Obsessively French Goose

The French (or Pomeranian) Goose and goslings

The French (or Pomeranian) Goose and goslings

Mother Goose asks herself many times each and every day, “Why do I suffer from this ongoing OCD? Why must I be continually checking my Francophile status? Will this constant absorption in French music, food, literature, aromas and peoples ever cease? Is there healing in the lavender of Provence? Will I ever know peace?”

Let us now count the ways in which I have become a French goose:

1. In the past six months, I have had a love affair with no less than three French novels: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and Paris to the Pyrenees by David Downie. I have also begun (and intend to read for the rest of my life) the unabridged version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

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2. Because of my great passion for la crepe and my Husband Goose, I have learned to prepare and serve breakfast crepes for him each morning. Of course, we buy our crepes from Whole Foods already cooked…. But I enjoy cooking the eggs and bacon and shredding the cheese to wrap up in the ready-made crepes. That still counts, right?

Breakfast Crepes September 21st, 2009 1

3. Who can possibly forget the swooning adventure of Mother Goose and her friends at the French Impressionism and Fashion exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago?

"At the Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

4. We have heard at GREAT LENGTH about her love for the now-shuttered Chicago restaurant La Creperie… God bless and comfort Germain, his family and friends as they grieve the lost of Jeremy.

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5. Mother Goose is ever thankful for Pandora internet radio where she can actually fashion a personalized French music radio station, featuring some of her favorite songs and artists. Here’s the place to go for accordion music, bistro background noise and La Vie en Rose. I’ve named my station Autumn Leaves, and you’ll find me there most days between the hours of midnight and midnight.

Jerry King, of course!

Jerry King, of course!

6. Did I mention that my dear friend, Jennifer, and her husband are leaving for a twelve-day trip to southern France in the VERY near future? They will fly into Nice, travel by train throughout Provence and the French Riviera. Although this is not an official second honeymoon for this wonderful couple, they will undoubtedly find themselves madly and hopelessly in love with each other all over again after twelve days of French culture and scenery… Mother Goose wishes them a hearty Bon Voyage!

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The only thing left for a goose to do is to redecorate our nest in a shabby chic French country style and continue to sip and sample the fine wines of the Bordeaux region. And dream of the day when I visit Paris…

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Mother Gooses Connects the Dots

These past few days have seen Mother Goose flying from store to store in search of the best back-to-school deals and values. From the rising of the sun ’til the setting of the same, she has been overly occupied with the process of returning some of her children to their various classrooms and preparing some for the GREAT launch out of the nest and into collegehood. There was much packing and organizing of stuff.

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Our family enjoyed many fond farewell dinners and meals including an unexpected time at Mancini’s, a treasure of a restaurant at 1111 Lake Street in Oak Park.

Ben (wearing red), Eric (wearing maroon) and Jessi (next to Eric) are all college bound this fall.  Please note the accordionist in the background.

Ben (wearing red), Eric (wearing maroon) and Jessi (next to Eric) are all college bound this fall. Please note the accordionist in the background.

The man playing the accordion is Jerry King who has been playing professionally since he was 13 years old. Here’s the link to his website, and be sure to click on the songs he’s put out for us to sample. His virtuoso style of playing will make you smile and dream of faraway places…

And now for the connection:

As we were chatting with Jerry in between songs, he revealed to us that he used to play regularly at La Creperie in the city. My most loyal readers will surely recall the last visit that we made to that wonderfully shabby genteel French bistro in the city, as well as the sad news that the owners’ son had passed away the day before we were there.

Our new friend, Jerry, has been very dear friends with our French friend, Germain, for a long, long time. In fact, when Jerry played at La Creperie on Thursday evenings through the eighties and nineties, Germain would play his trumpet. If only Mother Goose could hear that duet…

But sadly, this is the day that La Creperie will close its doors for the very last time, and Jerry told us that Germain will be moving to California to be close to his son’s widow and children…

The Chicago Tribune even ran a story about the restaurant and the heartwrenching story of Germain Roignant…

Au revoir!  We will miss you, friend.

Au revoir! We will miss you, friend.

So, the goslings have flown off to college, Germain is flying off to California, Jerry will be playing his amazing accordion music at Mancini’s on Tuesdays and Mother Goose is off connecting the dots to another great adventure… Au revoir!

Touring with the Idols

I have written previously about my beautiful sister-in-law, Suzanne. She’s a lovely and amazing woman who adores her brothers.

Bill, Mark, Suzanne and Jim -- Cramers all of them...

Bill, Mark, Suzanne and Jim — Cramers all of them…

For most of the year, Suzanne lives and works in a sweet quiet little California tourist town at a Whole Body Vibe studio where she helps clients realize their full health potential and sensible weight loss. She also keeps herself in excellent health with organic eating and exercise — I’m sure she’ll never have to take any blood pressure medicine OR cholesterol medicine! She’s just a beautiful lady with a great perspective on life. Love is written all over her face.

And did I mention that she’s also a jewelry designer? Suzanne creates some gorgeous gold and silver “roadie shackles” that are for sale at her website — so cool for folks who can’t get enough rock and roll jewelry.

And then summer rolls around and her life does a 180. For the past several years, Suzanne has been the primary rigger on the American Idol Live tours. The rigger is the person who travels with the musical entourage and rigs up the motors which run the lights on the grid rack way up above the audience, way up over the stage.

She easily travels thousands of miles each summer, rigging up the shows, and then tearing them down and packing them away to be loaded on buses and hauled to the next venue down the road.

Suzanne has been doing this for nearly thirty years, traveling with many famous people and bands: Bonnie Raitt, Beyonce, Aerosmith, and Gloria Estefan to name just a few.

What an interesting life for this sister of a goose!

The fun thing is that when Suzanne comes to town with her friends and the American Idols, she arranges for her family to join her at the concert AND backstage! Imagine Mother Goose backstage at an American Idol concert!

Yes, it happened!

We arrived early at the Allstate Arena VIP parking lot on Monday night in our Goosemobile. Regular fans and curious onlookers, of course, wondered who we were as we pulled up to the gated entrance.

I spoke right up, “We have VIP parking for the concert tonight. My name is on your list!”

The parking lot security agent looked at Mother Goose. He seemed to recognize me, but still it’s his job to ask, “And your name is…?” When I told him, he was gracious and truly delighted to see me with my daughters.

“Ok,” he explained. “Just pull up there to that entrance by the tour buses and park in that lot. Your entrance door is behind the buses.” We happily followed his directions, walked behind the buses and entered the arena through an unmarked door. We were immediately confronted with a pack of security personnel who apparently hadn’t been informed that Mother Goose would be at the concert this evening.

“Who are you? How did you get in here? Were you on the bus? Who let you in? Why are you just standing there flapping your wings and stomping your rubbery feet?”

Graciously and with my best southern belle accent, I explained that my sister, Suzanne, would be meeting us and she’s very important too. As they surrounded us, I quickly dialed up Suzanne’s number and waited for her to rescue us. And of course, she did. Because she’s much more important and famous than Mother Goose. The security people just melted away when Suzanne showed up on the scene. After loving greetings, she hustled us away to another building, past more curious gapers with their mouths hanging open in wonderment of who we might be.

As we walked to the building where the crew and idols would be enjoying their delicious catered dinner of a freshly roasted pig, Suzanne supplied us with special backstage passes to stick onto our thighs and wrap around our wrists. We were now officially VIPs. With all the splendid and special benefits of those who know that status…

We ate hurriedly and happily.

Suzanne introduced us to her friends and explained that even though the rigging for the show was complete, she has an additional behind the scenes job for this tour. She assists in the “quick change” area during the show — the young singers change their costumes several times in the course of the evening, and she helps them to get into their outfits, attaches them to their lovely jewelry and makes sure they get the right shoes and cowboy boots on their precious idol feet.

As you can already imagine, we gasped in wonder as she showed us the place where these talented young singers change their clothes!

Wardrobe of the American Idols...

Wardrobe of the American Idols…

Jewelry of the American Idols...

Jewelry of the American Idols…

With eyes full of wonder and awe, we followed dear Suzanne to the place where we would be sitting to watch the concert. Of course, it was in the center of the arena in a fenced-in area reserved for those who are pre-designated as VIPs…

We hugged her mightily as she left to dress the ladies and then we waited with great joy and anticipation for the show to start. We entertained ourselves with taking many silly pictures. Because we are VIPs…

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And then what FUN when the concert started and all those really talented singers entertained us for a couple of hours! With all of their costume changes in place. And there were no wardrobe malfunctions to speak of…

Great light show!  Lasers galore!

Great light show! Lasers galore!

Miss Kree

Miss Kree

Miss Kree up close and personal on the big screen.

Miss Kree up close and personal on the big screen.

Miss Candice, the winner of American Idol 2013.  Oh man, can this woman sing!

Miss Candice, the winner of American Idol 2013. Oh man, can this woman sing!

Afterwards, with stars in our eyes, we were kindly and graciously escorted away from the masses to that private secret exit by Suzanne’s dear friend, Bobby. A fine Southern gentleman from Knoxville, Tennessee, he walked us out past the security personnel again while the eyes of regular fans watched us with great envy. Of course, Mother Goose easily slipped back into her southern belle mode in talking with Bobby much to the great chagrin of her daughters.

“Mom,” Jessi and AnnaRose asked, “Who do you think you are?”

“Well, I’m a VIP, of course, and so are you, my dears!”

A huge THANK YOOOOOOU to my dear Suzanne for making us the VIPs for the evening! You are my idol, dear!

Blessings to y’all from Mother Goose!

Art Matters to a Goose

Many of my loyal readers have asked, “Mother Goose, does art even matter in this high-tech society?”

This story will address that question, and I’m sure that my most astute readers will already know the answer…

Mother Goose was kindly invited to join her friend, Linda, and Linda’s dear daughter, Sarah, on a trip to visit Chicago’s world-reknown Art Institute. Because I live in Oak Park (which is actually the center of the Universe), I was able to easily catch an “El” train downtown whereas my two lady friends had to ride in to the city from the far distant suburbs on a Metra passenger train. I arrived at the museum several minutes before they did and was able to take an early morning picture of one of the iconic lions.

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose...

You can almost see a lion behind the iconic head of Mother Goose…

The ladies arrived in due time, and together we began our exploration of the ever-growing and ever-changing Art Institute of Chicago. We made a unanimous decision to run quickly to the place of the special exhibit, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity”.

This exhibit was wonderfully educational and inspirational. We ladies especially love the Impressionistic style of art — in fact, it’s really the only part of the museum that we ever see. Something about the colors, the great globs of paint, the light in the paintings, the Frenchness of it all. We absolutely adore Impressionism!

This exhibit looks at the fashion of the time, French haute couture, of course. The paintings are arranged topically and with the added bonus of seeing the actual dresses from those fashionable times. What a thrill to see the painting alongside the actual dress worn by the model in the painting! Mother Goose nearly fainted from the historic wonder of it all.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed within the area of the special exhibit. We frowned and made little mutters about that strict rule…but as soon as we left the special exhibit, our 21st century cameras clicked crazily in all directions. Well, actually, only the camera of Mother Goose was flashing and clicking as Sarah’s REALLY nice camera died of uncharged battery syndrome.

Let’s just let these photos speak for themselves…

"At the Moulin Rouge" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“At the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

"Water Lilies" by Claude Monet

“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet

"Cafe Singer" by Edgar Degas

“Cafe Singer” by Edgar Degas

"Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one" by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

“Two Sisters (On the Terrace) Plus one” by Peirre-Auguste Renoir

Does art even matter?

If you ask these ladies who laughed, lushed and looped around the Art Institute of Chicago for more than five hours without even realizing how quickly time flies when you’re loving art, the obvious answer is a loud honk and a resounding, YES!

P.S. We also toured a related exhibit: “Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy” which explored informal dress and undress. Mother Goose was asked to stop her gawking and twitters in these galleries — seeing so many nudes makes a goose giggle nervously.

Date Night Booted Awry

In the course of this date night, many of our plans have gone awry: we’ve learned that the restaurant owner’s son has suddenly passed away, Mother Goose got a headache and passed out at the new movie she was so excited to see, and now upon returning to their car, the couple realizes that the ever-vigilant City of Chicago has spotted their unlawful vehicle and placed a “Chicago Boot” upon it.

Please sit back for a little history lesson from Mother Goose…

On September 16, 1987, the City of Chicago established a vehicle immobilization program, more commonly known as the boot program. This new procedure came in response to the many millions of scofflaws in the city — those people who receive multiple parking tickets and “photo op” red light tickets and yet feel no compulsion to pay for their crimes.

Once a parked vehicle has been identified as belonging to one of these scofflaw types, the city will show up at the parking scene and attach an iron boot to the front left tire of the vehicle which not only disables the car/truck but also prompts the owner of said vehicle to come clean on their debts to society.

In 1989, long before he was the husband of a goose, Mark received an undeserved parking ticket on the windshield of his Mercedes-Benz. I believe he thought that if he ignored it, it would go away. Admittedly, as the years went by, he began to feel some degree of guilt about not paying that parking fine, but he learned to live with the guilt.

Many years passed like sand through an hourglass, and he acquired other parking tickets attached to the windshields of other cars — cars with different license plates, with different registrations and addresses, different makes and models. Again, there was no payment of fines or escalating fees.

His guilt grew — as large and poisonous as a rattle snake around his neck, a hideous laughing monkey on his back — and he was in constant distress as he drove into the city. Would he be spotted by the authorities? Could he park anywhere and be safe? Forever looking over his shoulder, could he live with himself and this life of crime that negligence had carved out for him?

Finally on this date night with Mother Goose, the law had indeed caught up with the outlaw.

Yellow is the color of my true love's boot...

Yellow is the color of my true love’s boot…

“Your car has been booted.”

We had a few minutes of silence as Mother Goose bit her tongue, and Husband Goose plotted how to get the “urgent” goose home and how to proceed with the legal removal of the boot. We finally admitted that we had no choice but to call the grown children of the goose to arrange for a rescue operation. Sick with humiliation and the need to find a bathroom, Mother Goose texted Jessi who texted Ben, and together they bravely fired up the Goosemobile for a quick midnight flight into the city.

Jessi and Ben had just arrived home from another flight — to the extreme western suburbs of the city to attend a minor league baseball game with their father. I was most fortunate to have caught them before they retired for the evening… Ben was the designated driver, his sister the designated navigator and they expediently took off to rescue their mother who was in such distress. Side note: Ben has never driven in the city, much less at night…

Mother Goose was now in such distress that it was time to take drastic measures. Gathering all of her wits and throwing her bag over her shoulder, she loudly announced, “I am going to find a bathroom.” Off she marched in the general direction of La Creperie, hoping that the late night crowd on the streets of the city would part in order for her to find her destination in time.

Unfortunately, as she approached the bittersweet French bistro for the second time that evening, she realized that the lights were off, the patrons and proprietor had left for the night and a yellow chair stood on the inside of the locked door.

Mother Goose hung her head low and turned around. Resigned to return to the booted car and the inevitable long wait for the young rescuers, she hurried along the dark streets avoiding eye contact with every person she met but listening with great interest to their conversations.

I safely completed my journey back to the booted Cadillac. Crossing my legs, I waited with Husband Goose. Quietly.

My young heroes arrived in due time, swooping in to pick us up and head back to the nest. Ben drove confidently through the city streets, onto Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive and even through the underground portion of Wacker Drive where the amazing night chase scene from The Dark Knight was filmed. Of course, Ben is a better driver than either Batman or Joker so we navigated through that section of the city with no further incidents or parking tickets.

The date night ended. Mother Goose ran speedily into the house and down the hall, just in time…

It may have gone awry, but again, another unforgettable evening with Mother Goose.

The next day we went to the city to pay our dues. Mother Goose was relieved to hear that Husband Goose would not need to do any hard time for the crimes he had committed against the city authorities. And then we returned to the scene of the crime to await the removal of the boot.

Isn't it just "bootiful"?

Isn’t it just “bootiful”?

Obvious lessons learned, we can now drive happily and park freely throughout the Chicagoland area.

Who’s excited for the next date night with Mother Goose? 😀

Date Night Goes Even More Awry

Mother Goose was desperately in need of some Motrin after our emotional time at La Creperie and the consumption of perhaps a little too much Seven Hills Pinot Gris, a lovely Oregonian wine. The official wine-maker notes say this:

“This single-vineyard Pinot Gris is light straw-gold in color with aromas of ripe citrus, spearmint, pear and fresh hazelnut. There’s an enticing streak of vanillin from the oak. The wine is dry, but has a bright, sweet citrus palate made more interesting by a hint of spearmint by mouth. The finish is clean, brisk and fruitful. Made with 100% Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris is a delightful match with seafood and a variety of lighter dishes. It also makes a great pre-dinner glass of white wine.”

I would completely and whole-heartedly agree with the wine-maker and her notes! Unfortunately, Mother Goose was suffering from a slight headache at the completion of her delightful match up with Seven Hills…

After we had appropriately medicated Mother Goose, it was off to the Landmark Century theater to see “Blue Jasmine”, the latest movie from the wonderfully entertaining mind of Woody Allen.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first fifteen minutes of this chick flick — Ms Blanchett was acting brilliantly! She was genius in motion, and Alec Baldwin was superbly slimy.

And then the eyes of Mother Goose suddenly slammed shut.

Again, let’s put the blame on the Seven Hills…

I awoke just in time to enjoy the last fifteen minutes of the film — confused about what may have happened during the middle sixty minutes of the movie but certainly happy with how it all ended…

Making our way out of the theater through a maze of ramps and escalators all going up instead of the necessary down, we attempted to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the film. Husband Goose had some very astute observations concerning the parallels between this story and “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennesee Williams. He was in the glorious midst of poignantly comparing “Jasmine” with the ever-beautiful yet ever-fading Blanche duBois.

Mother Goose had some difficulty with this conversation as she was pondering the merits and drawbacks of a theater from which there was no easy escape…and not a single unlocked ladies’ room.

A dizzying maze!  Is there an exit?  Is there a lady's room open? No.

A dizzying maze! Is there an exit? Is there a lady’s room open? No.

Finally deciding to ignore the urgent pleas of her bladder, Mother Goose conceded that perhaps she could wait until they got home which really shouldn’t take too long as they were parked so very close to the theater. Walking briskly along and admiring the night lights of the city, Mother Goose and Husband Goose reached the car.

At this point, I felt it was appropriate to interrupt Husband Goose who was still verbally dissecting the movie which for the most part had remained unviewed by one Mother Goose:

“Your car has been booted.”

You won’t want to miss the INCREDIBLE conclusion to this strange date night. The tired old phrase “gone awry” just barely describes the evening…

Date Night Gone Awry

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen

Mother Goose doesn’t necessarily chase after the movies of Woody Allen, but the reviews for Blue Jasmine sounded interesting. I’m a modestly casual fan of Cate Blanchett, and Alec Baldwin’s Capital One commercials make me smile — good reasons to make plans to see a new movie.

With the film’s limited release on Friday, we could easily drive into the city, park near the Landmark Century Theater, catch a nice dinner beforehand at La Creperie and enjoy the movie together. What lovely plans! What a charming date night this could be!

We drove downtown in the Cadillac of Husband Goose and easily found a parking space on Diversey Parkway, just a block from the restaurant and theater. Husband Goose even checked with a Chicago policeman on his bicycle about whether this was a legal spot to park! The officer wholeheartedly agreed that this was a beautiful parking space.

We merrily skipped along to La Creperie.

We took this picture last year in June.  As I looked at the pix from that date night, I saw that I wore the same dress and we sat at the exact same table.

We took this picture last year in June. As I looked at the pix from that date night, I saw that I wore the same dress and we sat at the exact same table.

As you know, Mother Goose does not believe in accidents, coincidences or chance encounters…

I had read online that this quaint family-run French bistro would be closing its doors for the last time later this month. We wondered why they would close — surely business is always good with normal thirty minute waits on most nights. Forty-one years of serving delicious savory and sweet crepes, soup a l’oignon gratinee and an exciting array of fine wines — how on earth could they possibly be done?

While we waited to be seated outside on the back patio, we spotted the owner, Germain Roignant. He was acting as busy host for the night, not unusual at this long-lived northside bistro. Germain is an older gentleman, charming with his French accent and attentiveness to the ladies. We asked why he was closing his wonderful restaurant.

He explained that he had wanted to pass La Creperie on to his son, but after giving it a try, his son had decided it wasn’t for him and had moved to California with his wife. But then, the most heartbreaking…Germain told us that his son had now died, just the day before.

Of course, tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to this news.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“Somebody called in and couldn’t come to work, I need to be here,” he said with a sad shrug and then walked back towards the entrance to greet a new crowd of guests.

We stood speechless, absorbing this information and quietly relating it to our own families and children. How sad, how terrible to have to plan a funeral for a son… Germain’s wife Sara had passed away in 2002 — we could still read the grief on his face for losing his lifelong best friend and lover on the restaurant’s thirtieth anniversary.

How life can be so very short and confusing…

We had delicious food, of course, watching the precious proprietor rush back and forth through the restaurant, seating his company and receiving hugs and condolences from close friends who had heard the awful news.

When we finished our sumptious dinner crepes, our Bananas Sara and our coffees, we met Germain at the front door on our way out. “God bless you,” I whispered into his kindly old face. “Thank you, dear,” he replied and planted a warm kiss on my cheek.

Lost in our private thoughts, we walked silently to the theater…

But this was just the beginning. Incredibly, the date night continued to go awry. You won’t want to miss the next story where Mother Goose continues to describe the strange details of this night…

And Then We Went To The Beach…

As if visiting the tallest building in the world AND the largest stainless steel bean in the world wasn’t enough, we also took the dear sister of Mother Goose to the most beautiful urban beach in the world! The sand was soft and golden, the waves on beautiful Lake Michigan were soothing, the water was warm on our tired and blistered feet, and the view of the Chicago lake shore skyline SPECTACULAR.

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Oak Street Beach snuggles up to the city just as cozy as a fresh beach towel after a swim. Though we were only yards from busy Lake Shore Drive on a Sunday afternoon, the sound of the waves on the shore drowned out any traffic sounds. If we closed our eyes, we could imagine a tropical island. If we looked out across the lake, we could see lovely luxury ocean liners crossing the horizon. If we looked behind us, the unique view of Chicago was breathtaking.

The sun slowly set behind the skyscrapers, but rays of light suddenly shot through the tall buildings and lit up The Drake Hotel. Surely it was a sign that next time my dear sister visits our fair city, we should plan a visit or perhaps a stay at this famous Chicago landmark. In the meantime, all foots in and love from Mother Goose!

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I just think this is a funny pic...

I just think this is a funny pic…

Just a couple of gooses...

Just a couple of gooses…

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