More Fun and Love in the Hinterlands

Mother Goose and her goslings recently traveled to nordern Minnesota to visit the family. Let’s just say, the Hinterlands is another world away from Oak Park…

There’s something for everyone at the Frame Farm.

A little barn charm...

A little barn charm…

Chickens roosting in their coop...

Chickens roosting in their coop…

All American patriotism...

All American patriotism…

In the summer there are turkeys...

In the summer there are turkeys…

Turkey in a roasting pan...

Turkey in a roasting pan…

A friendly lap dog...

A friendly lap dog…

A very large lap dog...

A very large lap dog…

The Father of the Goose...

The Father of the Goose…

A glorious sunset...

A glorious sunset…

Mother Goose is blessed to belong to a family that just overflows with love and fun. Our journey “up north” was wonderfully filled with great times, delicious eats and much laughter. Thank you for stopping by to visit with Mother Goose today. God bless you!

The King of the Accordion

Mother Goose must update you on our favorite accordion player, Mr. Jerry King!

Jerry King with Mother Goose

Jerry King with Mother Goose

Jerry is now playing love songs, show tunes and Broadway hits on his accordion on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at Caffe deLuca in downtown Forest Park. I tell you, he can play ANYTHING! Mr. Goose and I have been trying to stump him with songs from the Golden Days of radio and swing — but Jerry plays EVERY SINGLE SONG we request. He knows them all!

Even this OLD and obscure but lovely song that Mother Goose remembers hearing Mom, Grandma and Uncle Fred play on the piano throughout her childhood:

All good stuff.

But the best news of all is this:

Mother Goose presented Jerry King with a copy of original music written by Uncle Fred. The next time we go to see Jerry, he will play the beautiful love song, “Eleanor”. Many of my most loyal and astute readers will recall that Uncle Fred was a genius composer and painter in his time, never recognized for his work, but much beloved by his family and friends. You can go here and read about him.

Grab your French beret, friends, and visit the website of Jerry King to hear some samples of his music. Oh, and did I mention that WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio aired a special about Jerry and his music last February?

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.

les_miserables_ver11

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.

la_creperie_exterior

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!

avignon-and-provence-by-train-s3

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…

eiffel_tower_at_night_paris_france-normal

Ragamuffin Goose

Undoubtedly, some of my readers have wondered if I have dropped off the planet. And most certainly, I almost did. If a goose could die of allergies, then I would most definitely be in Heaven today. It’s been pretty rough on old Mother Goose, but I think I’m feeling better enough to write today. Although, be careful not to touch your computer screen because I have eyes full of styes. I would not wish this on anyone…

“But Mother Goose, how…?” you may ask and your question may trail off just like that if you saw my eyes right now. With all simplification in place, I will say this: if your eyes itch and burn like they have fire in them from the pollen in the spring air, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT RUB THEM OR PLACE YOUR FINGERS ANYWHERE WITHIN TEN INCHES FEET OF YOUR EYES!

I would take a picture and show my eyes to you, but you would throw up on your keyboard. Indeed, Mother Goose has no desire to be a liability to any one of her loyal and loving readers. And a special shout out to my dear reader, Dianna, for kindly asking about me — you’re such a sweet heart and everybody should just go over to her blog right away as soon as you are done here and see just how wonderful she is…

Anyway, to get to the meandering point of my post today…

“A ragamuffin knows he’s only a beggar at the door of God’s mercy.” Brennan Manning

Sometimes a movie comes along that will change your life and the way that you view God. Sometimes you have to wait about fifteen years for that movie to be created, but you know it’s coming. I’m only a goose, but I’m just out and out promoting a new movie about the amazing life of Rich Mullins — it’s coming soon and here’s a trailer for it. PLEASE watch the trailer and share it with everybody you know and be blessed.

And please pray for the eyes of Mother Goose to heal quickly — I have so many stories to tell!

Signs of Spring in the Garden

Mother Goose smiled broadly when she rose up this morning and looked out the back window.

Lovely Lake Cramer in the springtime... Yes, that's our patio table and chairs out there in the middle of the lake...

Lovely Lake Cramer in the springtime… Yes, that’s our patio table and chairs out there in the middle of the lake…

Though it looks like a lost cause, I smile because all of this water can’t get into our basement thanks to the Wall of China which dear Husband Goose built four years ago. It’s a great feat of engineering and perhaps one of the eight wonders of the world — giant sequoia timbers from the Great Northwest, cement blocks from the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and all filled with seven truckloads of really geat South American sand. No small ordeal to build this urban breakwater, believe you me!

The Great Wall and some  patient flower pots and the rose bush which will soon be pink and green...

The Great Wall and some patient flower pots and the rose bush which will soon be pink and green…

So we smile at the water, knowing that it will soak into the ground and nourish our lovely corkscrew willow tree. And in the meantime, the seagulls fly over looking for dead fish on the shore.

I’m waiting for a Great Blue Heron to begin his patrol. This morning I spotted a Cooper Hawk in the top of the ancient oak tree — he would be happy to scoop up a rabbit floundering in the lake.

Maybe we will get a pair of Bald Eagles too — they could build a homey nest up above the lake and raise their family. We’d put a camera in the nest to watch them hatch and grow just like they do out there in Iowa.

Omigooseness I do digress…

Besides the yearly spring flooding, Mother Goose has spied another sign of spring.

The daffodils are shooting out of the ground!

The daffodils are shooting out of the ground!

Wherever you are in the world today, I hope that you are smiling with Mother Goose.

A Truly Tutoring Goose

One of the great joys in the recent days of Mother Goose is the time she spends tutoring the little kids in a very grand elementary school in Chicago. (For reasons of security, I shall not share the name of the school. And, of course, I shall not reveal the names of the children in order to protect their innocence. And so far, I have not shared my true identity with them in an attempt to protect my own innocence.)

Grand and classical styling for this Chicago school.

Grand and classical styling for this Chicago school.

Mother Goose and her fine team of tutors is teaching the children to be better readers — quicker to sound out words, grasp their meanings and find some comprehension in the stories they read. It is a very fine challenge! A noble challenge! An exacting science! A truly wonderful career choice for a goose.

We begin each day by finding our mini-groups of students and taking attendance in the busy and noisy hallway of the school. There are hundreds of little kids in their sweet little uniforms milling around, chasing each other and laughing amongst themselves.

Those behaviors continue throughout most of the 75 minute afterschool session in which Mother Goose is attempting to teach those helpful phonics skills and vocabularial lessons. As far as comprehension goes, I am trying to comprehend how any teacher can spend six hours a day with these little squirrels!

After we gather our little flocks of squirrels around us, we head up the grand marble staircase to the second floor where we share classrooms and giggles and our after school snacks. When we reach the appropriate classroom, we take attendance again because sometimes the little learners disappear along the journey…

Mother Goose is Chief Tooter to six children, ranging in age from seven to eleven years old, two girls and four boys all of Hispanic heritage.

They call me Miss Natalie, and they are all very lovable, even when they are flicking paper balls at my beak. Sometimes they are naughty and don’t pay attention. Sometimes they get up from their chairs and go wandering around the room.

They tip over in their chairs. They lose their balance and crash to the floor for no good reason. Their milk cartons seem to tip over and spill haphazardly everyday.

Mother Goose looks beyond the behavior and sees their hearts. I realize that they might have problems at home.

They have all been classified as reading at Level B which roughly translates to second grade…

Most of my students are trying hard to learn to read better. Some of my students wish they were anywhere but in the presence of Mother Goose.

Just this past week, two of the charming young men were whispering conspiratorially together. Suddenly they both needed to go and get ice packs — one for sore incoming molars, one for a pain on the side of his sweet head. With her great heart of compassion, Mother Goose agreed that they should have ice, but they must return immediately to the classroom to begin their lesson.

Ten minutes passed, the boys returned with their ice packs clutched to their heads and jaws.

“Oh, Miss Natalie,” they sang out. “We really have to go to the bathroom now.”

“Ok, boys, but please come right back. It’s time to begin our lesson.” Mother Goose is EVER SO PATIENT with these children.

The boys bathroom is right next to the classroom of Mother Goose so she knows that this need to only take three minutes maximum. I begin to teach the four other children their phonics lesson.

I teach with great pomp and circumstance — I have a great dramatic flair for teaching phonics — I get completely caught up in the sounds of the consonant blends and vowel digraphs. I look up at the clock and realize that fifteen minutes have passed since my little fellas have left for the boys bathroom! Omigooseness! Where are the boys?

At just that moment, my other children glanced out the window at the next wing of the great school, and way up above us looking out of a window on the third floor they see the sweet faces of my two missing boys! Omigooseness! The music of children’s laughter rang out and all manner of chaos and riotous behavior broke out in the classroom as Mother Goose dashed out the door to round up the missing squirrels.

We had a VERY stern talk when they finally returned.

“Now we must try to pay attention, students, so that we can become better readers. Remember my motto: Readers are leaders.”

They rolled their eyes and smiled at me. I know they were secretly planning their next escapade.

My students love to predict what will happen next in the stories we read to each other. I love to predict what they will do when my back is turned.

It has taken me three weeks to reach a wise and stunning conclusion which I will share with you now:

Generally speaking, the children who are having trouble reading are the same children who are having behavior problems in the classroom.

They are wonderfully precious, and I love them. They will be better readers because Mother Goose will coax every bit of phonics and vocabulary and comprehension into their darling hearts.

So help me God…

The Goose Visits Sunset Boulevard

Over the years, so many people have mistaken me for the great silent film actress Norma Desmond. And why wouldn’t they? With my large expressive eyes, my dramatic gestures and my haughty strut, we could actually be sisters! Only my downy feathers and large yellow beak belie my true identity as Mother Goose, and not the aging Miss Desmond.

And yet even at yesterday’s Drury Lane’s exquisite matinee production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard”, many people in the audience stage whispered behind their hands, “There she is! It’s the REAL Norma, right?” I smiled, nodded and waved majestically in their general direction as I took my fifth row center seat in the already-filled theatre. My guests and I were fashionably and dramatically late in arriving.

Mark, Marlene and John smiling for the paparazzi.

Mark, Marlene and John smiling for the paparazzi.

I snapped a couple of pictures before I was severely admonished by the young red-coated usher. More and more often, Mother Goose is coming under fire for capturing the moments in public…

Mark and his wife at the play, smiling unabashedly at the camera.

Mark and his wife at the play, smiling unabashedly at the camera.

The grand chandeliers in the theatre reminded me of another ALW production concerning a phantom in an opera house...

The grand chandeliers in the theatre reminded me of another ALW production concerning a phantom in an opera house…

The opening stage set very darkly -- ominous tidings of things to come.

The opening stage set very darkly — ominous tidings of things to come.

The house lights went down as the orchestra began the overture, and Mother Goose was swept away into the magic of the play. Onstage, the story played out, quite closely following Billy Wilder’s 1950 film. But, of course, it was the music that sent Mother Goose into fits of delight and tears and honking and flapping.

I must admit that when I looked at the Playbill and saw that Norma would be played by a VERY young actress, Miss Christine Sherrill, I wondered about the sensibility of the director. How could such a young and unwrinkled face become the face of an aging silent film star? As usual, Mother Goose was over-reacting, perhaps even over-acting, because Miss Sherrill was completely believable as Norma. And her voice is powerful and sweet and strangely sad all at the same time. Though Norma has been well-played on Broadway by the incredible likes of Glenn Close and Betty Buckley, Miss Sherrill was delightfully fresh and obviously perfectly cast.

I couldn’t have done better myself.

The musical was full of surprises so I cannot give you any more details about the story line or the sets or the props or the characters or the costumes or the make-up or the ending. I would like to suggest that you see the show yourself if you are in the Chicagoland area. The show runs through April 7th at Drury Lane in Oakbrook. And if by chance you live elsewhere, then my deepest and darkest sympathies to you for not being able to see Sunset Boulevard. Or if you live in Hollywood, please feel free to invite me to your home and we will visit the Boulevard together.

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up…”

A Total Stranger Buys the Groceries for Mother Goose

Dearest readers, though Mother Goose has a notoriously bad memory, she will never ever forget today.

There I was at the grocery store checkout, making a connection and establishing rapport with the checker, Barbie. She noticed that I had left my gigantic frozen turkey on the bottom of the cart. I retrieved it and passed it over to her, explaining that my sons would be home from nine months of Navy training this weekend, and we were planning to make a BIG DEAL over them. Barbie stood straight and tall to inform me that she was a retired Air Force servicewoman and showed me her name tag with an Air Force insignia attached to it.

As she continued to ring up my purchases, we chatted about the importance of recognizing and honoring our servicemen and women for their sacrifice. I took out my wallet to write a check, but before I could begin to pay for my order, the man in line right behind me stepped up to Barbie and said, “I’m going to pay for her groceries.”

With a look of total shock and flabbergastedness, Mother Goose turned to look at the man who would make such an offer.

“Oh no,” I began to protest. “You don’t have to do that, really.”

“I would like to do that,” he said quietly. “Really, I want to. You’re a military family.”

Barbie’s jaw dropped down to the floor.

The wing of Mother Goose went up to her mouth as tears started to fill up her eyes.

“Oh no,” I said again. “Really…” and I just kind of trailed off because the look on his kind face said that this was going to happen no matter what I said.

This has never happened to Mother Goose before, and I was completely speechless with wonder and gratitude. I couldn’t honk to save my life — the tears just rolled down my feathery cheeks as I threw my arms around this amazing stranger.

“Don’t cry,” he said softly. “Or I’ll start crying and I’m supposed to be the big, strong guy.”

With a gulp, I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and told him that I’d never forget him. Barbie the checkout woman asked his name because she wanted to report him to the store for Extreme Kindness and a commendation.

“Michael,” he simply answered, shaking his head. He wouldn’t provide her with any more information than that. The bill was totaled up, and he smiled as he handed her $81.00.

Mother Goose just kept weeping and saying “thank you” and “God bless you” over and over and over.

Outside at my car, unloading all of those beautiful groceries, I started sobbing.

Michael, wherever you are, God bless you. I pray that some other goose comes into your life and blesses you the way you have blessed me today.

Still in a joyous state of shock, but totally feeling the love in our little corner of the world…
Your friend, Mother Goose

Seriously!  He really bought all my groceries today!  What an amazing encounter!  THANK YOU with all my heart, Michael!

Seriously! He really bought all my groceries today! What an amazing encounter! THANK YOU with all my heart, Michael!

The Goose Looks Over Her Shoulder

Mother Goose is not the kind of person who goes around honking her own horn. I prefer to perform my good deeds and random acts of kindness with a great degree of anonymity and humility. My accomplishments come and go as swiftly as the wind, and like the wind, I remember them not.

However, I’ve been blessed with a beautiful daughter who not only has the memory of an elephant, but the heart of an angel. On the recent celebration of the birth of this goose, she gave me a gift which will last a lifetime — a love letter listing all of the goals I’ve met in 2012.

It is not my intention to brag about my achievements, but to encourage you to believe in your own selves in the coming year. When we allow hopes and dreams to grow, they bear fruit of great sweetness. If a goose such as myself can do this, that and the other thing, imagine what YOU can do? Please allow me to share excerpts with you.

From Jessi:

“You continued your blog, gaining friends, followers and support for your hilarious and inspiring stories.

You trained for months so you could run and complete a 5K race. And even after, when your ankles hurt so bad, you cared for us.

You brought new life to Blue Star Banners; bringing a very tangible symbol for people’s love and pride in their military sons and daughters.

You Mystery Shop now! And while some interactions seem small, people get a sense of purpose from helping another find the soy nog!

You were hired to tutor kids in west side schools!

You maintained amazing friendships and closeness with your friends and your family — including fostering a closer relationship with Grandpa.

AND…on top of all this, you encouraged your husband and kids to never give up, to set goals, and to always believe that the best outcome is possible.

Thank you for a truly inspiring year, Momma.”

Isn’t she a fine and loving daughter to write all of that sweetness about Mother Goose? I love her very much…

We could also spend some time today reflecting on a few of Jessi’s own 2012 achievements and accomplishments:

She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with honors!

She worked a bad job for a year so that she could pay off her credit card!

She applied to the graduate school of University of Illinois in Chicago, and was one of eleven candidates selected for their Urban Planning and Policy Program.

She spent three hours behind the scenes at the Brookfield Zoo Marine Mammals department, working as a guest trainer for the seals and the dolphins. Here are some pictures from that wonderfully amazing event this past Saturday:

There she is squatting down next to the water.  She got to KISS a dolphin!

There she is squatting down next to the water. She got to KISS a dolphin!

In the course of her Wild Encounter, Jessi interacted with a leopard seal who PAINTS as therapy for her neurological disorder.

In the course of her Wild Encounter, Jessi interacted with a leopard seal who PAINTS as therapy for her neurological disorder.

An unforgettable experience with the trainers and marine mammals at the zoo.

An unforgettable experience with the trainers and marine mammals at the zoo.

Dear readers, Mother Goose wishes you and your families a new year full of hope and dreams, joy and peace. But mostly I wish you a new year full of love. God bless you all.

The Sailor Sons Smiled

In recent weeks, Mother Goose requested a GIGANTIC favor of her readers and fans: to flood the mailbox of her sailor sons with Christmas cards from around the nation and around the globe.

We are happy to report that “Operation: Christmas Card” was an ENORMOUS success! My sons only check their mailbox a couple times a week because usually there’s nothing in there — there’s nothing more depressing than an echoing mailbox at Christmas.

But when they checked it, they found ten cards! They were happily surprised, and didn’t know a single person who sent them!

The next time they checked their mail there were twenty cards all stuffed inside!

On Christmas Day, they reported to me that they had fifty more cards in their mailbox! They laughed and smiled at the wonder of it all!

Just a few of the cards they received...

Just a few of the cards they received…

There were cards from school children with the kindest sentiments of encouragement and Christmas love. There were cards from retired Navy officers. There were gift cards and goodie boxes. There were handmade ornaments — those sweet popsicle stick creations that always bring joy on the tree.

Wherever you are, dear readers, Mother Goose is honking a delightful “thank you” in your general direction. If a goose flies over your house honking today, it’s me. If a goose is near your pond flapping her wings and honking for joy, it’s me. If you see goose tracks in the snow, that was me dancing a jig of great happiness.

With all my heart, I thank you for making a difference. My sons will never forget Christmas 2012 because of your gracious thoughtfulness and consideration to them. My sailor sons smiled on Christmas Day.

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