A Robin’s Song

[Mother Goose has invited her friend, Little Wife, to guest blog for her today. Please excuse her southern accent.]

I am inconsolably attracted to birdsongs. My ears are drawn like mini magnets to the source of the melodies. My heart flutters with the delight, and my fingers long to brush the feathers on their tiny wings. Oh to hear the music of the birds, especially in the springtime. Being a woman of diminutive size, I experience many of the same situations as smallish birds and perhaps that is why I often find comfort and companionship in their songs.

Turdus migratorious

There is a robin outside my window. My window remains open these days for all the fresh air to blow on my face while I lay sleeping, waiting for the birds to begin their morning sonata. I can listen with my eyes closed, just like at the opera. I eagerly await the prelude. The songs start promptly at 4 o’clock.

Many people do not realize that the day song of the American Robin is much different than its predawn song and evensong. And there is even much variety among robins regarding their day song! There is a “singing for rain” song, a “cheer up cheer up” song and a special song for sunny days filled with daffodils and crocuses. But truly the basic song of Turdus migratorious is a series of musical whistles sounding like cheerily, cheeriup, cheerio, cheeriup. The syllables rise and fall in pitch but are delivered at a steady rhythm, with a pause before the bird begins singing again.

But, oh my heavens, I do digress… And I do declare, let’s get back to those pre-sunrise songs, please.

Quietly and still as a common comatose patient, I lie on my giant bed, with my head under the open window. The sound of wooden flutes floats and wafts into my waking and watchful ears. And yet no human flautist, not even the ever-eternal and famous Jean-Pierre Rampal, could duplicate the intricate tones of this morning serenade. It is ethereal and heavenly, liken it unto a dream song, and perhaps it was. Nonetheless, my spirit soars with the song of the robin.

Catharus guttatus

The song I hear is much more akin to the cousin of Turdus migratorious. The hermit thrush sings a song so pure, so rich in color that it has been hearkened unto a pipe organ in the deep woods which it calls home. I have never heard this bird in person. I do think that the robin, the muse outside my morning awakening, thinks that she is truly Catharus guttatus. I am happy for her to believe that. And please excuse my southern accent.

The song of the robin is the first in the morning program, and the last in the evening presentation. She is indeed a show off with her colorful tones and variations on a hermit thrush melody. I admire her courage to sing in the dark. I wish that I could sing as she does. I may be small and birdlike in nature, but sadly I have not achieved the tuneful expression of a bird. Occasionally I make a quiety little squeaking sound which some may compare to a zebra finch.

As I write this blog for Mother Goose, my ears are being overpowered by the raucous sounds of a flock of crows. A murderer’s row of crows if you will. Loud and obnoxious, they drown out the feeble and faint warblings of the wrens and purple finches. I cannot think very well to write with these nasty crows cawing and crashing through the sound barriers of my mind.

I had intended to elaborate on the similarities of bird language and human language as proved by the discovery of a shared gene, Fox SP2. I may be of short stature, but I am passionate about science. I thrill to the idea of experts finding similarities between different species of God’s creatures. However, with all the noise of the nosy crows, I cannot continue this guest blog for one more minute.

Obnoxiously Noisatata

I wish you well.

Little Wife Blows Away!

Little Wife, my dear smallish friend, blew in this morning for a visit. And I mean literally she blew in — the wind is gusting up to 40 mph here in Oak Park which makes for a pretty hazardous day for Little Wife. For readers who are new to Mother Goose stories, my friend Little Wife stands a mere 51 inches tall, and the really strange thing is that she used to be a more average height of 65 and 1/2 inches tall. Yes, Little Wife is shrinking.

You may have seen the movie from 1981 The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin.

Well, that’s actually what is happening to Little Wife. She was fine until she got married to her first husband, Albert Beevus Sebring III. That’s when the shrinking began. Then she married Freddie Schnitzel and the shrinking accelerated. And now she is married to Big Man, and the shrinking seems to be slowing down, but she is still getting smaller and smaller.

The doctors are obviously baffled.

Lily Tomlin’s character, Pat Kramer, shrunk because of her exposure to an experimental perfume that her husband was working on. Little Wife appears to be shrinking because of her various husbands! Amazing, right? How truly strange for her. But I must tell you she accepts her position in life with grace and hope and joy and peace. She’s awfully patient with others, and keeps a bright perspective on life.

On rainy days, people use umbrellas. On windy days, Little Wife uses a Garden Weasel.

It works so well for her. When she needs to go out on a windy day like today, she simply rolls the Garden Weasel along the ground. The spiky wheels dig into the lawns and grassy areas where she walks along, anchoring her and preventing her from just catching a gust of wind and blowing away.

Of course, it doesn’t work well when she is walking in the city where there’s nothing for the weasel to grab onto as she strolls along those downtown sidewalks. And sadly, Little Wife has had some very scary moments of being lifted up off the sidewalk and whoooshed up into the air. You have no doubt stood and gazed in wonder at plastic grocery store bags being lifted by crazy currents and gusty winds in the city — well, my friend Little Wife has floated up just as high as those baggies. Here’s how she described one of those experiences:

“I was wearing my cute blue plaid skirt which is cut very full, and I was hurrying along the sidewalk to get to my appointment with the endocrinologist. I should have worn slacks, but I was feeling so feminine that day, so I wore my favorite skirt. And my high heels. My heels help me to feel taller and a little more important, especially for these visits with the specialist. The doctors tend to look down on me…

“But as I was crossing the street at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren, I was suddenly caught up in a blast of wind from the grand canyons of Chicago’s loop. I didn’t have my Garden Weasel with me, and there was nothing to anchor me to the sidewalk. Big Man would have come along with me, but he had a client meeting that day and could not accompany me to the doctor appointment. So whooooosh UP I went, just like one of those grocery store baggies that we sometimes see sailing overhead. What a surprise it was for me! I know that I’m a smallish woman, but for goodness sakes, this was a mighty strong wind to lift and carry me up and up and up.

“Fortunately, the wind was out of the west and blew me up and over Michigan Avenue. Otherwise, I may have smashed into a sky scraper or gotten sucked into the tracks of the elevated trains. Instead, I floated crazily over Millenium Park and the Buckingham Fountain. Even though this was frightening for me to blow away, it was actually very lovely. The children were playing and the tourists were standing around with their cameras, and some folks were taking Segway Tours. Then a small child spotted me flying overhead, and shouted, “There goes a little wife!” Many people took pictures of me so high up in the sky. And then I began to feel quite nervous, as I was floating ever closer to Lake Shore Drive and, of course, Lake Michigan.

“I began to wonder what would become of me in this terrible wind. How could I possibly get back down to the ground? And if I didn’t return to our home in Oak Park, who would cook dinner for Big Man? And then the most wonderful thing happened! A large flock of seagulls were flying and spying for leftover tourist food. They spotted me in my unusual predicament and realized that I needed their help. They surrounded me, and I grabbed onto their big strong seagull wings. We worked together as a living aerial team — a cooperative action between birds and a little person — to bring me safely to the ground.

“I thanked them profusely for saving my life. They walked and waddled with me to the doctor’s office, making sure that I didn’t have anymore trouble with the wind. Actually, the wind had settled down quite a bit, so I decided they were only waiting for me to buy them a bag of Cheeto’s to share. So that is how I repaid them for their kindness to me on that wild and woolly day.”

Isn’t that just an alarming story of what can happen when you are as tiny a person as Little Wife? She has to be so careful all the time. She really learned her lesson that day, for sure.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is not too windy that you blow away. Bee blessed!

Punkins Today and Way Back When…

We were carving pumpkins yesterday afternoon when my dear friend, Little Wife, stopped over. I took some fun pictures of the kids, but as usual, neglected to capture a picture of Little Wife. She is so elusive!

I think Erik really likes scooping out the punkin guts!

And, of course, Olivia from Bolivia found time in her busy schedule to supervise the entire operation.

We were all pretty pleased with the final outcome.

Little Wife had such a fun time watching the kids, and she told me the story of her first Halloween with Freddie Schnitzel who, of course, was her second husband. They went together to the pumpkin patch and picked out the greatest pumpkin ever grown in Illinois. They were so in love with each other, and very much in love with life in general. So they carved their wonderful pumpkin and gave him much personality, and Freddie named him Horace.

Little Wife and Freddie enjoyed their first child, Horace, throughout the Halloween season. They brought him along to the grocery store; they took him for long car rides; he sat in the place of honor in their home. Horace was very special, and they loved him so much. They assumed that Horace would last forever.

But over time, Horace changed. He was no longer fresh and exciting and full of fun. He smelled bad as though he had forgotten to brush his teeth for a few weeks. He was indeed putrid and foul. Horace was no longer the apple of their eye. He was shameful and pitiful, and beyond help. No matter how hard they tried, Little Wife and Freddie couldn’t fix their precious Horace.

So they threw him in the garbage can so they wouldn’t have to look at him anymore. And they forgot how lovely he was in the beginning, because it was just too painful to remember…

I certainly appreciated this cautionary tale from Little Wife.

I hope your day is full of sunshine and blessings. Love, Natalie

Little Wife Delivers Twins!

I had such a nice chat on the phone yesterday with my dear friend, Little Wife. She was very busy cleaning house but happy to sit down for a bit and visit with me. “Little Wife,” I said. “Your house is neat as a pin! Why are you cleaning?”

“Oh my gosh,” said she. “The boys are coming home today!” So that explains everything, doesn’t it? I’m sure you know the story of Little Wife in the delivery room almost twenty-one years ago. Wait! I guess I never told you that amazing tale, did I? Well, please forgive me, and please make yourself comfortable — Mother Goose will tell you a wonderful story now.

Little Wife and her husband, Freddie Schnitzel, were happily married and had enjoyed three fantastic years as blessed parents of a happily precocious and compliant, sweet little girl. Her name was Lulu. Being a mother came easily to Little Wife, and she was overjoyed to discover that soon she would be having another baby! Pregnancy was also easy for Little Wife — she experienced very little morning sickness and even had extra energy for traveling up north with Lulu to visit the family. (She even went bear hunting with her dad, but that’s a story for another day…)

Every month, Little Wife would visit Dr. Baloo who listened to her ever-expanding tummy for the very special sound of the baby’s heartbeat. Little Wife was glowing with anticipation of the baby’s arrival, but at each visit with Dr. Baloo, she would ask the good doctor, “You hear just one heartbeat, right, Dr. Baloo?” And he said, “Yes, Little Wife, just one heartbeat.” Smiling, Little Wife would carefully climb down from the examining table and head for home to continue reading “East of Eden” — it was a compelling read, but she just couldn’t quite figure out why. Little Wife also spent extra time with little Lulu because she knew that it would be a very big adjustment for her to have a new baby in their quiet home. They went for long walks and had long talks — it was a special time for them both.

After months and weeks of expectation, the day grew nearer for Little Wife to have her baby. She was visiting Dr. Baloo for what would be one of her final exams. (teehee teehee… final exams sounds like a huge test, doesn’t it?) “Well, Little Wife,” announced Dr. Baloo with a flourish. “It looks like you’ll be having an eleven pound baby!”

“Omigosh!” exclaimed my friend. “What in the world? I’m not THAT big! I’m a rather diminutive woman with a normal-sized pregnant tummy. How can this be?” But she smiled and climbed down carefully from the examining table. “I better get home and finish making all those Christmas presents for my family and friends. And maybe I should buy some bigger baby jammies for the little tater tot.”

Well, sure enough, that night Little Wife’s water broke while she was finishing all those Christmas presents, and Freddie drove her to the hospital. Lulu went to stay overnight with her favorite Auntie and Uncle. It was a long labor, but finally Little Wife pushed one last mighty push, and delivered a smallish baby boy. Tears of joy and hugs all around the delivery room as the nurses took the little fellow and wiped him off and weighed him.

As distracted as she was, Little Wife still had to deliver the baby’s placenta. Dr. Baloo was surprised at the delay of this final phase of an otherwise uneventful pregnancy and delivery, so he took a little peek to see what was holding up the show….

“There’s another baby!” Dr. Baloo shouted. He had spotted a tiny little foot within the mysterious womb of Little Wife.

Pandemonium and amazing chaos reigned in that hospital delivery room for the next hour. Freddie Schnitzel nearly dropped the tiny baby boy he had been holding so carefully as he rushed to the side of Little Wife’s bed. At this point, Little Wife didn’t know what to think. She was not having any contractions at all — her labor was done! But how did another baby get in there? That was the question on everyone’s mind!

Breach babies are a bit of a complication, but especially SURPRISE breach babies. The medical staff decided that with such a last minute surprise at hand, they couldn’t turn the baby around for a headfirst arrival into the world. Suddenly an anesthesiologist appeared at the bedside of Little Wife as well as an surgically trained obstetrician. With much gentleness and kindness, they informed Little Wife that she would be delivering the baby via Caeserian section, and everything would be just fine.

“Goodnight.”

And when she woke up, Little Wife was the mother of identical twin baby boys. “Well, my goodness,” cried Little Wife through her tears of joy as they placed the tiny little babies in her arms for the very first time. “Omigosh, look at them! How sweet and tiny they are! How much do they weigh?”

“Well,” said the neonatal nurse. “Baby number one weighs five and a half pounds. And baby number two weighs five and a half pounds also. It seems that your doctor DID guess the weight right at your last check-up. He just didn’t know how many babies you were carrying.”

Dr. Jiggybones and the Pink Dress

I have probably never told you about my friend, Dr. Jiggybones. He is not an actual medical doctor although his title implies as much. Truly his career is in the design of bridal dresses and formal wear, but because he is such a genius in the creation of these lovely dresses, we all just refer to him as a doctor. As a matter of fact, he designed and even skillfully crafted the lovely pale pink dress that Little Wife wore in her most recent wedding. I was there at her wedding, and I can honestly report that everybody joyfully gasped as she walked into the chapel and strolled down the aisle towards Big Man.

Most people don’t even realize that her dress was sewn together on an old fashioned sewing machine “like Grandma used to use.” It was powered by a treadle which Dr. Jiggybones operated with his feet. You just don’t see them like this anymore. Dr. Jiggybones prefers the treadle to any modern mode of sewing because he has better control of the speed and the direction of the needle on his old Singer sewing machine. And he is an expert so he would know about these things.

But what Dr. Jiggybones didn’t know about is this: the dress that he was designing for Little Wife would require a special arrangements of crossbeams above the sewing machine to allow for better balance of the soft silky material. The fabric was to be draped above the treadled machine and carefully fed into the presser foot feed dog and the extension table. It was a very unusual arrangement indeed, but he knew this would work beautifully for his client’s special needs.

Little Wife might be a diminuitive person, but she has the biggest dreams! And her biggest dream of all was to have her final wedding dress made of the rarest silken threads on earth. In fact, the fabric was barely woven together when Dr. Jiggybones began work on this small but elegant dress for Little Wife. The fresh silken threads were even still a little damp from the caterpillar! Believe it or not!

Well, in his rush to install the crossbeams for this very special gown, Dr. Jiggybones took some shortcuts. Thinking that this was only a temporary arrangement for this special dress only, he didn’t quite tighten the bolts on the ends of the beams above the sewing machine. He really should have been more diligent about this, and if Little Wife had known of his carelessness before hand, she would have been quite upset with Dr. Jiggybones.

He was sewing rather quickly, attaching the back of the dress to the sides of the dress and the cascading front of the dress to the shoulders of the dress. Suddenly the antique sewing machine gave a roar like a machine gun firing into a sniper nest! The fabric was sucked into the extension table and the sewing machine began racing through the delicate fabric — the treadle was completely out of control and Dr. Jiggybones shouted in surprise, “Holy mackerel, what the heck is going on here?” His wife came running into the room because of all the noise and the shouting. She looked up towards the ceiling and saw that the crossbeams draped with soft pink silk were completely askew!

“Quick! Stop the treadle! The dress will be ruined! HELP ME please help me, Millie!” Dr. Jiggybones leaped up and threw his arms around the fabric which was falling in sheets around the sewing machine. “The dress! The dress! We must save the dress!” His wife gathered up the pieces of sewn dress which had fallen down onto the treadle in all the chaotic excitement. She held up the nearly finished dress and examined it for damage. “Oh no. Oh dear. What shall we do? What will become of us if this dress is damaged?” Dr. Jiggybones was simply beside himself in anxiety and panic as he also examined the lovely dress for rips or mangled threads.

But the Lord was with Dr. Jiggybones that day. The final wedding dress for Little Wife turned out beautifully without a stitch out of place. And having learned his lesson, it was the last time Dr. Jiggybones would let the crossbeams get out of skew on the treadle.

Little Wife and the Beehive

“Well, it sure is a lovely fall day,” Little Wife said quietly to herself as she sipped her morning tea and nibbled on her toast. “I wonder what will happen today…” She was full of anticipation as she pondered what might unfold on this lovely fall day. Maybe she would ride her smallish bike. It had migrated out to the shed for the winter, but maybe she could get it out just one more time for a good ride around town. Little Wife thought of her blue Schwinn bike, circa 1965 with such tenderness. The bike she used to ride. That was not the bike she could ride anymore — it had gotten too big for her over the years, and now she rode the white and pink bike that her daughter had received for a birthday gift … when she turned five. It was just the right size for Little Wife, and she was glad for that. At least she could get out for some fresh air and exercise and a lot of sunshine. “What a great day!” she exclaimed to no one in particular as there was no one was in the room.

She climbed down from her dining room chair carefully, carrying her tea cup back to the kitchen. And then back to the table for her little plate of toast crumbs and honey drippings. She carried that to the kitchen sink, and again back to the table for the jar of honey. Something on the label caught her eye as she reached to pick it up — “All pure and natural honey. A gift from the bees in Bemidji, Minnesota.”

“Well, for goodness sake!” Little Wife spoke quite loudly this time, not caring who heard. She had spent so much of her life in Bemidji — how in the world did she end up with a jar of honey from there? What a fine surprise! She had lived there as a child, attended kindergarten there, visited her grandma and grandpa just outside of town for years and years, and then had returned to Bemidji to attend college. And then her folks had even moved there after Little Wife was grown and out the door. If Little Wife ever had a hometown, she would probably name it Bemidji.

But Bemidji is not exactly famous for honey or bees. Bemidji is the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, and Paul liked maple syrup on his pancakes, not honey. Still, Little Wife smiled mysteriously as she thought about the bees in Bemidji because of a fond memory she held near and dear to her heart…

When she was around five years old (and living just off Beltrami Avenue, so close to the college and the Forestry Office where her daddy worked), her relatives all came for a visit. It was such a fine time because there were so many cousins, and cousins is spelled F-U-N all day long in her family. So grown ups were in the house visiting in the boring way that grown ups have; ten kids outside playing, left to their own mischievous devices. They were climbing trees, playing hide and seek, exploring the garage and other out buildings. There was even farm equipment and old cars and trucks to play on — although, of course, they had been warned several times to stay away from those. And, of course, that’s where the fun is.

(Little Wife was still standing in the kitchen, letting the sweetness of the memory fall down around her.)

Cousin Scottie was a little younger than Little Wife, and always just a little obnoxious. Scottie was usually in trouble — you could hear his poor mother hollering, “Scott Vincent James! What are you up to now?” But Auntie Helen was nowhere in sight today when Scott took a long stick and started poking it into the hole in the ground.

It didn’t take very long for all the cousins to realize the folly of poking a stick into a hole in the ground in Bemidji, Minnesota. Especially a hole in the ground with bees coming and going like it was Grand Central Station in New York. And now those bees were just as angry as hornets! Maybe even angrier!

The cousins were swarmed with bees — in their hair, up their shirts, and down their pants. They ran and ran as fast as they could back to the house, screaming “Help! Help! The bees!” Some cousins were big and some cousins were small — and do you think the bigger cousins might have picked up the smaller cousins and helped them to escape the swarming and stinging bee horror? No. Sadly they did not. Little Wife giggled a little bit to remember Cousin Mark, the oldest and the biggest and maybe the scaredest, outrunning everybody else in his haste to escape from the stinging bees. But she also remembered how much the stings hurt and how scared they all were.

There were millions and millions of bees chasing them! They were terrified!

Finally they reached the house and tore through the open door and into the arms of the grownups who stripped them of their bee-infested clothes and soothed their stings with ice and caladryl. Little Wife remembered very clearly that cousin Scottie got hollered at the most and the loudest. But they all learned their lessons that day…

“Hmmmmm,” pondered Little Wife as she climbed up on her stool to return the honey jar to the cupboard. “I wonder about those bad old Bemidji bees. They sure do make a fine sweet honey though.” And she smiled a sticky honey smile as she headed out the door for her bike ride.

Bee blessed today, not stung! Love, Natalie

Little Wife and Her Eyebrows

My friend, Little Wife, was over for a spot of tea the other morning. Knowing that she has very profound insight on so many topics, I asked her this question: “Should everything be done in moderation?” And of course, she told me a story from her life as an answer to my question. I will pass it on to you right here, right now.

When she was in college, Little Wife was not yet a wife. Still she often felt that life was out of her control. She attended classes, studied hard, got really good grades, worked at the newspaper office and dated frequently. However, she did these things because it was the right thing to do. Little Wife has always been a “crowd pleaser” — not wanting to rock the boat or conflict anyone anywhere anytime. Most of the decisions in her life were expected ones; her parents, professors and friends all expected her to be a certain way. This was smothering Little Wife so she acted on something that she alone could control — her eyebrows.

One morning before class she looked into her lighted mirror. Her makeup looked nice — not too much, just a little smudge of blue eye shadow and just one brush of brown mascara. Slightly pinked cheeks and lips to match (because she used lipstick for both). “Lookin’ good, honey!” she whispered to herself. She flipped the mirror around to high magnification for a second glance. And then it happened! Her eyebrows exploded off the mirror into a shocking 3D image making Little Wife gasp in horror — she had a small chipmunk tail growing across her forehead! How had she not noticed it before? When had it grown there? And why had no one told her that her eyebrows were as bushy as a chipmunk’s tail?

The tears welled up in Little Wife’s eyes as she realized that her face was suddenly such a mess that she couldn’t go to class or to work. Poor Little Wife, you know how sensitive she is. But also, she is a smart gal with a lot of spunk, and nothing gets her down for long. She has a solution to every dilemma.

Little Wife ran to the bathroom of her basement apartment, desperately seeking the communal tweezers, hoping that none of her roommates had lost it. “Aha! There you are,” and she tore through the apartment back to her magnifying mirror.
She clutched the tweezers tightly. With a hand as steady as a surgeon’s, she proceeded with the hair removal operation. One by one, hair by hair, first the left, then the right, then the left and then the right. Plucking and wincing, plucking and wincing. The minutes ticked by, and then the hours rolled by. The sun journeyed across the sky, slowly setting uneasily into the western horizon. And still she plucked her eyebrows.

And finally when the moon was peeking through her basement apartment window, Little Wife looked up from her delicate procedure and said, “It is finished.” She smiled. Where the furry tail of a chipmunk had flourished on her pretty face, now there was simply a single line of tiny hairs arranged in a sweet arch over each of her sky blue eyes. Little Wife had controlled and conquered. She had left exactly twelve hairs on each eyebrow, and the look was stunning. They looked perfect, as though she had drawn them with a fine point pen.

Satisfied with her artful result, she applied ice packs to her smooth hairless forehead and crawled into her cozy bed for a good night’s sleep. Little Wife had at last found something in her life that was within her control. She closed her eyes happily, contented with her newly found power.

“Little Wife,” I asked her over our teacups, “What does that say about moderation, dear? I’m not sure I’m following you.”

She lifted her tiny teacup and took a small sip of her sweetened tea. “Well,” she said. “It’s like this. Life can be confusing at times. We don’t always feel we have the power to make the choices we’d like to make. We let other people dictate to us. And we often let our circumstances control us. But what I discovered in my time at college is that living by other people’s standards and expectations was stunting me. Like a lovely flower that is constantly in the driving wind, I felt myself shriveling and shrinking inside until there just wasn’t much left of me. At least I could pluck my own eyebrows! And nobody could do a thing about that, could they?”

“But Little Wife, my dear friend, what about moderation? I’m just not seeing the connection here.” Exasperation and confusion must have shown all over my face as I tried my best to understand what my friend was talking about.

“Moderation!” Little Wife exclaimed. “Why would anyone choose moderation ever? Life is to be lived with passion! Every single morning we should jump out of our beds shouting, ‘Yes! A new day!’ Live, laugh, love! Eat, drink and be merry! Throw yourself into life whatever your life is about! Be full of life no matter your occupation! Natalie, you are a mother by trade, and you must live your life full out, gung ho. Throw the oars and paddles out of the canoe and head straight for the waterfall, go laughing and cheering all the way. Don’t listen to all this business about ‘everything in moderation’ for goodness sake! What if I lived my life like that? I’d still have thick bushy squirrel eyebrows. I would never have been a three-time bride if I was living by moderation, would I? ”

And so I got my answer from my dear friend. Go out today now, gentle readers. Go out and dance like crazy WITHOUT moderation. Go and fly a kite! Eat a large piece of that chocolate cake. Hug your babies and your friends and your lovers like it really matters, because maybe it really does.

Be blessed today. Love, Natalie

Little Wife’s Basket

My dear friend, Little Wife, came over the other day for a cuppa tea, and some good visiting. I was so happy to spend some rare time with her — she’s been awfully busy these days with some new projects. Little Wife likes to keep her home and her life decluttered as much as possible. She’s very organized! When she opens her mail, she opens it and deals with each and every letter and bill immediately. She is quick to discard junk mail — she doesn’t need time to ponder the latest credit card deal or magazine subscription offer — just tosses it in the can. Her bills are so quickly noted on her calendar and filed in the “To Be Paid” folder. And she receives so much personal mail — much more than I do! Little Wife keeps all of her stationery and pens and postage stamps in one place so she can conveniently answer each and every letter from every important person who writes to her. She really does take the time to organize her mail and spread joy to all of her personal correspondents, and I truly admire her for that!

An important part of Little Wife’s organization projects is to put her stuff into baskets. Here’s a picture of me holding one of the baskets
that Little Wife accidentally left at my house recently.

I will eventually return it to her, of course. But first, I’m going to use it to put some of my own stuff in. Starting today I will put in all of my regrets. I will leave them in there, and not take them out to ponder them for hours on end. They are safely in Little Wife’s basket. I am also tossing in my fears, my doubts and my unmet expectations. Might as well just put them away where I won’t be tempted to fuss over them. And here goes all my sorrow and loneliness and disappointments…

The basket is getting awfully heavy — I should have a lid to put on it so nothing falls out. Wouldn’t want to drop any of this stuff out of the basket…

The nice thing is that I’m not actually throwing anything away — just stuffing it in a basket where it’ll be nice and safe and secure. I can take a little bit out at a time and decide about it. Do I want to deal with the fear of getting some employment right now, or should I leave that in the basket a little longer? What about all the crabbiness I feel?

I think I’ll leave it all in the basket today, and live life to the fullest JUST FOR TODAY. Like Scarlett, I’ll think about all of that tomorrow.

Blessings on your good day, from Little Wife and me.

Little Wife in New York City

As I was soaking in last weekend’s fun adventure and letting the memories steep like a perfect cup of chai tea, I was happily reminded of the days when my friend, Little Wife, would travel across the country as part of her career in advertising.  Maybe I’ve neglected to share those stories with you?

Little Wife didn’t have a very important role to play at the advertising agency.  She was a junior assistant account coordinator which only means that she knew how to use the copy machine, answer the phone and find the creative department of the agency.  So it was a very big surprise to Little Wife when her boss told her that she would be meeting with their very big and very important client in New York!  Imagine the smile on her face as the secretary handed her the packet of airplane tickets and wished her Bon Voyage.

After packing up her traveling suitbag — no wheeled suitcases in those days, it was all about suitbags — Little Wife stepped outside her apartment and hailed a cab.  Well, she tried to hail a cab.  Being on the smaller side of life, she was not easily seen by passing cabs, and many of them drove right by as she earnestly waved her hands.  At last our dear Little Wife climbed right up on top of a parked car and waved like crazy at the next passing taxi.  He pulled over, and she happily climbed into the back seat, dragging her heavy suitbag behind her.

“Please take me to the airport,” she politely asked the driver.  He pulled away from the curb and drove like a madman down the busy streets and highways with Little Wife being thrown from side to side all over the back of the cab.  No seatbelts in the taxi’s back then, so she was truly at the mercy of the cab driver from a faraway mideast nation.  Arriving at the airport terminal at last, Little Wife thanked him profusely, paid the $7.00 fare with a twenty dollar bill and told him to keep the change.  She knew that tipping a cabdriver was very important, and wanted to make a good impression on him.

Things went smoothly inside the terminal — she waited her turn at the ticket counter and checked her bag.

“Your plane leaves the gate in ten minutes,” said the airline clerk.

“Not too much time,” Little Wife said softly to herself.  “Which gate should I go to?” she asked the clerk, but the clerk was already very busy with the next traveler.

“Well, I can figure this out.  It can’t be far off,” Little Wife whispered, always positive, always hopeful.  A quick glance at the computer screen above the ticket counter and off she went, just as fast as her little legs could carry her.  Fellow travelers saw her dashing down the corridor and kindly got out of her way.  She ran and ran and ran past many gates until she finally reached B99 at the very end of the hallway.  Huffing and puffing, she inquired of the flight attendant, “Is this the flight to New York?”

“Yes, it is.  And you’re just in time!  Welcome aboard!  And what was your name again?  Oh yes, here it is on your boarding pass, Little Wife.  Thanks for flying with us today.”

And Little Wife went onto the airplane in the nick of time, and found her seat way in the back row of the airplane.  It was a nice flight — the flight attendants were serving drinks and snacks to everyone on the plane.  Little Wife watched them with their smiles and pretty hair — all of them so tall and graceful with their trays and carts.  Then the pilot turned on the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign and the airplane began to descend into the New York area.  Little Wife sighed and looked at her empty tray table, realizing that the graceful and pretty flight attendants hadn’t seen her.

Disembarking from her airplane, Little Wife followed the crowds to the baggage claim area.  At least that’s where she thought they were all going. There were so many people, so many tall travelers that Little Wife couldn’t see the signs.  Finally a break, and she could get a view of her surroundings. Sadly she realized that she was out of the airport and riding an elevated train into the city.  Too late to get off, and her baggage left unclaimed somewhere in the airport, Little Wife just rolled her eyes and rolled up her sleeves and said, “Well, it’s sure a good thing that my advertising agency gave me a nice traveling expense account so that I can buy myself some new clothes.  And maybe there’s an O Magnus department store!”

So our friend Little Wife found her hotel in Manhattan and did a little shopping.  She had a very nice meeting with her client who was a busy banker named Howard.  It was a quite a productive meeting and Little Wife really hit it off with him.  Knowing that part of her job as a representative from the advertising agency was to entertain the client, Little Wife suggested to Howard that they should have dinner and then go dancing!  Yes she did!  Wasn’t that just bold of her?

But Howard already had dinner plans for the evening, and wasn’t much of a dancer anyway.  “OK,” Little Wife said to him.  “Maybe some other time.”  They shook hands and said their goodbyes, and Little Wife headed back to her hotel.  But don’t think for a minute that she was turning in for the night!  Little Wife knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have fun in New York, and even if she was alone, she could sure have some good times.

She changed out of her tiny little conservative three piece tan-colored  business suit as soon as she got to her room, and dug through her shopping bags for just the right evening outfit.  She climbed up on the chair to get a quick peek at her face in the mirror.  “Oh dear, ” she said to herself.  “I certainly do need to touch up my makeup, don’t I?  I want to look really special tonight when I go out dancing.”  It didn’t take her long to fix her face — just a little of this and a little of that, and she looked good as new.

Little Wife remembered the pretty new hair clips she had picked up with her traveling expense account at O Magnus, and after she curled her hair with her brand new curling iron, she fastened the clips in just the right places so that her long blonde hair would look very stylish.  A bit of hairspray to hold it altogether and voila!  Little Wife was ready for the New York club scene!

Another taxi cab ride for Little Wife — this time because of her new evening outfit, she had no trouble getting noticed by the cab drivers.  In fact, four taxis stopped to pick her up!  The drivers all got out of their cabs and began to argue about who would be driving Little Wife to her destination.  Finally they worked it all out amongst themselves, and Little Wife was gently handed into the backseat of the taxi belonging to Frisco Mimosa.

“Where would you like me to take you, Miss?”  Frisco politely inquired of Little Wife.  “Frisco would be happy to escort you anywhere in the great city of New York.”

Little Wife smiled shyly and said, “Mr. Frisco, could you please take me to The Limelight club.  I’m going dancing!”  And, of course, Frisco knew exactly how to get to Club Limelight.  It was “the” place to be.  It was “the” place to be seen.  Of course, this young lady would be going to the Limelight — no other club in all of New York City could contain the beauty of Little Wife tonight!

The cab driver pulled up in front of the converted old church which was now the hottest night spot in Manhattan.  Little Wife looked at the vast crowd of people. Crowds were strung in a long line out the door and down the block and around the corner.  So many people — all laughing and smiling and talking loudly, all of them dressed in their glamour and high heel shoes, all of them tall and proud and looking for fun.

“Here you are, Miss,” said Frisco with a friendly smile.  “I hope you have a lovely evening of dancing.  Have a perfect night, sweetheart!”

Little Wife reached into her evening bag for a bill to pay her fare.  “Oh no, Miss,”  said the nice cab driver.  “No charge for this ride.  The pleasure was all mine!”  He jumped out of the cab and opened the door for Little Wife, and she took his hand, smiling gratefully at his gentlemanly attentions.

“Thank you so much, Frisco,” she said and then stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the club.  The Limelight was very very exclusive.  Bouncers and other important characters handpicked the selection of guests who could enter into the club.

She beamed as they immediately pointed at her, gave her a “thumbs up” sign and summoned her to the front of the line. Immediately, all eyes turned to see who was getting out of the taxi, and their gaze fell upon Little Wife.   “Oh I just love New York,” she whispered to herself and stole a furtive glance at herself in the window reflection.

There she was, just a small quiet young woman with her white corduroy jeans and short little black and white leather jacket. She held her head high, her long blonde hair floated on the evening breeze,  and her tiny studded boots clicked on the pavement as she walked towards the entrance to Club Limelight.  All heads turned to watch her go in, and many admirers wished they could hold her little hand and dance with her all night long.

Iron Chef Little Wife

I may not have told you about the time that Little Wife was chosen as the challenger on the Food Network show Iron Chef America.  Not too many people saw that episode as Little Wife is not a famous restaurant chef.  But there she was in Food Stadium, much to her great surprise!

Each challenger is encouraged by the Chairman to select an Iron Chef to cook against, of course.  Little Wife was ready with her answer.  “I choose Iron Chef Cat Cora,” Little Wife piped right up. She admired Cat Cora very much, considered her a role model actually!  “Very well, ” answered the Chairman. And onto the platform walked the legendary Cat Cora, looking beautiful and radiant in her Iron Chef jacket.  She crossed her arms confidently.

“And now, the secret ingredient….”

Little Wife held her breath.  What would be the ingredient and would she be prepared for this battle?

“GRUYERE CHEESE!!!”  As the crowd in Kitchen Stadium roared their approval, Little Wife watched the lovely Cat Cora and her assistant chefs and sou chefs and cooks and choppers rush forward to gather up all the cheeses they would need for their dishes.  Being a little on the short side, Little Wife had some trouble reaching the cheese where it was displayed on the Kitchen Stadium altar.  The pushing and the crowds literally unnerved her.

When she  finally got to the cheese, there were two packages left.  Happily she grabbed them and holding them high above her head, she ran back to her station to begin working on her delicious dishes.

On Cat Cora’s side of the kitchen, there was so much activity!  Chopping, shredding, sizzling, blending, and everybody was busy busy busy with their appointed tasks.  The Iron Chef had a very large staff of helpers — more people cooking than Little Wife could imagine.

Little Wife was alone with her gruyere cheese.

Well, Big Man had planned to help her with this very large challenge — he really did have huge intentions — but then there was a problem with one of his clients at work.  He had to take care of business, and couldn’t be there for Little Wife after all.  But you know Little Wife — she has a great forgiving heart and believed that she could still complete her meal for the judges.

She planned to prepare two dishes even though Iron Chef Cat Cora would be making six.  Her French onion soup recipe was right on the package so that would be quite easy to prepare — simply carmelize the sweet onions and then add the beef broth and the package of premixed spices and flavorings.  Little Wife looked around for a scissors to cut open the plastic bag.  There didn’t seem to be any scissors in her kitchen.

Climbing down from her step stool, she briskly ran over to Iron Chef Cat Cora.  “Could I please borrow your scissors, Iron Chef?” she asked politely.  “No, I’m sorry, Little Wife. Not today.”  and the Iron Chef continued with her very fancy cheesy meal.

So Little Wife, always a problem solver, ran back to her station and climbed back on her step stool.  She looked around to see if the cameras were pointed at her, and seeing that they were all very busy on the Iron Chef’s side, she quickly brought the plastic package up to her mouth and bit a hole in it so she could dump out her ingredients into the carmelized onions.

Suddenly Alton Brown was standing right in front of her!  “Forty minutes left in Battle Gruyere!” he shouted excitedly.  “Oh dear,” thought Little Wife as she stirred her soup together.  “And I haven’t even started my second course…”

Leaving the soup to simmer, she grabbed the bacon and threw it into the frying pan.  She ran over to the sink and filled her largest pot with water to boil up her spinach.  Sadly, the pot was too heavy for Little Wife to carry back to the stove.  She walked carefully around the pot to the other side of the Kitchen Stadium to look for some help.  “Excuse me, Miss Cat Cora, would you mind helping me to carry my pot of water over to the stove so that I could cook my spinach for my Quiche?”

“No, not today,” answered the Iron Chef.  “You see, I’m in the middle of a very important challenge here.  Maybe you can ask someone else.”

Little Wife found a person in the audience and he helped her with her pot of water for which she was very grateful.

Back on the step stool, she turned her bacon, stirred her soup and began chopping mushrooms, beating her eggs and grating her two packages of Gruyere cheese.  Sadly and most unfortunately, Little Wife’s hands were just too tiny for the big sharp knife which slipped suddenly knicking the knuckle of Little Wife’s index finger.  “Owww, oh my goodness that hurts,” she spoke softly to herself and one small tear rolled down her cheek.

“But I’m OK.”

Bravely she jumped down from the stool, noticing how much higher the stool seemed now compared to the beginning of the battle.  She found a bandaid at the first aid station behind the set, carefully wrapped up her bleeding finger and got back to her side of the kitchen just in time to hear Alton announce, “Twenty minutes left in this raging battle of the cheese.”

The tension was mounting as Little Wife assembled her Quiche, all the ingredients finally filled the pre-formed pie crust and it looked good enough to eat.  But with only twenty minutes left in the challenge, how could she possible get this large pie cooked thoroughly for the judges approval?

“Aha!” Little Wife spotted the microwave in the back corner of the kitchen, and carefully carefully carefully carried the very large dripping quiche across the kitchen to the microwave.  Her thin arms were aching by the time she got the pie in the oven, but she smiled with relief as the quiche went around and around, cooking nicely and very evenly.

Back to her station she dashed to finish the French Onion Soup.  Up on the stool she climbed and ladled soup into each of the small ceramic bowls, placed a slice of French bread into each bowl and finally piled on the shredded gruyere cheese.  Now that was looking very fine and oh so delicious.  Little Wife was getting very hungry just looking at her soup and smelling all the aromas around her.

“Ok, time to get this in the oven!”  she smiled looking at her beautiful creations.  And then she heard Alton one more time, “Just ten minutes left, ladies and gentlemen.  Ten minutes!”

Glancing across the room at her quiche going around in the microwave, Little Wife realized it was time for some drastic maneuvers.  Time to dip into her bag of tricks!  She reached into her pocket and found her sister’s pint-sized kitchen blow torch!  “Oh thank you Lisa Marie,” she whispered.  “You’ve saved me again!”

After lighting the torch from the fire on the stove, Little Wife boldly pointed it at the soups.  And at the same time as she pointed the blow torch at her soups, the cameramen boldly and suddenly pointed their cameras right at Little Wife.  She smiled broadly into the cameras, crinkling her eyes with delight to have been noticed by the producers of the Food Network.  This was a moment of glory for Little Wife — the cameras and the audience watched as her gruyere cheese first melted, then scorched and then burst into flames while Little Wife smiled into the camera.

“Oh well,” she spoke at last. “I know you’ll enjoy my Mushroom and Spinach Quiche.  Bon appetit?”

 

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