Mother Goose Leaves Her Heart in the Park

I believe that yesterday was the last glorious day in the life of this goose. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive — perhaps I’ll never feel that way again. Such is Autumn…

Mother Goose leapt aboard her old-fashioned Schwinn Collegiate (circa 1975) and pedaled away in search of a quiet place to sit and read a story to herself. With her goose neck craning to admire every single tree and garden along the way, Mother Goose inhaled the smells, the sights and sounds of the lovely residential streets in Oak Park. Before I could say “Jack Spratt”, I arrived at Austin Gardens.

Here’s the woody area of Austin Gardens. Is Mother Goose’s heart here somewhere?

Originally the homestead of Mr. Austin and his family at the time when the 1800’s were beginning to think about turning into the 1900’s, this beautiful plot of land is now public property in the heart of Oak Park. The village people have left the northern third of the park as a wooded lot — it almost feels like northern Minnesota if I close my eyes.

Mother Goose rode old Schwinny around the park, being careful not to run over any of the native walkers and dog lovers. In the summertime, the Oak Park Village Players stage Shakespearean dramas under the moonlight and ancient oaks. Today, Mother Nature was staging her own drama, and Mother Goose snuck into the theater for free.

As I coasted to a stop in front of my favorite bench, I noticed the new sculpture in the park. The title of the piece is “Well”; it was created by Romananian-born artist Leonard Ursachi, and well, here are some photos of that thought-provoking bit of art. A little side note: this sculpture was originally conceived and built by the artist in his new hometown of Brooklyn, NY. I’m grateful that he moved it here for Mother Goose to enjoy until the end of 2015.

Well. By Leonard Ursachi.

After a thorough examination of the piece, which is constructed of wood, rope, mirrors and recycled water bottles, Mother Goose took her place on the park bench to watch the leaves fall. Little did she know that her heart was slowly leaving her feathery bosom and finding a new home amongst the trees and leaves and peace and stillness and quiet and beauty of this glorious day in the park.

Watching the leaves fall…

As the leaves fell from the trees, Mother Goose noticed tears falling from her eyes. The beauty was overwhelming! Also, I must mention that she was reading a book by Brennan Manning, All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir. Already the introduction was deeply affecting the soul of the goose whose heart had already abandoned her for the loveliness of the park.

Sniffing, snuffling and glancing to my left, I spotted another sculpture. I had seen it many times, but never as clearly as I saw it today. I walked over to it and saw the new sign identifying the piece as “Pillow”. Again, clearly a thought-provoking piece — I sent a picture of it to a very dear woman in my life in order to obtain her intense interpretation and revelation of the sculpture.

Pillow. Made from granite and steel.

She loves most art and sculpture, but this one eluded her…in fact, she said it looked like a pile of poo.

So now, tears on my feathers and laughter in my mouth, I returned to my bench to continue my meditation on all things Autumn, and to attempt to explain to myself why this day should stand out as a mystical turning point in my life. I frequently find myself looking up when I am searching for answers. Here’s what I saw directly above me.

Every branch like an abandoned dandelion puff.

Gentle winds played with the yellow leaves, chasing them like children playing tag in the park. Mother Goose said “goodbye” to them, “goodbye” to her heart, and pedaled away. Life will never be the same for the goose. Glory days gone with the wind…

Mother Goose Speaks Out

I’m just a goose! How do I find myself in these amazing places with such wonderful people? I’m baffled and honking about it!

M.Goose addressing Marine families at the Park Ridge VFW Post.

Once upon a time, Mother Goose was a regular mother with just the barest notion that our nation was at war. Whilst soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen fought valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mother Goose turned her beak in the other direction. In fact, she buried her head in the sand. You may have called her Lady Ostrich in those days.

And then the impossible happened — my twin sons enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and my ostrich life came to a screeching halt. Even though they are still stateside, training for a highly technical and difficult position onboard nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to this goose, military family life has already begun. Of course, when they eventually get deployed and head out to sea to see the world, Mother Goose will probably have a nervous breakdown. Maybe a double, twin-sized nervous breakdown…

Last evening, Mother Goose and her ever-supportive gander attended a wonderful meeting of Marine families in a nearby suburb of Chicago. Let me just tell you right now, these are some of the bravest, kindest and most gracious moms and dads that I have ever met.

As the sharing time progressed around the room, several parents reported that their sons had returned from active duty around the world, including combat action in Afghanistan. Two families had just experienced the gut-wrenching days of knowing their sons were now “boots on the ground” in the hot war zones of Helmand Province. Some were active and stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. There was a new “poolie” present with his family — just freshly enlisted and in preparation mode for boot camp next summer. All stages of U.S. Marine life were shared — hugs and tears and common wisdom were served up as easily as the delicious potluck dinner.

I was there at the meeting because I wanted to speak to the group about Blue Star Banners, an American tradition dating back to WWI. Military families are encouraged to hang the banners in their front windows to inform the neighborhood and the community that one of their sons or daughters is serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces during a time of war or hostility. Each star on the banner represents one soldier or sailor — of course, Mother Goose is proud to fly a banner with two blue stars.

We left the meeting humbled by the patriotic hearts, the faith and the love of these U.S. Marine Corps families. We will return to their next get-together to present Blue Star Banners to these amazing moms and dads. Now it’s time for Mother Goose to get to work. Honk! Time to buy more gold fringe at the JoAnn Fabric Store to glue to my banners.

I buy my banners from the American Legion online store. Then Mother Goose attaches the gold fringe to the banners — it makes them look extra special.

P.S. Do you know of a military family in your neighborhood? Please let them know about this wonderful old tradition. Please visit my Facebook page to see pictures of Blue Star Banners in the windows as well as pictures of our many friends’ sons and daughters in the service. Feel free to “like” our page if you are so inclined and share it with your friends. And, of course, please continue to pray for the troops — until they’re all safely back home with their families.

Please Pass the Joy Butter

Quite recently, I was asked the question that all authors, bloggers and ordinary people love to answer:

“Why do you write?”

Those four words are deeper than you can imagine! To even begin to answer the question requires much thought and soul-searching. Most writers would toss it back and forth between their ears, and mull it into a warm autumn drink. They would then consider the options; they would weigh the outcomes and pontificate on the ramifications.

It took me about three seconds to answer…

I write to spread Joy Butter over the toast of ordinary, everyday life.

Eric needs a little Joy Butter on his rye bread.

The Lord said that we should pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Toasting the bread is good — getting it warmed and crunchy is a fine morning tradition — it’s completely palatable and nourishing. However, dry toast can be…well, dry! It can be just crumbs in your mouth, pretty bland and ordinary. But omigooseness when you spread a pat of butter over the toast….why it just makes a world of difference.

Do you have “toast” days?

Kinda of dry, kind of boring, kind of crumby…

Mother Goose is here with her Joy Butter, ready to add some flavor and smiles to your day. Please pass the Joy Butter!

An Apple A Day Keeps the Goose Itching

So many of my faithful readers have asked for the Taffy Apple Salad recipe, and I’m happy to oblige here and now. I only wish I could eat it myself without the terrible discomfort that permeates my body at the ingestion of raw apples… Nonetheless, I know you will enjoy it. Try not to think of Mother Goose scratching her lips, beak, nose, tongue and throat as you are munching on it.

The Taffy Apple Salad of Mother Goose did not look this pretty as she was busy scratching her face instead of garnishing the salad.

Taffy Apple Salad


1 Large can of pineapple chunks, cut up. Please reserve the natural juices as you will use them in the dressing.
2-1/2 cups of chopped apples, leaving the skin on for prettiness. Any apples will do fine, but I used Honey Crisp.
1 Tablespoon of ordinary flour
1-1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar, of course…
1/2 cup of ordinary sugar
1 egg, terribly beaten
8 ounces of Cool Whip, mostly thawed out
2 cups of mini-marshmallows
1-1/2 cups of dry roasted peanuts


Please pour the pineapple juice into a medium-sized sauce pan, and turn on the heat about medium-sized as well. Add the flour, vinegar, and sugar, stirring well to remove the little lumpies. Now go ahead and add the beaten up egg, continuing to stir it all together nicely. Bring this mixture to a boil and let it get kind of thick.

Set this warm saucey mixture to the side and let it cool about seven minutes, maybe ten.

In a pretty large bowl, mix together your chopped apples, pineapple chunks, marshmallows (go ahead and eat a few if your want) and peanuts.

When your pineapple sweet sauce is finger-cooled (yes, go ahead and touch it!), fold in the Cool Whip and get it all incorporated into each other. Then simply dump it into the fruity, sweet and salty yummy ingredients in the pretty large bowl. Toss it all around, keeping most of it in the bowl.

Cover it up and put it in the fridge for awhile. It’s really best when it’s really cold. Serve it to your family and friends with a big smile on your face because you are about to eat a salad that tastes just like a caramel apple. Or a taffy apple. It all depends on where in the world you are, I guess.

Bon Appetit from Mother Goose!

Somebody won a prize for this recipe in 1965… NOT Mother Goose…

The Puck Stops Here

You just never know where Mother Goose will be next! A college hockey game, Mother Goose? Seriously?

And yes, indeed, that’s where you could find the goose last night — in attendance at a DePaul University hockey game with friends, Doug and Debbi Brooks. (Many of my faithful readers will recall that Debbi is a professional photographer.) This friendly couple have two sons, James and Steven, who are both amazing hockey players. When Mother Goose asked Debbi what position Steven plays on the DePaul team, she proudly answered that he’s on defense, number 24 — it’s the number he’s worn on his back ever since he was a little hockey mini-mite.

The evening began at the Brooks’ home with warm pulled pork sandwiches, UNBELIEVABLE scalloped taters and taffy apple salad. Just a tiny side note: Mother Goose made the taffy apple salad remembering how tasty it is and how it REALLY does taste like a caramel apple. When I was finished with the preparation of the salad, I taste-tested it. “Oh how delish!”

I was happily honking about it, when suddenly I realized that my mouth, tongue, throat, lips and nose were itching terribly…and then the remembrance came into my smallish goose brain that with the advancement of my years, I’ve developed an allergy to raw apples. HONK!

But everybody else enjoyed the salad, and the dinner was a smashing success! Off to the hockey game!

Oh! Here is another side note: Mother Goose is originally from northern Minnesota where little boys and girls learn how to ice skate before they can walk, and hockey sticks are common Christmas gifts for two year olds. If you are an old avid hockey buff, you may recognize the names of Joe and Pat Micheletti, professional hockey players in the 1970’s and 80’s. This legendary hockey family is from Hibbing where Mother Goose graduated from high school.

Please be patient — I’m really taking the long way around here, but Mother Goose played flute in the Hibbing High School Bluejacket Marching Band, and we never missed a hockey game. No, we did not march on the ice, but we did play peppy songs whilst the guys skated madly back and forth, up and down the ice. We did not even mind when our fingers stiffened up and our lips (and beaks) froze to our instruments.

I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures from last night’s DePaul hockey game — Mother Goose was completely tipped over by all the action, and could barely follow the puck as it was shot all over the rink — by the way, DePaul whupped the Illini 5-0.

Steve Brooks #24 DePaul University Hockey Team

Total hockey action

Intense hockey action

The team played really well, easily defeating the Illini

Debbi had the big guns out for this game!

The Zamboni is covered with images of food from the Peapod company. THAT’s something you don’t see everyday!

Very proud parents of defensive line player, #24.

With an easy victory under their belts, the team left the rink and changed into normal clothes. Defeating the Illini with a score of 5-0 proved once again that DePaul Hockey is a satisfying sport for the young men. Also, I’d like to say that with the NHL lock-out still on, college hockey is a GREAT alternative. They play aggressively, but they also play nice. There were no fights, and only the most minimal checks up against the boards.

Mother Goose was quite comfortable with the level of play, and easily adapted to the chill of the rink and the explosions of pucks hitting the plexiglass repeatedly.

We returned to the Brooks’ home for dessert — a beautiful and fine apple pie, vanilla ice-cream, chit-chat and steaming hot coffee.

Check out the pretty little cut outs — Debbi made this from scratch!

Run Like a Wildcat

The music was jammin’ pop songs way down the street at the Whittier Elementary School. The sky was bluer than blue. The air was crisper than a Granny Smith apple. Mother Goose felt that old urge to run, but this was not her day.

Today was the Whittier School Wildcat Fun Run! The school uses this event to raise funds for their PTO programs, and the kids are always happy to oblige — who wouldn’t want to get out of the classroom on a day like today? All they had to do was run or walk for thirty minutes and then enjoy a healthy snack. It was prrrrrfectly beautiful weather for running like a wildcat!

And there they go!

For two weeks prior to today, the kids collected pledges from their sponsors. Each student had a goal to raise $50. Of course, thanks to the extremely generous support of the family and friends of Mother Goose, AnnaRose far surpassed her $50 goal! And I say, “THANK YOU” to everybody who pitched in for the Whittier School PTO.

Keep your eye on the fellow in yellow!

Some nice action and some nice moves.

The REAL Whittier Wildcat

Just a couple more laps to go…

Go, Mr. Lukehart, go!

The fellow in yellow is Jason Lukehart — AnnaRose’s teacher this year for 4th grade. Mr. Lukehart ran the Chicago Marathon this past Sunday! He finished the whole 26.2 mile course and he can still run! His time for the race was 3:59:21, just a bit under four hours. The numbers are staggering, but out of all the finishers (37,455 runners), Mr. Lukehart finished in 11,497th place. And the average time for people who completed the marathon was 4:32:02. So YAY for you, Mr. Lukehart! Thanks for setting such a great example for the kids at your school.

And YAY for all the kids who ran today to raise money for Whittier Elementary School! You kiddos ROCK!

Love, Mother Goose

Happy Columbo Day

To this goose, it makes more sense to have a national holiday honoring Detective Columbo than the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus. Columbo was a heavy duty homicide detective. Columbus was the first wave captain of the New World conquest and invasion.

It’s true that Mother Goose might not be here in this great nation if Columbus had not discovered it. But might it also be true that if the first Europeans to arrive on these shores had celebrated the Native Peoples and their culture instead of slowly obliterating them, our country would have been an even greater place?

However you celebrate this day, (and none come to mind actually….) please remember the work of Lt. Columbo of the Los Angeles Police Department. Remember his wit, his style, his cigar and his good dog. Remember America is a better place because of Columbo.

The Goose and The Squirrel

Mother Goose was presumably alone in her home when she heard the loud crash upstairs. Rising from her chair, she quickly did a mental inventory of the family pets — fish in the aquarium, birds in their cages, Olivia the cat outside, Fran the dog in her daybed. Every pet was in it’s special area, and not upstairs. Then who…or what?

With all senses on red alert, Mother Goose climbed the stairs to investigate the strange noises coming from the bedroom area of the house. She could hear scrambling — the tiny scratching sound of little toenails running along the wooden floorboards. As she reached the bedroom of her sons, she was shocked to see the family globe laying on the floor. With her near-sighted eyes peeled for more evidence of the potential invader, Mother Goose slowly bent over to pick up the world and replace it on the bookshelf. A picture of one of her sailors had also been knocked off the shelf.

That’s when she saw him. At the end of the hall stood an enormous gray squirrel, and she knew by the guilty look on his furry gray face that he was the culprit. The suspicions of Mother Goose were confirmed when he turn and began running away. The squirrel knew his days as a free man were nearing an end unless he put miles between himself and this goose.

In Mother Goose, he saw a law enforcement official, a detective, a prosecuting attorney, a hanging judge and possibly even the executioner of his mortal body. He was a squirrel without a defense.

“Squirrel!” shouted Mother Goose to no one in particular. “Squirrel!”

Frantically he ran into the bedroom of Mother Goose. Leaping and lunging crazily at a closed window, he could only gasp in holy terror at the fate that had befallen him. Mother Goose closed the door to the bedroom, trapping the lice-encrusted rodent within the confines of her boudoir.

The squirrel turned to face Mother Goose.

“Squirrel!” she shouted once again. And then she realized that she also was trapped within the confines of her boudoir with a wild squirrel. She quickly exited.

Regaining her sense of mastery over the situation, Mother Goose ran down the stairs to find her broom. She also opened the front door of the house in case the squirrel should require an exit from the scene of the crime. She stopped for a moment to look at her dog who was resting on her daybed with a curious look on her face. “Squirrel!” Mother Goose shouted again. Fran looked interested, but not enough to get up and help Mother Goose. She was certainly not motivated enough to climb the stairs and assist the goose.

For her part, Mother Goose was giving the squirrel ample opportunity to resist arrest and escape with his life and lice intact.

For his part, the squirrel was doing his best to comply with the wishes of Mother Goose.

Returning to the boudoir with her broomstick in hand and courage sufficiently summoned, Mother Goose rapidly scanned the floor, the corners of the room, under the dressers and the bed and even peeked cautiously into the closet.

No sign of Mr. Squirrel.

Then Mother Goose noticed the open window near her bed. She breathed a loud sigh of relief. He had apparently found his own escape route and executed his plan perfectly, leaving no trace of himself behind.

Returning to her kitchen chair by the window, Mother Goose watched the leaves fall and allowed her heart rate to return to normal. The back door was open, and she suddenly heard the rasping voice of a squirrel in the willow tree. She peered out the door and up into the tree, ever cautious as a goose can be. There he was way up high on the branch. The squirrel was scolding her! He was saying, “You may have won this battle, Mother Goose, but I will still win the war! I shall return!”

“I’m watching you, Mother Goose.”

Aquarium Success


Mother Goose cleaned the fish tank today, and all parties survived! Yay for the fishies and YAY for me! …now I’ll go and clean the birdie cages… Love, Mother Goose (keeper of many children AND pets)

Honoring Gold Star Mothers

Yesterday Mother Goose and Husband Goose were invited to participate in an event to honor Gold Star Mothers. Many of my dear readers know that Mother Goose is a double Blue Star Mother — two of my sons serve proudly in the U.S. Navy. Sadly, there are many mothers in Illinois and across our great nation whose brave sons and daughters gave all in service to America. They are the Gold Star Mothers. The pain and the pride in the heart of Gold Star Mother goes above and beyond any ordinary mother’s love.

Because Mother Goose has connections to the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders, we were honored to stand in a flag-line at the entrance to the great hall of the Chicago Cultural Center and then move to the perimeter of the room for the ceremony honoring these mothers and families.

Many people may know of the Patriot Guard Riders. These are the men and women who provide motorcycle escort for the fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen from their touchdown at the airport to the place of their memorial service and then ultimately to their final resting place. The Patriot Guard supports the families, and protects them in the case of “military funeral” protesters and certain obscene extremist groups who oppose the war by aggressively and hatefully interrupting the services for our brave troops.

These proud bikers have huge hearts for the families, and I believe they have great love for one another as well. They were certainly welcoming and kind to this old goose who doesn’t have a leather vest or patches or a roaring Harley to ride, but always wants to be a part of something important nonetheless.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was there. Before the ceremony began, he patrolled the perimeter of the hall and shook the hand of every one of us Patriot Guards (the real ones and those of us who were Guards for the day). He has a very firm and sincere handshake. He spoke well from the platform, invoking the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and naming the fallen Heroes a “righteous host”.

Governor Quinn has been to Afghanistan — this Commander-In-Chief of the Illinois National Guard knows very well the sacrifice made by these families. Besides this honorable event, Governor Quinn attends military funerals, visits the families personally and calls them to express his deepest sympathy and gratitude for their unparalleled service to America.

Twelve mothers received Gold Star Banners because their sons and daughters had been killed in action this past year. All of the mothers (and fathers) in attendance were given a beautiful golden rose — the largest roses I had ever seen! One by one they crossed the front of the hall of the Grand Army of the Republic and laid these gorgeous roses at the base of a flag representing a branch of the Armed Forces: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Most of the roses piled up below the Army and Marine flags, but there were two for the Navy. The tears rolled down the feathery cheeks of Mother Goose as she stood at attention with her American flag. Many of the big tough biker guys were swiping at tears of their own as the moms kept coming forward with their roses, and the vocalist sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

We were not permitted to take photographs at the ceremony, but Mother Goose caught a couple before and after the event.

Bikers milling around the parking garage before we exited for the event. Also, the parents of Army Spec. Cory Hubbell who died in Kuwait in 2003 at the age of twenty.

One of the guys carrying the American flags back to the parking garage.

My friend, Marine veteran and all around great guy, David Hume carrying more flags back to the parking garage.

Many of the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders are veterans.

This morning, the Patriot Guard Riders will be part of the funeral parade for Petty Officer Dion Roberts, KIA last week in Afghanistan. We also hear that yesterday marked the 2,000th American casualty in the Global War on Terrorism. Please pray for peace…

Mother Goose will never forget this experience. It was a privilege and an honor to play a part in this great event — to remember and never forget the men and women who have died in the name of freedom. God, please bless Gold Star Mothers and families with your great comforting love and peace today.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 79,781 honks to date

What’s New? What’s Old?

October 2012