A Love/Hate Relationship with the Bean

We have so many tourist attractions in Chicago, but none quite compare with Cloud Gate. This unique sculpture is the centerpiece of our Millennium Park and draws millions of visitors every year since its unveiling in 2006. It is made from 168 stainless steel plates welded seamlessly together and polished to a highly reflective degree so that the skyline and visitors are mirrored and distorted all around and below the bean-shaped oddity. Hence, the nickname The Bean.

The sculpture has appeared in many movies and music videos because of its fun and unforgettable design and underlying artistic theme. So now we get to the story Mother Goose has prepared for you today…

The sweet sister of the goose has seen this sculpture in many movies lately, and was very interested in finally seeing it in person. She told us over and over that she’d love to see the Bean as soon as possible.

When we’d finished conquering The Willis Tower, we climbed back aboard the Pink Line elevated train and looped around the city again, this time disembarking at the intersection nearest to Chicago’s Millennium Park. We strolled along the city streets for just a couple of blocks and arrived at the Michigan Avenue entrance to the park, a lovely tree-covered lane with music playing around us.

Suddenly, my sister clutches my arm! Her eyes were round as saucers and with terror in her voice, she cries out, “What is THAT?”

I look to where she is staring open-mouthed.

“What is that?” she asks again. “I see people sliding off a concrete roof or something…” Her voice trails off in bewilderment and no small level of fear.

Mother Goose looked at her sister, expecting her to be winking in merriment at the thought that she had finally arrived at the Bean, but there’s nothing but confusion and disorientation on her face.

“Honey, that’s the Bean,” I whisper to her, not wanting to upset her any further than she is already.

“Nooooo,” she speaks in hushed tones like one who is viewing an alien sight, something from a far and distant galaxy.

“Bunn, it’s the Bean! It really is!”

She shook her head in disbelief and amazement. We took her around to the plaza side of the sculpture so that she could view in in a familiar context as she had seen in the movies. THEN she was able to absorb the Bean in all its reflective and distorted glory.

We walked toward the Bean with our hands in the air so that we could spot ourselves in the very strange “Funhouse” mirror of gigantic proportions. Jessi, our experienced tourist guide, thought we should lower our hands as it appeared that we were actually worshiping the Bean.

We walked around it with all the other tourists, snapping pictures and marveling at the sculpture’s beauty and wonderful elements.

We walked under it, gazing up at the omphalos of the piece. This is very similar to a belly-button and provides multiple reflections of any subject standing directly below it. Very strange, indeed!

Most of the other tourists were touching the Bean, and there were fingerprints and hand smears everywhere on the mirror. Mother Goose wished that she had brought her Windex along so that she could clean the surface and wipe it smooth. Oddly enough, my sister refused to touch the Bean!

Most of the other tourists were having their photos taken next to the Bean — you could almost see the images flying up through the cybersphere to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. My sister refused to get close enough for a photo opportunity. She stood at a great distance with her guard up, just in case. I was able to capture only one shot of her and The Bean together.

Bunn and The Bean

Bunn and The Bean

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After we viewed the Bean from every possible angle, we stopped for a delicious dinner at Panera and planned our next tour destination, Oak Street Beach.

Drop everything and DANCE...

Drop everything and DANCE…

Sister Goose in the City

The dear and precious sister of Mother Goose flew into town last week for a delightful visit. I have already told the story of our trip to Racine, Wisconsin to visit the “girls”. Today I will begin to tell you the story of how we conquered the whole city of Chicago all in one day.

Sister Bunn comes from the land of 10,000 lakes and ten million mosquitoes. Minnesota’s Iron Range is a beautiful and kind of interesting place to live, but there are a limited number of venues for entertainment and tourism. We have visited the sight of the Hull Rust Mine many times and it’s always wonderful, but at the end of the day, it’s really just another giant hole in the ground…

For our trip into the big city on Sunday, we consulted with my urban-savvy daughter, Jessi. She knows the train and bus routes and schedules, the ways to get around, the must-see sights and of course, how to plan a day. (Did I mention she’s getting her master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy?)

Our tourist guide is on the far right.

Our tourist guide is on the far right.

We boarded the “el” in Oak Park. The “el” is the glamorous nickname uniquely given to the elevated trains which deliver bored commuters and overly excited tourists to various places around the city of Chicago from the unusual vantage point of “above ground”.

Jessi recommended the Green Line for the start of our journey. The Chicago Transit Authority has chosen several warm and friendly colors to identify their elevated train routes: green, blue, orange, pink, red, brown, yellow and of course, purple. Thirty years ago when I was a bored commuter, the trains were not colored, but identified as “A”, “B”, “A-B”, “C”, “D”, and “AC-DC” which was most confusing to Mother Goose after she had enjoyed a couple glasses of wine…

We switched from the Green Line to the Pink Line very easily, and after a scenic loop around the city, we jumped off quite near the front doors of the Willis Tower.
Slacks

The Willis Tower was originally known as the Sears Tower, but the Sears family decided to move out to the suburbs after a couple decades of occupying this tallest building in the western hemisphere. A little side note that Mother Goose just remembered: when AnnaRose was younger, she would call it The Serious Tower… Isn’t that just cute?

Now I believe that Bruce Willis and his family live there, but they have kept The Skydeck (observation deck) on the 103rd floor open to tourists who don’t mind waiting in line for two hours to experience the most spectacular and magnificent view of the city.

We met so many people and made many friends whilst we stood in line and even rescued a baby who had lost his little yellow sock. Well, actually we just found the little sock and returned it to the baby’s family…and though they were confused about how we knew it was his sock, they were genuinely appreciative.

A few years ago when tourists complained that viewing the city from 1,353 just wasn’t all that thrilling anymore, the Willis family attached four retractable plexi-glass boxes to the western side of the Skydeck where folks can actually step out into a protected space and enjoy the view up, down and all around. Mother Goose has said for years that this kind of an experience is fine for some people, but surely not fine for her, given her irrational fear of flying out into space from any great height.

But yes, indeed, thanks to the persuasive powers of the Sister Goose, I was able to go out on The Ledge. Well, actually she pulled and pushed me out there…

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Little Goose and Sister Goose who is dabbing at her tears of joy at conquering The Ledge.

Little Goose and Sister Goose who is dabbing at her tears of joy at conquering The Ledge.

Ben Goose considering the great heights...

Ben Goose considering the great heights…

All of the offspring of the goose enjoyed this trip to the top of the city and out onto the incredible ledge. Talk about a bird’s eye view of Chicago — it was downright FOWL!

Here's the "proof" that we were actually on top of The Willis Tower.

Here’s the “proof” that we were actually on top of The Willis Tower.

Please return to the home of Mother Goose next time when we continue our story of Sister Goose in the City — you will surely smile to hear the story of Sister and The Bean.

When the Goose Goes to Racine, Wisconsin

You meet the nicest people on Facebook!

Here’s a little story for you this morning:

Once upon a time, the brother of Mother Goose along with his dear wife adopted a fine young English mastiff pup from a breeder family in northern Wisconsin. They named him Harley Windsor of Sturgeon, and he grew up to be an excellent helper to Dana when he is working on his mud racing truck.

Harley and Dana working hard on the racer.

Harley and Dana working hard on the racer.

Through some interesting online connections, we all came to know the ladies who adopted two of Harley’s sisters.

Stella and Chelsea

Stella and Chelsea

The girls just adore their Auntie from Minnesota!

The girls just adore their Auntie from Minnesota!

My dear sissy has been down from nordern Minnesota visiting Mother Goose this past week, so we made a special trip up to Racine to visit the girls. Racine is a nice town plopped down right on the eastern coast of Lake Michigan, just over the border from Chicago. They have lovely empty beaches and rainbows in Racine.

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We had a lovely dinner at Oh Dennis! where they specialize in ribs and steaks of various sizes, shapes and designs. One thing that Mother Goose learned is that you can’t tell a book by its cover in Racine, Wisconsin.

Yuuuup, yeah hey the food is pretty darn good, eh?

Yuuuup, yeah hey the food is pretty darn good, eh?

We left Racine with THREE quarts of homemade dill pickles, THREE amazing and authentic Danish Kringles from Bendtsen’s Bakery and hearts full of love for our kind friends who we would have never met except through the magic of Facebook. Thank you, Tammy and Carmen, for showing this goose and her sister such a great time in Racine!

Tammy, Carmen and a happy piglet

Tammy, Carmen and a happy piglet

The Goose Goes for Your Heart

Dear loyal, caring and generous readers and friends,

Today I come to you with great and wonderful news!

http://www.startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

As you know, when I’m not here flapping and honking about people I know and places I go, I am very involved in connecting and supporting military families. My heart goes out to the moms and dads, husbands and wives and the children of our brave troops.

Every month, I attend support meetings of these families and present them with Blue Star Banners to hang in their windows.

Two proud and grateful moms...of course, one of them is Mother Goose...

Two proud and grateful moms…of course, one of them is Mother Goose…

The stars on these banners represent a member of the family who is absent from the home and presently serving our nation somewhere around the world. Often these men and women are serving in harm’s way, sacrificing family time for the sake of the United States, to keep us safe and free.

“Why, Mother Goose? Why do you do this?” you may ask.

I do this for several reasons:

1. I have twin sons in the U.S. Navy and I’m always hoping to find other moms who want to share experiences with me.

2. I have found many good friends by “looking for the banners” in the windows of homes I drive or walk past daily.

3. Families need these connections so that they can be informed of the services and resources available to them as military families and veterans.

4. It’s a grand old tradition that is still viable today.

5. It keeps me busy and helps me to not worry so much about my own sons — I’m thinking of others, instead of myself.

Anyway, the GOOD NEWS is that we are in the middle of a very important fundraiser so that we can continue this great work. With only two weeks left in our campaign, we are on track and getting closer everyday to our goal of $2,500.

But we need YOU, dear and beautiful reader! If you can just throw $10 at us today, GREAT! I’ll take it! If you can give more, GREAT! I love you!

But if anybody believes in this easy way to support the troops and their families, please jump in TODAY!

Here’s the link to the website where we are doing our campaign:

http://www.startsomegood.com/BlueStarFamilyPlatoon

Mother Goose is most grateful for your support TODAY! Plus if you click on that link, you’ll actually get to see a video of Mother Goose explaining most sincerely why you really DO want to help our campaign…

THANK YOU from the bottom of my feathery old heart…

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

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

My! How My Garden Grows!

Continuing with our series, “Things in My Garden Besides Me”….

A young deer in my petunia patch.  Note boulder flower pot with smashed petunia and flag behind the hapless deer.

A young deer in my petunia patch. Note boulder flower pot with smashed petunia and flag behind the hapless deer.

Lovely lavender

Lovely lavender

I've kept these geraniums for the past ten years, originally from my dear friend, Michelle.

I’ve kept these geraniums for the past ten years, originally from my dear friend, Michelle.

The faithful echinacea or cone flower, comes around every summer.

The faithful echinacea or cone flower, comes around every summer.

Lotsa lovely lilies...

Lotsa lovely lilies…

Mom used to call them Snowball flowers.  Today it's more politically correct to call them Hydrangea...

Mom used to call them Snowball flowers. Today it’s more politically correct to call them Hydrangea…

The squirrel gardeners planted this sunflower.

The squirrel gardeners planted this sunflower.

Come and visit the garden of Mother Goose anytime! Complimentary cushions to the first fifty guests who crash land…

A Goose in a Garden

An unprecedented number of my readers expressed concern at yesterday’s post, “Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday.” There were an abundance of questions regarding the circumstances as well as the latest condition of Mother Goose as a result of that spill. I believe it’s time to set the record straight on that photograph…

First of all, Mother Goose is OK. I’ve suffered some patches of road rash, perhaps garden rash would be more accurate, to my left knee and a deeper gash to my lower calf, but thankfully no blood and no broken bones. Probably a side ache from laughing hysterically…

Mother Goose has been known to take a spill off her bike a few times in her life — always with a dramatic flair and an attitude of hilarity. I remember so well at the age of five when my father removed one of the training wheels from my bike, and then told me to just pedal and steer down the driveway. Of course, I quickly crashed into the rose bush.

[You may also remember that Dad taught me to drive a manual transmission car by pointing it up hill and telling me to just let the clutch out slowly whilst I give it a little gas…]

My dear sweet sister, upon hearing the news of last night’s garden crash, was quick to recall the time in junior high when our family had just moved to Hibbing — I immediately leaped aboard my bike and proceeded to explore the new neighborhood in high style. Unfortunately, my pedal caught the curb and down I went, sprawled out in the grass for all the world to see and laugh at.

My daughters and I have been enjoying this summer from the seats of our bikes — we free range about the town, checking in at various parks and places at all hours of the day or night. Last evening we had pedaled like mad to Taylor Park where we observed some serious tennis and climbed like monkeys to the tops of the playground equipment. We raced to friend Regina’s home to show off the new rear hubs on daughter Jessi’s trick bike — she can pedal backwards OR forwards and it’s called a “fixie”.

Sometimes we pedal with great purpose — sometimes we just meander around the streets and parkways of Oak Park. Sometimes we hear the song of Almira Gulch as we ride along. But always we laugh because we are so happy when we are riding.

The strange episode from last evening not only had me laughing my goose-like head off, but also warranted the uncommon concern of passersby who had witnessed the clown show and wondered as to my well-being. It’s probably a good thing that nobody offered me a breathalyzer…

I was coming in for a landing, trying to aim between the parked car and the flower bed. I realized that I was losing altitude rapidly and my air speed was perhaps just a little too fast for the weather conditions.

And then that s…l…o…w… motion fall.

Crashing slowly into the deer statue in our garden and breaking it off its stand.

Running over the candy-striped peppermint petunias.

Falling and falling, wondering if I would survive and if I did survive, what would be my quality of life…

Smashing across the concrete flower pot which felt like a boulder to my goose bottom.

And with my head landing under the giant leaves of the hosta, Mother Goose joyfully enjoyed the view from the lowly perspective of a bunny in a garden.

A lesson to be learned? The moral of the story?

Nah… We only live once — go for the gusto and the laughs! And just remember: a goose in a garden is a delight to behold!

I just had to post it one more time -- it's just so funny!

I just had to post it one more time — it’s just so funny!

Wonderfully Wordless Wednesday

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The Silver Star Inn is the Better Inn for a Goose

The Silver Star Country Inn just south of Spring Green, Wisconsin

The Silver Star Country Inn just south of Spring Green, Wisconsin

Mother Goose and Co. arrived safely at The Silver Star Country Inn on Friday night. Our room, The Aperture Room, had mirrors, but not on the ceiling…

Mirrors on the dresser where they belong...

Mirrors on the dresser where they belong…

We quickly opened a bottle of local white wine, Prairie Fume, made at the Wollersheim Winery in nearby Prairie du Sac. We relaxed in the lovely rustic cabin setting, forgetting the horrors of all we had experienced at The Don Q Inn…

Please pass the bottle of wine, dear Gander...

Please pass the bottle of wine, dear Gander…

The next morning we enjoyed the most wondrous breakfast out on the front deck with the hummingbirds as our companions.

Two little hummers out of hundreds whirring above our heads.

Two little hummers out of hundreds whirring above our heads.

Our gracious innkeeper, Jean, prepared the creme de la creme of French toast for our culinary pleasure.

It just doesn't get any better than this for breakfast.  The ol' catfish dinner is long forgotten...

It just doesn’t get any better than this for breakfast. The ol’ catfish dinner is long forgotten…

The Don Q Inn with a Twist of Goose

To continue on with the travelogue of a goose, we left Grandview and headed up the road, around and around through detours and through the rolling “driftless” land of southwestern Wisconsin until we reached the village of Dodgeville.

We were famished and nearly faint with hunger.

We stopped at a Quik Stop and asked an elderly couple where was the best place to get a dinner in Dodgeville. Figuratively speaking, elderly people usually know the diners in town.

They gave us the classic reply:

“Well….you go back up town there a ways, about three blocks to the light and take a left if you want some barbecue food and live music… That’s Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ.” The old people actually said the “b” word…

We shook our heads.

“Oh well….then there’s Sam and Maddie’s on your way out of town. That’s right next to Don Q’s Inn, you know that place with the big ol’ airplane parked right out front. Good steaks there and nice family place. Can’t miss it…..just up this way, take a left, take a right past the gas station…”

Well, for gooseness sakes, that sounded interesting to Mother Goose and her dear Gander — hunger will drive you to eat even at a place with a big ol’ airplane parked right out front.

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“Unique in All the World”, the Don Q Inn is actually one of those scary “theme” hotels with rooms bearing these names:

Jungle Safari
Sherwood Forest
cupid’s Corner
Casino Royale
Arabian Nights
The Cave
Caesar’s Court
Paradise Cove
Up, Up and Away
Shotgun
Swinger
Mid-Evil

Nearly all rooms are decorated just as you’d imagine with mirrors on the ceiling, heart-shaped whirlpools or 300 gallon copper cheese vat bathtubs. Yes, 300 gallon copper cheese vat bathtubs.

The Steeple Room is obviously on the right...

The Steeple Room is obviously on the right…

So we made our way through the lobby of the Inn and into the secret passageway to the Sam and Maddy’s Restaurant which, of course, is in the barn of the estate because this is Wisconsin after all.

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Hungrily licking the menu, we devoured a basket of deep-fried dill pickles and for our entre, we finally decided on the porterhouse steak with double-baked tater for the dear Gander and some deep-fried walleye for the Goose. But we soon found that what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander in this instance…

The steak was quite delicious I was told — aged and grilled to perfection. However Mother Goose took one look at the “walleye” and realized that I had been duped once again! This was no fine northern Wisconsin fresh walleye, batter-dipped and deep-fried, but just a plain old oven-baked catfish.

HONK! HONK!!

But you know Mother Goose….not one to complain about a meal or make a scene about a fish mistake. I politely picked at it a little. When the young server asked how everything was, dear Gander asked her what kind of fish she had served to Mother Goose, and she brightly chimed in that it was a walleye.

But Mother Goose knows it was not a walleye. Mother Goose is from Minnesota for gooseness sakes — land of 10,000 lakes and over 10,000 fresh walleye caught daily.

We left Sam and Maddie’s dining room in a huff when we had finished our meal. And then we noticed another secret passageway — this one leading UNDERGROUND!

"Just walk this way, Mother Goose."

“Just walk this way, Mother Goose.”

Oh the dreadful smell, the horrible despicable sights within that “tunnel of despair”…

WHAT?

WHAT?

"Don't look behind you, Mother Goose!"

“Don’t look behind you, Mother Goose!”

"Get me outta heeeeere now!"

“Get me outta heeeeere!”

Whew!

You won’t want to miss the next episode in the travelogue of Mother Goose where we check into The Silver Star Inn (for the third year in a row).

The Goose Goes to Grandview

This past weekend, Mother Goose and her dear Gander made the annual pilgrimage to Spring Green, Wisconsin to commemorate their wedding anniversary. Along the way, they discussed many items they had forgotten to bring along with them, including the drops and ointments for the eyes of Mother Goose AND the list of suggested attractions to visit whilst they were in the area. Of course, these were the attractions which were suggested by Mother Goose and not necessarily the attractions approved by her dear Gander who had secretly loaded his golf bag into the trunk of the Goosemobile…

As they drove nearer and nearer to their destination, Mother Goose suddenly recognized the name of the town of Hollandale. She remembered that one of her many desired attractions was a place named Grandview, just outside of Hollandale. Dear Gander looked slightly hesitant as she directed him to the quaint little folk art and touristy location, but happily obliged when he saw her beaming face upon their arrival.

The sign simply says it all...

The sign simply says it all…

Mother Goose quickly leaped out of the car, nearly falling down in her excitement. She grabbed her Coolpix camera and sprinted towards the entrance to the park — dear Gander close behind her.

I'm sure the suspense is just killing you right now...

I’m sure the suspense is just killing you right now…

Here are the wondrous sights which met her eyes!

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The inventive genius creator and artist of this space was Austrian immigrant, Nick Engelbert, who came to Wisconsin with his beautiful Swiss bride in 1922. He began creating these amazing concrete sculptures in the 1930’s as he recovered from a sprained ankle. By the mid ’50’s, his yard was completely filled with these whimsical characters. His home and workshop are made of stone and concrete, covered with glass mosaic tiles and scraps of broken bottles in all colors.

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It was a mythical place, a mind-blowing attraction. Aren’t you glad that my dear Gander stopped there?

Are you wondering where Mother Goose and her dear Gander went for dinner that night? You must return for THAT interesting story…

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