limericks that aren’t so innocent. At worst, the local authorities will be called in to calm the disturbance reported by those within earshot of what can best be described as X-rated songs.

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5. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not follow the suggestion of a coworker to play a Leprechaun at the cake and coffee gathering. If you do, at best, you will be the laughing-stock till next year. At worst, you will be asked by your boss to play the leprechaun at the family St. Patrick’s Day picnic and there is still snow on the ground.

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4. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not wish everyone Erin Go Bragh unless you know what it means. If you don’t know what it means and you say it to the wrong person, at best, you may get some weird looks. At worst, you may find your self embroiled in a political battle with someone with a different view.

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3. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not think Bushnell’s in coffee is no more harmful than sugar. If you do, at best, you may find yourself slurring your words when you say Erin Go Bragh. At worst, you may find yourself totally wide awake and unable to find your way home.

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2. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not put any kind of green-colored hat on your head. If you do, at best, you will look ridiculous. At worst, there will be several photos snapped that you will pay large sums to have deleted.

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1. On St. Patrick’s Day, do not drink anything green. If you do, at best, you will have the lips of a lizard. At worst, you will need to schedule a dentist appointment to have your teeth restored to their original color.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!!

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Audrey

When movies were movies…..

For attractive lips,
Speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair,
Let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things,
Have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
And redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
You will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others. 

–Audrey Hepburn

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Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town….

Something worth sharing….

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This past week, while looking out the window at the once again falling snow, I smiled to myself.  I Love Snow!!  I am always the one talking up it’s finer points and telling everyone within earshot ..I can’t wait for it to snow.”  And, “I hope we get bucket loads of it, this year!!” Those brave and loud statements are usually met with grunts of disapproval and gasps of horror.

Guess what?! It’s winter, people!  (Well, at least for a few more weeks.)  And when you live in the northern part of the USA, Winter = Snow & Cold.  Hurray!

<> on January 2, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

OK, so this year we have been hit hard and have been experiencing an unusually bitter and frigid season.  We have been tested to our limits.  We have survived the evil Polar Vortex.  We have shoveled our way out of mounds and mounds of snow.  And, we have been (somewhat) patient through record air traffic cancellations and delays as well as ridiculously long and treacherous commutes to and from work.

Chicago Blizzard 2011

We Love Chicago!!  Don’t we?

Time Out Chicago, (Chicago’s guide to what’s new and next on the city’s arts and culture scene) took to the streets asking the age-old question..”if it’s so bad, why do you stay here??”  And the answers that were given not only warmed my heart and reminded me of why I have such a deep love for this great city and would never leave regardless of the severe and somewhat unpredictable seasons, they are something most definitely worth sharing…

Yes, We Love Chicago!!

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16 reasons why we can’t leave Chicago, even after this evil winter.

We’ll admit this winter has made us question why we live in Chicago, but the answers keep us right where we are – By Laura Baginski

Why do you stay? Tell us in the comments.

16. All the messy toil and sting of the cold season seem to disappear on that one magic day—it usually comes in the second week of March—when the early afternoon clouds part, the sun beats down with intensity you haven’t felt in months and suddenly you’re overdressed. You shed your bulky coat, stuff it in your bag and smile. It’s not quite spring, but the worst of winter is behind you.—Jake Malooley, senior editor

15. You don’t need a car to live here. The CTA is slow, clunky, late and often full of putrid smells, but it will get you where you need to go. Eventually.—Laura Baginski, editor

14. The people are what make Chicago great. Here, I can hang out with good friends all the time and it is easy to do. My friends who move away tell me that maintaining friendships in other not-to-be-named cities is really hard, and building a great network of friends in nearly impossible. In Chicago, I know if I stop at my local favorite bar or restaurant, I will know the bartender (a friend), an old pal will already be at the bar, and another friend will walk in the door a minute later, all unplanned.—Martha Williams, photo editor

13. There’s a lot of talk in the theater and comedy scenes here about “paying your dues”—appropriate for this union town. And this brutal winter especially has felt like dues paid. But paying dues pays off, whether it’s getting in on the ground floor with future comedy legends, or reaping the riches of Chicago in summer. The work we have to put in makes the rewards all the sweeter.—Kris Vire, associate editor, Theater, Comedy, LGBT

12. Because the beach is 15 minutes from pretty much anywhere you are in the city.—Erin Delahanty, senior digital marketing manager

11. The location. Being located in the Midwest means that I can hop on a plane and in about two hours be in New York, New Orleans, New England, D.C., and other spots my friends and family live. Plus, being driving distance from Milwaukee, Madison, Michigan, Indy, Louisville and other places means getting away for the weekend is super easy.—Amy Cavanaugh, Food & Drink editor

10. In some ways I think the winter slog makes us better appreciate Chicago’s good points, in a self-reinforcing fashion: If we’re willing to put up with this bullshit weather, this city must be pretty damn great.—KV

9. The 4am bars. And the White Sox.—Jessica Johnson, senior online producer

8. It’s a city filled with driven, motivated people who also happen to (mostly) be friendly Midwesterners happy to give you directions when you’re lost.—ED

7. Chicago is still reasonably affordable. New York magazine recently published a feature laying out what its city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, can possibly do to make NYC affordable for the middle class. Here in Chicago, we don’t have the same dire need to write those pieces. Not quite yet, anyway. That could change given Mayor Emanuel’s fixation on making Chicago what he loves to call a “world-class city.” Our city is world-class, we don’t need the sky-high rent to prove it.—JM

6. ​I can live alongside a massive body of water in a major metropolitan area—without paying a fortune.—Brent DiCrescenzo, managing editor

5. Chicago is now the place to set shoot your new TV show (Chicago PD, Crisis, Mind Games, Sirens, plus less-new shows like Chicago Fire, Shameless and the new season of Orange Is the New Black).—JJ

4. The beer. Confession: I hardly ever drank beer before moving to Chicago three and a half years ago. I’ve always been foremost a cocktail girl, but the vast number of breweries here and the availability of great beer has opened my eyes to all of the different styles available. I still have a ton to learn (and drink), but the beer scene has been one of the most exciting parts of living in Chicago.—AC

3. Every musical act in the world seems to play here, at some point. Sometimes it feels like every single last one of them is here in June, July and August alone.—BD

2. Chicago has all of the cultural richness of a major metropolitan city, but is very livable.  You can buy property or find a cheap apartment fairly easily, and live off very little if you need to. It was the perfect city for me when I was a broke college student, and it is still the perfect city for me as a first-time homeowner.—MW

1. The civic pride here is real. People here love to talk up their city, both the good and the bad (and then defend the hell out it when a non-Chicagoan dares to say something negative about the city). When I travel and people ask me where I’m from, I’m so proud to say I’m from Chicago.—LB

Oh my goodness….

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To those of you who are my age or older (50-Something….) the words “oh my goodness” – spoken so often by a young, curly topped Shirley Temple – might conjure up memories of childhood.  Of a time when you may have spent a Sunday afternoon with your family or friends gathered around a big black and white console television. That was the day that Family Classics, hosted by Frazier Thomas, aired.

Each week, Thomas would come into our lives from the set of his show.  It was staged and arranged to resemble a family room.  Or maybe it was a living room.  I remember book shelves, filled with hard bound, leather books sitting on them, in the background.

We’d gather around the tv and the show’s theme would start to play,  Then he’d walk onto the set and into our fafamilyclassics1mily rooms.  He’d sit down on a big wing chair and tell us about the movie we were about to see.  Sometimes holding the leather bound book in his hand.  He’d choose a different classic film each week.  Treasure Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Lassie Come Home, My Friend Flicka, Old Yeller…..Just to name a few.

And of course all the wonderful Shirley Temple movies.  Bright Eyes, The Little Colonel, Heidi.  She sang and danced her way into our hearts.  Watching her movies and falling in love with them are some of my earliest memories.

It was so bittersweet waking up this morning to the news of the death of Shirley Temple.  Memories of this iconic child star instantly take so many of us back to a simpler time.  An age of wholesome innocence.  She was a wonderful, and quite possibly, the best example of a child star who came out the other side sane and used her fame for a great 2nd act.  Leaving behind a permanent footprint on this world.  She was a true Hollywood legend.  A legend who will be missed and forever loved.

 

R.I P. Shirley Temple Black.

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ohh noo, the polar vortex!!

 

 

I decided a few weeks ago not to jump on the Polar Vortex bandwagon.  Realllllly,  people, it’s old news.   So what! ~ we have a little winter outside our windows.  Lovely! whiteout

 If you’ve read my blog, then you know how much I adore winter!!  I’ve mentioned it in more than one post.  Lately, I’ve touched on the topic a lot, in fact.  HERE – I told you about what the winter weather (or Polar Vortex as it is more popularly referred to these days) has done to my family!  And HERE – I spoke of my love for doing indoor activities with my lovely daughter-in-law while the Polar Vortex is crippling our country.

I was thinking the other day about this new weather phenom….  It was all very exhausting…

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The running in and out to start cars up so that the batteries don’t die.

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waking gingerly everywhere you go so you don’t slip on the icy sidewalks.

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Watching Clark waging an ongoing battle with the blowing and drifting snow ~  trying to keep the driveway clear….

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that obnoxious office co-worker who’s all  “Woot Woot!! ~ TGIF! …Giimmie a High Five!!”  to his co-workers!!

high_five Only to walk out to this at the end of the day..….

polar-vortexOhhhh Noooooo!!!!

 For better or worse, Polar Vortex now seems to be the buzzword for any bitterly cold winter air we get. (Didn’t we once just refer to it as ‘winter’??)  Now, Im not one to easily have a change of heart where my love for the changing seasons is concerned (winter included)…. but really,  I am soooo over all of this Polar Vortex nonsense.  I think, in fact,  I have had a change of heart.  This extreme weather has got to go!!

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at the movies

Two weeks ago I retired!  Which I will blog about at some point!!  Week one of retirement – I went on a quick trip to San Fransisco with Clark.  It was Lovely!!  But that trip is a story for another time.

Week two of retirement  –

It’s a little bit after the noon hour.  I’m standing in the large, abandoned foyer of the movie theater.  Across the large room from me I see a young girl leaning against a counter. She is standing behind the candy case.  It is filled with perfectly lined up rows of Junior mints, Dots, M&M’s.  But nobody is buying anything.  There is nobody at the counter.  She looks bored.  She walks out from behind her station and wanders over in the direction of an elderly man and strikes up a conversation.  He’s sitting – perched up high on a stool.  He collects the tickets of the patrons coming to see a movie.  He mechanically holds out his hand to collect their tickets, rips them in half and drops his half into a tall box with a slit on top.  He tells the patrons which direction to go in.  ….3rd theater to your right….

I look back tticket_boothowards the large glass pane window in the front of the vast foyer.  I see the ticket booth.   There’s a boy in it selling tickets to patrons as they walk in.  But there are no patrons right now.  It’s like a ghost town.  He’s playing on his phone.  When I bought my ticket from him he looked happy to see someone.  He told me I smelled good.  Whattt? Am I wearing too much floral lotion??  I automatically sniff my sleeve.  I can’t smell anything.  I adjust my fancy scarf Im wearing (Sofia Loren Style!!) and smile at him.  I take the tickets.

I’m waiting for Lauren.   A few minutes earlier I had been driving through a blizzard to get here.  It has been an unusually blustery winter.  We’ve been invaded by the Polar Vortex!  We’ve literally had mounds and mounds of snow fall on our city since January 1st.  It’s been both wonderful and paralyzing.  Clark grumbles about it each day.  But I have been enjoying it immensely!!  I get to stay home!  Or go to the movies in the middle of the day!!  I’m retired!!   This Polar Vortex that has invaded our fair city looks gorgeous from inside my family room – with a blazing fire in the fireplace – looking out.  I Love Winter!!

Back in the theater foyer, I look out through the window again and see Lauren’s white jeep pulling up.  She parks, gets out and makes her way across the snowy, windy parking lot.  She looks like an Eskimo.  She’s wearing her long puffy coat.  Hood pulled up over her head.  She’s walking quickly ~ trying to get in from the freezing cold.  She opens the heavy door and comes into the warm, abandoned foyer and smiles brightly at me.  I LOVE this girl!!  She is always up for meeting me ~ in the middle of the day or any other time I call.

We say our hello’s, hug and make our way towards the man on the stool.  He holds his hand out to take our tickets. …riiipppppp…First theater on your right.”  We walk in the direction he pointed us in and through the door.  In front of us, walking down the narrow, dimly lit hallway, are two elderly women.  One is walking with a cane.  The other is holding an array of theater snacks and a huge tub of popcorn.  There is a plastic grocery bag hanging heavily from one of her arms.  They turn and look at us walking up behind them and move to the side.  The lady with the cane tells us to pass by because it will take them a while.  They are moving slowly.  So we do.

We get to the end of the dark hallway and turn the corner to the seats.  There are only two other couples in the room.  Both white haired and elderly.  One is way down in the front row.  The other couple is near the front on an end.

We have the thecinema_463737369ater to ourselves!  We choose seats somewhere in the middle – about halfway up.  After getting settled, I look up and see that the two elderly ladies have made their way to the turn.  They slowly start to climb up the stairs.  We can hear their overly loud whispering.  “Where do you want to sit??”  I’m thinking to myself..  sit right there!!  They keep climbing.  It’s exhausting watching them struggle with their candy and large, awkward tub of popcorn (which is spilling with each step they take) and grocery bag and cane.  They make their way to the end of our aisle,  look at Lauren and I and whisper loudly to each other that they want their own row.  They go up one more row.  The entire theater is empty and they decide to sit in the two seats directly behind us!????  Oh Brotherrr!

It takes them a while to get settled in.  It’s like having two children sitting behind us.  Our seats are getting knocked as they struggle with their coats and goodies.  I give Lauren the sideways glance and roll my eyes.  There is a loud crinkling of bags as they divvy up the goodies.  This goes on for a while and actually, throughout the movie.  I can hear the hissing sound and “pop” as they open up their cans of soda that they’ve confiscated in with them in the grocery bag.  I can hear them eating their popcorn.  crunch crunch crunch… 

Well, I was not going to let this invasion of privacy interfere with my good mood!  I was retired!  I was out in the middle of the day. In a blinding snowstorm at the movies!   With my beautiful daughter in law!!

“cough cough cough..”   Somebody was coughing and sneezing in the theater!!   I scooched down in my seat and pulled the fancy scarf I was wearing up a little closer around my nose and mouth.  I didn’t want to get sick!

The previews start.  We are shown several clips from upcoming movies.  One was a –Disney Nature- movie about bears.  Our elderly neighbors decided then and there that they would go see that next.  They whispered loudly to each other that they liked bears.  And those bears looked friendly to them!

And so it went.  Loud whispered commentary.  And not just from our neighbors.  From all three couples in the theater.  It wouldn’t have mattered where we sat.  During a scene where they showed an empty boat we could hear the man near the front row…  “That man musta’ drowned….”   During the scenes where harsh language was used we could hear the white-haired lady half a theater away from us gasp loudly..  “Oh dear..”  When something humorous happened on-screen, there was loud, robust laughter from the man sitting with the same white-haired lady that would gasp each time there was swearing.  

“cough cough cough”  The coughing continued.  As did the crinkling every time our elderly neighbor reached into her bag to get more candy. 

At first, Lauren and I looked at each other, silently chuckled and smiled.  And then, we slowly grew oblivious to the sounds around us.  We were quickly engrossed in the performances on the big screen in front of us.  For two hours we barely stirred.  And neither did our elderly neighbors.  The movie was amazing.  It was wonderful.  What a great way to spend a snowy, cold winter day.

As the credits started to roll, I looked around to the other patrons in the theater.  They were all recapping what they had just seen.  They had enjoyed it as much as we had.  I smiled to myself and thought I can only hope that one day, when I am elderly and things tend to take more time and effort, that I find myself in the middle of an empty movie theater with one of my bff’s.  Whispering overly loud.  Sneaking in our own beverages of choice. Spending a few hours together on a snowy afternoon ~ at the movies.

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SNOW!!

It’s January in Chicago and Guess who’s getting SNOW!!  That’s right, people, it’s snowing!  Not just a little flake here and there.  It’s coming down in buckets.  Loads of it.  Really… it’s like a blizzard.

Hubs likes a nice, clean, snow free driveway.  Here he is battling the snow.  I think he is making progress!

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He worked for hours on that bugger.  It’s Sunday.  And beside the fact that he is determined to keep his driveway flake-free  – he is headstrong to make it to church.

Here he is  making his way through the frozen tundra.  “Onward Christian Soldiersssssss!!!”

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Oopsieee….. The lovely winter-esque conditions proved to be too much for him.   Back in 5 minutes….

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My sweet son,  BruceRobt, is working the Customer Service desk at O’Hare International Airport today!!  There are a lot of disgruntled, stranded passengers there.  In fact, they’ve been there for days trying to make their way to their destinations.  The airport is basically shutdown.  He has been tossed into the Lion’s Den.  Calm Down People!!

Snow And Ice Continue To Cause Travel Chaos Throughout The UK

 What’s so lovely about the sun and warmth when you can be experiencing a lovely winter!!

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Brian, my youngest son – Also very sweet, with a lot of independence and adventure running through his blood – has been trying for days to get to back to school.  He is studying in California this term. It’s been very exciting around here the last couple of days!!  Flights booked, flights cancelled.  Packing and unpacking.  And then repacking, again.   Brian’s Bro, BruceRobt – (the one fighting off the angry, irate customers at O’Hare)…phoned and told Brian to pack a carry-on only.  There will be no guarantees that luggage will get to their final destinations. Not with these wicked conditions controlling our every move!!  Ok!  I think we have this covered.  We just need to fit all of this….

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into a small-ish bag.  On it!

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All in all… I think it is going to be a lovely wintery week!

Oh, I know, on the outside I am cool as a cucumber.  Patient and serene and grateful for The Beauty that IS WINTER.  But inside, I feel a bit like this…

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What’s that you said?

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Clark and I were out for dinner with some good friends this week at a wonderfully quaint Italian restaurant in the city.  We had never been there before.  Our friends had and it was one of their favorites.  With good reason.  It was charming and the food was amazing.

It was located on a street lined with hip bars, mom and pop stores and other trendy eateries.   It was in a section of the city that had a specific neighborhood feel to it.  The bars were filled with young patrons.   The trendy restaurants were packed with hungry diners.

We pulled up to our destination.  I loved the looks of it!  We handed the valet our keys and headed into the restaurant.

As we rushed out of the cold and in through a large door to the warmth, we were hit with the wonderful aroma that is so common to many Italian restaurants.  The smell of garlic, freshly baked bread and Italian food wafted through the air.  The sounds of ol’ Blue Eyes or some other familiar crooner could be faintly heard over discreetly hidden speakers.  It mingled with the loud voices and conversations that filled the room.  The place was packed.  Pretty much every table was filled and there were people waiting for their names to be called for their reservations.

Viaggio9As the guys walked in behind us, my girlfriend and I were already busy checking out the room for the best possible table to sit at.  She and I have been known to point out a table to the maître d’ that we’d like to dine at.  Our hubbies (and kids) have gotten used to this.  They know that we are  particular about where we want to sit.

We followed the hostess to a lovely table that was in the middle of the room.  As we got closer, I realized that my girlfriend and I were going to have to squeeze ourselves between the chairs of the surrounding tables to get to our seats.  This concerned me.  I was wearing my new cape-like poncho!  It was fur-trimmed.  The fur added so much to it ~ but it also made it bulky.  Especially for squeezing in between chairs of busy restaurants.

The hostess politely offered to take our wraps and hang them up for us.  How sweet! Tragedy avoided!  I handed my fancy new cape to her and did my best not to bump anyone’s chair surrounding me as I slipped into my seat.  It was easy to get around Clark’s seat because he was not in it yet.  He was already in the bathroom for what would be his first of many trips there.

I was so pleased as I looked over the great menu.  So many great choices.  I looked around the room.  I loved this place!  It was crowded.  It was bustling!! It was hip and cozy.

whisperingIt was also very loud. I looked up and noticed that Clark thought it was loud, too.  So did our friends.  I could tell by the way everyone craned their necks in and turned their ear towards the conversation.   Didn’t our parents do this?  Wasn’t this a sign that your hearing was not as sharp as it once was?  I tried not to think about that.  I just craned my neck in the direction of whoever was talking and tried to catch a word here and there.

The busy server made his way to the table.  I craned my ear up towards him as he quickly went over the specials. What was that?  What did he say?  I smiled and nodded and decided just to order off the menu instead. I had asked him a few questions, tried my best to lip read his answers and made my selection.

We ordered some wine and settled into the rhythm of the place.  I liked it here!

A little while later I could see our food coming.  We were getting hungry!   Our waiter set the tray down next to our table.  He started passing out the dishes.  He put mine in front of me.  Looking down at it, my eyebrows furrowed together.   Good grief, what was that?   It was huge! My girlfriend said it resembled a family size meatloaf.  Right there on my plate sat dinner for six.

Our waiter then put her meal in front of her.  It was gargantuan, as well.  I pointed my ear towards her as she explained to him that he had made a mistake.  She told him she did not order that.  He assured her that she did.

Clark’s meal was next.  Why, his meal was nothing like ours!  It was not supersized.  His meal was the size of a hockey puck. It was small and compact.  He looked at me from across the table and said something.  I craned my ear towards him.  I thought I heard the word tasty.  I smiled and nodded at him.

There was lots of laughter at our table during the meal.  There were lengthy, animated conversations.  Some of it I caught.  Some, I did not.  It made me think of dinners out with Clark’s parents before they surrendered to hearing aids.   You just knew they did not know what was being said because they just sat there and nodded.  Now I was the one nodding.  And Clark was nodding.

When did restaurants get so loud?  Do the modern design trends and open layouts amplify the noise?  Are there any restaurants out there anymore where you can have a conversation without being forced to shout? Do Restauranteurs intentionally create an atmosphere that is “high energy”  and loud because it lends a certain appeal and brings in more traffic?

Or, is it simply that we are aging.  We are becoming our parents.  What once used to be a commentary from the older generation about how loud “this or that” restaurant is, is now becoming my generation’s mantra.

After we were done with our meals,  we sat and enjoyed each others company in the overly loud, wonderful space.   It was good to be out with these dear friends.  Nodding and grinning.  And if I was honest,  I’d have to admit that the loud atmosphere did add to the spirited energy level of the evening.

What a great night!

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on the sidewalk where i live

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It’s hard to get back up on that horse again once you’ve fallen off.  On my most recent visit to my oncologist, I was told cardio is non-negotiable. The hiatus that I had been on for the past 9 months came to an abrupt halt.  OK!  I was physically and mentally ready to get back into my old routine.

The route I walk takes me through wooded areas as well as suburban neighborhoods.  It is the best of both worlds.  Sometimes I walk with my friend Bonnie.  Often I walk alone.  It’s my time to reflect.  And pray.  It’s my time to think about what I have accomplished in the past week and about the future goals I have set for myself.

I walked out my front door this morning for my walk and looked down onto the sidewalk I was on.  And just like that, it set off flashbacks from my youth.

We did not have sidewalks in my hometown.  At least not in my neighborhood or the ones around me.  We lived in wooded neighborhoods.  Most houses sat on large parcels of land.  An acre or so.  There were not many fences. One backyard led into the next. There were clothes lines hanging between trees and fresh laundry on the lines.  It was a different day an age.  As kids, we would walk out our front door and be gone all day long until dinner.  There was no Nintendo or Xbox.  There were no Computers or Cell phones.  There was no such thing as Cable TV.  There were no indoor malls.

On holidays and special occasions, my family would drive to Chicago to visit my Mom’s side of the family.  We’d drive past neighborhoods lined up one after the other.  Looking out the window of our wood-paneled station wagon, I thought it was odd that all the houses looked exactly the same.  And they were so close to one another.  But they had sidewalks.  To me, that looked cool.

I loved those trips.  For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to live in a big city.  The city looked so different from where we lived.  There were smoke stacks on factories that we’d pass along the highway to our destination.  White smoke billowed out the tops.  The traffic was busy and fast paced.  And loud.  You’d see the outlines of the buildings as you got closer.  And then, you’d be upon them.  They were amazing to me.  Just Beautiful. It was exciting and it pulled on my heartstrings.  I could imagine myself living in one of those tall buildings.  I wanted to work in a city like Chicago.  And live there.

I thought back on that time ~ and my dreams ~  and continued to walk.  As I rounded the side street of my neighborhood,  I came upon the little lake.  It’s  really a retention pond. It leads into the bordering neighborhood.  The pond is big.   It’s lined with weeping willow trees.  The full, sagging  branches hang low. They sway lightly back and forth in the wind.  You can hear the rustling of the lower leaves as they brush against the grass below them.  I love that sound.  It’s quiet and peaceful.

There was a home were I grew up that had two giant Willow Trees in the front yard.  To me, they were the most beautiful trees around.  How lucky those people were to have them in their own front yard.  I admired the beauty of those trees every time we drove past them.  I remember thinking often that when I grew up, I’d have one!

I continued past the pond and onto the back roads and eventually into the next neighborhood.  Back up onto the sidewalk again.  I looked around as I walked.   Things had changed so much since I grew up.  I passed up fancy swing sets that had forts attached to them.  Most of the homes had underground sprinkler systems.  Homes had built-in swimming pools in the back yards.  There were expensive cars in the driveways.

Two little girls rode passed me on their fancy bikes.  I thought back to the bikes we rode in the 70’s.  Schwinn’s.  With banana seats.  Wicker baskets on the front.  We’d clip cards into the spokes with clothespins.  Loud!

I thought about our swing sets.  They were made of simple metal frames.  They held 2 swings and a bar you could hang upside down on.  And a somewhat flimsy, metal slide was attached to the side.  If you would swing too high, the two front legs of the set would come off the ground.  That was always a little scary and a little exciting!  There were a few times the entire set tipped over. That’s when your parents would coming running out and yell at you.  Fun over!

I saw a sprinkler on a lawn I was coming up to.  It was the old-fashioned kind my dad had.  It was long.  And had one bar with holes running along the top of it.  It went to and fro slowly.   This was the kind we ran through as kids.  We had no pool in our yard.  Hardly anyone did back then.  On hot days we’d get our towels out.  Lay on them in the yard.  Right on top of the grass.  Sometimes on the driveway.  We’d run through the sprinklers when we got hot. By the end of the day the grass was all matted down from trampling on it ~ and partly muddy where the ground was saturated with water.  Ahh, good times!

Sprinkler smallI looked up as I got closer to the sprinkler.  There was a man standing next to it.  He was inspecting the circumference and range of the water.  His hands were on his hips.  He looked very serious.  Every time the sprinkler bar pointed away from him, he stepped up to it, bent over and adjusted the placement a few inches to the left or right.  Just like me dad used to do.  I said good morning as I walked past and wondered if those few inches really made that much difference.

I circled all the roads of my usual path.  Passing up groups of walkers.  An occasional runner.  And, kids on bikes.  I walked along the wooded road.  It runs along a huge lake.  With lots of trees that house lots of birds.  I could hear them singing to one another.  I could hear the wind rustling the leaves on the trees.  An occasional car would pass me up.  It was good to be back in my routine.  This was one of my favorite parts of the day.  Walking.

I circled around and came back to the spot where I cut through into my neighborhood along the pond.  As I walked past the weeping willow trees again, I heard a faint voice in the distance.  Mom. Hey mom!!…Mom, wait up…..  I turned around and in the distance I could see my son Brian hustling towards me.  He had a fishing hat on.  He was carrying a pole in one hand.  He called out to me again and waved.  I started towards him.  He knew this was the path I come back through to get home.  Hey!  I was keeping an eye out for you.  I just started fishing.  Want to hang out for a while?  Did I want to hang out for a while?  *Jackpot!!*  Of course I did!!!

I took a shaded seat under the tree.  Brian stood on the bank and fished.

We talked about his week.  What was going on with his friends.  What he had planned for the next few weeks.  He was going to be headed back to college soon.  I was going to miss him.

As he talked to me,  my mind drifted a little.  I thought about my hometown. And my childhood.  About growing up in a time that was simple.  Is “more” really better?  Ask any child and the answer will be yes.  Ask any adult and the answer will be no.

I looked around myself.  A warm feeling came over me.  There was no other place on earth I’d rather be at that moment, than exactly where I was.  I thought back on some of those things that caught my interest when I was young.  About the things that fascinated me and the things I found beauty in.

As I sat there, I thought how interesting it was that I had indeed settled  in a big city.  My home on the outskirts ~ in a beautiful suburb.    Living in a wonderful neighborhood ~ with sidewalks!  And I looked up over my head….. and wouldn’t you know, I was sitting under a weeping willow tree.

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