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…

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.
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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.

Son of a Goose Graduates

With her feathery bosom just bursting with pride, Mother Goose is happy to announce that her son, Benjamin, graduated from high school yesterday afternoon!

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We have waited such a long time for this grand event. Ben became a man years and years ago when he was just five or six years old. As we watched him mow the lawn and help his father spread blacktop sealer over our driveway, we knew he was already a man — a little man, but a man indeed. Of course he learned to ride his bike and swim that same summer.

There were balloons…

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There were roses…

The school colors are blue and orange.  Mother Goose couldn't find any blue roses...

The school colors are blue and orange. Mother Goose couldn’t find any blue roses…

There was a GIANT chocolate cake…

The handsome and very intelligent stepson of Mother Goose also graduated yesterday.

The handsome and very intelligent stepson of Mother Goose also graduated yesterday.

There was the waiting for the commencement to commence…

Ben's dad and a couple of sisters...

Ben’s dad and a couple of sisters…

And then the young men and women of Oak Park-River Forest High School appeared across the football field. The men in their black suits, white shirts and red ties — the women in their long white dresses and holding a dozen red roses in their arms.

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From the beginning of time at our high school which was 1905, the graduates have dressed formally — foregoing the cap and gown tradition so common in other schools in favor of black and white dignity and style. Who ever heard of such a thing in 2013? But it was vintage elegance and notably unique to see them all in their Sunday finest.

It's like playing Where's Waldo to find your kid afterwards on the football field...

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo to find your kid afterwards on the football field…

After finding our Ben amongst the masses of humanity on the football field and taking advantage of the wonderful photo ops, we headed back to the house for a really nice BBQ with family and friends.

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Cheers to the Class of 2013 — may all of your dreams come true and all of your skies be blue!

Not Nervous At All

The young and beautiful sister of Mother Goose is celebrating a birthday today! My oh my gooseness how the time flies…

Though it was 1964, it seems like yesterday that Dad drove my brother and me to the parking lot of the hospital in Bemidji, Minnesota, pointed up at a window on the fourth floor and said, “That’s where your mother and your new baby sister are. They’ll be home in a few days.” Dana and I looked at that window and then at each other in wonder — as in “I wonder how THAT happened?”

And in fact, it was just yesterday that our dear sister was back in the hospital though not being born this time. She arrived at the Bigfork Valley Hospital bright and early to participate in her very own Radiofrequency Neurotomy procedure.

They got a little snow the day before...

They got a little snow the day before…

Bunn has been waiting and preparing for this procedure for months. For many years, she has suffered acute and chronic back pain as a result of a crazy life and arthritis. She had tried many of the traditional conservative treatments options to no avail. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and various medical practitioners had all done what they could to help her pain, but the arthritis grew worse and the pain became excruciating. No amount of physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medications could ease her suffering. Would she need back surgery? Was that the only option left to my sister?

Thankfully, the answer was no.

She became acquainted with the very promising work Dr. Paul Olson at Bigfork Valley. She has been diligently working with a biofeedback technician named Marlene who has helped her with relaxation methods and introduced her to the wonders of Alpha-Stim, a very interesting therapy for depression, anxiety, chronic pain and PTSD. Bunn has also benefited from self-hypnosis and finding her “happy place”.

Mother Goose would like to ask her all of her faithful readers, “Where is YOUR happy place? Where do you go in your mind when you need to relax and delve into the peaceful places of your heart?”

Anyway, back to my long and winding story…

So, Bunn was not nervous at all as she walked through the friendly doors of the medical facility yesterday. She was well-informed about the procedure and confident in the good doctor’s skills. She was well-medicated, and easily persuaded of the compassion of the nurses. She was covered in prayer and psychologically armed with this important conviction:

“The needles will slide into your skin as easily as butter.”

Mother Goose is not entirely knowledgeable or educated about the basic procedure of rhizotomy, which uses radio signals to cauterize the nerves bundled around the arthritic joints in the spine. I have only been told several times that the doctor would insert several large needles into her back bone area where the pain from years of trouble have taken their toll on her joints.

By noon, she was released from the hospital and happily reunited with her dear husband, Allen and special pup, Dusty.

She is miraculously pain-free!

And today, we celebrate her birth and the first forty-nine years of her life!

Mother Goose is convinced that this special sister will thoroughly enjoy her next fifty years and beyond now that the pain in her back is gone. She can actually stand up, walk, sit, lie down, cook and LIVE without that chronic and acute pain.

I hope that if you know somebody who suffers from serious back pain (or other types of pain!), you’ll remember this story from Mother Goose and share the good news that there is always hope, always a healthy solution — there can be real healing!

We say “Thank you Jesus” and “Thank You Dr. Olson” for giving Bunn back her life.

The beautiful sister of Mother Goose.

The beautiful sister of Mother Goose.

A Goose Muses About Love and Cars

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” ― Oscar Wilde

Mother Goose is amused at the relationship between men and their cars. In the past six weeks, three different men who are dearly loved by Mother Goose have traded in their old rides for newer and better wheels. Mother Goose smiles…

The first sailor son comes home for his thirty-day leave from the U.S. Navy. Within three days of his homecoming he visits the local Carmax dealer and trades in his Mazda Protege for a beautifully bright white and shiny Toyota Camry.

Erik's New Wheels

Erik’s New Wheels

Two weeks later, the next sailor son returns home for leave. He’s just experienced a harrowing trip through the snow belt of New York, Ohio and Indiana. After a good night’s rest, he jumps back into the Subaru Impreza for the last time, trading it in for a very stylish Honda Civic.

Adam's New Wheels

Adam’s New Wheels

Another two weeks passes quietly. And then up rises Husband Goose, and he flies away to Peru, Illinois to trade in his clunky old Chevy Camaro for a lovely luxury ride — a Cadillac Eldorado.

Mark's New Wheels

Mark’s New Wheels

Mother Goose is waiting excitedly for the next two weeks to pass, for surely I am next in line for a new car! I cannot help but wonder what it might be? How could I possibly upgrade from my very practical Goose Mobile?

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Men and their cars…

Let it be known here and now: Mother Goose does not love her men for their rugged good looks or their fancy clothes or their fast and shiny cars. Mother Goose loves each of them for their unique and heartfelt songs.

And I’m the only one who can hear them singing…

Happy Birthday to the Auntie of the Goose

Once upon a time, a sweet baby girl was born. She arrived on a cold cold day in 1935 in central Minnesota to the great joy of her parents. Her mother being a literary type named her Ferne, and she grew into her name and the literary prophecy.

Happy birthday to my dear Auntie Ferne.

Ferne is my mother’s big sister. My mother could remember every single event and incident of their childhood…Auntie Ferne has little memory of her childhood because like Mother Goose she kept her nose in her books. When Mom would begin a story of growing up in a railroad town during World War II, Auntie would get a puzzled look on her face. “That really happened?” she would ask.

Mom, Ferne and their brother Warnie, probably taken around 1942.

Mom, Ferne and their brother Warnie, probably taken around 1942.

My mother got so tired of hearing of Ferne’s exquisite behavior, her excellent grades in school and her humble charm. She decided at an early age that she would do everything the opposite of her sister. Like a fish swimming victoriously upstream, Mom achieved her goals and stood out in school as class clown — voted by her graduating class as “Most Likely To Have a Fun Time”.

Because she’s so smart, Auntie graduated early from high school and was immediately drafted into the Minnesota educational system as a full-time teacher. She served for years and years, finally retiring with honors and medals of valor.

Auntie never gets angry or upset. When my mother raged at a personal affront, the whole world heard and cowered. When my auntie is frustrated with a situation, she is likely to fiercely press her thumb down hard on the tabletop. Mom would pound the table with a clenched fist or punish the table with a loud open-palmed slap. Auntie is reserved, quiet and gentle — Mom was always loud and exuberant with the great wide-reaching emotions of her life.

Ferne married at a very young age — a handsome and tall man named Charlie. They moved to Virginia where he served his country as a peace-time soldier and then back to Minneapolis where they raised their family. When his company closed their doors in Minneapolis, the family said “goodbye” to Minnesota and left for the great plains of Oklahoma.

When she retired from teaching, Auntie stayed busy with sewing and quilting projects. Mother Goose is not at all certain why they decided to open a funnel cake business when Uncle Charlie retired. Suddenly Ferne could be found every weekend at the local carnivals and fairs.

When that mysterious phase of their lives ended, they both got their real estate licenses.

From the perspective of Mother Goose, Auntie Ferne has always been the picture of a serving and loving wife and mother. But according to my mother, Ferne never fully bloomed because she’s been forever in her husband’s shadow, just a little too submissive to his career whims and whirls.

Mom always wished her sister would show some backbone, not be such a wilting violet, grab life with a little more gusto and talk back to Uncle Charlie once in awhile.

After their own mother and brother passed away within a week of each other eighteen years ago, Ferne came back to northern Minnesota to stay with Mom for awhile. She stayed and stayed. Mom wanted her to stay forever and never go back to Oklahoma and Charlie and the boring real estate business.

Mom saw a beautiful spark of independence in her sister for the first time and knew that if she returned to her old life, the flame would slowly fade to embers and then go out. Uncle Charlie begged Ferne to come home. He sent her gifts of expensive jewelry and promises. He vowed to never bully her again.

She flew home…

My mom loved her sister more than words can say, and missed her dearly. They talked on the phone several times a week for years and years, but I’m not sure they ever saw each other more than twice after that.

When Mom turned seventy, the Lord called her home, and everybody commented how appropriate that she was wearing the beautifully quilted vest that her sister, my Auntie Ferne, had made for her.

Ferne is a great grandmother several times over now. She’s still selling real estate at the age of 78. She sews lovely baptism banners for the babies in her church and prays for all of us.

She laughed this morning when Mother Goose called her up on the phone and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She told me lots of stories of her recent adventures, including a Thanksgiving trip where Uncle Charlie had fallen asleep behind the wheel of their car in the mountains of Arkansas. They were traveling to visit their daughter in Atlanta, and they crashed into the back of a semi-trailer truck somewhere in Arkansas.

She’s thankful that they didn’t drive off the mountain road and into eternity…

Here’s what Mother Goose thinks:

It has taken a whole lot of gumption and courage and faith and love for Auntie Ferne to stay with Uncle Charlie all of these years. Marriage is a difficult pathway for some of us, and I do truly admire her commitment and resolve. I consider her one of my lifelong heroes and mentors.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Ferne! I love you, and I wish you many, many more years of good health and great love.

A Happy Panda

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The Most Perfect Tree

[Mother Goose is observing Wordless Wednesday…shhhh]

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Aunt Charlotte Flies Away

Not too long ago, Mother Goose wrote a story about a family reunion, and shared the sad news that the Matriarch of the family had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and it was looking pretty bad for her. Aunt Char fought the fight with much courage and and strength and faith, enduring a very painful and mostly unsuccessful surgery. She was unable to swallow food or liquids for two months and also suffered from breathing issues as the cancer pressed against her bronchial tubes. It was agonizing for her and for those of us who love her.

Early in the morning this past Saturday with all of her dear children gathered around her, Aunt Char flew away to be with the Lord, her long-departed husband, Bob, and her parents and others whom she loved. Rumor has it that she is dancing now on streets of gold in a city where there are no tears, no pain and no suffering. It’s a real place where the light is always shining and the pastures are greener and the waters are more still than any beautiful place here on our planet.

I have been imagining the banquet they’re having, the party they’re throwing, the music they’ll play for the lady who hasn’t been able to eat for two months. All the choicest foods with the best sauces and oh-so-colorful and tasty! Imagine the chocolate in heaven! I’m thinking about the finest vintage of the fruit of the vine, and how it will be so sweet to her palate.

Aunt Char and her niece, Suzanne, remembering how she was the flower girl in Charlotte and Bob’s wedding fifty-five years ago.

We will miss you terribly, Aunt Char — you’re a wonderful and amazing woman, such a good momma and friend to many, many many. We’ll see you in the morning…

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